Rest

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today at church we did a study of Hebrews 4:1-13. I did a little study of this during the past week because I knew we would be going over this today at church. I must admit, in my private study, I found it hard to grasp. I felt Pastor Brandon did a good job of explaining this difficult passage. I would just like to concentrate on a few verses and then maybe sum things up as I understood them.

In verse 9-13 of Hebrews 4, the writer talks about the fact that God RESTED on the 7th day, after He completed His creation. We also read in the Gospels that when Christ died on the cross, His work of salvation was finished. Both creation and salvation are finished works and will never need to be repeated. When God finished creation, it was perfect. When Christ said “it is finished,” there was nothing to be added. The word for REST here means “a complete rest.” One day, we will enjoy a complete rest as God did when He rested from creation. But we are not there yet.

I saw a piece of art in a Christian bookstore a while ago. It was a copy of a painting that depicted a man falling into the arms of Jesus. the man was totally spent and exhausted but Jesus was there lovingly holding him in His arms. What a great depiction of what it will be like when we get home! Our work will finally be over.

But we are not there yet. Yes, there is a rest of salvation that we have. But like the Israelites when they finally reached the promised land, our rest in salvation is not our final rest. Yes, if we are truly saved, we need never doubt our salvation or fall into a works mode to earn our salvation. We can rest by faith that we will one day be with Jesus. But in verse 11 the writer starts out by saying, “Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest….”  What, I thought I was already saved and i had rest! That’s true, but again, it is not final. While we are on this earth, we strive to get to that final rest. In this context, I believe the diligence is not drifting away from the Lord like the Israelites did. Verse 12 is a well known verse that talks about the Word of God as being living, active, sharp, piercing, etc. I believe the writer is giving an admonition not to drift from God. How do we do that. Pastor Brandon gave us an answer. When we depart from God’s Word, when we depart from God’s people, we become isolated. And when we are isolated, we going to drift away from God.

So, is there labor and do we need to be diligent? Yes! Pastor mentioned that we need to find our rest in God and stop striving to please Him and work for him. But at the same time we need to keep striving because there is a final rest for us yet to come. Look at Philippians 2:12-13. It talks working out our own salvation because with fear and trembling, because God is at work in us to work out His good pleasure through us. Working for God should never be a burden. Yes, there will be striving and we will get weary, tired and we will need rest. But our labor should never be burdened. Our work and striving should be done out of love and gratefulness for what He has already done for us. If we strive out of guilt, obligation, people pleasing or any other motive except love, we don’t understand what Hebrews 4 is saying to us.

Let me end this with an observation. There is a man in our church named Toby. I “know” Toby a little because we greet together on Sunday mornings. I use parenthesis because I have never really sat down and talked with Toby so it is impossible to truly “know” him at this point. But I have observed him. He is a very friendly man and seems to know everyone who comes into church. Young kids run up to him to get a big bear hug. I sit in service and watch videos that the church shows on occasions, and there’s Toby. Toby serves in the youth ministry as well as being a greeter. That means he attends youth meetings on Wednesdays as well as works on Sunday as a greeter. He went to youth camp as a counselor recently and he wasn’t at the service this morning, because he was in Mexico visiting a school that a group of our men visit each year. He seems to me to be tireless, but I know that isn’t true. But I rarely see him without a smile on his face or acting like his service is a burden. It is evident to me that he serves, labors and strives for the Lord with a heart that is right before the Lord, and out of love and obedience, and not to please himself or the church. I hope a little of Toby rubs off onto me. He is a great example.

I hope this makes a little sense to you. I will pray today that we today will serve our Lord in Love and from our hearts. My admonition for us all is to be diligent and keep striving. Not because our Lord is a cruel taskmaster. But because He has chosen us before the foundations of the world to be his children and co-heirs with Him (Ephesians 1). I know in my case I need an attitude change. May God have mercy on us, sinners all, saved by Grace!

