Read Hebrews 13:15-25
The letter to the new Jewish believers is coming to an end. As we close any letter, sermon, book, etc., there is usually a summation of what the important take-aways should be. This letter does a beautiful job of that. The author is giving them (and us) a workable set of guidelines to follow. I never like to think about my faith and behavior in terms of “expectations” or “rules,” but I do like to know what pleases God.
Just like in marketing, we don’t sell the drug, we sell the cure. We focus on what the benefits are, what problems need a solution. Here, the new believers need the clarity of who they are following and what that looks like. We know our lives are transformed when we meet Jesus, but often times we don’t know how to act and don’t want to fall back into our wicked ways. Continue reading “Hebrews 13:15-25 – Parting Wisdom”
Read Hebrews 13:10-14
There is a lot of symbolism in today’s reading I probably missed the first couple times I read through this text. For some of us, understanding Jewish tradition is not something we have spent a lot of time doing. I wonder when Christians stopped observing Jewish traditions? Granted, not all early Christians were Jewish, but a lot of them were. The book of Hebrews has been written to them to help them in coming to grips with their new belief. How can you juggle two different traditions? I’m sure this book/letter was very helpful to them.
Many more Jews thought these “Christians” were crazy to believe Jesus was the Messiah. I am sure the new believers took quite a beating (maybe even literally) for this. Even today, there are traditional Jews who are upset with those who call themselves Jews yet believe Jesus is the Messiah. Yet many others don’t even know what a Messianic Jew is (one who believes Jesus is God’s son). And of ones I’ve seen randomly asked, they don’t really care what other people think. The Jewish religion historically has not been a missionary movement. By contrast, as Christians, we are called to tell the world about Jesus and his love. Continue reading “Hebrews 13:10-14 – Outside the Gate”
Read Hebrews 13:6-9
Fear can be crippling. What are your fears? What comes to mind for me are the obvious fears like spiders, heights and confined spaces. We aren’t born with these fears, but somehow they creep in over the course of time. Since moving to Mexico I have really come to grips with my fear of spiders. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one scurrying around (yes, they are VERY fast here, and VERY big). You’ve heard people say the way to conquer your fear is to face it.
Aside from these “common” fears, we all have fears that are deeper inside us. They limit us from our true happiness or potential. I’ve learned more and more about these fears, also known as “limiting beliefs.” We all have them. Maybe we believe we aren’t good enough or don’t deserve happiness. Maybe we believe we are too old or too young to do this or that. These beliefs are based on fear. What does the Bible say? Continue reading “Hebrews 13:6-9 – Kick Fear in the Butt”
Read Hebrews 13:1-5
I hope we all know the most important thing is to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Beyond that, this passage reminds us of others who should receive our affection as well. As our author closes this letter, he wants to remind us all of what should be obvious but often forgotten.
Love one another. That can sometimes be hard. Especially loving those who are hard to love. We all had someone come to mind just now. Maybe it’s the crotchety neighbor or the busybody at church or the obnoxious, loud-mouth co-worker. We are brothers and sisters after all, and we should love each other as family. Love as Jesus loves. Continue reading “Hebrews 13:1-5 – Be a Better Lover”
Read Hebrews 12:14-29
Nobody wants to be left behind. I remember being left at church one Sunday. My parents had driven separate cars because we had guests. Each thought the other had taken me home with them. When the church started clearing out and I couldn’t find my family, panic set in. Cell phones were not invented yet, so I had to find a phone. It all worked out, but it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
The author here doesn’t want these new believers (or us) to be left behind or miss out on God’s promises. He uses the example of Esau as our wake-up call. “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” The author wants to paint a picture for us of the two mounts: Mount Sinai (representing the old covenant) and Mount Zion (the new covenant). Continue reading “Hebrews 12:14-29 – Unshakable Faith”