Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s verses: Hebrews 13:10-25
[Click above to read on or open your Bible.]

Signs of Believers:

  • We are willing to bear reproach from others in His name. Willing to endure the disapproval and disgrace of the world in order to follow His Word.
  • We don’t make our home here on earth, because we are seeking the city coming with His return. This is one reason we are willing to undergo reproach by those who are rooted in the world.
  • Through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit we continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. His name is on our lips. Unashamed to praise Him publicly as the Holy Spirit leads.
  • If there is good to do we do it. Sharing with others even when it is a sacrifice. We want to please God more than we want what our flesh wants.
  • Authority is a big issue for Believers. We accept that God has placed all leaders in their positions of power, therefore we joyfully submit to them knowing our leaders are accountable before Him. Only when the leaders have moved far out from under God’s authority, do we choose to follow God above the leaders.
How do you measure up?
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead
our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood
of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good
that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing
in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory
forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV
Lord Jesus, equip me with everything good that I may do Your will.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 13:1-9
[Open up the Word by clicking above or flipping the pages of your Bible.]

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8
Jesus. He is the same as He was in the very beginning when He created the universe and everything in it.
All things were made through him, and without him
was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:3 ESV
Jesus. The Word made flesh. He is the same today.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 ESV
The Word is eternal. The same forever. Full of grace and truth.
No matter the culture.
No matter the tradition.
No matter our personal experience.
God’s Word. Remains the same.
Because Jesus is the same…
  • keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters
  • offer hospitality to all
  • remember those in prison
  • offer compassion to the mistreated as if you were the one suffering
  • honor marriage, one man one woman, till death parts them
  • be free of greed, the love of money, because He will not leave us
  • He is still our Helper, there is no need to fear people
  • follow godly leaders
  • do not get carried away by strange teaching, be discerning, test it against the Word
  • be strengthened by His grace, not by religion
Because Jesus is the same we know exactly how He calls us to live.
Lord, forgive us for the times we attempt to make Your Word
relevant to the culture, compatible with tradition, and fit our skewed experiences.
Your Word is true and full of grace. Teach us to walk in Your Word
with integrity each and every day.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 12:18-29
[Read the Word by clicking the reference above or opening up your Bible.]

The mountain of the law was a foreboding place. Darkness. Gloom. Storm. God spoke audibly from this mountain of the Ten Commandments, but the people plugged their ears and couldn’t bear to hear Him (Exodus 19-20). The sight even terrified Moses, the intermediary between the Israelites and God.

The mountain of law reminds us what we deserve: death. Reminds us we are incapable of walking His Way perfectly. But praise the Lord, we have a different mountain to go to.

Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, makes it safe to come into the presence of the living God, the Judge of all. Faith in Jesus covers us in His blood, brings us into the heavenly Jerusalem where angels rejoice over those whose names are written in heaven.

Jesus’s blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). Abel, killed by his jealous brother Cain for offering a right sacrifice to God, speaks condemnation. A world gone wrong. But Jesus’s blood, even though He too was killed unjustly and served God perfectly, made the Way for us to be set right with God. He takes all we have been condemned for and covers it with His blood. His loving sacrifice, making the way for complete redemption.

…love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:4

Putting our faith in the law. Legalism. Separates us from God.
Putting our faith in Jesus. The fulfillment of the law. Grace. Makes us God’s children. Brings us straight into His family.

Could there be a better word than that?

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…
Hebrews 12:28

Grace leads to an unshakable life.
Legalism to fear.
Which word are you living by? condemnation? or redemption?

Father God, help me understand just how great You are.
Just what wonders You have done for my sake. For Your glory.
Fill me with thanks and a heart set to worship You rightly,
obedient to You in all I do. Not out of fear, but out of love.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s verses: Hebrews 12:1-17
[Choose your Bible or choose to click above to read the Word.]

…fixing our eyes on Jesus…
Hebrews 12:2
The key to faithful perseverance is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Yes, we have a whole cloud of faithful witnesses watching us to see if we will run without hindrance, choose to cast off sin, leave the world behind to live in His Kingdom now. But none of them should encourage us in our faith as much as Jesus.
He endured infinitely more than we will ever be called to. Carrying the sins of the whole world. He suffered and died so we might live.
His Father loved Him, yet sent Him to die. He endured discipline that He might be perfected.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…
Hebrews 5:8-9 ESV
The way of holiness is not easy. It wasn’t for Jesus, it won’t be for us. But through Him and by Him we can endure. He provides the strength along the way. So knowing Him is essential. Seeing Him. Fixing our eyes on Him. Vital to our walk of faith.
The best way to fix our eyes on Him is in the gospels. There we see Jesus, the exact representation of the Father. The One who suffered and died so we would not have to.
To endure this life in faithful perseverance, fix your eyes on Jesus. Learn who He is. What He did. Why He did it. And who you are before Him. There is no end of encouragement to live a life of faith than by looking to Him.
Stir my heart, Father, to look to Jesus.
As I read His story in the gospels make Him come alive to me.
Bless me with the spirit of revelation and understanding
so I can see and know.

