Posted in encouragement, theology

“I have confidence”

By Elizabeth Prata

When I was little I used to love the movie The Sound of Music. This slightly fictionalized version of the real life travails of the Von Trapp family first came out in 1965.

At the beginning of the movie were two scenes I loved. One was where the nuns are singing about a “Problem like Maria”. Maria was a candidate for the novitiate at Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. According to the movie version, Maria’s free spirit never settled down at the Abbey, and she had become a problem (in a mild way) such as being late for Mass, singing when she was supposed to be silent, and the like. When an opportunity to tutor the Von Trapp family children became available, the elder nuns thought Maria might be better suited for life outside the Abbey as governess to the Von Trapp children.

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Leaving the comfort of the cloistered and familiar Abbey, Maria faces an unknown future. The movie depicts her walking along toward her destination, with her satchel in one hand and her guitar in another. Singing happily in order to bolster herself, she sings, “I Have Confidence.” Here is part of the lyrics:

I have confidence in sunshine,
I have confidence in rain.
I have confidence that spring will come again!
Besides what you see I have confidence in me.

It is a happy song, sung in a pretty setting. As Maria bounces along the byway she sings about having confidence in sunshine, in rain, in springtime, and in herself.

I loved it. I thought, I can have confidence, too! All I need to do is whip up some confidence from within! If I tell myself so, then my confidence will appear from nowhere and everything unknown or hard or scary can be faced!

That was my reasoning as a child, watching this movie.

I am no longer a child.

I wonder, where does confidence come from?

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. (Hebrews 10:35)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains the verse:

Cast not away therefore your confidence – Greek “your boldness;” referring to their confident hope in God. They were not to cast this away, and to become timid, disheartened, and discouraged. They were to bear up manfully under all their trials, and to maintain a steadfast adherence to God and to his cause. The command is not to “cast this away.” Nothing could take it from them if they trusted in God, and it could be lost only by their own neglect or imprudence

“Our” confidence comes from our hope in Jesus. We trust His promises, we trust His plan, we trust that what He is doing is for our good and His glory.

The Hebrews at the time were experiencing persecution. Their homes and lands were being plundered and confiscated. They were being publicly exposed to reproach. They’d had a hard struggle with afflictions. So the writer of Hebrews reminds them that they had suffered those things, yet had retained a joy and a confidence in Him that surpassed the earthly trials. He urged them to continue having confidence in Jesus.

Additionally, we read in chapter 4 of Hebrews,

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16).

The throne of grace is the place from which the fountain of our confidence stems. We turn to Jesus for everything. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Even have confidence. Oh, we might generate a temporary euphoria in our own talents or abilities, but soon enough, that confidence evaporates. Indeed, Maria’s confidence disappears when she comes face to face with the grandeur of mansion in which she is about to reside. She suddenly feels very small.

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However if one’s confidence is in Jesus, one never need feel small. One never need to feel insecure. We are a large part of His plan, and His fountain of grace never ceases. We can confidently approach and confidently drink there very time we feel low, scared, unsteady, or uncertain.

In other words, whatever you’re facing, a new job, medical issues, relationship woes, loss, or tragedy, He’s got this. Rest confidently in Him.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Pay closer attention, lest we drift away: A sailing story

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1).

The question was raised at Bible Family Group last night, how does a Christian prevent developing a hardened heart? One wise older man said by staying in the Word.

The word is the only antidote for developing poor habits, shrinking our biblical worldview, and drifting away. I agree.

The word drift away used in the Hebrews verse in Greek means-

properly, to float (flow) alongside, drifting past a destination because pushed along by current. /pararrhyéō (“drift away from”) only occurs in Heb 2:1 where it refers to going spiritually adrift – “sinning by slipping away” (from God’s anchor). 3901 /pararrhyéō (“gradually drift away”) means to “lapse” into spiritual defeat, describing how we slowly move away from our moorings in Christ.

Paul often used nautical allusions and marine metaphors. Last night at Family Group I’d shared the experience from when I was living on the sailboat that relates to the verse. We usually sailed during the day, unless we were on an overnight passage out in the ocean. But if we traveled down the Intracoastal Waterway, we’d find a snug spot to anchor in at night and went to bed after the sun sank.

The anchor becomes all-important. The anchor holds you in place, prevents you from drifting and damaging other boats anchored or moored nearby, and keeps you afloat rather than crashing into the rocks or going aground.

We spent a lot of time tending the anchor. When we initially set it, we’d take time to ensure it was set correctly. Is the rode taut and not tangled? Are the flukes digging into the ground? Is there enough depth under us for when we swing with the tide or current?

Then we’d watch it a while. We took reference points ashore to compare with our position. One reference point isn’t really enough. Drift is deceptive and incremental. You could be drifting away and still seem like you’re lined up with the same reference point. So we’d take two references. Three references are better so you can triangulate.

During the night, we’d sleep lightly, listening carefully for any change in the pattern of the waves slapping the bow, or any other untoward noises that meant there was likely a problem.

We spent a lot of time tending the anchor.

Do I spend an equal amount of time tending the anchor of my spiritual life, the Word? Do I treat it carefully, thoughtfully? Do I employ reference points to ensure I’m not drifting? Reference points in our spiritual lives that help us against drifting away from the truth are: visiting our prayer closet, studying His word, corporate worship, small groups, discipling and being discipled, and so on. Are we in position, standing firm in the center line of that narrow way, not going to the right or the left? Are we vigilant, listening for any variation in pattern of our sanctification in life?

We spent much time tending the anchor because our lives depended on it. We should take an even greater amount of time tending the anchor of our spiritual life because our spiritual life depends on it. When Paul says we must pay closer attention, the word in Greek means exceedingly, abundantly, vehemently.

When man sails upon the waters, he is not in his element. It is a foreign environment. It’s an environment that’s hostile, with many things in it either actively or benignly trying to kill him. Just so, Christian man on earth is not in his element. There are many things in this environment actively or benignly trying to kill him. We should pay the closest attention so  we do not drift away. Remember all the nature documentaries…what always happens to the gazelle that lags behind and is alone?

Stay anchored to the Word, in position, with lots of reference points and a growing biblical worldview 🙂

boat

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Spurgeon on the difficult Hebrews verse

Though once we are saved, we are always saved, (John 10:28, Ephesians 1:13), the verse in Hebrews gives some people trouble.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Does that mean a saved person can fall away and never be able to be saved again?

Charles Spurgeon did the best job I’ve read on the clarity of the Hebrews verse. See if you agree (or don’t 😉

You know how many passages there are in which it is positively asserted that if a child of God did deliberately and totally apostatize, his restoration would be utterly impossible—not difficult, but impossible. This is one of the greatest proofs of the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, since there is no man in a condition in which it is impossible to save him, and yet any man would be in such a state if he apostatized. Therefore true believers shall not apostatize, but shall stand fast, and shall be kept even to the end. Yet, could they totally apostatize, they could never be restored again: the greatest remedy having already failed, there would remain no other. C.H. Spurgeon