Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

Hebrews 12:2

…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.

I have been a pastor for 40 plus years and in the church my whole life (62 years and counting). I have developed a number of sayings over the years that – for me – help sum up our faith or help me understand it a little better. One of my favorites and the favorite of many is this – Christianity boils down to attitude. I developed this saying in my early ministry because I saw that the church (including me) often has an attitude issue – a heart issue. Too many times disagreements within the church came down to attitudes and personal desires rather than an earnest seeking of God’s will. We often have quarrels among us because of our feelings rather than a disagreement on God’s will.

With this understanding – a number of years ago I added the following to this favorite saying to make my intent more clear – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. Too many times personal desires and interests divide even the Body of Christ. I know of churches that were divided over the color of the curtains in the social hall or whether to have pew cushions or not. I’ve known churches that have been divided over whether to have an organ or a piano and most recently over whether to have a praise band or not in worship. I’ve known churches that were so inwardly focused at times – that real eternal issues never got discussed. Real heaven or hell issues could not be addressed in some churches – because the membership was too divided over trivial things – over things that do not promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I must admit that my heart is not always in the right place. There are times I let the human side of me control my temper or my desires or my attitude. There are times I express a less than Christ like attitude. It hurts my heart when these times rear their ugliness and spout forth from my mouth or come forth from words I type on social media or in e-mails. A recent discussion in our local church has brought out the humanness of my sinful heart. I’ve spent the last few hours seeking the Lord to remove my sin and help me to focus on what God would have me focus on. I encourage our readers to do the same from time to time.

Today’s passage was one I turned to as I was trying to refocus. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Hebrews 12:1-3 – 1 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The author here calls us to throw off everything that hinders our walk with Jesus. Does our sinful heart – our personal desire – hinder our walk with Jesus? Does a lack of time with Jesus hinder our walk? Do our hobbies hinder us? Do our attitudes hinder us?

We are also called to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Not our desired path – but the path laid out for us by Jesus Himself. Not what we want (necessarily) – but what God desires for us. Do we give over our decision making to God? Did we ask God what career path we should follow? Did we ask God if we should marry or not and if so – to whom? Did we decide where we should live or did we ask God? When scriptures says to run with perseverance the race marked out for us – what does that mean to us? Have we sought the path God has for us? For our church?

Non-heaven or hell issues should not divide us. We shouldn’t get caught up in what music we use in worship or when we worship or where we worship for example. Our personal desires are not to be the driving force. At times I feel closer to God in the woods or even on a golf course than I do in church at times – yet God calls me to not give up gathering together with other believers. Hebrews 10:23–25 – 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

It matters not what we think about abortion or LGBTQ issues for instance. It only matters what God’s truth is for such issues and others. We need to be seeking His will not ours. We need to follow what God says – not what the society we live in says. How we feel doesn’t weigh well against God’s will and desire for His people. Do we determine what we believe on what God’s Word says or on how we think or feel?

We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. We are called to seek His face and desire His grace (another one of my sayings). We are called to spread His truth – not our own. We should be willing to do anything and everything – even denying ourselves – in order to promote the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

The Great Commission calls us to go and make disciples to follow Jesus. Matthew 28:19 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,This truth should override all of our programs and ministries and decisions in the church. We should ask ourselves in all of our discussions and decisions – how will this help us make disciples for Jesus? Will this change or use of our resources draw others to Christ or not? Let us fix 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.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

July 19, 2017 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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