Psalm 100 – “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving-kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”
What an expression of praise and thankfulness! When it comes to the Lord, a quiet thank you does not seem sufficient. Shout to the Lord. There have been times when I just had to lift my voice to a loud level and shout to the Lord. Not shout at the Lord, but to the Lord. It was not because He was hard of hearing, but simply because He is worthy to receive my praise and thanks with all my strength.
Part of being filled with the Holy Spirit is being filled to overflowing with praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude for all our great God and King has done for us. Truly, there is no one like our God! Consider how our God humbled Himself and became as one of us. God, who is Spirit, took on our form in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The God of all creation allowed His created man to crucify His flesh on the “Old Rugged Cross,” the cross stained with the blood of our Creator and now our Redeemer. What utter shame, complete rejection, and absolute cruelty He endured. Love beyond imagination, love so sublime was poured out all for you and me.
It is difficult to comprehend this kind of love! It is a love for individuals, a love for communities of people, and a love for the nations. The entire world has known His love. God’s love spread from Israel to Asia Minor and Europe and then across the Atlantic Ocean to what became America the Beautiful. The Gospel spread from Europe and America to the nations of the world. The message of God’s salvation is so rich and so free. The Gospel continues to impact the nations as Asia is filled with men and women born into the kingdom of God. The Gospel is not static. It is a dynamic force in the earth bringing transformation to those who will believe what Christ has accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Like the Sun that moves across the sky from east to west, the Gospel is moving back to Jerusalem. Its power will transform Arab nations to trust in Christ. Eventually, a great company of Jewish people will come to know the Messiah who died for them, as the nations are harvested for Christ. Rejoice O Saints of God! We are victorious in the end!
As Americans celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving, let us remember what God has done for all mankind. Here are a few Scriptures to encourage us as we express personal gratitude to the Creator and Redeemer of our souls.
“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). “Amen, blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:12).
Hebrews 12:5 – My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him.
This section of Scripture is one of the strongest affirmations of the Father’s love toward every believer. The phrase “my son” carries with it a very strong commitment of love. For Father God to address us as sons puts us on an equal level with Christ. Because of Christ’s sacrifice of His life for our sins, we have access to the Father as sons of God. This includes believing women, much the same way as believing men become part of the bride of Christ.
The writer begins his thoughts early in verse 4 saying, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” In short, he is saying that Jesus shed His blood to deal with the issue of sin. You have not lost your life battling sin. Then he reminds his readers of the Lord’s exhortation found in Proverbs 3:11: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof.” Do we understand that hardships are really opportunities for the Lord to develop us as mature sons of God? As one grows older, it becomes easier to identify how the Lord used difficulties to develop a Christ-centered maturity in our life. The difficult times were really instruction times from God used to train us.
Solomon reminds us, “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited” (Proverbs 24:10). The word slack means “to give up.” Lack of strength means “not understanding God’s purpose in the times of trouble.” Trouble can prepare us to endure to the end. The Lord does not discipline our lives in order to cause us to give up, but rather for us to learn how to endure. Because He loves us, He instructs us by the pressures and trials of life. Even when He finds it necessary to punish us, it is always with a view toward our benefit.
Beloved, God deals with believers as “sons.” Even in the natural realm we know that a good father will discipline his son. A believer is subject to the Father of spirits and through discipline, the believer grows to maturity. Discipline for the moment is never enjoyable; in fact, it can really feel uncomfortable and perhaps sorrowful. If we receive it for its intended purpose, it will produce “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” (Hebrews 12:12). As we become strong in the Lord through His disciplines, we can turn our attention to others and be a conduit of His grace to help in their time of weakness. Rejoice in correction, learn to appreciate rebuke, and learn in humility. His favor is on you when He applies divine discipline. Many times it comes through others. Don’t resist, but allow His Holy Spirit to sanctify you through the process.
Father, I thank You for Your great love revealed in Christ and continued through Your wonderful disciplines used to mature me in Christ my Lord. Fill me with gratitude for Your favor upon me as a son of God through corrections and reproofs.
Hebrews 12:3 – Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
When life becomes difficult through many trials and tribulations, especially personal attacks because of your faith in Christ, it becomes easy to grow weary and lose heart. This was the case for these Jewish believers. These believing Jews were the “remnant” who trusted Christ. The majority of their fellow Jews rejected Messiah’s Day. That majority made it very difficult on the remnant that trusted the good news of the Gospel of Christ’s overcoming kingdom.
As believers, we have faith in Christ’s finished work through His cross. We also trust in the promised future resurrection of all believers and His glorious return with His saints to judge all unrighteousness. By faith, we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father. When persecution and resistance comes to our faith, it can cause a shaking. When our expectations are delayed, this too can cause us to lose heart as these precious saints were experiencing. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). The life of faith walks between these two tensions, “hope deferred and desire fulfilled.”
Our author speaks to us as he says, “consider Him.” Jesus’ life is our example. Jesus’ life in us is our hope. Paul exhorts each believer, “Put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10). Read Colossians and receive Paul’s instructions and his understandings of our battle. We must take action and “put on the new self.” His life is present, but by faith we must put it on day by day. In each new challenge, make it your habit to turn to God your Father and in Jesus’ name through the power of the Holy Spirit, put on the mind of Christ. You might ask, “How is that done?”.
