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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

HEBREWS 12:7-11


"It is for discipline that you endure;
God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there
whom his father does not discipline?
But if you are without discipline,
of which all have become partakers,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us,
and we respected them;
shall we not much rather be subject
to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time
as seemed best to them,
but He disciplines us for our good,
so that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment
seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it,
afterwards it yields
the peaceful fruit of righteousness."


This passage is pretty plain and doesn't need a microscope or telescope to figure out.  Even though we may cringe at the thought, "discipline" is mentioned seven times in these verses, thus is important.  We do not get to skip it, collect two hundred bucks and pass GO.  Rather, I'm more like our little wiener dog when it was caught being naughty which would cringe and whimper knowing a little swat of discipline was coming.  Our Springer understands when we slap a newspaper in our hands that we mean  business and will do everything to make us happy.  It makes a lot of noise, but little pain, and is used very sparingly: one little swat every two or three years is enough.



Illegitimate children is the term used in polite society, but Scripture has been in the past more plainly spoken using the "B" word, bastard.  On Memorial Day, my guys watched the movie "Patton."  That word was spoken so much that I moved into the other room so I could read in peace.  However, recently I've been reading slave stories as captured by the government in the '30's, which also served to provide WPA employment, by interviewing former slaves before their stories died with them.  One current that often ran through them was of the illegitimate children that resulted of a slave woman being used by her master.  There was one account especially where the father recognized his child and proclaimed her to be his, but often they were sold away to keep from embarrassment and spousal fury.  One former slave said, "Dese white mens what had babies by n...wimmens wuz called 'Carpet Glitters."




Incidentally as I read these accounts, it was evident that the "Negros of mixed blood, called Free Issues or Shim Sham, were looked down upon as riff raff by both slaves and white people.  These would usually be the rejected offspring, thus, fatherless.  Such were some of my early relatives who congregated in the boarder lands of Carolinas, and indeed, some were of the worst sort, undisciplined without a father's training.  When the census was taken, those with lighter skins tried to pass themselves off as white, but usually they had to register as mulattoes unless they could, as many did--even going to court to prove their heritage--by insisting that they were of Portuguese descent (from Emanuel Rodrigues or Driggers, as it got passed down from this early slave in Jamestown whose father was a Portuguese ship captain and mother, a slave woman from Sudan. (DNA has captured this much of our history.) 


The point is, being illegitimate has its unhappy consequences even today in our society when fathers step so easily away from their responsibility.  In fact it is what brought about the acceptance of Planned Parenthood whose goal was to not only limit the size of families, but as a tool to wipe out Jews and Blacks, allowing men to wash their hands of responsibility.  God bless the single parents!  Some go so far to say about our current society, gangs and crime go hand in hand with fatherlessness.



Here's what John Wesley had to say about discipline, "'For they verily for a few days'--How few are even all our days on earth!   'chastened us as they thought good...'Though frequently they erred therein, by too much either of indulgence or severity; 'but He'--Always unquestionably, 'for profit (for our good) that we may be partakers of His holiness'--That is, of Himself, and His glorious image...'is for the present grievous, yet yieldeth the fruit of righteousness'--Holiness and happiness."





Andrew Murray says "...it does not ignore the fact that the chastisement causes pain.  As an old believer said, when speaking of one of the promises, Yes, it is blessedly true; but still it hurts."


"Consider it all joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith
produces endurance.  And let endurance
have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect
and lacking in nothing."
(James 1:2-4)


Adam Clarke says, "If ye submit to His authority, humble yourselves under His hand, and pray for His blessing, you will find that He deals with you as beloved children, correcting you that He may make you partakers of His holiness...He acknowledges by this that you belong to the family, and that He, as your Father, has you under proper discipline.  It is a maxim among the Jewish rabbins that 'the love which is not conjoined with reproof is not genuine.'  This proceeds on the general fact that bastards are neglected in their manners and education; the fathers of such, feeling little affection for, or obligation to regard, their spurious issue...'chastisement or discipline'..the original word does not imply stripes and punishments, but the whole discipline of a child, both at home and at school." 


One study shows that though Mother's Day cards are used profusely when made available in prisons, while Father's Day cards are ignored and unsent . Though some are fatherless, or wish they had been fatherless in this world, God is willing to adopt us into His family and be our "Father who art in heaven."  Any discipline we receive from Him, any discipline that He allows to come our way, is worth the pain, the refining to make us more like Him.  "Go wash up and wash behind those ears!"  Yep, though unpleasant, it is a good command.





Tuesday, May 30, 2017

HEBREWS 12:5-6


"and you have forgotten the exhortation
which is addressed to you as sons,
'My son, Do not regard lightly
the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are
reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves
He disciplines,
And He scourges every son
whom He receives.'"


