Putting God's Word into Practice…

Hebrews 13:10-14 Post Vacation Reminder

Returning to real life and ministry from vacation can have one of two results: return with fresh zeal and passion or return with hesitation and complacency.  This past week, I found myself in the second group.  I knew a lot of the same “burdens and battles” we were facing before we left were still waiting for us upon our return and honestly I just wanted to hide.  God used these verses (specifically 12-14) and much prayer to remind me, it’s not about me, to suck it up and get back in the “game.”

So Jesus also SUFFERED outside the gate in order to SANCTIFY the people through HIS OWN BLOOD. Therefore LET US GO TO HIM outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (12-14)

Jesus suffered exclusion, rejection and pain to make people holy.  Now, I know that He is the only One who can make people holy; but as His ambassadors on this earth, it is our responsibility to spend our lives helping people in the area of holy living through discipleship.  So it shouldn’t surprise us when we face rejection and suffering when we are trying to live our lives like Jesus.  

William Lane said, “Christian identity is a matter of ‘going out’ now to Him.  It  entails the costly commitment to follow Him resolutely despite suffering.”

Will I meet Jesus outside the camp at the place of suffering for the sake of others?  If my hope is set on eternity, I will!  I will not give up!  

Lord give me the strength to serve and suffer for the sanctification of others.  Give me the heart and desire to continue the ministry of love. In Jesus, my suffering Savior’s name, amen.

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 13:9 Grace vs. Food

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. (ESV)

Don’t be attracted by strange new ideas.  Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them. (NLT)

Strange, new ideas about food are not new at all. People during all eras have been fascinated with what goes into their mouths.  As generations pass, ideas change.  New agendas are pushed until the market is exhausted or new studies and ideas come out.  Throughout the course of history many things have seen ups and downs like: butter, sugar, eggs, carbs, coffee, alcohol, pork, etc…  What is magical to one generation is toxic to the next.

Matthew Henry said, “These strange doctrines (beliefs/rules about food) keep the heart always fluctuating and unsettled.  They are contrary to the grace of God which fixes and establishes the heart, which is an excellent thing.” He goes on to write of their external, temporal value and their inability to make us “more holy, more humble, more thankful, and more heavenly.”

That is why it is important to fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (13:8).  Be attracted to Jesus, not distracted by worldly ideas.  Our strength and the health of our hearts comes by His grace alone, not by what we put in or leave out of our mouths!


Sometimes A Song Changes Everything…

This past Sunday we were visiting friends in Miami. It was a great joy and blessing to go to the church where they serve (Turning Point Miami). The worship music was vibrant, and the message was packed with truth. There was one song that in singing it, my eyes flooded with tears. The words struck a cord of conviction in my heart.

“Christ is enough for me! Christ is enough for me! Everything I need is in You! Everything I need! I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!”

The words are easy to sing, but are hard to live! That morning I sang with fresh passion and commitment to the Lord. He is enough! He is the only One I need to follow–the only One worth following! I don’t want to live my life pursuing ministry, family and self–I want to chase after Jesus alone!


Leave a comment »

Hebrews 13:7-8 Imitating Faith

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8

  • Imitate the faith of leaders after watching and considering their lives.  Don’t jump on every bandwagon which is easy to do in our quick-fame, self-promoting culture.
  • As a leader, remember that people are watching and there is great value in living a faith worth imitating.  However, humans are fallible.  Leaders will not always make the right choices.  People will let me down, and I will let others down!
  • BUT Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!  He is unchanging–He is the ultimate One to imitate!

Lord, like the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, let people be able to imitate me as I imitate you.  I have a long way to go!  Make me a compassionate, gracious, humble, loving, forgiving servant–a rescuer and helper–like Jesus.  In His powerful name I ask it of You, amen.

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 13:1-6 The Lord is Enough! He is my Helper!

