Strengthening Your Faith

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Hebrews chapter thirteen. I’m going to keep this fairly simplistic in its presentation. Here’s my hope is that we’re going to talk about that at the end of Hebrews thirteen you’re going to see the author just starts sharing, peppering all kinds of thoughts on how to make the application to the book of Hebrews to our lives. He dealt with the sufficiency of Jesus and everything, and how to see Jesus as the culmination of everything that the old testament spoke about. The shadows of the old testament fulfilled in Jesus. And now what do we do with that. And he starts peppering this really heavy at the end of the book, and Hebrews thirteen is a lot like that. Each verse builds off of the former verse, but it does it in a powerful way for us to examine our own lives to see if we’re living a healthy and strong Christian life. And if you remember where we ended last week, it gave the idea in verses 5 and 6 that Jesus will never desert you, Verse 5, he will never forsake you, the lord is my helper he says in verse 6, I will not be afraid what will man do to me.

So the strength of the believer is found in everything that Jesus is, his identity. So we talk about being healthy, being strong in Christ, I know at places in our lives, we often times don’t feel that way, we feel weak, we feel alone, we feel zapped of our energy, and here we see biblical passages that talk about strength and fighting the good fight, living for the faith and what I think is really important in our lines is the places of weakness is often times where we find ourselves really strong in Jesus. In fact, Paul said it this way “when I am weak, then I am strong.” Because finally in his weakness he really found the strength for which he was created to discover which is in Jesus alone. And so, a place of weakness, we talk about being healthy and strong as a believer, a place of weakness is a beautiful place of strength in Christ. And we think about humanity as a whole.

We know there is different ways that we can develop our strength, mentally, physically, spiritually, and when I think about God developing us and the strength that it means to follow after him, my mind wants to reflect on something that’s tangible in our lives. If you ever go to the gym and you see that guy that just obsesses about his upper body but he walks on sticks for legs, you know, or the guy that’s opposite of that, the guy that builds up his legs, he looks like he-man on the bottom but Peewee Herman on the top. When it comes to the Christian life, there is a healthy balance in pursuing Jesus That When we face hardships, that when we find our strength in Jesus, and we find the sufficiency of Christ in those moments, the next time those hardships come, we’re just all the more stronger in pursuing after God.

And this is where Hebrews meets us, is that these are believers about to face persecution because of their faith in Christ. And the ability to endure is important. Remember the basis for this text. It talks about chapter 11, the faith of those that have gone before us. In chapter 12 it tells us to run the race now as followers of Jesus. And the rest of this book is laying that foundation of what that race running in Christ is all about.

When you look in scripture, the Bible tells us very plainly, Second Corinthians, or excuse me, 2 Timothy 3:12, “You will face persecution for following after Jesus.” Jesus even said in John 16 verse 33 “There will be tribulation.” But he encourages, in the book of Timothy he says this, in first Timothy 4:7 “Train yourselves to be Godly, for physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

You think of all the ways you consider being a healthy individual, spiritually, it has more endurance than just this physical world that you live in. And so the author starts developing for us six areas of godly training in our lives, or godly identity, for which we find our stength. So sometimes when we get into a place that has lists, we can get overwhelmed by the amount of things that are listed, but this is what I would tell you for application today.

I want to know Jesus and meet with Jesus, and I understand I am a work in progress, right? And I can’t fix everything all the time, in fact I can get really good at something and then focus on something else and realize I just forgot about what I had developed in my spiritual life. And so we see lists like this, I think it’s important just to look at one area that might relate to where you are, and just consider that this week. Think on that, meditate on it, let it saturate your life and where you are in the lord.

And so this is where he starts in verse 7 he says “remember those who lead you, who spoke the word of God to you. And consider the result of their conduct imitate their faith.” He begins the ideal on the thought of remembering, and remembering was important to the Jewish community, it was important to Christ, they laid a foundation on the past in order to build on the future. They didn’t live in the past, but they understood the past helps shape them or refine them for where they were in the present. I’d say sometimes things in our lives happen to us and wrongly so we can allow the past to define us. Now certainly the past can help shape us, but the past is never intended to define us, its intended to refine us. And so when we look at the idea of living in the moment and pushing forward, it’s remembering what’s happened in the past and identifies it with people as it relates to people.

