“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest, who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.” Hebrews 10:19-20 NLT
I have been a Christian for 40 years, but sometimes I think I still need to do certain things before I can come into God’s presence. I forget that He meets me right where I am at…in all of my messiness, doubt, and confusion. He’s not wanting my perfection. He wants me to cry out to Him even when all I can utter doesn’t seem profound. He cares about my heart.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT
I think of the times that I stayed home and watched church on-line this year. While God met me there, I often felt disconnected from my fellow believers. But, when I was worshipping with them, I was encouraged by their faith. And could feel God’s presence in a powerful way. I have to fight against isolation. Satan would want me to feel disconnected and useless to the body of Christ. When in reality, my presence with them matters.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith.” Hebrews 10:35-38 NLT
Thank you Father for making a way for me to come into your presence. I never want to lose the wonder of that. I want to trust You more. I surrender to You. I give You all the glory. Amen.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:4-6, NIV, emphasis mine
When I set goals in the past, the satisfaction of the accomplishment felt short-lived. I set a goal to run a mile. I ran a mile. And then I wondered, “Is this it?” I set other goals and reached them. But when I cloaked the goal in purpose, they stopped being one-and-done events, and became details of a bigger picture.
A post by an account I recently started following (@horseandchariot) reminded me about purpose: “What should your one purpose in life be? Something that never needs to change and can continue to be pursued in the very best and worst situations. The one purpose in life you are called to fulfill is to seek to glorify God in all you do by pursuing a virtuous life.” (Excerpt from a post on November 29, 2022, Horse and Chariot)
This morning as I poured a second cup of coffee, I glanced at the disappointment that’s been vying for my attention. It isn’t a physical thing, but a thought that’s been poking at me, “(That scenario) didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Not at all. What do you have to show for (it)?” While the results may not have been what I imagined, the steps that I took were made in acts of faith–regardless.
Endurance is about the long course, not the one-and-done. (And I’m not done!) I read these verses in Romans 15 and hold them today. Everything that was written was written to teach. Endurance is taught through the Scriptures. And the encouragement they provide gives HOPE.
Father God, you give endurance and encouragement. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for hope. Help me to live in purpose, on purpose. May you be glorified.
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3, NIV)
I became an ambassador for a sports event company earlier this year. Being part of that group of athletes has been so very positive. I serve alongside them as a volunteer at races when I’m not actually running in the races. My first run out was a trail run in February. Wave 1 was on the second loop of a half marathon as Wave 6 (my group) was starting out (I was running a 10k). One of my team members called out to me as we passed, and we smacked hands. That was my first experience on the team and my first race ever.
I’m glad that this was my first experience because it’s played a huge role in shaping me and my focus this year. Even the leadership of the company maintains a focus of unity. These athletes cheer one another on, from first to last. It is the most positive environment I’ve ever been part of.
I think on unity. I think on God’s way. He wants the best for us. Oh, he knows that unity is good and pleasant. Precious.
Thank you, God, for real and authentic glimpses of unity. Help me to take this experience into other aspects of my life.
I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)
I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.
I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.
As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.
Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.
I remember the first time I left the kids with a sitter–the instructions, the notes, how to reach us. A friend did that with me too, when she and her husband were taking a trip and wanted me to care for some things at their home. A list: remember, remember, don’t forget.
Words in Hebrews cause me to pause and reflect. Keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget. These are reminders of things that matter. What are words that I would want to impress upon someone for their success and perseverance? How would I encourage others in perspective and purpose? And how would my words align with what God says?
20 Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. (Hebrews 13:20-22, NLT)
I have a dear friend who, at the end of our coffee dates, walks me into the parking lot, puts her hand upon my shoulder and prays for and over me. She is an example of precious community. I am fortunate to know others who do the same.
God of peace, thank you for friends who pray and point me back to you and what matters. Thank you for your word in my hands, scriptures that remind me of who you are–unchanging, powerful–all glory to you. Thank you for words like keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget, to encourage and remind. Because sometimes I’m discouraged. Sometimes I forget.