Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 12:1-3’


June 2nd, 2015

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened.” Matthew 11:28 NIV.

To be holy and healthy, you need safe places, still times, and special friends.

My thoughts and comments today are about “weariness.”

Too frequently our lives could be described in the terms of, “hurry, worry, and weariness.” Busyness and noisiness produce weariness of body, soul, and spirit. The relentless pace of daily lives and the incessant noise of crowded surroundings become exhausting – physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as relationally destructive. The result? Marriages struggle; families suffer; relationships are strained. Too often people are busy but ineffective. As efficiency and effectiveness diminish, multiplying your efforts is rarely the best solution.

Mark’s Gospel reports a productive, but equally draining time, for Jesus’ disciples. They preached; people repented; demons were cast out; sick people were healed. The disciples were busy about matters important to the Kingdom, doing exactly what Jesus commissioned them to do, and with remarkable success. The more the disciples accomplished, the more there was yet to do. Jesus wisely foresaw that they would experience the “law of diminishing returns,” growing efforts producing waning results.

“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32 NIV. There have to be moments when you draw aside from the rush and routines. Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

The venerable King James translation reads, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Come apart . . and rest a while.” There are occasions when you need to be wise enough, “to come apart,” before you literally come apart – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Whatever your activities, maybe today you feel life unraveling – weary of soul, depleted of energy, empty of resolve, dissatisfied with success, or a tiredness that is never rested.

If experiencing one of those times, Jesus’ invitation is the best advice I could give you, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Read Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV.

Gordon MacDonald, a favorite author of mine, wrote, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion.” Thomas Nelson Publishers. He gave three essentials things for spiritual passion: (1) Safe Places. You need a map of your life marking where you find Sanctuary, free from disruptions and misdirection. (2) Still Times. You need a calendar showing when you will observe Sabbath, apart from the demands of depleting schedules. (3) Special Friends. You need a life-restoring Fellowship, people who inspire, encourage, correct, challenge, and affirm you.

Today, I pray for you that draw strength and hope from a source that never fails.

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March 31st, 2014

“Paul got up and went back into the city.” Acts 14:20 NIV.

Resilient people are irresistibly joyful and ultimately successful.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “resilience.”

In life, it is not what happens to you that’s so damaging; it’s what happens in you. There will be people who go out of their way to cause others needless pain. Hurting people hurt others. They wound with hurtful words and walk away – or punish others for their own unhappiness – or are unkind when they don’t have to be. They leave pain in their path. You can retreat; you can resist; you can resent. Or you can respond with faith and confidence in God. But you can’t change them.

What you decide and do after what happens to you is what’s most important. I love people who develop resilience as a character trait – “the ability to recover, bounce back, or to be flexible.” Resilient people are ultimately successful; they bend rather than break. There is an interesting account from the earliest years of Paul’s ministry. Read Acts 14:19-22 NIV. “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

Paul was savagely stoned, dragged, cruelly dumped, and left for dead outside the city. Then an amazing thing happened. “He got up and went back into the city. The next day he left . .” That’s resilience only God can provide you. Paul met life on his own terms; he would leave in his own time. There are times that there is not much else you can do except get up, dust yourself off, treat your wounds, and walk away from the hurt and hurtful. You may have a limp but you still have your life. The bad thing that happened to you need not be the end of your story. See Romans 12:21 NLT.

The Apostle Paul was resilient, therefore his words ring true, “We have this treasure [the light of the knowledge of the glory of God] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9 NIV. Whenever you are having a pity party, read Paul’s personal diary. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10/11:23-28 NKJV.

Resilient people are irresistibly joyful. “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5 NIV. See James 1:2-4 NIV.

Responded to joyfully and expectantly, God will make suffering productive rather than destructive. Draw strength and inspiration from Jesus. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you are not overcome with the evil others do.

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Obstacles and Opportunities

September 2nd, 2013

“A great and effective door has opened to me . . there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJV

Adversaries congregate where opportunities abound.

My thoughts and comments today are about “obstacles and opportunities.”

Opportunities abound; so do obstacles. That’s reality. “What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Your attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.” J. Sidlow Baxter, Theologian, Author (1903-1999). Your attitude has everything to do with your perspective of what constitutes opportunities and obstacles. One person sees a unique opportunity and proceeds despite obstacles. Another person, easily deterred by obstacles, disregards an opportunity. Such  moments define the measure of your future success or failure. Thomas A. Edison correctly observed, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Opportunities will include some measure of sacrifice and effort?

Obstacles and opposition are inevitable realities. An obstacle is a circumstance you didn’t need or want. Opposition occurs when people interfere with your progress, actively or accidentally. Such adversity should not be surprising, but is rather to be expected. In fact, little success is achieved without your choosing to persevere and prevail when situations or people impede your advancement. Obstacles present opportunity for inventiveness and invite problem solving to discover better paths to success. Opposition provides opportunity to demonstrate grace and perseverance.

When feeling tired or overwhelmed, let Jesus be your example; “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition . .” Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV. His joy to provide your salvation and mine exceeded the suffering and shame He would endure. See James 1:2-5 NIV.

The Apostle Paul was realistic about the reality of challenges in life and faith when he wrote, A great and effective door has opened to me and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJV. Paul personally experienced adversity and adversaries. See 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 NKJV. Adversaries congregate where opportunities abound. You might as well prepare yourself for the inevitable. Someone – oblivious, jealous, or antagonistic – will be trying to shut the open door God sets before you. Paul was neither dissuaded by obstacle nor opposition. When he saw an opportunity for the Gospel to be advanced, he was single-minded and fearless.

