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Sunday Message for 28 August 2022: “Life Enhancement”

The Bible verses for today’s message: Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16.

Prepare yourself for timeless life-enhancing guidance. Start with love, which entails behavior as basic as hospitality and as intense as empathy, a feeling so deep that you participate in other peoples’ struggles. “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3). There’s nothing about whether the people in prison deserve to be there because it doesn’t matter. The fundamental need for love requires that you act compassionately regardless. The oft-quoted phrase of “Let them rot in prison” is a horrible attitude. Followers of God must not feel this way.

Next in Hebrews is the topic of marriage fidelity. With about half of all marriages ending in divorce, life’s road is strewn with shattered lives and broken dreams. Marriage fidelity can help encourage people to work things out, to invest in what they have rather than to leave (the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the relationship fence). True, some relationships are toxic and must be terminated because of threats to life and liberty. It takes two committed partners to make a great relationship but only one to destroy it.

Throughout history people have struggled to keep the “till death do we part” of their wedding vows. A regrettably common reason for divorce is the excuse that since my partner can’t make me happy I need to leave. No one else can make you happy; you must choose to be. In a healthy marriage there’s the blessing of togetherness as two consenting adults celebrate depths of physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy.  Whatever your marital status, building and maintaining a great marriage is a challenging yet worthwhile journey.

The next topic in Hebrews that can lead to a better life is avoiding greed, something as relevant as ever in a materialistic, consumer-driven culture. The advice here is wonderfully nuanced as it encourages you to be content with what you have. “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have . . .” (Hebrews 13:5a). This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t grow onwards and upwards, but that you should be thankful for each and every moment.

Being content and satisfied in life doesn’t mean being finished because it proposes that God and gratitude will fulfill you rather than goods and greed. The relentless pursuit of money is a living hell. Being satisfied with who and what you are involves a knowledge of and commitment to a transformative spiritual life. Your spirit will soar as you realize that power and purse can’t substitute for empathy and compassion. God designed humans to be fulfilled as they pursue the path of life and light, a way of living that integrates you with God spirit-to-spirit.

Hebrews next offers advice about faith vitality, which helps avoid fear paralysis and soul sickness. With God’s help you can find ways to manage anxieties, worries and concerns. Otherwise, you’ll risk fleeing life rather than embracing it. Life becomes more difficult if you cultivate unhealthy thinking and behavior. At all costs avoid the unholy trinity of fear, ignorance and anger, which conspire to arouse prejudice and hatred.

Finally, Hebrews suggests that there are human role models, albeit imperfect, who can inspire your toward a better life. It’s not about looking to celebrities and superstars because in many cases what you see on their outside isn’t who they really are. Ultimately, the source of the principles you embrace isn’t as important as the principles themselves. The bottom-line is that truth can be found in many places so look around and discover whatever is worth following.

Far more challenging than finding the truth is living it. Avoid people and situations that drain you and leave your body, mind or spirit negative or depleted. Adopt the values revealed in Hebrews and you will better achieve that fantastic life of holistic wellbeing.

 –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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