Meditations: Hebrews 11:1

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

 

Hebrews 11:1
NKJV

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

I love this verse! I pay special attention to faith verses anyway, because I know from Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God, but this verse seems extra special – overflowing with revelation and promise.

As my pastor points out often, the first three words make a foundational statement about faith – NOW faith is. Faith is, and always will be, in the present tense (which is right in line with God’s declaration about himself – “I AM”). We cannot live on yesterday’s faith and we must not set faith aside today, planning to pick it up again tomorrow. We must walk by faith now. We must also walk in “the now kind of faith,” trusting that God already has answered the prayer or provided the need, and that we have the answer and provision now even if we can’t touch it yet. At first this can seem an impossible thing to do, but the more we study God’s Word the more we see that this is, indeed, the way faith works.

Keep reading the verse and you learn even more about faith.

 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for…

We hope for a thing, then, before we have faith for it. Too, faith is a substance one has or, as the Amplified version expresses it, “…the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed).” Think on that. If you have faith for a thing, you already have the assurance that it is yours, confirmation that it is yours, and the title-deed to it! Faith is a substantial thing and…it is evidence.

 

…the evidence of things not seen.

When God opened my eyes to the truth of this phrase, my excitement knew no bounds. Faith is evidence! Whenever I truly trust God to supply something, when I have faith in God’s provision in a specific area, the very fact that I have this faith is sufficient evidence that the answer is there; my inability to see or touch it is immaterial.

God is wonderful about giving me illustrations, and He gave me a great one for this verse.

In school, we all learned the basics of fire safety (Who can forget “Stop, drop, and roll”?) and one of the things we were taught is that, in cases of fire, we should test any door before opening it. Put your hands on the door and, if it’s hot, that’s all the evidence you need that there is a fire on the other side.

In the one case heat is the evidence that there’s fire on the other side of the door. In the other case, faith is the evidence that whatever you’ve hoped for is on the other side of the door. Awesome!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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Meditations: Hebrews 10:25

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Hebrews 10:25
NKJV

…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

“…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” states it so clearly.

I was told once, by an avid fisherman, “I can get as close to God on the lake as I can in church.” That may well be; who am I to declare him mistaken? But he cannot get as close to the assembly on the lake as he can in church, because the church is where we come to assemble ourselves together.

 

…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.

How much this shames us. The writer of Hebrews spoke to those Christians and reminded them not to forsake the assembling of themselves together as was the manner of some. If the statistics are true, this verse would need to be reworded slightly for today’s American church. It would need to read, “…as is the manner of most!” A large percentage of the American population professes to be Christian, but where are these people when the rest of the body comes together for worship? Why are they forsaking the assembly? Could it be that they have never truly read this verse?

God creates nothing without purpose and the local church serves His purposes greatly. As long as we continue to forsake this assembly we refuse to grow up and become all He has called us to be (Eph 4:14-16).

 

…but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24 elaborates on the exhortation; we are to exhort one another to love and good works. And we are to do it “so much more as you see the Day approaching.”

The Day, of course, refers to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it doesn’t take either an expert on Bible prophecy or a student of world events to see that the Day is most definitely approaching. Indeed, it approaches so quickly that I find myself rushing to get done all He has called me to do so that I will leave no unfinished work behind me.

Oh, that we would stop playing around with the time He has given us, but that we would, instead, devote our days to preparing ourselves and others for the reality that is eternity!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Hebrews 10:22

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

 

Hebrews 10:22
NKJV

…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

A lawyer type once said that Hebrews 10:16-31 is written like a contract, with verses 16-21 sharing God’s part, 22-25 sharing our part and 26-31 sharing the consequences of our breaking the contract. God, of course, does not break contracts.

Bearing this in mind, verses 22 through 25 become vitally important to the believer. Verse 22 first calls for us to draw near to God. In my experience, this is one of the most consistently disobeyed commands God gives. It is one thing to think, “I love God,” or “I live for God,” and another thing entirely to climb up into his lap like a child does with his father. Why? Time is an obvious excuse. We fill our lives so completely that we effectively push God right out of them, repeatedly promising to get with Him later. In too many cases, later never comes.

Another obvious reason for our failure is that when we draw close to God our faults become entirely too obvious for our own selves’ comfort. Indeed, Scripture commands us not only to draw near to Him, but to come with true hearts, a thing that requires self-judgment and humility. Too, we are to come in “full assurance of faith.” Few children have the nerve to approach their fathers, to draw truly near to them, when they’ve done wrong. Their hearts are not pure and they know it; they cannot come in “full assurance of faith” because they know they’ve earned punishment rather than their father’s loving touch. So it is with us; flesh shrinks back, drawing away from God rather than straining towards Him, so we must deal with the flesh first. We must put it down so we can exalt Him.