When the Dam Breaks, People Notice

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

We heard a true story today at Stonepoint about a dam here in the Dallas area. it seems that with all the rain back in 2014 that one of the large local dams was in danger of breaking and causing a major flood. People were concerned of course, because the damage and loss of life could have been extensive. But what the engineers found when they inspected the dam was that the erosion of the dam didn’t happen all at once. It had been going on for a couple of decades, but no one noticed until it was almost too late.

We heard this story in conjunction with our studies in the book of Hebrews at Stonepoint today. Hebrews is a really good book and has a lot for us to learn and apply to our lives. Basically, according to one commentator, Hebrews contains five admonitions for God’s people. I’d like to list them for us:

Drifting from the Word–Hebrews 2:1-4 (neglect)
Doubting the Word–Hebrews 3:7–4:13 (heard heart)
Dullness toward the Word–Hebrews 5:11–6:20 (sluggishness)
Despising the Word–Hebrews 10:26–39 (willfulness)
Defying the Word–Hebrews 12:14-29 (refusing to hear)

Today we basically covered doubting the Word and having a hard heart. To get the background we need to go back to Numbers chapters 13 and 14. These are two of my favorite chapters in the Bible! You are probably familiar with these chapters. The people are on the verge of going into the promised land when Moses decided to send out twelve spies to check out the land. The spies returned with the report that the land was indeed, a good land. But there were also fortified cities and giants in the land. Ten of the twelve spies said that it was impossible to take the land. Joshua and Caleb said the land was there’s for the taking as God had already promised. For their stance, the people almost stoned Joshua and Caleb. God became angry and and would not that entire generation go into the promised land. Instead, they would spend 40 years walking around in the desert until they all died out. Then God would bring a new generation into the land.

So what’s the lesson for us today. It’s simply that we cannot afford to doubt God’s word. The people of Israel, almost from the moment they stepped out of Egypt. Doubted and challenged God’s Word. Moses tried to keep the people were just too hard hearted. I believe they actually thought they knew more than God. Their downfall did not come as a large explosion. It came as a slow and quiet erosion. Just like the children of Israel, when we start doubting God’s Word, we are on a slow course to erosion. At it’s completion, we have a heard heart that no longer wants to believe the Word.

Now we know the problem, so what is the solution? I can’t and won’t pretend to have the answers. Staying faithful to God and His Word has been as much of a challenge for me as for anyone else. But here are a couple of things that might help us:

First, we need to take heed of what we read. (I really didn’t intend to make that rhyme). And we need to read consistently. Like the dam I mentioned in the beginning, the damage didn’t happen all at once. It happened over a good amount of time and it went unknown for many years. The same is true of drifting from the Word. Satan will use our drifting from the Word and turn it into doubt. Numbers 13 and 14 is not just a good, interesting and sad story. In those two chapters of utter failure on the part of the people of Israel, there is one glimmer of hope. We need to be like Caleb: “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” (Numbers 14:24). In other words, Caleb didn’t drift away from and then doubt God’s Word like the other spies. The result for him was that out of that generation, only he and Joshua entered the promise land.

Second, we need to apply faith to what we read. We can read the Word every day and it won’t do one thing to help our spiritual growth. One commentary that I read says that we need to apply “dynamic faith” to what we read. What is dynamic faith? The commentator had this to say, “Dynamic faith is based on God’s Word, and it involves the whole person. Dead faith touches only the intellect; demonic faith involves both the mind and the emotions. but dynamic faith involves the will.” (Wiersbe). Dyamic faith involves our mind, emotions and will. True faith causes us to obey and it leads to action. I believe this is what the Bible means when it says, “faith without works is dead.” True faith is demonstrated by His people doing something that brings glory to God.

Caleb believed God, put that faith to work and settled in the promised land. As we obey  God’s Word and apply dynamic faith to our lives we too, will enter the promised land. Although our promised land will not be a land. It will be our spiritual inheritance with Jesus Christ and we will live with Him forever!! This is not our home!!!! Our home will be so much better as to be unimaginable. How truly glorious that will be!!

