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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Conestoga River, Lancaster County, PA (Photo by Mike Book)
Conestoga River in Lancaster County, PA
Photo taken by our friend Mike Book
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Holding Unswervingly"

Message summary: Today's message we consider the call to hold unswervingly to our hope in Christ.

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Hebrews 10:23 plaque

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). "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). I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).

Garbage truck
Today is Trash Day, not a national holiday but a very important day for each of us. Last week I thought the normal pick-up would be delayed by one day, due to Christmas. I was mistaken and missed the trash day so instead I took out two weeks worth of trash last night. I'm especially mindful of the blessing of trash disposal when I see multiple bags pile up. What a mess life would be without it! Just consider the trash that piles up in cities if there is a strike. (Note: photo to left is not our trash truck - wrong era and wrong city.)

For many years I have had the family assignment of gathering the trash from the small individual trash baskets throughout our home, pouring them into a large bag and taking the bag out to the road for pick-up. It's also my assignment to see that we don't throw away something accidentally. I suppose we've all thrown away something we later regret. Ester, at a much younger age, threw out an item she thought no longer worked but in reality it wasn't broken. It actually needed new batteries! A woman, from one of our former congregations, accidentally threw into the trash two large bags of her best clothing, intended for the dry cleaners. When she realized her mistake she went to recover them only to find the trash had already been picked up.

Mistakenly throwing out material goods is one thing, but we want to be absolutely diligent about holding onto key spiritual truths. The first part of today's text is a forthright command, "So do not throw away your confidence." I want this truth to be lodged deeply into my heart. When  teaching from the book of Hebrews I have taught that this single verse summarizes the book's purpose in encouraging the initial recipients to remain faithful in the midst of the scorn and persecution they were enduring. That's a vital word for each generation.

Hebrews 10:35This verse is a great truth for all readers to memorize. We all deal with different temptations and issues in life as we seek to stay faithful to Christ.  The believers addressed in Hebrews were facing persecution and were tempted to go back to their old way of life.  Perhaps part of the temptation was that in doing so their persecutions might ease. There are many believers today living under similar circumstances such as the Christian remnant in most Muslim dominated countries.

But going back to our old way of life remains a temptation to varying degrees for all believers, although for different reasons. For many readers it may be the busyness of life, affluence, the persistent barrage of godless, secular teaching and other issues we confront daily that lull us into complacency or pull us back into the world. 

One that I have noticed is the heavy load that people bear as they overcome the consequences of many years of disobedience to God. It may have been tobacco, drug/alcohol abuse, sexual immorality or indebtedness due to wasteful spending. Turning to Christ does not immediately negate the long-term consequences of these past sins. Though some receive miraculous deliverance, there are those who will endure weaknesses and temptations that require diligent prayer and overcoming.

The enemy of our soul may persistently murmur, "What's the use?" and tempt us to just throw away our confidence and simply give up.  Sadly, we know some who have done just that. A major theme throughout Hebrews is, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess." The word translated "hold unswervingly" is in the present active and conveys the ongoing need to actively participate in this "holding on" to our faith. Some translations used the word, "firmly".

Today, this new year and for the remainder of our lives on this earth, let us all resolve to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the writer of Hebrews encourages us not to abandon our faith when difficulties arise. It is during these times of testing that we prove our faith to be genuine if we persevere. We choose not to shrink back and be destroyed, but we choose to be numbered with those who believe and are saved. We thank You for the present rewards that come with diligently serving You and by faith we look forward to the eternal rewards You promise to the faithful.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hold On"  Video  Selah

"Hold On"  Video  The McKameys

"In Christ Alone"   Video  Mixed Quartet

Doris High explained that yesterday's lead bird photo was actually a premade suet feeder with holes drilled for the suet pieces.

The photo of Stephen riding a "Zamboni" we posted yesterday was actually a factory floor cleaner!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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