With so much chaos and misery in our world today, a bit of encouragement and a brief reminder of what our lives as believers and followers of Jesus Christ are all about, might be welcome. 

I have turned back to Hebrews 12 several times in the past few days and have found it quite refreshing. Sometimes it is good to read through a passage of Scripture and then revisit it another time or two while allowing the Lord to plant it and water it in one’s soul. I thought I’d share a few thoughts from this passage before sharing a brief House of Blessing Mideast Update.

Verses 1-2 gives us this instruction:

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

The great cloud of witnesses is of course referring back to the previous chapter in Hebrews. The Apostle Paul listed approximately16 of the witnesses by name and referred to many more. The number of these witnesses, however over the centuries, have been multiplied into the tens of millions. Are these witnesses aware of the work of the Church today? Many are convinced they do have some awareness and are in fact cheering us on. 

With this in mind, we are encouraged not to let anything hold us back from all that God has planned for us. Not taking control of “sins”, no matter if big or small, is a costly mistake. Later on in verse 16, Esau is used as an example of someone who was willing to trade a morsel of food for his birthright. Esau insisted on his craving being satisfied immediately and, consequently,  didn’t value what he was throwing away. Many of us are guilty of the same today. This world has nothing to offer that is worth trading for what God has in store for His overcomers! How many of us toy with “little” sins, such as hanging onto offenses, sometimes for years, as if they were something precious. We also often allow many other carnal attitudes that are not only worthless, but they will have no place in God’s Kingdom. 

Verse 1 also mentions the importance of making sure that we lay aside every weight. “Weights” are not necessarily sins, they are just “stuff.” Could that have to do with material goods that have more control over our lives than they should — maybe bank accounts, careers, or personal life goals we are reluctant to give into God’s control? It could refer to any number of other things. Bottom line is this: We can’t take anything from this material world with us when we pass into eternity — except what has eternal value. This is a very important thing to think about in these last days of the Age of Grace.

Verse 2 instructs believers to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. The verse reminds us that He endured the cross, despising the shame. Why? Because of the joy that was set before Him. What was that joy? You and me!! He paid the entire incalculable price, the ridicule, being spit on, falsely accused, beatings with fists, the vicious flogging by the Roman soldiers, and finally the crucifixion as a common criminal. Yet, He was God who had taken on a body of flesh in order to pay that horrendous price. But, pay it, He did, and because of it, our way to forgiveness and eternal life was paid as well. How can we do any less than allow Him to live through us?

3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  Hebrews 12:3-4 

In verse 3, the writer adds that we should consider that He endured all these things to help us not become weary and discouraged ourselves. Multiplied millions have heeded this exhortation and have found rest for their souls, no matter their circumstances. 

Verse 4 adds, no matter what any of us have gone through, none of us have striven against sin to the point of the shedding of blood. Some misunderstand this to be referring to persecution and martyrdom, and, indeed, there have been millions of Christian martyrs — including several thousand HOB missionaries and volunteers over the last few years. This verse is referring to Jesus’ Gethsemane experience which may have been a greater trial than the entire crucifixion experience. In the Garden, He had to deal with what was about to happen; not only the horror of the physical torture and ultimate death, but also the fact that the Almighty Father would be turning His face away from the Son of God for the first time in all of eternity, unleashing His full wrath upon Him — the very wrath that was due sinful mankind. In the Garden, Jesus prayed with such intensity that He bled great drops of blood. There is a medical condition that defines this and it is very rare. It is called “hematohidrosis.” This is a description of the capillary blood cells that feed the sweat glands breaking down. As a result, blood released from the vessels mixes with the sweat, and it becomes literal drops of blood mixed with sweat running off one’s face. 

In other words, you and I have never faced anything of the kind. The ultimate price had to be paid — a price we will never have to pay, nor could we. So, when we face our own times of trial and tribulation, we should keep Jesus and His payment for us in mind so that we are not discouraged and become depressed, no matter how harsh our circumstances may be. Our situation might even cost us our life, but there is eternal life on the other side! 

The words contained in verses 12-13, later on in chapter 12 are a good way to conclude these thoughts:

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.   Hebrews 12:12-13

Now, to the House of Blessing…

I received a short call from Pastor R a few days ago and he mentioned that the weather is once again a real challenge in all of the hundreds of refugee camps across the Middle East. In the wintertime, the challenge is to stay warm enough to survive. The winter storms can be severe and very cold. People try to find whatever scraps of wood they can in order to build a small fire. In the summertime, the weather is so hot that the tents the folks live in are unbearably, too hot to stay in. Refugees who are near enough to cities or towns look for deserted or bombed out buildings for some kind of protection from the direct sunshine. These are the conditions today. The summer weather in the Mideast is very hot and now more people are dying from heat stroke than they are from cholera. 

The Lord did provide a way to bring in 120 truckloads of water to distribute throughout the camps. Provision was also made available so that four truckloads of wheat could be brought in for distribution. The House of Blessing missionaries then set out to distribute to as many of the people as they were able to. The distribution work was of course done late in the evenings and throughout most of the night hours. After adding up the numbers reported from the missionary teams working in a variety of camps, at least 3,000 families were visited and were provided with supplies. I’m sure that distribution will continue as long as there are supplies available. Water of course is the greatest need and will continue to be so because of the summer heat. Fortunately, water trucks can be brought in for about $100 each.

Pastor R also mentioned that some miracle finances were made available for a special tent to be set up for Sister Mufiedah for her recuperation. She will be able to be back in action, but it will take time. I’m sure others will benefit from the special provision of this tent in the future. 

The work of evangelism continues in spite of the weather and God is opening hearts all across the refugee camps to the message of the Good News about Jesus. The Bible says that “Today is the day of Salvation.” Tomorrow might be too late! The Bible also says, “Work while it is day, the night will come when no man can work.” I feel that time is closer than most of us might think! Let’s all finish well!

Remember, it takes patience to live a Christian life. The race we are running is not a sprint; it is a marathon…..  

— P A T I E N C E — !!

Forever in His Service,



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