274.) Hebrews 12

May 20, 2010

Hebrews 12 (New International Version)

God Disciplines His Sons

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,



This has to be in my Top Ten List of Wonderful Hymns!  “For All the Saints.”   The words were originally written (1864) as a processional hymn, and the hymn tune, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams and known as Sine Nomine, is considered by many to be one of the finest hymn tunes of the 20th century.   Can you see the “cloud of witnesses” marching towards the Throne of God accompanied by this piece?

1.  For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2.  Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3.  O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4.  The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5.  But lo!  there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6.  From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!


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.

from Whispers of His Power, by Amy Carmichael:

Hebrews 12:1 — Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 13:5-6 — He  hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear.

Watching an obstacle race made me think of the race we are called to run.  While we are in the middle of loops and tires and ladders and sacks we may be tempted to forget that they did not put themselves there.  They are there on purpose.  What would be the point of an obstacle race if there were no obstacles?  It would be foolish to say, “Couldn’t you clear these obstacles off the field, and make the race nice and easy?”

And yet that is exactly what we often ask God to do for us.  “Please make it a bit easier, it’s too hard for me.”  That is a poor sort of prayer, and there is not a single promise in the Bible which we can take and spread before our Father and say, “See, my Father, You promised to make the race easy.”  So it cannot be the kind of prayer He likes His runners to bring to Him.

There are many promises that we can bring.  Here is one.  It was written in a letter to people who were running in an obstacle race, and the obstacles were simply tremendous.  The author wrote about being properly prepared for the race, and about running with patience.  He wanted to give them a strong word of comfort too, so he wrote:  “God has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.  So you may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear.”

Next time we feel like giving up as we jump our bars, or scramble up our ladders, or dive through our rings, or struggle through our old tires, or stagger along in our sack, let us listen and we shall hear that word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”


2Let 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. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.


4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten 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.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

“Refiner’s Fire,” watercolor by Jana Winters Parkin, 2007.

Suffering for the believer is a privilege, because suffering is a refining. Why do the godly suffer?  They suffer that they may be purified and cleansed.  Such is the message of God’s Word.  It is a refining process.  How clearly that is brought out in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews.

Suffering is a refining process, and even as heat is applied to precious metals to bring all the dross to the top in order that the pure metal might remain, so your life and mine are often subjected to the heat of suffering by the great Refiner who knows just how much heat to apply.

We read in Zechariah 13:9, “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.”  God thus gets rid of the dross and we become partakers of His holiness.  That is a great promise and a great  privilege!

–Rev. Dr. Robert W. Lazear
in Stones of Remembrance


2 Corinthians 1:20 (The Message)

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.


12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Warning Against Refusing God

14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Bitterness has a tenacious way of taking root deep within the soul and resisting all efforts to weed it out.  Bitterness occurs for many reasons.  It might come from deep hurts you received as a child, hurts you cannot forget.  Time, rather than diminishing the hurt, only seems to sharpen the pain.  Bitterness can result from the hurtful words of a friend or co-worker.  Often the person who hurt you is unaware of the extent of your bitterness.  You find yourself rehearsing the offense over and over again, each time driving the root of bitterness deeper within your soul.  Bitterness can derive from a sense of being unjustly treated.

Bitterness is easy to justify.  You can get so used to a bitter heart that you are even comfortable with it, but it will destroy you.  Only God is fully aware of its destructive potential.  There is nothing so deeply embedded in your heart that God’s grace cannot reach down and remove it.  No area in your life is so painful that God’s grace cannot bring total healing.  No offense committed against you is so heinous that God’s love cannot enable you to forgive.

When you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you reject the grace of God that can heal you.  If you are honest before God, you will admit the bitterness and allow God to forgive you.  God will replace your bitterness with his peace and joy.


16See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”


22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a BETTER word than the blood of Abel.

 . . . for you have come home.

