Sermon:  Stabilizing Yourself


Summary:  We will overcome the challenges of this world only if we stabilize our lives on a firm foundation, and the only firm foundation is Jesus Christ who is forever dependable because he never changes.  We need to stabilize our lives in him, our hearts in his grace, and go to him on the outside because he and his kingdom is not of this world.


Text:  Heb 13:7-17


Scripture Reading:  Ps 125:1-3



1.  Have you ever needed to stabilize something?

            a.  Dad needed to stabilize garage out back, part of foundation washed


            b.  Patio umbrella, if not will get blown away

            c.  May think of tent stabilized, not get blown away

2.  Lives of the Hebrews needed to be stabilized

            a.  Many challenges in life threatened to blow them away

            b.  Author trying to stabilize and ground them

3.  Do you ever feel the need to be stabilized?

            a.  Perhaps have faced disappointments

            b.  Learned some things you thought were dependable were not

            c.  Things you thought would never change have changed

            d.  What you thought was a solid foundation was not solid

4.  Message:  We will overcome the challenges of this world only if we stabilize ourselves on a true, solid foundation

            a.  What solid foundation are we talking about?

            b.  Most stable foundation in the world is Jesus

            c.  Just what is it that we need to stabilize?

            d.  Will look at three areas of stabilization in Christ (Heb 13:7-17)


I.   Stabilize your lives on Christ

            A.  Christ is the most stable foundation there is

            B.  Look at how the text develops this thought

                        1.  It says he is always the same

                                    a.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

                                    b.  He has never changed and never will

                        2.  Hebrews began with this thought (Heb 1:10-12)

                                    a.  Earth is God's creation and has changed

                                                - Mountains wear down, rivers form valleys, etc

                                                - Universe is running down and wearing out

                                    b.  But our Lord is always the same

                        3.  This reminds us that he is infinitely dependable

                                    a.  10:11-18 - He is a sufficient High Priest

                                                - Provided forgiveness of sins once for all

                                                - Transform us, write law on our hearts and mind

                                                - Defeats sin and death

                                    b.  6:19-20 - He is our forerunner to presence of God

                                    c.  3:6 - Faithful son over God's house, we are his house

                                    d.  2:17-18;4:14-16-Merciful, faithful, sympathetic High Priest

            C.  ILL:  This of this earth are not so dependable, they changes

                        1.  Most obvious thing that changes is your body

                                    a.  Betty Albright said men trick you - You marry them, then

     they get fat, bald, lazy, and stupid

            - Some say similar things about women

            - But think about it - Hearing wears out, knees wear

   out, hair falls out, teeth fall out, pretty soon half of

   you is gone

- Strategy to lose weight is get old

                        2.  People lose life savings when economy goes bad

                        3.  Some intend of marriage for life

a. Affair wrecks the marriage

b. Untimely death ends the marriage

c. Some say an affair is more painful than death

                        4.  Then things happen that cause you to wonder about God

                                    a.  Is God going to change his mind?

                                    b.  Did God to go away?

            D.  Text reminds us that he has never left and will never go away

                        1.  Jesus said, "Surely I am with you always" - Mt 28:20

                        2.  He is still our merciful and faithful and sympathetic High Priest

                        3.  The one who was flogged for us, beat up, spit on, crucified

                                    a.  He loved us then

                                    b.  He loves us now

                                    c.  Nothing can separate us from his love

                        4.  Do not go elsewhere to stabilize your life

                                    a.  The only thing dependable is Jesus who never changes

                                    b.  *Brings us to our next point...


II.  Stabilize your Heart in his grace (v.9-10)

            A.  Text says it is good for the heart to be strengthen by grace

                        1.  Implies that it is bad if strengthened by anything else

                        2.  Anything else can weaken your heart

            B.  Text contrasts grace vs. foods as a source of strength

                        1.  What is this "food?"

                                    a.  Jews had regulations about food

                                                - Some were unclean and defiled you, weakened you

                                                - Some were clean or kosher

                                    b.  Jews participated in various fellowship meals around altar

                                                - Involved blessing of God, thanksgiving

                                                - Understood food to nourish heart as well as body

                                                - Ps 104:14-15 - God cause grass grow for food to

  sustain a man's heart in gladness

                                    c.  But food is not ultimately what sustains you

                        2.  Heart is strengthened by grace

                                    a.  Where is grace found? Not at the Jewish altar

                                                - v.9 - Food at the altar not benefit them

                                                - 10:4 - Blood of bulls and goats not take away sin

                                                - 9:9; 10:16 - Blood of bulls and goats not change

  your heart or your conscience

                                    b.  Grace is found at "our" altar, v.10

                                                - This is not talking about the Lord's Supper table

                                                            = It is a table, not an altar

                                                            = It is a fellowship, not a sacrifice

                                                            = No sacrifices are made at this table

                                                - The altar is the cross

                                                            = This is where Jesus offered up himself

                                                            = This is where Jesus earned our forgiveness

                                    c.  The fellowship meal at "our" altar is where we "eat"

