Not Worthy of Them

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 1

There is that word again.  I liked it before but not so much now.  The word is “confidence”.  We read it before in Hebrews 10:22 where we discovered that we could confidently enter into the very presence of God because of Jesus, where we could get close to God and be His child.  I like the idea of being a child, having child-like faith.  That sounds safe and secure.  That feels comfortable and peaceful.  But now Paul is using that word “confidence” again, but this time it does not sound at all safe or smart.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11: 1

Faith is confidence in what we hope will happen, and assurance about what we can’t even see?  Hoping something will happen and believing it will happen even if we can’t see anything? Really??  Quite frankly, this sounds a little crazy and unnerving.  It sounds a lot like stumbling around in the dark, not seeing where we are going, not knowing where the light switch is, not knowing when the big, bad boogie man is going to jump out at us.

  “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” Hebrews 11:3

As I keep reading this chapter, things seem to get worse. We are told that the whole universe which we can see with our eyes, was not made out of stuff that we can see.  Quite frankly, that does not make any sense.  How can you make something out of nothing? Who would believe such a thing?

The answer to my question is that Abel did.  Enoch did.  Noah did.  Abraham and Sara did.  Isaac did.  Jacob did.  Joseph did.  Moses did.  The walls of Jericho did.  Rahab did.  Women did, and a whole lot of other people did.

None of these people saw the end result of their faith. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises…” Hebrews 11:13. They simply lived their faith.  They were confident that if they lived their faith, that God would be faithful. “and were persuaded of them (the promises) and embraced them” Hebrews. 11:13. They believed that they were making something out of something even though they could not see it.

This chapter of Hebrews is full of action words.  Abel offered, Enoch pleased, Noah moved, Abraham obeyed, Sara received strength, Jacob worshipped, Joseph gave instructions about his bones, Moses endured, the walls of Jericho fell, Rahab perished not, women received their dead back to life, and others were tortured. They were all confident that they were making something out of something that the world thought was nothing.  That something that the world thought was nothing was God’s promises.

All these people mentioned were giants in the faith.  They all judged God faithful simply because He promised. They endured hardships, were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, tormented, afflicted, and wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  The world was not worthy of them. (Hebrews 11:37-38).

Now that I have read to the end of this chapter, all of this still does not make any sense to me, but for a different reason.  Even though you and I will probably not experience the hardships that these giants endured, yet we will be right there with them when God fulfills His promise of the Kingdom. That does not make sense.   We are so not worthy of them.

“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

Hebrews 11:40

 

-Luke Elwell

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Stunted Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 12

Hebrews 5:12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 

As parents, my wife and I have the exciting opportunity to watch our daughter grow. We made a growth chart where we can visibly see how much she has grown over the years. It is exciting for her and us to watch the marks get higher and higher. 

But can you imagine how shocked and concerned we would be if, instead of growing up our daughter had shrunk! We would schedule an immediate doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong. Growth is normal and causes joy – shrinkage would be crazy and cause for alarm.

Many of the Hebrews that this letter is written to have been backsliding in their faith. They are shrinking – the author notices this and raises the alarms. He states that they are back needing the milk instead of solid food. Imagine if a teenager or adult gave up solid food for formula and pureed fruits and veggies. For some reason this seems silly but for some reason long time Christians acting like new believers does not get the same reaction.

Instead of helping others with their faith – these believers still need someone to teach them the basics again. The author wants to go deeper but fears it will go over their heads. So before he dives in to that subject, he issues a strong warning – saying, “GROW UP! You have probably been in a situation where an adult was acting like a child. You want to shout, “act your age” or “grow up.” And essentially that is what the author of Hebrews does with these Hebrew Christians. 

In vs. 11 he calls them spiritually dull and they don’t seem to listen. But they didn’t used to be this way. The language used here indicates that there was a drop off – as if they were sick and lacking energy or possibly it is a spiritual laziness. We notice an opportunity to get into God’s word but instead flip on the tv or have a free Sunday morning to go to church but instead decide to sleep in. 

If there is spiritual life, there needs to be spiritual growth.
You have to be moving forward.
Sitting still or going back is not part of a healthy spiritual life.
Make a plan and go forward.
Don’t get lazy or give up.
It is time to grow up!

John Wincapaw

Love & Compassion

Mark 5

Mark 5 2

Coming off the week of Fuel is always hard; we go from an amazing week of worship and fellowship back to our regular lives. However, it is important not to return to that pattern. We should be able to have people around us see the difference that has been made. We want people to know we are Christians by our love. This chapter, Mark 5, is an excellent example of that. In the latter half we see Christ commend a woman’s faith that helped make her well. He also brings a child, of whom he doesn’t know, back from the dead. He showed that love and compassion to random strangers, but more interestingly to me, he showed love and compassion to a demon in the beginning.

At the beginning of this chapter we see he goes to the other side of the sea to the region of the Gerasenes. There he finds a man who is possessed by the demon legion, who has broken all restraints that have been used against him and has been cutting the man’s body as well. As soon as Christ arrives there the demon possessed man came running to him and was begging him to leave the area, and to not torment him. There are other stories where the demon has been cast out and they move on, but Jesus takes the time to ask his name, he even gives legion permission to take over the pigs nearby rather than just cast him out. He leads by example here, for he said to love your enemy. He could’ve not listened to the demon and driven him out to be done, but he didn’t. He took the time to talk to legion and showed mercy in letting him possess the pigs.

