Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 4:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB). Examples of Great Faith (v. 1a) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us… The witnesses being spoken of here, I believe, are the heroes of the faith listed for us in Hebrews, chapter eleven. They were the men and women of God in Bible times whose lives and testimonies now serve as examples to us of outstanding faith. They not only believed God, and took him at his word, even when they could not physically see with their eyes the things promised, but they acted in obedience to God upon the faith they had. For instance, “by faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By this faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7). I believe it took him 100 years to build this ark, during which time he most certainly faced much criticism, jeers, mockery and rebuke from the people of his city, who probably thought he was absolutely nuts. What if, when God called him to do this, he said “I believe,” but then he did nothing? His faith in what God said was proved genuine by what he did in obeying God and in doing what God said. Abraham went where God told him to go, even though he didn’t know where he was going. Moses “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” but “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (11:24-25). Others were tortured, faced jeers and flogging, were chained and imprisoned, stoned and put to death, persecuted and mistreated, and were homeless and destitute. They were all commended for their faith (See Heb. 11:32-40). In other words, they walked the talk, and did not just talk the walk. Their actions supported their confessions of faith. Every Encumbrance (vv. 1b-2) …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 author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Since we have these wonderful examples of great faith and endurance set before us, and many more since that time, we are to lay aside all obstacles to our walks of faith, and all sin which might easily entangle us so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run. An obstacle to our walks of faith could be anything that might hinder us from walking with God, and obeying his commands to us, and forsaking sin and living for righteousness. Some of these obstacles to our faith may not involve us committing sin, but some of them may. Some obstacles (or hindrances) which come to mind are things like poor time management, lack of setting priorities, allowing other things of lesser importance to distract us; failing to plan, living by our feelings, and having close friendships with those who bring us down spiritually and who influence us in the ways of this sinful world. Others can be lack of discernment with regard to false teaching, and remaining in spiritually unhealthy environments when it is in our power to remove ourselves from such situations. The sin which so easily entangles (traps) us can be sin in general, or it could be a reference to some specific sin which we, as individuals, might have a particular weakness toward; or might be easily tempted to do. Thus, we would be especially vulnerable in that particular area. For instance, some people might be drawn toward gossip, while others might have a weakness toward overeating, while still others might have a certain vulnerability toward lying or cheating. We should each own up to our own weak areas. We must bring them to the cross of Christ. We need to put them to death by the power and working of the Spirit of God within us. And, we ought to definitely not ignore them, placate them or lie to ourselves about them and think we can handle it, because pride comes before a fall. We need to lay aside these hindrances to our walks of faith and these sins which so easily entangle us. So, how do we do that? We have to get radical about our Christian lives, and we must get serious about God/Jesus, and his Word, and about obeying him and following him wherever he leads us. We can’t take God and his Word lightly or be casual about our Christianity, mingling with the world, and behaving sinfully. We must remove ourselves from friendships and even churches which are NOT preaching the true gospel of salvation, and which are mingling Christian faith and practice in with following after the pattern of this sinful world. We must come out from them and be separate, because they are influencing Christians or professing Christians toward a worldly existence, and toward a light-hearted approach to God, and toward the mixing of various faiths and practice which are anti-Christ with the teachings of scripture, and they are not teaching the only hope which can save lives, but are giving people a false hope. And, we must get radical about sin by removing from our lives anything that is sinful or that might lead us into sin. For instance, if our sin which easily entangles is pornography, we can’t have private internet access free from all accountability, unless the Lord Jesus miraculously delivers us from even the temptation to go there. The Bible talks about removing body parts like eyes and arms if they lead us into sin. Now that is radical! I do believe it is to be taken metaphorically, though, to refer to anything in our lives which is leading us into sin. I can tell you that even sites which should be safe are no longer safe. Even news sites have images and temptations off to the side to lure the naïve and foolish into sin. Social media has these kinds of temptations, too. I know we can’t avoid everything, and we can’t shut ourselves completely off from the world around us, but we can cease being plain stupid, too, by exercising good judgment and wisdom from above. Yet, we can’t do any of this if we are operating in our own human flesh or if we don’t take this seriously, and we are too casual about it. We need to have our eyes (focus) fixed (firmly planted) on