So Constant, So Perfect, Unwavering

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 13:8-9 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings…”

O (Observation) – Our world’s ideologies, cultures, traditions, customs, and views of morality are constantly evolving, based on men and women following after their deceitful hearts and ignoring the very One that created them.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (NLT)

How glorious is the comfort and reassurance of knowing that our Lord and Savior never changes.  Throughout all eternity, God’s heart for humanity has been for us to know Him, to know His love for us, and to love and serve Him in return by loving others.  He has offered us redemption through the blood of Jesus, and we have the opportunity to live a victorious life on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He has saved us by grace, and that same grace is a constant outpouring of righteousness, power, and wisdom for living.  Praise God that this message of hope will never change, regardless of the circumstances we face.

A (Application) – We have the opportunity to walk in sync with the Holy Spirit each and every day, knowing that He will guide our every step, and go before us wherever we walk.  Our God is faithful, can be trusted, and this truth is to be proclaimed even in the midst of tragedy and pain.  Just knowing our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever allows us to rest in His peace.  He is not a fickle God, unpredictable, an contradictory.  He is our strong tower we run to that cannot be shaken.

P (Prayer) – Oh Lord, may we rest in Your promises.  May we live our lives knowing that we know that You are Who you say You are, and You can do what You say You can do.  I pray that we would cling to the hope and peace that only come from You, even in the midst of our difficulties.  You can be trusted, and I thank You for that.

Lauren Daigle’s song, “Loyal,” comes to mind…

“I could never earn Your heart

I could never reach that far

But You have pulled me close

You’ve never let me go

I’m safe forever in Your arms

Your promises I cannot break

And I know You will never change

Your love is, Your love is

Your love is loyal

More faithful than the rising sun

This grace for me I can’t outrun

You are always there for me

You listen every time I speak

You look into my eyes

You see the things I hide

And say that You will never leave

Your promises I cannot break

And I know You will never change

When my world shakes

Your love remains unshaken

So constant, so perfect, unwavering

When my world falls

Your love remains unfailing

So constant, so perfect unwavering”

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Run with Endurance

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 will not grow weary and lose heart.” NASB

“Do you see what 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 – and 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 long litany of hostility He plowed through.  That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”  The Message

O (Observation) – You cannot possibly be running the race Jesus has given us to run if you are standing still, sitting down, sleeping, or are nursing an injury.  God, You are showing us that there is no reason for us to hold back from running this race You have given to us, and that You have assured us that with Your presence, we can have victory.

A (Application) – I need to not allow anything to come between me and my God.  The obvious thing that keeps us out of fellowship with Him is our own sinful choices.  Despite being a saved person, it is possible to slip back into such a lifestyle, and we must consciously recognize that we are choosing to be out of fellowship with Him when we do so.  The Bible tells us that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  God is so good to walk us through this journey of growth, and as we shed the weight of sin in our lives, we are able to enjoy God’s fellowship and continue to advance in this marathon of our Christian journey.

P (Prayer) – Lord Jesus, help us to keep our eyes on You and Your promises.  May we not become entangled in our own single actions, but rather, seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness at all times.  Help me to guard my heart, and to value fellowship with You more so than anything this world has to offer.

Looking to the Reward

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 11:24-26 “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

O (Observation) – Faith is traditionally seen by the world as a noun (a thing) – something you either have or do not have.  People have “faith” in all kinds of various people, institutions, governments, and systems that they trust to meet their needs and provide them hope.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  This kind of faith we study in Hebrews is one of action.  It is the conscious decisions we make and directions we walk in as a result of the truth we believe and have faith in.

Moses could have lived a very comfortable life growing up as a prince in Pharaoh’s palace.  There was certainly no earthly reason for him to walk away from the “riches and treasures of Egypt” and “the passing pleasures of sin.”  He had no worries, servants to do his bidding, and anything he could have ever wanted that this earth has to offer.

We should take notice, then, that he walked away from all of it.  Not only did he abandon that life of comfort, he marched right into a life of persecution.  It was his choice to do so.  Why in the world would someone actually decide to live a life of “ill-treatment with the people of God” rather than what he had going for him?  The answer is that “he was looking to the reward.”  He wasn’t concerned about the details of his present day circumstances – he was focused on the eternal promises of God, and demonstrated his devotion to that calling by actually doing something about it.

A (Application) – Many may profess with their mouths that they have faith in Jesus.  They may even attend church regularly, and maybe even volunteer to help various ministries from time-to-time.  All of these are good actions to take, but ultimately where the proverbial “rubber meets the road” is when life takes a turn and collapses beneath us, huge decisions need to be made about our futures, and what the promises are on our lips.  What do our decisions say about our faith?  Are we demonstrating our trust in our Sovereign God by what we say and do each day?

P (Prayer) – Lord Jesus, thank You that You can be trusted, and that Your promises are true.  May I never doubt Your heart, despite what the circumstances are all around me.

Tuned to the Same Fork

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 10:22-25 “…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,  and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

O (Observation) – Each one of us must have our own personal relationship with You, Jesus.  We must “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”  Each one of Your children is on this journey of spiritual maturity, and You are so faithful in that process.  A healthy church family will be one that is a neighborhood of fully committed and devoted followers of You, and will be “encouraging one another” in faith, hope, and love.  A healthy church family is full of loving disciples who are learning and worshipping at Your feet, and teaching others to do the same…resting in You, experiencing Your peace, trusting in You, and ultimately moving the Kingdom of God forward here on earth.

