As Followers of Jesus, We Will Face Difficult Circumstances; but We Are Comforted to Know that God Will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will”
Introduction to the Bible’s Letter to the Hebrews and “Hope”: Today, all of us live in “times” requiring us to face circumstances that include the Pandemic, civil disobedience, cultural dissonance, and “discussions” among people in which there is no respect for the words and ideas of others. Therefore, we need a context to learn about “Facing Difficult Circumstances”. We can both learn a great deal and gain “Hope”, in our current situation, from the situation faced by Christians in Rome who were “Facing in Difficult Circumstances”. Our context for learning is described in the Bible’s book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrew’s Writer wanted to give “Hope” to the persecuted Christians in Rome by pointing out the superiority of Jesus the Christ over all the problems that they were facing from their persecution by the Emperor Nero. The Writer of Hebrews begins by pointing out, in Hebrews 1:1-2, both the superiority of Jesus and that Jesus is the end of the line of supporters (i.e. prophets) that God has provided and will provide humanity: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.". The Writer did not want Christians to deviate and leave their Faith in Jesus because their times were bleak and filled with difficult circumstances which appeared hopeless. Rather, in Hebrew’s, the Writer wanted Roman Christians to understand that if they turned away from Jesus there was no one else with whom they could face their difficult circumstances. The message to us, in our “difficult circumstances”, is that without Jesus in our lives and in the life of our country there is no one or no institution, to whom we can turn, for help in “facing our difficult circumstances”. To this end, in Hebrews 1:10-11, we find the culmination of Jesus Divinity and His humanity that positions His superiority for us: “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”.
Today’s Message – Running Your Race: The Writer of Hebrews encourages the persecuted Followers of Jesus, living in Rome, to look to Jesus in so many ways. The Writer of Hebrews begins, Hebrews 12:1-2, with a reference to “running” and a race of “endurance” as a metaphor for the pain and perseverance need by the Roman Christians to live through their “difficult circumstances”: “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.”. In these verses, the Writer is telling us things about “facing difficult circumstances”: 1) remember those who are watching, for example the men and women of God from the Old Covenant he listed in Hebrews 11 – we are not alone in our “race”; 2) in this “race”, we are to lighten our load – get rid of anything that keeps us from following Jesus (e.g., sin); 3) let us run our “race” well; 4) run your “race” with perseverance even when you face impediments which mitigate your efforts and make you want to quit – winning when “facing difficult circumstances” comes when we keep your eyes on Jesus and follow Him, through perseverance, to victory, and Jesus endured pain and suffering for us so that we would not be weary of the long race “facing difficult circumstances” and to not lose heart before our finish line; 5) remember, the Father is working for your good -- God sees us as His “Sons” and “Daughters” and supports and disciplines us when needed, as we are told in Hebrews 12:5-6: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’”; and 6) do not forget the Lord’s counsel – in Hebrews 13:1-19, the Writer outlines those “Sacrifices that Would Be Pleasing to God”, and in Hebrews 13:5b-6, we are told: “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”.
In our difficult circumstances, if we shift our focus to all the uncertainties, troubling events, and people around us and take our eyes of Jesus and the finish line, we will, certainly, not win the race; and we will, probably, not finish our race. In Hebrews 13:20-21, The Writer summarizes how and why we should and can “face our difficult circumstances”: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
In your difficult circumstances, God will not leave you. Through the Holy Spirit, God will walk with you. He may not fix your situation, but God will give you a way to see you through. Stay out of personal pity parties driven by our circumstances. Instead, look to God. In many cases, the “lead” of difficult circumstances may turn to, ultimately, “gold” in your life.
As we live, today, “in these last days” of difficult circumstances, we should look only to Jesus rather than to any person, institution, force, government entity, or nation. Jesus is our only source of protection and the way out of our difficult circumstances which are manifested by the Pandemic, civil disobedience, and cultural dissonance. Once again, Jesus is the only “way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: Today, I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13).
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Hebrews 1:10-18; Hebrews 12:1-11; Hebrews 11:1-40; Hebrews 13:1-21.
WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S SERMON VIDEO – “Jesus the Christ Is Our Hope in Life and Death and He Is “Hope” for the Wave of Loneliness and Uncertainty Sweeping Our World Today”: www.AWFTL.org/watch
A WORD FROM THE LORD WEBSITE: www.AWFTL.org.
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