So in Israel’s history, God told them to remember the passover. Passover was a significant place for which they found their identity that refined them for their future and their living, it wasn’t just about living in the past, but understanding there are promises that were made in the Passover, that it was to be a symbol for what Jesus would ultimately bring for his people in deliverance. That God is a deliverer, and God is a redeemer. And so they would remember that, and then when Jesus comes in the New Testament he says, and thinking about communion which we’ll celebrate here at the end of the service, he says “Do this in remembrance of me.”

So in Jesus taking our sin at the cross, he not only pays for our past, but he gives us a future in him. He doesn’t just take your bank account, which is negative against God, but he gives you a new identity belonging to him as King and his Kingdom. And so we live in light of that. We understand the past and it refines us in order to understand what our future is about. And when he talks about remembering, he relates it to individuals who have walked in this path of what we’re called to remember. He says “Remember those who lead you.”

And I want you to say it would be very easy for me just to incorrectly relate this text to maybe someone of my position this morning, standing up, teaching God’s word, being some sort of example, whatever you want to think about that example, but I think this verse means more than, or doesn’t involve me, I should say, it doesn’t mean more to me, it just doesn’t involve me. And the reason is because of the way it relates to the end of this verse, it says “Remember those who lead you, who spoke the word of God to you, and consider the result of their conduct imitate their faith.” So when it’s talking about those who lead you, it’s saying to remember the result, or consider the result of their conduct as a totality of their life. Their life has been a living example to you. So this is an individual that has lived and walked the Christian faith for the duration of their life. This is not talking about someone that followed Jesus for a little bit, and fell off by the wayside. This is someone who has consistently pursued Christ with their life. That cannot be me, I’m still a spring chicken, I’m barely getting wrinkles, alright?

So this is someone that you look at, maybe someone that’s moved, dead in the faith. So I think if you’re a first generation Christian, you may not even have this. This is why, throughout this series, I’ve kept this verse in mind as we’ve looked in the book of Hebrews, I’ve tried to pepper the end of these sermons talking about Christian’s that have made a difference throughout history. Because there is someone that’s lived that example that we can look to. But look what he says, he says “consider their conduct,” but then he doesn’t tell you to stop there, he says “imitate their faith.” He tells us “don’t just copy the fruit, but look to the root.”

What lead them? When you go all the way back to Hebrews chapter 11, that’s where this started, right? The chapter of faith, the hall of faith, of those who looked to God, they realized that this world was not their home, and they looked for a greater place, a greater purpose. That’s what it talks about in Abraham in chapter 11, he knew his home wasn’t of this world and so he looked to God, the one who delivered him the promises that through him, all people, groups would be blessed. Consider what guided their heart.

And we’ve talked about some of these together, like Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, or John Wycliffe or William Tindell and David Livingston, and Corey Ten Boom, and Amy Carmichael. History is full of them. You can just pick up Fox’s book of the Martyrs and read through, just throughout the centuries those that continue to give their life in faith to Christ, to the point that it cost their life. Look to their faith. What did they trust in?

I told you in the beginning, a lot of times, or a few weeks ago, a lot of times we have the tendency to take Christian leaders or Christian people that have made a difference and we put them on a pedestal and idolize them and say “that’s them but that’s not me.” Reality is, when you examine people that have pursued Jesus with their lives, they’re deeply flawed. There’s nothing special about them, apart from the fact that their faith was in the one that gave them identity and purpose and meaning. They would tell you, it’s not them it was Jesus. It was the surrendering of their heart to who he was.

And then it goes on from there. The reason why, that we’re able to do this, and I think this is a very powerful verse, worth memorizing and holding onto, if you don’t hear anything else today, this verse: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” His nature does not change. The Jesus that we read about in the New Testament has been Jesus from all of eternity, the Bible refers to him as the Alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, those are the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega. It’s like saying he’s the A to Z in our lives. He is the all-encompassing everything. Jesus then is the same yesterday, today and forever. And the identity reminds us of this, your faith is only as good as the object in which you place your faith upon.

What you really trust in, is it dependable? Is it worthwhile? Well, I would argue this, that if Jesus changes, he is inconsistent and insufficient. If Jesus had to grow, or Jesus had to become God, or Jesus was anything less than who his nature claims that we understand him to be from a Christian world view, it expresses an insufficiency in Jesus. There’s something greater than him, because he wasn’t the greatest if he had to change. But the fact that he is consistent with his nature, always and forever, for all of eternity, from past to beginning, shows the validity of why our trust can rest in him and why these heroes in verse 7 and chapter 11 were able to do the things that God lead them to do, because Jesus was able to be depended upon. He was the object of faith for which we could trust, and he would always be consistent in his identity.