Spiritual discipline:
It’s Friday. Choose a gospel — Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John — and read it over the weekend. Read it to specifically fix your eyes on Jesus to find encouragement for your faith.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s verses: Hebrews 11:31-40
[Open up the Word by turning the pages of your Bible, or clicking above on the Scripture reference to read on]

Faith calls each of us down different paths, even though it’s all the same Way.

Some are called by faith to conquer, lead, and fight in His name. Administering justice. Routing the enemy. Seeing life raised from ashes.

Some are called by faith to suffer. Endure persecution, mistreatment. Live seemingly destitute lives.

All in the name of faith. Each called to a different path. But the same Way. Jesus.

You can see it happening in the world today. Those making great headway influencing culture and gaining ground in Jesus’s name. Others living in areas of the world where death is sure if they get caught with His Word or worshiping with others in His name.

No matter where faith leads you, the important thing is to remember the Way. Jesus is over all and in all. Working it for good in the lives of those who love Him and answer His call on their lives. All will be commended for their faith, no matter what it looks like in the world, as long as they are following Him.

He has a plan in place to bring us all together. All the faithful. To receive His promise in one place at one time. Our only concern now is to keep our eyes on Him. Faithfully obedient.

Father God, don’t let me get distracted by the path of faith others are following.
Do not let me discouraged when my path leads to hardship and others’ to glory.
Keep my eyes on You. Keep my ears and heart attentive to Your call.
Keep me faithful to Your Word, in Jesus’s name.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 11:24-30
[Open up your Bible or open up the Word online by clicking the reference above.]

…he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:27
Faith perseveres and does incredible things when we see Him who is invisible.
Seeing is not only the physical visual perception of the eyes. We cannot see God this way. To us He is invisible. To see means to understand and know.
When we understand and know the Invisible One, whom we come to know through His Word, prayer, and obedience, we too, can persevere and do incredible things.
Faith rejects the allure of worldly power and chooses to suffer with His people.
Faith leaves behind the things of the world without fear of loss or rejection.
Faith trusts God’s Way of protection from death and walks in His Way of eternal life.
Faith passes through great waters and tumbles enemy strongholds.
Do you see Him who is invisible?
Do you live a life of incredible faith?
O Lord, I want to see You, to know You and understand You,
so I can take part in Your incredible Kingdom by faith.
Here and now.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 11:11-23
[Click the address of the verse above or open up your Bible to read His Word before you read ours.]

Faith is trusting obedience. It is essential to our relationship with God. Trusting Him when what He says makes absolutely no sense to us. Trusting He sees things clearly and that our vision is skewed by sin.

Sarah knew faith makes possible what the world deems impossible.
Do you believe all things are possible with Him?

These listed in Hebrews 11 died faithfully waiting for the promise, seeing it from a distance but not receiving it. Faith takes an eternal perspective, trusting His promise even when it doesn’t come to pass in our lifetime.
Do you believe you will still hope in the fulfillment of His promises in your life when you lay on your deathbed?

Abraham willingly obeyed. Intending to sacrifice the one thing that the fulfillment of God’s promise was based on. Faith trusts God when making great sacrifices, even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Believing He can… will… restore what’s been given in His name, at His call.
Do you have the faith to give sacrificially when He asks without fear of scarcity or fear for your future?

By faith Isaac blessed his sons, but Jacob deceived his father, pretended to be Esau and stole the older brother’s blessing. Faith trusts God’s sovereignty, even when what’s been done was not what we intended because we’ve been fooled.
Do you have the faith to let stand what’s been done when you’ve been tricked into doing what you didn’t  intend?

Jacob intentionally switched the blessings of Joseph’s sons, giving the younger the blessing of the firstborn. And in blessing these two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he gave Joseph a double portion of the inheritance God promised. The reason there is no tribe of Joseph among the twelve. Faith like Jacob’s listens to God and breaks with tradition when He says to.

Joseph knew faith sees the future and boldly makes plans for it even though we’ll be long gone.

And Moses’s parents broke the law of the land knowing faith puts God’s law ahead of man’s.

Do you have faith to buck tradition, see the future past your lifetime, and stand up against man’s way when He calls you to?

