Hebrews chapter 11, is the great chapter of faith, and of great people of faith. All different in many ways yet with one commonality. Men women Jews, gentiles. Some died not receiving what was promised chapter 11 verse 13. That is no earthly home. But saw a better home, a
Hebrews 11:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Some had their faith rewarded quickly, others not so much. Some performed miracles, others not. Some died rich others poor, some lived out long fruitful lives others were killed or imprisoned.
Yet at all had these things in common.
1 They all ran with endurance to the finish line.
2 They were all examples for us.
Hebrews chapter 12 vs 1-2
This passage can be outlined this way.
First it is set up for us in the previous chapter. And begins with "Therefore" or "because" of their testimony/faith pleased the Lord.
Faith always pleases God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb ch 11
Hebrews 12:1-2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Jesus, the Example
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Since we know this to be true, we should… examine this passage carefully. Look for the commands for us today, they are the verbs in the passage.
Lay aside! every sin, encumbrance.
SIN... eg ENCUMBRANCE... not everything is a sin, but hinders just the same.
Examples... in a physical sense. boots, heavy coat. In a spiritual sense, improprieties...
Analogy of an athlete who runs, or a soldier and combat. Biblical expression "gird up your loins"
Ephesians 4:20-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Run with endurance!
Christian life of faith is not a race, but a marathon.
Exercise faith in God in good times and in hard times.
Hebrews 10:36 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive [a]what was promised.
Fix your eyes on Jesus!
Think, meditate, consider, reflect on Christ.
Jesus Christ is
He is the finish line
Hebrews 2:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the [a]author of their salvation through sufferings.
Therefore let us run with endurance, and let us be examples to others. Amen.
An Advent Skit performed by members of our community during Advent (completed January 15th because of weather conditions in December.)
Advent I, November 27th
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Narrator (with panache) We’re going to be doing a skit for the Advent season in much the same way as the radio programs of old. We’ll begin the skit today and leave you wanting more out of the continuation next week.
In order for it to work well, however, we need a little audience participation. You will be the curtains for our production and all you need to do is be able to open and close your eyes. Simple as that! So let’s practice. When I say, “Curtains DOWN,” please close your eyes. And when I say,
“Curtains UP,” open your eyes again.
Curtains DOWN. Good—uh oh—we’ve got some people not playing—ah, good. Now, Curtains UP. No sleeping!
Good! Curtains DOWN. Curtains UP. Curtains DOWN. Curtains DOWN. Uh
oh—Simon didn’t say Curtains UP! Okay. Curtains UP! You’re good at this!!!
Now, I think with that out of the way, we can move along . . .
Head Shepherd (whiney)
Wait! You’re forgetting us—you ALWAYS forget us—we’re the most important part!! You’ve gotta show them how to help us!
Narrator (with resignation) Right. Okay, folks. For some reason, the shepherds need us to play the part of the sheep—it makes it more real or something. So, when one of the shepherds says sheep, you need to “Baaaa—aaa” like sheep. Okay? Okay.
Head Shepherd (whinier—if possible) WAIT! Shouldn’t they practice or something?
Narrator (resignedly) Alright, people. Give us your best sheep . . . (people baa). Wow! Are you sure you’re all human—that’s pretty real! (to head shepherd) Are you satisfied now? (Head shepherd nods.)
Okay. On with the show! Curtains DOWN. No peeking.
(Mary and Joseph get into position. We see a very pregnant Mary sitting in a rocking chair, fanning herself and taking deep breaths. Joseph is holding a paint bucket and brush, standing back from the “wall” and admiring his work.)
Joseph Whew. (wipes his brow) That should do it. The walls are finally finished. Don’t you think they’re beautiful, dear?
Mary (absently) What’s that? Oh, are you finished already? (Mary stands awkwardly.) Oh, Joseph. (grabs his armfor support) It looks absolutely wonderful—I hope he likes it too. (She pats her pregnant belly.)
Now, where should we hang this mobile? (She holds it up.)
Narrator Curtains DOWN.
(The three shepherds move into position. Two shepherds are sprawled out in the “field.” The “sheep” is a good distance from them. The Head Shepherd is standing.)
Head Shepherd Hey, young shepherd! (pause) I said, hey! Young shepherd! (still no answer. He nudges him with his toe.) Hey! Young Shepherd (peeks one eye open at the Head Shepherd)
Head Shepherd One of our sheep (Audience should baa-aa here—may need reminding! For example: “I said, one of our sheep) is straying from the flock. Go bring it back here.
