Monthly Archives: May 2012

Could You Please Pass the Salt?

This morning I read the following verse “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings” Leviticus 2:13.

While I’ve read the Old Testament several times before, I don’t remember this verse catching my attention like it did today. What does it mean to add salt to our offerings to God?

Let me stop here and say that I realize that with Jesus coming and His sacrifice, I understand that the New Covenant supersedes the Old Covenant. With that said, though, I don’t think we get a true appreciation for all that Jesus did for us and what it really means to be adopted (Ephesians 1:5) and co-heirs with the Israelites and Christ (Romans 8:17). We can’t just disregard the Old Testament as “old” for in it is a rich knowledge of who God is and what He has done! After all, “ALL Scripture is God-breathedand is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So, going back to Leviticus when it says to “add salt to all your offerings,” is there anything we can learn for our present day life? One of my favorite Christian authors Kay Arthur once said “the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.” So, let’s go back to the Bible and see what else it says about salt. Doing a quick search on the word “salt” at http://www.Biblegateway.com produced 44 results.

I won’t touch on all of them in this post, of course, but here are a couple that I personally found interesting. The first was 2 Chronicles 13:5 “Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” A covenant of salt? I learned a whole lot about what the word “Covenant” means through a study by Kay Arthur – I realize that God doesn’t revoke His promises and there are often signs that accompany such an agreement (rainbows as a reminder to man and God that God will never flood the earth again, etc.) Was salt a reminder of God’s covenant about Jesus and His saving us? Let’s keep searching!

Ezekiel 16:4 talks about being born, cutting the cord, washing with water, rubbing with salt and then clothing. I wondered why, so I did a little online research. Here were two answers I found: 

“After the washing, the body was rubbed with salt, according to a custom very widely spread in ancient times, and still met with here and there in the East; and that not merely for the purpose of making the skin drier and firmer, or of cleansing it more thoroughly, but probably from a regard to the virtue of salt as a protection from putrefaction, “to express in a symbolical manner a hope and desire for the vigorous health of the child” (http://www.pbbcph.org/content/you-are-salt-earthk)

The second was this: Salt was used as a sealing of a covenant between relationships that had been mended.. and the symbolism of that rubbing with salt and binding with cloth from Ez 4…. the salt is the symbolic representation of Jesus Blood purifying us, cleansing us of sin, and the binding clothes, which women used to bind babies so their limbs would be straight, was representative of us being wrapped with the Holy Spirit (http://www.christianuc.com/forums/topic/884-lets-hear/).

What I remembered almost immediately when I read the verse from Leviticus was Jesus saying “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16). We are to add life and goodness to the world! Don’t be dull and drab but let both your speech and action overflow so that people who come into contact with you praise God.

Colossians 4:6 reminds us to Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,so that you may know how to answer everyone.” What we say should even be seasoned with salt and grace.

Finally, Mark 9:49-50 says that “everyone will be salted with fire” and that we are to “have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.” From Colossians and the last half of Mark 9:50, salt seems synonymous with grace. Have grace for one another and be at peace. That grace can come from knowing that we’ve been saved by Jesus’ blood and sacrifice, not our own righteousness or good deeds. It’s a lot easier to be forgiving when we realize how much we’ve been forgiven!

By what does it mean to be salted with fire? Many places in the Bible, salt seemed to go along with sulfur and burning. Maybe salt is best described then as refinement.

There are three characteristics that I found interesting as I looked up what salt is exactly from Wikipedia. The one was that the most widely used salt is one that is obtained and then refined to be purified and given vast improvement. The other is that while I always thought of salt as being ‘tasty’ it is the best way to preserve things. Salt is also vital to our body and how we regulate the fluid content of our body.

So, when we’re making sacrifices to the Lord, how can we add salt using this knowledge?

  • Let our conversations be full of grace (Mark 9:50).
  • Let our good deeds shine before those around us so that they may praise God (Matthew 5:13).
  • Remember Jesus and His work on the cross – it was the covenant that God made with David to have His heir save us. When we royally screw up, intentionally or not, let’s rub salt in the wound (or Jesus’ blood over the sin!). You see, it’s not the salt that hurts but the pain we’ve inflicted on ourselves by the original wounds we’ve given ourselves. Allow Jesus to heal us and bring us back to the Father, even when it hurts (2 Chronicles 13:5).
  • Give glory to God for cutting the cord of our sin, washing us with His blood, rubbing us with salt and sealing us with the clothes of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 16:4). May it be present in all that we say and do, especially as we present our offerings to God. We don’t have anything to give on our own, but because of what He’s done for us, we can approach Him and His throne!

