This World Is Not Our Home

Posted: August 14, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
– Hebrews 13:14

—–

Where would you call “home”?

Is it where you grew up?
Is it where your parents live?
Is it where you are currently living?

Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to stop focusing on the physical world around us.
We are encouraged to focus instead on eternity – on eternal life with God.

If this life is all that there is, if the physical world around us is the only home we will ever have,
then it would be right to spend all of our time, money, and resources on making this life as awesome as possible.

But if there’s something more, if there is something that lasts immeasurably longer,
then the only smart decision would be to prepare for that home.

And so believing in Jesus changes the way we live.
The priorities we have are different.
The interests we have are different.
The purpose and meaning we find in life is different.

Because it doesn’t matter if we work as hard and as long as we can, in order to have more money.
It doesn’t matter if we spend all we have, in order to have all of the newest and coolest technology.

Because, after this life is over, all of our money and possessions will be given away.
Some of it will be saved.
Some of it will be kept as heirlooms.
Some of it will be discarded as trash.

But, if we spend all that we have, and give all that we are, preparing for the life to come,
then we will truly find ourselves preparing to go home.

Not home to a building where the foundation will crack and the walls will break.
Not home to a big screen TV that will be outdated by this time next year.
Not home to a savings account that generates enough interest to keep us in stylish clothes.

But we will go home to our Father.
We will go home to our Saviour.
We will go home to our Lord.

And so, if we are able to keep our eyes on our true home, then no matter what happens to us,
we know that good things are in store for us.

We are able to face any struggle…
We are able to persevere throughout persecution…
We are able to hold on to our faith…

…because this world is not our home.

Until I further prepare for my eternal home,
Pastor Matt

Jesus Never Changes

Posted: August 12, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
– Hebrews 13:8

—–

I have gone through many stages in my life.

I’ve had shaggy hair.
I’ve had no hair.
I’ve had green and purple hair.
And now, it looks like my hair is never coming back!

I’ve liked rock music.
I’ve liked rap music.
I’ve liked country music.
I’ve liked pop music.

I’ve had good days.
I’ve had bad days.
I’ve had mediocre days.

I’ve felt full of energy.
I’ve felt exhausted.

I’ve been patient and gracious.
I’ve had a short fuse and a mean temper.

In both serious and humourous ways, I have gone through many different stages.

I have changed my attitudes and beliefs.
I have changed my opinion.
I have changed my mind.
I have changed.

Perhaps this is why the words found in Hebrews 13:6 are so powerful:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Jesus never changes.

Jesus doesn’t go through stages.
Jesus doesn’t make terrible decisions when His emotions are running strong.

Jesus never changes.

The Jesus that wept with His friends who were hurting (John 11:33-36),
is the same Jesus who cares about the struggles that we face.

The Jesus that empowered the lives of the first Christians (Matthew 28:18-20),
is the same Jesus who wants to empower you.

Jesus never changes.

You can trust Jesus…
You can depend on Jesus…
You can put your faith in Jesus…

Because Jesus never changes.

Until I allow the unchanging Jesus to change me,
Pastor Matt

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
– Hebrews 12:5-6

—–

When you were young, did your parents ever have to punish you?
Did you get grounded?
Spanked?
Forced to take a time-out?

Every single parent, if they are truly good parents, want to help teach their children lessons.
They want their kids to learn important guidelines for life.
They want to help their children find the right path in life.

And sometimes, to teach those lessons, it involves punishment.
It involves discipline.

If a parent never disciplines their child, then that doesn’t make them a loving parent.
That may actually show that the parent doesn’t really care about the child,
because they aren’t worried about how the child will turn out.

So there are times, when punishment and discipline, can actually be done out of love.

And this is the image that the author of Hebrews uses to teach us more about God.
God is our Father, and He loves us.
And, because of His love, sometimes He will need to discipline us.

Sometimes God will need to punish us.
Sometimes God will need to get rid of the things that are distracting us.
Sometimes God will need to take us from where we are, and put us back on the right track.

If God didn’t do this, then that wouldn’t mean that He was nicer.

Because if God just left us all alone, and never helped guide or direct us,
then that would be proof that He doesn’t care about us.

But He does.
God cares about you more than you can possibly imagine.
And He wants to help you find the path in life that you were created to take.

So there may be times in your life when God needs to get your attention.
There may be times when God needs to correct you.
There may be times when God needs to punish you.
There may be times when God needs to discipline you.

But, when those times happen, remember that God is only doing it because He loves you.
God is only doing it because He wants greater things for you.
God is only doing it so that you can grow up into who He created you to be.

Until I accept God’s discipline in my life,
Pastor Matt

Jesus Initiates

Posted: July 31, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
– Hebrews 12:2

—–

In your relationship with God, who took the first step?

Does your story go something like this:
“I was going through a rough time, so I decided to turn to Jesus…”
“I felt all alone, and so I gave church a try…”
“God was distant, and then I cried out to Him…”

Today I would simply like to challenge you with this one thought:
When it comes to the relationship between you and Jesus,
Jesus initiates.