Narrator Curtains DOWN
(Innkeeper and Wife move into position; the wife is wearing an apron and is standing next to her husband who is scrubbing the floor with a sponge.)
. . . and when you’re finished with the floor, I need some boxes brought down from the attic.
And later, but not too much later, I will need you to run to the store and pick up some milk for dinner. And then after that, the dishes will need to be washed, the laundry will need to be folded.
Then you may draw my bath. (She turns on her heel and flits away.)
Innkeeper (to audience)
Forty years I’ve run this inn on my own. Forty years. (shakes his head) And now, when business is slow, she’s got me doing more work than I’ve ever done in forty years!
(Quirinius moves into position. Quirinius is standing, looking at a Palm Pilot.)
Quirinius Hmm. Cool! An Instant Message. (clicks pen on Palm Pilot—disappointed) Oh, it’s just from Herod (to audience) you know, being governor of Syria is tough work. (interrupted) No wait, it’s from Caesar himself! (Reads message) What? A census? I’ve gotta contact all the descendants ofDavid to come here to Bethlehem for the census? That’s a LOT of people—what a mess this will be!
(All actors clear stage.)
Copyright © 2002 Angie Lahman Yoder, member of Circle of Peace a Church of the Brethren since 1892, Glendale, AZ.
ADVENT II December 4th
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Welcome back for another round of “An Advent Skit!” Glad you could join us! Now, remember
when I say “Curtains DOWN,” close your eyes. And when I say “Curtains UP,” open them again.
Okay? (starts to walk off)
Head shepherd (calling out from side stage)
Don’t forget us!
Narrator (returning to center stage)
Oh, yeah, sheep. The audience baa’s. (Narrator smiles.)
(Quirinius moves into position.)
So the notices have been sent to the “descendants of David,” the city merchants have been warned, and the local media has been called.
What else is there? (looks in “mirror” on wall)
Maybe I should get my hair cut.
(The three shepherds move into position.)
(Young shepherd stands in middle of other two, holding the sheep.)
I got the sheep (audience baa’s), Head Shepherd.
Head Shepherd (sleepily)
Great. I’m glad you got the sheep. (audience baa’s)
(The Innkeeper and Wife move into position. Innkeeper is asleep in a chair. Wife is standing beside him, reading a letter.)
To all esteemed business owners, duht, duht, duht. Skip, skip, skip. There will be a census in town in two weeks? All merchants should be aware that business may pick up immensely. Consider yourselves warned. (screams) Oh, honey! You’ve got a lot of work to do! The people
are coming. The people are coming!
(Mary and Joseph move into position, Mary on “donkeyback,” Joseph walking alongside.)
Oh, Joseph. How much farther is it now? I don’t think I’m going to make it much longer. This baby is coming! I think my water broke over that mound of rocks back there a mile. Oh, Joseph.
And just when the nursery was finally finished, too. This is so disappointing. Oh! Joseph. Did you call ahead and make reservations?
Joseph (to audience)
Copyright © 2002 Angie Lahman Yoder
Advent III December 11th
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Hello, welcome back. Let’s practice. Curtains UP, curtains DOWN. Sheep.
Great. You’re pro’s.
On with the show.
(The three shepherds move into position All three shepherds are asleep on the ground.)
Curtains UP. (Narrator pauses.)
Curtains . . .
Head Shepherd (lifting his head from the ground)
SHEEP. (The audience baa’s and Head Shepherd puts his head down.)
Narrator (giving stern glance to Head Shepherd)
Curtains . . .
Head Shepherd (lifting his head from the ground again)
SHEEP. (The audience baa’s and Head Shepherd puts his head down.)
Narrator (giving another stern glance to Head Shepherd)
ARE YOU FINISHED ALREADY?
(Head Shepherd smiles and nods.)
(Quirinius moves into position as he is handing out lanyards to “visitors.”)
Get your lanyards here! Don’t be caught without one—new security measures during this time of high traffic—wear it around your neck at all times so we know you belong here. Oh, hello (doffs his hat), good day to you too. Welcome to my city. Welcome, one and all!
(Mary and Joseph move into position—Mary draped over Joseph’s back, Joseph struggling to carry her. Each is wearing a lanyard. Mary has two on.)
Mary, I’ve apologized a thousand times already. I’m sorry I didn’t make reservations for a room!
How was I supposed to know it would be so crowded here? I’m even sorrier that we had to come here in the first place—especially now, when you’re in so much pain.
Pain? Pain? (shrieking now) You don’t know what pain is!
(Innkeeper and Wife move into position: Wife’s apron stuffed with money. Innkeeper’s hands filled with money. No Vacancy sign is lying on floor.)
