Ezekiel 2:1-3:15; Hebrews 3:13-19; Psalms 103:13-22; Proverbs 22:15
NT: “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start.” (Hebrews 3:13-14 CSB)
The gospel assures us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow through being a participant in Christ by faith. In the original Greek, the word translated here as ‘participant’ means partaker, partner, sharer or associate. Our strength for today comes as we partner together in the work of Christ and partake of and share in His strength, righteousness and holy attributes. Our future hope of eternal life with God is assured through our association in Christ. Our strength for today is maintained and our hope for tomorrow endures as we hold firmly to our faith, our confidence, our reality in Him until the very end. Being a participant doesn’t come from having a powerful encounter with the Lord, and then letting it grow cold through neglect. Participation comes through day by day, consistent and steadfast walking with Christ by grace through faith as His yielded and committed disciple.
In order for us to continue holding firm to our faith and avoiding the hardness of heart that comes through sin’s deception, we need daily encouragement. That is one of the main reasons we are challenged to not forsake the gathering with other saints in the faith. Christ has all we need, but He isn’t the only thing we need. Christ gets much of what we need through the fellowship we have with other believers. Believers who grow complacent in gathering with other believers and isolate themselves from the Body of Christ will not receive the exhortation they need to steer clear of deception. During the global pandemic that we have experienced for the past 18-19 months has made gathering as believers more challenging. Some believers have given up the habit of gathering all together. Is it any wonder that we have seen numbers of believers fall into deception, with some walking completely away from the faith. It is imperative that we intentionally place ourselves in a context were we can both give and receive encouragement and exhortation from other believers, so that through all the challenges and uncertainty of this life, we can hold firm to our faith and fully participate in all that Christ has afforded us.
Psalms: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass — he blooms like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known. But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear him, and his righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep his covenant, who remember to observe his precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, all his angels of great strength, who do his word, obedient to his command. Bless the Lord, all his armies, his servants who do his will. Bless the Lord, all his works in all the places where he rules. My soul, bless the Lord!” (Psalms 103:13-22 CSB)
The Lord God is loving, merciful and compassionate. However, if you look closely at this psalm, you will see that there are conditions to fully experiencing the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion. The Lord’s faithful love is eternal – it never ends. Just as God has no beginning or end, His zealous goodness, mercy and covenantal love toward us has no beginning or end. However, His faithful love is only fully experienced by those who fear Him – who honor and revere Him and His word, will and ways. His righteousness is only fully received and experienced by those who keep His covenant and observe His precepts. The Bible is replete with people who started out well, but finished poorly. To fully participate in and share in all the benefits of being a member of God’s family, we must hold firm to our faith, trust, allegiance and submission to the Lord until the end. Honoring the Lord and obeying His word blesses Him – just as a respectful and obedient child blesses the heart of His father. That puts a new perspective on blessing the Lord. Let us encourage one another, remember our benefits in Christ, hold firm to our faith and bless the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for Your offer to me to fully participate in all that is available in You… to partner with You in Your work, to share in Your glory and grace, and to be associated with You at the end of days. Help me, through the grace that I receive from You and the exhortation I receive from others, to hold firm to the faith until the end. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.