Illuminate Community Church
About this podcast
Illuminate Community Church Podcast - Pastor Jason Fritz - Scottsdale, AZ
About this podcast
Illuminate Community Church Podcast - Pastor Jason Fritz - Scottsdale, AZ
Illuminate Community Church
6/20/2021 - Paradigm Shift - Acts 10
"What God has cleansed you must not call common!” Acts 10:15 There’s a moment in church history that makes the sound of a thunderclap. It’s found in Acts chapter 10. Peter has been given the keys to unlocking the future of the church. God’s picture of the future is not something Peter anticipated. In fact God had to prepare him for it. Peter had many prejudices that needed to be torn down. God begins this process with a dream that includes unkosher animals. “Arise and eat!” he’s told. He says, “Never!” In his mind the animals before him are dirty, unclean and forbidden. It will take the consistent voice of God to convince Peter, and yet this vision is preparation for something bigger. Gentiles should not be regarded as dirty, unclean and forbidden. Gentiles and Jews did not mix. They had genuine hatred for each other. One viewed the other as nothing more than slave material and the other was perceived as immoral and profane. Could God really be uniting these two into one family? Yes and the proof comes when God tells Peter to visit a Gentile named Cornelius. Cornelius has questions about God and Peter is answering by telling him of Jesus. And then it happens. Cornelius believes and the Holy Spirit comes upon this Gentile and all who are with him. It cannot be denied. God’s family is all-inclusive. God could have used an angel to bring the message to Cornelius but he didn’t. He used one of his own. Why do you think God does it this way? My dad was a mechanic and auto body repair guy. That’s what he did for a living. When I was little and he was working on a car I would look over his shoulder and wait for him to give me instructions. “Okay Jason, grab the pliers” or, “Hand me the screwdriver.” I remember feeling like a big kid because my dad and I were working together. So I did the same with my kids when they were little. At times there would be a bolt that was so tight I couldn't loosen it on my own. I needed the help of a strong four year old. So I would grab the wrench and then place that little hand on top of mine and together we would move the bolt. “We did it!” That little face would light up and so would mine. This is the joy that God gets when one of his children works alongside him. God had done all the preparation and Peter simply spoke the words. Let’s enter into joy of partnering with God by relying on the power he supplies!
6/13/2021 - Changed! - Acts 9
Acts chapter nine records the most significant event in the history of the church since the coming of the Holy Spirit. The apostles' teaching that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah has blistered and enraged Jewish leadership. A short while ago, a man named Stephen preached Jesus to this stiff necked crowd. The mob is unable to refute his logic and they murder him under the authority of the Sanhedrin. There is one notable man present. A Pharisee-trained young man from Tarsus, the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. He kept watch over the event and became inspired. He won the chief priests' permission to hunt Jesus-followers in Jerusalem. He imprisoned them, voted that they be executed, and tried to force them to blaspheme. In response, the Jesus-followers fled Jerusalem, scattering over Judea, Samaria, and as far as Syrian Antioch, not too far from Tarsus. Along the way, they discovered that God's salvation is for more than the Jews. The Holy Spirit came on Samaritans and an Ethiopian government official who worshiped the Jewish God…and he was a eunuch. Formerly, these men were excluded from the worship of God. Not anymore. Truly, Jesus is for everyone. The young Pharisee would become famous by writers referring to him as Paul. He personally encountered the resurrected Jesus and was forever changed. He would go on to become the most successful church planter of all time. The hunter has become the hunted. His peers want him dead. He is after all, a traitor. But Paul would use his zeal for Jesus. In other words, he became a sanctified version of himself. He didn’t change his “foot on the gas" ways. He simply turned the car in a new direction. How about you? Are you thinking you have to be someone you’re not. No one can be you better than you. So be yourself for God’s glory and you’ll discover what you were truly designed to do.