If your Jesus changes, that is not Biblical Jesus. Just because you use the name Jesus, doesn’t make it Jesus. Who is Jesus? He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. And it goes on a little further and expresses in this passage where the struggle was, and why this verse became essential. He says in the following verses to spiritually nourish here. So remember the past, he tells us to look to Jesus who is always the same, and then nourish here. He says this: “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods.” You could insert here religious identity. Because they’re using food as an excuse to say “look, Jesus is okay but you need a little bit more here.” And so they insert the idea of religious practice through food. “Through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have been altered from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” What is he talking about here?

The sufficiency of Jesus being expressed here now through the terror in our lives between grace and religion. Since Jesus walked the earth, and Jesus gave his life, after his resurrection, the church throughout history has continued to battle against the thought that Jesus isn’t sufficient in some way. Every century tried to present something about Jesus that was inadequate in itself, and tried to add something additional to the gospel. Jesus is okay, but plus this.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4, if you want to look at it, it explains to us very concisely what the gospel is. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus has nothing to do with us, and any religious work that we add to Jesus. In fact, if we put anything on top of Jesus, we’re blaspheming God. Galatians chapter 2 expressed that to us very plainly at the very end of the book. “The law, there is no sufficiency in our salvation through law living. The adequacy belongs to Christ alone.”

Every century, people had to war against the thought that Jesus wasn’t sufficient. In fact, this idea on verse 9, “strengthened by grace, not by foods,” you can go back into the early parts of the New Testament and see Jesus talking about this. One of the famous passages that most of us will probably be familiar with, Luke chapter 15, there’s several parables that Jesus lists there, but the last parable we talked about is the parable of the prodigal son, right? Well, let me just tell you for a minute why we’re robbed by calling it the prodigal son.

If you start of Luke chapter 15, you read it at the beginning of the book, you see that Jesus’s audience is the sinners, the tax collectors, and the Pharisees. That’s the people group Jesus is talking about. The outcasts from the society because they’re too sinful, and the ones that people can’t relate to because they’re so holy in other people’s terms that they’re just unattainable. And so Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son, but here’s the problem with calling it the Prodigal Son, Jesus doesn’t call it the Prodigal Son. Jesus calls it the tale of two sons. That’s the way Jesus titles that section of the parable. And when you read the parable, you see two types of people described there, and they relate to the audience that Jesus is talking to. Jesus is talking to the sinners and tax collectors, and then the Pharisees.

And the sinners and tax collectors relate to the first son. They take the fathers wealth, they squander it, they come back to the father thinking maybe I can just be a servant in his Kingdom. But rather than just be a servant before the King, he brings them into his home, he celebrates with a banquet and he welcomes them in, and it restores them to the position that they lost. It’s to say to us that God’s grace is sufficient. If you find that you might not be lovable, if you wonder how in the world God can offer anything to you, the prodigal son tells us that we need to find strength in his grace, because Jesus is sufficient. Every generation wars with the inadequacy of Jesus, or at least tried to see the inadequacy of Jesus, of which Jesus doesn’t lack. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He paid it all on the cross, to tell us that, it is finished, paid in full.

But then the other part of the story, which we often overlook, we highlight the story of the Prodigal Son, it’s the second son. Because when the first son returns, how does the second son behave? Well the party that the father throws, the second son doesn’t even attend. He looks at the father for loving on a son who was so sinful, and he despises the father. So much so, that the father has to go and beg the son to come to the party. He’s living in his religious identity, he says “dad, don’t you know I was here always? You never celebrated like this for me. Look at all the religious things I’ve done.” And he causes the father to do something shameful in that time period. Fathers didn’t have to go to the son to beg him to be a part of the greatest party the father ever threw. It was an embarrassment to the Father to allow the Son to display himself like this, and yet the father goes and begs the son “come.”

And that’s what you see within these verses. In verse nine, “strengthened by grace, the first son who leaves,” and then the religious people who don’t see their need for Jesus, as if they find the sufficiency for salvation within themselves. We all need Jesus. And not just a little bit. I don’t care how religiously good you think you are in life, there isn’t anything that puts you one step closer to the grace that you need in God. Otherwise there was no need for Jesus.

