Friday, September 14, 2012

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 16, 2012

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(Looking to JESUS empowers us to endure)
(Hebrews 12:1-11)

In Hebrews chapter 12, the author of GOD gives us a remarkably vivid description and summary of the Christian life, and, shows us the attitude we should have, as we aspire to obtain our goal of becoming more like CHRIST. In the Greek, the word used for “discipline” is “paideia” (pahee-di-ah), and it is “education or training”. It also means “to nurture, instruct, or chasten”.
The Christian life can be likened to a relay race. The people of faith, like the ones mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, who have run before us, have passed on the baton, and now, they anxiously wait to see how we will carry on in the discipline that Christianity demands. As we run, we can look back and see how JESUS ran HIS race, and, at one and the same time, we can also look ahead and see HIS exaltation at the finish line. JESUS, is our supreme example, and, HE is the “Author and Finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
A life that is void, of testing from GOD, is most likely, going to be a life void of prayer, humility, holiness, and appreciation of what GOD has done for us. Tests from GOD are not made to make us fail, but rather, are made to make us better representatives of CHRIST, and Christianity. Trials are what GOD uses to refine us, and prepare us for a life of eternity with HIM in HIS kingdom. It takes a certain amount of discipline to become, and remain, successful along our Christian journey. When we take into account how much JESUS endured, we can realize that suffering and hardship are no excuse for us to give up and drop out of contention (Hebrews 12:3-15).
If we fail to understand the love and purpose of GOD’s discipline, we are likely to become bitter, and miss out on GOD’s graceful intent. If we see our trials and difficulties in the perspective provided by GOD’s grace, we will be better able to understand and accept HIS discipline in our lives. Remember Esau, who saw no value in “spiritual things”, sold his birthright to GOD’s covenant promise for merely, a bowl of stew. If we value only material things, as he did, we too, are in danger of missing our blessings (Hebrews 12:16-17).
We, as Christians, are not people who meander along the path of life in a totally oblivious manner. We are not like tourist, who, each night, return to the point where they started. The Christian life is about going somewhere, and at the end of each day, we’ll do good to ask ourselves, “Have we gotten any closer to our goal of being more like CHRIST?”
Being more like CHRIST, should be the “aspiration” of every Christian. However, the Christian also has “inspiration”. It is the inspiration of the “cloud of witnesses”, who have gone before us, and witnessed their confession to CHRIST, and now witness our performance from way on high. They are those people mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, who personified faith during their Christian walk, here on earth. They are those people like Moses, Abraham, and Noah, who have already claimed their crowns of victory in Heaven.
But, unfortunately, like those who ran before us, we Christians also have a “handicap”, and it is the handicap of our own sins. It is very difficult to run a race, when you are carrying excess baggage. If we wish to travel far, it is much better to travel light. The burden of sin can weigh heavily on a person, who is trying to run the Christian race, or walk the Christian walk. It is paramount that we first discard the unnecessary things that hold us back, and what holds man back is “sin”. If we are to endure the Christian race to the finish, we must first learn to lighten our load of “sinful cargo”, and move away from our carnal desires, and behavior (Hebrews 12:1).
Our supreme example of faith and discipline is CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF. HE is also “our companion along the way”, and, “our goal at the end of the race”. Remember, GOD’s kingdom will remain when the universe itself is shaken, and this old world itself, disappears. That is when one will truly appreciate how good it will be to be a citizen in the kingdom of Heaven. And, we should also remember that, our trials, can and will, both refine us, and, help prepare us to dwell in eternity in the presence of THE ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven, at the end of our Christian race.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
Larry Dell Alexander (1953–) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas

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