Running my Unique Lap in the Race of Faith (Part 2)

Well, friends, we have come to the end of our class called "Running the Race of Faith" at Patterson Park Church this fall. Some of you have joined us and followed along. Since we have taken some detours along the way at "A Branch in the Vine," click here for Part 1.

Now enjoy the remainder...and keep on running!

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3  (The Message)

Running my Unique Lap in the Race of Faith (Part 2)

Well, friends, we have come to the end of our class called "Running the Race of Faith" at Patterson Park Church this fall. Some of you have joined us and followed along. Since we have taken some detours along the way at "A Branch in the Vine," click here for Part 1.

Now enjoy the remainder...and keep on running!

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3  (The Message)

The Father's Sandpaper

Tears-150x150-1
Tears-150x150-1

It's a precious relationship...but why is it so hard...and painful? We keep "missing" each other!  Maybe we don't "get" each other?

I keep trying to respect boundaries and be "circumspect" in what I say and do...and then it comes:  stuff from the past, mistakes in the present...at times, I am responsible...other times, I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Not the sweetness and light I keep hoping for!

Lord, why?  Why is it so hard?  How do I navigate this relationship?

Then comes His still, small voice:

This relationship is Sandpaper in My Hands to shine you up...to get those rough places smooth!

sandpaper
sandpaper

Now how can I argue with that?  Thank you, Lord!

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects[actually, beats to a pulp!]... At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain.Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:7,11 Message

Many of you are going through difficulties of every kind...excruciating, even life threatening health problems, mental and emotional heartache, relational stresses, and the list goes on. We have no idea what the Father is doing in His sovereignty.

But one thing we can count on is that He is shining us up more and more to look like His glorious Son Who indwells us.

So let's embrace Him and our life and believe with all our hearts that nothing is wasted in His almighty, loving Fatherly Hands.

nothing is wasted, jason gray
nothing is wasted, jason gray

PLEASE click on this link to view an awesome video of this song: Nothing is wasted -- Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart And left you trembling in the dark Feeling lost and alone Will tell you hope's a lie But what if every tear you cry Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds That beauty finds a place to bloom And you will see before the end That every broken piece is Gathered in the heart of Jesus And what's lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

nothing wasted
nothing wasted

You might also like to look at "In Pain...two Things I Know"

The Father's Sandpaper

It's a precious relationship...but why is it so hard...and painful? We keep "missing" each other!  Maybe we don't "get" each other?

I keep trying to respect boundaries and be "circumspect" in what I say and do...and then it comes:  stuff from the past, mistakes in the present...at times, I am responsible...other times, I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Not the sweetness and light I keep hoping for!

Lord, why?  Why is it so hard?  How do I navigate this relationship?

Then comes His still, small voice:

This relationship is Sandpaper in My Hands to shine you up...to get those rough places smooth!

Now how can I argue with that?  Thank you, Lord!

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects [actually, beats to a pulp!]... At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:7,11 Message

Many of you are going through difficulties of every kind...excruciating, even life threatening health problems, mental and emotional heartache, relational stresses, and the list goes on. We have no idea what the Father is doing in His sovereignty.

But one thing we can count on is that He is shining us up more and more to look like His glorious Son Who indwells us.

So let's embrace Him and our life and believe with all our hearts that nothing is wasted in His almighty, loving Fatherly Hands.

PLEASE click on this link to view an awesome video of this song: Nothing is wasted -- Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart And left you trembling in the dark Feeling lost and alone Will tell you hope's a lie But what if every tear you cry Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds That beauty finds a place to bloom And you will see before the end That every broken piece is Gathered in the heart of Jesus And what's lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

You might also like to look at "In Pain...two Things I Know"

Running my Unique Lap in the Race of Faith (Part 1)

running the race of faith
running the race of faith

...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus  Hebrews 12: 1-2

God calls us to own our lives...to hug them to our breasts and to live them with all our hearts!  No place do we see this truth more clearly than in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12.

