Hebrews 2

Vs. 1, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  Yesterday, our application challenged us to respond to Jesus.  In our opening passage (vs. 1-4), this is one of five major exhortations in Hebrews.  This careful warning is one that gives us this idea of drifting away.  Like a battery that loses juice, or a boat that slowly drifts away, we are reminded that this can happen in our spiritual lives as well.  The rest of the chapter addresses the humanity of Jesus (vs. 5-18).  Jesus being made fully human through the incarnation (becoming human) at his birth was referenced with Psalm 8 (vs. 5-9), a timely reminder as we have Christmas right around the corner.  Because of becoming human, this brought the offer of salvation to all (vs. 10-18) and was fulfilled on the cross.  How timely that we were reminded of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus, and now we have the picture of Jesus being the high priest giving one final atonement for the forgiveness of sins (vs. 17-18).

Regarding application…Being Tempted.  Vs. 18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Question: What does the fact that Jesus being tempted do for us?  Have you ever had someone try to encourage you with a struggle, only to know all too well they have never experienced what you are going through?  The fact that Jesus was tempted gives Him the “street cred” that we look for to consider if He is someone we can turn to.  The temptation He was given to bypass suffering in the desert is something that most of us will never fully comprehend.  That is why we can find strength and encouragement from passages like Hebrews 4:15 and I Corinthians 10:13.  Jesus has overcome so that we can live as new creations and not revert to our old nature!

Hebrews 1

Vs. 1, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.”  It is Godly timing that in our QT schedule we just finished the book of Leviticus.  God worked and spoke through the prophets, but now the fulfillment of His purpose and will comes to fruition through Jesus.  If there was any doubt upon the significance of Jesus the Son of God, the author of Hebrews expounds upon this in our chapter.  The OT is quoted seven times to show the understanding that Jesus is superior over angels (vs. 3-14).  His name is superior as the Son of God.  He is to be worshipped above all and even the angels are to worship Him.  Just like today, there was a tendency for angel worship.

Regarding application…Our Response to Jesus.  Vs. 3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”  For many of us, we are not struggling with the theological superiority of Christ.  However, our response is what is lacking.  Question: What are we going to do with the knowledge of Jesus’ death and resurrection?  Are there other things that are more superior in our lives?  Take time today to consider not only how you can ensure Jesus is superior in your life, but how you can encourage others in your school, work, and church!

Hebrews 13

Vs. 8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  The author of Hebrews has shared with us a wealth of Biblical truths…and in this chapter we see some of their applications.  From loving others, being hospitable to all (you never know if you are entertainig angels), sympathizing and praying for those who suffer, love shown by committment to the family, doing good to all, and honoring & respecting spiritual leaders.  And the promise we have is that Jesus the Great Shepherd equips His sheep with all that we need!

Regarding application…Turning To Christ.  Vs. 13, “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.”  This is in reference to the Jews of the day turning back to Judaism and back to their lives as they once knew it.  Jesus would reject the temple and the city ofJerusalem for their unbelief.  The Jews were holding on to things of this world that have no eternal value.  They were tempted to go back to the city and its ways because it was familiar and easier.  But, literally and figuratively…the temple and city would be destroyed some forty years later.  Likewise our bodies will also be destroyed and die one day.

Question: Why is it so hard to turn to Christ?  Because humiliation and disgrace will follow us if we go outside (our comfort zone) and go to Jesus.  If we are ashamed of Jesus then Jesus will be ashamed of us.  How many times in my own life and the lives of others have I seen us worry more about what others will think….rather than what God will think.  To bear His name, you will bear’s His disgrace.  There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  We turn to Christ because we are reminded in this book of Hebrews all that He is….but more importantly, we turn to Him because His love for us is indescriable.  Being content is not about what we possess…Being content is about having that peace in knowing you are hearing God’s voice and doing His will!

Hebrews 12

Vs. 2, “Let 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.”  Question: Why do we fix our eyes on Jesus?  Because, He endured the cross…endured the shame…and Jesus is now victorious!  It’s almost as if the author is speaking directly to us….there is so much passion in the exhortations!  When we are tempted to give up…what a wonderful passage to turn to for inspiration!  Be ready to be shaken out of your reverie (Vs. 26)…God is shaking things up!  None of us like things shaken up…we like stability, we like security…but God would indeed shake up Israel.  They would lose their city, their temple…many of their lives.

Regarding application…God Disciplines Us.  Vs. 11, “No 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.”  Suffering is not punishment.  God allows suffering and often disciplines us through suffering….Why?  So that we may produce good fruit!  Punishment is the work of a judge…disipline is the work of a loving parent to their child.  Punishment is to uphold the law…discipline is a proof of God’s love.  Rather than rebel from God in suffering, we should draw ever closer for His comfort.

