To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
January/February 2015 Issue – ‘Prepared’
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Hebrews 11:32 – 12:2 (NIVUK): “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Women received back their dead, raised to life again.
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “The matter on which we are now meditating – our tendency to focus on the present and the future to the exclusion of the past – is not confined to spiritual things: it is true in every area of life.”
He then presents the view that this is due to our preoccupation with ourselves and what we are doing; and the feeling that the past cannot help us because of the advances we have made in recent decades.
The past is important to us in this aspect: it demonstrates to us the perseverance, of those who lived before, in the way they served their Lord. It shows how God’s Spirit has worked in people, His servants, to achieve His purposes. And, finally, it reveals to us, a glimpse of God’s faithfulness to His people, throughout the centuries.
I agree with Selwyn when he says in his conclusion: “There is a good reason why God inspired these verses – so they may inspire us.”
The one thought that came to me when reading today’s verses, was that many (if not all) of God’s heroes of the past demonstrated a remarkable tenacity to follow God’s ways, in the face of overwhelming odds. We too, can be just as tenacious, if we rely on God’s power.
Perhaps, it could be said, that there are people who attend church, who coast along in life, who don’t go very far out of their normal routine, to serve Jesus. After reading, say – Paul’s missionary journeys – events that occurred nearly two thousand years ago – it might inspire those who coast along in neutral, to put their spiritual engine into gear and their foot down on the accelerator of perseverance. It’s the same Spirit, who worked through Paul – who is available to us – we can do similar things. Do you agree?