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Wednesday, October 27 2021

Contributor: Clem Roberts

INTRODUCTION
In our last study we were encouraged “That we should not be slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises of God.” To lay aside the baggage of religion, nonchalance and sin. We were also admonished that we should keep on looking unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Today we shall be looking at understanding God’s Discipline, the reasons that underlays God’s discipline and the benefits.

Verses 5-6: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Yes The Righteous Do Suffer
• Job 5:7 - Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward...
• John 16:33 -… In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world...
• Psalm 34:19 - Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
• 2 Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution...

But Why Trials?
• For taking a stand for truth and righteousness (1 Pet 3:14).
• Because of our own behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgement.
• and our own sin (1 Pet 2:20).
• We suffer for sin in our lives (1 Cor 11:31).
• For our past sins (Gal 6:7).
• part of the sufferings that led up to His death (including his young years: Ps 69).
• Some lofty purpose of God (Job).
• For their faith (Heb. 11).
• For discipline (Heb. 12:6).

What’s The Purpose?
• To teach obedience and discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Phil 4:11-13).
• To glorify God (Dan 3:16-18, 24-25).
• Discipline for known sin (Heb. 12:5-11; James 4:17; Rom 14:23; 1 Jn 1:9).
• To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Pet 4:1-2).
•To build faith (1 Pet 1:6-7).
•To keep us from Pride. Paul kept from pride by his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Cor12:7-10).
•To cause growth (Rom 5:3-5).
•To equip us to comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-4).
•To demonstrate the reality of Christ in us (2 Cor 4:7-11).
•So we can testify to the angels (Job 1:8; Eph 3:8-11; 1 Pet 1:12).
•Profit from these trials. James 1:2-4

Verse 7:  "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"

Verse 8: "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
•Chastening is the moral training and education of children ;
•Chastening correct mistakes and curbing passions.
•Chastening is an evidence that we are sons.

Verse 9: "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?"
•Earthly fathers may make mistakes but God never make mistakes

Verse 10: "For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
The pinnacle of it all is:
•spiritual maturity and to be partakers of God’s Divine Grace and Holiness!

Verse 11: "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Verses 12 – 13"Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed."

•The stronger members should assist the weaker ones (Ex 17:10-12).
•The path should be made straight so they don’t keep going in circles

CONCLUSION culled from Matthew Henry’s Commentary
By steadfastly looking to Jesus, our thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under our carnal desires. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though our enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; our heavenly Father has His hand in all, and His wise end to answer by all. We must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are His rebukes for sin.
We must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this He acts as like a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts His children. It is always for our profit.
Our whole life here is a state of childhood, therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, October 20 2021

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
In the last chapter we looked at what faith was and concluded studying about the faith of the Patriarchs. We saw how they endured hardship by faith and achieved great things for the Lord. Apostle Paul relayed all of their encounters as an introduction to today’s study. He started off verse 1 of chapter 12 by saying . . . “Therefore . . .”

Verse 1: Application Of The Demonstrations Of Enduring Faith
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

The MSG version says:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins”

a. Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
The Apostle Paul uses the example the previous champions of faith in chapter 11 as spectators from the heavens, cheering us as we press on to overcome present discouragement as in an athletic competition.We must picture those who have gone before us being witnesses to us of faith and endurance, in all they have lived and experienced. Their experiences should keep us encouraged.

b. Let us lay aside every weight
Sin can hold us back. But there are also things that may not be sin (every weight) but are merely hindrances that can keep us from running effectively the race God has for us.
Our choices are not always between right and wrong, but between something that may hinder us and something else that may not. Is there a weight in your life you must lay aside?