25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our “God is a consuming fire.”

from this Day with the Master, by Dennis F. Kinlaw:

Our God is a consuming fire.  –Hebrews 12:29

Sin has a transcendent character.  It rises above natural law and personally affronts the Holy One.  God is holy, he is the Almighty, and the difference between right and wrong begins and ends in him.  If you do not have the triune God, it is impossible to distinguish truth from error, and everything blurs together in a great gray mass of confusion.  We tend to be frightened of the holiness of the Father, Son, and Spirit, but in reality his holy nature provides the security of the world.  We want God to be angry when a child is hurt or when a person is discriminated against because we do not want evil to win.  We are glad that God gets upset when rich people take advantage of poor people.  God finds sin offensive because he is holy and he does what is right—always.

When the Holy Three-in-One comes into our midst and begins to make us like himself, we should be filled with ecstasy because his holiness offers the only chance for our crooked world to ever be made right.  God’s holiness is the dream of all the utopian philosophers, whether they acknowledge it or not.  He is the One in whom there is no falsehood, no wrong, no pollution.  He is the Just One:  absolutely true, completely good, and always right.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
cross window and verse 2.    http://pleasantword.net/media/wallpaper/Hebrews_12-2.jpg
runner and verse 1.    http://www.preceptaustin.org/hebrews12_1_new.jpg
sack race.    http://www.pnc.edu/cssac/06%20picnic%20Photos/Sack%20Race%20start.jpg
woman’s face with beautiful eyes.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/192/514545523_0aa2f8ed2e.jpg
Parkin.   http://www.parkinx.com/fineart/images/art/sized/parkin.57.jpg
Yes stamp.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/yes%20stamp/Errchy/yes_stamp_sm.jpg
fire on the mountain.    http://www.lutheranscience.org/images/Mt_Sinai.gif
heavenly Jerusalem.    http://gbcdecatur.org/files/NewJerusalem.jpg
God is good.    http://mailynshari.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/god-is-good-logo.jpg


273.) Hebrews 11: 23 – 40

May 19, 2010

Hebrews 11:23-40

(New International Version)

23By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

baby Moses and his mother

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

” . . . and the walls came a-tumbling down!”

31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.


32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a BETTER resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.


2 Corinthians 1:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

For every one of God’s promises  is “Yes” in Him. Therefore the “Amen” is also through Him for God’s glory  through us.


40God had planned something BETTER for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


“God has no problems.  Only plans.”

–Corrie ten Boom



“When the Saints Go Marching In.”  Mimi Fox is a jazz guitarist par excellance!  (How many times do you think she has practiced until her fingers bled?!)


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Faith is . . .     http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w221/dramadiva_photo/Life/Faith_hopefor.jpg
Moses’ mother places him in the river.    http://www.childrenstory.info/childrenbiblestories/childrenbiblestoriesillustrations/ilst190.jpg
Passover.    http://inbeulahland.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/passover1.jpg
crossing the Red Sea.    http://www.danielerlander.com/artwork/8redsea.jpg
walls of Jericho fall.    http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/children/060.jpg
Rahab hiding the spies.    http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/StandardBibleStoryReadersBook5/target5.html
yes.     http://www.yesdesign.ca/yes_design/graphic/yes_r1_c1.gif


272.) Hebrews 11:1 – 22

May 18, 2010

Hebrews 11:1-22

(New International Version)

By Faith

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.


What is FAITH?

Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Henry David Thoreau:

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.”

from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery:

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Bible)

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].


2This is what the ancients were commended for.

3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4By faith Abel offered God a BETTER sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Abel — and Cain


5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God,

It is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith.

because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.



8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.


by David Wilkerson

God gave our forefather Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). In Hebrew, the word everlasting means never-ending. You might think, “Abraham had to rejoice over this. God promised his descendants a permanent homeland, as far as they could see, and it would last into eternity.” However, the New Testament tells us the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth.

You may wonder: How could God’s “everlasting possession” to Abraham be a mere piece of real estate? How could it be eternal? The fact is, this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” (Hebrews 11:9). Why was this so? It was because Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself.

