Take a new grip…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

   “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
      and don’t give up when he corrects you.
  For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
      and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

(Hebrews 12:1-14)

I have been reading Hebrews 11 and 12 in the Bible over the last week. First we met with some new friends and we all felt that God was encouraging us to consider Noah who was obedient and begun building the ark even though there was absolutely no sign of rain! He was obedient to the things that God had showed him. He was faithful.

Then as I read and considered the “great cloud of witnesses” and people who had been faithful to God throughout history I was struck with how quickly the writer of Hebrews moves to talking about discipline and correction.

Could it be that faithful obedience is closely linked to Godly discipline and correction?

Wikipedia explains “Discipline” as the “systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct or order…”

Surely many of us have been enduring Godly discipline which the writer of Hebrews encourages us is not enjoyable at the time but it produces a harvest of righteousness! As 2011 draws to a close and we consider what God has been leading us through this year I cannot help but think that for many of us it’s been about training in discipline and hearing what God is saying. Maybe you’ve stepped out of situations or wineskins that you no longer fit into. Maybe you’ve been exploring new paths with all the challenges and persecution that this involves.

BE ENCOURAGED!

Receiving correction, being open to learning from mistakes and learning as we go along are what it means to be a disciple! The obstacles you are wrestling with today will fashion the tools you will pass onto others tomorrow.

So what for 2012 and where do we go from here?

Well having received Godly discipline which is very painful and humbling. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to take a new grip, strengthen our weak knees and to mark out a straight path

As a sportsman (albeit a not very good one!) I understand the work involved with taking a new grip. Whether it’s tennis, golf or cricket – struggling to perfect a new grip is hard work. Usually people try a new grip when things are not going well. I would humbly suggest that we as the body of the Christ in the UK need to consider taking a new grip. We need to learn a new methodology and technique to fulfil the will of God in the UK for this time. Check out some of these links to hear about people who are learning a new grip (www.missionbritain.com)

And we are encouraged to strengthen our weak knees and to mark out a straight path for our feet. It’s our legs which cause movement forward. 2012 is a year for movements in the UK. We need to keep standing but also mark out a straight path and direction.

We’ve been encouraged from Habakkuk 2:2 to write down the vision clearly so that people can grasp it and pass it on. What is the vision or dream that God has given you? Write it down, have it always before you and make it concise and clear so that others can hear it and join you in the work!

Finally….

Like some others I have been reflecting on the life of Steve Jobs and reading a biography of his life. Regardless of his own personal convictions and failings – he was a man who pioneered a vision and turned a revolutionary idea into a reality. In most places you go to you will find an iphone or an ipod in the hands of someone.

What struck me was that in the early stages of Apple’s development they had times where they would speak about their vision and how they would measure their effectiveness in reaching it.

At a time where few had personal computers and the idea of a laptop was unheard of – the workers at Apple were writing down their vision of seeing “Computers by the millions…” And their clear goal was that if they were to visit a random family anywhere in the country then they would find them using a personal computer. Talk about vision!

This kind of vision and willingness to critique and evaluate their efforts according to the vision stirs something in me…..

So let’s take a new grip, let’s keep standing and let’s mark out a straight path into 2012…

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