Two Friends & The Book of James

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I know I’ve mentioned to you before about some of my times in re:generation at church. I have been in it for around six months now and we are just getting heavily into step 4-Inventory. I must confess, this is the most difficult and hurtful part of the course for me since I started. We are taking inventory of our lives regarding our sins and sinful patterns. The book says of this part, “We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Holy Cow!!!! That’s an understatement, if I ever read one!

It has been somewhat surprising of some of the past, and present sins that the Lord has brought to life. Some of them I thought I had dealt with many years ago, and have done so, yet they still come back to my memory. One thing that has been a part of my life, and probably the main reason I came to re:gen, is that I have a tendency to hold on to grudges against people who I feel have wronged me in some way. I know some people that can take a “so what” attitude to wrongs. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

Anyway, I was reading the other day in the book of James, chapter 3, verses 13-14: “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness and wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.” I don’t know why, but for some reason when I read that, my heart melted a little. I have always sought to have a gentle spirit that serves God and wants no recognition or thought of self. I have also been aware I am far from that. But reading this the other day spurred me to really pray and seek God to change me in the areas I wrote down in my Regeneration Journal.

I have a couple of friends, whom I have never actually met in person. But they are friends that I trust and will share things with, and they reciprocate by sharing about themselves. One of these friends lives on the East coast and I them know through their sister and Facebook. Yes, I selectively chat on Facebook. Oh my!! The other friend I met through GFA. This friend is on the West coast and is a newer friend than the first friend. Both these friendships started in a strange way but I believe God is in it. As one of these friends mentioned to me the other day, the way I meet people is a little “unconventional, but so what.” I told them that “unconventional” would describe my whole life.

Anyway, this friend shared a prayer request with me a week or so ago that I wrote in my prayer notebook. It was this: “Pray that God would shine through me and for me to draw attention to God and not myself. Also for me to serve and not to be served.” Since I received that prayer request, I can’t get it out of my mind. I have prayed similar things for my own life but this friend has a way of putting thoughts, sometimes my thoughts, into words that I can’t. That is what happened here. I have been praying this request for myself as well as praying for my friend.

Just a couple days ago, I wrote my other friend an email and quoted James 3:13-14 just as an encouragement or challenge to them. I ended the email with, “Oh, to live this way.” My friend responded with a quote of their own, “Oh, for more of Him and less of me!  To no longer have any jealous or selfish thoughts. Until I started to do some serious heart work and dig deep to find the sin in my life, I couldn’t see the extent to which sin was holding me in bondage. When I got to the heart of my sin, I felt as if my eyes had just been opened to see the sin to which I’d been blind for so long.  And I realized it all was rooted in SELF.” Please take a minute and reread that. Both my friends have a way of putting thoughts into words that have a way of just gripping me and bringing me to repentance.

So, let me go back to my original purpose for this writing today. The inventory I have been taken has shown me how much into SELF I am! I have at least one person I need to get with and ask forgiveness and by God’s grace, I will do that soon. As I said, this part of re:generation is not fun, nor easy. But it lets God’s regenerative power come to life. At least it does in me. I pray that God will rip the selfishness out of my life, no matter what it takes. Friends, I have said this before and you are probably tired of hearing it. But I’ll say it again. There is so little time and, at least for me, I need to get out of thinking of SELF and start putting Philippians 2:3-4 at work in my life.

So, that’s it for now. As I write this I’m not sure this should even be in a public blog. I’ll let the pastors decide that. But I know at least some the Stonepoint members read these blogs. My prayer is that Stonepoint will be known as a church that loves. Only then will the world around us be attracted to the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. SELF must go! May God give us the grace to take this to heart.  God bless you all!

 

A Few Thoughts on Faith

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I had an opportunity to read Hebrews 11 today. It’s a well known chapter as most of you know. It’s often called  “The Faith Chapter” or sometimes the  “Faith Hall of Fame.” As I was reading today, a couple of thoughts came to mind.

