Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Before the age of GPS and satellite navigation, wilderness explorers used a compass to find their way. Once the compass indicated the direction, the trick was to look into the distance and pick out a landmark—a tall tree, a structure, or a mountain peak—then walk to it. That way, detours and diversions were not disasters.
The writer of Hebrews used a similar method for navigating the Christian life in this world: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Other modern translations say “keeping [or fixing] our eyes on Jesus” (NLT)—an exact parallel to finding a landmark in the distance and hiking toward it. While landmarks in the wilderness change, in the Christian life our landmark is always the same: Jesus, because He is “the author and finisher” of our faith. We begin and end our journey with Him.
Fix your eyes on Jesus today and you will always be on the path to His kingdom.
All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass—Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Archibald Alexander
The Race of Faith (Hebrews 12:1-3)
The familiar expression “You reap what you sow” is reinforced throughout Scripture (Job 4:8; Prov. 11:18). In today’s passage, Esau learned this truth the hard way. Famished, he returned from hunting and requested a bowl of the stew his brother was cooking. Jacob seized upon the opportunity and agreed to share the food in exchange for his older twin’s birthright.
In Old Testament times, the firstborn son enjoyed special privileges, which included authority over younger siblings, a double share of the inheritance, and the honored position as spiritual leader over the family. Yet Esau, deciding that food was more of a necessity right then, traded his birthright for dinner. He later grieved when he realized what was lost, but at that point, it was too late. Like Esau, we at times all face critical choices. While God offers forgiveness for wrong decisions, the consequences remain. So we must learn to choose wisely.
We should take to heart two warnings from this story. First, to distinguish our best options, we need to assess whether we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually stable; if not, we should wait. Otherwise, we might end up like Esau, who allowed hunger to cloud his thinking. Second, delaying gratification is usually a safe choice. For example, though a person may be eager to buy a car, it’s wise to shop around for the best deal. Our human desires can feel overwhelming at times, but we should prayerfully wait for God’s timing.
Think about the longings you have, consider the consequences, and take your time. God wants to steer you away from unnecessary trouble.
“How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.” (Jeremiah 31:22)
Long ago, the wise man concluded: “There is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That nothing is now being created is even recognized as a scientific law.
But God reminds us as He reminded His backsliding people of Israel that He has, indeed, created one new thing in the earth. Since only God can “create,” a really new thing would have to be produced directly by the Lord Himself. Of course, God had completed His original work of creating all things long ago (Genesis 2:1-3), including a marvelous mechanism for human reproduction. Nevertheless, because of man’s sin, He very soon had to begin a work of reconciliation, and this included a primeval promise that “the seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) would come someday to accomplish this great work. Since all normal reproduction requires male seed, such a miracle would mean God would have to create a new thing when the appropriate time would come. At that time, as Isaiah prophesied many years later, “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,” and that Son would be “the mighty God,” who would establish His kingdom “with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7).
Then, still later, Jeremiah reminded his forgetful people of this same great promise: God would create, by His mighty power, a new thing, a perfect human body, without inherited sin or physical blemish, and with no contribution from either male or female, in the womb of a specially called virgin. She would compass that “holy thing” (Luke 1:35) with warmth and love for nine long months as it grew in her womb. Then, in the fullness of time, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4), to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). HMM
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Time may show that one of the greatest weaknesses in our modern civilization has been the acceptance of quantity rather than quality as the goal after which to strive….
Christianity is resting under the blight of degraded values. And it all stems from a too-eager desire to impress, to gain fleeting attention, to appear well in comparison with some world-beater who happens for the time to have the ear or the eye of the public.
This is so foreign to the Scriptures that we wonder how Bible-loving Christians can be deceived by it. The Word of God ignores size and quantity and lays all its stress upon quality. Christ, more than any other man, was followed by the crowds, yet after giving them such help as they were able to receive, He quietly turned from them and deposited His enduring truths in the breasts of His chosen twelve….
Pastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth…. Many a man of God is being subjected to cruel pressure by the ill-taught members of his flock who scorn his slow methods and demand quick results and a popular following regardless of quality. NCA007-008
Open our eyes, Lord, to evaluate our success or failure by Your standards, and be encouraged. Amen.
This commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.—1 John 4:21.
He who loves God all else above,
His own shall also clasp
In circles ampler far of love
Than weaker arms can grasp,
And farther down through space and time
His sympathies descend and climb.
Sir Aubrey De Verb.
The true proficiency of the soul consists not so much in deep thinking, or eloquent speaking, or beautiful writing; as in much and warm loving. Now, if you ask me in what way this much and warm love may be acquired, I answer,—By resolving to do the will of God, and by watching to do His will as often as occasion offers. Those who truly love God love all good wherever they find it. They seek all good to all men. They commend all good, they always acknowledge and defend all good. They have no quarrels. They bear no envy. O Lord, give me more and more of this blessed love! It will be a. magnificent comfort in the hour of death to know that we are on our way to be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things. We are not going to a strange country, since it is His country whom we love and who loves us.
“As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” John 6:57
We live by virtue of our union with the Son of God. As God-man Mediator, the Lord Jesus lives by the self-existent Father who has sent Him, and in the same manner we live by the Saviour who has quickened us. He who is the source of our life is also the sustenance of it. Living is sustained by feeding. We must support the spiritual life by spiritual food, and that spiritual food is the Lord Jesus. Not His life, or death, or offices, or work, or word alone, but Himself, as including all these. On Jesus, Himself, we feed.
This is set forth to us in the Lord’s Supper, but it is actually enjoyed by us when we meditate upon our Lord, believe in Him with appropriating faith, take Him into ourselves by love, and assimilate Him by the power of the inner life. We know what it is to feed on Jesus, but we cannot speak it or write it. Our wisest course is to practice it, and to do so more and more. We are entreated to eat abundantly, and it will be to our infinite profit to do so when Jesus is our meat and our drink.
Lord, I thank thee that this, which is a necessity of my new life, is also its greatest delight. So, I do at this hour feed on thee.
You help us by your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:11
Samuel Mills and four of his friends often gathered together to pray for God to send more people to share the good news of Jesus. One day in 1806, after returning from their prayer meeting, they got caught in a thunderstorm and took refuge in a haystack. Their weekly prayer gathering then became known as the Haystack Prayer Meeting, which resulted in a global mission movement. Today the Haystack Prayer Monument stands at Williams College in the US as a reminder of what God can do through prayer.
Our heavenly Father is delighted when His children approach Him with a common request. It’s like a family gathering where they’re united in purpose, sharing a common burden.
The apostle Paul acknowledges how God helped him through the prayers of others during a time of severe suffering: “He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). God has chosen to use our prayers—especially our prayers together—to accomplish His work in the world. No wonder the verse continues: “Then many will give thanks . . . [for the] answer to the prayers of many.”
Let’s pray together so we can also rejoice together in God’s goodness. Our loving Father is waiting for us to come to Him so He can work through us in ways that reach far beyond anything we could ever imagine.
Reflect & Pray
What request can you and others pray for? How has your faith been strengthened when you pray with others?
Father, help us to pray together even as we work together.