“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?” Hebrews 12:7-9 Discipline is the process of teaching your child what type of behavior is acceptable and what type is not acceptable. In other words, discipline teaches a child to follow rules. Effective discipline uses many different tools, like positive reinforcement, modeling, and a loving and supportive family. God’s discipline is not punishment, it is training. It is God training us to be more like Jesus. It is God leading us and directing our path in the way we should go. I don’t know about you, but I am hardheaded and at times God has to get my attention. This is God’s discipline. When God was calling me to the ministry many years ago, things happened in my life that was not pleasant. As I have looked back on these events in my life, I know that it was God leading me in the right direction. It was God’s discipline in my life. Even as I went through this time when God was trying to get my attention, I knew that God was with me and was protecting me. I am God’s child! Discipline brings stability and structure into a person’s life. … If there were no discipline, people would do whatever they wanted and make mistakes without putting the consideration of others first and foremost. It promotes good […]
“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:5-6 I had parents that disciplined me. They not only disciplined me they loved me. They showed their love for me by disciplining me. I had a very good friend that died this week. I told his sister that his parents were my parents also, because they would discipline me if it was necessary when we were both children. Today I am the person that I am because of these people. I wish that I could tell these people thank you for what they did for me. The same is true with God. If he did not correct me when I get off course, I would not think He loved me. A few years ago, my New Year scripture was, “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” (Habakkuk 2:1) That year was a year of correction. God showed me things that year that was wrong with my thinking and my life. I would have never grown if I had not allowed God’s discipline in my life. My parents loved me, but God loves me so much more than my parents. Are you going through a difficult time right now? Maybe it is God trying to tell you something. Listen to that still small voice. It could change your life.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4 Our walk with God is a walk of endurance. We have seen all the heroes of the Bible and how they had faith in God. We have looked at what Jesus did for us on the cross and the great promise that God has given so that we can walk with this endurance. No matter what circumstances life brings, this passage of scripture is the remedy. Whatever trials come our way; this is the key to success in the middle of it. If we are to run a race, we need to get rid of everything that keeps us down. In this case, it is our sin. Satan wants to trip us up with sin so we cannot run. In this race we become weary and at times we just want to give up, but we will make it if we endure and keep our eyes on Jesus and not the circumstances around us. When I read this, I picture countless men and women lining the streets of heaven cheering for the saints still in […]
“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:39-40 To die in faith, believing God until the very end was a privilege that the patriarchs shared. Their ultimate promise was the Messiah and they looked forward in faith until the time of Jesus. God had planned this for us, so along with these heroes of faith we would be the recipients of this promise. Every example of faith given, is to solidify the message of mercy and redemption in the book of Hebrews. Jesus’ sacrifice for us, made us righteous, holy and cleansed from the guilt of sin. He resides, seated on His throne in heaven, as our High Priest guaranteeing this right standing with God. His blood has cleansed us and speaks a powerful word of righteousness on our behalf. Because of this we have confidence to live a life of victory. Those listed in Hebrews 11 understood this and yet they did not receive what had been promised. However, we have, which is why we live and walk by faith. This is what the ancients were commended for, it is what pleases God and it is what ensures and makes readily available the promises given to us in the Scriptures. Faith is how the righteous live. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (Habakkuk 2:4) God has the most wonderful plans for us.