When you are faced with difficulties, stop and ask for God’s presence.
Recommit your entire life to Christ and surrender your thoughts, emotions, and will to Him.
Ask the Father, in Jesus’ name, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Forgive those who are causing you trouble and thank the Lord for the opportunity to experience the sufferings of Christ.
Ask to learn obedience through this time, even as Christ learned obedience through sufferings.
Renew your faith in the hope of His glorious return with all His saints.
This will be a good start in putting on the mind of Christ. The Lord has called us to partnership with Him. He did the hard work, now we are to live out what was accomplished through His finished work at Calvary.
Father, in Jesus’ name and through the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask for the mind of Christ today. As I consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, I know it was for me and all who believe that He suffered. Strengthen me in the hope of my calling as I journey toward that expected day of Christ’s return.
Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (KJV).
Do we see Jesus simply as a part of history or perhaps an important religious figure? Is he a theological figure in the New Testament to us, a great teacher? Perhaps we have embraced Him as our personal Savior. In today’s Scripture, the writer says we are to “fix our eyes” on the Lord Jesus. Further, He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” Everything begins with Him and ends with Him. In the book of Revelation, Jesus calls Himself, “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8). John the Apostle calls Jesus, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).
Consider the instruction, “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” How often is He looked to first? How much time do believers spend thinking about Jesus and His human expression of God’s love lived out in our midst. He is our example. More than that, His life resides in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. A believer has a moment-by-moment choice: draw from the old self or receive from the new life rooted in Jesus Christ.
Fixing our eyes means more than to look upon. Obviously, we do not physically see Jesus, but we can look upon Him as the one who completely lived out the Father’s will. We can read and meditate on His word, and we can see the results for those who have trusted Him throughout their life.
Jesus authored our faith. The word finisher in the KJV means “perfected.” In order to fix our eyes on Jesus, we must read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God. We must learn what the author of our faith has said. Because He has already run the course and finished it, we can receive faith that leads to hope as we now run the course by His life that dwells in us. As He finished well, we too can finish well if we stay fixed upon Him.
Our verse says Jesus endured the cross because of joy. How can this be? He offered His life as a ransom for many that He knew would trust God for redemption. He despised the shame of the cross, but accepted it because He knew it was the only means to man’s redemption. When His work was finished, He sat down next to His Father. Being seated speaks of rest. Jesus is at rest having done the will of God. You and I might be anxious about many things, but our rest is found in His completed work of our salvation.
Fix your eyes on the risen Lord. Receive His rest for your life today. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication make your requests known to Him. Endure hardships, letting the Holy Spirit work maturity in your growing life found in Christ.
Father, I choose to fix my eyes on Your Son and not on the circumstances of this life. I confess today that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. I know that Your Son is the author and finisher of my faith. I receive the help of the Holy Spirit to finish well.
Hebrews 12:1 – 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 writer of Hebrews pulls all of his thoughts together in this verse. The fact is, many have gone before us, which walked through challenges, temptations, and impossible circumstances. If they overcame, we can overcome too, because the one they were looking for has come. Sin is a nuisance for the believer, but it can be conquered in the power of Christ’s life giving Spirit. Jesus Christ overcame sin and the devil. He overcame living in His flesh. When He was tempted by the devil, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, He overcame by the Word of God. The devil tempted Him in the three major areas of a human’s life. He overcame in His spirit, His soul, and His body.
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, set an example for us in how He resisted the evil one and served the purpose of His heavenly Father. Jesus was able to overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit which has been poured out for all flesh. God the Father, through faith in Christ’s finished work, has given us the promise of the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 24:49). It will take the “power of the Holy Spirit” to overcome the flesh and the devil (Acts 1:8).
In the Book of Hebrews the cloud of witnesses were all Old Testament saints who by faith, looked for Messiah’s Day. As we look back, the cloud of witnesses has greatly increased. It includes the saints of the first century and many others down through the centuries to our present time that are with the Lord and will come with Him when He returns to judge all unrighteousness.
Clear instructions have been given to each one of us throughout the Scriptures that we too are to overcome by faith. The writer of Hebrews speaks to each of our lives, as referenced in our devotional scripture, “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.” What are the encumbrances you face? What is the sin that dogs your feet? As we approach the end of another year, prepare your heart before the Lord to let go of encumbrances and sin. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal where He would be pleased to help you find freedom through Christ and His overcoming life.
The enemy of our soul has as his objective “entanglements.” It is entanglements which hinder our race. Each of us needs endurance to finish the course and stand before the Lord Jesus Christ confident we have finished well. Only as we “fix” our eyes on Jesus can we stay untangled and filled with endurance. Today, if you hear His voice through the writer of Hebrews, commit your life to the race. Begin now to remove the “entanglements.” Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart for any areas of sin. Repent and let the blood of Jesus cleanse you. Be filled afresh with His Holy Spirit, asking for endurance in the race.
Father, search me and see if there are any hindrances to the race I am called to run. Let all encumbrances and any sin, whether or not I am aware of them, be repented of and cleansed. Help me, daily, to fix my eyes on Jesus. I pray that the year ahead will be the best yet in my pursuit of Your will and purposes.