6/6/2021 - Jesus Is For Everyone - Acts 8
God has many beautiful attributes. The one I’ve been thinking about most is His sovereignty. This means not one thing escapes His notice. Not one thing in your life or in the life of this world catches God by surprise. He controls it all in the palm of his hand. Practically speaking, what does this mean for us? Oftentimes we experience the unexpected and unwelcome. God is in control and when our minds begin to drift toward fear, his sovereignty brings us back. God’s sovereignty extends to salvation also. If you’ve ever wondered how God could reach the farthest person then look no further than Acts chapter eight. It’s here we see the unexpected conversion of an Ethiopian eunuch. God is opening the gospel door wider than anyone expected. Now included: those who were previously excluded from the worship of God. Maybe, just maybe God would choose to save the Samaritans because they had some Jewish blood in them, but a eunuch was categorized as “unfit." Yes, it’s happening. Jesus is for everybody. Also with this conversion we will see the gospel taken to the ends of the earth. It’s just remarkable to see this progression. Through human history God sovereignly works to get his message to those sincerely seeking to know the Savior. But here’s the thing…when God works, he works through men and women. People like you and me. This is an incredible honor and privilege we’ve been given. There’s no joy like seeing someone receive salvation. Have you experienced this? You and I don’t know exactly how God is working behind the scenes. But he’s always preparing people for the words he will give us. Let’s pray for the moment, take the opportunity and rejoice in God’s sovereign plan of salvation!
5/30/2021 - Die Better - Acts 7
The early Christian author Tertullion said, “The seeds of the gospel have been sewn with the blood of the saints." The life and death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr proves this to be true. Stephen’s death teaches us to expect suffering if we follow our Savior. But we also can expect His faithful presence with us and His welcome into heaven when we leave this life. So let’s entrust our souls to Jesus and do what is right. It’s not always easy. We have an enemy trying to beat us down. Are you feeling a bit weary trying to maintain your witness for Him? Remember this: Jesus always uses the suffering of His saints for His greater purpose and glory. No one suffers for Christ in vain. The persecution that arose against the church scattered the seeds of the gospel. Watching Stephen die had a profound and unforgettable effect on Saul. (Also known as Paul.) He continued fighting against Jesus by fighting His followers, but finally, the Lord powerfully saved him. Stephen’s sermon and his courageous, calm death softened the soil of Saul’s heart, preparing him for that later conversion. Paul later wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The Lord is mindful of your service for Him, and He will duly reward even a cup of cold water given in His name. You were created for this my friends. There are no useless parts in the body of Christ. Whatever you or I do for His name’s sake counts in eternity. Keeping this in mind helps us defeat discouragement and we do not lose heart in the battle. Keep fighting the good fight until He calls you home. Jesus will be welcoming you!
5/23/2021 - Resolving Conflict In The Church - Acts 6
Would it surprise you to know that one of the top three reasons people leave their church is because of interpersonal conflict? (Number 1 answer - not being fed spiritually.) Acts chapter 6 describes these growing pains and the leadership’s response. You see, the early church had two different groups under one roof. Although both groups were Jewish, one spoke Greek and the other Aramaic. Funny how the smallest things can divide people. Greek speakers were feeling neglected by Aramaic speakers. Their basic food needs were not being met. When the apostles learn this they appoint seven men to take charge of dispersing the food to meet everyone’s need. In other words, it’s important that we bear one another’s burdens. I believe this environment made the church irresistible then and perhaps even more so in our world today - a world that is eating its own. One of the seven men chosen to help was Stephen. He will be the first martyr. Listen to this description of him… "And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people." Acts 6:8. He was full of grace and power. That’s an interesting combination. As it turns out, these are essential characteristics for furthering the Gospel. Power by itself can overwhelm and intimidate. Grace will soften even the hardest heart. I get the feeling that Stephen understood the power was not in himself, but rather it was God’s power through him. Therefore he could not take credit because it was all by God’s grace. That same power and grace enables us to build the Christian community in love!
5/16/2021 - Powerful Witnessing - Acts 5
Acts chapter 5 contains one of the more sobering accounts in the New Testament. A man and woman receive judgement from God and both die in the midst of the church assembly. What’s going on? They wanted to appear generous without being generous. The church is the bride of Christ and He will protect her from corruption. Since then, God has given the church authority to watch over herself. Jesus gave us specific guidelines in Matthew 18. Purity is important. This amazing story reveals that when two things are combined there will be real change in the world: personal purity + the gospel of Jesus. Purity gave the church her power. Nothing robs the church of her influence more than when our words and actions are incongruent. Show me a church that’s pure and I’ll show you a church of influence. Where there’s influence there’s opposition. The lives of the apostles inspire me. Their dedication is remarkable. The attitude of the apostles is part of the reason why they were able to do what they did for the Lord. They are rearrested and told, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your words about Jesus.” Have we filled the Valley with our words of Jesus? Do people in our area – our friends, neighbors and relatives know about Jesus? Do they know about his love and forgiveness and grace? If we are going to make a difference in the world we have to preach Jesus. We must have the attitude that, no matter what, we will tell others about him. Our purity and integrity is an open invitation giving us the ability to speak into the lives of others. Opposition will tempt us to be silent. So let’s remember the words of the Apostles, “We must obey God, rather than men!"
