Hebrews 13:7 reminds us to remember our leaders and to see the good that came from their lives. In today’s study, we will look at the traits of a Biblical leader from the Apostle Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders from Acts 20 and how Paul’s lifestyle influenced other leaders.
A Biblical leader serves the Lord with all humility and tears.
Acts 20:18-19: And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews.”
As a church leader, Paul endured many trials and shed tears over the ones he witnessed. Those who rejected the message of the gospel rejected Paul. In their rejection, Paul was ridiculed, beaten, thrown into prison, and even had rocks thrown at him to the point of death. Yet he endured. His tears were shed for those who had rejected the gospel and those struggling with the faith.
A Biblical leader must be bold by declaring what is profitable.
Acts 20:20: how I did not shrink from declaring anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house.
As a leader, Paul did not sugarcoat what the people needed to hear. He was honest and truthful. When Paul witnessed a sin in a person’s life, he would approach them and gracefully correct their behavior with the word of God. When he saw someone obeying the word of God, he encouraged them to continue. Paul knew the Scriptures and taught them what was profitable to them. Paul did not cower away but was bold when teaching.
A Biblical leader teaches to a public audience, testifying repentance toward God and faith in Jesus.
Acts 20:21: Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul taught in public places like a synagogue (a place of worship like the church) but even went to house testifying to everyone he met repentance of sins and faith in Jesus. Paul reinforced his teaching with Scripture and through his daily living.
In verse 18, Paul reminded the leaders that they witnessed Paul’s daily lifestyle and how he lived among them since day one.
A Biblical leader declares the whole counsel of God.
Acts 20:22-27: And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
A Biblical leader warns other leaders to pay close attention to their lifestyle and other Christians.
Acts 20:28-32: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years, I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
An ancient Egyptian proverb says, “Death is but a doorway to new life. We live today, and we will live again. In many forms, we will return.”
The Egyptian proverb is only partially correct, though. Death is a doorway to new life; we are alive today and will be alive after we die. When we pass on from this world to the next, we do not come back to life in many different forms but to a life with God or being separated from God. The Bible tells us that we will be resurrected from the dead to live again. But it is up to you to choose where you will live for eternity.
The Bible tells us that for followers of Jesus Christ, death is a doorway to new life in eternity with God in heaven. A door that is open and made possible by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross for our sins.
Christian Author Randy Alcorn accurately states: “For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway from a world where dreams and adventures shrink to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.”
As Christians, we are comforted by knowing that death is not the end but the beginning of life with God almighty and Jesus Christ. Even the comfort of knowing where we are going doesn’t make death and losing someone any easier.
Over the last month, there have been deaths that have impacted the lives of others. My wife had an acquaintance who passed away in her sleep at 36. My co-worker just had her nephew passed away at the age of 30. Just think of the celebrities that just recently passed away. Death can come at any time to anyone at any age.
When I heard that my wife’s friend died at 36 unexpectedly, we felt deep sorrow for her family. She left behind a husband and two young children who must continue life without her. She was a believer in Jesus Christ and awoke in the presence of the Lord when she passed away that fateful day.
We each grieve the death of a loved one differently—those who grieve with hope and those who have no hope.
The Bible records Elijah’s last day with his friend and mentee, Elisha. Elisha and Elijah knew Elijah’s last day on earth, but Elisha did not want to accept that his best friend would no longer be with him.
I placed myself in Elisha’s sandals when I read about this event. Was Elisha fortunate enough to know that this was the last day on earth for his friend or not?
“When the LORD was about to take Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the LORD has told me to go to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” So they went down together to Bethel. The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the LORD is going to take your master away from you today?”
“Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.” (2 Kings 2:1-3)
Elisha knew the Lord would take Elijah to heaven and did not want to accept it. In each city the Lord told Elijah to go to, Elijah told Elisha to stay, and Elisha’s response was always the same. “As surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” Each place they went had prophets who came to Elisha and asked him the same question, and Elisha had the same response.
2 Kings 2:5: Then the group of prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the LORD is going to take your master away from you today?”
“Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.”
As their story continues, Elisha and Elijah go to the Jordan River.
2 Kings 2:11-12 “As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.
Elijah did not experience physical death, but Elisha experienced the grief of losing a loved one. Even though Elisha knew Elijah was taken to be with the Lord in heaven, he was still grieved and did not want to discuss it.
When I read about this event, I asked myself what I would do if I were Elisha. What if I knew this would be my last day with my friend? Would I spend every moment with them and never leave? How would I react to my loved one differently when death was near? Would talking about the loss of my best friend help with my grief?
I know one thing. I would have been thankful that my friend knew the Lord, knowing they are spending eternity in heaven and we will meet again someday. We never know if we have a tomorrow, so we must live each day with others as our last.
Not only did Elisha grieve over the loss of his friend Elijah, but Jesus’s disciples grieved overseeing the death of Jesus on the cross. Their close friend of three years was now on the cross, accused of crimes he did not commit. As Jesus was taken off the cross and laid in a tomb, Christ’s disciples had lost hope. Their friend was dead.
Three days later, the story changed. Christ was resurrected from the dead to new life.
“Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” (Matthew 28:5-10)
The resurrection from the dead to new life and an eternity with Christ is why we have hope even when someone dies. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church about this same hope.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
However, The Bible also tells us that for the Nonbeliever who does not believe that Jesus is the son of God, death is a doorway to eternity, separated from God in a place called Hell.
Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow, and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
This begs the question. Where are you going to spend eternity? Which doorway will you enter when death comes?
As Christians, we will still grieve when we lose a loved one. We will still find a way to press on with the strength that God can give. If your loved one knows the Lord, we will be reunited in heaven. Death is but a doorway to eternity with God for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
But what does the Bible say about the secret to contentment?
Paul had found the secret to contentment, which was not found in being in need or having plenty, being hungry or well fed. In today’s podcast, we will learn about Paul’s secret to contentment, but even where contentment is not found.
Today’s study will look at Hebrews 13:5-7 in a message titled “Practical Principles for Christian Living: The Secret to Contentment.
One day a thief entered a store intending to steal some merchandise. She was not dressed like your average shopper, and her outward appearance gave the impression that she was a streetwalker. As she grabbed a shopping cart, she placed her bag into the cart and proceeded to select merchandise. Around thirty minutes later, she exits the store with a bag of unpaid merchandise as if she had not committed a crime.
A few days later, another shopper entered the same store with the intention of stealing. This lady had lost her right arm, and her attire gave the impression of being an average shopper. As this lady was getting ready to exit the store with unpaid stolen merchandise, she was approached by a friend. The ladies went on to converse, and her friend comforted her. As her friend left, the shoplifter said out loud that she would never do this again but instead attempted to steal the merchandise, not wanting to get caught.
As a retail outlet manager, I have seen people try to steal merchandise. The store’s loss prevention department often attempts to deter theft and recover the store’s inventory. Sometimes, we are successful, and sometimes not.
But as a Christian, I know that when a person steals, that stealing is an outward sign of an inward condition. I have to get the merchandise back, but the person standing before me has a greater need than the merchandise they are attempting to steal. When you catch someone stealing from you, viewing their spiritual condition over being offended by their actions is tough. You feel violated when you know someone is stealing from you, even when what was stolen was under your care but not yours.
If I allow the thief to leave the building with stolen merchandise, I let a wrong action occur. The Apostle Paul tells Christians to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
As a Christian, I am to expose the thief when they steal, which leads to a question. What should a Christian do in this situation?
Dealing with the external action of stealing is easier than dealing with the person’s internal heart problem. The first thief left and entered a vehicle owned by a shady character that was inside. Why was she stealing? Is she being manipulated by someone else to steal for an organized crime syndicate? Why did she find herself in this position, to begin with? The second thief, when being consoled by her friend, was speaking about an uncurable cancer. Is that why she thought it was necessary to steal?
I may never know the answers to these questions, but why must they commit these crimes? More importantly, how can I address that their actions will not fulfill the need that they are looking for?
