Tag Archives: Hebrews

Christmas Fatigue

I’m tired.  Aren’t you? 

Week after week there is so much to do between work and schooling activities and extra-curricular children’s functions and shopping for needed goods and visiting people. Even the fun times when we plan something extra for the family is usually involving some activity outside the home. 

Then Christmas comes along, and the schedule goes from fast to super-sonic. Now there are Christmas parties and recitals and Christmas gift shopping and trips to the post office and lines…oh, the lines! 

I feel like I’m aging more quickly every day. 

When I consider my exhaustion, there are two things I consider, and I recommend you do too:

1. What is the primary motivation behind my busy-ness?

Am I consumed with self? Am I trying to meet the status quo? Am I trying to live up to others’ expectations? Am I busy serving or receiving? Where is God in this busy life? Is He a motivator or simply a spectator?

If I am busy for reasons that don’t really have anything to do with my relationship with a God, then that reflects on my priorities. If I am busy to the extent that I am distracted from my relationship with a God, then that is a tragedy. If I am busy because there is much to do for the Lord and for others in His name, then that is good, but only in moderation. 

There is also a biblical precedent for rest. 

When we get tired, it is biblical for us to take time off for rest. This is the reason most people get at least one day per week off. It isn’t just physically important, but spiritually as well. 

If I pour out a pitcher, there will come a time when it is empty, and I can no longer pour anything out. Without times of rest and refreshing, we get burned out, exhausted, and become useless. We need to be refilled.

This is one of the many reasons meeting with your church family on Sundays and Wednesdays is important. 

2.  I’m looking more and more forward to the rest that is eternal, spoken of in the scriptures. 

In Hebrews, we are encouraged to seek after that rest – living our lives in such a way as to achieve that rest – as long as it is still available for us to achieve. The rest referred to is heaven.  The presence of God is the most peaceful place to reside. This is the promised culmination of a live lived in devotion to God. 

I don’t achieve this rest if I have taken all the rest I need here on earth. Why would I need rest in the presence of God if I have never done anything for Him here that would exhaust me? Why should I get to rest in Him if I’ve never needed Him before? 

I pray that this holiday season you may find time to rest, and during that time you may find refreshing that is from the Lord whether through His Word, through prayer, or through the encouragement of your forever family. 

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James vs. Paul: A contradiction?

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about faith in my sermons on Sunday mornings. We have seen that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). We have defined faith as follows:

Believing in something so much that you ACT on that belief without hesitation.

Faith isn’t merely saying you believe in something but living like you believe in that something.

As we talk about faith there are many who want us to talk about James 2. Many people have an opinion one way or the other about this passage. Many in the churches of Christ love this passage and use it to talk about the things we do as Christians. Some people dismiss this chapter because they believe in the “faith alone” passages of Romans and Galatians. Which is it? Are we saved by faith alone or do works come into play?

Paul says this:
Romans 4:1-5
​”What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

He also says this:
Galatians 2:15-16
“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

So it seems that we are saved by faith alone. This is true, but you must understand the type of works that Paul is talking about in these passages. He is not talking about the works done as a result of faith. He is talking about the works people do in order to fulfill the law – as in the Old Testament Levitical Law System.

People believed that if they followed the rules of the Old Testament to the letter they would be found righteous. The problem with this is if you break one of the laws even once you have been found unrighteous, and there is no undoing that stained record. A person cannot justify themselves by following law.

But James says this:
James 2:14-17
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

So which is it? Do you need works for Salvation? James thinks so, but he is talking about a different kind of works entirely. He is not talking about following a religion legalistically. He is talking about a life that shows its faith by what it does.

The kind of deeds James is referring to have to do with faith. Faith without action is mere words. It’s not faith at all. If we are going to claim to have faith then there needs to be evidence of it by the lifestyle we show daily. Your lifestyle, the deeds you do daily, shows whether or not you have faith.

James and Paul are not in contradiction with each other. They both believe that faith shows itself in what we do (Galatians 5:6).

So, you are not saved by proving yourself worthy. You are saved by a faith in God that expresses itself daily in a lifestyle of love for God and others and trust in the Creator to sustain and fulfill you.

So are you saved by faith? Yes! But faith cannot be defined without action. May your life reflect that saving faith, and may others see that faith in you.


A Good Friend is a True Blessing

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I’m not a mechanic by any means. Cars intimidate me, and I have never had the opportunity to go to any kind of shop class where they discussed engines (my high school didn’t offer shop classes). But, I’m interested in learning, and I have a pretty good ability to use tools and fix things when I put my mind to it.

Back in May, my truck started making noises and running rough. Then it overheated and started putting steam out the exhaust pipe. This was a problem, and I didn’t know how to handle it. In my estimation the truck was probably done for. I called up a friend who works on cars as a hobby, and he gave me some directions on how to narrow down the problem.

After trying a few things and replacing a few parts it was decided that the head gaskets were probably bad due to the overheating. This meant taking the top half of the engine completely apart to replace gaskets that sit on top of the block.

If I’ve lost you already, just bear with me.

My mechanic friend said he thought I had the skills to do the job, so with his advice I started taking things apart. Last May I was able in two days to take the engine apart all the way down to the head gaskets. The top half of my engine was sitting on a table in my garage.

When I went to have some parts cleaned and resurfaced I found out that my heads were also cracked. This increased the cost significantly, but again, my friend was right there giving me pointers and helping me see how to do things best.

About two weeks ago I started putting parts back together. I hadn’t taken pictures along the way, so I was very concerned that I wouldn’t know how to put everything back together. I was especially wary of my knowledge in putting all the electrical connectors and hoses back in the right places. Yet again, my friend was there to point out different things and give me advice to make the job a success.

Last saturday he came over and helped me iron out the last few problems, and I cranked the engine back up for the first time in two months. It ran on the first crank.

I am super excited to have my truck running again. I did 95% of the work, but I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do the job without my friend to guide me along the way. I can’t thank him enough.

This is a lot like life.

We are called to live our lives in and for the glory of God. We are given tasks to do that are too difficult for us on our own, but God is always there helping us as we call on him.

God is to us daily as my friend was for me during my mechanic work. He isn’t doing all the work, but He is making sure we have the skills and tools available to get it done ourselves.

How much do you rely on God? Are you trying to “do life” without Him? So many of us only call on Him when we need Him, but you know what? He doesn’t seem to mind; He comes to our aid anyway.

In Hebrews 13:5 the writer records this promise from God, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” there is great comfort and confidence in knowing this promise. With God on our side helping us along we have confidence to try big things that are beyond our experience level.

God wants to do big things through you. God wants to help you along. Look to him.

Thanks for continuing to read these articles each week. If there’s anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the church of Christ office at 245-1611. You can also join in or start a discussion about this or any of my other articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you look to Him for strength!


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