Using the imagery of running, God says that now it's...

...our turn to run our lap in the race of faith! 

And as we run, we each need to remember these truths:

1.  I’m part of something bigger than myself.

Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us... Heb 11:1 - 12:1a

See the  Hebrews 11 blog to meditate on this truth.

Hebrews 11
Hebrews 11

2.  There are hindrances to my running.

...let us also lay aside every encumbrance [weight], and the sin which so easily entangles us... Heb 12: 1b

spider web photo July 2011
spider web photo July 2011

See Caught in the Web.

3.  My lap is uniquely mine.

    ...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...  Heb 12: 1c

For encouragement to be who God made you to be and stop comparing yourself to others or letting others deter you by their own insecurity, see: The Green-Eyed Monster and other Fruit Killers

eric liddell
eric liddell

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We’re pilgrims on the journey Of the narrow road And those who’ve gone before us line the way Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses Let us run the race not only for the prize But as those who’ve gone before us Let us leave to those behind us The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Chorus Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful May the fire of our devotion light their way May the footprints that we leave Lead them to believe And the lives we live inspire them to obey Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone And our children sift through all we’ve left behind May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Embracing my Real Life

We often fight against our own reality, don't we? If you have trouble, as I do, with owning and living your real "today" life, why not pause here with me and reflect on this repost from last month: Living the Life I Have, not the One I Wish I Had

Have you ever thought you didn't have a problem in an area and then all of a sudden you came face to face with the truth? I have! In fact, that happened again to me just the other day.  Here's how it played out:

I was whizzing down my Facebook news feed when I came across a link shared by my sister-in-law Vicky. Now Vicky has been posting some really good stuff lately, and I had a few extra minutes...plus I was drawn into it (could that have been the Holy Spirit?), so I parked there for awhile.

the-scream

the-scream

As I went through the list of quotes for "anxious, highly sensitive, and creative people," BAM! Right between the emotional and spiritual eyes!

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

So that's my problem! I had been in a funk, a blue mood, lonely,...ok, depressed, for weeks. I haven't wanted to be here in Ohio, starting my job again, beginning a new commitment.

Beth & Nate and boys (3)

Beth & Nate and boys (3)

I've wanted to be back in Delaware...with my new grandson William and his brothers Eli and Kaden and my daughter Beth and her husband Nate (whom I am teaching to crochet, by the way...what fun!)

Or...

Sunrise 8-14

Sunrise 8-14

I've wanted to be in New Jersey...watching the sun rise over the ocean every morning and walking on the beach with my cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee with no one else around, except fishermen like my brother Billy, and photographers like Bill McKim.

sunrise, bill McKim 8-23-14

sunrise, bill McKim 8-23-14

And visiting with my siblings and my dear mama in her new home at Manor by the Sea in Ocean Grove.

mom, sibs, & me Aug 2012

mom, sibs, & me Aug 2012

My subconscious (and conscious) mind has been working on "how can I get back there...sooner instead of later?"

John on Thanksgiving at Beth's

John on Thanksgiving at Beth's

Now I have a good life here in Ohio, great husband, lovely home, awesome son and family, amazing friends, a one day a week teaching job that I love, a new opportunity to teach ladies the scriptures.  BUT...somewhere along the line, I've quit embracing my life and hugging it to my breast and being thankful for it -- both the good and the hard.  And that isn't good at all!

Jeremy & fam...JOY

Jeremy & fam...JOY

I can't live where I'm not! I need to live where I am each day...owning my reality. WHY? Because that is where God is and that is where I meet HIM! He is the I AM in my "right here, right now!"

After reflecting along these lines for awhile, another quote from the list got me:

Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’ Eckhart Tolle

Is that what is disturbing my sleep lately? I'm fighting against my own life! How many times have I "preached" against this very thing to others?

So what did I do? I chose to receive the truth the Lord was revealing. "Jan, you need to be fully HERE!"