“How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:32-38 Faith has always been the defining characteristic of God’s people. Throughout the entire chapter of Hebrews 11, we see example after example of faith. Circumstances grim, chances for natural success low and yet, God’s people always flourish because of faith and God’s promise to respond to it. Faith is so important to the believer that Paul told the Corinthian church, “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7) When everything looks hopeless, we know that this is not true, because of our […]
“It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Hebrews 11:31 Rahab had an understanding of God’s character; an understanding that many of His covenant people lacked. As terror spread throughout the land, because of the Israelites camped at the Jordan awaiting entrance into their Promised Land, Rahab made a deal with the spies hidden in her house and God honored it. The account of Rahab’s faith is an amazing story of redemption. When Joshua sent spies into the land to bring back a report, they stopped at Jericho entering into Rahab’s house. As a prostitute, her house gave them opportunity to blend in. After hiding them on the roof, she redirected the king’s servants, who were looking for them, into the countryside on a wild goose chase. She reveals to the spies that the entire land was shaking with fear because their God’s fame and mighty works had proceeded them for decades. Rahab’s next move was amazing, she asked the spies to exchange her kindness for a sign that she and her family would be spared when Jericho was defeated. Agreeing to her terms, they instructed her to keep the scarlet cord, on which they escaped in the window. Assuring that everyone remained inside would be spared. What is interesting about this, is that Rahab made this deal based solely on God’s grace. She was from Jericho, she was a harlot, she had no right to ask anything. Secondly, she put herself in grave danger by helping the spies and then remaining in the city surrounded by enemies who could turn on her if they knew her part in helping the Israelites. And yet, her token […]
“It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.” Hebrews 11:30 This account of the defeat of Jericho truly belongs in the Hebrews hall of fame. This was a crowning moment for Israel as they trusted God to make good on His promise to them. After wandering the desert for forty years, due to their unbelief, the first mission in the Promised Land of Canaan was to conquer Jericho, a fortified city whose walls were thick and impenetrable. As they prepared to defeat the city, instructions were given about how to do it. The entire army was to march around the city every day for six days. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. Then the priests were to blow their trumpets while the people shouted and the walls would fall down for them to enter and fight. The Ark of the Covenant would go before them to remind them of their covenant with God. The idea of marching around the city day after day, believing at the end, the walls would cave in to deliver it into your hands takes faith. Joshua was helping them along forbidding them to speak any doubt. In fact, I believe each day it probably got harder and harder to march around the city. I’m sure there were people camped on the walls shouting insults which only got worse with each passing day. I’m sure it would have been easy for the Israelites to talk themselves out of the victory even if only one person started voicing doubts. Instead they remained silent which allowed them to walk out their faith in what God had instructed them to do. The result was complete and total victory. On […]
“It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.” Hebrews 11:29 I have a book in my library, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” It’s a story about Peter walking on water. This story of Peter is like the story of the crossing of the Red Sea. I hear people say that we just can’t take the risk and do that. The story of Peter and the Red Sea are not stories of risk taking. They are stories of obedience. So many times, we are not obedient to God because we fear stepping out. When we step out, we don’t know the end, but God does. God knows all about us and our future. When God called me to the ministry many years ago, we stepped out and moved across the country. We did not have a place to live or a job. We had never been to the place that God called us to move. All I had was the promise of God that He would take care of me and my family if I would just obey. It was the greatest adventure of my life and God provided everything we needed. The Lord responded to Moses faith and delivered His people as promised. Moses acted in faith by raising his staff and stretching out his hand over the sea and in return God moved the waters creating an escape path of dry ground. The angel of God blocked the way of the Egyptians so the Israelites could safely escape. After the entire nation was safely across, the Egyptians pursued, only to be drowned as the […]
“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons” Hebrews 11:24-28 To the world Moses had it all. He was rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh as a baby, raised under Pharaoh’s influence, wealth and position. In every sense of the word, he had it all. He had power, authority, riches and family connections. But this doesn’t compare or hold a candle to what God offers. Moses willingly gave it all up to be associated with the mistreated people of Israel and for the sake of Christ. This is amazing. This shows that Christ Jesus is and will always be the pinnacle of history. His work on the cross was so wonderful that Moses looked forward to it and it changed the course of his life and what he considered valuable. The world and all of its splendor didn’t compare to the riches of glory. It took Moses eighty years before he realized God’s call on his life. He had the faith in God to wait. Most of us would not have that kind of faith. We want everything […]
“It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau. It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff. It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.” Hebrews 11:20-22 These great leaders of the Bible are our examples. I know that at times it is hard to have faith. It is hard to believe what we just don’t see is happening. None of these great leaders had it easy. Every one of them had problems and at times I am sure that they lost faith, but in the end, God did what He had promised. They were all looking forward to what God had for them in the future. Isaac was the son through whom God would fulfill His promise to Abraham, yet the building of the nation would ultimately take place through his sons, Jacob and Esau. Isaac passed the promise he had received from his father to his sons. This demonstrated his trust in God’s promise he had received from his father. Jacob also trusted God to keep His promise. Even as he neared death, he still had the faith in God. His faith was future oriented and fixed on God’s faithfulness. Joseph looked forward in faith and trusted that God would redeem his people from Egypt. He anticipated the day he would return to Israel. That was only going to happen when God led Israel out of Egypt and into the promise land. His faith was so great that he even told his sons to […]