Journey to The Journey

Subscribe to the RSS Feed
  • Featured Posts
  • All Posts

Saturday, November 5th 2022 (9AM-3PM) @ City Soul Ministries, Vienna, WV

The fruit of the Spirit is a popular concept within the Christian faith. The fruit that Paul lists in his letter to the Galatians (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) is succinct, yet not exclusive nor exhaustive. What I mean is that the idea that the Christian life should bear the fruit of genuine conversion is taught all over the New Testament, even by Jesus himself, who says we will be known (or identified) as his true followers by our fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). The analogy is simple, a tree or plant is identified by the fruit that it produces. We would no more expect a professing Christian's life to be marked by unrepentant sin and a pursuit of worldly pleasures than we would expect an apple tree to produce oranges. It would be unnatural.

What's my point in this little economics lesson? The standard of measurement that you use matters! In this week's scripture lesson from Hebrews, the author provides a number of practical instructions for Christian living. By worldly standards, most of these would be of little concern? Why would anyone care much about my level of hospitality towards others or my concern for prisoners? Many people wouldn't think twice about my sexual purity or my fidelity to my wife. Moreover, most people would encourage me to get as much wealth and "stuff" as I can...YOLO! And don't even get me started on how we view our leaders...or the example that many of them set! My point is simply that for most of us, these are personal and private issues. They are of little or no concern to anyone else. What I do with my own life is my business and apart from doing something illegal, no one has any right to tell me I'm wrong.

This past weekend I had a bonfire in my backyard of trash lumber and yard waste. It began with some kindling, but I quickly piled things on until I had a massive pyre built. Before long it was fully ablaze. It was so hot that I could barely stand to get close to it for more than a few second to "stir" it around as it burned. In a matter of a couple of hours, all of that wood was reduced to a pile of ashes. This is what I think of when I read, "our God is a consuming fire."

One of my favorite things about studying the Bible is digging into the words. We all agree that words matter, but nowhere is this more apparent than in our study of the scriptures. The challenge we face every time we approach God's word is to uncover the meaning of the text. Everyone agrees that the human authors of scripture wrote to convey a message with meaning. In many cases that meaning is explicit and clearly defined. In others it is veiled in symbolism or poetic language and requires some interpretation from the reader. Regardless though, there can only ever be one meaning...that which was intended. And when trying to derive the meaning, the words play an important role. How does each word serve to contribute and combine to convey that meaning? That is the goal at hand for us.

Many of us may object to the old saying, "knowledge is power," because we don't feel very powerful. In fact, we may more often than not struggle to believe and implement what we know to be true. The struggle of fear and doubt is not something that is foreign to the Christian. If it were, then the encouragement we find in scriptures like 1 Peter would be unnecessary. Instead, God has graciously inspired men like Peter to write letters of encouragement to his people because he knows our propensity for doubting.

Don't grow weary. Don't quit. Don't give up. Don't stop pushing towards the goal, the prize, the finish. Keep fighting. Run the race with endurance. And on it goes...

This week we concluded our extended look at chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews. The famous "faith chapter," as it is known, has had much to teach us. In an attempt to "put a bow" on this section of our study, I want to briefly just summarize a few key points or important takeaways for us in regards to faith - what it is, how it works, and why it is so important to us as Christians.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Genesis and in particular from chapters 11 onward as we are introduced to Abram (Abraham). For the "uninitiated," Abraham's family is the Bible's equivalent of the Skywalkers in the Star Wars franchise (if you don't know what I am talking about, I just can't help you!). I say that partly in jest, but it's actually not a bad analogy. What I mean is that, the whole story is tied to the family tree of Abraham. Through him, God goes on to establish a people for himself and more importantly, he establishes covenantal promises with Abraham and his offspring that point to, and are eventually fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah. I wrote a more detailed blog post on the concept of the covenant in scripture and why it is so important to how God has worked through redemptive history. You can read that here. For today though, the key takeaway is that Abraham is one of the most important people we meet in the scriptures.