Journal Heb 12 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (from the end of Chapter 11) “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us (in the here and now) they should not be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (those who went before), let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race set before us—looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb 11:39 through 12:3)
Observation: Again, what is my vision?
Analysis: Before someone gets bent out of shape that I am taking the theology of heaven out of context, I am only copying and relating what the Scriptures say and indicate.
Still, what the scriptures are indicating are:
- Godly people of old, who have gone before, did not receive the Promises because New Covenant people (like us) needed to complete it.
- There are witnesses (a great cloud, invisible, and not just angels) that are looking at what we are doing and accomplishing in striving to walk worthy of the Gospel. Not tasks (like witnessing 3 times a day) but laying aside the weight of closely held sin.
- Am I comparing what I am going through to what Jesus went through? What the godly men who have gone before us have gone through?
When I became a Christian 50 years ago (a theologically questionable statement), it was in the early 70’s and the Cold War was still in the news. End Times talk was predominant (“Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey was a best seller, Tim LaHaye was becoming influential).
Would I take a bullet for Jesus? Oh yeah, line me up, I will not fail to declare the Risen Jesus before a firing squad!! Easy to say at 15 years old. After all, Jesus was coming back by the end of the decade…might as well get there first with a martyr’s crown.
Got older, better read, married, family, and Cold War talk not as intense, I started to live for today and plan for tomorrow and further out (just as the Scriptures teach). Now, my thoughts went to “what am I supposed to do now?”
Candidly, I did not ever have much of an evangelist bent. Most was just fear of man. A small part was a lack of information and conviction of the relevance of the information I had. Evangelism as I was taught and took seminars, read books, etc. about felt like so much salesmanship. Besides, I am thinking, when I did “close the deal”, where am I going to take these folks to? Discipleship of a new believer? Churches I went to were not confident in their ability to grow new believers.
So, aware of this “cloud of witnesses” and especially the Holy Spirit upon my heart, Acts 13:36 came to life: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…”
Not “what is my purpose in God”, but what is His purpose in this generation? These days I am not only pursuing His purpose in this generation, but the following. I guess that is why I study and write–for my children, grandchildren, and my spiritual offspring.
And in case any of my writing hasn’t made it clear, I think declaring to walk worthy of the Gospel, building up the local church in strength of holy character and discipline, looking for the strength of the Holy Spirit in the Fruit of the Spirit, in power of the Spirit giftings and in prophecy, putting a 21st Century stamp on the 1st Century church in our locale is this Generation’s purpose of God.
Prayer: My goodness, Father. I didn’t mean to make this a testimony but am grateful that you put it on my heart and in my fingers to write. My hope is that You are nodding in approval. If not, a correction is coming my way, because you love me as a son.
It wouldn’t be the first time my foot experienced my mouth…