Do you have anything to add on the subject of salt? These were just my findings from today. I’d love to hear anyone else’s insight! Let’s keep pressing on and learning together! May we season our offerings with salt!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word and praise You for highlighting Scripture to us. Please help us learn what You mean. Open our hearts that we may really seek You, find You and know You. Our hearts’ desire is to know You fully and bring You honor and glory. In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!

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Drink Up!

“My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

There are two things that I feel God has been teaching me lately. First, it’s the importance of drinking enough water. While this may seem like a “worldly” principle, I’ve discovering how much better I feel when I’m well-hydrated. I’ve tried fasting on various occasions, to pray and read the Bible and break my addiction to over-indulging in food. It is always a struggle to go a day without eating, but I’ve found that if I’m careful about my water intake before the fast and during it, I can survive it. How much water, you may ask? A friend of mine recommended that everyone drink half of his or her body weight in ounces. Days that I’ve been careful to drink that much (and that’s a lot for me!), I’ve felt SO much better! I haven’t been as tempted to overeat, and I think sometimes I’m mistaking thirst for hunger.

Similarly, just like I’ve turned to food instead of water, the second thing I’m learning is that there are times I’m thirsting for God and turning to food instead because it’s quick, easy and feels good to my flesh immediately.

In her Bible study A Woman of Moderation, author Dee Brestin (2007) asked participants to read John 4:4-35. Jesus was traveling through Samaria and after His disciples had left to buy food, He stopped a woman who was drawing water and asked her to give Him some. She was surprised because Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans at the time and typically men didn’t approach women. In addition, this woman wasn’t the most upright in character for a Rabbi to be approaching her. John 4:10 says  “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.'” He continues after she asks Him how He was going to draw this water, saying “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Dee Brestin (2007) asks how we know that the woman didn’t get it, indicating Spiritual blindness, and we have only to look at her answer in verse 15 “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” But, Jesus pinpoints her real problem, speaking right to her very core when He asks about her husband and notes how many she’s had (currently living with someone she’s not married to). He saw her in her current state and beckoned her to come to Him for Living Water, knowing full well about the sin in her life and her core issues. If Jesus had a real heart-to-heart encounter with you, what would He say is your “real problem”?

How would you respond to this conversation and God’s call on your life?

Dee Brestin (2007) explains that out of shame, this woman would wait until the hottest time of the day, when no one else would come to the well, to draw her water because she didn’t want to be seen by others. When we are overweight, we can also feel ashamed. “We know, just like this woman, that we’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places and it shows” (Brestin, 2007, p. 69). Many who are overweight will avoid social settings and people, but we can’t avoid Jesus. He will seek us out, not to shame us, but to deliver us and offer us Living Water that will quench our thirst.

A participant in this study wrote “I was fooling myself to think I could EVER get ‘enough’ food to satisfy my desire for food…I will only be satisfied with intimacy with Christ and through wisdom through His Word.” At some point we need to stop looking for our fulfillment in food and start looking for fulfillment in Christ alone.

Is it a sin to eat? By no means! Our bodies need nourishment, and our Father provides food for us to eat – it is a gift from Him that we can enjoy. But, is it a sin to overeat food that we don’t need? Allow God to answer that question for you. Can we find satisfaction for our desires from Him rather than comfort food?

This week, challenge yourself to drink water and soak in the Living Water as part of your daily routine. See how God can transform your heart, mind and body!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the Spring of Living Water. Thank You for offering to meet our deepest needs. Thank You that when our soul thirsts for You, You meet us right where we are. Thank You, Jesus, for approaching us right where we are, just like You did the woman at the well. We ask for Your forgiveness for times we’ve tried to ‘dig our own cisterns’ for water (Jeremiah 2:13) and not taken the time to seek You instead to satisfy our needs. God, we are more thirsty than we even realized. We need You! Only You can save us! Only You can deliver us! Only You can satisfy our deepest longings! God, help us along this journey to quench our soul thirst with You and our physical thirst from fresh, healthy water. May we become healthy and thin for Your honor and glory! May we treat our bodies as You intend us to. Thank You and praise You! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Feeling Trapped by Your Everday Monotony?

