Archive | October 11th, 2015

4 Endurance Building Practices

October 11, 2015

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 6 Part 1
Lesson Text: Hebrews 12

By now, I hope we have all read and given a thorough study to the “heroes” of Hebrews 11. We could spend weeks examining each one mentioned in detail and then weeks more considering the ones mentioned in passing. (Hebrews 11:32)

But what do we take away from all of that study?

What we see most often among the examples of faith in Hebrews 11 is the delivery of the word from God and the diligent response to obey.

The heroes did not always understand what God meant, or why he gave the commands, or even that the command was sane in human terms. In the face of these concerns, they did everything they could to carry out God’s word.

They took his instructions at face value.

They obeyed.

Since the Hebrews letter is written to the backsliding Christians of the day, his primary goal must have been to strengthen and encourage the fledgling church. They needed to be able to face extreme challenges. They needed to understand why they were fighting.

The writer gave them all the information they needed about Christ…

He also gave them everything they needed to know about what it means to have faith…

He even warned them about the need to protect and grow that faith.

So what would they do we do with all this info? What is the plan of action?

If we take what we can learn from this Hebrew church and apply it to what is happening today, we can develop a solid plan to get to heaven.

First, we need to build up our endurance.

The world then was not much better or worse than it is right now. There were simple non-believers. There was more aggressive opposition in the form of gainsayers. There were even some that set out to do physical harm to the Christians for their beliefs.

Preparation is key, and Hebrews 12 and 13 is all about preparation and practice to build up our faith.

Look up

(Hebrews 12:1-2)

I don’t know if the “cloud of witnesses” is a figurative or actual thing, but we can be confident that their example hangs over us for guidance. Especially Jesus, who cashed it all in for the faith.

If we think of Christian living as a footrace, (Hebrews 12:1) with various stages or work and a goal at the end, we get a sense of what the writer was recommending to us.

Look up to excellent examples, look up to Christ and we’ll get all the insight we need to win the prize.

Avoid Fainting

(Hebrews 12:3-4)

One of the first things new military recruits learn to do is stand. In the beginning, physical conditioning is less about extreme exertion than just mere standing. I still remember how sore I was after one week of boot camp. All we had done was stand in formation – a lot!

We weren’t supposed to lock our knees in an attempt to help us remain standing or else we would black out and fall. Of all the things we did not want to do, falling out of formation was right at the top.

It ruined the visual of a strong unit.

It made you doubt your comrade had your back.

It was weakness.

When a Christian brother falls to sin, it does the same kind of damage. We are responsible for ourselves and each other to make sure this type of thing does not happen.

Being able to stand up to sin is a major ability God expects from us – to the point of bloodshed. Thankfully, it is a rare thing to have to go that far. When we consider Christ as the ultimate example, we see that he was willing to do the same thing that he asks of us – endure to the end.

Do not faint!

Learn from the situations we struggle through

(Hebrews 12:5-11)

Life is tough, and God puts us right out in the middle of it so we can learn to deal with whatever may come to pass. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 are two passages that make it clear we are better people as a result of trials and challenges.

If we take the Hebrews writer’s word for it, we are also enduring discipline from the heavenly father. God forgives us of sins when we repent of (turn away from) them. He does not clean up after our mistakes, though. We make choices, and we either cause ourselves or others problems when we carry out those choices.

We grow. We learn to make better choices. We are better able to resist sin. Just like a parent-child relationship, love becomes more abundant as a result.

Encourage each other to avoid sins

(Hebrews 12:12-17)

Encouraging each other was the first line of defense of protecting our beliefs (Hebrews 3:12ff), and here it is given again in the context of endurance building.

The metaphor that began the chapter is a long race where encumbrances will hold us back. Imagine a marathon runner in shoes with a poor fit. How many miles could she run before a slipping heel becomes too much to bear? When will the chaffing become so painful that one more step will make her fall?

One Mile?

Five Miles?

Eighteen miles?

Even if she could run 25 miles in loose shoes, she still would not finish the race.

This is what sin will do to us. It encumbers us and makes us less efficient Christians. How seriously do you take a so-called religious person that has a potty mouth?

Listen to God

(Hebrews 12:18-29)

Listening to God is one of the 7 Warnings to Christians from lesson 4.

We are fortunate to live in the time of the better promise. God handed Moses the old covenant in a fearsome way, so much so that Moses trembled! (Hebrews 12:21) The new covenant is so much more desirable.

We can get a grasp of how much God loves us through the sacrifice of his son. That once and for all blood sacrifice that speaks louder than the blood of able. Why are we so susceptible to ignoring it?

If we agree that the voice of God was fearsome in the time of Moses, how much more fearsome will he be where the blood of his son is concerned?

As the blood of Christ speaks, stop and listen to what God wants from us. That simple exercise will save our soul one day. It will preserve our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom and make us resident of the ultimate rest promised to us.

In part 2, we take a look at the duties of Christian.

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