Read: Hebrews 13:20-25

At the close of the church service we attended yesterday, the pastor recited a beautiful benediction, and did so (I might add) with tremendous conviction and fervor. It was a wonderful time of worship in so many ways. But I noticed that most of the people heard the pastor’s “amen,” and then engaged in the typical “Sunday morning two-step.” They picked up their belongings, AND they……went to the café. There is nothing wrong with such departures. In fact, the church had prepared ahead of time for coffee and sweet rolls. But my sense was that the pastor was anticipating so much more. He was anticipating what the writer to the Hebrews hoped for in our text for the week. 

It would be so easy to dismiss these six verses as impractical and formulaic. But these are the very words of a Spirit-directed, Spirit-inspired writer. Notice what he does in the passage: 

First, he PRAYS that they will be EQUIPPED (vv. 20-21). The word translated “equip” has the idea of being completed or fulfilled. It is like getting ready to go sledding, putting each piece of clothing on one-at-a-time. Just before going out the door, you put on your gloves. Now you are equipped (complete); ready to move into the winter weather! And be sure to notice that the writer prays that the readers will be equipped to do what is “pleasing” to God! 

Second, you will want to notice that the writer REMINDS his readers that they are not alone. He had given them the truth they needed for the circumstances they were facing. Then he reminded them that he would soon visit them, along with a man identified as Timothy (v.23). This “Timothy” had apparently been incarcerated, and was now released. This was a subtle reminder that others faced hardship just as they had. And then he reminded them that there were Christians in other parts of the world who sent greetings (v.24). Again, they were NOT ALONE in their Christian journey. 

So are these verses just tacked on at the end of a highly theological book as a quick exit? Not at all! And neither was my pastor’s benediction! You see, AFTER THE “AMEN”, GOD ALWAYS REMINDS US TO LIVE THE SERMON. He wants us to know that we have been “equipped” to live and please Him in all that we do. And He often reminds us that we are not living the faith on our own—even if it sometimes feels that way.

So here we are at the start of another week. I do hope that you were part of a worship service yesterday with rich fellowship that followed. And somewhere in the course of that gathering, a benediction was pronounced, with an “amen” that followed. It was not the end, but really the beginning. God always intends for the “amen” to be the actual start of the sermon. After all, He is sending you forth to please Him in the way you work and in the way you relate. So serve Him well. And remember that He is sending you into the world, not as a “lone-ranger-Christian,” but as one who exists in partnership with so many more people who name the Name of Jesus. Identify who those believers are, and serve with them to the glory of God!

Yes, it’s a new week; so let the sermon begin!

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