First, as I was reading I thought of a story I heard a long time ago about faith. It seems there was a man who ran a rope across Niagara Falls. As a crowd gathered, he asked the crowd if they believed he could tight rope across the falls. The crowd shouted and applauded indicating that yes, they thought he could complete the feat. He then walked across and back again. The crowd went wild! Then the man then asked if any of them believed he could do it it again carrying one of them on his back. Dead silence. No one wanted to put that much trust in the man. I don’t know if this story is true, but it is a pretty good illustration of true faith. Faith means nothing unless there is action behind it.

Hebrews 11:1 gives us a description of how faith works. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). What this says is that faith is not blind optimism or an intellectual acceptance of some doctrine. Nor is it some conjured up feeling of “I hope so.” Warren Wiersbe says that, “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstance or consequences.”  Think about this sentence for a moment. Faith has three elements to it. God speaks through His Word and we hear. We than act on that Word without matter to the consequences. Mere assent is not enough. We can say we believe in Jesus all we want, but unless we act on what we say through obedience, we don’t have real faith. James 2:19 says that even Demons believe in God. But verse 20 goes on to say that faith without works is dead. In other words, we need to believe that that the tight rope walker can carry us safely across Niagara Falls and then climb on his back. That is real faith.

Hebrews 11 then gives us the “faith hall of fame.” It names several old testament people and gives examples of how they demonstrated their faith. By faith, they were able to do great things like shut the mouths of lions, escape death and put armies to flight. it’s easy to get excited about reading how God honors faith in this section. But then we come to verses 36-38. Here some nameless people are mentioned who demonstrated true faith, but look what happened. Some were mocked, imprisoned or put to death by various methods. But these unnamed people obtained God’s approval. The world had a low opinion of them but God approved them and said the world was not worthy of them. Why, because true faith believes God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Why were the people mentioned in the hall of fame able to do what they did? Because they looked to the future. True faith allows us to do that. The Bible says that Abraham was able to follow God because “he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” he was looking and believing for what was not seen. He also knew that he was a stranger and exile on the earth.

One more quick story to close. Most of you know who Martin Luther is. He was a Catholic monk who was credited with starting the Protestant Reformation. It is said that it started when he was reading the Old Testament reading in the book of Habakkuk. He read one day in Habakkuk 2:4,”But the righteous will live by his faith.” This is also quoted in Romans 1:17. Just those few words spoke to Luther in such a way that he was able to stand up to the Catholic Papacy totally on his own. At one point he was excommunicated from the church (a really big thing in his day). But his stand brought many people back to Biblical Christianity and to true salvation.

Friends, we must live by faith. Let me close this with another quote from Wiersbe,”the writer of Hebrews made it clear that faith is a very practical thing (Heb. 11:3), in spite of what unbelievers say. Faith enables us to understand what God does. Faith enables us to see what others cannot see (note Heb. 11:7, 13, 27). As a result, faith enables us to do what others cannot do! People laughed at these great men and women when they stepped out by faith, but God was with them and enabled them to succeed to His Glory. Dr. J. Oswald Sanders put it perfectly: “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.” God bless you!

Hebrews–Week One

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Today at Stonepoint we started our summer series on the book of Hebrews. We covered Hebrews 1:1-14. I’d just like to cover a couple of the points that were brought out today.

I don’t know about you, but in times past when I read this passage, I always wondered why most of it was spent comparing Jesus and angels. I mean, don’t we all know that Jesus is greater than angels? But if I were a Jew back when the Holy Spirit penned the book of Hebrews, angels were a big thing. The Jews could understand that God spoke through the prophets, the Law and even angels. But this fellow, Jesus was a different story. I believe that’s why He starts off the book by saying, “in these last days (He) has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things.” Then in verse 4, God plainly states that Jesus has become as much better than the angels as He had inherited a more excellent name than they (the angels).