These few verses give several directives on godly living involving love, compassion and passion:

  • Let brotherly love continue.  (i.e. Don’t give up on people!)
  • Show hospitality to strangers–they may be angels in disguise!
  • Remember the imprisoned and mistreated as though you are one of them.
  • Hold the holiness of marriage high!  This is difficult in our culture because marriage does not look the way that God designed it–as a perfect example of Christ’s sacrificial love for us and our unending respect and submission to His leadership in our lives.
  • Don’t love money–whether we spend our lives trying to get more of it or our minds are consumed with never having enough of it.
  • Be content!  Because God has promised to never leave us or forsake us, we have all we need in Him!

Resting in the sufficiency of His presence (5b) and His promise to help (6a) casts out fear, offers strength to love and care for others, to stand against evil, and to be satisfied in Him!

For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5b-6

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 12:18-29 Too Amazing for Words

I didn’t take any notes on this portion of verses, just spent a lot of time in prayer, gratitude and worship.  If you have been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, are a member of His church, your name is enrolled in Heaven, and know that you are receiving His Kingdom which cannot ever be shaken, then I hope you take time to worship Him today too!

Therefore let us be GRATEFUL for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable WORSHIP with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire! Hebrews 12:28-29

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 12:14-17 Guidelines for Living

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

We are in this race together!  We are accountable for how we handle and help one another!

  • Strive for peace with EVERYONE!  Peace among people does not come naturally–especially with everyone!  It requires work.  Peace with others means that we have to lay down our rights, our grudges and our preferences for the sake of others.
  • Strive for holiness.  There is a constant battle between the Spirit that lives inside  us and the spirit of flesh and rebellion against God that we are born with.  Never give up striving for holiness!
  • Our job is to offer God’s grace to others.  It should be our driving purpose in the race of life.
  • We need to protect others from being defiled by our bitterness.  We can cause people to fall into sin by our bitterness.  Bitterness is born and grows under the surface, but when it springs up it causes trouble and defiles many.  This past week my son and I visited Myakka State Park outside of Sarasota.  There is a beautiful flower that grows in the lake called a Water Hyacinth.  Unfortunately it is a weed that overtakes all the surrounding healthy growing water lillies as it multiplies and causes the death of many creatures in their habitat.  That is what bitterness is like!
  • Protect each other from falling into sexual immorality. How can we protect others? a) modesty; b) entertainment choices; c) sex outside of marriage and “teasing” men; d) developing relationship with someone other than spouse (emotionally, electronically, physically)
  • Help each other grow in wisdom and holiness.

The example of Esau is given.  He made choices without thinking ahead, but only gratified his instant desire, forfeiting his future blessing.  He was the opposite of Moses–the man of faith–who forfeited the pleasures of the world because He was looking ahead to His eternal blessing (Hebrews 11:24-26).

There were two phrases in this text that gave me trouble, but thanks to the whole counsel of God’s Word and His Spirit’s guidance, the trouble was resolved!

Esau “found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”  2 Corinthians 7:10 says that godly sorrow leads to repentance and to salvation.  Worldly sorrow leads to regret and death.   We can be sorry we did something–made a foolish choice–but it is the consequences that make us sad, not the sin.  That is not true repentance!

Strive “for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  We can only be made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ covering and washing away our sins.  But that must change our lives.  We must no longer strive to sin, but strive to be godly like Him.  It says in Ephesians 4:2 that we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, and in 1 Peter 1:15-16, we are called to be holy like God is holy.  Our desire to be holy and work to add godliness to our lives is proof that we have been changed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 12:12-13 Enduring and Planning for the Race

Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

  1. When things are difficult and wearisome, we need to respond with worship and surrender!  Lift up your hands!
  2. Work!  The place where there is the greatest potential for injury in the race of life needs to be strengthened!
  3. Plan ahead! The places that might cause stumbling on our race path need extra attention.  Make them level before you have a chance to trip or stumble.

We need to be active and assertive, yet surrendered, in difficult times–times of hardship, suffering and discipline–or the result will be further pain and injury, lengthening the process of recovery.

