Friday, August 5, 2016, 10:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 12:1-13 (ESV). With Endurance (vv. 1-4) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. There are many people who have gone before us who have set for us an example of great faith and endurance, especially in times of boundless trials and tribulations. They were not perfect people, but they loved God, and by faith they followed him in obedience. They set an example for us in how we, too, can run the race set before us with endurance. They overcame sin, temptations, and weaknesses of the flesh by the power of God at work in their lives, and they did the will of God even though they faced much opposition, persecution, and even death in return. So we, too, should run the race God has for us, and fight the good fight of faith with perseverance. Satan is our enemy, and he will do all he can to try to trip us up, and to get us to fall. So, we must know his tactics so that we are not caught off-guard, and so we can resist him and flee temptation, and so we can draw near to God in full assurance of faith. When Jesus died on that cross, he died that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might be free to come under the control of his righteousness. He conquered death, hell, Satan and sin on our behalf. So, as followers of Christ, we should no longer be in bondage to sin, for Jesus set us free! Thus, we should live like he did – all in the power and working of his Spirit living within us, as we yield to his control over our lives. If a particular sin has gotten a grip on us once again, we need to turn from it to follow our Lord in obedience. If something in our lives is leading us into sin, we should cut it out. If we continue to play with fire, we should not be surprised when we get burned. We need to eradicate sin and what leads us to sin from our lives by the Spirit at work in our lives. Then, we can move forward on the path God has for us to travel, and we can fight the good fight of faith. We do this by keeping our eyes focused on Jesus and not on our circumstances, which can be bleak, at times. He is our only perfect example for how we should live, for how to resist Satan, and for how to walk in obedience to our God, even when life hits us hard, which it will. He didn’t think about himself and about saving his own life, but he willingly gave up his life so that we might go free. He endured much in the way of scorn, mockery, hatred, envy, persecution, beatings and even death, and all for the joy of knowing that this was all for our salvation. It is important to note here that Jesus’ greatest persecution did not come from people out in the world, but from within the temple of God. His greatest opponents were the religious leaders in the temple, too. So, we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition comes from within the church, and from its leadership, for many have deserted the gospel to follow after the ways of humans, instead. For Discipline (vv. 5-11) And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Sometimes we are disciplined by God because we are sinning against him, and thus he is divinely correcting us, as a loving parent would his wayward and disobedient child, in order to get us back on the right path – the path of righteousness. Other times his discipline is more like training us for battle, like soldiers may have to endure as they get ready for warfare. We need to go through tough situations, at times, so we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, so we learn perseverance and endurance, so we are compassionate towards others who are suffering, and so we can offer them similar comfort as what we received from God. We need it for our strengthening, courage and endurance. And, we need it as part of God’s process of making us holy - set apart from the world because we are becoming like Christ. Remember that Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered, and he was without sin. If we are trained by God’s discipline, it will produce an outgrowth of righteousness in our lives, and in the lives of others touched by our lives. Strengthen Weak Knees (vv. 12-13) Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. So, don’t let the difficulties of this life undo you. God allows these things in our lives to mature us in Christ and to strengthen us in our faith and in our commitments to him. We never have to be afraid of what humans may do to us, because God is with us, and he will take us through whatever trials we must endure. And, I know that many of you are going through such times as this right now, and that you have been abandoned by those whom you trusted, and that you are finding that the enemy is not necessarily just on the outside, but that the enemy is within the gates, and is, in some cases, those in whom we have trusted and that we thought were on our side, but they are not. And, this is going on within the church, too, or particularly within the institutional church. We need to shake off discouragement and resist Satan’s temptations to fear our circumstances, and we need to daily put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. We need to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh. And, there we will find refreshing for our souls, by submitting our lives to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Zeal for Your House An Original Work / August 1, 2016 Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9 Zeal for Your house, it consumes me. Lord, I love my times with You. I love to worship You and sing Your praises. Time in Your Word brings me closer to You, List’ning to You speaking to me, Gently guiding me in truth. Lord, You are my life’s example, Showing me how I should live. I love to walk with You where’er You lead me. No greater joy have I when serving You. Loving, giving, resting in Your strength, I’m yielding to Your will. Zeal for Your house, it consumes me. See the church turned upside down: Marketing ventures taking place of worship, Men of the gospel turning into clowns. Gospel message made appealing, So the world will feel at home. Lord, we need a great revival. Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You. Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness, Lord, to the light. May they return to You, Turn from their sin, forsake idols, Be restored to God again.