Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-40; 12:1-3, 12-17 (day one)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us.” (v 12:1) No one is suggesting it is easy. To trust Christ, to walk by the Spirit in a material/secular age is a daily demanding task. And a lonely one. But we are not alone! Believers are always surrounded by people from the past (now living in heavenly places) who also walked by faith and therefore understand the challenges we face. Chapter 11 names a few of them. Chapter 12 helps us hear them cheering for us as we run our race. You are not alone, dear one! You are surrounded by people who know the discouragements and the fears and the available resources. They know the race and the rewards. Can you hear them cheering for you?
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day seven) “We are not those who shrink back to destruction.” (v 39) “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (v 25) The danger is very real. Not that we would deny Christ with our words, but with our actions. Two examples. One psychological. The other congregational. Shrink back is a Greek word that literally means, “to gather under”. It pictures a person who retreats into self and becomes unwilling to face challenges. “I am tired of getting ‘beat up’ “, he says. “I will do what is good for ME.” This secret shift of focus will have one noticeable sign. He will stop showing up for meetings. Worship. Business Conference. Sunday school. Not that attendance is the primary virtue, but others need his encouragement and he is gradually less willing to give it. The danger is real. We deny Christ by retreating from other believers and into self.
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day six) “Remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings. . .therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward.” (v 32, 35) Sometimes we forget. The good old days weren’t entirely good. Time tends to soften the memories, but we made sacrifices. We faced stress. Building a family or a church or business, there were (and always will be) prices to be paid (time, attention, effort). One benefit of looking back is to see this truth, and to recognize that giving up now would make all the sacrifices of the past meaningless. No marathon runner would complete 25 miles (0f a 26.2 mile race) and not finish! Neither should we. False logic says, “I have done enough. I am going to quit.” Eternal logic says, “I have taken many steps. I am determined to finish.” “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come”. Great reward ahead! Don’t quit now!
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day five)
Verse 24 “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds”. “The bible knows nothing of solitary religion” – John Wesley One of the many insights I have gained from reading Hebrews in this series has been the writer’s frequent uses of the plural forms of pronouns. This letter is chocked full of prompts for community, accountability, and unity. In verse 24 “we” are instructed to take initiative and encourage healthy action and attitudes in the hearts and lives of our church family. Pretty bold!! What would motivate us to interact that way? Romans 2:2 claims God’s motive for challenge and conviction is kindness. What if we had that type of love and affection for our church family? I think others would take note. John 13:35
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day four)
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” While you have today, you can begin to count on Jesus Christ–the only one who can teach you to live an eternal kind of life. While you are alive in this life, you can decide to hear him, to get to know him. You might not have much, but you have today.
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day three)
The writer of Hebrews addresses two groups of people in this passage. In verses 19-25, he speaks to those who have believed. They have heard the gospel and through Christ, have entered into the presence of God. In verses 26-31, he speaks to those who choose to remain in sin. God is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice. His love demands His justice. The writer says that we should not expect God to just overlook our sin. We cannot counterbalance our sin with good works. Verse 31 says, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” This is where we learn of the importance of a ‘fear of God.’ To recognize the majesty and glory of our holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and ever present God inspires a fear. Moses, Gideon, Isaiah and John trembled to the core of their being before God. Thankfully, as believers, our fear does not include judgment…but don’t forget discipline!
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day two)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Heb. 10:23-24
Because the Lord is faithful we can rest confidently in hope; what a comforting and reassuring verse, but it is the next sentence that call us to action. How often do we consider how we can move others towards love and good deeds. The hope that we have found in Christ is not ours alone to hoard away for a rainy day. After we have secured hope we should move to share it with others. Can you imagine how this can change the way Christians communicate with the world? Not just non-believers, but everyone! Because you have found hope today, consider love.
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 10:19-39 (day one)
To read Hebrews is to review the Old Testament, and no passage is more important than Habakkuk 2:3-4 (quoted in today’s lesson, v 37-38) “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by faith.” Claiming that God uses years to accomplish His work (and that patience is, therefore, required of God’s people), the prophet Habakkuk also declares that true faith continues, perseveres, waits. . .even when it is difficult to do so. Pride doesn’t. Pride demands immediate answers. It protests the difficulty and shrinks back from the daily task that trust is. Faith doesn’t. Faith believes that “confidence will be richly rewarded”. (v 35) And the difference between the two attitudes is life itself!
Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-12 (day seven)
“Land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” (v 6:8) It is an interesting question. Important. If I am saved, am I safe? The answer depends on a follow-up question. Safe from what? Some believe that Hebrews 6 refers to believers who lose their salvation by “falling away” from Christ. I disagree. “He who began a good work in you will complete it” says Philippians 1:6. Salvation is a gift from God that cannot be taken from us. The danger for the true believer is that by falling away from Christ we experience His discipline. “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) Sin has consequences that we should fear. Being saved doesn’t make us safe from the danger of God’s holiness. Only reverent obedience can do that.
Re: Verse Reading–Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-12 (day six)
“By this time you ought to be teachers, (but) you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of. . . God.” (v 5:12) One factor that God uses in His righteous judgment is to compare what we are with what we could have been.” Provision compared to progress. To whom much is given. . .When God provides resources and time and teachers and pastors, He expects a return on His investment. What return? Progress in faith so that we, ourselves, become the teachers of the next generation of new/growing believers. It is ungrateful to do otherwise. Perpetual infancy, extended irresponsibility is evidence of a heart that receives the grace of God without embracing the purpose of God. We become land (see 6:7) that drinks in the rain but never bothers to bear fruit. Such ground is close to being cursed and WILL BE burned. What an ungrateful (and dangerous) way for a believer to live!