Innkeeper (sifting through money, counting it)
According to my calculations, every single one of our beds is full tonight. I think it’s time to put up the No Vacancy sign.
What was that, honey?
Innkeeper (to audience)
She’s already got this money spent. (sets No Vacancy sign on chair)
Copyright © 2002 Angie Lahman Yoder
ADVENT IV January 15th
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Ah, it’s the big Sunday—today it all becomes clear. Don’t forget to make it special with the Curtains UP, Curtains DOWN . . . and sheep. For those of you who haven’t been here—we’re looking for great audience participation! When I say “Curtains DOWN,” close your eyes and
open them again when I say “Curtains UP” . . .
And when I say “sheep,” you say “Baaaaa.”
Thank you, Head Shepherd. Now, let the skit begin!
(Mary and Joseph get into position. Manger is in between them (like every good nativity set.
Mary is holding a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths.)
There are no words. Just no words.
God is to be praised for this beautiful baby boy.
SONG: “Breath of Heaven”
(Innkeeper and Wife move into position, Wife peering through “window” toward barn and Innkeeper reading newspaper.)
Do you think they’re okay out there, dear? I mean, she had a baby in the barn! With all then animals standing by. Do you think they’re okay? Poor little one.
Innkeeper (puts down newspaper)
Why don’t we take them some more clean blankets. It’s the least we can do. Such a miracle—in our own backyard.
SONG: “Mary, Did You Know?”
(Quirinius moves into position, looking at Palm Pilot again.)
Newsflash? YOUNG WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO KING IN BARN? I don’t believe it—a king in a BARN. Could it be true? Oh, wait, here’s an update: BRIGHT STAR SEEN OVER BARN IN BETHLEHEM. A BARN? Where are my manners?
SONG: “Welcome to Our World”
(Three shepherds move into position, all three standing huddled together excitedly.)
SONG: “Angels We Have Heard on High”
Did you see that? It was so bright.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Did you see that angel’s robes?
Head Shepherd Or heard anything like it?—“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to all.
Shouldn’t we go to the manger like they said? (starts to jog away)
Young Shepherd I just can’t believe we’re going to find a baby wrapped in blankets lying in an animal feed trough—but I’m not going to argue with God’s angels! Let’s go! (starts to jog away with Head Shepherd)
Head Shepherd (stops his jog)
What about the sheep? The audience baa’s. (Shepherds run.)
Song: “The First Noel”
Copyright © 2002 Angie Lahman Yoder.
Note to the reader: Because the Christmas service for the children was cancelled in December due to bad weather, this service combined the New Year service and part of the December service for the children.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
A new year has begun and we want to start with a feeling t joy,
laughter, happiness and renewal.
Open our hearts and our lives to the voice inside us, that tells us we are loved, that we are important, and that we can make a difference.
Speak to us Lord, that after our time together here this morning, we
may leave, filled with Your love and wisdom.
You give us tongues to speak comforting words to those who
are weary. Each morning You awaken us to the words of new life. Throughout the day Your graciousness accompanies us each step that we take. When we retire, we reflect on Your mercy and how it sustains. As we sleep, You nurture us with Your untiring care. We are lifted high by Your benevolence and gather together now to praise You and worship Your name.
Let us pray together: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
ADVENT 4 SKIT: Note to reader. There will be a complete copy of the entire advent skits on another post ....coming soon!
Summer Johnston I Heard The Bells The First Nowell
Grace Sutton Up On The Housetop & Silent Night
Loving God, we present now what we have brought to You.
Thank you, God, for providing us with this place of belonging. In response, we bring our own gifts to use in Your church, and as we do, we want to say how grateful we are to You, that You have given us such friends. Out of gratitude we give, for You have given us so much. Amen
UNDAY SCHOOL: Shining Like The Stars
We want to take this moment to thank Debbie Baxter who has done a tremendous job taking care of everything related to the Sunday School for many years. We owe her a debt of gratitude for all the services rendered. Debbie will now be able to attend a service from beginning to end.
Epiphany is observed on January 6, twelve days after Christmas. It is
a time to remember the kings who came to worship,. tie Jesus, and who brought Him three gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh —following the divine birth.
Matthew 2:1-12 New International Version (NIV)
The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
THE MAN WHO BROUGHT THE MYRRH
This story was written by Shirley Robinson. I couldn't find any background information about her, but I'm sure you will enjoy her beautiful story.
"The listening silence held its cold, sparkling arms about them, bringing Heaven close to the three travellers who, in spite of the excitement and wonder of the last few hours, had fallen asleep on the ground before the ebbing fire.