And so he’s saying to us, “Look, this is where you nourish yourself” because when you’re going in this life, and you serve as a believer, sometimes you mess up, sometimes things just get hard, you look at the world and you just want to toss up your hands. His grace is sufficient. Because if his light can pierce the darkness and transform, the powerful God that changes your life can change it every day, and it can change the darkness around you.

And so he’s saying “nourish yourself on this.” And you know how the argument goes here, at the end of verse 10. Let me just show you this before I jump into that. When you think about the way it’s done in Church history, look, even the first century how they expressed it, Paul saying this in second Corinthians “For I’m jealous for you with a godly jealousy, for I betroth you to one husband. So that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin, but I’m afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be lead astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”

And so they’re saying in the first Century, and they’re taking the name of Jesus and they’re redefining his identity. They’re taking the gospel and they’re redefining the gospel. That doesn’t make it Jesus or the Gospel. In Galatians, look what Paul says: “But if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you in gospel contrary to which we have preached to you, he is to be a curse, as we have said before so I say again now. If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be a curse, for I am not seeking the favor of man or of God or am I striving to please men. If I was striving to please men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ.”

And that’s what you see happening in Hebrews 9:10 is Jesus and his sufficiency and his grace, or man-made law and the religious living, where do you find your adequacy in him? And it tells us in the book of Jude, look, when it comes to Christianity, the faith has been delivered to us, there is no addition to what’s needed with what Jesus has done. Because the Old Testament showed the shadow of everything Jesus would fulfill, and Jesus has arrived, and Jesus has fulfilled it. And so Jude 3 says this: “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith,” which was, look, “once for all handed down to the saints.”

Jude is Jesus’s half brother. And he’s making an identity about the faith in which we have been given. Not your faith personally, but the faith. The identity that the Christian community has lived in since the first century, because of the coming of Jesus. That there is no addition, that this is it. Jesus is the sufficiency of everything, in fact, in Ephesians 2:20 it says the same thing only from Paul’s mouth. He says this, “that God gave apostles and prophets for the building of the foundation, for which we are knitted together in God’s family, in a spiritual household, the temple of God.”

How many times do you lay a foundation when you build a house? Once. And in the passage it says in Jesus is that cornerstone. Apostles and prophets laid a foundation, now that the foundation has been laid, God’s people, his holy temple, that’s you and me, are being built in the cornerstone who is Jesus. Jesus isn’t inadequate. He isn’t insufficient. And from first Corinthians you see that the Church has faced the pressure to change the identity of Jesus, and confess his inadequacy, and it’s not true.

Sometimes I’ll hear people talk about, you know, Christianity getting off kilter, and needing to be redeemed, or going corrupt. And I’ll ask the question, if Christianity went corrupt, where did it happen? If you go back in Church history, Church history is so well documented, it’s an absurd statement to even make. When someone makes that kind of statement, it’s like, oh, you have no understanding of Church history at all, you’re just making a statement that you are repeating. But you can literally go back and read the disciples of Jesus’s disciples. Not only can you read the writings of the disciples, but those disciples made disciples and you can read their writings too.

Ignatius, Polycarp, Urinius, Justice the martyr, I mean church history is laid out for us. And so we can try to identify, okay, where did Christianity go corrupt? Oftentimes you’ll hear, for instance, the council of nicea. When Constantine legalized Christianity. And again, those types of statements come from a little inaccurate understanding of Church history. But when you read, surrounding the time of Constantine, just before Constantine, Christianity was actually experiencing the worst persecution it had faced since the time that Jesus founded it. And when you look at Church history, almost three hundred years now passed the crucifixion of Jesus, or about two hundred and fifty years past the crucifixion of Jesus, Diocletian and Galerius were persecuting the Church to a degree they had not experienced yet. And then shortly after that persecution, Constantine comes into power. One year difference from their ending, to Constantine.

