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!

Leviticus 26

Vs. 4, “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.”  Eight times in our chapter today, the LORD reminded the Israelites of his covenant (promises) to them.  The present Tabernacle and the hope of the Promised Land were incredible promises God made to His people.  However, there was a caveat to the goodness that the LORD extended (vs. 14-46).  There are eternal stakes at hand when it came to the blessings promised to Israel, for through Israel, God intends to bless all nations (Genesis12:3).  The list of punishments are shocking, but even more shocking is that God was gracious to Israel and to all nations despite our sins!  This chapter rounds out the purpose of the sacrifices and the priesthood to help remind all the people of God’s holiness.

Regarding application…Someone Must Pay.  As the future would unfold for the Israelites, they would have times of blessings and also times of rebellion.  Who is going to pay for all these sins?  Who is going to take on the punishment?  By God’s grace, it was Jesus who was the final sacrifice that would atone for our sins.  Certainly, we are recipients of such amazing grace.  I believe that while salvation is granted on the cross, blessings and punishments still exist in our day.  There is always going to be consequences for our sins.  When I look back at my own life, I realize the bad choices I made brought very difficult times in my life.  Yet, the blessings God has in store for us are abundant if we just turn our hearts back to Him!

Leviticus 7

Vs. 1, “These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy.”  Our chapter continues the last two offerings: guilt and fellowship.  While the earlier chapters discussed these offerings, they were to be addressed to the Israelites. The repeating of the offerings are directed toward the priests.  The process of the sin/trespass offering (vs. 1-10) give us more insight when addressed to the priests.  We also see how the priests were not only fed, but also got to keep the hides of the animals too (vs. 8).  The last offering mentioned to the priests was the fellowship/peace offering (vs. 11-21).  There are specific instructions as to when the offering could be consumed.  One of the things that made this offering unique was that it allowed the Israelites, not just the priests to eat the fellowship offering and share it.  We then get a bit more detail to the ban on eating fat and blood (vs. 22-27).  And lastly, we see the portions that were to be allocated to the priests (vs. 28-36).

Regarding application…One Sacrifice.  At the end of our chapter, we have one more offering added, the ordination offering which will be expounded upon in tomorrow’s chapter.  The Israelites had six different sacrifices to keep a right standing before God.  By the grace of God we have one final sacrifice.  “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12).  Jesus was the great high priest and the sacrifice all in one.  Question: How does that encourage us?  Because, the pressure is off.  We have the luxury to live a relationship with God without all the worries of ensuring the right offering was presented.  When there is less pressure, I know I tend to perform better!  Let’s not ever take for granted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins!

Zephaniah 1

Vs. 15, “That day will be a day of wrath—a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.”  Whew~~~this prophecy certainly should bring chills!  The LORD was about to clean house (vs. 2-3).  Question: What would bring such judgment?  Judah’s long list of sins: Baal worship, ungodly priests, worship of stars and Molech (foreign god), corruption, violence, and love of money.  Part of the problem was that most never really thought they were doing anything wrong.  But Zephaniah would warn them that God is a consuming fire (vs. 18).  Certainly, we read this with the understanding that there is still an impending “Day of the Lord” that the New Testament points us towards.  This day will be the fulfillment of prophecy in the book of Revelation.

Regarding application…Godly Anger.  Vs. 17, “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung.”  When I do my QT’s, one of the things I have been doing the last few months is reading the passage out loud.  As I was reading this chapter, I couldn’t help but hear the wrath and anger from the words that came out.  I even let out an audible gasp!  Let me give you a very loose illustration.  I’m not a father yet, but I am a dog owner.  When I see other dogs acting crazy with no lack of discipline, I shake my head.  But, when I see my own dog doing something he knows he shouldn’t do, I get angry.  I get angry because unlike dogs who are strangers, this is my dog who I love and care for.  Likewise, God’s anger towards Judah is not because He doesn’t love them.  Question: Does that make sense?  In the end, it all comes down to trusting that God is just and gives His creation every opportunity.  Let this type of “Godly” anger draw you nearer in a right fear of Him.  Don’t harden your hearts.

