Dear Church Family,
Prepare for “scare.” This weekend when you go about your business look out: you’re going to see lots of people in freaky costumes and ugly masks. And it gets worse, because on Monday night others will be pounding on your door, demanding treats lest they play some haunting trick on you. (Hey, isn’t that the legal definition of strong arm robbery, i.e., taking from a person using force or threats but without using a weapon, yup, thought so, but the cops just look the other way! What’s this world coming to?) Just be on your guard.
But, we can squeeze some spiritual benefit out of this spooky weekend. So over the next three days, and on Monday in particular, think this thought:
My afflictions — meaning my difficulties, disappointments, hardships, heartaches, problems and pressures — are ALLIES in DISGUISE. They wear SCARY COSTUMES, but they’re my companions because God uses them to shape me for present significance, peaceful satisfaction and future “seeing.” (More on this third “treat” this Sunday.)
Now, I know that you know all that, but let Halloween provide a fresh reminder. Here are some lines from “An Old Story” by Edwin Arlington Robinson on the subject of spiritual misapprehensions:
Strange that I did not know him then.
That friend of mine!
I did not even show him then
One friendly sign;
I would have rid the earth of him
Once, in my pride!
I never knew the worth of him
Until [I] died.
Again, you’ll know the worth of all those things you that you loathed the most when you see Jesus in all his splendor at the end of the journey and the beginning of your best life.
Speaking of journeys, we’re nearing the end of our pilgrimage through Hebrews. As you know, Hebrews features a travel theme – that believers are on a faith-driven trek, just like the first generation of Israelites. And the last couple of weeks we’ve highlighted historical men and women who had firm ideas about God. Kurt taught us that:
These were regular people who took responsive action based on what God revealed to them.
They’re lives were regulated (at least some of the time because they were “prone to wander” like the rest of us) by this spiritual syllogism:
- God is reliable
- God made a revelation
- I’ll respond with action
They didn’t just have faith, they did faith. They didn’t just possess faith, faith possessed them to behave in ways that ranged from the unconventional to the outright cooky, at least from a human standpoint. Faith worked its way from their minds, where first it was just a “conviction” (Heb. 11:1) to their extremities where it was actualized in decisions that “reasonable people” don’t make. But who ever said that the Kingdom of God is for “reasonable people”?
So, (I just whipped out Kurt’s sermon notes from last Sunday) “by faith” they understood, offered, undertook, prepared, obeyed, blessed, refused, endured, passed through, etc. And some were saved and some were sawed, stoned and exiled. The point though is that they ALL made God proud and they’ve ALL taken their rest in the crowded cloud of God-Provers (Heb. 11).
Can you remember the first time that faith made its way from your mind down to your extremities? Meaning a time when you took unconventional or courageous action because of your conviction about Jesus (he’s reliable…he revealed something through his Word…so I’ll respond with an uncommon attitude or action)?
If you get a chance, please take a look at Hebrews 12:1-17 before Sunday. You’ll be one step ahead.
Living by faith (at least some of the time),