c. And the sin which so easily ensnares us
The words easily ensnares is translated from an ancient Greek word (euperistaton), which can be translated four ways: “easily avoided,” “admired,” “ensnaring,” or “dangerous.”
Let us lay them all aside:
• Some sins can be easily avoided, but are not
• Some sins are admired, yet must be laid aside
• Some sins are ensnaring and thus especially harmful
• Some sins are more dangerous than others are

d. Let us run with endurance
God has set before every one of us – a race. You must run it, and it will involve effort and commitment. The assumption is this race will not be easy, but the proper path to run has been set before us by God. The Aramaic can be translated “the race [personally] appointed to us.” God has a destiny for each of us that we are to give ourselves fully to reach.
Endurance is needed to run that race. Again, this “Endurance translates the ancient Greek word “which does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them.” It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.”
In Acts 20:24 Paul pictured himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep Paul from finishing the race with joy. In that passage, Paul spoke of my race – he had his race to run, we have our own – but God calls us to finish it with joy, and that only happens with endurance.

e. The race that is set before us
Race is the ancient Greek word agona, a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds, and a favourite word of Paul (Philippians 1:30, Colossians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7).

Verse 2: The Ultimate Example - Jesus Christ.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The MSG version says:
“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—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

a. Looking unto Jesus
We can only run the race as we look to Jesus and have our eyes locked on to Him. He is our focus, our inspiration, and our example. This implies a definite looking away from other things and a present looking unto Jesus.

b. The author and finisher of our faith
Jesus is not only the author of our faith; He is the finisher of it also. The idea of He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) was comforting indeed to these discouraged Christians.
He is not only there with us at the starting line and at the finish line, but with us all along the way of the race that He sets before us.

c. Who for the joy that was set before Him
Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy. But He could look past the horror of the cross to enjoy the joy beyond it. The same mentality would enable these Jewish Christians (and we ourselves) to endure.

d. Endured the cross
Jesus was able to endure the ordeal of the cross because He understood the good that would come of it – the good of a redeemed, rescued people honouring God for all eternity.
Knowing all the good that would flow from this most agonizing experience, Jesus was able to do it and to endure it with triumph. Through the ordeal of the cross:
• He kept His tongue.
• He kept His course.
• He kept His progress.
• He kept His joy.
• He kept His love.

e. Despising the shame
One of the most prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Jesus did not welcome this shame – He despised it – yet He endured through it to victory.
Shame is a significant trial. Daniel 12:2 says that shame will be an aspect of the terrors of hell:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Jesus bore this hellish shame to accomplish our redemption.
• He bore a shameful accusation: blasphemy.
• He bore shameful mocking.
• He bore a shameful beating.
• He wore a shameful crown.
• He wore a shameful robe.
• He bore a shameful death on the cross.
This is a stumbling block to many. They will do just about anything for Jesus except endure shame or embarrassment.

f. And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
This speaks of Jesus’ glorification. The same promise of being glorified (though in a different sense) after our shame is true for the Christian.

Verses 3-4: Consider Jesus
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

The MSG version says:
“When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed!"

a. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself
Even in their difficulty if they would consider Jesus they could be encouraged, not discouraged, knowing that they were following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Paul wrote, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17)

Think of all the hostility Jesus endured from sinners:
• At His own synagogue in Nazareth they wanted to kill Him.
• The religious leaders constantly tried to trap and embarrass Him.
• They lied about Jesus, saying He was a drunkard and a glutton.
• He was betrayed by one of His own disciples.
• He was mocked and beaten by many.
• His own people cried out against Him, “Crucify Him!”

b. Lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls
Knowing that Jesus doesn’t ask more of us than what He has Himself experienced, and that He knows exactly what we are going through will keep us from becoming weary and discouraged in your souls.

c. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin
Many Jewish Christians then, like many Christians today complain and get discouraged when they face difficulties. Here the Apostle was not going to sugar coat the situation and pamper them with statements like “everything is going to be alright.” Instead, he pointed it out to them that they should continue to strive against sin and be ready to continue even to the point of shedding blood because others have suffered far worse, not to mention what Jesus went through!
 

CONCLUSION
The race set before us; though difficult, is not an uncommon race. The patriarchs of faith ran in it, Jesus did the same. And the proper path to run in it has been set before us by God. The Apostle Paul’s admonishment for us is that when we find our faith dwindling, what we need to shoot adrenaline into our souls and get us going again, is by going over Jesus’ story again, item by item, all the hostility he went through and how He was able to endure it with triumph.