"Behold, how happy is the man
whom the God reproves."


We haven't even finished celebrating the Memorial Day holiday, before the Father's Day merchandise is front and center in the stores.  Even the Fourth of July stuff is creeping out;  following on its heels, the week after will be back to school sales; and it won't be long until Halloween junk will breathe down our necks.  But we will kick-start our own little pondering on this passage, a father-son one.  I'm sure I told you how six year old Ezra looked away dreamingly saying on Mother's Day, "I can't wait for Brother's Day to come!" 



Hmm.  I don't like discipline.  Do you?  But a world of undisciplined people is an unpleasant thought.  Teen Challenge is full of those who basically were fatherless, or who had fathers who did not rise to this responsibility.  This indeed helped to lead them to "self-will run riot."






I'm thankful that God is our Father, and He doesn't shrink His responsibility to raise us up right.  Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father...Thy will be done..."  He would not discipline us unless He loved us.  So are you happy, happy, happy, even though this might not be your first thought when God gives you a spanking?


"Sufferings are for chastening.
And chastening is from love,
a token of God's fatherly care...
Every trial comes from God
as a call to come away from the world
to Him, to trust Him, to believe in His love...
'To be more than conqueror through
Him who loved us.'"
(Andrew Murray)


We came home the other day to find that our son, who had been in trouble, had written on the dirty back windshield of the other car, "#1 Dad." That's how we should trace through our dirty spots when under His discipline, "#1 Father."






Monday, May 29, 2017

HEBREWS 12:4

"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood
in your striving against sin."


This is a fitting Scripture for Memorial Day as well as John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."


"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood..."  If this were a question, I would have to answer, no, I have not.  That's the stuff of martyrs.  We can bind up our wounds, put on bandaids, go on a quick trip to the E.R., but His shedding blood in our defense was so much greater.  Our Savior once and for all shed His precious blood to obtain the victory over sin, sin that required a blood sacrifice. So even if we are ever to the point of bleeding to death from battle wounds, it still would not be the same as what His striving against sin cost Him in the shedding of blood.


He sweat great drops of blood for us
before He ever was nailed to the cross.

However, some of those who first hand were read this epistle, like the writer of it, would become martyrs for the truth.  As Adam Clarke wrote, "yet you have not been called, in bearing your testimony against sin and sinners, to seal the truth with your blood."  Not yet, anyway.



Here's a poem from one of my favorite old devotionals, "Gems of Devotional Poetry."

Jesus Crucified

"Oh, come and mourn with me awhile!
See, Mary calls us to her side;
Oh, come and let us mourn with her;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
While soldiers scoff and Jews deride?
Ah!  Look how patiently He hangs;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

How fast His Hands and Feet are nailed;
His blessed Tongue with thirst is tied;
His failing Eyes are blind with blood;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

What was Thy crime, my dearest Lord?
By earth, by Heaven, Thou hast been tried,
And guilty found of too much love;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Found guilty of excess of love,
It was Thine own sweet will that tied
Thee tighter far than helpless nails;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Oh, break, oh, break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Come, take thy stand beneath the Cross,
And let the Blood from out that Side
Fall gently on thee drop by drop;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart, love's cradle is;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

O Love of God!  O Sin of man!
In this dread act your strength is tied,
And victory remains with love;
For He, our Love, is crucified."

Faber


Here's from an old hymn...

"See from His Head, His Hands, His Feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingling down;
Did e'er such love and sorry meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?"



And another old hymn...

"There is a fountain filled with Blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."









Saturday, May 27, 2017

HEBREWS 12:3

"For consider Him who has endured
such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."


I just realized the thrust of this verse is telling us to look at Him, to consider Him, the One who endured, rather than keeping our eyes down on the hostility, the attacks.  But I usually get tripped up looking down at those things that make us weary and lose heart.    It's like running when you notice your shoelaces are untied.  Yep, I had stitches in my lip once when I was in preschool running like that.  Learn to tie those tennies and look up!  Don't get tripped up.





 But we can never equalize the One who is attacked with those who attack,  the Holy One with sinners.  It's the same hostility that caused some of them to strike innocents twice this week, in England and in Egypt.  But some refuse to call an enemy an enemy.  If only we could love them enough into good behavior, they say.  As if! 


We live with these military planes flying overhead constantly.


If under attack, we are not to yield our standards, our beliefs, our souls and just roll over and die.  The problem is, the attacks will never cease in this world.  Sinners will be here till kingdom come.  We could never bomb them all out of existence--but hopefully just enough to keep most of their attacks far from home. 

