Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 12:12.

“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,” Hebrews 12:12.

—————

Other doctrine tries to strengthen others by trying to get them to focus on themselves and by exhorting them to try harder.

But, Reformed Doctrine strengthens others by Scripture which focuses on God and what God will do for them.

“… They will see the glory of the LORD,
The majesty of our God.” Isaiah 35:2.

“Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, …” Hebrews 13:9.

“3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4 Say to those with anxious heart,
Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.” Isaiah 35:3-6.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted
;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3.

“7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!


9 Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the LORD has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God.
” Isaiah 52:7 and 9-10.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 12:5-11.

“and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:5-11.

————–

“For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12.

“Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.” Proverbs 19:18.

“He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 13:24.

“Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” Deuteronomy 8:5-6.

“I will be a father to him (David) and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” 2 Samuel 7:14-15.

“17 “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
He wounds, and His hands also heal.
19 “From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you.” Job 5:17-19.

“… He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” Verse 10.

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Verse 11.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 12:4.

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;”   Hebrews 12:4. 

——————

Other doctrine thinks of itself and the need to try harder through the flesh to resist temptation.

But, Reformed Doctrine thinks of the One Who did resist to the point of shedding blood in His striving against sin.

“And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives;  and the disciples also followed Him.  When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;  yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.  And being in agony He was praying very fervently;  and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.  When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping?  Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  Luke 12:39-46.

There is hope for us in this One, Jesus Christ!

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 5:7-11.

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Hebrews 2:17-18.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16.

“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:25.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 12:1-3.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3. 

—————

Endurance is the theme of each of the three verses in today’s Scripture.

First, we have the command:  “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”.  So to speak, some people live a short life, a 100 yard dash;  some people live a medium life, a 10K race;  and some people live a long life, a marathon.  But, the length of each race is set by their Maker and is perfect for them, and we can trust God.

Second, we have the example of Jesus:  “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, …  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself”.

Third, we have the need for the endurance:  “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 

Other doctrine fixes its eyes on itself and its willpower and its perseverance.

But, Reformed Doctrine fixes its eyes on Jesus and His will and His preservation of us.  

There is hope in “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”! 

Jesus is the author of our faith.  Like Jesus set the length of the race for us, Jesus gave us the faith needed for that race.

“…  To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” 2 Peter 1:1.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.   

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  …  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  …  

Jesus is also the perfecter of our faith.  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

Article 3.  By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength.  But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.

Article 8.  Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings;  which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen;  but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

Article 9.  Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church;  and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life.

This is “Preservation of the Saints”, the “P” of “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, as more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24. 

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | April 4, 2021

“apart from us they would not be made perfect.”

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:39-40.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”  Hebrews 11:39-40.

——————

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet;  for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”  1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18.

This is difficult Scripture to understand.  In any event, you may remembering reading at the “About Me” section of my web site, “Although I do my best to present true teachings, these are my teachings as a layman.  (I am an attorney, not a minister).  And, although I have been taught by and otherwise influenced primarily by certain Reformed and Presbyterian denominations through the years from a very early age to date, my teachings are not necessarily the teachings of the Christian Reformed Church, the Protestant Reformed Churches, Presbyterian churches, nor any other denomination.  The reader is advised to follow the example set forth in Acts 17:11:  “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

And so, many times, you will see that my daily devotions contain only Scripture.  But, there are times like today when I think my words may help the reader understand Scripture.  So, please examine “the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

I think an analogy that helps us understand these Scriptures is a graduation ceremony.  There are those who leave before us to to go to the auditorium where the graduation will occur.  We do not see them until we come to the auditorium and graduate with them.  At the auditorium, they can rest, register, and enjoy the pre-ceremony sights and sounds.  But, they will not graduate before us.  They will wait for us.  All will graduate together, receive the imperishable graduation robe together, and rejoice together.

“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”  Romans 8:19.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”  Hebrews 12:1.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  Philippians 3:20-21.

“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.”  1 Corinthians 15:54.   

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:35-38.

“Women received back their dead by resurrection;  and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;  and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword;  they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”  Hebrews 11:35-38.

————————

Today’s Scripture presents other works of faith that at first seem to be the opposite of the works of faith that we read in the immediate prior Scripture of those “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”  Hebrews 11:33-34. 

But, when we read that by faith they did and endured these things “so that they might obtain a better resurrection”, then with joy, we pause to linger over this Scripture to meditate, and we also realize that it is a very appropriate Scripture for today, Good Friday. 

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:10-11.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,”  Romans 6:5.

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  Romans 6:4. 

“having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  Colossians 2:12.

“we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken;  struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10. 

The following concluding two Scriptures summarize our faith and the hope that we have in the midst of our afflictions.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;  for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:32-34.

“And what more shall I say?  For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”  Hebrews 11:32-34.

——————–

“… for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;  and nothing will be impossible to you.”  Matthew 17:20.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’;  and it would obey you.”  Luke 17:5-6.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire;  and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Daniel 3:17-18.

But, there is hope!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13. 

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:31.

“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”  Hebrews 11:31.

—————

The following Scripture provides details of Rahab’s faith.

“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.  When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you;  for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.  Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”  So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours;  and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”  Joshua 2:8-14.

Let us meditate on the details of Rahab’s faith that I have highlighted above in bold italic font.

First, we see Rahab’s belief in the providence of God and the goodness of God toward His people.  “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.”

Second, we see Rahab’s belief in the existence of God.  “for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

Third, we see Rahab’s belief that God is a rewarder.  “since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 

“19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
20 You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.” Psalm 31:19-21.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:29-30.

“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land;  and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”  Hebrews 11:29-30.

——————–

In summary, by faith they “quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”  Hebrews 11:34. 

But, this faith was not in themselves.  This faith was in God that He would protect them and deliver them from their enemies:  “and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men;  for not all have faith.  But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”  2 Thessalonians 3:2-3. 

Consider the following from the Heidelberg Catechism.

“Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;  who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;  and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;  for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.”

“7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.

8 The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:7-8.

“9 Thus He rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up,
And He led them through the deeps, as through the wilderness.
10 So He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
Not one of them was left.” Psalm 106:9-12.

Today’s devotion comes from Hebrews 11:27-28.

“By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.” Hebrews 11:27-28.

——————–

By faith, Moses did not fear man. He “left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king”. By faith, Moses feared God. He “kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.”

By faith, we too do not fear man, but instead we fear God.

“4 For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courts.
9 Worship the LORD in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity.” Psalm 96:4-10.

“6 The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118:6-9.

“The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” Proverbs 29:25.

“Praise the LORD!
How blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.” Psalm 112:1.

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:4-5.

“10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:10-12.

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