Hebrews 12:1-2 – 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, 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.
“Therefore, since there is a ‘you all’ of a cloud of witnesses, let ‘us’ do this, so that we can become the ‘you all’ to another generation of ‘us.’ And the final word is that Jesus is THE witness who is seated at the right hand of God, and THE witness is also the One who began our story and will bring it to the purposed and promised conclusion as told to us in Ephesians 1.4-6.”
Ephesians 4:1-6 – For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
This transmission of faith has been going on for generations and generations. It’s not about transmission of information… it’s about real-life stories of faith, being faith-full and impacting the next generation.
Let’s sing, let it rise, come on! “We Praise You” by Matt Redman (Click here).
Hebrews 11:39-40 – These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
“Now you’re wondering wait, we thought they received their promises, yes, but in this reference, the ‘something better that God planned for us’ is not about the promises we were talking about but a greater promise than that – and it includes us, and it includes the ‘us’ of believers that will come after us when we are no longer living on this earth.
John Piper describes it this way, that it is about receiving the full blessing of God’s promise, ‘which is resurrection with new bodies in a glorious new age’. In other words, God’s purpose is that all his people — all the redeemed — be gathered in before any of them enjoys the fullness of his promise… Do you see why the ‘you all’ cloud of witnesses is looking at ‘us’ and saying ‘Get on with it! We know you have issues, but we had ’em too, you’ve read all about it.’…But what counts is the Hebrews 11 kind of stuff. Not your pasts, not your brokenness, not even your successes… Will you be described as faith-full?”
Let’s respond to the Lord with bold faith. May our souls sing even louder the glory of Christ’s gospel in our lives – “Even Louder” by People of the Earth (Click here).
Joshua 24:32 – And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
“And how did Joseph know about this promise spoken to his great-grandfather Abraham and how would people who lived 400 years after him remember this and actually do it? Think of Moses sending whoever he sent and telling them we’re about to go, go get Joseph’s bones…
‘The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.’ (Isaiah 38.19)
It is by the telling of the faithfulness of God from one generation to another, it is realizing the ‘us’ of today, is the ‘you all’ cloud of witnesses of yesterday. What stories will you tell your children, your grandchildren? Will our stories be the ‘come and see and hear, what the Lord has done for me’ kind of stories? Well if you plan on telling those kinds of stories, better get to it; better get them stories!”
These stories of Joseph, Abraham and Moses, talk about God who was great. Pray that God would be great in our lives today!
“Just as Hannah shared that she wasn’t aware there was such a thing as being ‘healed in the mind’ or even that this was an issue in her life, we, too, often miss seeing our own issues. For myself, I didn’t know I had a ‘daddy’ issue until God revealed to me I did. I didn’t know I had an ‘unforgiveness’ issue until God revealed to me I did. I didn’t know I had any ‘issues,’ really, until God revealed to me I did.
You don’t have to raise your hands, but how many of you feel you don’t have issues? I have to break it to you, but you do, and this means you haven’t even started getting over them. It’s when we come to God do we then realize we have issues because issues are really just another word for sin and brokenness, things that we’ve done but also things that were done to us. Do you question why it’s hard to draw near to God, to feel His presence? Because to do so, you have to want God to get real with you and mercifully, even when we don’t want to, He gives it to us.”
Ephesians 4:18 – They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Draw closer to God through prayer: “Father, touch my heart and mind and heal me!”
“When you read Scripture, and you see the examples of those who are deemed the heroes of the faith, where do you see yourself fit in that lineage? We look at the ‘saints’ and their examples and we feel so far off from them, and we also look so much into ourselves and our own limitations, brokenness and we disqualify ourselves when even God Himself has not.
Think about all those heroes though… We would have surely thought the promise of God would not be able to be fulfilled because of their human weakness and failings. And this is a short list from the heroes in Hebrews 11:
Sarah – childlessness, the ‘other’ woman issues
Isaac – relationship with father, old age issues
Jacob – identity, disability issues
Joseph – slavery, sibling issues
Rahab – prostitute, foreigner issues
As you see, the descriptions should make us pause and wonder however did they make it? So perhaps they are agreeing with us saying, ‘we know we had issues, but you have yours too – you all are really just like us in every way.’”
Hebrews 11:11 – And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Take a moment to pray about the things in life that make it difficult for you to trust God.
Prayer: “Lord, we believe You will always be faithful!”
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… Stand firm then…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace… [Take] the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6.10, 15, 17)
“Spiritual warfare is not only defensive; it also takes the offensive. Paul called the soldiers of Christ to advance on enemy territory… [T]he body of Christ plunders Satan’s kingdom by proclaiming the promise of divine rescue to captives in the kingdom of darkness.