But oh the rewards that come when we judge ourselves, repent of our sins, and are able once again to draw near to Him, when we do take the time and put forth the effort to draw near to Him. As a little girl, climbing up into my earthly father’s lap might have been a wonderful thing, but climbing up into my heavenly Father’s lap is so far beyond this earthly experience that it denies the comparison.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Hebrews 4:2b

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Hebrews 4:2b
NIV

…the message they heard was of no value to them,
because those who heard it did not combine it with faith.

 

“They,” in this case, are those who Moses led out of Egypt. In the previous chapter, the author shares what God said about that generation and how their refusal to trust in and obey Him resulted in them not being able to enter into the rest that God had promised to give them in Canaan. They heard the same message that the next generation heard, but they only heard it; they failed to mix the message with faith, with action.

Some think that faith is merely believing, that if they hear a message and believe that message, then they have mixed the message with faith, but the Bible speaks otherwise. A message mixed with faith results in action. In the case of the Israelites who had fled from Egypt, the action would have been the taking up of arms and conquering of Canaan. They only heard the message, however. They did not really believe. Their faith, such as it was, was dead, useless.

James reminds us…

2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

2:17 …faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead

2:20 …faith without deeds is useless…

2:26 …faith without deeds is dead.

I had to fight the temptation to copy all of James 2:14-26 here. It reveals so very clearly that faith and action absolutely must work hand-in-hand.

I do not want to miss out on that rest my God has promised me. I want all that He has set aside for me. I refuse to miss out!

Having made that decision, what is required of me now? Action! As I hear the message, if I do not want it to be of no value to me – do not want to be counted as no more worthy than that group of faithless Israelites – then I absolutely must combine the message with faith, faith that steps out and does whatever the message calls me to do.

It was that combining of message and faith that resulted in my salvation in the first place. Who knows how many times I’d heard the message previously? All those earlier hearings had been of limited value, however, because I did not act on them, did not combine them with faith. Yet on that one, specific day, while I probably heard the very same message spoken in much the same way, I reacted differently. I combined the message with faith and took a step toward the altar, I accepted all that Jesus did for me when He offered His life up as the sacrificial substitute for mine, and I was forever changed. Far from being of no value to me, that morning’s message was priceless.

Remembering this – the moment and the results of what happened in that moment – how can I fail to ensure that the message always is of value to me? Yet I do fail. There have been far too many times in my life when I’ve heard a message and done nothing with it, not even mixed it with a tiny bit of faith, a little bit of action. What have I missed as a result? What seeds did God try to plant that I let die before they bore fruit, killed by my own negligence, my own lack of faith-based action?

I can’t change the past. I can only repent and commit to a changed future…and I do.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: II Timothy 2:15

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

II Timothy 2:15
NKJV

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

“Be diligent,” Paul says to Timothy. “Be diligent,” God says to us. Diligence requires action…sincere and consistent action. Again, we are reminded that it is completely unacceptable for us to sit and hear the word but do nothing with it.

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God

Here, then, is our goal – our reason for being diligent. We desire, in truth we must have, our heavenly Father’s approval. How? What must we do? In what are we to be diligent?

 

…a worker who does not need to be ashamed…

So we are to be workers, and not just ordinary workers, but workers who are so good at what we do, so thorough, so careful, that we need never be ashamed of either ourselves or our work.

 

…rightly dividing the word of truth.

And this is why we, as these diligent workers, need not be ashamed. We are mature and learned in the Word. We do not ignore the Word – we cannot if we are to divide it. We do not take the Word and twist it into new meanings to suit ourselves. No, we are to be “correctly analyzing and accurately dividing – rightly handling and skillfully teaching – the Word of Truth.” (AMP) We are to diligently do this; and in this diligence we will receive God’s approval.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: I Thessalonians 5:14

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

I Thessalonians 5:14
NKJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly,
comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

 

Here’s an odd verse to find seeking its home in this book. Yet it did not only seek this place; it demanded it. Paul has just exhorted the church at Thessalonica to “Be at peace among yourselves,” and the very next thing he says is, “…warn those who are unruly.” He is actively working to help the Thessalonian church become as strong as it can be and the four things he speaks of here are vitally important to such strength.

 

…warn those who are unruly

Interesting. He doesn’t say, “mutter and complain behind their backs.” Rather, he says, “warn those…” The warning is to be given in love, of course—that should be understood where Christians are concerned—yet it is to be given, and given directly to the person. If we would all do this one thing, and shut down the behind-the-back griping, what a difference there would be in the church.

