Category Archives: Hebrews

How do you live?

Hebrews 2:13a

And again, “I will put my trust in him.” NIV

The Message, I think, puts this best.  Beginning in verse 11 it says, “Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family, saying, ‘I’ll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know about you; I’ll join them in worship and praise to you.’  Again, he puts himself in the same family circle when he says, ‘Even I live by placing my trust in God.’” MSG

I live by placing my trust in God.

I love that.

I don’t live by worrying, or achieving, or waiting, or hoping.  I live by placing my trust in God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Don’t throw your confidence away

Hebrews 10:35

So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. NIV

This section of the 10th chapter of Hebrews is called, “A call to persevere.”  I heard a lesson this morning that started with this verse, and, as soon as I read it, it struck me that this is a reminder not to worry.

Life here isn’t easy.  If we’ve chosen to walk with Christ, there is a cost.  Sometimes that cost is the disapproval of others, which can be challenging to bear up under.  Sometimes the cost is far, far higher.

In the face of persecution, it is often tempting to worry.  What if I AM doing this wrong?  What if my efforts DON’T measure up?  What if I’ve completely missed the boat?

But, those, “what ifs” are not valid.  They are merely, What I Fear.  And, they will quickly and effectively rob me of my confidence.

A woman who is very dear to me  shared a story with me this week.  She said that there was a time in her life that she made a decision, a big decision, and then worried that it had been the wrong one.  For years, she looked back, pondering the path not taken, and wondering if the choice she had made had been the right one.

She said that one night, God gave her a revelation.  It all of a sudden became clear to her that God was not sitting on the other path, waiting for her to show up.  He was right there, on the path that she was walking, leading and guiding.  He knew exactly where she was and the path that she had chosen and he was blessing her.

I love this verse … it says, “don’t throw away your confidence.”  Notice, it doesn’t say, “don’t let anybody take your confidence,” no.  It says that I have control over this, and that I should NOT throw my confidence away… (in favor of worries).

I should hang onto my confidence … it will be richly rewarded.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Look for the lessons in it

Hebrews 12: 5-6

And you have forgotten then that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons.  My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. NIV

I’m back in Hebrews 12.  Twice in this chapter, the writer says, “don’t lose heart.”

In these verses, he’s putting God’s discipline in perspective, “My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either.  It’s the child he loves that he disciplines, the child he embraces, he also corrects.” MSG

Don’t shrug it off … but don’t be crushed by it either … that’s a delicate balance, especially for a worrier.

Apparently, this weekend, Rick Warren will be preaching on what pain can teach us.  He says, “You’ll often receive your brightest insights during your darkest days IF you humbly listen to God in quiet trust.”  He goes on to say that the peace that transcends understanding comes from fully trusting God in situations you don’t understand.

“Pain warns you something is wrong,” he says, “Without it, you’d ignore what needs to be fixed in your life.”

That’s a pretty powerful concept, if you keep it in perspective.  I can see that he’s right about the links between physical pain and things being out of whack.

But he goes on to discuss what he calls relational pain, “The greatest relational lessons come from relational pain,” he says.  “Financial lessons from financial pain, health lessons from … etc.”

That’s one I need to ponder.  I can absolutely see the connections between his point and these verses.  This has me wondering. What lessons should I be learning?  What is it that God is trying to teach me?

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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What can you learn from it?

Hebrews 12:3

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  NIV

This is the third verse that opens chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews.  It was this verse that I found a couple of days ago when I was searching for references to “lose heart,” a synonym for worry.

This verse reminds us to remember the suffering endured by Christ as we face the obstacles and worries that are sure to be in our path.  He has walked the path that we are walking.

Christ became human not only to save us, but also, I believe to better relate to us.  He has seen the world through human eyes, and has experienced the pain that humans are capable of inflicting on one another.  What a comfort that is.  Christ understands our hurts and our worries and is there to comfort us.  We must only remember to consistently take our worries to Him in prayer.

The chapter goes on to discuss the encouragement of discipline.  At first glance, that seems to be an oxymoron.  But, as I thought more about the chapter, I can see that it is completely on point.

