Sometimes it’s not a miracle that we need to search for… It is walking out the steps that God Has Ordained.
Hebrews 12 is an excellent example in scripture which gives us a deep recipe for success. It instructs us in several key areas: Where our focus should be, what our character should be, and ways to ensure victory. However, it also informs us that the road isn’t easy, either. It tells us that God additionally disciplines His children- but not as we can perceive it. It is through these teachable moments that God molds us into something better… if we listen.
First is the Removal of Sin
Hebrews 12:1, “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.”
This first scripture urges us to remove ourselves from all sin because it acts as a snare, preventing us from progressing further in God’s plan for our lives. If we believe that God promotes us, then how can He promote a person with sin in their lives?
Can I trust you?
For example, if a person has poor financial management skills, and can’t account for the spending of even $100, would you trust them with $1,000? What about $1 million? The answer would be no, that would be a foolish decision. This is why God says that those who can be faithful with little much will be given. If God can trust you with the little things in life, then He knows that you will be responsible for the big things.
If God promotes us prematurely, and we aren’t ready for it, we will be sure to fail. That is why God wants us to deal with sin in our lives. To deal with sin on a smaller scale can be less humiliating than in a grander arena.
Hebrews 12 asks, “Where Is Your Focus?”
Hebrews 12:2-3 tells us, “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. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
This scripture tells us that God should be our focus- not our circumstances, our emotions, or other people. All of these things will take you off course- off of what God may have planned for you.
Focusing on what we see in the natural can lead us astray two-fold. One, if things aren’t happening fast enough, it can cause us to question what God spoke to us. “Did God really tell me I was going to be a doctor? I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on that test. It must be a sign.”
If you are looking for some type of “sign” for confirmation, you can always find it in the smallest of things. We aren’t to depend on signs at every turn. It places our faith in the wrong area- in the natural as opposed to in God. And just because you may not have done as well on a test as you may have wanted to is no reason to dismiss what God may have spoken to you. If you repeatedly received F’s on your tests, it may be a stronger indicator, but you can’t base a decision about your future based on one test- for the most part.
Second of all, if we focus on what is in the natural and it doesn’t happen fast enough, we can lose our patience and simply give up before we’ve even reached the promise.
If we focus on our emotions all the time, our faith is not in God. Our emotions can be deceptive as they are subjective in origin. They aren’t based in fact; they are based on past perceptions and perceptions can lead you astray. For instance, if Thomas Edison would have become emotional after failing 1,000 times and quit, we may still be sitting in the dark. He could have felt like he was a failure and given in to his emotions. He would have never realized God’s plan over his life. Instead, Edison chose to look at it as, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe.”
Other people can lead us astray, too. We don’t know what motives they have, nor intensions. They are providing their perspective on a situation. Unless God is speaking through someone- and you will be able to tell- people can take you off track as well.
None of these paths: focusing on the natural circumstances which negates what is happening spiritually, faith in emotions, or the perceptions of others leads us to God. In fact, they are not acts of faith. Our faith should be in God who does what He says He will do. When we focus on God, our faith is strong. When it is not on God, we have a tendency to waver. This is where confusion sets in.
God… The Disciplinarian?
Hebrews 12:4-11 describes God’s discipline for His children. No one likes to think of God disciplining us because we tend to think of Him as a loving God, and discipline as an act done out of anger or frustration. This isn’t God’s love at all.
God’s discipline is done out of concern for our greater good. When He disciplines you, He is correcting you? He is telling you that what you are doing will only lead to destruction or hardship for you. He wants you to avoid it because it will cause you great pain in some area of your life.
Look at it in this context…. You have a friend who has been dating someone for three months. He or she claims they are in love, but they really don’t know the person very well. You know that the person they are dating has some serious anger issues and is verbally abusive. Your friend doesn’t see it.
Your friend announces one day that they are engaged and are going to get married in a month. You try to talk them out of it by telling them that this person is not the one for you- that marrying them will cause you a lifetime of pain and hardship. But they won’t listen. Out of concern for them and potentially their safety, you tell another close friend who you hope will be able to convince them that this isn’t a good idea. Now, are you correcting your friend out of anger because you don’t want them to be happy, or out of concern for their well-being? Did you tell their close friend to punish them or help them? It’s the same with God. His correction isn’t out of a punitive state, but to save us from hurt.
It is not to say that God’s discipline doesn’t hurt- we will go through pain and trials- but it is better to spend a season in pain than a lifetime of regret.
God May Not Always Say what You want to hear or is easy.
Hebrews 12:22 tells us that we have come to Mount Zion- to a living God. It speaks of the majesty of Heaven. It tells us to listen to God when He speaks- even if we may not like what He is saying.
God may not always tell you what you want to hear, and sometimes what He says may be difficult to do, understand, or implement. Yet what He tells us is for our greater good, and that is what we need to be focused on. We can’t be focused on what we feel about what God says, because the flesh will always war with the spirit. But it is the taming of the flesh that allows us to persevere and run our race with excellence and in the fullness of God. This is what Hebrews 12 is all about.
Hebrews 12 takes us through steps that ensures our victory in Christ. The steps are to:
- Focus on God for He is our source.
- Be teachable- God corrects us for our greater good to prevent us from hardship in the future. If we aren’t teachable and learn, then we will always live in the same bad situation never progressing. We will be missing out on the blessing that He had designed for us by our own stubbornness (The Israelites were the perfect example of a delayed promise)
- To listen to God no matter what because He will always lead us down the right path.
If we can follow these steps, even though they are not easy, we will see the promises of God. It does, however, take a lot of hard work, patience, and doing things that may not seem easy, but they are right. And what we fail to realize is that even when He asks us to do the difficult, it is always accompanied by an inner peace and the victory is always greater than we may have imagined.