In April I partially tore my calve muscle while training for a half-marathon.  After six weeks of physical therapy and following the plan for healing, I decided to start jogging again.  I went a little two fast and a little too far on the second day out causing a two week setback.  When I tried again, I took it much slower and stuck to the advice of the physical therapist.  My leg is restored and my running is back on track!  But it required surrender, work, and planning.

Leave a comment »

Hebrews 12:5-11 Discipline and Love

Returning yesterday from nearly two wonderful and refreshing weeks of vacation, I realized it was time to update the blog! I’m going to try to make sense of the notes I have from what I learned in my daily Bible readings and type them up today.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline.  If you are left without discipline in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

  • Moses was disciplined by God.
  • The Israelites were disciplined by God.
  • Samson was disciplined by God.
  • David was disciplined by God.
  • Barak was disciplined by God.

If the great “heroes of faith” who’s deeds were counted to them as righteousness were disciplined when their actions and attitudes went off course, should we not also be disciplined for sinning against a perfect God?  Discipline is a gift of love that restores our fellowship with God.

  • God’s discipline is for those He loves and who belong to Him. (vs. 6)
  • God’s discipline proves to us that we are His child and He is our Father. (vs. 8)
  • God’s discipline causes our respect for Him to grow. (vs. 9)
  • God’s discipline is for our own good. (vs. 10)
  • God’s discipline makes us more like Him in holiness. (vs. 10)
  • God’s discipline is painful in the moment. (vs. 11)
  • God’s discipline has a purpose–yields peace and righteousness. (vs. 11)
  • God’s discipline trains us for running a better race.  Training prevents injury and enables endurance. (vs. 11)

Our response to discipline is to take it seriously and not grow weary of it (vs. 5).  

I tried to think of ways that I had been disciplined by God and came up with a few simple ways that I have received “spiritual spankings” over time.

  • There have been several specific times when I experienced anxiety, fretfulness, fear over finances and the very day it peaked I received a check in the mail that covered the need.  Which means, God was taking care of the need before I was anxious about it.  The anxiety was completely unnecessary.  Lesson learned:  God loves to provide for His own and He is always faithful!
  • Some days when it seems like everyone needs a piece of me, I have gotten a complaining, grumbly spirit towards people and started down the path to a pity-party.  Then several people will call and cancel appointments and my day is freed up.  Lesson learned: If I don’t want to do the work that God has planned for my day, He will give it to someone else who will receive the blessing of serving and ministering to others.
  • When I have grumbled and complained to someone and they point out the silver lining or give me a spiritual truth.  It hurts momentarily, but it snaps be back to reality.  Lesson learned: Grumbling and complaining is not necessary when we have such a good God, and everything He allows in our lives has a refining purpose.
  • When I have been “whispering” about someone and they walk up behind me at that moment. Lesson learned: never speak negatively about others, only speak what gives grace and builds up people.
  • Having a guilty pleasure TV show and being called out on it’s offense to the Lord.  Several years back I was secretly watching The Bachelor.  My husband would go into a different room, and I would spend time justifying my actions. Midseason, a women that I know started talking about how evil a show like The Bachelor is in the eyes of God, and I felt a deep pang of truth in my spirit.  Lesson learned: when we try to hide sins from God, He knows and there is no amount of justifying that can cover it up or make it right.
  • When I pridefully start thinking that I can “conquer the world” in my own strength, and God uses sickness to slow me down and remind me of my need for His strength and direction.  Lesson learned: Apart from God I can do no good thing.
  • Last spring I lost my temper with my son, he has responded with gentleness quickly diffusing the confrontation.  When I spoke with him after, he shared with me the verse he learned from Proverbs 15:1 in his morning Bible reading.  Lesson learned: Anger can be diffused with a gentle answer just like God’s Word says.  God’s ways are always best. We don’t need to lose control to prove our points.

So how do we know when we are enduring the discipline from God and not merely experiencing “life?”  His discipline will always line up with truth from His Word (2 Timothy 3:16), it will realign our lives with godliness (10), and will result in peace (11).

Leave a comment »