So here I am in Ohio...not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I'm meeting the Lord in my "here" and receiving at His hand "this day, this bread" as the Lord's prayer says.

What about you? What is the life you have? Is it the one you are embracing, or are you reaching out for another...which is not really your life "right here, right now" at all?

Why not do what the Lord led me to do this morning?  Agree with Him, and then list your life and give thanks for each and every part of it by name, the good and the hard.

Then keep on adding to the list each day...till that eternal day when you see Him face to face, when He says, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!"

"Come on home...to a perfect place, a place you never dreamed possible!"

I looked again and could hardly believe my eyes. Everything above me was new. Everything below me was new. Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only.

And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne.

See, the home of God is with His people. He will live among them; They will be His people, And God Himself will be with them.

Revelation 21:1-3 VOICE


Hebrews 12: the Father's Sandpaper

It's a precious relationship...but why is it so hard...and painful?  We keep "missing" each other!  Maybe we don't "get" each other? I keep trying to respect boundaries and be "circumspect" in what I say and do...and then it comes:  stuff from the past, mistakes in the present...at times, I am responsible...other times, I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Not the sweetness and light I keep hoping for!

Lord, why?  Why is it so hard?  How do I navigate this relationship?

Then comes His still, small voice:

This relationship is Sandpaper in My Hands to shine you up...to get those rough places smooth!

 

 

Now how can I argue with that?  Thank you, Lord!

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects [actually, beats to a pulp!]... At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:7,11 Message

Many of you are going through difficulties of every kind...excruciating, even life threatening health problems, mental and emotional heartache, relational stresses, and the list goes on.  We have no idea what the Father is doing in His sovereignty.  But one thing we can count on is that He is shining us up more and more to look like His glorious Son Who indwells us.  So let's embrace Him and our life and believe with all our hearts that nothing is wasted in His almighty, loving Fatherly Hands.

PLEASE click on this link to view an awesome video of this song: Nothing is wasted -- Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart And left you trembling in the dark Feeling lost and alone Will tell you hope's a lie But what if every tear you cry Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds That beauty finds a place to bloom And you will see before the end That every broken piece is Gathered in the heart of Jesus And what's lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

You might also like to look at "In Pain...two Things I Know"

Hebrews 12: Our Turn to Run!

running the race of faith
running the race of faith

...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus  Hebrews 12: 1-2

God calls us to own our lives...to hug them to our breasts and to live them with all our hearts!  No place do we see this truth more clearly than in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12.

Using the imagery of running, God says that now it's...

...our turn to run our lap in the race of faith! 

And as we run, we each need to remember these truths:

1.  I’m part of something bigger than myself.

Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us... Heb 11:1 - 12:1a

See the  Hebrews 11 blog to meditate on this truth.

Hebrews 11
Hebrews 11

2.  There are hindrances to my running.

...let us also lay aside every encumbrance [weight], and the sin which so easily entangles us... Heb 12: 1b

spider web photo July 2011
spider web photo July 2011

See Caught in the Web.

3.  My lap is uniquely mine.

    ...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...  Heb 12: 1c

For encouragement to be who God made you to be and stop comparing yourself to others or letting others deter you by their own insecurity, see: The Green-Eyed Monster and other Fruit Killers

eric liddell
eric liddell

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

fix eyes on Jesus
fix eyes on Jesus

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

Father's discipline
Father's discipline

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

A Pruned Branch in the Vine 138_5713
A Pruned Branch in the Vine 138_5713

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

fruitful vine
fruitful vine

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

finish lines
finish lines

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3(The Message)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We’re pilgrims on the journey Of the narrow road And those who’ve gone before us line the way Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses Let us run the race not only for the prize But as those who’ve gone before us Let us leave to those behind us The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Chorus Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful May the fire of our devotion light their way May the footprints that we leave Lead them to believe And the lives we live inspire them to obey Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone And our children sift through all we’ve left behind May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Class notes:  MY TURN TO RUN -- Hebrews 12

