God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23 - Hebrews 11-13: Faith in God and God's Discipline

Today’s Reading: Hebrews 11-13

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God's Discipline is meant to help us stay focused on faith.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Faith, trusting the existence of something or someone we cannot see, distinguished our ancestors because they knew their home was in Heaven. Set your eyes on Jesus, the one who finished the race first.
God's Discipline is for His Children. Embrace His Training and help each other through it. He removes what separates us because He cares for us.
Love and help each other as much as possible. Honor marriage and keep it holy. Be content with your possessions. Respect your leaders. Be "outsiders" to the world. Worship God through helping others.
Pray for us.
May God bless you.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Faith is trusting in something that we cannot prove.

One of the coolest parts of teaching in China was the fact that even though we grew up on the other side of the globe from each other, no one rejected this definition of faith. When they realized that their beliefs in science, economics, Chinese cultural facts, etc. were based on faith they realized that religion wasn't so strange after all. Everyone has faith in something. The proper question is not "do you have faith?" The proper question is, "What do you have faith in?" What your faith is in will ultimately decide how far you can go. When we put our full faith in God, nothing is too difficult.

Without faith in God it is impossible for God's Chosen People to please Him.

This is the concept that got Israel in trouble for so many generations. They thought as long as they kept the rituals it didn't matter if they had faith in God. God wanted them to realize that concept was the opposite—God cares not for what we do ritually but if we have faith in Him. This is essential for the church to understand. Unless we realize that we must fully trust God to set things right we cannot fully please Him.

The faith of our (spiritual) ancestors are connected to ours.

We have a tendency to turn Bible characters into demigods whose faith and actions we could never match. The issue is that although their lives were extraordinary, their faith was not. They cannot have more faith than us. The difference between them and others in their age is that they were willing to keep going in their faith even though it meant strange or painful outcomes. If we keep our focus on God we can be connected to our spiritual ancestors—including Jesus! It is this connection which keeps us running toward Jesus even when it is difficult. It is this connection which makes us want to take off our training weights and excess fat to run the race better.

God disciplines us because He loves us.

Christians have a difficult time accepting God's Discipline. We want to lie, cheat, steal, and do all of the things the world gets away with. In reality, this is the most difficult, yet important aspect of obeying God. Having the right words, the right intentions, and the right teachings mean nothing if we do not act on those words, intentions, and teachings. When we mature we realize God's Discipline was preparing us to live with Him all along. Parents prepare their children for grownup lives through discipline. God prepares us for grownup faith-lives through discipline.

God removes everything that separates us from Him.

I have written on this more times than I care to look up and link. God wanted His Chosen People to have a direct link to Him. He shook the earth, removed the barriers between us, and removed all of the religious buildup which we hid behind to shield ourselves from God's Discipline. I believe this is what is happening now. We have a large number of people leaving churches and going back to the source—God. Our challenge is to be challenged by them and help each other set things right.

Leaders deserve respect and should have things made easier for them.

Church leadership is often voluntary or part-time work. Making things harder by arguing, going behind their backs, or not complying with their decisions shows a lack of faith in God, not discernment on the part of the member(s). Remember, God does not want elders to lord over their flock. God also does not want the flock to lord over their elders.

Whose faith give you inspiration to set things right?

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