One day He'll separate the sheep from the goats, the chaff from the wheat.  In the meantime, if we hang around with Him, we are going to have our share of attacks.  It is because while He radiates love, it draws out the unadulterated hate from sinners.  It reveals basic human nature: if you reject God, you are hostile towards Him.  So we are in the world with these hostile people. 


Now we are told to think about Him so we will not grow weary and lose heart.  But here below, I'm feeling a little weary, a little draggy, a little under-the-weatherish, not up to fighting any huge battles today, thank you.  Instead, I think I'll call my doctor.  If I was to go out onto the battle field today, I'd get whupped  Sometimes I just have a bad case of the punies and need to pull my slug body back into its shell.   When I tend to get this niggling feeling, I probably need some doctoring because there's something fight'n ag'in me inside.  If I don't attack it back, it could take over with severe consequences.  Oh, the frailties.  So we have these troubles without and within.  But we can't lose heart.  My troubles are not comparable to real troubles others face.


I've told the story before of the honor of being with a wonderful man as he was fighting the good fight and was about to cross the finish line.  Eric was dying.  He was about to lay his heavy armor down.  My pastor-husband was out of town, so I was the one who was privileged to go to the hospital to be with him.  He still looked to be the big strong man that he always had been.  He was too young to die, but there he was about to receive his reward. 




Other ministers rallied around his bed loudly praying to bring him back from the brink of death.  He sent them away and called me in to quietly read to him Scriptures and sing hymns.  His body appeared to be running hard, chest heaving, though lying on a hospital bed.  Those were his last  struggling breaths.  Ever since that blessed experience of being one to cheer him on, I have always thought of Eric as I read these last chapters of Hebrews.  His body was weary, but He didn't give up his race.  He had somewhere to go, heaven.  So he ran hard panting where he lay to the very end before he could catch his wind, his next breath in the heavenly breezes. 




Now our children are raising the next generation passing on the baton.  Here's a little conversation our daughter-in-law overheard between her six year old twins, and she reported,

"Today when Ezra was in one of his moods,
he said that when he grows up he's gonna be a really bad guy.
Addie said, 'I wouldn't do that if I were you! 
There's a bad heaven that you'd go to
where there's lots of pain and thorns and choking.'"

So don't grow weary and lose heart, dear ones,
especially considering the alternatives!

Ezra, when his mom waited a tad too long and found him in
the hole he had dug.  His next plan was to dig a tunnel to Toys R Us!






Friday, May 26, 2017

HEBREWS 12:2

"and has sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God."



If you are in a memory verse competition, the first one you pull out is
"Jesus wept."

The second one you might quote is another shortie,
"It is finished."


Just as the hammer putting the nail into his hand reverberated with the blow all the way up the Roman soldier's arm, so too this little verse is still vibrating into our hearts today.  If it truly was finished, the work Jesus came to do in obedience to His Father--taking on the flesh, dying on the cross, rising from the dead, ascending into heaven while leaving the Holy Spirit to abide--then it means He "has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  It truly is finished so that now when we look to Jesus, we look past the cross to the Conqueror who has come into His kingdom and sat down by His Father. 


Let the banquet begin!  We have been invited.  They are not going to party all night, they are going to party through all ages into eternity!  As we look to Jesus, we find He is looking at us.  He sees us just as He has always kept His eye on us, more the small sparrow.

Here is a view that George MacDonald, the Scotsman author wrote in the last century about looking to Him...


"We must spread out our arms to Him
as a child does to his mother when he wants her to take him;
then when He sets us down, saying,
'Go and do this or that,'
we must make all the haste
in us to go and do it.
And when we get hungry to see Him,
we must look at His picture.
Jesus is the divine picture of God.
Read about Him in the book.
The nearest likeness you can see of Him,
is drawn by yourself while doing what He tells you.
He has promised to come into those who keep His word.
He will be much nearer to them than in bodily presence;
and such will be able to draw for themselves the likeness of God.
But first of all, and before everything else...
mind obedience!"




So then, if we are used to spreading out our arms to Him as a child, when we enter the kingdom of heaven  like a child ("Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."--Matthew 18:3), we will be ready, be hungry to look to Jesus. We will recognize His face from His likeness we have already drawn by obedience.  In that moment, we will no longer be a child, but His blushing bride looking to Him.  We too can sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.



John Wesley says, "'and is set down'--
Where there is fullness of joy."


According to Adam Clarke, it cannot be said that "He endured the cross, &c., in the prospect of gaining an everlasting glory; when He had the fullness of that glory with the Father before the world began; 'Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.'" (John 17:5) 



Adam Clarke continues, "He is set down at the right hand of God, ever appearing in the presence of God for us, and continuing His exhibition of Himself as our Sacrifice, and His intercession as our Mediator."  He is thinking of us, waiting for us, preparing for His bride.