A.W. Tozer’s thoughts from his classic book, The Pursuit of God, comes to mind:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?  They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.  So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

A (Application) – It is God’s desire that we grow up in our Christian walk and become spiritually mature…”tuned” to Christ.  If each one of us is “tuned” to Him, we will also be “tuned” to each other.  If we are indeed tuned to each other, we won’t even entertain the idea of “forsaking our own assembling together,” because we will value that precious time so much.  We will be unable to resist “encouraging one another” because it will be understood that we are all going and growing in the same direction.  If we find ourselves in a church family that has no interest in growing in maturity and encouraging one another, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

P (Prayer) – Beloved Father, You are so consistent and faithful.  Men and women of every tribe, tongue, and nation sing Your praises…and though the language and style may differ, the message is the same – Your redemption is available, and Your love is never-failing.  The promise of a relationship with You is overwhelming and glorious.  Thank You, Lord.  May we find ourselves in a local assembly of believers who are running after You with all they have, and encourage us to do the same.

Stop Trying to Earn God’s Love

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 9:13-15 “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”  NASB

“Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.The Message

O (Observation) – It’s not about me.  It’s not about my efforts to be “good enough,” and to measure up to what I think God expects of me.  For those unbelievers in the world who think that they cannot approach the Lord before they “clean up their act,” there is Good News for you…it’s impossible to get your act clean enough to approach a holy God.  We are able to walk right in to the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwells, and receive the inheritance we don’t deserve, all because of God’s abounding grace.  God’s grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, didn’t earn, and could never earn despite our best efforts.  His forgiveness, His righteousness, His love, His peace, His power…the list goes on.  He doesn’t just give us a little bit of grace…he pours it out on us continually from a never-ending supply.

A (Application) – As believers, we need to stop trying to earn God’s love.  He loves us with an everlasting love, and nothing we do (good or bad) can change that.  For those who are not believers, but are trying very hard to be a good person in order to “get closer” to God – stop.  Receive this truth – Jesus did it all…for you.  When you receive this free gift of amazing grace, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit will take care of guiding you into all truth, changing your thoughts, desires, attitudes, and behavior.  Please don’t make the mistake of getting it backwards.  Our lives are transformed from the inside out – from the overflow of a redeemed life.  Not from the outside in – as if good behavior has the power to save us and make us right with God all on our own.

P (Prayer) – Oh, Heavenly Father, thank You for the cross.  Thank you for Your never-ending supply of amazing grace.  You never run out on me, even though I deserve differently.  I pray for all those who have not experienced the joy and freedom from knowing that You are the One responsible for life-change.  May we not be consumed by trying to “be good at religion,” but rather let us understand what You mean by declaring that we “can live all out for God.”

The words of Jeremy Riddle’s song, Sweetly Broken, comes to mind:

“To the cross, I look, and to the cross, I cling

Of it’s suffering, I do drink, of its work, I do sing

On it, my Savior, both bruised and crushed

Showed that God is love and God is just

At the cross, You beckon me

You draw me gently to my knees

And I am lost for words, so lost in love

I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life

Have I been given through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death

You’ve called me into life

And I was under Your wrath

Now, through the cross, I’m reconciled

And in awe of the cross, I must confess

How wondrous Your redeeming love

And how great is Your faithfulness.”

Written Into My Mind and On My Heart

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 8:6 “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”

O (Observation) – The writer of Hebrews goes on to quote Jeremiah 31:31-34, which includes: “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Jesus is our High Priest who is the mediator of this better covenant.  How humbling to know that the Creator of the universe has put His laws into our minds and has written them on our hearts.

The writer of Hebrews was sharing this “better covenant” with the first century Hebrew population that grew up in the rich heritage of the Jewish faith.  The “old covenant” had been all that they ever knew for centuries, and no doubt this whole teaching of Jesus as the One to usher in the “new covenant” was foreign to them and perhaps difficult to understand.  It still blows my mind to think about the fact that this new covenant has been proclaimed to the outermost parts of our planet by men and women who have been transformed by it.

A (Application) – Lord, You want us to take this Good News of Your new covenant and share it with a world who is hurting.  They are hurting because they have gone through this life and all of its tragedies apart from You.  You say in Your word that those who hear these words of Yours and put them into practice are like those who have built their houses on solid rock…and WHEN the storms come and beat down on the house, it will remain standing.  In contrast, those who hear these words of Yours and do NOT put them into practice are like those who build their houses on sand…and WHEN the storms come and beat down on the house, it will have a great fall.  The storms of this life are guaranteed to come – whether or not we fall as a result is a direct result of whether we have accepted this new covenant You freely offer to us.  These promises are ours for the claiming, if we would only receive it.

P (Prayer) – Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You offer us these promises.  Put Your words in my heart and mind, and may I never attempt to live my life apart from Your truth.  Help me to claim these promises in the midst of trials and heartache.  Lead me to share your truth with a world that is hurting.

Able to Save Forever

S (Scripture) – Hebrews 7:23-25 “The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

O (Observation) – Jesus, I see that You are indeed our High Priest.  Unlike human priests who are here for a season and then pass on to join You in glory, You are eternal.  There is no need for additional sacrifices because You offered Yourself up for us as a final sacrifice – once and for all.

A (Application) – You proclaim that you are able to save forever those who draw near to God through You, Jesus.  May we fully understand what is means to draw near – teach us to be Your disciples, and help us to abide in You by the power of the Holy Spirit.

P (Prayer) – Thank you, Jesus, that You are always making intercession for those who call You Lord and Savior.  You stand with us at the throne of God Most High as our High Priest, and do not allow the enemy to speak words of accusation against us.  May we never forget that You are our advocate, and that You love us with an everlasting love.