Hebrews chapter 10

Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. – Vs 22-24 (NLT)

Let us draw near. Let us hold fast. Let us consider. These are the three encouragements given by the writer of Hebrews in light of the fact that they have “been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Vs 10). Unlike the sacrifices made under the Law, which had to be offered “year by year” (Vs 1) and “time after time” (Vs 11), Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Vs 12) and He has “perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Vs 14). “Now where there is forgiveness … there is no longer any offering for sin” (Vs 18). What Jesus did for us is done. We can have complete confidence to enter into God’s presence completely forgiven and accepted by Him.

So we can draw near with a sincere heart us full assurance of faith” (Vs 22). Or as the New Living Translation puts it: “go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him.” Why” Because we have had our hearts made clean and our bodies washed pure. What were our hearts made clean from? The condemning nature of our own conscience. Our conscience condemns us and reminds us of our own guilt. But Jesus’ death removed our sin and, therefore, our guilt. The second aspect of our cleansing is that our bodies have been washed with pure water. This is not a reference to baptism, but to the cleansing and transformative presence of the Holy Spirit.

“He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5

The Holy Spirit within us changes us. He is sanctifying us daily – transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ Himself. The reality of both of these cleansings allow us to come boldly and confidently into the presence of God Himself.

Secondly, we are to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Why? Because He who promised is faithful. We are to remain faithful because of God’s faithfulness. Again, the New Living Translation says it well: “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Our steadfastness is based less on the strength of our own faith than on the reality of God’s faithfulness. He will do exactly as He has promised. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Third, we are to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. We are to “think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Once again, we see the importance of the community of faith – the body of Christ. We are to constantly be thinking about ways we can encourage or stimulate each other to love and serve one another. Notice that in all three of these words of encouragement, the writer uses the terms “us” and “our.” WE are to do these things, and we are to do them together, not alone. We are to love and be loved, serve and be served – all in the context of community – “not forsaking our own assembling together” (Vs 25). There is no place for free-agent, Lone Ranger Christians in the family of God. We are in this together. We need one another. We are to encourage one another – to draw near and to hold fast. Because the day is drawing near. The Lord is coming back. We are to live with that reality in mind.

Father, thank You for the once-for-all sacrifice of Your Son that has provided me with complete forgiveness and complete access into Your presence. Because of what He has done for me, help us to not be afraid to draw near to You – free from guilt or condemnation. Help us to hold firmly onto what we say believe because You can be trusted to keep your promise. And help us to constantly be thinking about ways we can stimulate each other to greater love and acts that reflect who we are in Christ. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 9

all thing are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. – Vs 22 (NASB)

The concept of shed blood would not have been foreign to the writer’s Hebrew audience. In fact, they were well aware of the role blood played in their sacrificial system. But the author is comparing the old and the new. The old covenant (law) and the new covenant (grace). Under the old covenant, the High Priest had to enter the Holy of Holies “year by year with blood that is not his own” (Vs 25). No one sacrifice was enough. And his sacrifice was to cover the sins of the people and his own as well. He was just as sinful and in need of cleansing. Even Moses inaugurated the giving of the covenant with blood. “He took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people” (Vs 19). “Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood” (Vs 18). Blood played a major role in the old covenant. The purpose of the blood was to symbolize sacrifice for sin, which brought cleansing from sin.

Even under the old covenant, forgiveness was a costly thing. It involved the loss of life. In the case of the old covenant, the lives of countless innocent animals. But under the new covenant, the loss of the life of Jesus Christ Himself – the sinless, innocent Son of God. But we take forgiveness so lightly. We are grateful that we have forgiveness for our sins and it is readily available any time we ask for it. We love verses like 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But Paul warns us in Romans 6:1-2: “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” I love what John MacArthur has to say on this topic in his commentary on Hebrews:

“To realize and rejoice in God’s boundless grace is one thing; to presume on it by willfully sinning is quite another. How can we, as forgiven sinners, take lightly and presumptuously, the price paid for our forgiveness? We become so used to grace that we abuse it.”

Our sin cost Jesus His life. It’s why He came. Yet we can’t overlook the cost. We can’t ignore the fact that your sin and my sin are the reason He died. Our sinfulness caused His blood to be shed. Because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Our sin demanded payment by death. And the only death that could pay for all the sins of mankind was that of the sinless Son of God. God didn’t overlook sin, He provided the payment for it. And it cost Him dearly. So should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! The Savior of the world has paid for the sins of the world with His own life – once for all. And one day He is coming back, but this time not to deal with sin, but to consummate our salvation. “So also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again but not to deal with our sins again. This time he will bring salvation to all those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Vs 28). So lets live our lives in appreciation for the forgiveness we have been given and in anticipation of the salvation we will one day receive.

