Hebrews

Word of God

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I believe there are three major things that we can proactively do to cultivate our relationship with God. These are things that we should do often, and they are things that if we do them the way God wants us to do them, no one but us and God will even know they are occurring. The things I’m referring to are prayer, Bible reading and fasting. Each one is important, and I would argue that most Christians don’t practice them enough. Let’s take Bible reading as an example. How can we learn about the character of God, his commands, Jesus’ life, and how we are to live without becoming intimately aware of what the Bible says? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 describes the Bible like this:

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

And Hebrews 4:12 says this about the Bible:

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

I encourage you, if you’re not reading the Bible on a regular basis, to begin doing so. Carve out time each day to read a couple of chapters. Don’t like to read? Invest in the spoken Bible as an app on your smartphone or as a CD collection. Is the Bible a little over your head? Invest in a study Bible, or get a devotional series that will walk you through principles of the Bible. Any way you engage the Bible, the Lord can use that time to teach, rebuke, correct and train you, as it says in Second Timothy. It is also the best way we can grow in our faith because the Bible teaches us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. In all honesty, I can think of no better way to get to know God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit apart from reading the word of God.

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I can’t express how important it is for every believer to become familiar with what the Bible says directly from the Bible itself. If we do, not only can we learn how to live, but we can teach others to do the same. The Bible is the purest written directive to us from the God of all creation. Jesus used the words of the Bible to battle Satan in the desert, and if we know what the Bible says, we can as well because as Hebrews reminds us; the word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword. I’ve read the Bible several times, and even still, each time I read it, God reveals something new to me. The more I read it, the deeper I understand him. And I’m sure any believer reading the word can testify to the same. If you’re new to the Bible, I would encourage you to begin with the New Testament. And if you already know your Bible pretty well, I would challenge you to become a scholar.

Spur One Another

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The bible encourages believers to encourage one another. In one instance, it describes brotherly fellowship and encouragement as if it were iron sharpening iron. Hebrews 10:24 tells us that we should spur on another on. It says:

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

In light of this verse, I'd like to encourage you toward love and good deeds. Over the years, I've thought a lot about the idea of love. Do I really love my neighbor? Do I really love those in the church? What is love anyway? Is it a deep positive feeling for someone, or is it an act? I believe that love is something that first starts in the heart, but can also manifest itself in actions. Sometimes we have to will ourselves to love others. Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies. I think that takes a level of will. It also says that people will know we are Christians by how we love one another. I encourage you to show love this week. To who you ask? Everyone. And good deeds is one way to show love. If God lays someone on your heart, don't hesitate to give them a kind word, lend them a helping hand, or bless them in some way. God explains that love is a key character make-up of every true follower of Christ, so I encourage you to show love and do good deeds.

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Hebrews tells us that we should consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Therefore, I encourage you to do just that. Store up treasures in heaven by doing the work of the Lord here on earth. And one command from our Lord is to love one another. Send a card to someone, perform a random act of kindness, be a blessing to someone. In short, consider how you can show love and how you can do good deeds.

Jesus Understands

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One of the many things I love about our God is that he understands us. Not just because he created us, but because he sent his son to be one of us. And when Jesus was here, he learned what it meant to be truly human, because he was tempted, felt pain, and experienced the struggles of the flesh just like we do, but he did it without sinning. Even still, his understanding of what we go through helps in his desire to be a merciful and faithful high priest. It says in Hebrews 2:17-18:

"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

To me, that is an incredible truth, because it didn’t have to be that way. God makes all of the rules, but he chose to have his son experience what we experience here on earth. In doing that, we know that he understands what we are going through, because he experienced trials of humanity himself. So, whatever you’re dealing with right now, Jesus knows what you’re going through. Not just because he is all knowing, but because he lived life on this earth as a human and can empathize with the human condition. And in that empathy, comes a mercy that may have been presented to us differently if he hadn’t. Praise God for that!

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The bible tells us that Jesus was made human, like us, in every way. He knows what it is like to be human in a fallen world, to be tempted by fleshly things and to feel sorrow and pain. He can empathize with us, and the bible says that this was done so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God. We really shouldn’t take that truth for granted, because it didn’t have to be that way. We are his lowly creation, yet he decided to become like us so that he can experience what it is like to be human. That is a God who truly loves us. And this experiment in humanity culminated in the salvation of those who believe and put their trust in him through his death and resurrection on the cross. I’ve been a Christian for several decades now, and I never want to take for granted these truths, because I always know in the back of my mind, that God could’ve decided to play things out differently. But because of his great love for us, he chose to become like us.

Laid Bare

How important do you think our actions are here on this earth? Do you think that only the big choices in life matter in the grand scheme of eternity? Or do you believe that every word and every action, whether big or small, good or bad, public or private matters? I believe that everything we do and everything we say may ultimately be dissected when we get to heaven and stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Hebrews chapter 4, verse 13 says:  

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

And Jesus says in Matthew 12:36

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."

In both instances, it says that we’ll have to give account on the day of judgment for our behavior here on earth. I challenge you to consider how short life is compared to all eternity. I believe that it is so short that everything we do and say is important. Jesus said that if we even give a cup of water in his name that we will be rewarded. So I challenge you to consider your actions, big and small. In the grand scheme of eternity, they may be more important than you think.

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“Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” The good news is that God is merciful and he is forgiving. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t see everything and know everything about us. Many Americans are concerned with privacy. They are concerned whether “big brother” is watching. I think we all should be more aware that everything is laid bare before God, and we should take that truth very, very, seriously.

No Turning Back

If you are a believer, you might attest that there are times in your life where you find you’re on a spiritual high, and other times where it seems you are losing every spiritual battle. I encourage you to take advantage of the high times, to press into God like never before. Spend more time with God, be more sensitive to the Spirit, encourage others, and allow God to take your walk to the next level. But if you are in one of those low times, don’t let the world or the sin that entangles you pull you away from Christ. In fact, it is during those times where we need the most encouragement. Hebrews reminds us in Chapter 3 verses 12 and 13:

"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

These verses are actually referring to what the Israelites did in the desert, but we too need to make sure that when we find ourselves in our own spiritual desert that we heed these words. I like how it encourages that “none of us be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”. Because you know sin is deceitful. It is a lie. It is false. We think we are getting something we want, when in actuality, we are hurting ourselves and our relationship with God. But if you find yourself on a spiritual high, I hope you are able to do what this scripture suggests - to encourage other believers who are struggling.

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We need to guard our hearts. Hebrews tells us that we shouldn’t have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from God. But that we should find encouragement in one another so that we will not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. You see, we need each other. We need to lean on each other, encourage each other, and we need to do it, as long as it is called, “today”.