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Wednesday, June 10, 2015
"I'm Not Going Back!"
We have been at the shore (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware) for a couple of days, returning this morning. (Podcast not prepared)
"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66). "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:35,36).
More than the air I breathe,
More than the song I sing;
More than the next heartbeat,
More than anything.
And Lord, as time goes by,
I'll be by Your side;
'Cause I never want to go back to my old life.
I need You more.
Lou is man I visit weekly in the course of our chaplain work. A big, burly man with abounding tattoos he can be a bit intimidating when you first meet him but over time we have established a friendship and I seek to encourage him as he has shared the struggles he deals with. Lou gave me permission to share his story in hopes of helping others.
He's an ex con and told me what he does whenever he is tempted to go back to his old way of life. He takes out his faded inmate ID card which reminds him of his past.
That's a good challenge for all of us although I am sure most of us don't carry a prison ID card! The line in the song quoted above always grips my heart.
"Cause I never want to go back to my old life."
That got me thinking and I will pose it to each reader today. What do you have as a disincentive to ever going back to your old way of life?
Surely our first daily text is one of the saddest expressions in the Bible. "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66). This was the response by many who upon hearing the teachings of Jesus said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" (John 6:60). This remains the reaction of many when confronted with His teaching.
Some of His teaching seems hard in the sense of being hard to understand. Some issues make sense to us, others we accept by faith, not fully understanding with our mind. However I have learned that there are many previously hard teachings that become easier to grasp after a period of maturation and experience as a Christian.
But some of His teaching is hard in the sense of being hard to live by. The call to serious discipleship is hard. Many years ago I read a book dealing with discipleship that uncomfortably and with conviction expressed the teachings of Christ without any soft-pedaling. I believe the sense in the text is "hard to live by". "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more"
(Mike Ratliff writes in “The High Cost of Discipleship”, “The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God based upon little to no personal cost. Masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and seen that the eternal is all that truly matters.”
After many of His disciples walked away, "Jesus then said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'” (v.67).
Peter spoke up and uttered one of the greatest faith statements in the entire Bible: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (vv.68,69).
The early Hebrew Christians were enduring persecution and were tempted to return to their old way of life. The writer of Hebrews urges them, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:35,36).
Every generation of believers has this call to persevere. Every individual follower of Christ has this call as well. The letter to the Hebrews laboriously teaches the superiority of the way of Christ over the old religious system the initial readers had come out of. Of course His way is infinitely superior to any system, religious or otherwise, devised by man.
A key purpose of the entire letter to the Hebrews can be summed up in this exhortation and promise. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."
The exhortation – "Do not throw away your confidence." This is the confidence or assurance believers have in Christ. We are not to throw it away or cast it aside.
The promise – "it will be richly rewarded." Notice the certainty of this promise "it will be"; not might be or should be. Praise God, it will be richly rewarded. "How and when will this happen?" our hearts cry out, especially as we are undergoing trial? But I particularly consider this with those being persecuted.
This answer is not given, but the writer goes on to say, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:36). Keep trusting in Him today, fellow believer. Your confidence in Christ will be richly rewarded!
May we have a persevering heart to do the will of God regardless of luring temptations or formidable obstacles we encounter. "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."
Amen, that's my sentiment today as well and I hope every day! Today, may we, like Peter, consecrate ourselves to God and continue as His follower. "A faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me." By the grace of God I'm not going back to my old life!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, there is no one or no thing that deserves our complete allegiance, but You, our Lord, who have the words of eternal life. Though others may refuse to listen or turn away from the message of salvation we choose to persevere. We persevere in trial and in victory, in the ups and downs and in the in-betweens of everyday circumstances. We seek to do Your will in all things so that we will be richly rewarded at the end of this life. In the name of Jesus we persevere. Amen.
PS: The first daily verse is the only 6:66 (chapter 6 verse 66) reference in the entire New Testament!
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