Hebrews 5

Stagnation and lack of cultivation spoils milk and is the ultimate garden killer.  It’s the same within the life of the believer.

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Hebrews 5

So thus far we have examined two concepts as we have traveled through Hebrews, with the first being the basics of what is needed for salvation, the second being the difference between the believer and unbeliever.  And now we move towards the believer and growth in Christ.

Let’s picture the church as a garden with Jesus as the gardener.  Jesus uses a similar illustration when He calls Himself the vine with us being the fruit.

John 15:1-8

1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
See as we we grow in Christ, we need to mature and grow.  That’s the concept of bearing fruit.  In the concluding paragraph of today’s reading the author looks at this concept from the perspective of those who are still immature in Christ.  Using the illustration of food vs. milk, the author compares who are still new in Christ to those who have walked for longer and have now graduated to solid food.
So how do we bring this altogether…by examining ourselves.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I don’t know everything.  But I do know what Scripture says and I do my best, through prayer and the strength Christ provides me to apply those concepts.  In addition, when people ask me about my faith…I tell them the unfiltered, unadulterated truth.  I also tell them their sins are their own to talk to God about and I am no one to judge.  If they want prayer, I’ll pray with them.  If they want to know how to reach for Christ’s Hand to get into the boat, well by all means, I’ll do that with them too.
But I will admit, I have failed in certain areas.  I have had two friends over the years whom I have led to Christ…problem is that I made no follow-up with them.  They seem to be doing alright, as I have kept in touch with them, but without someone else to mentor them, which I couldn’t do, they have not really had the chance to mature.
So here is the deal, you want to show maturity as a Christian, look at the fruit you are producing.  And don’t look at it as whom you’ve led to Christ.  Look at it from are people seeing something different about you in your workplace and your general environment.  Do they see you finding joy in all things as Paul spoke about in his Prison Letter to the Philippian church.  Invite your friends or neighbors, who may not be believers or who may be, but have been misled or not had it really explained.  Get involved in a Bible study where you can mature and grow.
Stagnation and lack of cultivation spoils milk and is the ultimate garden killer.  It’s the same within the life of the believer.

Seek Joy, Not Happiness

So how do we achieve the contentment Paul was speaking of in his letter to the Philippian church?  Simple, get your eyes off the situation and off the people, even the ones who may be trying to help, and get your eyes on the Cross.

What makes you happy?  Is it when you get that big promotion?  Is it when people do things you want them to do?  Is it when you get a gift from someone?  What about when you get sick or lose someone?  Are you happy then?  No, of course not.  That is because happiness is a circumstantial thing.  It’s dependent upon situations.  Sometimes people will make us unhappy.  It happens.  Sometimes situations don’t turn out the way we expect them.  It happens.  So how do we deal with this emotional roller coaster?  We look for contentment in all circumstances.

Philippians 4:11

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

Let’s start by making it clear, as I think I have already have, happiness is circumstantial or situational.  You can have happiness one moment and then in a flash, the situation changes and you can be completely miserable.  You shouldn’t be seeking happiness because then you are always wanting good news and good things, and that is not the way of this world.  This world has good and bad stuff in it, we have to learn to deal with them both.  So how do we achieve the contentment Paul was speaking of in his letter to the Philippian church?  Simple, get your eyes off the situation and off the people, even the ones who may be trying to help, and get your eyes on the Cross.

The apostle John wrote at the beginning of 1 John, his purpose for writing it was so that believers joy would be full.  He was speaking of having fellowship with other believers and most importantly, fellowship with God and His Son.  I can honestly say the moments when I am truly happiest, again circumstantial, is when I am spending time with the Lord or writing.  But what if I couldn’t write?  Uh oh, change of situation.  Would I still be happy?  Yes.  Why?  Well just because I can’t write, doesn’t mean I can’t spend time with the Lord.   See that’s where my joy comes from, spending time with Him, reading His Word and praying.  You can’t change that situation.

This world puts such an emphasis on being happy.  “If only I had [insert generic external source of happiness here} I’d be happy,” is a phrase often heard.  If it is an object, then you are hosed, because things can break or get lost or stolen.  Then where’s your happiness, gone.  If your happiness is dependent on a person, then you are equally hosed.  People will let you down, it’s a fact.  And it’s not that they are malicious, but life does happen and their own circumstances change, which then changes yours.  And if it takes you making someone else happy in order to make yourself happy, you are stuck in a vicious and detrimental cycle.  The moment that person’s circumstances change, your world goes into flux and you are not happy.  Your happiness depended on theirs and now they aren’t happy so you aren’t.  Situational, situational, situational.  We need to be seeking and pursuing joy, which goes beyond situation and circumstances and is found in one person, the Lord.