Father, thank You for Your Son’s selfless sacrifice. Thank You for the blood that was shed for me. Forgive me for taking His death so lightly and Your grace so cheaply, without considering the cost. Without Jesus shedding His blood, I would have NO forgiveness for my sin and NO hope for salvation. Keep that thought in the forefront of my mind at all times, so that I might live a life that reflects my appreciation and gratitude. I can never repay You, but I can live for You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 8

But our High Priest has been given a ministry that is far superior to the ministry of those who serve under the old laws, for he is the one who guarantees for us a better covenant with God, based on better promises. – Vs 6 (NLT)

A more excellent High Priest. A superior ministry. A better covenent based on better promises. Chapter 8 seems to sum up everything from the previous 7 chapters. In fact, Paul says, “Here is the main point: Our High Priest sat down in the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand” (Vs 1 – NLT). Jesus, our High Priest, sits at the right hand of God, a place of power, honor, and authority. He has complete access to God the Father. He ministers in the true sanctuary, not a temporary, man-made, representation of what is to come. It is not “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Vs 5), but the real thing. He is the real High Priest who has real authority and who ministers in the real sanctuary in the very presence of God Himself.

And as our High Priest, Jesus guarantees us a better covenant. A new covenant. Why? Because the old covenant had been broken. The people of Israel had failed to keep their end of the covenant. They had disobeyed and rebelled time after time. They could not and did not keep the laws that were tied to the Mosaic covenant. They did not hold up their end of the agreement. Paul backs this up with a quote from the prophet Jeremiah. He says that this is going to be a completely, radically new covenant, “not like the covenant which I made with their fathers” (Vs 9). The blessings of the old covenant were conditioned on Israel’s obedience to the law that God gave with the covenant. Because they “did not continue in” the covenant, God “did not care for them” (Vs 9). In other words, their lack of obedience led to curses, not blessing. God could not bless them because of their disobedience.

But God made a new covenant with Israel.

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – Vs 10

The old covenant was based on externals. It was external rules and regulations that required complete obedience. And obedience was primarily out of fear of punishment. The new covenant is internal. Obedience will be inwardly motivated and generated. It will come from the heart and will be empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit. And there will be a knowledge of God unlike anything they have ever experienced before.

“And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know me.” – Vs 11 (NLT)

Paul is telling his Jewish readers news that should be extremely exciting to them. The old covenant, based on rules and ritual, has been replaced with a new and better covenant. One that is based on the faithfulness and mercy of God alone. It is the new covenant based on the blood of Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20). It is a new covenant “not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old way ends in death; in the new way, the Holy Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). It is a new covenant based on mercy and forgiveness of sin. It is an unconditional covenant, that requires nothing of me because I have nothing to give. It has been written by God, ratified by God, and made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son. It’s new. Its better. It’s available here and now. Are you living in it and under it? Or are you still trying to keep a set of rules, somehow trying to earn favor with God? Do you still believe that your salvation or better yet, your sanctification, is somehow up to you? That is the old way. You are living according to the old covenant based on works, human effort, and self-righteousness. We live under the new covenant. We have the Spirit within us who has given us a new heart and a new desire to obey because we are loved, not to try to earn God’s love. The new covenant is better. So let’s live in it.

Father, thank You for the reality of the new covenant. I do not have to live under the law. I don’t have to try to keep a set of impossible standards in some attempt to appease or please you. I am not doomed to failure and defeat. Because of Your Son’s death and resurrection, I am a new creature with a new nature, and a new capacity to obey and worship and know God that I could never have manufactured on my own. Help me to live according to the new covenant and not the old. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 7

He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.” – Vs 27-28 (NLT)

This is a confusing chapter. All the talk of priesthoods, laws, Melchizedek, commandments, and covenants can leave your head spinning. So what’s the point? It would seem to be to stress that Jesus brought a new way of doing things. Instead of life lived according to the strict and stifling requirements of the Law, administered by sinful men serving as priests from the tribe of Levi, we are offered a better way. We have a High Priest who was born into a different tribe and offers a totally different solution to the problem of sin. He is Jesus, our High Priest. He is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens” (Vs 26). Unlike the Levitical priests, who had to offer up sacrifices every day to atone for their own sins and the sins of the people, Jesus offered one sacrifice – “once for all when He offered up Himself” (Vs 27). And He never had to offer a sacrifice for His own sins, because He was sinless.