Question: Why is this happening to me?  If we respect those who discipline us in this world (Parents, Coaches, Teachers, etc.)…than we need to respect God and stop complaining and throwing “Pity Parties” for ourselves when times get tough.  We talked last Sunday about growing up.  If Isaac rebelled against Abraham…we wouldn’t even have the preview of Abraham’s possible sacrifice.  If Jesus rebelled against God…we probably wouldn’t even be here.  As teenagers we adopt the philosophy of the world when we say it is okay to rebel…that’s what teenagers do.  Okay…while that may be true…is that what children of God do?  I think not.  Whether we are 5 years old, 15 years old, or 55 years old…we all have the tendency to want to rebel (it’s our sin nature)…but let us learn to submit to God’s love & discipline so that we can truly live a life that is honoring to God.  Don’t forget that the last verse in this chapter reminds us that God is aConsuming Fire (Vs. 29).  We need to have a Godly Fear.

Hebrews 11

Vs. 13, “All these people were still living by faith when they died…”  This is the chapter that is known to many of us as the “Hall of Faith.”  In this chapter, we see faith demonstrated throughout the Old Testament.   Some people are named, others are not.  All these men and women, nevertheless, are among the giants of the faith.  Some victories were public and miraculous, such as deliverance from death…others were private and rather ordinary, such as “out of weakness were made strong.”  Some were delivered by faith…others did not escape.  Though faith would give them the strength to to stand firm, it wouldn’t be until Jesus that the promises of God would be fulfilled.

Regarding application…Faith Examined.  Vs. 1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Someone would once say, “Faith is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”  Faith is needed in pretty much every aspect of our lives…Faith in worshipping, faith in working, faith in studying, faith in walking, faith in waiting (patience), faith in tribulations & trials, etc.  Romans 14:23, “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  In any area in life…if you ignore faith…it leads to sin.  It’s important to note that not everyone who lived faithfully for God and who live faithfully for God now…are delivered from trials & struggles (Vs. 36-40).

Question: Do you want to know where Faith comes from?  Perhaps you are thinking from yourself…or from something God automatically programmed in you.  But take a look at Romans 10:17, “...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”  Pretty amazing stuff!!!  The Word of God can increase your faith, the word of God (both written and spoken) can help you become a person who lives in faith for God!  Until the Lord decides to take me…I will never stop teaching the utter importance of the reading the Word of God DAILY!

Hebrews 10

Vs. 14, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Lastly, we see that Jesus’ sacrifice is superior over all other sacrifices. The old sacrifices had their place for they reminded the people of their sins (vs. 3) But they were ineffective because they needed to be done year by year and day by day while Jesus’ sacrifice needed only to be done once to conquer sin. Before Jesus, the Levitical priests (High Priest) could only go behind the veil in the temple once a year…but we can have access anytime of the day! Yet at the same time, we are gravely reminded of the healthy fear of the Lord (vs. 31).

Regarding application…Encouragers. Vs. 25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Question: When was the last time you were a Barnabas to someone? We live in a day where there is constant bad news. Japanese earthquake, Joplin tornando, Israeli/Palestinian conflict, etc…  Now more than ever we need to encourage our brothers & sisters to love & serve the Lord. We need to take time out of our day to place a phone call to someone we haven’t talked to in awhile, email a friend who needs encouragment, pray for our pastor’s, let our parent(s) know how much we love them, etc.

Hebrews 9

Vs. 14, “How 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.” In the past we have talked about how Jesus is superior to angels, Aaron’s priesthood, the old covenant and now we discuss Jesus being superior over the old sanctuary. The old sanctuary cannot compare with the new sanctuary in Christ. Let’s do a little comparing and contrasting….The first reason is that it was simply on earth (vs. 1), it was a shadow of what is to come (vs. 2-5), it had limited access (vs. 6-7), it was only temporary (vs. 8), and ultimately it could not change the heart condition (vs. 9-10). But the new sanctuary was heavenly (vs. 11), it was the real deal, not a shadow (vs. 23-24), it gave access to all, it is permanent and most certainly can change lives!

Regarding application…Waiting. Vs. 28, “so 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.” When you think about it…we wait for many things in life. We wait in traffic (especially Southern Califonia), we wait in bank lines, we wait in food lines, we wait for class or work to be over, we wait for our favorite food in restaurants, we wait for our favorite television show, podcast or book, we wait for webpages to load, we wait to find a spouse, we wait for children we wait for others to come for an event, etc. Whew~~~and that’s probably just brushing the surface. Especially in a time when we want things NOW…waiting is not such an easy thing to do. I must confess that I don’t particularly like waiting in lines.