“He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham could see the true significance of the land blessing and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming Messiah. Jesus himself tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years, to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest. And, as Abraham knew, this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself. That’s right, the Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well. And God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.


11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because heconsidered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.


13All 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. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a BETTER country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

Abraham and Isaac


from Whispers of His Power,  by Amy Carmichael:

Hebrews 11:19 — Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.

Is there someone who is dead to the call of God and to all you have tried to do for him or her?  Is there something in your own heart that seems dead—hope, faith, courage, gladness, patience, love?  These words meet that condition.  God is able to raise up even those from the dead.

Think of the infinite love of God.  God so loved the world—not the good and lovable, but all the people in the world, just as they are.  God loves that ungrateful patient, that difficult child, that car driver who doesn’t care, that careless workman.  God loves those who have disappointed you again and again.  Most wonderful of all, God loves you and me.

There are many sorrowful people in the world today, some who have lost their dearest on earth, or who have parted from them.  Everywhere there is anxiety.  But the power of Calvary suffices for all needs as well as for all sins.

O Love eternal, Love divine,
In wounded hearts pour oil and wine.
Where darkness broods like moonless night,
O Light of Life, let there be light.
And Thine the praise, the glory be
When Thy beloved come home to Thee.


20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.



22By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.



“O When the Saints Come Marching In.”  Well, if you can’t sing this song with this chapter, when on earth can you sing it?!  With Louis Armstrong, of course.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Faith is.    http://www.newlifeweb.org/Images/WP_Faith_Is.jpg
Faith.    http://mennaef.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/faith_card-p137216260609523543q0yk_400.jpg
Abel and Cain.    http://ourpreciouslambs.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/cain-and-able.jpg
Noah.    http://www.oneil.com.au/lds/pictures/noah.jpg
map of the Promised Land.    http://davidanthonyporter.typepad.com/.a/6a00e55043abd08834011570af5a73970b-320wi
Abraham and stars.    http://www.loder.cz/bible/abram/V054.jpg
Abraham and Isaac before the Sacrifice (by Jan Victors, 1642).    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Abraham_and_Isaac_before_the_Sacrifice,_Jan_Victors,_1642.jpg
Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons (by Benjamin West, 1766).    http://hoocher.com/Benjamin_West/Jacob_Blessing_Ephraim_and_Manasseh.jpg

271.) Hebrews 10:19 – 38

May 17, 2010

Hebrews 10:19-38

(New International Version)

A Call to Persevere

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (Amplified Bible)

For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God.


by David Wilkerson

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil…. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”  –(Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).

There are two sides to Christ’s work at Calvary.  One side is to the benefit of man, and the other side is to the benefit of God.  One benefits the sinner,  while the other benefits the Father.

We are well acquainted with the benefit on the human side.  The cross of Christ has provided us with forgiveness of our sins.  We are given the power of victory over all bondages and dominion over sin.  We are supplied with mercy and grace.  And, of course, we are given the promise of eternal life.  The cross has given us the means of escape from the terrors of sin and hell.

I thank God for this benefit of the cross to mankind, and for the wonderful relief it brings.  I rejoice that it is preached week after week in churches all over the world.

Yet there is another benefit of the cross, one that we know very little about.  And this one is to the benefit of the Father. You see, we understand very little about the delight of the Father that was made possible by the cross.  It’s a delight that comes to him whenever he receives a prodigal child into his house.

If all we focus on about the cross is forgiveness—if that is the end-all of our preaching—then we miss an important truth that God has meant for us about the cross.  There is a fuller understanding to be had here, and it has to do with his delight.  This truth provides God’s people with much more than just relief.  It brings liberty, rest, peace and joy.

In my opinion, most Christians have learned to come boldly before God for forgiveness, for supply of needs, for answers to prayer.  But they lack boldness in this aspect of faith—an aspect that is just as crucial in their walk with the Lord.

