Moses led the Hebrew Children out of Egypt…but none of them ever saw the Promised Land due to their unbelief. Instead, they wandered in the desert for 40 years…going around and around the same mountain. Doubt and unbelief wastes time. God tells us to do something, but out of unbelief, we say “No!” So God sends us around the mountain to think about it. Soon, His tells us one more time the thing He wants us to do. If we again say “No!”, guess where He sends us…wandering around that same mountain! Unbelief wastes time…precious time that we could be changing lives for Christ if we had said “Yes!” the first time.
God’s people need to be in circles…not rows. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t obtain a tremendous amount of spiritual knowledge and wisdom from the Church Service you attend every Sunday. But there’s something very special about small groups that meet in homes. In Acts 2:42, these small groups of Believers met for the purpose of teaching God’s Word, breaking bread, and prayer…and the modern-day small group hasn’t changed that much. But unless you’ve been part of a small group, you don’t realize all the benefits there are. When you’re part of a small group, you make connections, and fellowship with like-minded people who become close friends. In small group, there’s the chance for openness and transparency to share each others burdens, while at the same time there’s accountability and follow-up. If you aren’t already part of a small Bible group, I strongly encourage you to take the step to join one. For we all need to encourage and be encouraged by each other as we grow in our faith.
I encourage you to read the entire 11th Chapter of Hebrews, for in it you will read of many kinds and shades of faith. Faith is an ongoing lifetime journey of trusting God. It’s a way of life, not just a one time action done at conversion. Our faith grows as we grow in Christ…confidence in Him is forged and built every time we make the decision to trust Him. But as you read through Chapter 11 you’ll see the different nuances of faith shown… there’s expanding and growing faith, there’s beyond logic and reasoning faith, there’s sacrificial, persecuted, and impossible faith. Our life of faith begins with an internal response, which leads to faith-filled action. From there, it’s a life based on God’s promises…not on circumstances. Though, when you get to the end of this chapter you’ll read, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” Every person you read about here in Chapter 11 was praised for their faith, yet not one saw their promise fulfilled in their lifetime. Instead, they all persevered under pressure, never giving up, and always putting their confidence in their Lord.
Faith is demonstrated by its works. And when we serve and care for other’s needs, we are actively showing the Lord’s unconditional (Agape) love for us. But don’t think that every time you help others it has to be big, grand, or showy…for Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:42 that just offering a cup of cold water to someone who needs it is a good work. In fact, the very basic definition of the Greek word for “help” in this verse means to wait tables. God will never overlook or ignore your good deeds – regardless of how small or insignificant you might think they are. For what you may see as just a simple kind act…the person receiving it sees Jesus.
No matter how many animal sacrifices were made in the Temple…they never fully removed the people’s sin. It wasn’t until Jesus Christ gave Himself up as the unblemished Lamb of God that humankind was finally delivered from the guilt and punishment of sin. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” God offered His only son, Jesus, to take our place on that Cross. He died as an atonement for our sins…His blood being shed once for all. Which means He only had to died one time, not over and over again like the Temple sacrifices. For it was Jesus that took upon Himself the sins of the entire world that you and I might be redeemed and set free.
I may be very old fashion, but I still like to talk to people on the phone…or better yet, face to face! Texting is ok, but I like to hear a person’s voice and interact in a more personal way. At the beginning of time God could have been silent, but He chose to speak through prophetic disclosure. But then Jesus Christ was born into the world, making a way for all of us to have an intimate relationship with our Savior. No longer did we have to hear about God…we could experience Him for ourselves.
When we’ve been betrayed by someone we love and trust…it takes a long time to let down our guard and trust again. We want to trust, but we draw back in apprehension that we’ll just get hurt again. It’s kind of like two porcupines dancing…desiring the companionship but afraid of the quills! But when we put our faith in Jesus…when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. And in that coming near God, by prayer and cherished fellowship with Him, we are assured that God will never leave us or forsake us…for we learn He loves us with a never-ending love.
From the beginning of time, man has attempted to remove the shame and guilt of sin. The Priests would offer the same sacrifices day after day, over and over again…but the humiliation would remain. No matter how many times an animal sacrifice was laid at the altar…it was never good enough. That’s because it’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that can take away, once for all, your sins and the guilt and shame that harass you. When Jesus died on the Cross for you, He took upon Himself your sins, and made a way to our Heavenly Father…that you might experience peace. If there’s no happiness or peace in your inner self today…maybe you should consider asking Jesus into your life.
We’ve spent several days constructing a retaining wall in the back yard…and I don’t mind saying that strenuous manual labor in the oppressive heat of a Illinois Summer is hard! But now that it’s done, it was well worth all the sweat. Genesis 1:1 tells us that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Where we had cement pavers to build with, God called the universe into being…creating everything we see, smell, and hear out of nothing. For He is the author and architect of it all…bringing into existence that which was not.