Upon each countenance sleep carved a deep calmness, a serenity, a radiance which might be explained only by one who recognized the three as sages from the East, who had come from worship of the newly born King of the Jews.
Now they were on their way back to the king's palace to bring Herod news of the Child and of the place of His birth.
Beyond the hill a shimmering white light began to appear slowly, steadily. As it became brighter, its radiance seemed to spread, illuminating the surrounding countryside. With a start, the travellers awakened and sat up as they heard a voice saying, 'Behold!'
Blinded by the brilliance and gasping with the glory of the man in the lustrous white robes, seemingly suspended on the path of light extending from the heavens, they uttered a cry of fear as of one man, and fell upon their faces.
Now in a gentle but penetrating voice, the angel spoke again, 'Fear not, for behold! I come to you from the Father on High who has seen you this night in your worship of His Son, the Christ. I bring to you His message: Do not return to Herod with the news of that which has just come to pass, and which you have witnessed; for he is seeking the young Child — to destroy Him!'
As suddenly as it had appeared the light began to tremble and fade, and the angel rose into it and disappeared.
Now Herod waited many days for the return of the wise men. When he saw that he was being mocked by them, he became exceedingly angry and sent forth his messengers to seek the Child themselves.
While they sought diligently for the Child, Herod ripped his clothes and tore his hair in wrath and jealously. He was now an old man, and knowing that his days upon the earth were numbered, he called together his chief priests. Suppose the throne should pass into the hands of this unknown 'King of the Jews?' what would become of him in his last days and of his heirs?
By this time, Joseph, the father of Jesus, had been warned in a dream to take the Child and His mother and flee into Egypt to remain until Herod's death.
Vainly seeking the Christ Child or word of Him, the messengers soon became weary and returned to the king only to be sent forth again into all parts of Bethlehem and the coasts thereof with the command to slay every child of two years and under, according to the time at which Herod had first inquired of the wise men where the King was to be born.
In this manner, surely the Child's destruction would be assured!
Before the return of the commissioners, however, Herod in his great wrath fell violently ill upon his bed and died, leaving the throne to his son.
And when Joseph had received this word from God, he took the Child Jesus and his mother into Galilee, making their dwelling in a place called Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.'
The threatening silence closed in about them, bringing Heaven close to the crowd thronging about the hillside. Out of the silence a sudden cry of unimaginable anguish escaped the lips of One hanging from a rough-hewn cross at the crest of the hill.
Upon his countenance even pain carved a deep calmness, a serenity, a radiance which could be explained most fully, perhaps, by an old man who, slowly, haltingly, made his way through the mocking crowd to the foot of the hill where he laid his gift of myrrh. Then he fell down, trembling, in worship of 'his King.
The crowd moved back in silence as the heavens grew darker and darker, and a deeper peace settled over the face of the One hanging from the cross as he parted his lips for the final time....'Father, unto Thy hands I commend my spirit.'
The old man, tearfully, quietly, made his way back to the place where his camel waited.
Remembering that night years before, he thought of his two companions who had some with him to worship the Babe in the manger. What would they have thought if they could have witnessed the scene which he had just witnessed? Perhaps they had....and were even now preparing their gifts of heavenly gold and frankincense for the day when they would soon worship Him again."
This poignant story moved me deeply, and I hope it has touched your hearts as well. The Magi were looking for Jesus to bring Him gifts to worship Him. They were willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to honour Him.
We know that before Jesus came to earth, people's sins were forgiven through animal sacrifices. But now, because of Jesus' death on the cross, we don't have to kill animals to be forgiven. Romans 12: 1-2 says; So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to Him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to Him. This is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world. Instead, be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you. And you will be able to know what is good and pleasing to God and what is perfect.
In this passage from Romans we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices as opposed to dead animal sacrifices. Being a living sacrifice involves giving you entire life — your heart, your mind and your willpower to God. To be a living sacrifice means obedient service to God.
As we celebrate the New Year, let's ask ourselves, "What gifts will I bring to Jesus this year?" Will you give Jesus your heart? If you've never done so, you can do it right now by admitting that you have sinned and need Jesus to save you and forgive you. Will you give Jesus your mind? You can do so by reading His word everyday and thinking about those things that please God. Will you give Jesus your willpower? You can by asking Him to transform your will to be like His.
The best New Year's resolution would be "Because Jesus is the King of my life, I will__________________
- you fill in the blank!
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
Dismiss us with Your blessing, Lord. Help us to feed upon Your word. Forgive us our faults and let Your truth live within us.