The Lord has great joy that the cross has provided us with open access to himself.  Indeed, the most glorious moment in history was when the temple veil was rent in two, on the day that Christ died.  It was at this very moment that the benefit to God burst forth. In the instant that the temple veil—separating man from God’s holy presence—was torn asunder, something incredible happened.  From that point on, not only was man able to enter into the Lord’s presence, but God could come out to man.


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


Reflections on encouragement:

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
~Richard Bach

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.
~Ivy Baker Priest

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.
~Henry David Thoreau

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.
~Claude Bissell

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.  When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
~Acts 11:22-23  (New Living Translation)


26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had BETTER and lasting possessions.

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

37For in just a very little while,

“He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 (New King James Version)

But the just shall live by his faith.

As a monk, Luther had become deeply aware of his sin and knew that he fell short of the standards set by God’s law.  The words of Habakkuk 2:4 struck Luther as the key to his problem, but it was some time before he grasped that his sins were forgiven by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, apart from any works of his own.  Luther’s son wrote:

“As he repeated his prayers on the Lateran staircase, the words of the prophet Habakkuk came suddenly to his mind: ‘The just shall live by faith.’  Thereupon he ceased his prayers, returned to Wittenberg, and took this as the chief foundation of all his doctrine… .  Luther himself said of this text, ‘Before those words broke upon my mind I hated God and was angry with him because not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life, he still further increased our torture by the gospel.  But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words – “The just shall live by faith!” “The just shall live by faith!” – then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of of God.'”



Rich Mullins (he of “Awesome God” fame) wrote and sings “The Just Shall Live.”

I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

‘Cause You won’t let Your Holy One
No, You won’t let Your Holy One
You won’t let Your Holy One
See corruption in the grave

Because He put His trust in You
Because He put His trust in You
Because He put His trust in You
Many shall be saved

And I know that You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
On the last day

For the Lord looks down on the sons of men
To hear the cries of the innocent
And the guilty will not stand
For the day of reckoning soon will come
And the whole world will see justice done
By the Lord’s almighty hand

So I’m telling you the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

And You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
That You will raise them up
On the last day

And the prayers stand where the fighters fell
And time testifies with the tale that it tells
That the meek shall inherit the earth
And the Church advances on the gates of hell
And she clings to a light that will not be quelled
By the kingdoms of this world

I’m telling you the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

And You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
You will raise them up
On the last day


And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.”

39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
clouds and verse 23.    http://free-wallpaper-christian.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Free-Wallpaper-Christian-Chirstmas-Hebrews-10-23.jpg
yes.     http://think.faesthetic.com/wp-content/uploads/yes2.jpg
the veil is torn.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/veil_.jpg
butterfly emerging from its cocoon.    http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i279/gorgeousemoguys/440119242_52a41d2bf9.jpg
fog and verses 35-36.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Hebrews10_35-35.jpg
Martin Luther.    http://godwordistruth.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/martin_luther.jpg

270.) Hebrews 10:1 – 18

May 14, 2010

“The Sacrifice of Isaac” by Caravaggio, 1602  (Uffizi, Florence) points to the required daily sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple, and to the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ.

Hebrews 10 (New International Version)

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All



To sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.

–Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking


1The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

It is IMPOSSIBLE that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin.

5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.’ ”




1 Samuel 15:22 (English Standard Version)

And Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.”


8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.


Instead of sacrifice, God desires a contrite heart. Can you give God that?

Psalm 51:16-17 (King James Version)

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.


10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.



“Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs”  from Handel’s Messiah.

Isaiah 53:4-5  (King James Version)

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.


13Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.


Instead of sacrifice, God desires a humble and merciful heart. Can you give God that?

Micah 6:6-8 (New Living Translation)

What can we bring to the Lord?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God
with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.


15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”

17Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”

18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.


from Everyone’s Guide to Hebrews,
by Neil R. Lightfoot:

The author has placed before us, with consummate skill, Jesus as our eternal high priest.  As priest, especially when compared with the candidates from Levi, he has no rival.  He exemplifies the perfect type of priesthood, what God had in mind from the beginning.  He is the real thing!

