hope

No Permanent City

The Old and New Covenants are not just two different covenants or commitments between God and His people, they are two different relationships.

What separates them is the motivations they are based on. The first—the Old—acceptance was based on obedience to the Law of Moses. The second—the New—acceptance by God is based on God's grace given to us through Jesus.

Don't Give Up!

One of my all-time favorite movies is "Chariots of Fire." A favorite scene is when Eric Liddell, a Scottish runner, is knocked down by a competitor but gets up to finish and win the race.

Eric Liddell went on to be a gold medal winner in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. But his greater victory was finishing his life well as a missionary in China.

Liddell is a modern-day example of one who ran the race of the Christian faith well and never gave up. His heart was fixed on Jesus, the focus of his faith.

He learned the importance of removing whatever would hinder his faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus saw beyond His gruesome death on the cross and was filled with joy for what His resurrection would bring to the lives of those who trust in Him.

Scripture

Since we are surrounded by so many examples ⌊of faith⌋, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.
We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.
Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.  [vss 1-3]
(Hebrews 12:1-3 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are Christian believers surrounded by? Who is included in this "great cloud of people?"

  • What do we need to do "run the race" and what are two things believers need to "get rid of" from our lives?

  • Who are we exhorted to focus our attention on and how is He described in relation to faith?

  • Where is Jesus now? How is this relevant to this exhortation and the whole book of Hebrews?

Reflection...

Why do we get discouraged and want to give up? Because we rely too much on our own self-effort, and because we lose sight of why we have a true hope. 

Jesus is our example but He's also the source and focus of our faith. When He is any less in our life, we will stumble along the path of life, easily distracted and drawn away from following Him.

We are responsible for what we choose and pursue. So, we need to remove what gets in our way and holds us back. But how?

We need to stop giving attention to what hinders and entangles us. We need to fix our attention on Jesus—our personal trust in Him and His life example. We need to replace the former with the latter, the better focus of our attention.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How does what Jesus suffered and endured relate to the original readers and hearers of this exhortation?

  • Have you struggled with your faith? What things in life get in your way and distract you from focusing on Jesus?

  • What are specific ways you see that would help you refocus your attention on Jesus each day?

  • Are there specific times you've overcome hindrances and distractions to your faith?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Guaranteed!

A common hook used for selling something is to offer a guarantee. Of course, the hook might come with some catches like time limits or other restrictions. It's the "money-back" guarantees that are most appealing.

You can also buy extended warranties and some credit cards even offer warranties. But remember, guarantees or warranties are only as good the one who issues it, whether it's a person or a company. Are they trustworthy? Will they stay in business?

Another limitation is whatever is being guaranteed. Any item or service, even a life insurance policy is limited because it's temporary. A life insurance policy is only in force while a person is alive and pays out when they die.

But what about a human soul? It's contained within a physical body but it exists beyond physical life. What kind of guarantee is there for life after death and eternity, or is there any? Again, it depends on who issues the guarantee.

Our Strong Anchor

How can we know if a promise is trustworthy? People make promises that are often more like intentions than true promises. We might "promise" to call someone or pray for them later, but we say promise as more of an assurance of our intention than a true commitment.

Politicians, sales people, and even entrepreneurs make lots of promises, but if we're wise, we only accept these promises with a grain of salt. There always seems to be a loophole, excuse, or contingency that gives them a way out of making good on their promises.

A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Even then, it's only reliable if the person has the capacity or power to keep their promise.

Government Upon His Shoulders

It is easy to lose focus and perspective when we get absorbed in one line of thought. Absorbed in a cause, a challenge, a debate, or an impassioned view of an issue. When you see the word government what comes to mind?

Are you concerned about a new presidential administration or the state of our nation? How about wars and refugees? Violence seems to pop up all over the world and our nation is not immune to it. Concerns about the economy, international trade, and jobs, international unrest, immigration, freedoms and rights all come to mind. 

But all of these are issues and concerns of human government. As you read this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you might be wondering, "What kind of Christmas message is this?!" "How about something uplifting and hopeful?" Exactly my point!