Jesus Christ, his word, and on obeying his word and on following our Lord Jesus in surrender to his will, or all of this is just academic exercises. Such Hostility (v. 3) For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. From whom did Jesus Christ face his greatest hostility? Some of his own birth family members did not believe him, and so they rejected him, made fun of him, mocked him, and thought he was crazy. The vast majority of the people within his own faith, community and nation also did not believe him, and thus rejected him as their Savior (Messiah). They mocked him and tried to trip him up, hoping to discredit him. They hounded him, falsely accused him, arrested him, beat him, gave him a mock trial, and then crucified him. Why? Because they hated him and they feared him, too. The religious leaders of his day, who were his greatest opponents, were threatened by his popularity among the people and they feared losing their own positions of power and influence among the people. They also hated him because he exposed their falsehood and hypocrisy and because he told them the truth about their sin. They hated him, as well, because he told the truth about who he was, and they refused to believe he was their promised Messiah, the hope of Israel, God incarnate. Many people today are hostile toward God/Jesus, and so they attack the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith and practice, and/or those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives. They may do this outwardly, or they may only do this within themselves; within their own minds, hearts and consciences. Yet not all of these attacks come from outside the Christian community, but many come from within, from those who claim to know Christ; from those within the gatherings of the true church, and/or from those within the institutional church (organized religion). They also come from within our own nations, from our fellow citizens, and from our own government leaders and military forces; from people within our own communities, even from those who claim to be our friends; and they come from our family members, too. Yet, these assaults against Christ and his church, meant to subdue, rebuke, reject, mock and/or to gain victory over believers in Jesus Christ, are only self-defeating, for the attackers are only incurring God’s judgment against them. I can only presume this is taking place worldwide, but I have no direct knowledge of what is going on within the church in other nations. I just know this is a global effort to do away with Jesus Christ, his gospel, and his church, in particular to dismiss those who are preaching the full gospel of our salvation. And, I do believe the church across the globe is suffering severe persecution for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ. Many of those within our own nations, communities and organized churches (organized religion) have sided with the New World Order “Beast,” and are pushing for a one-world government and a one-world religion where we all live in unity with and under the rule of this one-world beast government. I can’t say this is true of all nations, but I do know it is true here in America, and I do know this is global. Our government and their military, including a militia of pastors and church leaders, are united together to obliterate radical (extremist) Christianity which holds to the gospel according to Jesus Christ and the NT apostles, and in order to open the way for a new stage (or chapter) of hope in the world, which is no hope at all, but is a BIG FAT LIE. The purpose of these assaults against people, nations, governments and the church worldwide is to divide and conquer, to break down and to undermine established laws, governments, morals, the church, the Christian faith and practice, and the gospel, in order to effect change, transformation, and to influence people away from the old order of things toward the new world order of global government and religion. They want us to self-destruct, i.e. to destroy ourselves from within. They want to destroy the old order so that out of the ashes of the old order a phoenix (new order) may arise. This new order is being presented as new hope for the world, which will open new prospects for the future. Yet, it is a lie, for things will only get much worse, not better, before Jesus Christ returns. Yet, so many are not perceptive about what is truly going on within the USA or within the world at large because they are not really paying attention prayerfully and with discernment, and so they lack understanding and are being defeated from within. We need to pay attention! We need to NOT believe everything we hear, read and see coming from our government, world, and church leaders or from the news media. When we hear or see or read about something coming from a preacher, a politician or the news media, or other sources, too, we need to take them to the Lord in prayer, asking the Lord to reveal to us what is truth and what are lies, so that we don’t fall prey to deception and the devil’s trap. Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012 Walking daily with my Savior brings me joy. Loving Father; precious Jesus; He’s my Savior and my Lord. Gently leads me; follow Him. I’ve invited Him within. Now abiding in His presence, oh, what peace. From my self-life He has brought me, By His mercy, full release. Hope and comfort, peace and safety Jesus brings When I daily bow before Him; Obey freely; do His will. Follow Him where’er He leads. Listen to Him; His words heed. Now obeying his words fully, oh, what love That He gives me through salvation, By His Spirit, from above. Loving Father; precious Jesus, He’s my friend. With my Savior, by His Spirit, I will endure to the end. Share the gospel, tell what’s true. Witness daily; His will do. Tell the world of how their Savior bled and died. On a cruel cross He suffered So that we might be alive.