When Hyojin & I go to Disneyland, one of the things we know NOT to do is to go on the weekends. The lines are exponentially longer and wait times increase threefold. But if you go on a weekday you can really spoil yourself as you barely have to wait to go on Space Mountain, Soarin, Indiana Jones, etc. My favorite is the Toy Story ride. The point is…let us not grow impatient in this life that we live. Sometimes I find myself longing just to finally be in Heaven and get this crazy life we live on earth completed. But, God has us alive on this earth to do His will. Let us wait patiently but also with an eager excitement for helping everyone else know why we wait with joy!

Hebrews 8

Vs, 6, “But 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.” In the previous chapters we discussed how Jesus is superior to the Levitical priesthood…now we see that Jesus also brings the New Covenant (Promise) by way of the cross. God gave Moses the law and while it did not save them…it did point out to them and all of us that we all fall short of the glory of God. Don’t fall into the impression that God did not know what He was doing….His providence and and will do not always make sense to our finite minds. Consider the law like a Children’s picture bible..it prepares them for the full revelation of Scripture through the complete Bible.

Regarding application…Perspective. Vs. 5, “They 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.” Key words here to look at is “copy” and “shadow”….they are not the real thing. In fact, shadows can actually be pretty scary in a dark street alley. Likewise…pictures are like copies of what we see. When Hyojin & I visited one of the 7 wonders of the world on our honeymoon…the Grand Canyon…it was breathtaking to say the least. Yet, all the pictures we took were beautiful but they did not capture the majesty and beauty of truly being there. We only have shadows and copies of what exists and will come. We live by faith not by sight…that is why we must always keep a proper perspective in this life. Yes, shadows are scary and copies just don’t tell the true story…but know that there is an unseen world that exists around us. We have promises that have already and come and will come that will be beyond description!

Hebrews 7

Vs. 27, “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” The author of Hebrews continues to stress the importance of understanding that Jesus is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. Jesus is not only a priest but he is also a King! To expound upon Melchizedek….He was the priest who blessed Abraham after returning from a battle. He is considered by some scholars to be a supernatural figure forshadowing Jesus…while others believe it was Jesus himself. Going back to Aaron…the priesthood was not perfect…but Jesus’ priesthood is not only perfect, but eternal.

Regarding application…Intercession. Vs. 25, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” The story of Jesus does not end at Easter…it’s important for us to realize that the story of Jesus did not end there. Jesus is alive (Amen?!)…and He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us! On the dictionary website “Onelook” it actually defines intercession as the act of intervening. Jesus intervenes/prays on our behalf. We have the wonderful opportunity to go on a missions trip and we are now starting fasting.  As we fast, we implement intercessory prayer!  We pray for others that God’s mercy and compassion would be upon them!  Not only are we backed by the strength and prayer of other saints (Christians)…we are backed by Jesus! When no one else will stand up for us…Jesus will…he took one for all of humanity. So when life gets difficult and the road is unknown, always remember that Jesus is praying for you!

Hebrews 6

Vs. 4-6, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” I am sharing this long passage because it is one that is confusing to most of us. The key to looking at this is to remember to step back and look at the full context of Hebrews as well as the the whole of Scripture. When we have an elementary faith (Vs. 1)…it is harder to understand the concept of Salvation. Does this mean we can lose our salvation? Does it mean that there were people that thought they were saved but really were not (Matt. 24), is it referring to certain people who lived in specific times, is this just a hypothetical situation? The main subject of this chapter is not salvation but repentance. I will die on this earth believing to the end in “once saved, always saved.” If we could lose our salvation…this nullifies the Cross of Christ. I think we can most definitely disappoint our Heavenly Father and lose some of the rewards and treasures that could be given to us…but I do not believe we are chastized from Heaven. A Greek study of the word “fall away” would show us the meaning: parapipto, which means “to fall aside, to turn aside, to wander.”…some can interpret this as falling away from salvation, but that is not the case. Does this make sense?

Regarding application…Eternal Security. Vs. 19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Question: How does the knowledge “Eternal Security” affect the lives of Christians? To put it in simple terms: We can either take it for granted (like the Hebews) or turn all the more in repetance and spiritual maturity. I would like to think the majority of Christians would continue to grow…but sadly, this does not seem to be the case. With great things brings great responsibility. Eternal Security is one of the most incredible gifts of assurance we could ever ask for. It takes the burden of worry off our backs. It helps us to know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

When I became a Christian at 16, I knew in my heart of hearts I was truly saved….BUT…I did what so many of us have done, Vs. 6 “…are crucifying the Son of God all over again…”  You see…while we have “Eternal Security”…it is very possible to die in this life totally having done little for Jesus….and yet….go to Heaven! Some may cry out injustices…but that is just one of the amazing things about the Love of Christ. The repentant thief on the cross never got the chance to live for Christ…for he would die that same day. He never did anything….yet was still saved because he believed and put his trust in Christ. We have done that too….but we are not dying on a cross. We must take the short time we have on this earth and grow & mature in the Lord so that others will see Christ in Us!