Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:35b-38

“Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes when we step out and exercise faith in God, everything goes great. In fact, it goes better than great. We get not just what we wanted, but far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Those kinds of outcomes to our faith are the stories we like to tell. Many of the stories in the Scriptures have these kinds of happy endings. Every story of faith Hollywood tells ends this way. At some point it may look like things are going to go poorly because of faith, but then God saves the day, and they all live happily ever after. But what if things don’t turn out that way? Because in real life, sometimes they don’t. The second set of stories of the results of faith the author of Hebrews shares with us aren’t happy endings. At least they don’t seem to be. Maybe you have a story of faith that didn’t appear to end well. Let’s talk about when we have faith and nothing goes according to plan.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 10:32-34

“Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the things Jesus made clear over the course of His ministry is that following Him was not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be hard…really hard. When we give our lives to God’s kingdom, the authorities of the kingdom of this world aren’t going to take the loss of their power over us lightly. To the extent they are able, they are going to make our lives as difficult and miserable as they can. The obvious question here is why anyone would sign up for this. Because there’s more to life than this life. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Romans 5:3-4

“And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

How do you handle it when things don’t go your way? Are you the kind of person who can pretty much just roll with it, or are you more of a worrier? The fact is, sometimes life doesn’t go our way. And while those departures from expectation are usually fairly minor and little more than inconveniences, occasionally they are far more bothersome than that. Sometimes these setbacks take the form of various trials and tribulations; they appear as painful persecutions. What do we do then? Paul offers some counsel here that sounds really odd, but in the context of a relationship with Jesus makes perfect sense. Let’s talk about it.

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Reading the Fine Print

So far in our journey over the last few weeks, we have talked about how and why to stay plugged in to Jesus. This week we’re shifting gears a bit to talk about what it looks like when we get it right. As it turns out, along their walk from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told the disciples one thing it would look like. The picture He painted, though, wasn’t pretty. Yet this picture has formed the reality for a great many of His followers over the centuries. Let’s talk today about the sometimes tough reality of what staying plugged in to Jesus looks like when we get it right.

Reading the Fine Print

What would you do if your faith was put to the test? I’m not talking about some kind of a pen and paper test. I’m talking about the kind of test where you are challenged to live and act in a manner consistent with your faith with the full knowledge that doing so is going to bring trouble into your life as well as the lives of the people around you. Over the past fifteen years, our culture has seen several Christian individuals put to just this kind of test. They have been approached by one person or another and asked to provide a service or involve themselves in an action which their core Christian convictions informs them is morally impermissible for followers of Jesus to take part in. In several of the most high profile of these cases, the believer courteously refused to participate in whatever it was. You can perhaps guess what was the response of the world. To put it mildly, it wasn’t good. 

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 12:2

“…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Think for a minute about the last time you had to do something you really didn’t want to do. How was that experience for you? Enjoyable? Boring? Unbearably awful? How did it leave you feeling afterwards? Were you glad you did it? Were you grateful it was over? Did you regret you had to give any of your precious time to it? Sometimes in life we have to do things that aren’t our first choice. Occasionally they are our last choice. And then there are times we face the prospect of doing that and God is the one leading us to do it. Not wanting to do something God has called us to do may bring guilt – especially in light of what we see in this verse – but let’s take a look at it this morning because there’s something here we don’t want to miss.

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