1.  His incarnation was real.  He descended to earth and fully shared in flesh and blood.  He was not ashamed of his “brothers.”  In every respect he had to be made like them (2:11-17).

2.  His suffering was real.  As the author will go on to say, he “suffered outside the gate” (13:12).  He “endured the cross” (12:2).  He was made “perfect through suffering” (2:10).  Son though he was, he “learned” obedience through his suffering (5:8).

3.  His offering was made in the real place—heaven itself.  The difference between an “earthly sanctuary” (9:1), the tabernacle, where the Jewish high priest officiated, and the sanctuary “not made with hands (9:11), where Christ ministers, is infinite.  As high priest for us, Christ gloriously entered heaven.  What could he offer?  Certainly not the blood of bulls and goats!  Through his own eternal spirit and through his own blood, he went before God.  There he sprinkled his blood on the mercy seat in heaven.

4.  His forgiveness is real.  This, of course, follows, if Christ’s offering of his blood before the Father has secured “eternal redemption” (9:12).  An ancient king customarily had a special attendant to remind him of this or that which had occurred in the past.  The attendant kept notes and chronicles in case something had to be recalled.  He was a “remembrancer.”  But because of Christ, we do not have a “remembrancer” to bring up our offenses.  God said, “I will remember their sins no more.”

So it is Christ who turns shadows into reality.  His blood can wash away our sins.  Instead of “woe is me, woe is me, woe is me,” with confidence and great joy we can say, “thank God, thank God, thank God!” for Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!



“Man of Sorrows” — what a name / for the Son of God who came / ruined sinners to reclaim   / Hallelujah!  What a Savior!


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
sacrifice.   http://digitalrightsmanifesto.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/the_sacrifice_of_isaac.jpg
clouds and verse 23.    http://free-wallpaper-christian.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Free-Wallpaper-Christian-Chirstmas-Hebrews-10-23.jpg
multi-colored heart.    http://www.maniactive.com/Valentine/chakra-heart.jpg
real thing.   http://rlv.zcache.com/jesus_christ_the_real_thing_tshirt-p235346059036560252trlf_400.jpg

269.) Hebrews 9

May 13, 2010

Jesus as our “mercy seat” mediates between God and all humanity.  He paid the awful price of sin and fulfilled all the law’s demands, was raised from the dead to be our great eternal High Priest, and now offers us the true bread (manna) of everlasting life.

Hebrews 9 (New International Version)

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

1Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

Furniture in the tabernacle:  the ark of the covenant, the lampstand, the altar for incense, the table for bread.

6When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

The Blood of Christ

11When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Not All the Blood of Beasts
by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay its hand
On that dear head divine
As penitently here I stand,
Confessing guilt is mine.

My soul looks back to see
The burden you did bear
When hanging on the cursed tree;
I know my guilt was there.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing his bleeding love.


15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.


2 Corinthians 1:20 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

Certainly, Christ made God’s many promises come true. For that reason, because of our message, people also honor God by saying, “Amen!”


16In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.



“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” is a wonderful old Andre Crouch song, sung here by Clay Aiken.


23It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with BETTER sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.


from The Daily Study Bible, by William Barclay:

Here is the eternal principle—Forgiveness is a costly thingHuman forgiveness is costly.  A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears; it has brought whiteness to the hair, lines to the faces, a cutting anguish and then a long dull ache to the heart.  It did not cost nothing.  There was the price of a broken heart to pay. 