“There is one part of the soldier’s gear that is not a weapon, but it is a furnishing that enables the soldier to take an offensive posture—good footwear. A typical soldier would journey for miles as his army advanced… The footgear of the Christian needs to be ‘the readiness to announce the Good News…’
“[T]he only offensive weapon…is the sword (Eph 6.17)… [T]he primary aggressive action the Christian is called to take in the world is to spread the gospel—the good news of salvation… The gospel represents ‘God’s power to rescue people from [the devil’s] tyranny.’ The whole course of Paul’s ministry is a model of this aggressive proclamation. The church should follow Paul’s lead.” (C. Arnold, Powers of Darkness)
How can you get geared up for this “battle”? Don’t just take a defensive posture in the spiritual battle, but ask the Lord to help you take the offensive as well! Let’s sing “Won’t Stop Now” by Elevation Worship (click here)
WE DON’T FIGHT FOR VICTORY, WE FIGHT FROM VICTORY.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4.4)
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world… Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5.4)
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12.11)
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4.7)
Jesus has already won the victory… victory over death, victory over sin, victory over condemnation, victory over powers of darkness, victory over sickness, victory over pain… JESUS HAS ALREADY WON THE VICTORY!
As long as we fight, we will win. We fight from Christ’s victory. Write the above verses in your journals multiple times. Memorize them and let the reality of what Christ has accomplished for us sink into your mind, heart and soul. According to these verses, proclaim who you are and what you have in Christ.
Let’s pray: “Lord, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus, you have overcome the world. I stand on your victory! Nothing can overcome me when I stand on your victory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Let’s sing “Victory is Yours” by Bethel (click here)
“We Must Respect Our Foe but Not Fear Him… we must become acutely aware of his methods but not be preoccupied with them… we give him too much credit—or give God too little credit—if we fear him… Our preoccupation should be entirely on God and not on our adversary or ourselves. We do, however, need to be aware of the enemy’s strategies. Like the defense preparing for the Super Bowl, we can prepare for demonic attacks…
“When we read these passages about Satan’s activity, however, it’s clear that the issues are usually things like unwillingness to forgive, bitterness, anger, deceived minds, and any other attitude that can break a marriage, split a church, cause depression, turn people inward, and destroy our bodies with ulcers and anxieties… things we encounter every day. That makes our knowledge of the invisible war a necessary and practical understanding for getting through normal life situations.” (C. Ingram, The Invisible War)
Paul talks about forgiveness with the Corinthian church “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2.11).
Examine your life like a football coach looking at game film. In what areas of your life can you perceive the enemy’s influence? Unusually disturbing circumstances at work? Constant strife and quarrelling in important relationships? Inexplicable feelings of inadequacy leaving you paralyzed? Disturbing stray thoughts while reading God’s Word?
Don’t be outwitted. Proclaim God’s truth and worship the Lord with the help of His Spirit – let’s sing “Surrounded” by Upper Room (click here).
“The cross of Christ is the pivotal point of salvation history. This is true, not only in the sense that Christ made satisfaction for sin through his blood, but also in the fact that Christ won a decisive victory over the evil powers… The death and resurrection of Christ marks the beginning of their demise. Christ won a once-and-for-all victory over the powers with eternal repercussions…
“God Disarmed the Powers. Christ’s death and resurrection deprived the evil forces of any effective power against himself or the members of his body, the church…
“How did Christ’s death and resurrection accomplish this disarming? Precisely because the powers could not deter Christ from making a satisfaction for sin. By offering his life and spilling his blood, Christ could extend forgiveness of sin to his people. The powers thus lost their chief mechanism for holding people in bondage…
“The strongest weapon in Satan’s arsenal [death] was not sufficient for conquering Christ. Neither will it prove sufficient for destroying his people.” (C. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters)
“When you were dead in your sins… God made you alive with Christ… And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2.13, 15)
Let’s pray: “Lord, help us to grasp how great Your victory on the cross truly was and what it means for us today!” Let us worship and be in amazement of our Savior! Let’s sing “The Cross Has the Final Word” by Cody Carnes. (click here)
Spiritual warfare is a part of the normal Christian life. Christians must appropriately engage in it without being dismissive nor paranoid.
“Whatever you were before you became a Christian… you are now the sworn foe of the legions of hell. Have no delusions about their reality or their hostility. But do not fear them. The God inside you terrifies them. They cannot touch you, let alone hurt you. But they can still seduce and they will try. They will also oppose you as you obey Christ… ‘Resist the devil… and he will flee from you’ (James 4.7). Life with Jesus can be an exhilarating and reassuring experience of constant triumph over evil forces. But the battle never ends…
“[The enemy’s] interest in you has nothing to do with you as an individual so much as with your potential for Christ’s cause… To God you are very important. But to Satan you are nothing more than a potentially useful microbe. But microbe or no he can hurt you. He and his hellions will damage you along one or more of four lines: They will tempt, they will accuse, they will deceive and they will devour.” (J. White, The Fight)
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.” (James 4.7 MSG)
Let’s pray: “Lord, we belong to You and choose to live in Your victory today!” Yell a loud no to the Devil by singing loudly the praises of our God! Let’s sing “Not Today” by Hillsong. (click here)