Whom the Lord Loves

Lord Loves

Sunday 05/10/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

Message – Whom The Lord Loves

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Whom the Lord Loves

Two weeks ago I returned to our lessons on entering into the fellowship of His sufferings, in our series “Do we REALLY believe?”. That message was entitled, “Owe only love“. 

Of course last week we stepped back off our series for a time of needed comfort and reassurance of the things we know to be true at the loss of one of our own.

This week we are getting back up on the horse so to speak and moving forward from where we left off.

As I was teaching on “Owe only love“, a passage came to mind…a suggestion if you will, I believe from the Holy Spirit, that we needed to rediscover and deepen our understanding of in Hebrews chapter 12. You can begin to turn there now. 

During that message two weeks ago I told you that we needed to ask ourselves our “theme” question of this year, which is, “Do I REALLY believe?”

I don’t know to what degree you have actually taken stock of this thought as you should. But as I said then,

“If you are NOT examining yourselves in regard to this matter you are straying… and straying sheep are easy pickings. So let me strongly encourage you that if you haven’t done so up until now – I am telling you, that you better take it seriously!”

I know some of you are facing some difficulties and uncertainties and if this thought is not FOREMOST in your mind, then I assure you, that you are more in need of it than any other!

James was SO right when he said, that if we can look at ANYTHING the Word of God says, and walk away and NOT do it – we really do not believe! We have almost certainly convinced ourselves that we do believe…that we do possess a love and allegiance to God, but it is one which, in reality, does not exist…and is THAT not the deception James was warning us about?

This is something we need to take more seriously than anything else in our lives. It is not just A pivotal issue, it is THE supreme issue!

Again I am warning you that the devil is stepping up his game. He knows that judgement begins with us and he is not going to relent.

Paul & Barnabas sensed an urgency in their day when they went through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and telling them, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” ~ Acts 14:22

Have you spent any time meditating on that warning? Have you honestly and with focused sincerity asked the Spirit cause you to grasp what that may mean for you? He will you know!

The Lord told Ananias that He would show Paul what great things he must suffer for His name’s sake [Acts 9:13-16]. Then He will both show you what tribulations you must endure and prepare you for it.

But how can we face and press through mounting tribulations and so enter into the kingdom if we do not really believe? If we are unwilling to do this in the petty, small day to day annoyances, difficulties and distractions, how can we rightly hope we will be successful when real tribulations appear?

We ask ourselves: 

  • DO I really love as He loves? 
  • Do I take His command to love seriously? 
  • Do I make excuses and light-hearted jokes about my casual observance of His words? 
  • Do I know – am I aware – am I 100% convinced that now…this very moment Jesus is walking amidst our church judging my obedience to His words? 
  • Is He saying, “You have done this well and that well, but nevertheless I have this against you…?

Take a moment with me now and close your eyes and ask yourself, ‘Do I really take His words and commands seriously?’

Have you arrived at Hebrews 12?

This is a sobering passage which addresses this very issue of belief by the genuineness of our testimony and how God aids us in our faithfulness through correction.

The part we will focus upon today is lifted directly from Proverbs 3 and I think it will serve as a great introduction to this passage in that they reveal the direction God is going with them and His intentions in saying them.

Proverbs 3:1-12,  

“(1) My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;  (2)  for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.  (3)  Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  (4)  Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.  

(5)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;  (6)  think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.  

(7)  Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.  (8)  This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.  

(9)  Honor the LORD with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;  (10)  then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.  

(11)  Do not despise the LORD’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline;  (12)  for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in.”

Do you hear the deep relational tone God is using towards His children in those verses? Well don’t loose that awareness as we read what we do here in Hebrews 12, because it is with that same deep relational tone God says what He does here – which is proven by His quotation of these verses in the middle of these words.

Hebrews 12:1-29, 

“(1) Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us,” 

Here we are encouraged to consider those mentioned in the previous chapter who had obtained a good report by living lives of devotion towards God and trust in Him. We are therefore we are live our own lives with the endurance of a long distance runner as the writer mentioned in chapter 10:35-39.

“(35) So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  (36)  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.  (37)  For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. (38)  But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. (39)  But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.”

Hold onto these words as we press on in chapter 12. The GOAL of the writer is LIFE – resulting from NOT giving up or growing weary – but pressing on and maintaining our focus upon the goal of Christ in us, which is our hope.

“(2)  keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.  (3)  For consider Him Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.  (4)  In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

You remember that we considered these verses a few weeks ago regarding Christ’s suffering in the garden and terrible inner struggle He endured to the point of sweating blood out His pores. Jesus took His walk SERIOUSLY and so the writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to do!

