Welcome to ToGather.church! We launched ToGather.church a little more than two years ago in March of 2020 at the onset of the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing policies. This week, we are revising the format to provide a cleaner look, make the virtual worship more accessible, and create a smoother presentation more people can share across multiple platforms and devices. We hope this change is a blessing for you, with an increase in focus on both content and worship participation. Our prayer is that you are blessed and will share that blessing with others!
If we set out on a journey with nowhere in mind, we'll get there every single time. We will end up nowhere! Our lives follow our focus. This is a reality for us as believers in a secular world often hostile to our faith and God's truth. We are bombarded with an incessant stream of information, distraction, and noise, most of it carefully crafted to influence our behaviors and change our perspectives and values. How do we intentionally choose the destination for our lives so our focus points us in the proper direction? Ah, this is where this week's message can be vitally helpful to us as followers of Jesus!
Early Jewish Christians faced challenging times involving suffering, persecution, prison, insults, the confiscation of property (Hebrews 10:32-34), and sometimes even death (Acts 7:54-60; Revelation 2:13). The Spirit chose to speak to their situation through the book of Hebrews. The Spirit encouraged these battered believers, some of whom wavered and doubted, to return to their once passionate and faithful focus on Jesus:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2[VERSION]).
Throughout this self-described brief word of exhortation (Hebrews 13:22), the Spirit's message involved a crescendo of concern for those believers, encouraging them to pay greater attention to their faith in Jesus so they didn't:
- Drift away and neglect their salvation (Hebrews 2:1-4).
- Develop evil and unbelieving hearts that turn away from God (Hebrews 3:12-13).
- Fall away because they become lazy and don't approach the practice of their faith with diligence (Hebrews 6:1-12).
- Deliberately keep on sinning, throwing away their confidence in Jesus, and giving up their life together as followers of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-35).
The Spirit was confident that these early Jewish followers of Jesus would not give up their faith (Hebrews 6:9). They had an excellent track record of faithfulness in the past, even enduring great hardship (Hebrews 10:32-34). Their mutual encouragement was also helpful to spur each other on to diligence, passion, good works, and perseverance in their faith (Hebrews 3:12-13, 10:23-25). However, they needed to return to their original focus on Jesus before their wavering became something worse! (Hebrews 2:1)
The Holy Spirit's message to the early church in the book we call "To the Hebrews" is also aptly tuned for our challenging times as believers. The key to those early Christians' faithfulness, and ours, is to maintain a passionate focus on Jesus. As human beings, we live where we look: Our lives follow the focus of our hearts. So, today’s verse and our focus for ToGather are essential:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
We live where we look!
In the video, Phil mentioned a reading plan focused on Jesus. You can download this simple reading plan for your personal use and to share with others. Please notice that the Gospel of John was started on April 1, so you can catch up in your reading very easily.
[VERSION] This verse is from the New International Version, 1984 edition. [Return to Text]