Then starting in verse 5 through 14 the writer quotes one Old Testament passage after another to prove His point. By the end, the proofs are irrefutable. Jesus is the Messiah; angels are the ministers. They sit around the throne, not on it. Despite all the proofs to the contrary, with few exceptions, Jesus remained a stumbling block to the Jews.

Fast forward to our time today. Pastor Brandon brought out the point, “Everything we spend so much time on will one day fail. We are preserved through Jesus and will have no end date.” Does that sink in with us? There is nothing else that we can count on for our salvation and future except JESUS. Indeed, there is nothing else we need.

The last thing that was spoken in today’s message was this: “Are you stumbling on Jesus or are you standing on Jesus?” If we are standing on Jesus we will want to spend time with Him and obey Him. Sometimes it seems to me like obedience to Christ no longer exists. Brother KP, our director at GFA, used to say that obedience has now been equated with legalism. We tend to think, and may even have been taught, that because of grace, we can live as we please. It is my hope and prayer for myself that I won’t live this way, that I will live a life worthy of my calling. I am saved by God’s grace and mercy. But I am also called to be holy. We cannot live having one foot in the world and the other foot in heaven. Jesus must have the highest place in our lives.

One commentary I was looking at the other day had this to say about the book of Hebrews: “The book of Hebrews exalts the person ant the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When you realize all that you have in and through Him, you have no desire for anyone else or anything thing else.” I pray we will exalt Jesus to the fullest!!!

Randomness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

First of all, I believe Pastor Brandon is starting a new series on Sunday on the book of Hebrews. At least I think I heard that. If not, I guess I’ll have my own study on it, as I have already started. Book of Hebrews used to scare me a little. But while there is much I don’t understand about the book at this point, I do know that the Holy Spirit did not have this book penned to scare us. The last couple of times I’ve read Hebrews I’ve found to be a book of encouragement and exultation. I’m looking forward to the study of it this summer.

Resentments. I’ve had a few in my life. In re:generation, we are starting what is known as inventory. At it’s core, our workbook describes our inventory as an honest record of the impact of sin on our lives. While I worked through the first inventory on resentments, I was impressed with a couple of things. First, resentments really hold you to your past. Some thoughts came to mind of things that happened to me back in my high school days and even back to my early childhood. The fact that they came to mind was a little scary, actually. I don’t want to be held captive by my past resentments. The only person it affects is me, and it hinders my moving forward in my walk. The second thought I had, at least for me, was that i don’t have time to keep struggling with resentments that have occurred. My thought for myself is that there is little time left, and there is still work for me to do. When I let my mind dwell on “wrongs” that have been done to me, I have noticed lately that it really effects my serving the Lord in a negative way. It’s time for that to stop. We can talk about how that will happen another time.

Fear is another area that I have been working on in re:generation. I have had a lot of fears and insecurities in my life and they only get stronger as we age. At least they have for me. Fear in our lives seems to speak to trust. To what or whom do we trust? Are we willing to take chances for God? I can tell you that I have pretty much taken the safe route in life. Now, there have been exceptions to that in my life. But over all, I have played it safe. One thing I know… at least I think it’s true, that in order for the Gospel to go forward, there is always someone who has to sacrifice. I think of some of the early missionaries like Judson, Hudson Taylor and many others. Today, around the world, there are countless unnamed Christians who have given up everything to preach the Gospel. Question: Is it worth giving up everything we have to follow Jesus? We need to think hard and honestly before we answer that question. It’s time for me, and perhaps you, to rid ourselves from our fears and step out for God. Just a simple example, God helped me I had to over come my fear just to walk into the church on the first night I felt His leading to go to re:generation. But God used that small act to start new growth in me.

Well, I have more but I think this is enough for today. I pray God will give us grace and courage to analyze our lives in light of the Gospel. Then please don’t just jump in and start trying to make changes on your own. Whatever God brings to our minds and hearts that need to be changed will be revealed as we pray for His Guidance and as the Holy Spirit directs us. Then we can go forward in faith and confidence that God is leading us. God bless you!