No Daily Patch Needed

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7 24 25 NIV

So often when we pray for ourselves or for others, we are concerned about certain specific things that are happening in the present moment of our life or their life.  This is okay, because sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by a situation or weakness in our life, that we want immediate help.  We fall on our faces or knees and plead for help in this particular situation or with this particular weakness, but never see the whole picture.  That’s because we are human, after all.  We often can’t see past the present moment. We want to put patches on what is torn or broken. We feel the pain right now, we experience the embarrassment of a sin and hope no one else notices, or we share in part with another in their present experience.  All of that is well and good as we plead for ourselves and intercede for others.  But then a new day comes, laced with all the same trials, tribulations, and temptations of life all over again and we look for another patch.

That was the life of a priest before the time of Christ.  Before a priest could do his job of offering up sacrifices for the sins of others, he first had to take care of his own personal business—his own sins, his own cares, his own violations.  So, each day, as he lit the fire to begin his godly work, he took inventory of the sins of his people and his own sins (Hebrews 7: 27).  Day after day, moment by moment, his mind raced with all these shortcomings.  His job was difficult and exhausting.

Then Christ came and became the high priest, and He holds this position permanently and forever (Hebrews 7:24).  He was after-all, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7: 26).  Not only that but “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27).   The daily grind of fire building, killing a sacrifice, inner-searching, and finally offering up prayers ended.  Jesus paid it all.

That does not mean we do not pray for others or ourselves.  Indeed Peter says that we are to be “a royal priesthood” (I Pet 2:9), meaning we are to pray for others.  But unless and until we accept without question and wholly the atonement of Jesus in our lives, the daily grind of being a priest will continue for us. We will never get out of that cycle of embarrassment, regret, remorse and the need to pray for that “daily patch” to cover our sins along with the sins of those for whom we pray.

Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He prays for us continually.  It is because of His intercession that we can do our work of intercession for others.  It is all possible because Jesus has saved us to the uttermost.  No daily patch needed.  Jesus saves us totally and at all times.  Once we believe this as a little child of God, and we draw near to God through Him, He is able to save us to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7: 25).  Then, with full assurance of our own atonement, we can put our full energy into praying for others which is our greatest work.

Luke Elwell

 

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Hope and the Faith of Abraham 

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6 15

In Genesis God appeared to Abraham and made him a promise: “Through your seed shall all peoples of the earth be blessed,” (Genesis 22:17-18).

The immediate seed was Isaac, born of Abraham’s old age; but the ultimate Seed is Jesus. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that this promise is fulfilled, and all the peoples of the earth are blessed through Abraham.

This promise was later confirmed by an oath, God swearing by himself (because there was nothing greater to swear by) that he would fulfill what he had said. The writer is simply pointing out that Abraham had faith and believed God’s promise.

Why did he believe it? It was not because he immediately saw it fulfilled! There were twenty-five long, weary years before Isaac was born, and in the meantime, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were growing older and had passed the time of life when it was possible to have children. Through multiple opportunities to doubt, Abraham believed that God would do what he said he would do.

We have become too eager for immediate results. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve tried prayer/church but it doesn’t seem to work.” It seems to me that is putting it the wrong way. People who are looking for immediate results tend to drift when it doesn’t happen the way they want. But the one who sees no longer needs to believe. Faith is not found in sight. It is believing in what we cannot see.

Vs. 19 – This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

We are offered something to put our faith in, too. We have hope in the same blessings that were promised to Abraham. Jesus has gone before us and promised those who put their faith in him will be rewarded with salvation.

Let that hope anchor you through whatever life throws your way. Keep the faith even when things are difficult.

John Wincapaw

Stunted Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 12

Hebrews 5:12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 

As parents, my wife and I have the exciting opportunity to watch our daughter grow. We made a growth chart where we can visibly see how much she has grown over the years. It is exciting for her and us to watch the marks get higher and higher. 

But can you imagine how shocked and concerned we would be if, instead of growing up our daughter had shrunk! We would schedule an immediate doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong. Growth is normal and causes joy – shrinkage would be crazy and cause for alarm.

Many of the Hebrews that this letter is written to have been backsliding in their faith. They are shrinking – the author notices this and raises the alarms. He states that they are back needing the milk instead of solid food. Imagine if a teenager or adult gave up solid food for formula and pureed fruits and veggies. For some reason this seems silly but for some reason long time Christians acting like new believers does not get the same reaction.

Instead of helping others with their faith – these believers still need someone to teach them the basics again. The author wants to go deeper but fears it will go over their heads. So before he dives in to that subject, he issues a strong warning – saying, “GROW UP! You have probably been in a situation where an adult was acting like a child. You want to shout, “act your age” or “grow up.” And essentially that is what the author of Hebrews does with these Hebrew Christians. 

In vs. 11 he calls them spiritually dull and they don’t seem to listen. But they didn’t used to be this way. The language used here indicates that there was a drop off – as if they were sick and lacking energy or possibly it is a spiritual laziness. We notice an opportunity to get into God’s word but instead flip on the tv or have a free Sunday morning to go to church but instead decide to sleep in. 

