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The fine line between good and best

the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith
Hebrews 4:2

Reading the book of Hebrews one can’t help but notice the fine line between Christian and kingdom, between law and grace, between man’s way and God’s way. The facts about relationship with God through Jesus are right, are good, and are essential, but for living life they are not enough. The law is also good: the precepts, the principles, the ways of God…these are excellent, but on their own they only emphasize our need for something more. Best practices, human logic, intelligent thought, considered opinion… these too are good, but they are not enough to please God.

There is a fine line, but there is also a vast chasm between good and best, between rational and obedient. The writer of Hebrews expresses it well as he spoke of the nation of Israel. They had information, but they lacked inspiration. They analyzed the facts, but failed to mix them with faith. 

but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

We have been trusting God for things he has spoken to us, and we believe we have heard a message. In fact, we are overwhelmed by the extent of the prayers, the prophecies, the dreams, the visions and the Scriptures that have been received and given concerning certain things. The danger is that we take all of this and lay it on the desk of human logic and say, “We have a stretching but reasonable way to proceed...” For some, this may be fine, but for us… we want to hold out for more. Hebrews also says, “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” We don’t just want the house that man built: we want to see something so over the top that all will have to acknowledge, “God did this for his own glory. He built this house.”

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11

Doing life God’s way means resting from doing it through our own work, our human effort, or our scheming and ingenuity. This is hard to grasp sometimes because we are made in God’s image. God works, we like to work to make things happen, and it is a lot of fun to co-create with God. But there is a fine line between working with God, and working to ‘help God out’ or make stuff happen on his behalf…especially just before he does things in his better way. (King Saul knew all about sacrificing the best on the altar of the immediate.)

We are a complex bundle of thoughts, feelings, passions, desires, motives and actions, all wrapped up in the integration of our body, soul and spirit; so much so that it can be hard to fathom what we are doing “in faith” versus through our own volition. “Well, Brett” I hear you ask, “if it is a fine line and the issues are complex, how do we know what side of the line we are on?” Read on.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

The Word quickened by the Spirit cuts through everything and lays it bare before the Father. And of course the Father knows whether we will settle for doing things consistent with his principles, his precepts, his laws, his ways, but without the mixed-in faith that holds out for the very, very best. He knows, and he informs us of what he knows. (Psalm 25:14 “The Lord confides in those who fear him.”)

Finally, the truth of Hebrews 6:10 gives us added vigor to stand for the best. There was a period when we were “between homes” so decided to use the opportunity to travel: Lyn and I did about 40 trips between April and December that year. We visited many past clients, prayed, preached, taught, wept with, laughed with and were mutually encouraged by people in the US, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. As I visited a company in Benoni, South Africa, and thought for a moment about whether I shouldn’t be back in the US “fund raising” for a property. God whispered to me, “You do what you are meant to do, and I will do what I do.”

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

Friends, God is just. Pray this verse back to God today. Stand and remember your prayers, your words, your acts of service, your faith-seeds; add the ingredients that Hebrews doled out to us of faith and hope and patience, and put them in a figurative mixing bowl, stirring them all together in prayer, and presenting them in faith as an offering to the Father “behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” (Heb 6:19, 20) So, let’s praise God in these pressing remaining days, because he will not forget our collective work, he will do what he does… which is always above and beyond.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35 - 36

Reflections

  • How is your courage-level, your confidence? Have you kept it or thrown it away? 
  • Are you living for the house that man can build with human endeavor, or a house God is building?

  • How can you take all of your history with God—complete with imperfections—and place it before our loving Savior, an offering in his hands, that he takes to the Father in intercession in your behalf?

 

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