Faith understands this world is not our home. That its ways can be overridden by Him at His bidding. Faith lives in the Kingdom of God, every moment of every day, even before we get there.

Father God, help me to understand the lives of these You call faith-full in Hebrews 11.
Teach me to live in Your Kingdom by faith without fear, trusting You in all that happens.
Bless me with trusting obedience, even when it seems crazy.
I don’t want to miss out on Your promise.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s reading: Hebrews 11:1-10
[Click above to read online. Or open up that Bible of yours.]

…without faith it is impossible to please God…

How confident are you in what you hope for?
Are you assured of what you do not see?
Abel couldn’t see God, but brought Him a fine offering. His efforts got him killed.
By faith Enoch walked with God. He left this world without dying.
At God’s command, Noah built a boat to save his family from a storm he could not see or imagine. His faith condemned others but he gained righteousness.
Abraham left everything to go to a place he did not know, an inheritance he did not own. He had faith in God’s promise. Living all his life in tents, he looked forward to a city built by God.
All these acts of faith pleased God. Believers taking steps, trusting Him, not knowing how it would turn out. Just knowing if God said to, they would. Sure He would make good on what they hoped for.
What are you hoping for? Are you confident in it even though you can’t see it?
What is He calling you to? Are you doing it with blind obedience?
Are you pleasing Him with your faith?
Father God, forgive me for the times I’ve lived faithless.
Bless me with the faith of the faithful.
Confident in hope, assured of the unseen.
I long to please You through faithful obedience.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s verses: Hebrews 10:28-39
[Open up your Bible today. Or choose by clicking the reference.]

Rejecting the Old Covenant, the law of Moses, resulted in unmerciful death — stoning — based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. The New Covenant, based on the blood of Christ, deserves even greater punishment when it is rejected. To reject God’s law, either old or new, is an insult to His grace.

So how can anyone think all will go to heaven one day? With or without receiving Jesus as Lord?

Studying His love, we see His love for all His creation, His mercy poured out every day.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding
in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over
all he has made.
Psalm 147:8-9 ESV
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes
his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. …”
Matthew 5:43-45 ESV

However, if we reject Him, He will reject us. His love is for all, but the blessings of His love are conditional.

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Psalm 31:23 ESV
The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
Psalm 145:20 ESV
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
Jonah 2:8 ESV
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world
is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world
makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4 ESV

He died for all. Longs for all to be saved.
But we each have a choice to make.
His Way leads to eternal life…
All other ways lead to death… eternal separation from God and all that is good.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved
through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not
believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name
of the only Son of God. …”
John 3:16-18 ESV

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God apart form the covering of Jesus’s blood.

Pray for those who are lost. Love those who are lost.
He is. So should we.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are
in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly
and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight
of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come
to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one
mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony
given at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV
Father God, open my heart to Your undeniable truth.
Your great love is for all You’ve created, but Your blessings
of forgiveness and mercy only go to those who receive Your Son.
Fill me with Your compassion for the lost.
Guide me in praying for them and reaching out to them
in a way that they will receive the truth of Your love.
In Jesus’s name. Let it be so.

Beyond the Gospels: Hebrews

Today’s reading: Hebrews 10:19-27
[Click the reference to read online.]

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

Today as I write this post, I’m in the middle of holding onto the hope I profess, believing with all the faith that is within me that He is faithful to His promise.
Several weeks ago, Stacy and I stepped out in faith to open up our shop to teach a Bible study on faith. That may not sound like it takes a lot of faith, but the thing is we’re writing the study… as we’re teaching…
Yes. We set a date and time to start the study. Even the number of weeks it would last. But the study isn’t finished. Each week has been a white-knuckle kind of faith as we hold onto the hope that the One we believed called us to this ministry is faithful.
In all the twenty-plus years I’ve been walking with Him, He has not failed me yet. In small steps of faith and ones that were giant. But this season is one that has stretched me the farthest yet.
That’s part of what it means to live hope and faith. Stepping out in the call He places on our lives. Even when we don’t know where we’re going, like Abraham. But trusting Him. Trusting it is Him who called. Who will equip. And be faithful to complete what He’s begun.
So I ask you today: When was the last time you held on to the hope of His promise with white-knuckled faith?

If it’s been a while. Let me spur you on. He has good deeds for you to do. Love for you to share. Things He prepared for you to do since before the world was created. 
Don’t miss an opportunity. Don’t wait another day. He is faithful. And the Day is approaching.
Lord Jesus, today I pray for all Your people.
Stir us up to hopeful faith in Your promises.
Stir us up to fulfill the call You have for each one of us.
Stir us up to live a life of faith and love.
In Jesus’s name.