Now, I am well aware that not everyone can warn everyone else. It may be that my flesh is too irritated and I know I could not approach a particular person in love, or perhaps the unruly person is one who, for whatever reason, specifically will not receive from me. There must be someone they will receive from, however, someone they will listen to, someone who can give the warning in love and it be received in the same way.

 

…comfort the fainthearted…

We’ve all had our times of faintheartedness and thank God for those who brought comfort in those times. I do not refer simply to the shoulder given to cry on, but also the voice that shares the comfort of God’s Word. For years, I was a member of multiple email loops and, in one particular loop, I had a friend who, whenever anyone in our group faced trials, would respond briefly and remind us to read her signature and remember God’s promise. Her signature contained the text of Jeremiah 29:11 and her gentle reminders were often that one thing needed to bring comfort and peace.

 

…uphold the weak, be patient with all.

I’ve included these two phrases together because this is the way they presented themselves to me…to my dismay.

Most of us have things that really irk us, things people do or characteristics they exhibit that really get under our skin. In my case one of those truly irksome things is perpetually baby Christians. I get horribly tired of seeing someone who ought to be mature in the Lord still fighting baby battles – deciding not to go to church this evening because they have a headache, moving from one church to the next in search of that elusive “perfect church,” continually needing reassurance on the same foundational principal… or, different angle, but still babyish behavior… never bothering to be on time, continually arguing over or ignoring basic church or ministry rules, whining, gossiping, backbiting… babies!

I suppose it was really no surprise when, after one grouch session with God (“God, why are so many Christians still babies? Will they ever get their acts together and grow up?”), a minister read this verse and I heard God answer, “Tammy, they are weak; uphold them. Be patient with them in all things.”

And there it is. I don’t have to like dealing with baby Christians any more than I have to like changing dirty diapers, but God has commanded me to uphold the weak, to be patient with them, and baby Christians (even perpetually baby Christians) fall into this category.

Others fall into this category too, of course. Many, like the elderly and physically infirm, I do not mind upholding, being patient with; it is those who create the weaknesses within their own selves that drive me nuts. What God has reminded me is that He sees all types of weaknesses the same in this case—as weaknesses in those He calls us to uphold, to be patient with.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Philippians 4:19

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

 

Philippians 4:19
NKJV

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 In this letter, Paul speaks to the members of the church at Philippi. This Scripture, specifically, is a declaration he makes after referring to the financial support they have given him. As I am also a giver, and one who gives to missionary work like Paul’s, I have every right to claim this promise for myself. And, oh, the promise that is contained in this one verse!

And my God…

 MY GOD! We’re not talking about man, here, but about God – the Creator of the universe, He who is all and has all, the Alpha and Omega… I AM.

…shall supply…

 Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines supply as, “To fill up, as any deficiency happens, to furnish what is wanted; to afford or furnish a sufficiency.” I love this definition! As any deficiency happens, God will fill it up. He will furnish what is wanted or lacking. He furnishes a sufficiency or, put simply, “enough.”

…all your need…

 My pastor is fond of saying, “All means ALL,” and through the years this truth has lodged in my spirit. Paul isn’t declaring here that God will supply some of what we need; he is saying God will supply ALL we need – all that is necessary for us to prosper and be in health even as our souls prosper (III John 2), all we need to accomplish whatever He calls us to do (Phil 4:13), all we require to become everything He wants us to be.

Oh…here’s an interesting thought. Paul says that God will supply all our needs; he does not say God will force them on us. God will give and keep on giving, but it is up to us to reach out and take all that is supplied.

…according to His riches in glory…

 Meditate on this one for a while and you realize we really have no comprehension of everything God’s “all” does contain, of the measure that is used. Our comprehension is limited by the finite nature of the world that surrounds us, but God is not limited to this world and does not have to supply according to our riches here. No, His supply is according to His riches in glory; His supply is infinite! The most gold I’ve ever touched at one time was in a large necklace, but God has so much gold that He uses it as paving material. The largest pearl I’ve ever held rolled around in the palm of my hand, but the New Jerusalem’s twelve gates are pearls. Truly, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor 2:9) Yes, He is able to do exceedingly beyond anything we can ask or even think (Eph 3:20).

…by Christ Jesus.

 I look at these words and hardly know what to write. “Christ Jesus” has got to be the two most beautiful words ever. “Christ” means “Anointed One” and when I remember this I remember also the passage Jesus read from Isaiah, the verses that spoke of Himself.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me…”

This is only the first part of Isaiah 61:1. Read on and you will be reminded of all the wonderful things Jesus was anointed to do. Truly, in Him and through Him…by Him…we have access to everything that matters.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C