Ezekiel 43

Vs. 4, The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east.”  Question: What is the glory of God?  In Hebrew, the glory = kabod, which is a verb used to describe the weight or worthiness of something.  We can’t help but be excited by this vision of redemption in God’s glory returning!  Because earlier in Ezekiel 10, we sadly saw the departure of God’s spirit.  Notice the direction of the glory of God comes from the east.  The sun rises in the east an sets in the west…and in Matthew 24, we are told Jesus will come from the east!  We then get to see part of the purpose of why the temple is built and how it will be used with the altar.  This ceremony depicted with blood and sacrifice does not make the altar any more holy.  It is the Lord who resides and blesses over our sacrifices.  The apostle Paul reminds us that we are living sacrifices in Romans 12.

Regarding application…We are God’s Temple.  Vs. 5, Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”  Don’t get too confused by all these visions.  For us who live today, this is a wonderful reminder that we too bring sacrifices to the temple of the Lord (Ephesians 2).  Question: What kind of offerings can we bring to God’s temple?  Fortunately for us, we do not have to be a perfect in our standing before God to be acceptable.  Jesus died so that we might become the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:21).  Brothers and sisters, it is an amazing concept to know that God resides in us today.  That we do not have to travel thousands of miles to a temple in Jerusalem (not even built yet) to have communion with God.  It was his blood that makes your sins that were as red as scarlet now as white as snow (Isaiah 1).  God looks at the heart He is changing, not at our imperfect sins that we struggle with.  Turn your heart today to the Lord and let His glory shine in your life!

Ezekiel 16

Vs. 2, “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices.”  Here we are presented another allegory (story with a hidden meaning) just like our previous chapter.  We are presented a picture of a baby (vs. 4-6) and in this portrays God’s love for Israel.  As the baby grows up to a woman, the woman is beautiful and starts to turn to the world (vs. 15).  Israel is compared to wife who turns to adultery and prostitutes herself to others (vs. 32).  The sin plays out and the prostitute suffers severely for her wayward sins.  Yet, we see a husband (God) whose heart is broken, but still loves his wife and forgives her.  It’s really a very sad alleogry that must break the heart of God to see those He loves turn their hearts hard with pride and selfishness.

 

Regarding application…Remember Your Sins.  Vs. 61, “Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed…”  Seems like a strange encouragement.  But this is exactly what we need to do.  Too often, we get so busy with life we press forward with the tasks at hand, forgetting the things we need to repent of.  We think, “It’s all good!”  But little do we realize we are going down that slippery slope not realizing we are going downward.  Brothers & Sisters, I encourage you to travel deeper into your heart.  Be still today and ask the Lord help reveal to you what might be things that are keeping you from completely turning to Him.  He loves us so much, don’t ever forget that!

I Peter 4

Vs. 1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”  Peter has already addressed everyday suffering, but now he tells of specific persecution & suffering to come.  We are reminded that when we suffer it really is a road to purification (Vs. 1-6)  But another real plus to suffering that it most definitely will unite a church who seeks to do His will (Vs. 7-11).  But the greatest factor of suffering is the fact that when we suffer, Christ is glorified.  Christ is Glorified = We suffer.  We suffer = Christ is glorified.  This should be a stark lesson on why we should never complain when we suffer.

Regarding application…Loving Covers Sins.  Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  What a wonderful verse!  This is one of my favorite reminders about love in the Bible!  Fact #1 – No one is righteous…in other words…no one is ever going to be perfect.  Everyone is going to hurt you at some point in your life.  Fact #2 – We are to love with the love of Christ.  Not our own ability to love, but to love through the eyes & heart of Christ.  Love still loves no matter what.  If this were truly practiced…there should never ever be a divorce between believers.  If this were to happen…people would stop holding grudges and sins against each other. Upon completeing our “Dealing with Conflict” series recently, this is a great reminder to apply it now to our lives!