“(5)  And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; (6)  for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. (7)  Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline?  (8)  But if you are without discipline–which all receive–then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

He says, “you have forgotten” this literally means that they had completely forgotten – as if they had never known the encouragement we read in Proverbs 3. This was largely written to a Jewish audience so they were very familiar with the scriptures – yet, they were living as if they had never heard those words of encouragement before.

These verses in chapter 12, if you read them in the Greek, would paint a very clear picture of correction. 

The words God uses here are all deeply rooted in our relationship to Him as our Father and THIS makes it worlds apart from the way God deals with the world – and THAT is important. 

This is also further validation of the teaching I did years ago on 1 John 1:9 and how it IS 100% for the believer and NOT for the unbeliever and that for some of the very same reasons. The correction here in Hebrews and the forgiveness mentioned in 1 John are familial NOT legal. This is the father with the child NOT the judge with the law breaker – the distinction could not be greater!

This tells us in no uncertain terms that in correction, God is dealing with us AS SONs or as His children – His offspring!

This is something which the writer says that they had completely forgotten! This may have been true only of the people who received this letter, but I suspect it was retained in scripture because it applies to anyone who begins to faint in their soul in regard to perseverance towards Godliness. If we faint – we have forgotten something – something which is deeply relational and redeeming.

Peter says nearly the same thing in different words in 2Peter 1:5-10,

“(5) For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge,  (6)  knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness,  (7)  godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  (8)  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (9)  The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted, and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.  (10)  Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.”

Notice that Solomon in Proverbs, Peter in his second letter and here in Hebrews – they are all addressing the same thing – your continued endurance and devotion towards godliness – which is Christ in you!

The Hebrew writer says they have completely forgotten the exhortation which speaks to them – speaks to us as children.

The word exhortation is the word paráklēsis which means encouragement and comfort

This is a word used for the Holy Spirit Himself AND for ALL of scripture. Both are paráklēsis in that they offer admonition or encouragement for the purpose of strengthening and establishing the believer in the faith. That is the same reason we are given in this chapter for the correction God gives His children. 

Now the word son here is one which is familiar to you but has a different meaning than you are used to. It is Huios – and in this place it is used figuratively of one who is the object of parental love and care or who yields the love and reverence of a child to their father in much the same way that a pupil, disciple, follower, the spiritual child of someone would.

So putting all of this together – the first thing you need to bring into center focus here is the care and loving devotion and attention God shows to us IN HIS CORRECTION of us. When God corrects you, He is dealing with you, not as a lost sinner, but as a beloved child!

ALL CORRECTION FROM GOD – should make the child of God feel grounded and secure from external danger, nurtured, cherished, watched over and deeply valued!

Now, the fact that He tells us NOT to be discouraged when we are rebuked by Him tells me that WHAT God is doing and HOW you interpret it may very well be different. 

You stand in danger of misunderstanding or reading into God’s correction of you in a negative way and God is here throwing you a life-line to ground you in His intents and purposes toward you – in His correction, and that is your well being, development and safety.

Two years ago I taught a rather thorough lesson around these verses called,How does God Chasten His children”. In fact, if you looked up that question online, our teaching shows up 4th in a world wide Google search regarding it. In that teaching, I went deeper into the meaning of the various words scripture uses regarding correction than I will today, but it would serve you well to go back and refresh your memory by reviewing it again.

The one word we are focused upon today regarding correction is the word used here in verse 5 –  paideía. This word speaks of correction in terms of educational discipline by deed and NOT by word.

That is NOT to say that God does not correct by words – He most certainly does, but that type of correction is like small coarse corrections in a long journey. THIS is more of a jerking back if you will.

You see nouthesia is the word which would have been used for verbal instruction. It is used in verses like 1 Corinthians 10:11, where Paul is telling the church in Corinth that the examples offered of Israel’s rebellion and punishment was written down for “our admonition” – Therefore, whoever thinks he stands firm, should take heed to these verbal instructions so that they do not fall. 

It is also used in Ephesians 6:4 for fathers who have a tenancy to be a little more harsh and turn to physical chastening quicker than they sometimes should. It says, “And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Both of these are examples of verbal instructions and seem to serve as warnings rather than as disciplinary actions. These are intended to create small coarse corrections before and in fact to avoid the need for major corrections later – which is more in keeping with the use of the word paideía in this particular context.

Again, paideia which again IS to correct through instruction and educative discipline by deeds!

