https://youtube.com/shorts/GmPs-rlZ-dU?si=Pz7WemU8tJuh_BIB Hebrews 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. You have been redeemed from your transgressions. That means...
https://youtube.com/shorts/bFHB_ZQ-8QE?si=e0rDLfzc7AP9ilw7 Hebrews 9:15 Therefore, he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions...
I grew up in churches with wooden tables placed right under the pulpit. It was where they placed elements for communion and flowers for funerals. On the front lip was inscribed today’s passage. Hebrews 13:8 was one of the first verses I became familiar with as I grappled with the meaning of its theology. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even as a young child, I would see these words burnt into the wood on the table, and it gave me a quiet assurance that Jesus never changes.
The criminal justice system is a tough place to exist. I served as a chaplain at a correctional institution, otherwise known as a prison, for several years, and each week I would see the wear and tear on the men as they shuffled to the chapel. Granted, they had a place to sleep and three meals a day, which many down and out on the street do not, but the neighborhood is much rougher inside the bars than outside. The church needs to remember its brothers and sisters serving sentences for crimes they committed. Remember those who struggle.
Long road trips are something that our family loves to take. We have traveled all over the western United States by car. Most trips have taken fifteen hours one way, but some have taken more. People asked us how our children did, and they were fine. We stopped enough for food and gas that it wasn’t too arduous. They often responded, “I could never do that with my family.” That may be true, but it makes you wonder how patient are you.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.”
The Psalmist has learned the value of being patient. This is another of the Ascent Psalms that the Jews would sing as they climbed the mountain to get to Jerusalem. It was a long, arduous journey that took patience on the part of the sojourner. They wanted to get to the temple to worship, but their soul had to wait for the journey to end. The trip from Galilee to Jerusalem taught them patience they would apply to other areas of their lives.
When the disciples came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they didn’t know that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies they grew up learning. They didn’t realize that John the Baptist
https://youtu.be/RiI5wxmYnJM Do you lay awake at night worrying about your bills? Have you stressed how you will put food on the table? If so, you are not alone. Not only have millions of people been in your place, but God sees your need and is able to provide. The...
Do me a favor and watch the video above. It is a clip from a sermon I preached over a month ago at the church I pastor, The Village Chapel. Jesus has just come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, and he encounters the dad with the son who is demon-possessed. He is throwing himself into fires and water. It’s so bad he can’t be left alone. Jesus is this man’s only hope. He asked, “Lord help my unbelief.”
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The disciples that didn’t go up on the mountain were confronted by this man. He was desperate. His whole life was altered when this boy was possessed because he couldn’t be left alone. Add the combative Pharisees on top, and you have a chaotic situation. Jesus enters this after a heavenly encounter with His Father on the mountain. What a downer, but He was prepared. He was a bit bummed His disciples did;t have the faith to cast the demon out.
God will always do the right in your life. It might not make sense right now, but eventually, everything comes into focus. He sees everything happening to you and knows how to respond in the right way. He will deal with those who treat you wickedly. Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust the process. Freedom is coming. Don’t give up before He sets you free.
“The LORD is righteous; He has cut in two the cords of the wicked.”
There are fifteen songs of ascent that the Jews would sing as they climbed the hills that led to Jerusalem. These songs were packed with a history of how God had saved them in the past and prayers for future protection. It is good to remember what God has done for you because it gives you hope for the future. Here the psalmist recalls how his enemies had plowed long furrows into his back. (Vs. 3) They were slaves in Egypt and laid low by many nations during the time of the Judges.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Wait till your father gets home?” For those who have, it has struck fear in their hearts while they waited for Dad to get off work to dole out the punishment for some disobedience they committed. My siblings and I had several instances where we waited for hours in suspense. Most of the time, it was much ado about nothing, but a few were pretty painful to the backside. The results of discipline should produce better behavior afterward. It did for a while, but soon I forgot the past pain.
