The Discipline for Champions–Hebrews 12 Part 2

In keeping with the thought of racing before the “Faith Hall of Famers”  the writer of Hebrews reminds us of the discipline it takes to win a race.  We want to be done with the training and to lay by the pool as some sort of spiritual Diva.  We do not want to fight in the war, we want to minister in our wealth.  We want to entertain and speak of the great blessings we receive from God…

One need only to have raised children to realize that it is the scrapes, the tears, the struggles and the discipline that makes our kids great–not the toys, the trips to the amusement park or the bowing to every whim.  In fact, the latter make the kids soft, spoiled and unruly.  Further, when we see the training of professional soldiers, athletes and doctors–it is rigorous and often seemingly unbearable–but produces the best people to fulfill their mission.

In our journey, we need to welcome the training and the discipline.  Rest assured, it will be unpleasant, and often seemingly unbearable. But, as we work through the daily struggles, we see God making us into the professional soldiers we need to be to complete the mission for which we are called.  His spirit comforts us, guides us strengthens us and carries the work to completion until his return. 

I Corinthians 10:13 promises our discipline is common. We won’t be pushed beyond our abilities.  And we will have a way to walk away.  He will prepare us, build us and train us so that we can finish the race and keep the faith.  Welcome the training and the discipline–then we can truly see God’s plan worked in our lives!

God Bless You

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

God’s Grace Saves Us–Hebrews 6 Part 1

There are passages in scripture that make us scratch our heads…This passage has been the center of all kinds of controversy. Some use this scripture to speak of losing their salvation.  Others use it to support the idea that there are proper rules and traditions that belong to the faith.  As I have studied this scripture, I am continually reminded that once you have been saved by God’s grace, it is not a change that one can alter by their choice or actions.  

In old doctrinal speak–the phrase is “once saved always saved.”  If you truly give your life to Christ, then in his words, nothing can take you from his hand. The writer of Hebrews is reminding us that if we are unable to earn salvation through our actions; how much more difficult would it be to treat the faith like an open house–come and go as you please. If you could lose your salvation by your actions, it would be impossible to regain it again–that would mean Christ’s initial sacrifice was not sufficient to save you from all your sin.

Simply put, God loves us and if we surrender our lives to him, we will be different. We will never be completely perfect–but, we will be a work in progress. If there is never a change, we need to reflect on the decision to follow him and determine if we chose truly to do so. It is not about the words, it is about life change. Paul said it best–“If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old is gone and the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

God Bless You

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God,instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting,we will do so.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Fat Little Baby Christians–Hebrews 5 Part 2

It is so tempting to keep it light and just stay on the fringes of faith.  So many Christians go to church once a week, acknowledge their faith if pressed, and they “don’t do anything wrong”.  But, in their mind, truth be told, their faith does not sustain their life.  It is a necessary but only small part of their daily routine. They still pick themselves up each day and do life on their own! The writer of Hebrews saw several people in that position.  He made clear that this walk needed to be active and maturing.  Christians must not try to nourish our spiritual lives on the baby food of the faith.  We need to dig in to the meat of God’s word and live in the battle of life–as his child; growing and becoming spiritual ladies and gentlemen.

To accomplish that feat, we have to realize that we are not samplers of God, but we place our lives in his trust and follow him into battle daily.  To do that successfully, we need to learn seek and know Him.  We need to embrace the faith we have been given, and allow Him to mature and complete us. We then will be ready to eat the solid food of our faith!  In fact, we can go strictly fruit…of the spirit! LOL.

God Bless You

 

 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Entering into God’s Peace–Hebrews 4 Part 1

Make no mistake, the gift of eternal life with the Lord in Heaven is enough to surrender and follow Christ.  But, as the writer in Hebrews emphasized, it is only part of the gift.  When men follow God, he provides peace and rest as they face the journey each day.  In the chaotic mess that is the world, a life of peace and a rest from the trials and temptation of life becomes critical to make it to the end.  

In all the blessings, peace is a regular gift from God to man.  That peace helps men to bear up under difficult circumstances, and allows rational thought in irrational times. The world itself is in a constant state of unrest. Individuals and governments are constantly under attack and without stability.  The world longs for peace and stability–but, alas–they will never find it.

