I. Avoid Christ’s enemies’ influences
II. Act Christ-like intentionally
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV 2011) 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, p Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our great high priest, dear Christian friends,
Your “time of need”…what is it? I can only begin to guess. Some of you have shared those with me when they arise. “Pastor, I lost my job and all the benefits that go along with it. I need a new one to support my family. Do you know who is hiring?” “Pastor, my friend is sick and in the hospital. Will you go visit him?” “Pastor, I don’t know if this is the right guy for me to marry. Can my boyfriend and I sit down with you and talk about our relationship?”
Did any of those hit home for you? I know some of you can relate because those are “times of need” that some of you have actually shared with me, though without names and with some subtle changes to protect your confidentiality. Others of you are more private and have never shared your situations of need with me.
Because I can’t detail every one of your situations, I will focus on three areas only today, but I do think they sum up very well where most of our “times of need” reside. Throughout this sermon, I am asking you to think about only one of three areas of need: financial, medical, relational.
Financial times of need could be caused by lack of work, low income, lousy investments, or little discipline in spending. Medical times of need could come about because of your own health issues or someone else you know who is dying or dealing with compromised well-being. Relational issues might be what is keeping you from finding or maintaining a lifelong companion, what is causing you to not cooperate with or co-exist with co-workers or what is at the crux of your family feud.
In whatever one of those situations you are focusing on right now, what did you do when they happened to you? What was your plan of action to deal with it? Was it successful?
Some of you became frustrated and got upset, didn’t you? You looked for somebody other than yourself to blame, didn’t you? You lost hope that there was any way out of your time of need. I can guess those were the resultant thoughts or actions in your life because I have done the same in my times of need, but also can’t remember a time when those approaches were successful.
These are some of the weaknesses mentioned here by the holy writer. These are some of the temptations we face every day that can overwhelm us. These are the very problems we as children of God have the desire to overcome. Such is the life of a sinner-saint like you and me.
To help you and me, to give you and me hope, God’s Word today provides INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR TIME OF NEED: I. Hold firmly to your Christian faith II. Approach God with confidence.
In your time of need, it is not just a matter of “have faith, brother” or “you just got to believe, sister”; rather it is in whom you have faith and in whom you believe that matters. You and I are told to hold firmly to the faith we profess, which is a Christian faith or faith in Jesus, the Son of God. He is God, who always has existed, who is all-powerful and who is all knowing. Therefore, he knows what you are going through, he is strong enough to solve it and he is side-by-side with you to see you through it.
Jesus is also the great high priest. High priests in the Old Testament served as the mediator between the holy God and a sinful people, as well as serving to offer up the animal sacrifices on behalf of the people. Jesus fulfilled that dual role for us.
Jesus is the one who serves as our mediator. He came down from heaven to live here as one of us and, in so doing, he was tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Today we heard in the Gospel about three temptations Jesus faced. We can safely assume there were countless more throughout his short life here on earth.
In our Savior’s times of need, what did he do? He resisted Satan’s temptations and remained perfect. He remembered his Scriptures and relied on them to send Satan away. He recalled his heavenly Father’s plan to save us from our sins and to ultimately protect him even though he would have to suffer and die.
His priestly sacrifice was not attending to animals on altars, but rather offering up his own flesh and blood on an altar of a wooden cross. His sacrifice was acceptable to his heavenly Father because through his entire life and death, he did not sin. Now, God is no longer angry at us as sinners because he sees us holding on to his perfect Son Jesus and accepts us as forgiven saints, worthy of heaven.
This Son of God, this great high priest is the one who can and will help us in our time of need. Financial problems are not beyond his ability to resolve because he knows what you need and when you need it. Medical issues are under his control as he showed his ability to heal in many cases in Scripture and as he provides his comfort when you deal with your loved ones who are sick or dying. Relational headaches are his to cure as he pleads with us that “all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Co 1:10).
Jesus has “been there, done that” in all of our times of need. Jesus is able to empathize with our weaknesses. So, hold firmly to your Christian faith.
And…let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Did you notice the awesome gifts we can count on receiving when we pray? Mercy, grace and help!
Those of you focusing on financial issues this morning, keep in mind the mercy God has shown you with eternal riches— “you know the grace of our Lord Jesu Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Co 8:9)— and with physical riches— “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tm 6:8). Pray confidently that he be merciful to you through your financial issues.
Those of you who are thinking about medical problems this morning, don’t forget the grace God has given you with his promise of a home in heaven without “death or mourning or crying or pain” (Re 21:4) and with his earthly encouragement to “rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Ro 5:3-4). Pray confidently that he be gracious to you through your medical problems.
Those of you facing relational concerns remember the help he has given us all by teaching us to “love one another” (Jn 13:34) and “forgive one another” (Eph 4:32) and “let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers” (Ga 6:10). Pray confidently that he be helpful to you through your relational concerns.
In your time of need— you know what they are now and you will have them again in the future— remember these instructions: Hold firmly to your Christian faith and approach God with confidence.