I’ve been a Christian for many years. Following Jesus was the best decision of my life and I’ll never look back but it hasn’t always been easy. Some people will tell you that as soon as you become a Christian everything is rainbows and sunshine, but it’s not. You’re still a human being. I struggle a lot. I go through phases where I question Jesus and the Bible and the existence of a God; yet, at other times I can’t stop singing God’s praises. It’s normal: we’re human.
This evening I was reading my Bible, something that I struggle to do. I googled Student Bible Studies and the first one to pop up was Ephesians 3. Ephesians is possibly my favourite book in the Bible, Paul has such insight and his letters to growing churches help us today. A few verses in particular jumped out at me, I’d like to share them with you and hope that they encourage you as much as they encouraged me.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – know that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
This prayer from Paul encouraged those new Christians and it is a prayer equipped to encourage us today, or a prayer we can pray for those around us.
But this isn’t the crux of this blog. I have a lot of pieces of paper, book marks and highlighted sections in my Bible. It helps me to remember which bits encouraged me at a certain time, challenged me or where I really felt that God spoke to me. I found a piece of paper today that had a passage from Hebrews on it. Part of me remembers where and when and why I got this piece of paper but another part of me is unsure as I haven’t looked at since before Christmas. But it is this passage that has inspired me to write this blog post, so I’m assuming it is God who is doing the talking here.
The passage is this, in two different translations, so bear with me:
“We have, then, my friends, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy place by means of the death of Jesus. He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain – that is, through his own body. We have a great priest in charge of the house of God. So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are going. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” – Hebrews 10:19-25 (GNT)
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10: 19-25 (NIV)
The NIV heading of this passage of Hebrews is “A call to preserve in faith” and I think that’s very apt. Paul knew that the Christians he was writing to would struggle with their faith, he was trying to encourage them to keep going. Keep believing.
I know it might be easy for me to say, but I know as well as you do that it isn’t easy to always believe and to follow Jesus. Particularly living as a student, away from home.
Through Jesus, we have been forgiven. He died on that cross for us. He bore all that pain and suffering, he was made fun of and exploited…but he did it for us. Both translations of this passage express the importance of this, because of Jesus we have the freedom to follow him. God is in control of everything, He knows when we’re having a bad day. He knows when we’re struggling with Him. He knows.
It’s easy to praise God in the good times, and thank Him and it’s easy to question Him and be at angry at Him in the not so good times. But He’s always there. Always listening.
God chose to make us, He chooses to use us. It is not our right. I think that’s something we forget. Sometimes we think we’re bigger than God because we’re the ones living on Earth. But Jesus lived on Earth, didn’t he? We are allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven because of the sacrifice that Jesus made. He tore that curtain in two.
There is one verse in this passage from Hebrews that particularly jumps out at me, I like this verse from the GNT and the verse is this:
“Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess because we can trust God to keep his promise.” (v.23)
Do you remember that I wrote a blog about this not long ago? How we, as humans, fail to keep our promises. How God never fails? Because of that promise, we have hope. We have hope for a better future, life after death. We have a hope that we will be together with our Father in heaven. We have a hope that nobody can take away from us. We have a hope that is ours. We can trust Him. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to have a relationship with Him and to talk to Him and to simply be His son or daughter.
Trust. I struggle with trust, I know a lot of people do. I struggle to trust those around me let alone God. I know that I have no reason to doubt God or to doubt my trust in Him yet sometimes, I do. It sucks but the truth and the promise of His forgiveness? That’s bigger than any doubt. He has forgiven us. No matter how much we screw up, no matter how much we walk away from God, no matter how much we try to live our own way…He has forgiven us.
Isn’t that incredible? We have been justified by the actions of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to do anything, we just have to follow Jesus. To be like Jesus. It’s that simple. And as I said at the beginning, it isn’t easy. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but once you start following Jesus – your life will never be the same again.
It is my prayer that you know you are loved, forgiven and a son/daughter of God the everlasting Father. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will strengthen you in whatever you are going through. It is my prayer that you will know Jesus Christ lives within you and He will never leave you. It is my prayer that you will know and understand, even slightly, the unmeasurable love of God.
And with this, I leave you.