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Category Archives: Hebrews

Hebrews 11:13

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

Dear God, this is pretty much what it’s all about, I think. I experience pains and successes every day. I pray for outcomes for friends, family, and even myself. I pray for outcomes for things in the world. Ukraine. Victims of violence. I pray about a lot of things. I care about a lot of things. But I simply don’t know what you are doing, and I might not ever live to see it.

In this example, the author of Hebrews is using Abraham and Moses as examples of people who were praying and hoping for outcomes that they would not live to see. Their faith in you propelled them forward in their lives, but Abraham never saw what would happen with his grandchildren and who they would become. Moses didn’t reach the Promised Land. I have many, many more examples. Naomi never saw Jesse and David. Samson’s parents never understood why their son was the way he was and probably died feeling like failures. Zechariah and Elizabeth never knew how John the Baptist’s life would turn out, and, had they lived to see John’s beheading they would probably have felt like it was an opportunity lost.

So as for me and my life, yes there are pains in it. There are things that cause me anguish. All I have is my faith that you are doing something in this pain. You are using it to form me. You are using it to form those I love who are involved in that pain. If it takes me taking two steps backward so that your overall plan can take three steps forward–or even one step forward and it’s a net loss for me–that’s okay. It’s not about me, after all. Even if it takes all of the way up to my life just for a marginal advancement of your plan in the world, I will gladly offer that to you.

Father, help me to believe and internalize what I just said. Jesus, guide me through this with your example. Holy Spirit, use your still small voice to guide me and counsel me. When I need it, comfort me. When I need it, discipline me and move me forward. Refine me, oh God, into your image.

I pray this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2023 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 1:1-4

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
Hebrews 1:1-4

Dear God, as I read these verses this morning–especially verse 4–I was reminded of an old praise song by Gloria and Bill Gaither. “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. There’s just something about that name. Master. Savior. Jesus. Like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name.”

I confess that sometimes I get a little muddled when I comes to my prayers and whom I am addressing. Am I addressing the Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit? My default is to address your Father nature, but I’ve been wondering over the last few months if I shouldn’t be mentally addressing the Holy Spirit more since He is the counselor the Father sent after Jesus ascended into heaven 2,000 years ago. But then there’s Jesus himself, the Son of God through whom I enter to approach the Father. Ah, and then that takes me back to addressing the Father. I could talk myself into five circles about this topic. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t really matter since you are all three one God. I’m just here to worship you, submit myself to you, and learn from you.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit, I need you. I need you in my conversations today. I need you in my conversations tomorrow. I really, really need you. Please, don’t let me miss you.

I pray all of this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one Triune God,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 11:1-2,11-16

Great Examples of FaithFaith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation…

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:1-2,11-16

Dear God, reading this passage this morning made me think about the Rich Mullins song, “Land of my Sojourn.” The bridge of it says, “Nobody tells you, when you get born here, how much you’ll come to love it, and how you’ll never belong here. So I’ll call you my country, but I’ll be lonely for my home.”

I guess, when it comes down to it, everything I do, right down to taking the time most days to sit down and do these prayer journals to you, is an act of faith. Well, not everything, but many things. Praying for my wife and children. Preaching. Talking about my faith with others. Leading prayer at work. Thinking of you as my provision and worshipping you. Turning loose of my own selfishness and “pursuit of happiness” (I’ll insert the word “worldly” before happiness to make my point clear) and embracing sacrifice instead. And I don’t want to sound like I do all of this perfectly, or even well. I don’t. There are plenty of moments, days, weeks, and even months and years when I am selfish and I don’t completely surrender myself to you. But the moments when I do get it right are complete acts of faith.

Father, Holy Spirit, as I pray for my wife and children, I pray in faith that you are doing exactly what you need to do to get them where you want them to be. Love them. Reveal yourself to them. Help them to each be at peace in you, surrender to you, and pursue you. Of course, I pray the same thing for myself as well. Help me to be at peace in you, surrender to you and pursue you. Help my siblings and my wife’s siblings. There is pain out there in some of those relationships. Please help them to find their peace in you. Speak to each one, including their children. Be their counselor and comforter. Inspire them. Convict them. Fill them with your love.

I pray all of this through the power and grace of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Hebrews 12:1-4

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Hebrews 12:1-4

Dear God, what is the weight that slows me down? Hmm. Maybe I don’t want to answer that question. I like some of that weight. What I’m thinking about initially are some of the time-sucks like streaming YouTube videos in the evening. Playing Sudoku. Really, a lot of things that involve my iPhone. For a productive tool, it can certainly be a time-suck.

Outside of these things, there are also the pieces of emotional baggage that tie me down. Worrying about loved ones and family who are out of my control. Although the worry does drive me to pray for them, which is good. But sometimes it can consume me and demotivate me to work on other things, which can be bad. I can also get distracted by politics and other things over which I have no control. Now that I think about these examples, distraction from things over which I have no control is probably a common theme in my life and the lives of most people.

Holy Spirit, please nudge me each time today when I am giving into something that slows me down. Show me how to run with perseverance. Show me how to wholly commit everything I do to you. Do it all for your glory so that my limited time on earth might be productive for your kingdom coming and your will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Matthew 10:34-39

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:34-39

Dear God, this has always been a hard passage. Frankly, it could mean so many things. It could be as simple as someone like a parent of child rejecting me because I worship you. It can be as complicated as me allowing a relationship, whether good or bad, to impact how I worship and follow you.

As I read this passage this morning I definitely an application to my life in a new way. I have certainly experienced some strain in familial relationships for quite some time and I can look back and definitely find some examples of how it has impacted my worship of you and my discipleship.

I think one of the tricks is to separate how you feel about my relationships with my children and family from how the world and my culture sees them. As I think about it I just thought about this passage from Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Father, help me to throw off everything that is holding me back from fully following you. Whether it is my sin or complicated relationships, help me to cast anything that is tying me down and run the race you have laid out before me. Let it start with worship. Let it continue with listening to the Holy Spirit, my counselor, my comforter, and my God. Make me the man you need me to be for the people you have put into my life.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2022 in Hebrews, Matthew

 

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