Homework: Read Hebrews 12:25-13:25 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 203-205 Read chapter 10 & Conclusion,  Hoping…

Hebrews: Christ's Ascension to the Father...Key to my Life on this Earth!

ascension
ascension

A while ago, I heard a sermon on the Ascension of Christ.  To tell you the truth, I had never thought much of the Lord's Ascension.  My focus has always been on the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord...and the incredible benefits to me as His child and disciple. But now that I am back in Hebrews again, I've remembered that sermon...and I'm pondering!  Pondering the glory of it all and its vital importance to my own spiritual walk in this sin-cursed world.

Andrew Murray, in his monumental work on the epistle to the Hebrews, says:

Faith has its foundation on four great corner-stones on which the building rests -- the Divinity of Christ, the Incarnation, the Atonement on the Cross, the Ascension to the Throne.  The last is the most wonderful, the crown of all the rest, the perfect revelation of what God has made Christ for us.  And so in the Christian life it is the most important, the glorious fruit of all that goes before. [emphasis mine], Holiest of All, p 65.

He goes on to say,

The Holy Spirit was sent down after the ascension.  Why?  That He might witness to us of a heavenly Christ, and bring the kingdom of heaven into our hearts and lives. [emphasis mine], Holiest of All, p 66.

How about exploring with me the five passages in Hebrews that speak of the ascended Christ sitting on the Throne at the right Hand of the Father?  What do you discover in the context of each?  Here they are --

Hebrews 1:3

Hebrews 1:13

Hebrews 8:1-2

Hebrews 10:11-14

Hebrews 12:1-3

Because our great High Priest is on the Throne, we can...Hebrews 4:14-16

Why?  Because of our key verse:  Hebrews 7:24-25

Now look at other related passages and start making your list of the benefits that are yours because Jesus our Great High Priest ascended to the right hand of the Father and sat down!

John 20:17 -- after the resurrection

Luke 24:44-53 -- the ascension into heaven

Acts 1:6-14; 2:1-36 [see especially 2:33-35!] -- the ascension & Pentecost

John 7:37-39 & John 16:7-14-- promise of the Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17 -- promise of indwelling of the Spirit; also look at Col 1:27

Ephesians 1:3, 20-23 -- spiritual blessings; power toward us who believe!

Ephesians 4:7-14 -- Christ's victorious ascension & giving of spiritual gifts

Col 3:1-4 -- life union with Christ -- Hallelujah!!!!

Romans 8:28-39 -- nothing can separate or condemn (see esp v34)

This brings us back full circle to our  key verse -- Hebrews 7:24-25

And then to the culmination of time:

Revelation 3:20-21; also chapters 21 & 22 -- awesome!

Christ's Ascension and Enthronment is so important, we dare not ignore it:

The ascension completes the resurrection. Without the resurrection Christ’s death would be meaningless as far as the great issues of life are concerned. And without the ascension, the resurrection would also be incomplete and meaningless. We would have a resurrected person, but not one who was now at God’s right hand in the place of authority.

Please note the progression:

  • First there is Christ’s descent to earth--God becoming man, the incarnation.
  • This is followed by Christ’s death and resurrection as the God-Man Savior.
  • But for God’s purposes to be fulfilled and our need supplied, there must also be Christ’s ascent into heaven as the God-Man Savior and King of His people.

“The ascension is the important link between His work on earth and His work in heaven which begins with the ascension” (Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, p. 224).

It is important to remember that the New Testament was written by men who were thoroughly convinced that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, and that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they were in union with this ascended Lord and were, by His commission and through His ascended authority and power, left here to continue the work which He began. J. Hampton Keathley III, "The Ascension of Jesus Christ,"  p.4 on bible.org

right hand of the father
right hand of the father

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At our Friday class in the book of Hebrews, one of our sisters shared that there is just one place in Scripture where it says that Jesus was standing at the right hand of the Father.  It was when He welcomed Stephen, the first martyr of the church, home to heaven.

