Begin…

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) 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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Holy God,
as I begin this day,
I am feeling the weight of demands and expectations.
I am feeling the prodding of Satan’s attacks.
I am feeling the weariness of the battle.
All of which work against that which You call me to do;
to shine the light of Your love.
Oh God,
May my eyes be fixed on the founder and perfecter of my faith, Jesus Christ.
May his strength alleviate the weight of demands and expectations.
May Your armor shield me from Satan’s prodding jabs.
May Your promises revive my weary soul.
May I continue to “run the race”;
following the example of the witnesses before me
and with my eyes firmly fixed on my Lord and Savior.
And so,
I begin may day,
ready to run.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Treasure

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
Hebrews 11:26 ESV

Dear Christian, what has greater worth to you? The treasures of this world or Jesus? The rewards that worldly treasures offer are nothing more than short-term pleasures that will quickly burn out if you don’t work hard to keep the flame stoked. As anyone knows, a fire only burns as long as it has fuel. You can’t start a campfire and then watch it burn without end. You have to keep throwing logs on the fire. You have to expand energy to ensure the flame does not go out. You might have to go out before hand to cut wood and prepare it for the fire, but for what? The fire consumes your work and then you have nothing to show for it. What have you then gained for your work? It’s a wasteful work that gives pleasure for a short period of time. As the author of Ecclesiastes said, it is vanity, a chasing after the wind.

Now, oh Christian, contrast that with Jesus and the reward that only he gives. It is a fire that does not go out. The work beforehand to prepare is Jesus’ work. The stoking of the fire? Not needed for the joy of the Lord is unending; it never burns out or diminishes in the least. But people want what they can see now and not what is promised later. They want immediate satisfaction. They are too impatient and thus willing to foolishly sacrifice eternity. Moses had it all; living in Pharaoh’s household, but he gave it all up for the sake of God.

Dear Christian, what is promised later is of infinitely more value than anything that can be created here. Look to the reward; eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Bear his reproach now as a follower and disciple; keeping your eyes firmly fixed on the reward already prepared for you. Be sustained by Him and enjoy a treasure that is forever more.

The Pastor -|—

Stay in the Race

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 ESV]

Let us run with ENDURANCE. It doesn’t say run fast. It doesn’t say run with flare. It doesn’t say win the race. It just says to stay in the race, knowing you don’t run alone. I can’t imagine I would have finished three marathons running alone; with no one cheering me on or setting a pace for me. My encouragement, strength and motivation came from other runners and those cheering me on; knowing I was simply running to finish, not to win.

Oh Christian, you are not alone; for Jesus has set the course, finished the race and won the crown for you. Let the author and perfector of your faith be your encouragement, strength and motivation along with the many witnesses around you; who have raced before and currently racing with you. Lay aside your self-righteousness and simply run the race; enduring to the end. The crown is waiting for you, oh Christian, the crown is waiting.

The Pastor -|—

Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV)

Faith doesn’t make sense, but if it did make sense, it wouldn’t be faith. If faith made sense we wouldn’t need God. Faith is mysterious so that the only thing left to do is to trust God. It’s like being blind, and being OK with it, because you’re being lead rightly and loved abundantly. Faith is being blind and not fearing the darkness because you know the one with you, who sees everything, is for you. Faith is knowing with certainty, in the absence of physical and logical proof, that something is true because the one who says it’s true is infinitely trustworthy.

Faith doesn’t make sense, but that is OK with me because my faith is in Jesus Christ my Lord; my sure foundation, and thus there is nothing to fear. Jesus the Light of the world, has scattered the darkness, and thus Satan’s claim on me is null and void. Jesus the Good Shepherd, will never lead me astray. Jesus the resurrection, rose for me.

Proof?
I don’t need any.
All I need is Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

Pay attention (Hebrews 2:1)

My little girl just turned two recently and I have discovered something:

I need to keep a closer eye on her, especially when we are outside.