Do you ever get bored with the same mundane routine? I think I’ve washed the same clothes now each week for the last six months at least, there’s always another meal to serve and clean up, and I feel like I’m constantly rushing the kids to hurry and get in the car to go somewhere. Is this what life is supposed to look like? For many of us, we wake up in the morning and do the same thing we did that same day the week before – over and over and over again. It’s easy to feel like life has gotten into a rut.

But, then for some of us, we get a wake-up call that there is more to life than the everyday monotony. That can come in the form of hearing a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, a health issue of our own, or a catastrophic weather event can snap us out of the humdrum into a place where we feel the urgency of the shortness of this life. We begin to pray more fervently and try to open our eyes to the eternal viewpoint that God has.

I remember a night recently where I climbed into bed feeling discontent. I had been dreaming of a bigger house, nicer furniture, etc. Then I turned on the news and watched the story of a family who barely escaped their burning home as everything they owned went up in flames. The mom said with joy, “I’m just so thankful we all made it out safely!” My perspective changed immediately. What is most important in life? Do we need more wealth, more stuff, more time or can we look beyond the hear and now?

Jesus told the following parable in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:5-15:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

“‘though seeing, they may not see;
    though hearing, they may not understand.

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

As I read this parable, I thought about those of us who as we go on our way get choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures so that we don’t see God’s fruit in our lives. Mark 4:19 says it slightly differently: “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

If your life is feeling humdrum, are you in the correct mindset and thinking about God’s kingdom? Are you producing fruit? Are you seeing lives changed around you? Are you noticing the little and big ways that God is moving in us, through us and around us? Are you praying for others, and are you praying for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done? Are you taking time to worship Him and get rooted in His Word?

I always wanted to be “average” – to grow up, get married and have children. My husband said that he can’t stand the thought of just average – he wants there to be more to life than just the everyday. I think that we can have better than average – not necessarily living the “American dream” of bigger wealth and more stuff. But, we can live with an eternal perspective and watch as God’s Word produces fruit in our lives, as Matthew 13:23 says “He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

What are ways that we can get out of the rut of mundane? First, looking straight at the passage, the things that choke out the productive fruit are “worries, deceitfulness of wealth and desires for other things.” So, can we cast our cares upon God, can we remember that we don’t need more money or more things to be used by Him? Can we set aside some personal desires? Can we not be choked by the anxieties of life? As Luke 21:34 warns us “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

Instead, even though we may have the same routine to care for our family, can we ask God to give us His eyes and heart for those around us? Can we serve breakfast and say grace with true thankfulness in our heart? Can we be intentional about the time we spend with our children, teaching them about God and the Bible? Can we remember – even in the toughest of times – that this life is fleeting and what truly matters is eternity? Can we ask God to open our eyes to what He cares about and pray about those things? Can we not let the ‘humdrum’ or anxieties of everyday life suck the fruitfulness from the years we are given on this earth? Can we live victoriously, knowing that we have a higher calling than this?

Father God, we confess that there are times that wealth and the desires for other things cloud our good judgment. We confess that the anxieties of life and worry about the little things can choke out the Word from our lives. Help us not worry about the ‘little things’ like what we will eat or wear, but give us an eternal perspective. God, we know that at times larger events can make us snap our attention back to where it should be. But, God, we’d rather learn the easy way. We want to read this passage from the Bible, understand what it means, and do what it says. We ask that You would produce a crop far beyond what we realize. May we obey Your teaching and strive for better than average. We love You, Lord Jesus. In Your Name we pray, AMEN!

Tested or Tempted?

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15

What is the difference between being tested and tempted?

I read the above verses about temptation the other morning and thought about the fact that temptation comes from our own evil desires, which after conceived gives birth to sin. I often feel like when temptation comes that I want to blame circumstances or someone else. After all, I didn’t put the billboard up with that desirable picture of a caramel frappe on it! I wasn’t even thinking about how good this thousand-calorie drink tasted until I saw the sign. How is that my fault? But, truly, it’s my own desires within me that allow such temptations to give birth to sin, rather than saying no to something I know isn’t good for me.

But doesn’t God have control over all things? Is He the one tempting me?