Sometimes we struggle enough showing compassion to people we work with and see on a daily basis, maybe we find them a little too talkative or annoying but that is no reason to not show love. I know plenty of teachers I work with who just get on my nerves sometimes because they have problems everyday with the little things, like their password or volume on their computer. It’s important though that I don’t get mad or angry with them because we are called to love and being upset when someone is having trouble or struggling will only make it worse. If Christ can show compassion to a demon possessing and harming a man, we should be able to find compassion in ourselves for those around us, even when it is hard.

So, start today.  Sit down with that one person we might try to avoid, talk to the one who seems out of place, have patience with them and put yourself out there to be known as the one who shows kindness and compassion to all. Try to lead by example and show compassion to others in our lives, even if they seem to torment us like a demon. It’ll be hard but just maybe from this we can learn to be a light and hopefully inspire them to follow suit.

 

Have a great week and hold strong,

 

-Kyle Cheatwood

A Different Monday

Mark 2 14

Mark 2:13-14

“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.

“Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.”

It’s Monday.

For many of us, that means going back to work, which can be hard after a normal week, but this is the first Monday after a week of camp. A lot of times it can be depressing coming home after Fuel. We have to jump back into the same old routine, same old habits, same old life.

But you know what’s crazy, we don’t have to go back to the same old routine. We have been called out of the mundane, from simply going through the motions.

We are called to be different.

Because of Jesus, we can live in a completely different way than the world around us. You see, when people think of Monday as the beginning of a long, tiresome, annoying, difficult, boring, frustrating, week, we as Christians can have a different approach. Mondays are the start of a NEW week, full of incredible opportunities and blessings. You have a brand new set of 168 hours for God to work through you. Think of all the people you can meet, how much time you have to get to know God better, and all the opportunities to spread His love!

Last week we learned that being different will cause you to stand out in this world. If you go around without grumbling about Monday, or even better, being joyful that it’s Monday; people are going to notice, and ask questions, and possibly even look down on you because of it. But how blessed we are to be able to be different. We are lights in this dark world. Something as simple as Monday can spark life-changing conversations. How crazy cool is that?

In the second chapter of Mark, we find Levi simply doing his job. Same old stuff he does everyday. But then Jesus entered the picture. Jesus called him out of just going through the motions and into something life-changing.

You are called out.

Now most of us can’t just drop everything and follow Jesus as Levi did, but we can follow his example in the everyday experiences. The people around you are your platform. Your life right now is your ministry. You are different. And you are a difference-maker.

So in closing, I want to challenge each of you to this: Make this Monday different.

Have a blessed week friends,

Katelyn Hawkins

 Friends

 1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thess 1 2
The first verse of 1 Thessalonians tells us what this wonderful letter is all about: Friends: Paul, Silas, and Timothy had become extremely close spiritual friends. These three spiritual friends prayed together, worked together, and became very close to the people in Thessalonica. The first chapter should be read with the concept of two or three gathered in the name of Jesus praying and loving others in a particular area or church. I have made many friends much the same as Silas and Timothy were to Paul.  Thessalonians is all about fabulous friendship in this life and the life to come (v.10).
Application: Everyone has to choose which friends they should have. If we seek God and ask Him for guidance, God will lead us to the right people to be around. Just as Paul, Silas and Timothy constantly sought God’s Word and His guidance, they were able to connect because God rewarded each of their daily dedication to God. We as individuals need to be in constant prayer and God will lead us in choosing friends. I also encourage you to love your friends just like God loves us.
Paul Moore – and his friend Esther

Together

Colossians 3

Colossians 3 14

It is not always easy getting along with people in the church. When I first became a Christian, I thought after that point it might all become easier and I was just along for the ride at that point. However, God has challenged me to grow and to even get along with people I never thought I could. Has that ever happened to you? It appears Jesus joins all of us together no matter the strife that does and will happen.

Paul recognizes this in Colossians 3:14-15

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body: and be thankful.

What Paul said here is that Love is what “Holds us Together”. That is because of Christ’s rule in our hearts. But we must allow Him to rule. Today I want you to think of the people you never got along with until some Church or camp activity and thank God for them. Maybe even let them know too!

Jesse Allen

30-Second Challenge

Ephesians 4

4

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

To live a life worthy of the calling you have received is to reflect God’s character in all you do. Simply put, God is love, so go be love. Paul’s challenge to live out love seems impossible, but what if you did it just 30 seconds at a time?

Before a football game, a coach doesn’t know every play he’s going to call. Instead, he takes it one play at a time. In the same way, love the person in front of you just 30 seconds at a time. Once your 30 seconds is up, challenge yourself to another 30 seconds… and another… and another.

A life isn’t lived in a day, a year, or even five years; instead, it’s lived in the small everyday moments that add up to a big, beautiful life. Stop planning to do one over-the-top, love-filled thing and actually go be love just 30 seconds at a time. A plan isn’t love; it’s just a plan.

If we all accept the challenge to live a life worthy of our calling, Paul paints a beautiful picture of what the church would be like:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

30 seconds. That’s all it takes.

 

-Mackenzie McClain