Tag Archives: Hebrews 12:2

Search Inward

Many of us are celebrating the Lenten season. It is a season of fasting and renewal, a season that reminds us that we are but dust. Life is fragile. Life is but a breath. It is a season that looks to the Cross. We spend these weeks mindful of the shortness of life, but even more mindful of the One Who poured out His blood at Calvary so that we could have new life—life in Him. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the Wilderness, so we spend this time in self-reflection, repentance, and prayer.

Some people are trying to stick diligently to the removal of some item from their life. Some people may have even publicly noted an ongoing battle with trying to stay true to a vow to give up this thing for Lent. It is important to remember some things about Lent and fasting, because many get lost on the journey to the Cross. Lent instructions are not found in the Bible—it’s something that was instituted by the Church. However, with the fasting, one should be mindful that publicly boasting or grumbling is not applauded (see Matthew 6:16). Fasting is personal. The idea of fasting during Lent is to remove something that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and then replace that thing with something that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.

Remember, Lent is all about Jesus. If you are keeping yourself from drinking soda or eating sweets but that doesn’t interfere with your relationship with Jesus, and you have not supplemented these things with more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or spending time doing something that brings you closer to Jesus, then you are missing out. This is a time to search inward, a time to repent and renew yourself in Him. Today, whether or not you celebrate the Lenten season, take time to look inward. What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What has become a stumbling block? Pray for the removal of this from your life. Pray for a closer relationship with Jesus. Seek Him diligently today. Pray for your heart to open and spend time in the Word. Ask Him to speak to you in a new and awesome way.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [ESV]

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 [ESV]

“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.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]

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The Denomination of Non

When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.

The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.

Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.

This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]

Distractions

I have a hard time focusing—my attention has always been a battle. I’ve taken medicine to try to keep my focus, as I was diagnosed long ago with AdHd. Nothing seemed to keep me “me,” but yet a more focused me. Over the years, I have learned some habits to prevent me from adding to my lack of attention and to help me to stay focused. Even so, there are distractions all around for each one of us and we have to be intentional so we are not distracted from the “great work” God has called us to live out on our spiritual journey.

In Nehemiah 6, we read one of my favorite phrases: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” I love this! People were trying to thwart the progress of Nehemiah’s “great work.” The wall he was called to build was nearly finished. The gates simply needed to be put in place. As he was near the finish line, the distractions didn’t stop. They never do. There will always be people trying to stop you from doing what God has placed in your heart. The devil has been defeated by Jesus, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to stop any progress God’s children have in growing God’s Kingdom and on doing something that glorifies God. But boldly we can exclaim: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

Today, examine your life. Distractions can come from any area of your life. Are you living a life fully for God? Is God first in your life? Have you been facing a distraction that is keeping you from living out what God has for your life? Are your eyes focusing elsewhere? Fix your eyes on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He will see you through.

“And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’” – Nehemiah 6:3 [ESV]

Bag in the Wind

During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.

I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.

The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]

 

Passionate Patience

Recently I shared a message on passionate patience. I was reading about the church in Philadelphia and I came across this verse. The people kept God’s command to endure patiently. There are many times in this phrase “endure patiently” or “passionate patience” or “enduring patience” is mentioned in the Bible. John, Luke, Peter, and Paul all use the same word to mean this phrase.

We each can have passionate patience. Hebrews 12 tells us to remove the hindrances around us and fix our eyes on Jesus. The only way you can endure—the only way you can persevere is to keep yourself on the path Jesus has for your life by keeping your eyes fixed on Him.

The world will continue to tell you otherwise. The world will continue to try to pull you in different directions. I pray you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. May you press forward in the race He has for you, not swerving or slowing down for the roadblocks of the world.

“Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.” – Revelation 3:10 [MSG]

Passionate Patience Outline

Here’s a message outline on Hebrews 12:1. You can download this outline below.

Passionate Patience

“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.” – Hebrews 12:1 [NLT]

In 1845, the ill-fated Franklin Expedition sailed from England to find a passage across the Arctic Ocean.

                The crew loaded their two sailing ships with a lot of things they didn’t need: a 1,200-volume library, fine china, crystal goblets, and sterling silverware for each officer with his initials engraved on the handles. Amazingly, each ship took only a 12-day supply of coal for their auxiliary steam engines.

                The ships became trapped in vast frozen plains of ice. After several months, Lord Franklin died. The men decided to trek to safety in small groups, but none of them survived.

                One story is especially heartbreaking. Two officers pulled a large sled more than 65 miles across the treacherous ice. When rescuers found their bodies, they discovered that the sled was filled with table silver.

What strengthens and encourages your relationship with Jesus? What is beneficial?

What disrupts or interrupts your relationship with Jesus? What is a hindrance?

 

Sin, habits, pleasures, self-indulgences, associations that hold you back, worldly cares, riches, honors, opinions, activities, possessions, relationships, careers. Anything that occupies our time, energy, affections to neglect time with the Lord and our pursuit of Christ-likeness.

Jesus is the goal of our journey and companion on the way

Go steadily forward in the race and refuse to be deflected: Hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay) – cheerful or hopeful endurance, enduring patience, patient continuance (waiting). Passionate patience – Perseverance or Patient Endurance – 2 Pet 1:6, Rev 3:10, Rev 14:12, 1 Cor 13:7, Lk 21:19

  • COMMIT YOURSELF: BOLDLY CLAIM IT CAN BE DONE!! It’s already been done. Great cloud of witnesses – inspiration – motivation – what we see in them – Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith
  • FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESS – Admit you cannot do life alone. You need Jesus. Passionately seek Him with all you have. Know Him, love Him, worship Him.Fix your eyes on Him.
  • ADMIT YOU AREN’T FINISHED YET. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” – Philippians 3:12 [NLT] Passionately pursuing Jesus –Press on to the finish
  • EMBRACE HARDSHIPS & STRUGGLES AND REMOVE OBSTACLES & DISTRACTIONS. Hardships are opportunities for growth. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C.S. Lewis “Problem of Pain

Hebrews 12:2 Fix your eyes on Jesus

 

Download Passionate Patience Outline