When Constantine legalizes Christianity, he calls Christian leaders together, over three hundred of them, to clarify a doctrinal stand in Christianity. And it has to do with the identity of Jesus. You ask me, “when did Christianity go corrupt?” Well, it was in the Nicene creed with Constantine, they changed the bible then and stuff. Nicene creed had nothing to do with the Bible. It didn’t come up. Wasn’t even a debate. So scripture being [inaudible 00:23:39] in Nicene creed is just insanity. But they debated, or they talked about, the idea of the identity of Jesus, which for historical purposes, I think it’s important for you to know that Santa Clause was at the Nicene Creed. So if you don’t agree with Santa Clause, shame on you, ha ha.

So three hundred Christian leaders come to the Nicene creed, and the reason they’re gathering together is because of a man named Arian who is teaching heresy in regards to Jesus. And Constantine wants to get them together and just clarify this, that Arian’s voice is not echoing history anymore. And so they all come together, over three hundred Christian leaders, and they write a doctrinal statement on Jesus. And the reason they were able to do this, you think in Church history, never before has the church been able to get into open public forums like this and meet. Because to do so, you could get your head lopped off.

And finally for the first time, they’re all able to gather together. And they articulate a statement on the identity of Jesus, because of a false teaching Arian is presenting. And so all of these guys gather in this room, Arian, one of his followers, and all the other Christian leaders, and they articulate a statement. Of course Arian and his follower vote against it, but the rest of the Church leaders support this statement on the identity of Jesus. And so the arguments made, okay well, really Constantine legalized Christianity, so he corrupted it then.

Let me just remind you of this. Church history has faced persecution no for over two hundred and fifty years. Some historians have done research on the men that were gathered in that room to articulate this statement of faith as it related to Jesus. And some historians have said, all but twelve of them, had faced some form of persecution, pain, and suffering because of their faith in Christ. There were guys there that had lost their eyes, had them gouged out because their faith in Jesus. There were individuals there that had their hands burned so severely, they no longer functioned anymore. There were people that couldn’t walk, because of their faith in Christ.

These were men that gathered in a room that bore the scars of persecution. They had stood up to Emperors and told them what they thought about their stand against Jesus, and chose to endure for the sake of Christ. They were not afraid to speak against Emperors. Their bodies bore that resemblance. And so to suggest that these individuals, who were just released from prison under the reign of Diocletian, all of a sudden were afraid of Constantine is ridiculous. And church history doesn’t teach that.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Because the faith that we rest on, has bore the blood of martyrs throughout the centuries. Who is Jesus? His grace is sufficient. I love the way Hebrews 10 verses 10 and 14 put it for us. It says “Once for all.” And the author said in this passage, I’ll just remind you, at the end he said “we have an alter from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” He’s saying look, these religious people are coming to you and saying you don’t belong because you’re not practicing their religious practice, but let me just remind you, you have something they don’t have. It’s Jesus.

They can’t go here, but you can. And so then he takes it a little step further in encouraging us on how we relate taking the cross as a place for which we belong. There becomes a place in the Christian life where you’ve got to choose. What are you going to identify with? What’s going to lead your heart? People or Christ? Peer pressure or Jesus? And so he gives us illustration, Hebrews 13:11 for where they find their identity “for the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the High Priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp,” I’ll explain that in just a minute. “Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood suffered outside the gate. So let us go out to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach, for here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”

What the author is remembering is the day of Atonement. The most sacred day in the Jewish calendar year, it’s the only day that they got to go into the holy of holies in the temple, and only one person got to do it. The High Priest would take two goats and a bull. And they would sacrifice two of them, and one of them they would cast out.

So it looked like this, they would come in with the two goats and the bull, and the High Priest would lay his hands on the head of the bull, and confessing his sins as if this was the atonement for his sins. Then he would lay his hands on the head of the goats and confess the sins of Israel. One goat they would banish into the woods, away from the people, showing how God casts sin away from us and our relationship to him. And then they would take the bull and the goat and they would sacrifice them, taking the blood to sprinkle in the holy of holies, that only the High Priest could go into one time a year, as a removal for sin, as a reminder that there was life in the blood and God called for death because of sin.

And so they would bring in the sacrifice as their atonement, their substitute, for their sin. And they would take the body of the bull, and the body of the goat, and they would take it outside of the Temple, and they would burn it. Consume it totally. Completely cast out as a demonstration of how [inaudible 00:29:04] was cast out. This body just given its entire life to the identity of sin and what it cost us. And then it compares that to Jesus, saying how when Jesus, he goes and declares who he is in the temple, and he’s cast out, and he’s placed on a cross, and he gives his life for us, completely sacrificing himself for you and I. And he’s saying that is where your identity is.