                                                - Not physical food that strengthens our heart

                                    d.  (Jn 6:48-49,55-58) - Jesus is the bread of life

                                                - Only the true food gives life

                                                - Not like manna, the physical food

                                                - We nourish our souls/hearts on Jesus himself

                                                - (v.63) - Flesh profits nothing, only Jesus himself

                                                            = His message, words, teaching, example

                                                            = Ultimately his gracious sacrifice

                        3.  To be strengthened by grace & not food is to be strengthened by

      Christ himself

4.  On contrast, don't be carried away by strange varied teachings

            a.  Whether it was teaching about foods, rituals, etc., there

     was a smorgasbord of various teachings

b.  World offered many alternatives to Christ

            C.  ILL:  Makes me think of my second car, 1970 Maverick

                        1.  Rough car, needed some work

                        2.  Rebuilt the head in auto shop at school

                                    a.  Putting back together, keepers for two valves missing

                                    b.  Student working with me went to junk pile

                                    c.  Substituted other keepers

                                    d.  They fit but they looked different, teacher said okay

                        3.  Ran fine for two weeks, then ran really bad

                                    a.  Compression check, one cylinder lost compression

                                    b.  Decided to get rid of it

                                    c.  Traded it in

                        4.  When went to pick up new car, dealer gave me souvenier

                                    a.  A bent valve

                                    b.  He said somehow valve popped into cylinder

                                    c.  Piston punched it back into place

                                    d.  But it bent the valve, ruined engine

            D.  If try to stabilize heart with substitutes, it will eventually fail you

                        1.  There are no substitutes for Christ

                        2.  Don't be fooled by substitutes with empty promises

                                    a.  Simply living a "good life" will not do it

                                                - Many think this is all that matters

                                                - What matters is redemption in Christ

                                                - What matters is transformed by Christ

                                                - What matters is Christ as Lord of your life

                                    b.  Accumulating wealth and prosperity won't do it

                                                - Saying: "Poor is he whose only wealth is money"

                                                - Riches can wind up being evidence against you in

  the judgment if they come between you and God

                                                - True riches come from serving God and others

                                    c.  Making peace with the world wont do it

                                                - Jesus didn't come to bring peace, but a sword

                                                - His kingdom is not of this world, we are not of world

                                                - Light has no fellowship with darkness

                                                - Christ has no fellowship with idols

                                    d.  Checking off a religious checklist wont do it

                                                - Pharisees an example of pitfalls of religion that

  consists of a checklist

                                                - Can check items on a religious list and not be right

                                                - God didn't reveal himself as a checklist

                        3. Text says heart must be strengthened by grace

                                    a.  Must allow Christ to transform your heart

                                    b.  Must be devoted to Christ as savior and Lord

                                    c.  He must be the one who rules your life

                                    d.  He must be your example

                        4.  **Only when you do this can you do what the text says next...


III.  Stabilize your Place Outside

            A.  Christians are not insiders, we are outsiders

            B.  Text reminds us that Christianity began with an outsider

                        1.  Just as body of sacrifices were burned outside the camp,

      Lev 16:27, Jesus himself suffered outside the city

2.  Outside does not just mean physical location

            a.  Jesus never won award for "Man of the Year" in the

     Jerusalem Times

            b.  No monument or eternal flame erected in his honor at

     Jerusalem national cemetery

            c.  No words of honor from the heads of state

            d.  No remembrance day set aside for him on the official

     Jewish calendar

                        3.  Remember this is written to outsiders tempted by insiders

                                    a.  They were tired of being outsiders

                                                - Meant the community did not respect them

                                                - Meant they often had little legal protection because

   Christianity was not a legal religion

                                                - Families would disown them

                                                - Persecuted, mistreated

                                    b.  Might be tempted to at least become like the insiders

                                                - Life would be so much easier

                                                - Jas 4:4 - Friendship with world hostility toward God

                                                - Lk 6:26 - Woe to you when all men speak well of

  you, used to treat false prophets the same way

                        4.  What does this say to those tempted to stand with the insiders?

                                    a.  Christ is not found on the inside, but the outside

                                    b.  Jn 18:36 - He said, "My Kingdom is not of this world"

                                    c.  Jesus was an outsider in every earthly way

                                                - Was not scarified between 2 candles in a cathedral

   with adoring onlookers singing his praises

- Was crucified between 2 thieves outside with

  onlookers mocking and spitting on him

                                    d.  Text says to go to him on the outside

            C.  ILL:  I remember a mission teacher talking about reverse culture shock

                        1.  After mission field, come home, home not feel like home

                                    a.  In fact, no place feels like home any more

b.  He said that wasn't a big problem

c.  Home is not really here

                        2.  Song says - "This world is not my home"

                                    a.  I'm just a passing through

                                    b.  My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue

                        3.  My roommate used to tell me how he got homesick for Heaven

                                    a.  Usually songs about Heaven strengthen that longing

                                    b.  Have you ever felt like that?

            D.  Text says that here we do not have a lasting city

                        1.  We don't belong on the inside, it will not last

                        2.  Not need public respectability from world to be good Christians

                        3.  This means we are resident aliens

                                    a.  Our kingdom is not of this world

                                    b.  Our allegiance belongs to the King of Kings

                                    c.  We serve a higher power



1.  The only legitimate place for a Christian is outside with Christ

            a.  It will be the only stable place in the end

            b.  The inside will be destroyed in judgment

            c.  The outsiders will be insiders for eternity in Heaven          

2.  Need to stabilize our lives on Jesus, the only true foundation (inv)

3.  If you have already obeyed the Gospel, stay with Christ on the outside