5/9/2021 - Can't Stop Talking - Acts 4:1-20
I’m mindful of the tender heart of Jesus in Luke chapter 13:34, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" Jesus compares his heart to the heart of a compassionate mom. This heart would give its own life for the early church. At first, things seemed to be going so well. The church was birthed out of a passion and devotion for God and his people. Whenever the Kingdom of God advances we should expect a push back. Up until this point the church has been in favor with all the people. That’s about to change. Peter has been preaching Jesus on the temple grounds. The religious leaders (Sadducees) begin to take notice and they do not like what they see and hear. This is the first instance of opposition. You would think that it would come from Godless men but instead it will come in the form of the most religious people in the city. What could cause such backlash? Peter has been proclaiming that the dead will rise in the name of Jesus. The Sadducees did not want this name being said. Remember, this is the same group of religious elites that delivered up Jesus to be crucified. They thought they had pulled out that little thorn. But now they are hearing his name again and again... "...for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20 How about you? Can you say the same? Let me put it this way - How often are you outside of your spiritual comfort zone? Are you known by those around you as a follower of Jesus Christ? It might be time to get out of the boat and start walking on the water. You were saved for a purpose and part of that purpose does not involve selfishly holding on to what you have. Instead, we share it with others trusting the Holy Spirit for the results. If resistance comes, know you’re in good company!
5/2/2021 - More Than A Miracle - Acts 3
“Ten thousand pounds of suffering is more preferable than one ounce of sin.” -Charles Spurgeon The lame man found in Acts chapter 3 was a familiar figure in his day. He has been in the same spot begging for years. God worshiping Jews know his twisted frame as a fixture of the Temple landscape. Most walk by without pause. But this day is different. Peter and John speak to him. The expectation causes his heart to race. They might actually be willing to help meet his need. Like us, he doesn’t really know what his true need is. He’s expecting silver or gold coins. These are the things that will make him happy, right? We all know better than that. How many times have you said, “If I only get this…then I will be satisfied!” or, “If this would change in my life…then I will be happy!” If only he had silver or gold, then his life would be better... But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:6 Do you need to look deeper? What is your misplaced desire (silver or gold). We are all lame because sin cripples the entire human race. Jesus is the only one who brings the help we need. No doctor, no self-help book or life coach, no religious advisor could give the man what he truly needed. There was nothing he personally could do. Perhaps the biggest barrier there is for many of us is the idea that we can get to God on our own merits." Look at me run, look how good I am. I don’t need much of Jesus, I’ve got two strong legs!" Peter explicitly says it was, "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" that healed. Nazareth was a backwater town of no significance. You don’t claim this with any pride. Instead, it is meant to show that this Jesus is God’s man to bring salvation and the restoration of all things (vs. 19-21). Times of restoration and times of refreshment; don’t we all want that? Perhaps best of all is the man’s response to the news that Jesus is the Christ - the messiah sent to forgive sins. He can’t stop leaping. Consider anew that your spiritual need has been met and in the end this far outweighs the physical.
4/25/2021 - The Rise of the Church - Acts 2:42-47
Let’s go back to where it all started. The city of Jerusalem is packed with Jews celebrating the festival Pentecost. Peter takes his place and delivers a stunning sermon about Jesus being God’s Messiah who was rejected by the people. There is massive conviction upon the listeners and Christianity spreads from a couple hundred to three thousand responding in faith. The church is born. What happens next gives us insight into what made the church special. It was unified unlike anything anyone had ever experienced. What made it so? There were four specific elements that created a special cohesiveness in the group. They are being unified in their beliefs, as they all receive teaching from the apostles Jesus trained. They spend their spare time and meals together, sharing everything they own with gladness and sincerity of heart. And their prayer unites them before God as they present their needs. Some of the details of the early church in Jerusalem are unique to its' time and place. God's call for churches to be unified is not. We receive different spiritual gifts, but we are called to serve each other in the church (Ephesians 4:1–16) "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2–3). Whatever specific forms the church of today looks like, it is still called to have the same heart as the first church in Jerusalem.