During Jesus’s ministry, he approached any person, no matter their sin, and spoke to them about their current spiritual need. Jesus provided an example when he met the woman at a water well in Samaria.
One day Jesus met a woman at a watering hole. The Samaritan woman came to the well during the hottest part of the day when no one would be around. She was probably trying to avoid having a conversation with anyone. She came to get water and left. But when she left, she got more than she bargained for. The Jews and the Samarians at the time of Jesus did not look upon each other’s lifestyles as equals. The Jews would have nothing to do with the Samarians since they looked down upon them.
John 4:9-39 ESV
So, when Jesus asked this woman for some water, she answered, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9)
Jesus then proceeded to have a conversation with her about her greater need during her present condition of getting water. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (John 4:10-18)
Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about her need for water and even her spiritual need for living water. Jesus exposed her sin gracefully during their conversation and her need for repentance. Her sin was causing her to miss out on God’s purpose for her life, to experience the living water that comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we have this living water residing in us. Only Jesus can saturate our souls to look upon people with a concern for their spiritual well-being, what we can learn from Jesus’s interaction with the Samaritan woman.
Jesus had a conversation with her.
The first thing that Jesus did was to have a conversation with her. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) (John 4:7-8) Jesus did not discriminate because he was a Jew, and she was a Samaritan. Jesus had a conversation with her at that moment about the situation that they were in.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (John 4:9)
Jesus spoke to her about her current need for water and her spiritual need for water.
Jesus used the moment to tie in her physical and Spiritual needs. Her need for water and why she was drawing water from the well was a temporary fix. But what Jesus would offer her was a permanent fix, living water that would fulfill her greatest need. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15)
Jesus exposed the sin that she was keeping hidden.
When the Samaritan woman asked Jesus for living water, he told her what prevented her from receiving it. Jesus wanted her to accept the living water he was offering, but first, she would have to stop committing the sin she was practicing. Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. (John 4:16-19)
Just as Jesus exposed her sin, we must expose their sin and help them see that what they do will cost them eternity. An eternity that is separated from God and is not without punishment. These individuals need a lifetime of fulfillment from a relationship with Jesus instead of sin’s fleeting, temporary fullness.
The Samaritan woman responded by turning her life around. She left her interaction with Jesus and told everyone in the town about what he had done for her. So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. (John 4:28-30)
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” (John 4:39)
Her response to the good news of what Jesus has done for her is the result we look for. Christians should all want to take as many people to heaven as possible. When Jesus died on the cross, we died there for everyone.
On both sides of Jesus, two thieves also died that day. One was an unrepentant thief who continued to mock Jesus, while the other repented. One thief died in unbelief and became separated from God. The thief that repented was forgiven and joined Jesus in heaven.
Let’s all point others to the cross, where there is forgiveness of sins, and the sinner can find the fullness of life. We have this living water inside us, which the unrepentant sinner does not have. So, let us share this good news with all, for even thieves need living water.
God’s word tells us to hold marriage in honor in front of everyone. In todays study, we will learn from Hebrews 13:4 why marriage should be kept in honor. We will study God’s original design, what happened, and how we as Christians can hold marriage in honor among everyone.
God defines marriage.
Marriage was redefined from God’s original design.
The Bible contains practical principles for Christian living that display God’s love for others. God wrote these principles in Scripture for us to learn and to live out because he loves us. Living out these principles brings joy when we show God’s love to others. Today’s study comes from Hebrews 13, and we will look at the first three practical principles for Christian living. See all episodes.
We are all surrounded by the company we keep. Those individuals we can deal with and those we struggle to be around. We should surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to run the race of life. Who have you surrounded yourself with? In today’s podcast episode, we will see what the Bible says about surrounding ourselves with the company we keep.
As the righteous live by faith, life happens. As we will learn on today’s podcast from Hebrews 11, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob experienced the ups and downs we all experience. They experienced tests, relationship struggles, success, and the agony of defeat. Yet through it all, they endured. They focused on God and his promised Son until they received the promise. Listen to learn from the experiences of these individuals who lived by faith.