I thought about the verses from the Old Testament that tell us that God tested His people. For example, Psalm 66:10 says “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” I specifically remembered Exodus 15 where the Israelites were grumbling against the Lord because they were in the dessert and came to a place of bitter waters, and the Lord told Moses to throw wood into the waters to make them sweet to drink. Exodus 15:25b-26 said “There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there He tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.'”

Isaiah 48:10 says ” See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Job certainly knew affliction and said that when God had tested him, he would come forth as gold (Job 23:10). Hebrews 11:17 reminds us of how God tested Abraham to see if he would sacrifice his only son, and Abraham obviously passed!

I often thought of God’s testing like temptation. But, James tells me that this viewpoint was wrong. So, what’s the difference?

It wasn’t until I was giving my finals last week that I began to see the distinctions between the two. Allow me to use my class as an example to illustrate the point. As an instructor, I work hard to give my students the skills and knowledge they need to pass my exams. From homework assignments to lectures to fun review games, I am investing time and energy into my students in hopes that they will ace my tests. I am overjoyed when students are learning and do well in my class! I don’t ask questions that will purposely trip them up; I am simply gauging whether they have truly learned the material.

In the same way, God has given us ample instruction in His Bible, through our pastors and teachers, and by His Spirit so that we have everything we need to pass His tests and come through affliction refined and purified. He isn’t sneaky and trying to trip us up; instead He loves us, and He even sent His Son to die for our sins for the times we’ve failed.

He doesn’t delight when we give into temptation, and He isn’t the one tempting us to do wrong. He may test us, but He knows that we CAN PASS His tests! We have everything we need to ace them!

So, the next time we’re sensing strong temptation; we must first realize that it is not from God. It is our own evil desires within us that allows temptation to give birth to sin. But, we can stop that from happening and overcome it; as James tells us “Don’t be deceived” (James 1:16). Instead, we need to dig into God’s Word to see what we should do. After all, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Are you feeling trials and temptations? It reminds me of the old hymn “What a Friend We Have In Jesus” (linked below). Know that Jesus knows our every weakness – so take it to the Lord in prayer! If you’re struggling with temptation, if you’re feeling like God is testing you and you’re not sure that you’re coming out refined without being burned, then I recommend you pray and lay it before God. He wants you to pass! He’s the One who will strengthen and equip you for this leg of your journey. Trust Him rather than blame Him! See how He will help you overcome!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word that helps us. Thank You, God, for being faithful. You don’t trick us, You don’t tempt us, and You don’t discourage us. Rather, You bring us through the difficult parts of life so that we may pass and become refined, more pure, and more like You. God, thank You for preparing us so that we can pass the tests of this life. Thank You for allowing us to bring our needs to You, our faithful God, in prayer. Thank You for showing us once again just how much You care for us! We don’t deserve it, but we humbly praise You for it. Father God, help us become healthy and thin for Your glory. Help us resist temptation, not allow it to give birth to sin in our lives. Instead, help us go through trials and temptations and press on to receive the crown of life You have for us. We love You, Lord God. In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!

How Do You OVERCOME?

This morning in my daily readings, I came to Revelation 2-3. I was struck by all that was promised to him who “overcomes.” Revelation tells us over and over again “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” followed or preceded by these promises.

  • “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
  • “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).
  • “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name on it, known only to him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).
  • “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:27) and “I will also give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:28).
  • “He who overcomes will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before the Father and His angels” (Revelation 3:5).
  • “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name” Revelation 3:12.
  • “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

I began to pray that we would overcome, and I looked up the definition. What does it mean to ‘overcome?’ According to dictionary.com when the word ‘overcome’ is used with an object, it has four possible meanings:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.
2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.
3. to overpower or overwhelm in body or mind, as does liquor, a drug, exertion, or emotion: I was overcome with grief.
4. Archaic . to overspread or overrun.
But, when used without an object, the word ‘overcome’ means “to gain the victory; win; conquer.”
As I continued my day, I was helping the kids bake cookies to take in to preschool, and the song “Overcome” by the “Desperation Band” came on the radio (I added it below for you to listen to). As it played in the background, I really didn’t think much about it until the lyrics hit me “We will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony!”
I realized that I shouldn’t take my readings this morning lightly. When I had another minute, I started doing research on what the Bible says about how to overcome. Revelation 12:10-11 says:

