Tag Archives: Epistle to the Hebrews

Can we journey with God and wrestle with doubts?

The account of God using Gideon and just 300 Israelites to defeat over 200,000 Midianites is a great story, but it’s the irony within the story that has captured my attention. (Judges 6-8)

An angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and gives him God’s directive. But Gideon isn’t sure it’s really the Lord so he asks for some confirmation. God is agreeable and sends fire to consume a meat offering laid on a rock.

Gideon is awe-struck and agrees to go with the Lord on this special ops mission. But along the way he has some doubts. So he asks the Lord for another sign and places some fleece on a bowl before heading to bed.

God again privides the miracle and Gideon is convinced… almost! He wants another sign using the same fleece and bowl but in a different way. God does it again.

Then after whittling Gideon’s troops down from 32,000 to just 300 men God grants Gideon yet another confirmation. He allows Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp and overhear them talking about some strange dreams. In these dreams the Israelites roll down the hill like a large boulder and crush them.

Gideon’s weak faith is again bolstered and the battle is won in short order.

God’s rescue is amazing but even more amazing is how Gideon was used in spite of his doubts. God didn’t get angry with him or give up on him.

Does anyone else find that the least bit encouraging?

We can follow God… we can be used to carry out His kingdom purposes… we can do His work… and we can wrestle with doubts at the same time!

Faith is obviously a critical part of our journey with God and it is impossible to please Him without it (Hebrews 11:6). But that doesn’t mean we won’t still wrestle with some occasional doubts.

Every time I’ve struggled through a season of doubt I’ve come out the other side of it with a stronger, deeper faith. The important thing is to be honest with our questions and seek out some good people/resources to help sort it out.

The critical element in our journey with God is not our unwavering faith but God’s unwavering presence!

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Check out my Resources tab above for some good books on this subject. One of the best is Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Divine presence, Doubt, Faith, Trusting God

False promises

So we’re walking around a local store last night and decide to cruise the rows of clearance items. You never know when you’re going to stumble into a great deal.

And there it is… a George Foreman Grill! It was originally $80 but is on sale for $60. We decide to think about it as we do some other shopping.

Then we walk through the kitchen wares area and come across a George Foreman Grill for only $39. Curious about the difference I walk back to check the one in the clearance area.

Turns out there is a difference. The one for $60 is 100 square inches and the one for only $39 is a whopping 144 square inches! No, that’s not a typo. The cheaper one is not only newer but also bigger!

How many of us would have gone for the first grill and gotten taken in by the promise of saving $20? In the end it would have cost us more than was necessary!

Sin offers that same kind of promise. The notion that we’re getting a great deal when in reality we’re getting taken advantage of. Yet what we lose isn’t just a few dollars but a little piece of our soul. What sin offers amounts to nothing more than false promises!

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. ~ Hebrews 11:24-26

The lure sin uses is getting us to look at the immediate payoff of pleasure rather than the long-term benefit of righteousness and peace.

What have you been choosing lately?

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Filed under Choices, Faith, Sin, Temptation

Remember what awaits us!

Moses enjoyed all the wealth and privileges of living in pharaoh’s court but gave it all up and eventually was used by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Can you imagine giving up the lifestyle of living as an Egyptian king? What would motivate Moses do that?

“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” ~ Hebrews 11:24-26

Moses was looking ahead to his great reward!

Jesus gave up all of heaven to live among us as a man. His brutal death on a cross redeemed us and make a way for us to be brought back into God’s family. Can you imagine a greatest act of love? What would motivate Jesus to do that?

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” ~ Hebrews 11:2

Jesus did this “because of the joy awaiting him…”

Jesus was looking ahead to His great reward!

It’s difficult at times to say no to the pleasures of life as Moses did. And it’s even more difficult at times to sacrificially love others as Jesus did. But God has promised us a place with Him in eternity when we dwell with Him in the here and now living a life as He intended. When we’re feeling bogged down in the moment, we need to…

…remember what awaits us!

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Filed under Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Heaven, Joy, Life in General, Loving others, Sin

Just show them Jesus!

More than 20 years ago I was called upon to preach for a church that had just gone through an ugly fight. Half wanted the pastor to stay and half wanted him to leave. He eventually left after a confidence vote that didn’t go well but as you can imagine tempers flared and emotions were raw.

I was out of ministry at the time and working full-time as a carpenter. The church leaders knew of me because it was Susan’s home church; I had preached there on a few occasions.

I agreed to help them but felt completely overwhelmed by the task. When I shared it with Bob Yawberg, one of my mentors and pastor of the church we were attending, his advice was simple and straightforward.

“Just show them Jesus! Show them Jesus!”

I spent most of a summer preaching for that church and never did feel adequate for the role; but showing them Jesus consumed my attention and was the focus of my sermons. The author of the letter to the Hebrews gives us this challenge:

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God…” ~ Hebrews 12:3 (The Message)

Thomas a Kempis put it this way:

“Christ encourages us to pattern our lives after his so we can become spiritually enlightened. Our most important task then is to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.”

As we gather with our church families this weekend, may the best of our energies and efforts be given to focusing on Jesus!

P.S. – Thanks Bob!

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Filed under Encouragement, intimacy with the Lord, involvement with the church, Jesus, Morphing

Throw it off today!

It was the very first game of the season and Kyrsten had played great right up until the incident. There were only a few minutes left when she and a teammate went up for a rebound. Her teammate got the rebound and Kyrsten got an elbow to the nose. Ouch!

She dropped to the floor like a rock and we just as quickly were up and moving toward the sideline. She walked off the floor but was clearly dazed. Her nose was bloody, bruised and broke!

Statistically, an elbow trumps a nose almost every time.

Nothing was out-of-place so there was no need for surgery but … there would have to be a protective mask worn for 5-6 weeks. Kyrsten is not always quick to express her feelings but this was an exception. She HATED the mask! It was uncomfortable, hot and difficult to see through at certain places.

Last week was Kyrsten’s first game WITHOUT the mask! Not only was she was very excited but she also played noticeably better. Sin has a similar negative effect on us. The author of the Hebrew letter wrote…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2a

Certain behaviors are sin not because God is a killjoy or delights in setting moral boundaries, but because they simply are not healthy for us. They offend God’s glory and keep us from living the full, free life that our Creator intends for us to experience.

What could you accomplish for God’s kingdom were you not hindered by sin? Who might be influenced toward God were they to witness a full, abundant life in you? What measure of joy are you missing out on?

What’s your sin issue? Why not throw it off today!

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Filed under Glory of God, influence with the world, Joy, Sin