Parts of this study was culled from: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/hebrews-12/

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, October 13 2021

Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye

INTRODUCTION
We have learned so far that faith is rooted in God’s Word (vs. 1–3), and therefore faith worships (v. 4), walks (vs. 5–6), works (v. 7) and waits (v. 8). We learnt that faith is deeply connected to waiting. We always get what God promised, but not according to our schedule as it’s always better managed by God.
Truth is God blesses those who have complete faith with remarkable results (11:32-35).

Some of the things Faith does are:
- Faith enables flawed people to accomplish great things for God.
- Faith enables us to accomplish things that are only explainable/doable by God’s power.
- Faith entitles us to God’s blessing of eternal rewards.

VERSE 32: FAITH REGARDLESS
“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets”

There are some names, in this chapter, which we should hardly have expected to see there, the characters mentioned having been so disfigured by serious faults, and flaws, and failings; but the distinguishing feature of faith was there in every instance, and especially in the case of Samson.
The first five men listed here all had some serious shortcoming but regardless of their flaws, God still honored their faith. (i.e.: Gideon (Judges 6-8) was a coward and had to be sweet-talked in the start to doing what God called him to do or Samson (Judges 13-16) directed the Philistines on many occasions, yet he was tripped up by his lust for women). In spite of all these men’s flaws God used them because they trusted Him in difficult/challenging situations.

In each case, these people listed here were of faith and held on to the conviction that God’s Word was true. They were confident in God, they understood, the covenant promise of the gospel and the kingdom. So, they faced difficulties believing that God would deliver on His promises, some way, and somehow.
Keep in mind that regardless of where you are, faith marches on and therefore our faith can keep us in check. Your environments/surroundings do not alter the truth and neither do they alter God’s character. It is for this reason that you should march on confidently, clinging to God’s word, trusting him every step of the way.

Discussion: Where is the balance between tolerating our shortcomings and yet striving by faith to overcome them?

VERSES 33-35a: FAITH CONQUERS
“who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.”

God did these wonderful deeds, but He did so in accordance with the faith of those involved. Doesn’t minus the fact that God is sovereign, but it is equally true that He has freely determined that He will work through means. And faith is a prescribed means.
The point of application that we can draw from these accounts is that, when faced with tough difficulties, faith stands from generation to generation because the Lord does not change. The past faithfulness of God to reward responses of faith should encourage us that He can and will do the same today – unchanging God.

Discussion: Does faith replace planning, preparing and hard work? How can we know if the power is from God or from our planning and effort?

VERSE 35b: FAITH IS CONFIDENT
"Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."

The word “tortured” can be literally translated, “beaten to death.”

So, how does one develop such confidence? By growing in our knowledge of God. Read, study and meditate on the Scripture. Love and get to know God, and as you know God you will love God and will desire to please God, regardless of the cost. Our confidence in Him will grow to the degree that our relationship with Him develops.

VERSES 36-38: SUFFERING FOR FAITH
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Here, the writer informs us of those who, like those in v. 35, suffered for their faith apparently without pardon. He tells us that some “had trial of mocking and
scourging, yes, and of chains and of imprisonments.” Thinks of Jeremiah, who was imprisoned for proclaiming God’s Word.
These great individuals were mistreated as they were “afflicted” and “tormented.” Such suffering on the part of faithful saints can be confusing to us all. It can be alarming, but the fact remains that the scripture did not promise a rosery garden to Christian—not yet, anyway. One day, the roses will bloom continuously, and the scent will delight our senses. But in the meantime, we may have our share of affliction, loneliness and even torment.

Discussion: Any reasons why God may not deliver those who trust Him?

VERSES 39-40: FAITH IS COOPORATIVE

"And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us."

Here we are encouraged to keep on believing. We are reminded that God has provided something better for us. The writer has told us all along what this “better something” is: a better hope (7:19); a better covenant (7:22; 8:6); better promises (8:6); a better sacrifice (9:23); and a far better country (heavenly country) (11:16)

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, let’s look back at verse 32 which speaks of those who “through faith” accomplished great things. Yet when you consider men such as Barak (who seemed rather cowardly at one point), Jephthah (who was rough and rash), Samson (who was often characterised by the flesh), David (who broke the Ten Commandments), and Samuel (who failed horribly as a father), you might wonder how they made the list? But thank God they did! Because these believers resemble the likes of us: sinful believers.

