All the things I’ve been reading about Jesus are as true today as they ever have been, and they will always be true. I have a relentless advocate in Him, one who understands my struggles and temptations. He has laid down His life for me and is ever ready to guide my steps. And that will never change!
I have been learning a lot about who Christ is through my study of Hebrews, and I stand in awe of His character. How amazing is it to know that He will never change? He will never take back His promises. He will not grow weary of advocating on my behalf. He won’t give up on me, and He won’t stop loving me. He won’t change His mind or switch the “rules of the game”. He is constant. In a world that is changing at a rapid pace, whose cool thought or idea today could be taboo tomorrow, isn’t it refreshing to know that Jesus is always the same? He is my constant.
I think many of us fall into the trap of gauging things by how easy they are. We want to make minimal changes in our life to see maximum outcomes. We try hard for a time, but if we don’t see results right away, we get discouraged, assume we must be doing something wrong, and change course.
Have you ever seen anyone run a marathon, or heard them talk about it? I have several marathoners in my circle of friends and family. Every single one that I’ve talked to explains places in the race where things get really hard. They hurt. Their legs feel like jello. They feel numb. They feel physically sick. Yet, they press on. They have the finish line on view. Even if they can’t yet see that shiny red tape, they see it in their mind’s eye, and they don’t stop until they get there.
Life is a marathon my friends. It is not a sprint. It’s not a 5k. One might even argue that life is more like an Iron Man Triathlon. But, and this is a big but, we have the Prince of the universe running right along side us. The. Whole. Way. He has charted the course. He has scouted the obstacles and trials. He has removed the deadly snares and he runs beside us, cheering us on, urging is not to give up. And we can have the assurance that if we keep running and our legs give out, he will pick us up and run for us ’till we are strong again. But He will not let go.
Where are you at in your marathon today? Are you atop a high mountain? Are you running up a steep cliff? Wherever you are, know that Christ is right there running with you, and because of that you can keep running with endurance. You can mount up with wings of eagles (Isaiah 40:31). It may not be easy, it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but press on. Press on. The prize is worth far more than you could ever imagine.
Hebrews 11 – the Hall of Faith, as it is sometimes called. These are stories of men and women who trusted God. But if we read, the funny thing is, some of these very people and events would not be first on my list of people with great faith.
For example, Sarah and her ability to conceive despite her age. But wait. This very Sarah who did not trust and took matters into he own hands, giving her servant to Abraham to provide the child she believed she couldn’t have? Her faith seems so small. But verse 11 says “she considered Him faithful who promised.”
Samson, the judge who continually chose women and folly over the ways of the Lord is also on the list, a man of quick temper who lost his strength from the Lord.
While it is easy for me to be critical of some of the people and events on the list I am suddenly hit with the realization that my faith is not my own. Faith comes from Christ, from who He Is, from resting and trusting in Him.
When talking to His disciples, Jesus said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20 Our faith is not the magic bullet. Our faith is not what actually makes things happen. Rather through even our tiniest droplet of faith God’s mighty power can work and shut the mouths of lions, part the waters of the Red Sea, and loose the chains in your darkest dungeon.
How is your faith? You may be filled with unwavering faith like Moses (though even he had his moments), or you may have the tiny mustard seed faith of Sarah, believing in God, but struggling to accept His word as truth to you. Bring that faith to the feet of Jesus. Seek Him, and trust that though your faith be weak or strong, all He needs is mustard seed faith to work miracles in your life.
*This was written on June 14, 2016 in the wake of a night club shooting in Orlando, Florida.*
Encouragement. It’s so important. God’s word is filled with it, with stories of it, and with commands to practice it.
As I have been reading through Hebrews, I have been overcome with the undeniable truth of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and redemption for us. We are intimately loved by the foremost encourager.
These truths give us an unwavering hope, one that is solid and sure. It is through this hope and the faithfulness of His promises that we may encourage one another. It is all in His strength.
I know we are standing in the wake of a terrible tragedy in Orlando this week. The loss simply baffles my mind. To be fair, I have not read the news in great depth. I don’t know all the details. I don’t think it’s necessary and it’s just too much for my heart to carry. But I know one thing. There are many, many hurting people. I honestly don’t care if they are straight, LGBTQ, or anything in between. They are people, created and loved by God. So are their families and loved ones. We have been given such a hope, such a peace, and such an amazing gift. Now is the time, my friends. We must share this love with those around us. We must “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
It is not our pity and charity that the world needs. It is not even our good deeds. Rather it is the love of Jesus, and what a blessing it is that He has chosen to use us as vehicles of that great love. Let Him live, love, and encourage through you today!
Our God is not random. If you notice, everything He asks His children to do has a clear purpose. The same is true for the sanctuary system initiated in the desert.
The Israelites had been in Egypt for hundreds of years. They had mixed and mingled with religions so different from their own that they struggled with remembering who God really was. They had reached a point where the only bondage they desired freedom from was their physical slavery. They forgot that they needed deliveries were from their own sins.
God gave the Israelites the sanctuary system to remind His children who He was, why they needed Him, and how deeply He loved them. Yet, these sacrifices themselves did not bring salvation to the people. They were only a shadow of what was to come.
Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. He has cleansed us by His blood. We are clean, we are free. We have been bought with a price. We are His children.
From time to time I hear people doubt. They feel their sins are too great. They can’t seem to change no matter how much they try. They worry that God will not accept them. Let me tell you today that,
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~ Romans 38:39
God’s love, the sacrifice of Christ, is more than enough.
He is our priest. He is our sacrifice. He is our advocate and salvation.
Jesus wants nothing more than for us to find Salvation and Him. He pleads for us day and night and He will not stop.
What an encouraging thought. I have the chief priest in my corner. He is the one pleading my case. He is the one fighting for me. He is the one who already fulfilled my sentence. Wow. Just wow.
Let’s talk about works for a minute. Yes it is true; faith without works is dead (James 2:17). But can I urge you to please stop trying so hard? The moment our fair shifts from a total focus on Christ and full surrender to Him to the right works and “making” the fruits of the spirit happen in our lives; that moment we decide, by sheer willpower to do what it takes to be a “good Christian;” that is the moment we begin to seek self instead of Christ and our works become as thistles.
We cannot fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit by striving to be more patient and kind. We cannot be better Christians by feeding the poor and caring for orphans. On the contrary, we must set our gaze on Christ. We must allow His rain to deeply penetrate our souls. It is then, and only then, that He can change us from within and produce fruit more beautiful, nutritious, and scrumptious than any produced by our own effort.
Can you trust God that much today? Can you trust that if all you do is look to Christ and seek Him with all your heart that He is enough and He WILL send the rain. Can you trust that He alone can produce in you a beautiful garden of fruits, works of the most spectacular kind? Trust Him today.