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
The writer of Hebrews spends several verses in chapter twelve talking about the discipline of the Lord. Some translations call it chastening. It means to punish for the purpose of instruction. In today’s passage, the focus is on the results of discipline. For a moment, discipline isn’t joyful, but eventually, it yields fruit which for believers is righteousness. The key is to focus on the result of the chastening and not the brief moment of discomfort.
If you’ve read this devotion very long, one of the phrases you’ve heard me use repeatedly is “focus your eyes on Jesus.” Part of that comes from Colossians 3, which tells us to fix our mind on things above, and part of it comes from this passage. You will never go wrong when you focus on Jesus. He is the author and finisher of your faith. If you keep your mind on what He is concerned about, you will rarely venture off the path.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Run the Race
The writer of Hebrews likens the Christian faith to running a race. This is why many think that Paul is the author of this book. This passage is similar to the ones in his epistles to Timothy. If you’re gonna run a race, you need to be lean and unencumbered with any excess weight. Hebrews 12:1 tells you to shed the sin and run with endurance because a great cloud of witnesses surrounds you. Then it goes on in verse two to say fix your eyes on Jesus because He is the one who made you who you are.
I’ve met many people who have difficulty following Jesus because when they think about a Heavenly Father, they think about their earthly father and the emotional scars he caused. Nothing they did was ever good enough, and they only wanted the love and affection they never received. To trust a God they can’t see is difficult. God requires one thing, faith. Put your trust in Jesus, and you will please Him. Without it, it is impossible.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
It is so easy to misinterpret this verse. So many people I know think the bigger the faith, the more God is pleased with you. Wrong! Reread the verse. It is impossible to please God unless you believe in Jesus, period! God is a rewarder of those who seek His Son. That pleases God, not some gigantic vision or bold step of faith. It is those who are devoted to Jesus and do not waver when things get tough! If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will never please God.
Everyone is looking for the secret to happiness. People write books, sell seminars, and create experiences promising that path to a blessed life. All of it leaves a lot to be desired, and you’re still seeking. The writer of Psalm 128 gives us the secret to happiness. You will find your life blessed and overflowing if you do these two things.
“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.”
David wrote many of the psalms. This isn’t one that he penned, but there is a recurrent theme that we see time and time again. The author wants the reader to live a blessed life. Another word for blessed can be happy. I don’t even have to ask if you want to be blessed or happy. He lays out what it takes to achieve that status, fear the Lord, and walk in His ways. As the Psalm goes on, there are promises of eating the fruit of the labor of your hands, and it goes well with you and your wife.
Charles Spurgeon has a great quote, “That exhortation, ‘Let us hold fast,’ might well be written on the cover of every Christian’s Bible. We live in such a changeful age that we need all to be exhorted to be rooted and grounded, confirmed and established, in the truth.” Are you wavering in your belief? Hold fast to your faith. Jesus is faithful, and He will be with you through it all.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Have you ever been so discouraged you thought you would never come out of the doldrums? That’s how the early church was feeling. They were discouraged by the persecution and the infiltration of wrong doctrine. They were being attacked on all sides, and the writer of Hebrews tells them to refocus their eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of their faith. He encouraged them to hold fast to their confession of hope without wavering.
It was customary for Israelites to make annual pilgrimages at least once a year to Jerusalem to sacrifice animals to atone for the sins they committed. They would place their hand on the head of the lamb or bull as a symbol of transferring their sins to that sacrifice. When Jesus died on the cross, the need to sacrifice animals stopped. He became one sacrifice for all of humanity. Your sins are forgiven.
but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET
Jesus only had to die once. It may sound silly reading that, but his death was enough for everyone. Nothing needs to be added. There are people who will preach that every time you sin, it is like crucifying Jesus all over again. That is not true. The power of Jesus’ resurrection was strong enough to cover all of your sins for your entire life. Push back on the evangelistic guilt. You don’t drive the nail into His hand each time you say something wrong. Once Jesus conquered death, He sat down at the right hand of God.