Remember the issue is not the quality of our faith or the quantity of our faith but rather the object of our faith - The great news. Bear in mind also that at the end of the day, all the glory goes to the one who makes faith possible: God. Believe in GOD.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, October 06 2021

Contributor: Alex Kokobili

Introduction:
The previous discussion in the preceding verses in Hebrews 11 showed the inward power of faith displayed in the lives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. The lives of the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc. revealed faith as an unseen weapon that is seen in miraculous manifestations. Their lives changed and challenged all odds from the ordinary to the extraordinary through their unbending trust in God. They were not born as perfect people, but they believed God for who He is and tarried on until the manifestation of that which He promised them.
They were willing to lose their lives and served God with their best not taking for granted the supernatural experiences of God. The faith of Abraham earned him the title “friend of God”, and he was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, and also gave a tithe to Christ in the Bible in the representation of the King of Salem. Abraham’s testimony showed he was an intercessor, a soldier, a father of nations, a successful businessman, etc., which were all rooted in his journey of faith. We sing and lay claim to Abraham’s blessings which was a shadow of the Godly inheritance in the Old Testament now manifested in Christ Jesus, but are we willing to manifest the Abrahamic faith?
Today’s focus on Moses would help us understand his life and the journey of faith which distinguished him as a prophet haven survived childhood and progressed to be the leader of a nation. The miracles associated with his ministry are overwhelming of which I would call “strange faith” of supernatural exploits which we can best describe with the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12: 9).

Verse 23:
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”

The kind of faith portrayed by Moses’ parents confirmed that they believed that God had chosen their child for a special purpose. They were not the only parents who gave birth during that period, as we understand that other male children were killed but they risked their lives to save Moses (Exodus 2:1-10).

Verses 24 – 27:
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible”

Moses did not spend too much time with his parents, but I believe that with the little time they spent with him, they were able to plant the seed of faith in him as we noticed his sibling also had a divine assignment. How do we know this? Aaron his brother was chosen as his mouthpiece (Exodus 14: 12-17) and he later became a priest (Num. 17: 1-7), likewise, Miriam became a prophetess (Exodus 15:20-21). Moses’ outside the palace proved to him and the people of Israel that indeed God is sovereign. Bible scholars believe
Moses had learned a lot of astrology as the prince of Egypt as Pharaoh’s son which focused on the spiritual climate of Egypt and that is why we hear about the mystical books of Moses or the seven Books of Moses which are not in the Bible because he abandoned all this for the true Jehovah El-Shaddai. This point is important because Moses had tasted the spiritual architecture of the gods of Egypt and that of the God Yahweh and was convinced beyond doubts about the power of God starting from the burning bush experience (Exodus 3:1-6).

Verse 28-30:
“By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days”

The people of Israel still had faith in God despite their inconsistency but Moses was unwavering because he had a relationship with God beyond the signs and wonders that God did through Him. We need a steady relationship with God for our faith to be consistent! Moses had faith to the point that he wanted to see God, but Israel would complain at the slight inconvenience. Their faith was limited in several ways and they paid dearly for their moment of unbelief. But one must acknowledge that they had faith in the word of God through Moses. For instance, they believed Moses when he asked them to sprinkle the blood of the animals on their door their firstborns would not be killed. They believed him also at the crossing the Red Sea, and the walls of Jericho, etc. But despite this, they were often difficult to handle (Exodus. 32: 9-10) “They are stiff-necked people”.

Verse 31:
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”

Faith comes with obedience and in this verse, we see Rehab believed the spies were God sent and Israel God’s chosen people to possess the land of Jericho, and she also obeyed the spies by putting the scarlet cloth attached to her window (Joshua 2: 17-21) believing they would come back for her.

Conclusion:
Unknown to many, Moses focused on a Godly relationship which eventually embolden him to function at the miraculous levels of faith as God’s prophet over Israel. He was privileged to write the law as directed by God and his counter with God revealed to him the creation of humankind and it was not a surprise to read about his appearance on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Christ in the New Testament.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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