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Category Archives: Hebrews

Hebrews 6:1-6

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

Dear God, this is an interesting passage when you consider the arguments of “once saved always saved” vs. “maintaining your salvation through works.” Of course, I’m not going to get into that here today because I have no idea what, exactly, it takes for any given human to get into heaven, and it feels like it would be arrogant of me to think I know that answer. However, I would like to dive a little into this idea that “it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance.” That seems like a very short-sighted argument. Frankly, I would love to be able to unpack the author’s thoughts here a little more with him. Maybe I’ll get to do that one day.

I guess my thought has been that it is easier to reach someone who has already experienced the joy of letting go and surrendering to you, even if they’ve backslidden and taken their lives back from you, than it is to convince someone to submit to you and repent who has never done it before. Everyone has to have a breaking point before they decide to come to you. For some of us, that point is pretty easy to reach. They know the joy in humility, repentance, forgiveness, grace, etc. They know what it’s like, if only for a moment, to touch the Holy Spirit and begin to experience the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, and self control. It’s the person who doesn’t trust it and has never allowed themselves to let go of their own rights and agendas who will have to come to a breaking point at some level.

Father, there are people in my life who are currently worshipping you. There are people who used to worship you and have now walked away. And there are some who have never worshipped you and never plan to. First, help me to be someone who worships you. Help me to repent when necessary, extend mercy when necessary, and worship always. And then show me what you would have me do and who you would have me be for those who are walking their paths. Show me how to encourage the worshipper, kindle the embers of the one who walked away, and be part of your invitation to the one who doesn’t know you. Use me as you will. Let y our kingdom come and your will be done on earth through me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 7:23-26

There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
Hebrews 7:23-26

Dear God, my wife and I prayed together this morning. We take turns each day with who prays and it was my turn. I found myself praying the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, or at least the outline of it. As I think of Jesus the High Priest, I think about how I’m able to come to you this morning through him. I’m a Gentile who has grace and access to you through him. It is that thought that leads me into worshipping you and that’s when I find myself following the format Jesus game is.

Father, you are unbelievable, and I am so fortunate…fortunate? That’s weak. I am so unworthy of your love. Yet you make me worthy. You are amazing, unbelievably loving, and forgiving. Thank you. Please let your kingdom come and will be done on this earth and in our lives. From Ukraine and foreign affairs to my family and everything in between. Make the pain we experience count for your glory. Meet our needs today. Help us to remember that you are our provision. You are our only certainty and to not set up idols to replace you. Forgive me for how I sin and show me what it looks like to forgive others even when they don’t seek it. Keep me from succumbing to temptation. Help me resist Satan’s plans for me. And I acknowledge that your kingdom is the one constant, now and forever.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 4:3-13

For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day:

“On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”

But in the other passage God said,

“They will never enter my place of rest.” So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
Hebrews 4:3-13

Dear God, I was listening to a podcast today that covered some interesting topics. I think what is coming to mind now after reading this passage from Hebrews is my motivations. Why do I do what I do in life? Why am I the husband, father, employee, supervisor, church member, community member, etc. that I am? What is my “why?”

The podcast used an example of being at a Christian conference and the speaker was talking about Nehemiah and how the people followed him because he was a servant leader. He had the moral high ground, so they followed him. The person on the podcast, however, said that the speaker had it wrong. The speaker was saying that the Nehemiah’s motivation to get the people to respect him and follow him. The man on the podcast pointed out that the passage stated specifically that he was a servant leader because he feared you. Others following him was a byproduct of his obedience to you.

So what’s my motivation now? Fear of you. Knowing I need you for peace (and maybe rest). I’ve drifted from you the last few days. I’ve felt it. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed the connection. I’ve missed the peace. I’ve missed the rest. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for guiding me. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take a seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2021 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 10:35-36

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36

Dear God, I just got off of the phone with my friend/Christian brother. We talk every Friday morning and share our lives. I told him about how I’ve struggled to really dig into you this week. I mentioned this yesterday with the prayer I did about the “Ode to Joy” flash mob. As he and I prayed together this morning we prayed that we would remember our first love. That we would love the Lord, our God, with all of our heart, soul, and strength. And only after we did this, would we try to love our neighbor as ourselves. But nothing can happen until I simply love you. Worship you. Submit to you. Repent to you. Embrace you. Acknowledge my powerlessness over my life and realize, addiction or no addiction, that I need you to restore my life to sanity and keep me sane. That’s where it starts.