If there is spiritual life, there needs to be spiritual growth.
You have to be moving forward.
Sitting still or going back is not part of a healthy spiritual life.
Make a plan and go forward.
Don’t get lazy or give up.
It is time to grow up!

John Wincapaw

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4 10

Most of us have been brainwashed since birth with a false concept that we must be in constant activity. When overloaded, we get clever and create ways to save us time. Think of how much time we have saved with inventions like the automobile, microwave and internet. Our travel, cooking, communications and ability to attain knowledge are so much faster than they had been previously. Unfortunately, with each time saving invention, we have used that extra time to add something else into our schedule to become even more overwhelmed and time crunched than before.

 

Any guesses what is the most common response to “how have you been?”  I usually hear and say: Busy! I sometimes look at my calendar and when there is a date that has nothing on it, I stress and wonder what I forgot to put on it. The constant schedule of something to do, places to go and people to see is causing enormous amounts of stress and anxiety in our world. From the beginning, God knew that his creation needed rest and he set the example by resting on the seventh day.

 

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

 

I love the language here: “make every effort to enter that rest.” With our health in mind, God urges us to slow down. Actually, he commands it. Before you excitedly brush off responsibilities for a God prescribed day of relaxation alone on the couch with Netflix and social media, it is more than that.

 

Notice vs. 10, “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” – it is a specific time set aside for God and with God. He is telling us he wants us to make him a priority. He wants us to step away from our busy life focused on us to spend some regular scheduled time with Him.

 

How is your rest time with God? Are you making every effort? Slow down! Take a break and make some time for God in your busy schedule.

 

John Wincapaw

Guard your Hearts

Hebrews 3

hebrews 3 12

Hebrews 3:12-13, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

 

If we don’t guard our hearts, it will lead to sin. The more we sin, the easier it becomes and the more we let our guard down. The more we let our guard down, the more we lose the good that is stored up in our hearts. The more we lose, the more bad things will replace it. The more of the bad things that get stored up in our heart, the harder it becomes. The harder it becomes, the more we deflect any good things that try to work their way back into my heart.

 

Unfortunately, I see it happen on a yearly basis. So many students leave an event like Fuel on fire for God. The first couple weeks – in the word, involved at church and avoiding former bad habits. But then one slip often leads to another – and eventually this year wasn’t “Different” and they are back to normal.

 

Over time their hearts harden up and they become resistant to the things of God. Things like church or the Bible are no longer a part of their lives. They lash out at you when you try to talk to them about it. They dismiss any attempt at getting them to see what has happened to them.

 

Like the frog in the kettle. Put a frog in a boiling pot and he will immediately jump out. Put him in a pot of warm water and slowly turn up the heat and he will stay in until it’s too late.

 

Therefore we need to encourage one another to guard their hearts, be vigilant and watchful.

 

For those that attended FUEL, we are only a month out. Are you still letting your light shine and proclaiming your differences? What about your friends? Keep in touch and keep each other accountable.

 

Guard your hearts!

John Wincapaw

Reconcilation

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2 18

This chapter focuses on reconciliation. Throughout all of time we see over and over where even God’s greatest saints fall short (outside of Christ, more on that soon). God cannot be in the presence of sin and evil and that leaves us sinners in a difficult spot – separated from God.

So when people are separated from God, they need a mediator who comes between them to bring reconciliation. Before Christ, the priests stood between God and sinners, offering sacrifices that would reconcile the two.

Then God changed things up – he created his son. His one and only begotten son, Jesus.

Jesus is the perfect mediator/reconciler – he has common ground with both parties but is not the same as either. He was the only perfect man – the spotless lamb the law required. Unlike the priests who repeatedly brought animal sacrifices for themselves and the people, Jesus offered Himself once for all to the Father in payment for the sins of all mankind.

His work on on our behalf does not end there. After his death, he arose and then ascended to heaven, where He sits at the Father’s right hand and intercedes for us. Take comfort, we have someone next to God, fighting on our behalf seeking reconciliation and offering help when we are in need.

-John Wincapaw

Who is Jesus?

Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1 3a

There must have been some confusion to who Jesus was and who was greater between the angels and Jesus.  Most of the chapter compares Jesus with the angels, showing that he was never an angel and is superior to them.

The author of the book of Hebrews starts with establishing the importance of Jesus and making it clear that God placed him above all and heir of all things. It is important that we have a proper understanding of who Christ is. He is clearly greater than the rest of God’s creation – but that is because God gave him that authority and inheritance.

That should also give us caution when reading a few of the difficult texts in the passage to not make Christ equal to or greater than God, the creator and giver of all.

My favorite verse of the chapter: verse 3 –  tells of how Jesus perfectly represents God. Like an image – he gives us a clear picture of who God is – we see an example of God’s power and love but Christ is clearly still under God’s authority.

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3
-John Wincapaw