4/18/2021 - That Will Preach! - Acts 2:14-38
I’m a self-confessed sermon junkie. For me, a great sermon is like a work of art. Of course the greatest sermon of all time was given by Jesus. We know it as the Sermon on the Mount. Next to this, Peter delivers a masterpiece of his own, inspired by the Holy Spirit and found in Acts chapter 2. The response is overwhelming. Christianity expands from about 200 to over 3000 followers in one day. Preaching is important. We are constantly receiving “sermons” from social media, television, movies, politicians, celebrities and even bumper stickers. They all have a message they want us to literally ‘buy’ into. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Who has our best interest?” God does. Peter steps up, speaks out and tells the truth about Jesus, the human heart, and the destiny of man. The crowd is captivated. More than this they are convicted. They’ve heard that God’s judgement comes upon those who reject Jesus. And yet there is an escape. Believe, repent and be baptized. Have you been wanting something better? This is where real and lasting change begins. So can I encourage you to first preach to your own heart from God’s Word? Don’t allow the message of others to guide you. In the end, you’ll be looking for something that only Jesus can provide.
4/11/2021 - The Final Words of the Resurrected Jesus - Acts 1:1-11
Have you ever wondered how Christianity spread from just a handful to many millions? Or what about this movement called the church? What’s the purpose of that? We have answers. There’s a “Part 2” in the Jesus story and it picks up immediately following the empty tomb. The events are investigated by a physician named Luke and written in the book of Acts. It may surprise some to know Jesus’ final words were not spoken while hanging on the cross. They were said during a span of 40 days when he made “convincing proof” of his resurrection. He then left the earth so he could leave another - the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes to empower them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. "Witnessing” is something more than a spiritual discipline. It is the very essence of who we are as Christians. But what does that mean? And how exactly are we to speak about Jesus? A few verses later Luke gives us one of the keys in telling others about Jesus. Not only do we talk about all that He said and did, but we must focus on the resurrection. In other words, we don’t speak merely of a God who is loving, a Christ who forgives sins, or a salvation that provides second chances. These gospel messages truncate the full gospel and miss the power of Christ’s Lordship. Jesus is not a forgiver who happens to be Lord; he is the Lord who died to secure forgiveness through his death and resurrection. The book of Acts puts emphasis on his resurrection and we should too. The Holy Spirit provides the power, the resurrection is the proof, and your personal testimony makes it real.
4/4/2021 - Easter at Illuminate
The significance of Easter is all about victory over death. Jesus’ resurrection was the confirmation of all that he said and did. It gave undeniable proof that he was the Son of God. But there’s more. His resurrection means eternal life is granted to all who believe in Him. Now that’s reason to celebrate!
4/2/2021 - Good Friday at Illuminate
“It is finished.” – Jesus So many things in life seem to go unfinished. So what do these final words from Jesus actually mean? He wasn’t simply referring to the end of his pain and suffering. It means the plan of God to redeem man has been completed. There is nothing left to do. (Read that last sentence again.) When Jesus finished his work on the cross your work was done also. You can stop trying to earn your way to God. Jesus did the work for you. Now you see why these are the three most important words ever spoken. “It is finished.”
3/28/2021 - What’s Your Approach? - Hebrews 12
Our Palm Sunday message this year comes from Hebrews chapter 12. After reading the text you might be thinking it’s an unlikely place. As you know, the world is tumultuous and things are always changing. Circumstances, careers and relationships are often not what we want them to be. As you get older the challenges seem to come at you daily. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first day of the week the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. They had problems like we do and they thought Jesus was going to remove all those problems. The thing they missed was the real problem. The real problem is that they were separated from God because of their sins. The people wanted Jesus to restore their national pride. Jesus was going to lead the revolution! Instead, he came to lead a revolution of the heart. The people were not buying it and in their disappointment some of these same people in just a few days will be screaming, "Crucify him!" A few decades after this, our author is writing to a group of believers that have had their faith shaken and they are ready to throw in the towel. They are living in tents because their homes were plundered and some are in prison. The author writes in an effort to strengthen them and encourage them not to give up. He wants to help them stand solid when everything around them is crumbling. Perhaps that’s exactly how you feel. You’ve got things happening in your life and you feel like the rug is being pulled right out from underneath you and you have no idea how you are going to land. From your viewpoint it doesn’t look good. Your point of view is determined by where you are looking. “Look to Jesus,” says the preacher. Through Jesus we have access to God like never before. The ancient Israelites approached God with “fear and trembling” but we come with confidence. We are reminded that the blood of Abel cries out, “Revenge!” The blood of Jesus cries out, “Forgiven!” When approaching God we are made small in the best possible way. That is to say, we are exposed for who we really are. At the same time God makes us big because in spite of our of mistakes, failures and self absorbing tendencies; we are his joy!