I still remember watching a movie where a poor guy was standing trial for a crime he didn’t commit. The public defender he had was incompetent, and it looked like he would be convicted because the public defender was more interested in padding his victory record than finding the truth. During the middle of the trial, a well-known lawyer walked in and told the judge that he would represent the defendant. When asked why he stepped in, the lawyer told the defendant, “I guess you had my mother as a first-grade teacher, and she didn’t believe you were guilty, so she told me to do something.” Jesus is constantly appearing on your behalf before God.
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
A lot is going on in this passage. First, Christ went to a holy place that wasn’t made with human hands. This is inconceivable. We can’t imagine what it looks like and is made of, but it is glorious beyond our finite human minds. He is in heaven with His Father sitting at His right hand. He earned that right by His death and resurrection and now does all of His Father’s bidding. Part of that is advocating for us, as Satan stands as our accuser. Think about that for just a second. Jesus is your lawyer and redeemer.
New technology has changed the way that crimes are solved. Forensic Scientists are able to take DNA from decades before and determine if someone committed a crime. This has resulted in a lot of wrongfully accused people, especially African-American men, being released from prison after years behind bars. Scripture tells us to protect the innocent by staying far from false charges and standing up for righteousness.
“Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.”
God established an effective judiciary system with the Israelites before they entered the promised land. When bringing charges against someone, there had to be more than one person making the accusation to prevent false charges. There was also another unique aspect of the process. If the person was found guilty because there were multiple witnesses, the people who brought the charges were the first to cast the stone when the person was stoned to death. This meant the person’s blood was on their hands. That claim better be valid and sound because God knew the truth.
When I was young, there was a show called “Land of the Lost.” It was cheesy back then, and there have been many attempts at remakes, all with the same amount of cheesiness. The underlying theme is a family trapped in the past trying to return to the present. They have to navigate dinosaurs and living in the wilderness. Will they be lost for good? That is the tension of the show and what we find the today’s passage.
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
This is one of the most controversial passages in all of the Bible. Can you lose your salvation? Most reformed people will scoff at this and rudely refer you to Romans 9. Others will cheer you on and say yes. If you take this passage at face value, you can’t argue that this person has experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, been moved by the power of God’s Word, and then fallen away. The challenge is that no mention of salvation is made. Each theological side will dig in its heels and declare itself right. The truth is only Jesus knows who is saved.
Have you ever hiked along a stream to the point where you got to the source? Most streams come from underground wells, trickling downhill until they join other streams or rivers and become bigger. This water is a source of life for many people along its route. Jesus is the source of our salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.
“And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,”
Jesus’ experience on the cross and being resurrected from the grave make Him uniquely qualified to be the source of our salvation. Another term for source could be author or cause. In a nutshell, Jesus is the one we go to for new life and our ticket to eternity. The cross and the empty tomb made Him the perfect source for our salvation.
Anti-semitism or discrimination against Jews seems to be on the rise. Just recently, Kanye West said some Anti-semitic statements, and when pressed to clarify or recant, he doubled down. Kyrie Irving, a guard for the Brooklyn Nets, was suspended for supporting an Anti-semitic movie. This is nothing new. It seems to go in waves. The Bible tells believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that it may bring peace and prosperity.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. “May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces.”
Even when the Israelites entered the promised land, they didn’t take hold of Jerusalem. It wasn’t until David conquered the Jebusites that it became theirs. He then made it the capital of Israel and the home of his palace. It has long been a place of contention for the Jews and the rest of the world. When the Jews revolted against Rome in AD 70, the Roman army burned it to the ground, fulfilling what Jesus said in Matthew 24:2 “There will not be one stone left upon another.” There has been little peace in Jerusalem, so we need to pray for the ultimate peacemaker, Jesus Christ, to come.