HOW this correction comes may not be able to be completely tacked down. In general I believe it works MUCH like it does in parenting – which of course makes sense. God always attempts to teach us truth intrinsically. He weaves truth into nature so that we learn by experience. God placed certain tenancies in humans as we deal with children which seem consistent with how He deals with us…and this is not a stretch because the writer of this passage makes the same connection in the next verses.

What do most “good” parents do? Do good parents immediately inflict the harshest punishment for all wrongs regardless of circumstances or do they often begin with verbal warnings in order to correct aberrant behavior?

Now, are there not times when warnings are not appropriate? YES, and we see both in the scriptures.

When a child has been instructed about a certain behavior – the first time they “miss the mark” is not usually the time to inflict punishment…unless the child is being deliberately defiant. 

In most cases, to correct the misbehavior only a verbal reminder is necessary and appropriate. A few days later the child may “misses the mark” again, but so far, this has not established a bad pattern. If you are dealing with a good child, they may simply not yet be in the habit of thinking this new way, so again, another verbal reminder is probably most appropriate to work the child towards correct behavior. 

However, if this “missing the mark” continues and begins to establish a pattern – stricter methods become necessary to get their attention. God does the same thing. There are times He warned Israel…”If you do this – I’ll respond by doing this” other times, He just warned them – don’t do it again or it will cost you. Both are appropriate at different times. As the parent or guardian of a child, you will know when that is BECAUSE you know the child. Your child on the other hand may NOT know when either is appropriate – because they are the child. It works the same way with God.

So God tells us that if we move from warnings to correction by action – do not be discouraged!

This is seen back in verse 6 “(6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

Here the writer uses the words chasten and scourges interchangeably.

Chasten is a derivative of the word Paideia and means to influence the conscious will and action of a child to conform it to divine truth. The word scourge literally means to plague, whip or flog – but both are for instruction and character transformation!

Prov. 23:12-19, “(12) Apply yourself to instruction and listen to words of knowledge. (13) Don’t withhold correction from a youth; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. (14) Strike him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol. (15) My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will indeed rejoice. (16) My innermost being will cheer when your lips say what is right. (17) Don’t be jealous of sinners; instead, always fear the LORD. (18) For then you will have a future, and your hope will never fade. (19) Listen, my son, and be wise; keep your mind on the right course.”

So, God’s chastisement of us includes not only His “whipping” us, as it were, for specific transgressions with the intentions of conforming our character to Christ, but also the entire range of trials and tribulations which He ordains and which work to destroy sin in our lives and nurture the nature of Christ by faith in Him. This He does – not because He is angry with us, but quite to the contrary He is trying to correct our behavior towards union with His.

Let’s keep on reading…

“(9)  Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?  (10)  For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness.  (11)  No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” 

What should be our response?

“(12)  Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees,  (13)  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but healed instead.  (14)  Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness–without it no one will see the Lord.”

Vs 14 diṓkō – To follow or press hard after, to pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain, to go after with the desire of obtaining it!

Paul essentially says this in Philippians 3:12-15,

“(12) Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  (13)  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,  (14)  I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  (15)  Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.”

He goes on to embolden you to take action with the words “SEE TO IT”!

“(15)  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.”

Like paul said, I do not lay aside the grace of God! It is a serious thing to reject God’s verbal and action based corrections. They are for your salvation – do not set them aside or neglect them. It will not always escalate into apostasy…but it could!

“(16)  And see that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.  (17)  For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears.”  

Two examples pitted against one another…

To timidity and fear:

“(18)  For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm,  (19)  to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. (Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them,  (20)  for they could not bear what was commanded: And if even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned! (21)  And the appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am terrified and trembling.)”

To boldness:

“(22)  Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering,  (23)  to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect,  (24)  to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.”

Again, an encouragement to “SEE TO IT”

“(25)  See that you do not reject the One who speaks; for if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven.  (26)  His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. (27)  Now this expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what is not shaken might remain.  (28)  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe;  (29)  for our God is a consuming fire.”

Fire can serve a dual purpose – to purify and separate from sin or it can consume one in their sin.

I was reminded, as I went through this study, of a song I used to listen to in my youth. It isn’t for everyone, not because it isn’t very good and talented, but because it is rap and that’s not everyone’s thing. None the less, a group called Gospel Ganstaz recorded a song called ‘Backslider” and so I slapped a super simple video together last night and uploaded it to YouTube so you could hear the song while reading the lyrics. I would probably bless  you if you let it. Really great group and song….

So, the kind of suffering we are talking about here is one where we swallow our pride and honor God by loving our brother before ourselves!

Remember, you have never looked into the eyes of someone God has not loved!

Do I REALLY believe?

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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