3/21/2021 - Take A Seat - Hebrews 8
Jesus takes his place... There's a small detail included in Hebrews chapter 8 and verse 1, but it has huge implications. Let's see if you can spot it.. Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, I'll give you a clue. It has to do with the posture of Jesus. Yes, he is seated. That's key. One of the things that makes this book difficult to understand is that you and I don’t have the mindset of a first century Jew. One of my Jewish friends always enlightens me when we talk, being from a Jewish home and far more familiar with the Jewish mindset than me. So let me help you understand what’s being said here because it is a statement with enormous consequences. If this New Covenant is going to be better, it must have a superior priest. How do we know Jesus is superior? Because of this phrase: “one who is seated.” Seems innocuous doesn’t it? But the author is saying this - of all the things we have said about priesthood this is the sum. It’s as if he’s saying we’ve talked a lot about priests, we’ve said a lot of important things, but here’s the most important feature about Jesus as a priest – he is sitting down. The highest proof of his superiority is that Jesus pulls up a chair. Why is that? Because priests never sat down. Listen to Hebrews 10:11-12... And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, You see the priest never finished his work. He could never sit down because the job was never done. He just had to keep offering more and more sacrifices because the sacrifice was only good until your next act of sin. And it just kept going and going and the priest never took a break. The tabernacle was the place where these priests offered sacrifices and there were no seats in it. How does this relate to you and me? These believers were facing the temptation to turn away from Jesus and to turn toward familiar acts to gain God’s favor. The author says, “That old life is not where it’s at. Jesus makes all things new. Why would you go back to the old? Look at what Jesus has done for you. He’s built an indestructible bridge between you and God and that bridge is labeled: forgiven. He did his work and sat down. There’s nothing for you to do either. You can’t earn your salvation. Jesus is the one who said, 'It is finished!'” So it’s not about this constant striving to attain God, rather it’s about seeing the beauty of what Jesus did for you and embracing that. He took a seat because his work of atonement was done forever!
3/14/2021 - Pay the Piper - Hebrews 12:1-29
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2 Keeping faith is an ongoing and daily struggle. Trusting God and His promises, abiding in Jesus, dealing with temptation and sin, being anxious for nothing, doing everything for the glory of God – it's like an endless battle. Actually, it’s more like a marathon. That’s how the Apostle saw the life of faith – as a race. At the beginning of this ministry, he saw what was ahead as a race…"I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course (a race course, track) and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) When he was called on to defend his ongoing ministry, he painted the picture as a marathon…"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly…But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). And when he knew his earthly life was coming to an end, he looked back on his race of faith and proclaimed… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul didn’t understand what it meant to “coast” in the Christian life. He never saw faith as anything but like running a marathon – one that requires discipline and endurance. The author of Hebrews tells us in the first verse of chapter 12, that we’re all in this race. The question is, are you running? Are you coasting? Are you sitting on the sidelines? Are you tired? Are you ready to quit? No matter where you find yourself, you can get back into the race and run to win with the help of the words in Hebrews 12. What do you win? Jesus! Forever! John Piper sums it up perfectly: "The race of faith is life’s journey for the Christian. Imagine what would happen if we looked to Jesus every day. Every weight would fall off and every sin would untangle from us. Each look at Jesus would strengthen us to endure and finish well. He waits for us on the other side. He is our crown, and we will be with him forever. Every huff, every twinge of pain, and every prolonged day on earth is worth patiently enduring the journey to get to the finish line — to get to Jesus.”
3/7/2021 - Because of Jesus’ Sacrifice - Hebrews 10:19-39
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:32-39 Imagine these words written to the Illuminate body. We are not losing our property because of our faith nor are we being imprisoned. We must not miss this teachable moment though. The author of Hebrews is commending them because they chose compassion over consumption. They chose Godliness and it cost them their possessions in this world. Why did they do this? Because they knew something. They knew their real and lasting possessions are not on this earth. So they helped the brothers in prison perhaps bringing them food and blankets. As a result of that help they lost their homes, their businesses, their jobs. And this happens today. Christian voices and businesses are being cancelled and mocked. Perhaps the church will soon follow. That’s ok, we're in good company. They cancelled Jesus but he did have and will have the last word. And then there are the countless stories from the Middle East of entire Christian families being hunted by gunshot and forced to leave their Christian villages. The remarkable thing about those first-century believers is that they accepted mistreatment joyfully. It doesn’t make any sense to the world. But their thinking was not worldly. Instead, the author tells you what they were thinking. They believed they had something better and permanent awaiting them in heaven. The author reminds them of what they already knew: God rewards those who seek him. So remember that former time when you were completely sold out for Christ; you were putting everything on the line. That’s the kind of faith you need now. When once you’ve looked back, then look forward. (Verse 36-39.) I find this really helpful. He doesn’t say focus on your current circumstances. Instead he says, “Remember the past when your faith was strong and remember your glorious future.” He doesn’t tell them to think about right now. He says look beyond the now and put your hope in the faithful promises of God. That might be the message for you today. I know in my own life this is so true. By focusing on the current problem, it grows and grows and crowds out my faith. Instead, I need to remember former times of faith and I need to remember the promise from God of my glorious future so I can keep the faith.