Paul did not flinch even when forewarned that “. . chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus Christ, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of our God . . the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.” Acts 20:23-24 NKJV/2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV. Paul did not resign himself to an unavoidable fate; he embraced his opportunity and destiny. Neither adversity nor adversaries should dissuade you from fully pursuing the will of God in any and every situation.

My prayer for you today is that you celebrate the faithfulness of God in every difficulty.

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The Process of Progress

March 6th, 2013

“We . . are being transformed . . with ever increasing glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Real changes are deliberate and progressive rather than immediate.

Since our first grandchildren, Gayle has stubbornly perpetuated an annual day when each child’s height is measured, marked, and dated on the same piece of door trim. Each kid hopes for a spectacular burst of growth; in reality, their growth is noticeable but seldom if ever as notable as they wish. They want growth that surpasses and amazes their siblings and cousins, and probably to reassure themselves. Good health, profitable habits, and time seem to be the things that propel growth, not yearning or extra effort.

Like me, do you always want your progress to be noticeable and notable in your life? I am usually in a hurry and have high expectations of my ability to grow and change. My desire usually exceeds my ability. But in my life, changes seem to be ordinary and incremental, hardly worth bragging about and seldom spectacular. But maybe that’s God plan. Maybe the right changes are meant to be more deliberate and progressive than immediate. Be patient and faithful.

Isaiah describes process as basic to growth, “For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:10 NKJV. Everything God does rests on everything God has done. Kindergarten built on what you learned at home, and that laid the necessary, educational foundation for Elementary studies and learning, and the same for Junior High, High School, and College. And all of that was just to prepare you for life itself. Education is a process of progress.

Paul describes the process of spiritual growth this way, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. God’s glory emanating from your life is a process, “from glory to glory.”

In the above verse, I see three practical steps in the process of spiritual maturity: (1) “Unveiled faces,” suggests that nothing or no one can be allowed to distract or compete with your singular focus and dependence upon the Holy One who works within you. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV. (2) “Reflect the Lord’s glory . . into His likeness,” are the direction and defined goals to which you must dedicate your efforts – His glory and His likeness. (3) “Being transformed . . with ever increasing glory,”describes the incremental process whereby God accomplishes effective and enduring change through your experience and expression of His own glory. “Ever increasing glory;” I like the sound of that!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV. The longest journey begins with a single step and is completed by every succeeding step in the right direction. Real spiritual growth and development result from a process of progress. Read Zechariah 4:10 NKJV. You won’t become Christ-like all at once, but you can become a little more like Him each day. See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. It isn’t how much of the Bible you know, but it is how much of the Bible you believe and obey every day. You will not impact a whole world all at once, but you can touch one life at every opportunity.

My prayer for you this day is that you learn to trust God’s process.

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October 29th, 2012

“Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.” Acts 28:5 NIV.

Habits are attachments you held too long and a little too closely.

My thoughts and comments today are about “attachments.”

Along the journey, we all accumulate attachments, not all of which are beneficial. It seems that we hold too tightly to so much we ought to release, and hold too lightly to things irreplaceable. Habits are attachments you held too long and a little too closely. When you find yourself unwilling to relinquish something you know is bad for you, you have allowed an attachment that takes value from you and adds nothing useful to you.

The Apostle Paul was gathering wood for a fire when a snake “fastened itself on his hand.” Read Acts 28:1-6 NIV. Your harm is the stated intent of the enemy of your soul. See John 10:10 NIV. Something harmful attached itself to him, certainly without his intent. What did Paul do? He could have “thrown a pity party,” but he didn’t. He could have assumed there was “nothing he could do about it.” He could have even blamed God for “letting it happen to him.” If any of those were his reaction that snake would caused pain and harm.

Attachments occur that you may not anticipate, not always being things you can prevent or explain. In the process of life hurts happen, some self-inflicted, some imposed on you. An attachment can be an unchecked temptation, or a besetting sin, or unforgiven hurts, or unhealthy attitudes, or unforgotten grudges, or unholy thoughts, or unwholesome relationships – anything that draws you in a direction contrary to spiritual growth. The Bible gives strong, clear counsel, “Casting down every . . high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV. Memory can be a blessing or a source of needless pain, depending on what you hold there.

When the serpent fastened itself to Paul, he did the simplest, smartest thing, “Paul shook the snake off into the fire.” Acts 28:5 NIV. And the result? Paul “suffered no ill effects.” Imagine if Adam and Eve had done the same. No ill effects! Take deliberate and immediate action. Paul warns about such entanglements, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV. Detach yourself from any unholy, unhealthy attachment as soon as possible; that is the wisest thing to do. Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

Sometimes you can become attached to people or things that are unprofitable; at other times, they become wrongly attached to you. Read Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV. To their harm, people often seem determined to hold on to things that hurt them or others. Just let it go! Whatever it is, don’t excuse it; don’t assign blame for it; don’t give room or time for it to grow and strengthen. See 2 Peter 2:20 NLT.

Don’t indulge even the smallest attraction to wrong. Don’t excuse thoughts or feelings that harm you and hurt others. On a positive note, here’s something you can hold tightly and confidently, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful . . Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” Hebrews 10:23-24/1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you keep a tight grip on your faith and faithfulness.

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