For us, peace is always available–we are called to rest in him. When we lay down our tools, weapons and armor and crawl into his arms, like a child we can rest with no fear or longing. There is no other refuge so perfect; nor is there another promise so sweet; as the promise Gd makes us–“Trust me and follow me and I will give you peace and rest.”  Do not try to do this life on your own–it will wear you out! Follow the Lord and he will provide all you need–especially peace and rest.

God Bless You

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”[d]

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his

It Is About Who and Whose We Are! Titus 1 Part 2

As kind as Paul was to his young preachers; he had no patience for the hypercritical, the vain and hedonistic church goers.  Those were the folks that that caused dissension in the church.  They were the ones that drew the weak away.  It absolutely infuriated Paul to see people whom God had given his greatest gift–try to marginalize it with works and traditions.  
In addition, it made him angry to see people given a new life in Christ live with no regard or respect for that new life they claimed to have attained.  While the gift of salvation is just that–a gift, when Christ comes in; one becomes a new creation and leave the old selfish and self-centered person behind.  If there is no heart change, then Paul saw that the people were not taking serious the gift of salvation.
 
It is the same today.  So many people claim to have believed the message of salvation.  Yet, many either continue to attempt to justify their lives with the works they have completed, rather than accept the new life in Christ–To God, that is maddening.  We are free from our old life and that need to somehow earn redemption for our sinful lives.  
Conversely, the other extreme–that likens salvation to a get out of hell free card–that requires no change in your life is an equally flawed paradigm.  We are “new creations”; part of an amazing family–headed by a loving God that created us, and wants nothing more than to see us live free and with peace and joy. It is not about what we do–it is about who and whose we are.  We need to live lives that honor our God and our community of believers!!!!
 
God Bless You
 
 

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”[c] 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Leaders–God’s Plan–Titus 1 part 1

Paul was preparing Titus, another young preacher, for leading a church.  Crete, Titus’s hometown, was a wild place.  So, Paul for priorities sake, hits on a critical issue–what should your leaders look like? Paul knew that the leadership would set the tone for the people in the church.  Paul knew leaders needed to be above reproach, committed to their families and gracious to others.  He knew that to best lead others, the focus for the leader needed not be clouded by life issues.  He made no judgement of folks that did not qualify–he simply pointed Titus to people that lived simple lives–to deal with the issues of the church community.
 
In our world, we all have issues. I have counseled many couples on the fact that everyone has some baggage, the trick is making sure the baggage you and your spouse have fits in the closet. If Christians look for perfect people to lead in the community–there simply will be no leadership.  
 
But, if we look for people that are gracious, love their families and live a life above reproach–well then, the baggage will fit, and the community will be blessed.  God used Noah–the drunk,Moses–the killer, Samson–the cocky, self-absorbed troublemaker, David–the adulterer and murderer, Peter–the lair and chicken, and Paul-the persecutor of Christians; to lead his people–all had major issues in their walks with God–still, upon reflection, they all qualified because they trusted him to lead through them–That should also be our goal!
 
God Bless You
 
 

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable,one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

What Spiritual Warfare Looks Like–Acts 17 Part 1

Paul and his companions were changing the world.  From city to city they were preaching the Gospel, reasoning with the spiritual leaders and watching men and women come to faith.  Amazingly, however, the enemy was equally tenacious.  In each city, the religious leadership was not happy with the impact Paul and Silas were having.  They went out into the communities and raised the rabble of the town to protest and riot against the preaching of Christ and its transformative affect.
 
It was ironic that the enemy was backed by the “religious folk”.  They were seeking out those with whom they would never associate to start violence and disruption when their lives and teaching were all about order and rules.  Spiritual warfare brings out the best in the faithful and the worst  in the enemies of God.  Still, in the midst of the daily battles, the church was thriving and growing in every community where Jesus was preached.
 
In our current culture, warfare is at a peak. The enemy is seemingly carrying the day and the hope of revival among those in our nation seems to be dimming. As the Church, we have to get back on our knees and cry out for God’s healing and restoration.  We need to seek his grace and mercy and turn the ship to come into alignment with his plan.  We must be wary of the religious folk and their attempts to water down the truth of faith.  We can lead a movement that will bring Christ back to the forefront of our thinking.  But, even if that does not happen, we must battle on to the end knowing that Christ has won the war already and we are saved by his grace and carried by his power.  We will be like Him and we will not be left to lose the war.
 
God Bless You
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.