Category Archives: The Walk

“…and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:10-39 is basically a three section passage. verses 19-25 contain reasons and ways to persevere, verses 26-31 are some serious warnings about abandoning the Christian fellowship, and verses 32-39 are kinda like a pep talk to those who are persevering, to help them to keep on keepin’ on. Right now I am going to focus on the first section.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NIV)

As I said, this passage speaks of some practical reasons and methods to persevere. I am going to take it in a little bit of a chopped up order.

Reasons To Persevere:

1. Confidence To Enter “The Most Holy Place”
In all of history, no one but the high priest, and then only once a year and under special requirements, could ever enter God’s presence in the innermost chamber of the temple. But now, by Christ’s sacrifice of His blood and body, we can. Each and every one of us, at will. He was the only perfect sacrifice possible.

2. We Have A Great High Priest
Sometimes it is best to let the Bible speak for itself: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)

3. He Who Promised Is Faithful
(I Cor. 1:9; Phil. 1:6; II Tim. 2:13)
What God says, He will do. So if something is promised in return for our perseverance, we can be assured that it will be done.

4. The Day Approaches
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (I Thessalonians 5:1-3, NIV)
No one knows then it is. When that Day comes there will be no more time to work, play, sin, love, nothing. All that will matter is who we believed Jesus to be (faith) and what we did with that belief (works). Will we be among those who persevered with the belief that Jesus really was who He said He was, and then lived it? Or will we have squandered our hearts and lives? Time may be short. And even if not, it is best to make the most of our time here.

Practical Ways To Persevere:

1. Draw Near To God
This one comes with four conditions to be possible. And may also be the most important way to persevere. For by drawing near to God, we can draw strength for everything else.
a. A Sincere Heart (Ps. 51:16-17)
We must always strive to know that we mean it when we say “I believe,” and not be lukewarm or fake (Revelation 3:15-17).
b. Full Assurance Of Faith
The reasons for persevering that are given above are great reasons to be full of faith. But if not, remember what Jesus did for us while on earth, and still does today. And think over in your heart and mind the facts of the matter. Remember: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)
c. Hearts Sprinkled From A Guilty Conscience
Christ died that we may keep “no record of wrongs,” even against ourselves. (I Cor. 13:5b, NIV) Guilt only holds us back.
d. Bodies Washed With Pure Water
We must allow ourselves to be purified by the Holy Spirit from sin. Pray, read your Bible, do everything you can to fill yourself with the Spirit and rid yourself of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

2. Hold Unswervingly To The Faith We Profess
Don’t stop, don’t reverse, don’t turn. Keep at it. This is the heart, the very meaning of perseverance. Not. Quitting. No matter how hard it gets, how lonely you feel, or how strong you think you are on your own.

3. Spur One Another On Towards Love And Good Deeds
Sometimes we will find a brother or sister in need of some kind advice, or even some gentle prodding. We all have our moments when we become lazy or indecisive, and it is our job to help each other out in these moments. I know if I was having one of those times (and I kinda am now) I would want my brothers and sisters to say something about it to me. And then there are times that parts of the body stop working, or even start damaging the surrounding tissue with the cancer of sin. These are the times when rebuking, teaching, and correcting come into play. (Matt. 18:15-20 ; II Tim. 3:16-17)

4. Do Not Give Up Meeting Together
The Greek word used for “give up” means to desert and abandon. We should meet together as often as we can. Whether it be in church, homes, coffee shops, the park, or even facebook if necessary. Don’t cut yourself off or you will not have the support you need. Your faith will shrivel like a raisin. We were never called to a life of solitude. Remember: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Cor. 12:26, NIV…read verses 12-30 tho, good stuff)

5. Encourage One Another
If all members of the body were to push each other on, rooting for one another, we would be able to do so much more than we are now. We each should be cheerleaders for our brothers and sisters, and they ours.

