Category Archives: Christian Life

On the Pilgrim Way (Part Two)

Hebrews 6:11

Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of your hope until the end (CSB).

Our subject is the Christian way of life. We are on a journey from this world to the heavenly city. God has provided great helps to us on the journey. We have his word to tell us the story of his glory and to set forth wisdom in the light of that story. The Spirit of God is our ever-present Friend to provide the presence of Christ, power to serve, and purity of life, and passion to communicate with God (cf. Romans 8:9-17). We also have brothers and sisters in Christ and their gifts for mutual benefit. With all these benefits, our progress to the city of God might seem to be automatic.

However, spiritual leaders understand that those in their local assembly need to demonstrate diligence. In the previous verse, the initial readers of this book were commended for demonstrating work and love as they served the saints. (A saint is someone set apart for God, which means a follower of and believer in Christ.) The Lord does not hesitate to congratulate people for diligence in their works of faith, hope, and love (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Diligence is a quality that people admire from a safe distance. For the third year in a row, the NBA Finals will feature two teams that have battled for the championship. Each has won once. They will compete again because they have great talent, but they also have diligence, which is indispensable to win a championship. Diligence involves hard work, commitment to a goal, endurance of hardships, and the ability to resolve conflicts. People admire the diligence of these two teams, but most don’t want to pay the price of diligence, especially the first two “four letter words”: hard work.

Diligence on our spiritual journey is not a casual stroll in the park. Yes, it is a life of joy and peace, but those blessings come as we “walk with the Lord, in the light of his word”. Diligence is required in the following ways:

  • Prayer (individually, with one’s spouse/family, with other saints)
  • Reading of the Scriptures
  • Putting sin to death
  • Putting on God’s armor and spiritual graces
  • Meeting together
  • Sharing your faith

All these can seem overwhelming, and they are unless you believe in their importance, make them a priority, and build them into your life. Trade less important things for matters of spiritual and eternal importance. Value people more than things and personal entertainment. A holiday weekend is an opportunity to reflect. As you enjoy life with family and friends, set apart some time to evaluate your spiritual diligence and how you can change according to this verse.

Grace and peace, David

A Principle of Trust

Isaiah 31:1

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord (NIV).

We all are dependent. Self-sufficiency is a myth clung to by those who have failed to think deeply about life. We all receive help from others in many ways. Crises can unmask live-shaking experiences of this reality, but our need for trust is constant. For a common example (for those over fifty!), I just received a message to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy. I trust that the pharmacist puts the correct medication in the bottle. I also trust the prescribing physician, the drug manufacturer, etc.

More pressing needs, like severe illnesses and terrorism, compel people to exercise faith, to pray. Or perhaps they do. Our text teaches that people seek other solutions besides trust in the Lord. Israel, God’s old covenant people, serves as a teaching example for us in the new covenant age (cf. Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:5, 11). Isaiah spoke to Israel’s desperate situation. Strong nations encircled them, and they had an obvious need for protection from attacks and conquest by foreign powers. Need was not their problem or ours. God knows what we need. (See Matthew six.) It was what to do about the need. This brings us to a principle of faith.

  • We need to avoid attractive, plausible alternatives. In Israel’s situation, the substitute for trust in God was to go down to Egypt for help. What made the alternative appealing was the power they could see, rather than the greater power that was invisible. Horses, chariots, and horsemen could be seen. Today, people depend on military might, on wealth and prosperity, on people of skill, and on the latest technology. Part of our difficulty is that we get caught up in the latest and greatest. For example, “Don’t give me an iPhone 4; it’s not even functional. I have an iPhone 7, but there’s so much it can’t do. I need the next version soon!” We long for what we can see with more power. We spiral down and away from God.
  • We ought to understand God’s judgment on those who go down to Egypt for help. The Spirit of the Lord gave a terse verdict on those who put their trust in other things: Woe. It was a course of action that was doomed, that the Sovereign Lord would ensure was doomed. The Spirit wanted them to see the “poison” label and shun the alternative. To seek other help besides the Lord invites God’s judgment and ruin into our lives. What might look like a good solution becomes the portal to deeper and more destructive consequences.
  • We should act in the way of God’s wisdom: look to the Holy One of Israel and seek help from the Lord. What is the point? From many passages in the Bible, it is clear that we are to use human means, since they are all gifts from God. So, this verse is not teaching some sort of passivity in which we do nothing. Instead, the Lord wants us to seek him first and to rely on him in the use of proper means. Yes, go to the doctor, take your medicine, and get proper rest and exercise. But first, depend on the living God for your health and other needs. We are to actively trust: seek help from the Lord.

The question is, “Will we trust in the Lord first in our next predicament?” God wants us to desire him first and above all. This is an important principle of trusting God.

Grace and peace, David