It's an awesome passage and an awesome thought:  that the reigning King of glory, who had completed the work of redemption and sat down in the privileged place of power, would then get up to receive His child home. Could it be that He receives each of us that same way? Glory!

But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments vat the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:55-60 ESV

Jesus receiving us to heaven
Jesus receiving us to heaven

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andrew_murray_book
andrew_murray_book

Here's a free download of Andrew Murray's above mentioned devotional commentary on Hebrews...you will love it!

The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray

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bible.org
bible.org

For a more theological and scholarly approach, check out:

 The Ascension of Jesus Christ by J. Hampton Keathley III

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BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE Selah

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea

A great High Priest whose Name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb

My perfect spotless righteousness

The great unchangeable I AM

The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself I cannot die

My soul is purchased by His blood

My life is hid with Him on high

With Christ my Savior and my God!

With Christ my Savior and my God!

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A reminder about our homework.  After so many weather cancellations, it's easy to loose track of where we are in our study.  Here is the homework for the next lesson.  After our group discusses Heb 1:1-2:4, I may revise this post or do an addendum.  But in the meantime, here's the next homework:

Homework --   Read Hebrews 2: 5-18 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 188-190 Read chapter 2, p. 21-36, Hoping…

Class notes for Hebrews 1:1-2:4 : THE BEAUTY OF THE INCOMPARABLE CHRIST

For a well-known sermon by A.B. Simpson, click on HIMSELF.  It is well-worth the few moments of reading!

Hebrews: Cocooning Again!

GOD IS IN CONTROL!  Even of the weather in Ohio! So here we are for another week...reading and meditating...trusting in God's timing.  There are no mistakes with Him, and so I have to believe even our decision to cancel wasn't a mistake.  Thank you, Lord!

So for our Snow-Day Students of Hebrews:  We are again resting in the glorious first chapter of the epistle, and chapter one of Hoping for Something Better.

Here are some suggestions for this week of study if you already have your homework done:

  • Why not read through the book of Hebrews with colored pencil in hand.  Mark every time you come to a reference to Jesus as our great High Priest...there are many!  You can also summarize what is said about Him in each of those references, if you care to.
  • Also with colored pencil, read through marking the word "better."  Jot down what Jesus is better than.
  • Explore the study in the next post (coming soon) on our Great High Priest seated at the right hand of God.  Make a list from what you see in Scripture and from your own meditation on the benefits to you personally because Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand.
  • PRAY FOR GOOD WEATHER FOR NEXT FRIDAY!  We are "hoping for something better!"  :)  Don't give up!

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Hebrews: Viewing the Light of the World

glass igloo
glass igloo

A friend on facebook posted this picture of thermal glass igloos to view the Northern Lights in Finland.  Isn't that a fun, amazing thought?!  I just had to share it on my wall with the caption "Field trip, anyone?"  I was just kidding, of course, but I was shocked at how many people commented, "Count me in!"  "Me too!"

Here in the Dayton, Ohio area, it began snowing this morning after rush hour got going.  So we thought it the wise thing to cancel our afternoon Bible study in Hebrews because of impending road conditions.

bible and tea
bible and tea

As I settled in to enjoy my warm, free day at home, I thought of those igloos to view the Northern Lights.  How much better, as I grab my cup of warm "something" this winter afternoon, to view the Light of the World from my warm "igloo" of God's Word.

Would you like to join me?  If so, here are some other passages to meditate on as we rest for another week in the glorious first chapter of Hebrews:

John 1

Colossians 1

Then in connection with the first warning of Hebrews 2:1-4:

Matthew 13 -- especially the parables of the wheat and the tares, and the sower and the soils

HAPPY COCOONING WITH THE LORD!

See you next time!