Thursday, May 25, 2017

HEBREWS 12:2

"...who for the joy set before Him
endured the cross,
despising the shame..."



Jesus had a view of eternity: "who for the joy set before Him."  Endured the cross.  This torture was so temporal, that though He suffered  horrid pain, He disdained the shame.  He was impervious to it.




Despising is a strong word, very close to hate.  Here's a dictionary definition of despise: "to look down on with contempt or aversion: disdain, detest: to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful."  This puts an interesting perspective for me on this verse.  He held with contempt the shame they tried to heap on Him, from the whipping to the crown of thorns as they mockingly called out, 'Hail, King of the Jews,' to the public display hanging naked on a cross.  He detested it, regarded it as negligible and worthless.  Jesus had such a view of eternity: "who for the joy set before Him."  This torture was so temporal, that though He suffered the pain, He disdained, scorned the shame.  He was impervious to it. 



"It was the joy of reversing, at last, the tragic defeat of humanity in the Paradise of Eden; the joy of knowing that Satan's purpose of destroying man was foiled...the joy of the saved entering heaven 'with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads (Isaiah 35:10); the joy of herald angels 'tidings of great joy to all people' and such marvelous joy in truth no vocabulary may describe it, nor rhetoric suggest it, or finite mind fully conceive of it.  Placed in the balances of consideration and weighted against the epic suffering our Lord passed through, that unspeakable joy overwhelmingly prevailed. 'The coming joy disarmed of its sting the present pain." ('Oh death, where is your sting?')  (Coffman's Commentary)

"To all the promises prophecies and predictions, that were given out by divine revelation, from the beginning of the world, in them was this joy set before Christ...it was written of Him, that He should do His will." 

The sweet relief of death, the sweet release of death, was Jesus' joy set before Him, that He would see His Father's face who said, "This is My Son in whom I am well Pleased."


Thus we see that Jesus' view of eternity was past, present, and future.  What was bringing Him unspeakable joy in His present suffering was not just looking forward to heavenly glories, but in looking back knowing it as the culmination of all history.

"Like all true heroes, Jesus was preeminently unselfish.  He had nothing to gain save the love of humanity.  His joy was purely unselfish." (Sermon Bible Commentary) It makes me picture the movie when William Wallace in Braveheart yelled while being tortured, "Freedom!"

 



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

HEBREWS 12:2

"Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."


When I read this verse, I hear the creak of saddle leather as I adjust my weary seat.  I pat my horse's sweaty neck as I follow in a long line of warriors coming back from battle as we follow our leader whose flag is still waving.  As we approach the castle, the people are cheering us on.  We are heading to the safety of His kingdom where we will be able to take off our heavy armor and sit down at his banquet table and celebrate our victory.



One translation of this word 'author,' which is only used once in the New Testament, is that of 'Prince.'  "He is the Leader of the whole army of faith, whose standard we are to follow, and whoso own completed victory is the enabling cause as well as the earnest of our own....He is regarded as the Head and Leader, in all ages, of the faithful; and in virtue of His future warfare for mankind the saints of old endured and triumphed."(Pulpit Commentary)


"He is more than an example...So let us look away from all others, who only give us example, to Him who can give us strength...They may teach us to fight, but He fights in us." (MacLaren)


He is the author. "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'...'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last.'"  (Revelation 1:8 & 1:17)  He is the One who wrote the Book, kind of Author.  He alone knows every thing past, present, and future.  We just haven't finished reading it yet and are still turning the pages with bated breath because there is a chapter in which our stories are told. "He is the completer as well as beginner." (Barnes)

Our Leader wants to help us realize that, as great as they are, the cloud of witnesses,  He is the Captain of our faith, "as if all the former witnesses are not enough (and they weren't) (Poole's Commentary) 

Usually this verse is given as another example of the great race where "all these, the greatest names of old, are in one class, and He stands above in a class of which He is the only member." (MacLaren's)  Adam Clarke says, "...every Christian is a contender in this race of life, and for eternal life.  The heavenly course is begun under Jesus; and under Him it is completed.  He is the finisher, by awarding the prize to them that at faithful unto death.  Thus He is the author or the judge under whom, and by whose permission and direction, according to the rules of the heavenly race, they are permitted to enter the lists, and commence the race, and He is the finisher, the perfecter, by awarding and giving the prize which consummates the combatants at the end of the race."

"Only to Jesus we may look continuing to find unsullied purity and perfect faith."
(MacLaren's)