This summer, I’m growing roses.  I’ve never grown them before, and, in the part of the country where I grew up, they weren’t terribly common.  I ordered them on line.  Nine little miniature rosebushes.  They came in nine tall boxes, and, as I planted them in my garden this past Spring, I remember not having much hope for them.  They seemed spindly and awkward and not at all likely to produce the lush foliage and gorgeous flowers that I’d seen on the Internet.

I followed the instructions, and planted them in full sun.  For the first month or so, nothing much happened. I watered them faithfully, and then, a few blooms began to appear.  Not all nine plants had flowers, I think I got about four little roses.  I took pictures of them and sent them to my family, and I figured, that was  it.  Nine plants, four blooms … that was honestly a better ratio than I had expected.  I let the blooms fade and turn brown, and then I had just nine little green plants, but, they were at least growing new leaves.  I kept watering.

Then, someone told me that I had to cut the blooms off.  My mom sent me a book on growing roses, and it said the same thing.

So, I cut off all the dead blooms.  Several days later, to my surprise, a few more blooms showed up.  As those faded, I cut them off, just as the book instructed.  And, an amazing thing began to happen.  The more I hacked off fading foliage, the more new blooms I got!

In the face of opposition — or, perhaps in response to discipline — those determined little plants have become more and more beautiful.  They don’t yet look like the picture on the Internet, but, I consistently have 15 or 20 beautiful rose blossoms to admire out my window.

That’s the kind of Christian I want to be.  I will not wilt or worry or lose heart in the face of opposition.  Instead, I will see it as a blessing, as discipline that I can learn from, and I will flourish in it.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Hebrews, Lose heart, New Testament, Worry

Study how he did it

Hebrews 12:2

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. NIV

This is the second of three powerful verse that open Chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews.

My NIV Bible gives some background on this book.  According to that synopsis, this letter was written during the time of the first century church, which was undergoing a good deal of persecution.  It goes on to say that the recipients of the letter were likely “Christians who were thinking of abandoning their faith.”  Throughout the book, the author, who is unknown, but thought to be Barnabas or Apollos, “exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Christ as savior and Lord.”

Our church is studying Max Lucado’s book, Fearless.  Last week,we discussed chapter 13, titled, “What if things get worse?”  The chapter addresses the fear of global calamity.

There’s a lot of global calamity going on at the moment.  There are earthquakes, the oil debacle, longstanding wars, devastating hunger, financial collapse.  There is also some persecution of the Christian faith.  Like those Christians who are the recipients of the letter of Hebrews, the persecution that we face in the U.S. has not yet resulted in martyrdom, but, for the first century Christians, my Bible says, the persecution was severe.  Lucado points to verses (Matthew 24:4-14) that indicate it will get worse.

It is through that lens … pressure that the church was struggling to bear up under … that this book is written.  And, if we use that lens today, these verses still inspire.

Worry can exert internal pressure as powerful as any external force.  When that happens, we must heed the instruction of the writer of this letter, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?” NIV

This morning, I looked up “confidence” in my concordance, under the assumption that it is the opposite of worry, and I wanted to see what I would find.  I found verse 6, which is, no doubt, on my “fear not” list, but, I have not yet made it out of the Old Testament there.

When I read verse 6, which starts, “so, we say with confidence,” I wondered why.  The phrase immediately before verse 6 is very comforting to me, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” but, when I went back to the beginning of verse 5, I found this warning about the love of money and being content with what you have.

The Message ties the two verses together into one thought.  “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things.  Be relaxed with what you have.  Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.”  We can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help.  I’m fearless no matter what.  Who or what can get to me?” MSG

Chapter 13 is the last chapter in Hebrews.  It appears to be a long exhortation that the writer (maybe Paul?) is using to close his letter.  When I read the whole chapter just now, it reminded me of the things that parents say to young children when they will be apart from them … “Don’t forget to wear your sweater, and play nice and share and don’t talk to strangers.”

Of course, the topics the writer addresses are much more vital, but, it is a series of reminders all the same.

It is interesting to me that being content with what we have is so closely tied to having confidence in the Lord.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Confidence, Fear, Hebrews