2/28/2021 - Now I See It - Hebrews 11
Growing up I took pride in the fact that I did not need glasses. My three siblings, as well as my mom and dad, all wore glasses, and I viewed them as inferior. I didn’t realize any problem with my vision until I started driving. I wondered why it was so difficult to read street signs, but I just assumed that everyone had the same problem. It wasn’t until someone pointed out how timid of a driver I was at night, that I realized other people did not have the same issues I did. Turns out I was more like my family than I thought, I needed glasses. However, once I got glasses the whole world opened up to me. I could drive at night with so much more confidence. Being able to see clearly what was in front of me made all the difference in my driving. In Hebrews 11, we are given the testimonies of men and women from the Old Testament, who were commended by God because of their faith. What the author of Hebrews points out, is that all of these great people of faith, died having greeted the promise of God from afar (Hebrews 11:13). Though they could not see it at the time, the promise they were waiting for, was Jesus. If they could have faith in God while not being able to see the promise, how much more confidence can we have while we are living on this side of the cross? This confidence in God’s faithfulness works itself out through our daily obedience to God. God is constantly calling us to and from things. These could be big things, like career moves, or family decisions, or these may be smaller everyday practices and habits. To mature in Jesus is to respond in obedience with faith to God’s Word.
2/21/2021 - Feeling Better Things to Come - Hebrews 6:1-12
I was spending time the other day with friends who have toddlers. Little kids can be so darn funny and cute. I think it's because of their immaturity. They say and do whatever comes to mind with little regard for the consequences. There are parallels in our spiritual lives. We start our journey with Jesus as spiritual babies. We may not know much, and we may ask simple questions, but we are drinking the milk of foundational things. This is really good. Soon we are ready for a wider diet leading to healthy growth. But what if we decide to stop growing? What's the big deal? Does it really matter?Yes.Immature faith will make you unsure of your salvation. It will make you sluggish and as we read last week, lazy. Those who turn away from the basics of the faith, in response to doubts or disobedience, are beyond any rational arguments. Those who do not move beyond the basics of the faith risk straying from the truth, which is disastrous. The ancient Israelites are an example of what happens when disobedience and doubt replace obedience and trust. The author of Hebrews refers to this as unproductive land that must be burnt in order to be restored.Here's the thing - you have something amazing awaiting you! The promises of God. A future that is unlike what you can imagine. The creator of the universe has prepared a place for you and it is amazing. The best part is not the environment, the best part is being in the presence of the one who died for you to make it all possible. So let's hold fast to Jesus who is described as the "anchor of our souls." Isn't that the perfect description? It tells you that life will have storms and the ship that is your life will be tossed around without a stable hold. So hold on my brothers and sisters, your glorious final destination awaits!
2/14/2021 - How's Your Diet? - Hebrews 5
You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14 I grew up drinking a lot of milk. The good stuff. Whole. Milk is necessary and good - especially for babies. But a constant diet of milk will inhibit growth. The author of Hebrews tells us mature Christians put the word of God into practice constantly and therefore they discern between what is right and wrong. Immature believers have the words go in one ear and out the other. There’s no stopping in the heart and mind. Most of your daily decisions are not spoken to explicitly in the Bible. Should you have chicken or tuna for lunch? Should you wear a jacket or a sweater? There are however many moments in your day when you will be faced with moral decisions. What programming should I watch? What should I say about this person? How should I spend my money? Sometimes people don't understand weightier things because they have a hard time discerning right from wrong. No need to discuss how the sovereignty of God and the free will of man interact until we discuss how your anger is tearing your family apart. We need some self-evaluation. Has your hearing become dull? If we were to put spiritual lenses on, what would be revealed as your spiritual age, your maturity? Once again, the author of Hebrews refuses to leave us where we are.