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Friday, November 13, 2009

Autumn morning (Photo by Dris High)
Autumn morning
Photo by Doris High

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"Strengthened By Grace"

"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace." (Hebrews 13:9a).

Consider the instability of this present world, yet we long for stability and security.  The world is unable to offer any real guarantee for the stability we desire.  Wars and rumors of wars, terrorist actions and threats, and financial upheavals will always exist on this side of eternity. It's real and a part of our fallen world that is a result of man's continued rebellion against God Almighty.

The epistle to the Hebrews was written to encourage early believers who were tempted to return to their old way of life.  The writer is unidentified but the Holy Spirit is most certainly identifiable as He gives the initial recipients and all of us a good dose of inspiration and spiritual stability.

"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings." These believers were enduring both persecution from without and false teachings from within that sought to undermine their faith. Certainly persecution exists today as do all kinds of strange teachings, so the Biblical admonition is pertinent to all generations.

I recently read an article about a man from Florida who claimed to be the Apostle Peter.  Strange claims and teachings have cropped up all through my life and indeed all throughout the church age. The apostle Paul instructed us to become mature in our walk with Christ, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).

Strange teachings are those contrary to the "apostle's doctrine" (Acts 2:42) or Paul's commission to Timothy; "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2). Jude appealed to the early church and each subsequent generation to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3).

Paul instructs Titus, "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1).  Doctrine gets a bad rap today; it's seen by many as old-fashioned, unimportant, and restrictive.  And yet it is essential that we develop a systematic belief statement based on Scripture. When I encounter a ministry I am unfamiliar with I want to examine their doctrinal statement.  It should be available if you visit a church, if you visit a Bible teaching website, or if you read a publication from a Christian periodical. 

If we examine the doctrinal statement of a ministry or organization upfront we can see if there are leanings toward false teaching.  It should prevent us from becoming involved with a group of people whose teaching is incompatible with Scripture.  Those who neglect this essential Biblical screening before joining a church or organization may bring grief to themselves and their family by having to sever close ties when they begin to hear false doctrine being espoused.  Or even worse they may be swayed by the false teaching they're regularly exposed to and dismiss it because they have invested their hearts and lives.  Many followers find themselves in this dilemma and it is critical that we avoid falling into Satan's trap when we have guides such a Statement of Faith to help prevent such circumstances.  I would be leary of any group or person who is unwilling to provide such a guide to those interested.

"It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace."  Perhaps you would like to personalize it even further by declaring, "It is good for my heart to be strengthened by grace." The word "strengthened" conveys the sense of being established and stabilized.

God's grace is so amazing in a multitude of ways.  We primarily and properly consider grace in regard to our salvation; we are saved by grace.  But God's grace strengthens our hearts all through life's journey.  Terror threats may distress us; we may grow weary; discouragement may set in; friends may forsake us; financial security may crumble and false doctrines abound, but God's grace continues to strengthen the heart and our resolve to live for Christ!

The Psalmist knew this; "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD" (Psalm 27:14).  He cried out in soulful honesty, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26).  Paul's beautiful prayer for the Thessalonians is always needed, "May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

Today, my friend in Christ, let us heed this verse from Hebrews and not be carried away by strange teachings.  May our hearts indeed be strengthened by God's amazing grace!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, strange teachings lead me far away from Your truths that I learn as I walk on the straight and narrow path laid out for me.  It is on this path that Your grace is revealed to me.  It is evident as far as the eye can see and reaches way beyond our limited imagination.  Your abundant grace brings me assurance when the world speaks of trouble.  Your abiding grace brings me consolation when others forsake me.  Your sustaining grace is manifested more in the trials of life than in the mountain top experiences.  Thank You for supplying me with Your sufficient grace in the height and depth of my existence. Your amazing grace is supernatural; it never ceases to be amazing and it is good for my heart to be strengthened by Your grace!   Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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"How Firm A Foundation"   Vocal   Instrumental

We post a brief summary doctrinal statement here.

Today's photo was taken from Doris High's photo blog post "Sense Of Beauty"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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