One Mayah’s favorite things to do outside is to look for birdies and bunnies and then go chase them, and chase them she will. The other day we were outside and she spotted a couple robins in the grass. Mayah got all excited as she announced what she saw,

“Daddy! Birdies!”

and then off she went. And before I knew it she was across the yard and almost around the corner of the church building. My calls for her to return went unanswered so I took off to retrieve her.

[She sure can cover a lot of ground quickly]

Upon returning Mayah to the yard closer to me she soon spotted more birdies and off she went again. I indeed must pay close attention to her and…

…WE must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. [Hebrews 2:1]

What we have heard is the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of our sins. What we have heard is the Word of God as proclaimed in holy scripture. What we have heard is God’s commands. And we must pay close attention to this lest we drift away, and drift away we will. Because when you think about it, there are many “birdies” and “bunnies” in this world that will draw your attention away from the safe haven that is God.

The defense?

Pay attention to God’s Word.
Pay attention to what you have learned.
Pay attention to what God has promised you in scripture.
Pay attention to the fact that Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion.
Pay attention to the bad influences around you and then hold them at bay.
Pay attention to your relationship with Jesus.
Pay attention to what your children are learning.
Pay attention to what your pastor is preaching/teaching.
Pay attention lest you drift away.

And paying attention is “hard work”, but not really; especially when the paying attention involves someone you love. I love my children and my wife, so I will pay attention to them. I will pay attention to the birdies in my yard that will draw Mayah away from me. I will pay attention, as my children get older, to the friends around them. I will pay attention to what they are learning.

And…

I love God so I will pay attention to my relationship with Jesus. There will be times when I drift away but it is the “paying attention” to what I have heard that will bring me back; confessing my sins and receiving amazing grace. It’s when we forget to pay attention that we find ourselves in trouble;

hopeless
lost and
alone.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. [Hebrews 2:1]

Stay close to God through Jesus Christ, and you will never find yourself adrift.

Loving Father, tune my eyes that they may see you and sharpen my attention that it may focus on Your Word. May I not stray, but when I do, return, quickly, my attention to Your promises. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Love of money

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, 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 13:5-6]

And then you have Paul’s admonition from 1 Timothy 6:10 ~ For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

You see, money itself is not evil, it’s just how we relate to money. Jesus never said that a rich man will never get into heaven, only that it would be difficult.

Why? Because this money god is a powerful god.

This god dictates our priorities and decisions; and we’ll do anything to protect this source of peace. Money also is used a status symbol. The more we have the more we can buy. The more we can buy the better we look in the eyes of others. The better we look in the eyes of others, the more money we want so to look better yet. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you worship money you are saying no to God’s provision. You are telling God that you don’t trust that He can take care of you. When you worship the money god you are clinging to a false sense of peace that will eventually let you down. But worse yet, when you place your faith in the god of money, you are on the fast track to eternal death. Money may be able to buy you happiness for a while but it can not finance eternal joy.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not saying that if you have a lot of money then you’re in trouble. What I am saying is that there is greater temptation to see that money as your savior rather than God Almighty through Jesus Christ.

It is all a matter of where you put your trust. Will you praise God no matter what? Rich or poor? Healthy or sick? A big house or a cardboard box? A fancy car  or a bicycle? Is God your God or is it something else?

May the Lord be your helper that you may not fear anything this world throws at you or takes away from you. May the Lord be your provider in this life and in the Life to come.

May God bless your day. Amen 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Changes

Things are changing:
~ Weather is changing.
~ Life is changing.
~ Ministry is changing.
~ I am changing.
~ Relationships are constantly changing.
~ Family is changing.

So many things changing and sometimes it is hard to keep up.
So many things changing and sometimes I get overwhelmed.

Some of the changes are good.
Some of the changes are exciting.
Some of the changes are scary.

But whatever happens; whatever changes; whatever transpires I know this one thing for sure:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)  That does not change.  That is something I can hold on to even when life seems to be out-of-control.

God does not change.

And as things change around me (and with me) I pray that God may change me to cope, deal and minister within the changes.

And I look forward to what God will do in the midst of these changes.

edh -|—