Conclusion:
Always keep these reasons in the forefront of your mind. Don’t stop, and don’t give up. I know, first hand, that it can feel pretty dire sometimes and you just want to quit. But don’t, please don’t.


A Good Lesson To Learn

In Genesis 4:7, God says this: ” ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’ ” (NIV)

Something that has been on my mind lately, and especially today, is that life is tough. It’s hard. Even as, ESPECIALLY as, a Christan. It is so easy to quit, and infinitely more difficult to persevere.

But then there is passage, from Hebrews (10:19-39)

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For,

‘In just a little while,
He who is coming will come
and will not delay.’

And,

‘But My righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.’

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (NIV)

If you would, read those words again, and let them sink in. Think over their implications. Over the next while, for my own study, I am going to go through this passage, breaking it down to learn what it means for me. I’ll post my notes here, for others to read, in case it helps them as well. In the meantime, I encourage you to take 45 minutes out of your day to watch this sermon. It’s by Mark Driscoll, about the cost of discipleship. It’s very closely related the above passage and what has been on my heart lately. It will definitely make you think about how you are living.

Luke’s Gospel: Investigating the Man Who Is God
Part 63: The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 14:25-35

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”


OK, so most of you who read this blog (actually, I am guessing all of you) know me on facebook, and therefore know that I am now residing in Texas. I am currently writing up a list of goals to keep up on or to meet while I am here, before I move back to Oregon. One of those is to write more regularly. For now that means posting at least once a week on both of my blogs (this one & Food For A Pilgrim) as well as journaling at least once a week. Maybe my fiction and poetry will resurrect during at some point. But for now, I believe this is a good start. So, starting next week, I will begin posting. I hope everyone reads and comments as often as possible. I hate to think that my blog will never get read. :)

For now, I will leave you with this passage that touched me today (thank you, Summer):

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

(Romans 13:8-14, NIV)

It kind of sums up the character development I would like to see in myself while I am in Texas.


Touch Me Lord

Touch me Lord, by the power of Your Name
Touch me Lord, and let me not seek fame
Touch me Lord, and take away my shame
Touch me Lord, and I’ll never be the same


Melancholic

Driving down the highway, the clouds gather and darken. The rain begins to pour. The wind picks up as I gather speed and weave in and out of traffic…Such is my heart. My soul is wracked with the sobs my body refuses to release. Oh, how many times must You break me before I stay put? Like a moth to a flame, draw me to the lamp of Your love.


“This Adulterous Heart”

This adulterous heart is breaking
And it’s foundation is shaking
I’ve been here before
I despise the person I am
For my conscience is on the lam
Only it’s worse this time
The match of the present way
Ignites the fuel of yesterday
My determination has left
Sorrow attempts an opening to pry
But I haven’t the strength to cry
I keep seeking a sign
Maybe someday the sun will shine
But for now, darkness is mine
Oh for the sign of Jonah


When Life Happens

I was reading in the book of Job today (for those who you who know, I am reading the chronological Bible in a year). The passage that struck me as very important was 1:20-22…

“At [finding out his children had all just died], Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (NIV)

For those of you who don’t know, me and Jessica broke up…So in some ways I may identify with Job. I’ve had things drastically changed in my life. Now, for people who have based themselves on things…when those things are removed, their viewpoint is really changed. But not Job. No. His viewpoint was based on God the whole time. So when stuff happened, HE STILL PRAISED GOD. He acknowledged God’s sovereignty, power, and praised Him. And note this very important part: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

How many of us, when bad things happen, blame it on God, or fall into old bad habits, or take it out on those around us? Is that how we are to show God’s love in our lives to others? Or is it rather by living out in our lives acknowledgment for His sovereignty? It doesn’t matter if God made it happen, let it happen, or what…Can’t you trust God to bring you through it, even if all that happens is that you die and go to heaven? “‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.'” (Job 13:15, NIV)

What our viewpoint is based on…Is it based on our circumstances or feelings or relationships? If so, when those things change (and they will), then our foundation, the basis for our whole outlook on life, will be completely different. But that’s not what God wants: He wants us to be founded on Him, and to rely on Him for everything. Including how we look at life. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:2-3, NIV) In other words, focus on God and His precepts and principles and character. Because God never changes (Heb. 13:8), so our foundation will never change. Everything else we can base ourselves on is from the world. And this world will be shaken: “[In the times of old] His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.'”

