NCV Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
We read the Scripture because we believe they were “written to teach us.” Learning from them is a very good reason but I don’t think that alone would keep us coming back day after day or account for the impact the Bible has had for such a long time on so many lives. There’s something far more personal happening “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
We read because we believe our faith is a gift from God that we want to learn about. We read because we believe our relationship to Jesus has brought us grace and forgiveness. We come back and read some more because we discover within those pages there’s something that gives those ancient words new life for today. We read because the secret of endurance and encouragement lies within us, the Holy Spirit – hope, that has promised to reveal the mystery of our personal connection to God and help us navigate in this foreign land we call life.
Excerpts from Hebrews 6 [NIV& TLB]
1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity,
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him
12 Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
2 Thessalonians Living Bible
1-3 & 7-8 And now, what about the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to meet him? Please don’t be upset and excited, dear brothers, by the rumor that this day of the Lord has already begun. If you hear of people having visions and special messages from God about this, or letters that are supposed to have come from me, don’t believe them. 3 Don’t be carried away and deceived regardless of what they say…7 As for the work this man of rebellion and hell will do when he comes, it is already going on, but he himself will not come until the one who is holding him back steps out of the way. 8 Then this wicked one will appear, whom the Lord Jesus will burn up with the breath of his mouth and destroy by his presence when he returns
Two topics seem to be a big part of the community of faith today; Jesus’ return and the miserable state of the world. Both are very real. The fact is, even in our community of faith, we are caught in between the hope of Jesus’ return, that we don’t know much about, and all the well-documented evil in our world we hear so much about. It’s hard to know how to reconcile all that. The “man of rebellion and hell” speaks loudly with many borrowed voices that come at us daily. They question the truth we know about the Lord, but can’t yet see. Those voices hope to leave us with impotent despair and to make what is unseen seem impossible to the world…and even to us. Those voices swear that our only hope is to be prepared for the worst with worry, despair and even guns and violence if need be. Don’t listen!
Jesus is the reconciler of life with a different voice and a true hope for living our life of faith right in the midst of a world that needs a makeover. You win and Jesus wins! John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By
“this-worldliness” I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.”
Hebrews 3:3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
For much of my life I’ve been a home improvement fan/promoter/nut. I’ve spent many hours doing hands-on carpentry, creating some useful and beautiful things and then enjoying the results in my home. Turn’s out it was good training. When I read this passage this morning it became a connection for me between God’s vast wisdom and my real day-to-day life; I am a fixer-upper but “God is the builder of everything.”
God’s tools are simple; his Word, your time and Jesus…The Real Fixer-Upper. Those tools provide ideas; you provide effort and the end result is the shared enjoyment, even delight, in the house you’re building together. “We are his house if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”