Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bethany Bullet - November 17, 2009

Since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses...
– Hebrews 12:1a

In chapter 11, the author of the letter to the Hebrews recalls the lives of many of the Old Testament faithful. The author then says, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…”; this great cloud of witnesses are those who have completed faith’s journey and are now by the grace of God residents of heaven. Their lives and experiences remind us of FIVE Essential Truths:
  1. Life is arduous. Natural disaster, national crisis, personal weakness, family chaos, and economic collapse can all cause us to question life itself. When our bodies or those of a loved one are riddled with disease, when our purpose is thrown into a tailspin through loss of a job or relationship, when our children are lost, and when our plans are dashed we know what it is to doubt that there is any point to it all. The reason those who have gone before are a great cloud of witnesses is simply this - they testify to the truth that life is arduous. They knew all the hardship, sorrow, loss, and pain we know. They were familiar with the grief, anguish, and exhaustion with which we are familiar. Yet, they prove perseverance is worth it -something better awaits us.
  2. Something better awaits us, even for those who don’t deserve it. The lives of the great cloud of witnesses exhibited in chapter 11 give testimony not only to the fact that life is arduous but that human nature is vainglorious. Over and over again we are told about the faith of the faithful. Yet, if you read their stories in depth you will discover people who gave into personal desires over the commandments God requires. They listened to the tempter and yielded. They chose to honor self above the Lord. They possessed faith, declared their trust in God, yet their actions denied their words. Their very lives bore witness to the fact that…
  3. God is gracious. God extended His favor to them in mercy and in compassion. He cleansed them of their guilt, restored them for service, and declared them to be nothing less than His own people. Despite their lack of faith – God always remained faithful.
  4. It was this graciousness of God that enabled them to be a people of tenacious faith. When the world was against them and when their own flesh was against them they confessed that God was for them! They knew that in spite of experience that God is good and His promise is great.
  5. God’s promise is stupendous. We can fix our eyes, NOT on those who’ve gone before, NOT on the world around, and NOT even on our own hurts and failures but ON JESUS. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our forgiveness, our future, and our forever.

Even now we are called to be witnesses. And one day, when by His grace we end our race, we will join that great cloud of witnesses who remind us that though life is arduous and human nature vainglorious, our God is gracious, our faith tenacious, and His promise stupendous.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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