In the relationship between you and God, He took the first step.
Before you invited Jesus into your heart, He invited you.
Before you prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, He prayed for you (Romans 8:26).

Sometimes, when we use phrases like “I found Jesus”, we almost make it sound like Jesus was the one who got lost.

But it was us.
We were lost.

Jesus found us.
Jesus came looking for us.
Jesus gave everything for us, long before we even thought about Him.

Jesus initiates our faith.
And that means that he will also perfect it.

You can be absolutely confident that Jesus didn’t initiate a relationship with you, just to leave you hanging.
Jesus didn’t find you, just to lose you again.
Jesus began the relationship between you and Him, and He will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

So take a step of faith towards God, knowing that He’s already running towards you.
Spend time listening to God’s voice, knowing that He’s already speaking to you.
Cry out to Jesus, knowing that He’s already listening.

Until Jesus continues to work on, and perfect, my faith,
Pastor Matt

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
– Hebrews 12:1

—–

This past June, I completed my first half-marathon with my father and sister.

Ok, so technically I wasn’t really “with” my sister, because she ran far, far faster than me!
But I did complete it with my father!

And so this is what comes to my mind when I read the above words from Hebrews that says:
“let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Because when mile 10 came, I needed to convince myself to endure.
When mile 11 came, I needed to press on, in spite of the pain.
When mile 12 came, I needed to force my legs to keep moving.

There was a race set before me, and I wanted to finish.
There was a race set before me, and I didn’t want to give up.

And in our, lives the plans that God has for us, in many ways, resembles a race.

Sometimes it’s a quick sprint, just a short burst of effort to get through what lies in front of you.
And other times it’s a marathon, where you need to dig deep and endure if you are going to make it to the end.

What race are you running?
What race is set before you, where God is calling you to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving?

And, what could you do that would help you run your race more efficiently and effectively?
Do you need to simply endure?
Do you need to strip off the sin that is tripping you up?
Do you need to remove any weight that is slowing you down (even if it’s not necessarily “sinful”)?

Whatever the case may be for you at this moment in your life, God is calling you to continue running.

Do not give up.
Do not throw in the towel.
Do not fail to complete the race.

Until I put one foot in front of the other, and continue running,
Pastor Matt

Too Good For This World

Posted: July 24, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.
– Hebrews 11:35b-39

—–

The Christian life is not always easy.
The Christian life is not always pleasant.

Sometimes, to follow Jesus, you have to go through hard times.

The author of Hebrews reminds us of this point in the passage above.

There are those who have followed God, and have suffered.
There are those who have been led by the Holy Spirit, and have experienced pain.
There are those who obeyed God’s will, and it resulted in their death.

Yet, the author writes, that these people where “too good for this world”.

I wonder if the same will one day be said about any of us.

I wonder, if God was leading us in the same direction…
…would we be willing to face hard times?
…would we be willing to go through struggles?
…would we be willing to give up our lives?

So many Christians spend their time worrying about life on this earth.
Focusing on building up their material treasures here in this life.
Doing whatever we can to avoid hardship in our lives.

But God wants us to have a different perspective.
God wants us to look beyond what this world can offer us.
God wants us to look towards eternal life in Perfection with Him.

And, when we are focused on that, we will be able to face any trial.
We will be able to overcome any struggle.
We will be able to stand firm in any storm.
We will be able to persevere through any persecution.

Because we are too good for this world, and one day we will be in a place that is good enough for us:
Eternal life in heaven.

Until I earn a good reputation because of my faith,
Pastor Matt

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
– Hebrews 11:32-34

—–

Have you ever taken the time to dream about all you could accomplish with your life?
Have you ever thought about the future, and wished for big plans and important tasks?

The truth is that God has a purpose for you.

The above verses from Hebrews 11 show how mightily God used some other people.
To overthrow kingdoms.
To rule with justice.
To shut the mouths of lions.
To quench the flames of fire.
To escape death.

And the fact that you are still alive here on earth, means that God wants to do amazing things through you too.

Yet maybe you think that this applies to everyone but you.
Maybe you look around and see everyone else as being “better” than you.
Others are “more talented”.
Others are “more important”.
Others are “the ones that God really wants to use”.

If you feel this way, or if you have ever felt this way,
then I would encourage you to re-read the above verses from the book of Hebrews in the Bible.

And make special note of the phrase “Their weakness was turned to strength.”

There’s not a single person who God used, who wasn’t weak.
There’s not a single person who God used, who wasn’t lacking.
There’s not a single person who God used, who had everything figured out.

But God wants to use us even though we are weak.
In fact, maybe God wants to use us because we are weak.

That way, when God does miraculous things in and through us, we can’t take any of the credit.
We don’t get any of the glory.

Because it’s clear that we are too weak to do anything life-changing on our own.
But, when God is working within us, anything is possible.

So have faith that God wants to use you.
Dare to dream big dreams of what God could do in and through you.
And follow Him where He leads you, even when it is intimidating and scary.

Because He can take our weakness, and turn it into strength.

Until God turns my weakness into strength,
Pastor Matt