Divine forgiveness is costly.  God is love, but God is holiness.  God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built.  Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates.  And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven.  Forgiveness is never a matter of saying:  “It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.”  Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.  Without the shedding of heart’s blood there can be no remission and forgiveness of sins.  There is nothing which brings the effect of his sin on someone with such arresting violence as to see the effect of his sin on someone who loves him in this world, or on the God who loves him forever, and to say to himself:  “It cost that to forgive my sin.”  Where there is forgiveness, someone must be crucified on a cross.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
ark in the heavens.    http://breadbreakers.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b482b6970c0120a599ad74970b-320wi
tabernacle furniture.     http://www.thinking7.org/wp-content/themes/thinking7/images/graphic-tabernacleFurniture.gif
Jesus carrying a lamb.   http://www.jarheadsforjesusoorah.com/663cscd.jpg
Yes.    http://leadgraffiti.com/users_images/portfolio/poster-hell-yes-800.jpg
Jesus on the cross, painting by Simon Bisley.    http://simonbisleygallery.com/art/2525.jpg

268.) Hebrews 8

May 12, 2010

Hebrews 8 (New International Version)

The High Priest of a New Covenant

1The point of what we are saying is this:  We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.


from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw:

It is essential for us to understand the role of the priests in the Old Testament because it will enable us to understand Christ’s role in our redemption.  The priests were the mediators between God in his holiness and human beings in their unholiness.  Has God’s holiness changed?  Has the sinfulness of people decreased?  Hardly!  The same need for mediation exists today, but it is met in a different way.  It is no longer met through the ministry of earthly priests.  We have a great High Priest who does not need to make atonement for himself as the priests of Israel did.  Our High Priest is the sinless Christ Jesus.

A second thing to be learned about the priestly role is that God is not to be approached lightly.  In Old Testament times God placed barriers between the people and himself in order to protect the people.  Only members of a special tribe could minister in the house of worship, and only members of one family from that tribe could offer sacrifices.  Further, only a single member of that family could  come into the presence of God behind the veil in the Holy of Holies, and he could go there only once a year.  The priest had to make atonement for his own sins before he made atonement for the people.  It he did not, the penalty was death.

The holiness of our God remains pure and powerful, but we no longer approach him through an earthly and sinful priest.  We have access to the Father through Jesus, who in his death rent the veil of the temple and made access for all persons to come boldly to God.  But we do not come alone.  We come through Jesus, so our boldness is not presumption.  It is based on the atoning work of Christ.  In the institution of the priesthood we see a picture of what Christ came to do.  He did away with the Old Testament priesthood, but the ministry and reality of that priesthood he took upon himself and performs for us even today.

So “approach the throne of grace with confidence” through Christ (Hebrews 4:16).



Charles Wesley’s wonderful hymn  “And Can It Be,” — first published in 1738 — sung by the Altar of Praise Chorale.  I especially like the last verse, which begins with these words:  “No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in him, is mine.”


3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on BETTER promises.


2 Corinthians 1:20 (New International Version)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.


7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:

“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
whenI will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.

Psalm 119:2 (New Living Translation)

Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.


I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and I will remember their sins no more.”


Romans 8:1-4 (New Living Translation)

So now there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

We are told that God remembers our sins no more.   But we remember our sins! — either because of our good memory or some other person’s good memory.  So we cannot help but believe that God still remembers our sins. This is a lie. God has chosen not to remember our sins, so that He will not hold us guilty for our sins. God has chosen to forgive all of our sins. This is the only reason for Jesus to be on the Cross.  Therefore:  we have a choice.  We can choose to keep track of our sins, strain under their oppression, and (in effect) live as though God lies . . . or we can take God at his everlasting word and say, “Thank you for forgiving my sins.  Thank you that I am no longer condemned.  Help me today to live lovingly, mercifully, honorably, justly, kindly — for you.”


13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (New International Version)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!



Matt Redman (English worship leader and songwriter, now based at Passion City Church in Atlanta) and “Once Again.”


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
cross and verse 12 (Renee E. Belleville).    http://www.kids-teens.org/Bible/hebrews8_12.jpg
High Priest.    http://gailruth.com/Assets/high_priest.gif
Yes!    http://www.yesmagazine.org/images/content/yes_logos.jpg
laws in mind and heart.    http://donstephens.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/self-government.jpg
white cross.    http://fs.blackplanet.com/f2614260ec526a929c1615dd35239d827bc741ec/437x
new and improved.    http://weelicious.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/weelicious-new-improved.jpg