Here’s my question to you (and to myself)…Are you blaming God for anything in your life? Even deeper…Have you based your viewpoint…your very self and soul on God or something else?

Will you be shaken?


In This Morning’s Bible Study

I’ve started reading the Bible In A Year in the Chronological Order. Meaning, I’ll be reading the books/chapters of the Bible in the order that the events took place. This morning I read Gen. 8-11, and came across two things that struck me about God’s intelligence and wisdom and also about our own ingenuity…

Genesis 9:20 (NIV) says: “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.”
Out of all the professions in the world, a farmer, indeed, the son of a farmer (see Gen. 5:29), is pretty much the best you could do. In a few generations, with the bits and pieces of knowledge that Noah and his sons and all their wives had, they could put back together the human knowledge bank on medicine, building (after all, Noah had built the ark), and anything else they needed…But a farmer in cultures back then were the foundation of the society. If food wasn’t grown, it had to be foraged, which means you all became wanderers. Noah’s knowledge allowed him and his sons (who he doubtlessly taught his skills to) to choose where to settle. Pretty neat of God, eh?

Genesis 11:6 (NIV) says: “The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'”
Interesting how God says anything we put our minds to we could do. The study notes in my Bible say, “If the whole human race remained united in the proud attempt to take its destiny into its own hands and, by its man-centered efforts, to seize the reins of history, there would be no limit to its unrestrained rebellion against God. The kingdom of man would displace and exclude the kingdom of God.” The thought that struck me here was…Even though we do not at this point in time have a one world language, we do have global communication…The internet, online chat translator programs, and all sorts of things that make it easier and easier for us to “speak the same language” and to approach again the point where “nothing we plan will be impossible for us.” Scary huh? Makes me wonder if one of the requirements or signs of the end time is when we really start having a global language…

Anyways, those are just some of the thoughts I walked away from this morning’s Bible study with. Thoughts, ideas, questions?


Three Days In

If you haven’t yet, read this blog entry before continuing. It will explain a little.

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

It’s been a bit hectic, as I have to change most of my habits and day routine to just read the Bible. And it has yet to happen at regular times, or in large amounts; but I think that it’s OK to start small.

Of all the things that I’ve read the last three days, the verse above, and the passage below are what stick out most to me.

I Peter 5:6-11, 1:3-9 (NIV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

and

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I read these to my girlfriend yesterday morning when she was feeling stressed about something. And while it definitely helped her, I think it spoke to me as well. I don’t need to worry so much about things. Especially this committing to read only the Bible thing…If for some reason I miss a reading, I don’t think God would want me to stress out, but rather come to Him and just pray. I am protected by His power. :)

-Anthony.


Forty Days In The Word…And Just The Word

I am committing over the next 40 days to spend more time in the Word and in prayer. I’m choosing the number 40 because it is pretty significant in the Bible, and a lot of people went through periods of 40 in which God grew them.

Now what Bible study am I using to do this? None. I am going to read only the Word. NO extrabiblical works at all. No “Purpose Driven Life” or “My Utmost For His Highest” devotionals. I was looking for one to use and then thought, “That would be too easy. Wouldn’t it be more challenging, and helpful, to read only the Word?” Now, if I read an article on Relevant that’s not a big deal. But books and studies specifically meant to be used “along side” the Bible are out.

I don’t know where I’ll start, but I’ll start tonight. And I’ll try to post my thoughts along the way. Tho, if time constraints get in the way, I’ll obviously choose to read the Word and catch up on WordPress later. So we’ll see how this goes. :)

God Bless,
Anthony.