though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.— Hebrews 5:8-9
Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” That is, from first to last He is the perfect example of how we should live our lives by faith. If we have any question as to how we should live our lives, then we should look to Jesus first of all as an example of what to do.
Interestingly enough, if we look to Jesus as revealed in our verse for today, what we learn from His example is that the model of our faith had to suffer. Jesus’ life was a life that included suffering and His suffering was not gratuitous. It had a purpose. Through His suffering Jesus learned obedience. He learned how to remain obedient to God even though He was suffering. He learned not to use suffering as an excuse to disobey God’s plan for His life. He learned how to stand fast in faith through it all and obey God.
Further, we learn from Jesus’ example that His obedience to God needed to be perfected. Jesus, of course, lived in sinless perfection. However, He still needed to go through the sufferings He went through in order to become ready for His great task in life. Every experience He had and every suffering He endured prepared Him for the cross.
If the author and finisher of our faith needed to learn obedience through suffering, then how much more do we who are mere followers of His example need to learn obedience through suffering? Perhaps we need to look at the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life in a new light. Instead of complaining about them, perhaps we should consider them valuable experiences that qualify us for the tasks God has planned for us. If we go through these trying times in faith and obedience, then we will be ready for what God has in store for us.
You are a work in progress. You are being perfected by suffering for the tasks God planned for you from all eternity. You are working on your advanced degree in the specialty God thinks you are best suited for. Stand fast in faith, then, and learn obedience from what you are going through.
Heavens and earth, be happy! Mountains, shout with joy! The LORD comforts his people. He is good to his poor people.— Isaiah 49:13
There is always a reason to be happy. Although the people of God may go through trying times, there is always a reason for joy. We live in a creation controlled by the Lord and He is good. If the ultimate source and origin of all things is good, if the providential sustainer of all things is good, then there is no reason to allow sorrow and sadness to overtake and overwhelm our lives.
Although the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life still cause us problems, we can experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The heavens and the earth have good reason to be happy and the mountains have good reason to shout for joy.
You may be going through a lot of trouble right now, but there is still good reason to be happy. The Lord is comforting you and being good to you, despite everything that is going on. This comfort and goodness is merely a foretaste of the comfort and goodness that is yet to be revealed to you.
And if you go outside and listen closely, you may be able to hear the mountains in the distance shouting for joy about you.
Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.—Psalm 86:1
When life is moving along smoothly, it’s easy to say, “God answers prayer.” But a crisis can bring doubt, especially if the Lord is not responding as quickly as we might like. That’s when we may be tempted to bargain with God as if He could be manipulated into acting on our behalf. However, the goal of prayer is not to get God to do what we want but to bring our concerns to Him, trusting that He will answer in His own way and time.
Waiting on the Lord is fairly easy when we’re not facing anything urgent. But difficulties and suffering tend to make us impatient. We may even begin to find fault with God, thinking that if He truly loved us, He would intervene and bring relief.
As we seek the Lord for help, David’s prayers in the Psalms provide wonderful patterns for us to follow. He faced many dire situations and continued to turn to God. He recounts God’s character—gracious, good, ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call on Him. These characteristics are the basis for trust.
Knowing who God is enables us to trust Him through the crises of life. Because He is faithful, we know that He will keep His promises. His holiness causes us to examine our life and repent of any sins that are hindering our prayers. And His mercy, grace, and love give us the comfort we need to endure hardship.
I started writing this blog some time ago. How long to be exact I’m not sure. I started out with the intention of writing uplifting messages that show God’s love and care for us. I felt like a lot of people needed to read these stories. But, much to my surprise, my daily statistics show very few people visit my blog. Therefore, I am prayerfully considering to “continue writing anyway.” That’s right, I’m not giving up just yet.
You see, numbers in the grand scheme of things aren’t important. It’s the message that’s important. I believe with all my heart that someone out there will stumble across my blog one day and be saved by reading it’s messages. That’s why I continue to write each day.
I will not give up on that one individual who desperately needs to hear about Jesus and His soul saving action of dying on the cross. Many people don’t know who Jesus is and what He did for mankind. In my opinion that is sad. We as believers have the responsibility of sharing the “good news” with others. What “good news” you might ask?
The “good news” is that Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life in heaven after we die. There is only one way to an eternal life in heaven and that is through our belief that Jesus died for our sins. Take the time to tell others about this great act and the free gift given to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Your gift of the gospel may be the one thing that saves that person from eternal damnation. So, give it away. It’s your free “Good News” gift to those around you.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us”—1 John 1:8-10
Confessing our sins can be a very freeing experience. After our confession it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from our shoulders. Of course confession is not telling God something He already knows. That’s impossible.
Confessing our sins is a radical reliance on God’s grace. The thing is, people who confess find a freedom that deniers of sin do not! Scripture says, “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”
Did you catch that? All of our wrongs. Not some or a few or only the big ones. He will forgive ALL of them. I know it’s not easy confessing our sins to the Lord, but you and the Lord need to agree that what you’ve done was wrong and you are now turning away from that sin.
Let the pureness of God’s grace flow over you and your past mistakes. That’s right. Past mistakes. You no longer have to carry the burden of your sins. Why? Jesus died to set you free.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”—Matthew 11:28
Are you attempting to “save” yourself? I can guarantee that you will experience nothing but exhaustion from your attempts. Scampering around trying to please God by collecting “atta-boy” badges and brownie points just doesn’t work. Scowling at anyone who questions your accomplishments won’t help either. What’s the result of all this tedious effort? As believers we become the weariest people on earth. We fear failure because we don’t want to appear as anything but perfect. I guess you could call those who do all this as the church of hound-dog faces and slumped shoulders.
You should stop all this craziness once and for all. Enough of this frenzy. Hebrews 13:9 tells us, “Your hearts should be strengthened by God’s grace, not by obeying rules.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus promises, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
There is no fine print. Waiting for a second shoe to drop is not going to happen. God’s promises have no hidden language. With those thoughts in mind, let grace happen to you. You have God’s unending affection. He’s crazy about you and loves you very much.
So, take it easy and relax.
“God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”—Romans 3:24
Do you want more than anything to be set free from the guilt of sins past? Do your sins grind you down on a daily basis? How do we get set free from all this guilt? I know it’s something all believers want but somehow just can’t manage to get a good grip. We are incarcerated by our past. In our minds we have been found guilty! Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls. We sit on the floor of the dusty cell, awaiting our final moment. We don’t look up as he opens the door. We know what he’s going to say.
“Time to pay for your sins.” But we hear something else! “You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you!” The door swings open, the guard barks, “Get out.”
And we find ourselves with shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering what just happened? Grace just happened! Christ took away your sins. Romans 3:24 says, “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.” What happened? Grace happened!