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
We overcome by the blood the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. We can’t love our lives more than our God!
Luke 10:18-19 is where Jesus tells us “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Again we see that it is Jesus who gives us the ability to overcome. Likewise, 1 John 4:4 says “You dear children are from God and have overcome them (evil spirits) because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 5:3-5 says “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Zechariah 9:14-16 talks about God’s people overcoming because the Lord Almighty will save them. 1 John 2:12-14 tells us about young men overcoming with the Word of God in them.
We can overcome – not because of our own worthiness but because of the blood of the Lamb. But, we must believe in Jesus, we must have His Word in us, and we must give testimony and acknowledge His power and presence in our lives.
What are you trying to overcome? Are you living your life to be an overcomer? As Revelation tells us, overcoming will be worth all the discipline and hardship we endure in this life.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and Your promises. We believe they are true, and we believe in Jesus and the blood of the Lamb. Thank You for His sacrifice and the way to overcome that You’ve made for us. Please help us continue in the truth and make us OVERCOMERS! Help us overcome by the blood of the lamb. Hide Your Word in our hearts that we can overcome temptation and live our lives for Your ultimate glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Do You Think You Have It Bad?

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:4

This morning my daily readings of the Bible brought me to Hebrews 11-12.  Before starting to read, I always ask God to speak to me through His Word, and He is faithful to answer that prayer. What powerful reminders are in these two chapters from today!

Hebrews 11 begins “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” What are we hoping for? What aren’t we seeing yet that we have prayed about? For me, I’m longing for a healthier body. And I have to have faith that if God is calling me to it, He will bring me through it!

Hebrews 11:6 tells us “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Do you believe God rewards you when you earnestly seek Him and His will for your life? Do you have faith and trust Him to accomplish His purpose for you?

In this chapter, Paul gives many examples of faith from the Bible. By faith, Abel brought a better offering than Cain (11:4), when warned Noah “in holy fear” built an ark to save his family (11:7), Abraham when called to go to a place that would later become his inheritance “obeyed and went even though he didn’t know where he was going” (11:8), by faith Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharoah’s daughter and instead chose to be mistreated along with the people of God “rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” because he was looking ahead to his reward (11:24-26).

I said “wow” when I thought about how Moses looked to God rather than enjoying the short-lived pleasures of sin. Can I look to God rather than the food I’m craving and the short-lived pleasure it will give me?

Paul continues to remind us of God’s faithfulness to those He called – from the Israelites walking through the Red Sea on dry ground (11:29) and the walls of Jericho falling (11:30) to lions’ mouths being shut (11:33) and the flames of fury quenched (11:34). Do we serve an awesome God?!?! Do we believe if He did all these things that He has the power to change us and save us from our own struggles with sin?

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day for me in this journey, I’ll admit. I think we can all relate to the fact that some days are easier than others. But, when I came to Hebrews 12, I felt like God was lovingly saying “SUCK IT UP!” And sometimes, that’s what I need to hear.

When we’re enduring God’s discipline (which Hebrews 12:7 tells us that we are to endure hardship as discipline) God reminds us to look to His perfect example. Fix your eyes on Jesus (12:2) who endured the cross for the joy set before Him; consider Him who endured such opposition “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3).

If you’re struggling like me to eat healthier and lose weight, then remember that “in your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (12:4). When I read that verse, I smiled at what God was telling me. I felt like He was saying “Yep, you might have it hard. The discipline may not feel good, and everything in you might be craving your old lifestyle. But, you haven’t resisted to the point of dying, drama queen! Keep on going; I love you like a child and can’t have you not disciplined for the rest of the life I have for you.”

It was endearing and hard all at the same time. I have to believe that God is faithful to accomplish His work in my life. At the same time,  I have to endure discipline and not grow weary in the struggle. Like Moses and many of the great prophets of old, I have to look beyond the short-lived pleasure of sin to the greatness of God and my reward if I trust and obey Him.

If you’re on this journey with me, know that God is faithful, He loves you like a child, and His discipline is for your ultimate benefit. And keep pressing on!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You first of all for being faithful. When we read the Bible, we see story after story of your mighty wonders and we are filled with awe of who You are. Thank You for being trustworthy, and thank You even for the discipline in our lives. Lord, we recognize that while this time isn’t necessarily “fun,” it is worthwhile. We trust You and we ask You for grace and mercy during this time in our lives. May we become healthy and thin for your ultimate glory. Help us look to Jesus as our example, and thank You for the blood He shed that covers my sin so I don’t need to be yoked with it anymore. Praise You, Father. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!