So this passage lends itself to that concept. Patient endurance. Paul’s talking about waiting for your return, but he’s not just saying to patiently wait. This translation uses the word endurance. Part of that endurance is disciplining myself to follow you, submit to you, and worship you. I’m not just a believer in you. You aren’t just a concept in my mind and a philosophical idea that I follow. You are my God and I am able to have a relationship with you. You are able to shape me and mold me. You lead me. You give me peace.

Father, I told my friend this morning that I’m just doing “okay,” and I don’t necessarily judge that based on my circumstances, but instead on the level of peace in my heart. In terms of peace, I’m just doing okay. But you are the vine and I am the branch. You are the source of the fruits of the Spirit, but my branch has to be connected to your vine for that fruit to grow. So here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you are my God. Help me to carry you with me throughout my day. And let it all be for your glory and not mine, oh Lord!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2021 in Hebrews

 

Faith

I prayed and prayed, never heard a sound.

Keith Green
Dear God, I have a lot of cliches that I've kind of developed over the last few years going through my head. One is, "There's a fine line between living by faith and living in denial." Another is, "I measure time in days, weeks and months, but you measure it in years, decades and centuries." 

My wife and I pray together every morning. We pray for our children and their significant others. We pray for immediate and extended family. We pray for friends and coworkers. We pray for ourselves as individuals and our marriage. We've prayed for work things in the past. We've prayed for healing. And sometimes it can feel like we are praying into the thin air. Sometimes it can feel fruitless and hopeless. Sometimes, I don't see the point. But according to Hebrews, "faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." There are times I feel like my prayers are pure faith and I start to wonder is my faith real, or am I just living in denial. Or I wonder if I am expecting the wrong thing from you, and you are telling me no. 

Something happened today to showed us what you've been doing while we never heard a sound. And it's not like I know really what you're doing, what your endgame is, or how you are going to enact your will. But today, at least in this moment, we heard a sound, and it brought me to weeping tears. 

Father, thank you. Thank you for being smarter than me, more knowledgeable than me, and for not giving me what I want when I want it. Thank you for teaching me along the way. Thank you for helping me to work out my faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Thank you for honoring your promises to us. I know that I need these trials to draw me closer to you. I wish I didn't, but I do. So I submit to whatever path you have for me and those I love.

In Jesus's name I pray,

Amen
 
 

Hebrews 12:18-24

You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:18-24

Dear God, I was just having an email conversation with a friend about where we draw the line in what behavior we accept and what we reject as citizens of your kingdom. Where does your church draw the line on controversial issues such as abortion, gender identity, sexual orientation, gluttony, lust, drunkenness, etc.? Frankly, I don’t have a lot of good, definitive answers. I’m glad I am not a pastor and have to address these issues.

This passage reminds me that I am grateful for grace. I don’t have to be terrified to approach the mountain where you dwell. I am not approaching Mount Sinai. I’ve come to Mount Zion. Mount Zion is the place where you made it possible for me to worship you, learn more about you, and be accepted by you in spite of my foolish human selfishness and sin. You give me an opportunity to be refined and improved over time. My part is to humble myself, repent of the sins of which I’m aware, and move forward one step closer to you. And in the next moment, I do the same thing again. It’s a process. On a selfishness/self-indulgent scale of 1-10, last year I was probably an 8.5. Now I might be an 8.25. Still pretty bad, but at least I feel like I am moving in the right direction. I now at least have moment when I’m willing to do the right thing without worrying what I get out of it. That happened less before.

Father, thank you. Thank you that I can sit at my table right now and pray to you through the medium. Thank you that you hear my heart, thoughts, and words. That you that you see my motives, and are able to parse through the evil in my heart to see some raw material with which you might work to continue to refine me into someone you can use. Thank you for grace that allows me to walk away from my sins and not carry them around as shame. Thank you for providing Mount Zion and not staying on Mount Sinai, where I would never dare to tread.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2021 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 10:19-11:2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 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, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 10:19-11:2

Dear God, it’s interesting to go back and take these last two verses about faith and put them into the context of the words that came before. This is all about suffering for you and having faith that the “possessions” I have in you are worth losing my earthly possessions.

You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

See, the problem is, however, that I really don’t know what it is to suffer at the hands of others. Outside of some occasional bullying in my life, I’ve never been persecuted. I’ve had loss. I’ve had trials, but I haven’t suffered the kinds of persecution the author is referring to here. That kind of “faith” is something with which I cannot empathize.

