The Promise of the Cross: No Pain, No Gain

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“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

If God is for us, who can be against us? Will he who gave us his own son to save us not provide everything we need?

These are great promises, but we must stop and consider the flip side. He who did not spare his own son the cross won’t spare us from all the trial, tribulation, pain and sorrow of this life, either. But none of these things can destroy our eternal soul and separate us from him. If we take up our cross and follow him, we will also be raised victorious with him, and receive an inheritance from our adoptive Father in Christ’s kingdom.

That is, if we don’t grow weary and quit and give up. Whatever we do, we must not stop, we must not give up the fight. Keep on pursing the heart of the God who has already caught us–meaning to reflect the image of his son within our hearts. Let us take courage. No matter what happens in this life, we are his. Let us become more like him each day, through every battle, through every sorrow. Let’s pick ourselves up when we stumble and fall and get going again.

Lord, strengthen us in our hearts today. Give us courage and boldness, let us not be afraid or ashamed. I pray we would trust you, even in hard times, even when our bodies, minds, or hearts and spirits ache. Grant us faith that knows you will be there for us and give us a lasting name and inheritance in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

What Weights Keep You From Running Well?

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“ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

This verse refers back to Hebrews 11 and the “hall of faith,” which commends the saints who persevered and fulfilled God’s calling on their lives despite adversity and without seeing any sign of the promise being fulfilled in their lifetimes. Now Hebrews 12 depicts them as spectators to ancient Olympic games, all past winners who ran the race and finished well, who now are in the stands cheering us on as we shoot out from the starting line or struggle to keep going as we reach the dead stretch where we’re exhausted and tempted to give up and quit.

Here we are encouraged to take inspiration from them and their testimonies, seek and lean on faith and strength given to us from God, and keep going. It also urges us to identify everything clinging to us that weighs us down, tires us out, and keeps us from being everything and doing everything God called us to do. It appears to point out that not all of these “weights” are sins and hence specifically forbidden by scripture for all runners in the race. Some of them might well be things that would be neutral or even beneficial to other runners in the grand mystery of the diversity of God’s creation.

Let us each be attentive to God’s spirit and seek discernment from him. Lord, we thank you for the testimonies of the saints who have followed you before us. Strengthen us today, that we might also run well and finish the race. Open our ears to hear your voice, show us what hinders us specifically and grant us the will to obey your conviction of our hearts and cast off everything that keeps us from a closer relationship with you and hinders us from being the godly, holy person you created us to be, and which keeps us from fulfilling our calling. Change our hearts so we might love you more than what causes us to stumble. Check us also, Lord, from assuming what hinders us is wrong for everyone, where your word does not specifically forbid it. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Does Anyone Even Care I ____?

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“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10)

Most of us, as we labor in life and in ministry and the workplace, and seek to do right, work hard, love hard, will grow weary. We will feel ignored, overlooked, neglected. We will wonder if anyone even notices us and cares that we are there. We will wonder if we’re really needed or wanted. And, when continuing on grows hard, we will wonder if it is all really worth the effort.

In today’s verse, the author of Hebrews reaches out through the pages of History to prophetically voice straight from the Lord’s heart: “Yes! I care. I see you. The efforts you are making to serve and love my people in my name matter to me.”

If you’re where God has called you, doing the work God has given you, keep going. Don’t quit. If we persevere and endure in the faith, he will be our reward when he calls us home.

It is interesting also to note the greater context of this verse. Chapter Six starts out encouraging us to dig deeper into the things of God than the mere fundamentals, lest we fall away. He then laments it is impossible for man to restore the faith of those who fall away after having truly known God, tasted his goodness, his grace, and felt the power of his spirit and the kingdom of God at work in their hearts and lives. His warning comparing such a one to land fit only to be burned is severe to the point of chilling and goes against, frankly, everything the Church teaches today.

Yet Hebrews goes on from this shocking pronouncement of judgment to say:

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Let us take comfort that what was is impossible for man is possible for God. We don’t see into the heart nearly as well as he does. Let’s run our own race well, assured of the hope and the grace within us that has saved us.

Lord, thank you for your finished work on the cross. Thank you for remolding and reshaping sinners such as we have been into the saints you made us to be. May we know your power within us and know your eyes are upon us, and that you will deal  justly as well as mercifully. Lead us today where you are calling us and give us hearts that hunger and thirst for your righteousness and love you and your people as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.