You can stay in the religious temple and identify with these people that want nothing to do with Jesus, or you can go outside of the gate and say “this is where I belong, as he is given his life for me, so I give my life for him.” His cross is sufficient.

And then he gives us these last two thoughts in verses 15 and 16, he says: “Through him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” And you think about what Jesus has done. Let us offer up a praise to him. That’s what this morning is. That’s what our heart should be about throughout the week, because we find another identity outside of this world. That’s what the last verse said, “your city is not this place, but your city is somewhere else.” And so now we have that identity in Jesus, and within our hearts there is the sacrifice of praise.

So what is a sacrifice of praise? It tells you in the next statement. “The fruit of lips that give thanks to his name.” I think I said this last week, but let me remind us, when God created everything declares his glory. It’s crazy to think that this world is under a sin curse, but you can still look out at the beauty of the mountains, covered in I think it’s snow this morning, insane already. But you look at the beauty of the mountains, and it’s just breathtaking, isn’t it? Just inspires the heart to worship. When you go up there, and the fall leaves, and you see all that, inspires the heart to worship. You see the beauty of creation inspires the heart to worship.

But you know, out of all the things that inspire the heart to worship, one of the most incredible things is you and I. Created in his image. God breathed into us the breath of life. Of all the things that declares his glory in this world, the most precious thing that I think exists is you, because he gave you the voice to proclaim it. When the rest of the world looks and stands in awe of this, you can say “And I know the one that created it all.”

He loves you. He’s given his life for you. And so we offer this as the fruit of our lips and the sharing of this with one another in this world around us. And then he gives this last statement: “Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”

I want to please God. And I don’t always. But when I get to the end of my life, I want my life to be exactly what Hebrews 13:7 says. “Remember those who have walked that path before you, and observe their faith, or practice their faith.” I want to live that kind of life, where God is pleased with my heart, because its pursuit is his. Do not neglect in doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. And this is the verse that I challenge myself in, you think of all these verses you could pick this morning, this is mine. And the reason is this. There’s times in life where I can pay lip service to God like verse 15 says, and all I pay is lip service to God. But I think the Christian life is seen in the furtherance of its faith when the followers of Jesus give of themselves in more than just their lips, but in their actions and in their sacrifice.

I think about this valley, and my prayer for this valley, that I want to be a light in this valley, I want to see a church that God works through to transform this valley, or the church in general that God works through to transform this valley. That is my heart. And just the examination is my heart match my actions. Well this is what I think guys. When I consider what Jesus did for us, the faith was furthered through him because of sacrifice. And was only because of sacrifice that the faith carried on. Because in him, now we can believe. But that demonstration continued to be true for the early Church. The blood of the martyrs became seed. The blood of the martyrs was the very basis that they believed that this world was not their own, and they gave their lives for something more.

And so when I think about the heart of Utah, and making a difference in this valley, if you’re serious about that, it will not happen short of sacrifice. The giving of yourselves because the beauty of Christ being made known in your life. God, where can I die to me to live for you. God, how can I give of myself to reflect in the lives of those around me the beauty of who you are? And I know when I make that statement, I say that realizing that sometimes we are weak. Guys, it’s when we’re weak that the strength of Christ is seen.

I take blows in life where I’m like “God, can I just stop for just a minute?” But it’s in the pain the beauty of Jesus is really seen. Because no matter how dark the days may be, the greater my light shines in Christ, when I follow him in those moments. God, when I say I want to reach this valley for you, it’s on the understanding on the backdrop of this idea, that God’s people move forward in the beauty of who he is seen in sacrifice. That type of living can only be found when his grace is sufficient.

When I go to him, outside of the camp and to the cross, identifying my life with his as he has been cast out so shall mine be, because my home is not this world. But God, when I deliver myself before a King who has given it all, how powerfully you can work. Not only in my heart but God, you use that to minister the hearts of others as a light of truth and a beacon of hope. Let my lips be words of praise, let my heart reflect the goodness of who you are, may my life demonstrate a sacrifice that preaches the glory of this King and his Kingdom.

Remember your heroes. Trust in the one who never changes. Nourish on his grace not religion. Identify in the cross. Worship, sacrifice, because he’s worthy.

Loving the Kingdom Mess