I think that lack of empathy is what those who are angry about things like those who protest by kneeling during the national anthem are experiencing. I understand those who are angry about it thinking that those who are doing it are being ungrateful, but it’s likely they have never experienced the persecution that minorities experience. They haven’t experienced the same America the minority has experienced.

So Father, help me to have the faith I need to accomplish what you need me to accomplish. Help me to have empathy for others and to stand beside them as they need faith to go through the trials before them. And help me to be who you need me to be to be a bridge builder between so many who are currently divided.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2020 in Hebrews

 

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Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Dear God, there is just nothing like community. I cannot imagine going through this time of staying home during the pandemic as much as possible as a single person. But I’ve even noticed it with being separated from church. I’ve never really enjoyed going to church on Sunday morning. I’ve always done it out of self discipline. However, I can see the value in it in new ways now that I cannot attend in person.

I talked with two different executive directors of other nonprofits this week, and it was good for us to encourage each other. I talked with a friend this week who is also a husband and a father, and we shared some of our victories and our failures in those areas. We had a really hard, heartbreaking thing happen at work this week, and I hope I was able to be a comfort to some of my coworkers. I know that they were a comfort to me. I was able to take some groceries to a friend last night who cannot go to the grocery store. My wife and I were able to just sit down and enjoy an evening together last night after having met for a picnic lunch at a local park during the day. I even had a tricky thing to deal with professionally, and I was able to bring in select board members to help me think through it and pick the correct course of action–what we hope is the correct course of action (no one really knows for sure, I suppose). Community, community, community. We are not alone in this world. We need others who can be your audible voice of love, encouragement, wisdom, and even admonishment to us.

Father, as I get ready to sit and spend the next two hours writing letters to donors for our Center, I pray that you will use me as an encouragement to them. When I see an old high school friend later today, help me to be an encouragement to him. When I spend time with my wife or my father-in-law, encourage them through me. And use all of these people to encourage me. I need it too. I need your community. I heard the analogy once that wood and coal will burn longer and hotter if it is put with other wood and coal. If you pile pieces of coal up, they work together to burn better. But if you remove one of those coals from the pile, it will soon burn out. Help me to keep bringing my coal to the pile, and be with those right now who are isolated and are having a hard time being alone.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 12:28-29

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29

Dear God, there is something I hate about myself. I am only really good at worshipping you when the chips are down and I’m in trouble. I was thinking about this yesterday. Things are in a pretty good spot for my wife and me right now. Yes, there are a couple of stressors in our lives, but comparatively things are really good. So, on paper, you’d think this would be a tome when I’m full of worship and gratitude. You’d think I’d see your provision for different things and just fall on my knees. You’d think I’d be singing worship songs all day. But I don’t. I take it all for granted and I start to indulge my own selfishness. I can just be the worst.

When I was a child, I would hear stories about the Israelites and how they would fall away from you. I judged them so harshly. No more. I get it.

Father, I’m grateful for these moments with you. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit convicting next through scripture like he is right now. I’m grateful for everything you have done and are doing. There is so much around me in the lives of others that needs your attention. I should probably be more organized about this prayer list and entering into your presence on behalf of others. My wife is very good at this. Yes, I think this would probably be a good thing. I think I will develop a literal list and go to the chapel regularly to bring these things to you. I will also build in some time of worshipping you. You are so worthy of my praise. You are everything. You are my all in all. I will follow you regardless of my circumstances.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2019 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 10:31-39

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Hebrews 10:31-39

Dear God, the other night I heard a woman say that she was tired of all of the persecution the church is under right now. I’ve got to tell you, at least living in this part of the country, I feel zero persecution. There is certainly nothing happening in our entire country that rises to the level of what is described here. We are absolutely soft.

But what I want to look at are the first words of this passage: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Why is it terrible? I think the author is saying that I am no longer my own. When I submit my will and my life then I am yours and sometimes that will lead me to places I don’t want to go. I have to deny some things that bring me immediate gratification and exchange them for humility and service. I have to love you and other things more than myself. I must discipline myself to throw off the sin that entangles me and press on towards the goal you have set for me.

What do I get in exchange? Mercy and freedom. Peace. Joy. There is no other source for such things.

Father, no, for me it is not a terrible thing to be in your hands. You are good and I am grateful for you. My life has not turned out as I had hoped or dreamed, really in any way. But I wouldn’t trade it. I have it better than I deserve. Please reveal to me how you would like to use me today to love others and serve you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Hebrews