God provided a new way. He provided His own Son because the Law, administered by sinful men, could never give the people what they desired: restored communion with God. No one could keep the Law, not even the men who were sworn to uphold it. The sacrificial Levitical system never accomplished what it set out to do. It couldn’t. It pointed to a future sacrificial system that would satisfy the justice of God and pay the debt for sin that was owed by mankind “once for all.” Through Jesus Christ, God made a way for us to have our sins forgiven permanently and perfectly. He made a way for us to have our relationship with Him restored, mercifully and justly. And it wasn’t left up to us to keep some set of rules or standards that were beyond our ability to obey. Jesus did that for us. He lived the life we could not live. He fulfilled the requirements we could not meet. He satisfied the righteous standard of God we never could have kept. And He “has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Vs 22). The covenant that God made through Jesus is better than the old one because the old one was temporary and the new one is eternal. A better priest guarantees a better covenant. This is not to say the old covenant was bad, but only that it was imperfect and temporary.  In Romans, Paul defends the Law when he says, “Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “Do not covet” (Romans 7:7).

The Law, the old covenant, was given to reveal my sin and my need for a Savior. The Law and any attempt by men to keep it only further proved our complete inadequacy to live up to the kind of standard God required. God knew that the Law could never save us. Why? Because we have a sinful nature that prevents us from obeying it. But if God had never given us the Law, we would have never realized just how sinful we really are. Without a holy standard of measurement, we would never have realized we don’t measure up. But God didn’t leave us in this sad state.

“The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4 – NLT)

He gave us His Son, a better High Priest. He gave us a way to become righteous that is completely outside of ourselves and not based on our own efforts. Or salvation is no longer based on us having to do something, but on what His Son has already done on our behalf.

Father, thank You for coming up with a better way. Because if You had not, we would have all been doomed to failure. We were without hope, lost in our sins, incapable of saving ourselves. But You graciously provided another way for us to be restored to a right relationship with You. You provided a way for us to stand in your presence as righteous and holy in Your sight, that was not based on our own efforts, but on the sinless sacrifice of Your Son and our great High Priest. I am literally forever grateful. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 6

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” – Vs 19-20 (NET)

We have a hope that is based on God’s unchangeableness and faithfulness. The two unchangeable things are God’s promise (Vs 13) and His pledge (Vs 19).  They are unchangeable or unalterable. The Greek word is ametathetos and it was used in relation to wills. Once made, a will was considered ametathetos, unchangeable by anyone but the one who made the will. God has said that His promise and pledge is ametathetos. They are binding and cannot be changed – even by Him. So those who believe in His promise and pledge are secure. Those who place their faith in God can rest in the knowledge that He will never let them go. They are secure. And our security is not based on us having to hold on to God, but in Him holding on to us. He has made a promise and a pledge to keep us and never let us go.

It is because of these two unchangeable things – His promise and His pledge – knowing that God will not lie to us, that we have taken refuge and have found a strong encouragement to “take hold of the hope set before us” (Vs 18). That hope is an anchor to our souls, a hope both sure and steadfast. It leads us right into the throne room of God, past the curtain and into His presence, where Jesus has already entered before us. He has opened the way ahead of us. At His death, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two – from top to bottom – removing the barrier between God and man. Now we can enter confidently, with hope, into the presence of God, where Jesus our High Priest intercedes on our behalf. He has entered into the Holy of Holies as our High Priest and offered the final atoning sacrifice for our sins. Our soul is anchored, safeguarded, kept, or secured by the very presence of Christ at the right hand of the Father. His sacrifice was accepted by God. Our sins have been atoned for. We are secure and can never have our right standing with God removed.

So who are these who have “fallen away” in verse 6? They have “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” (Vs 4-5). If we are secure, how can we fall away? The writer of Hebrews is speaking to those in his audience who have heard the truth and acknowledged it, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ. They had been around the things of God. They had heard the truth of the Gospel. They had seen the works of the Holy Spirit. They had seen the life-changing power of God in the lives of others. But they had failed to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Now they run the risk of losing their opportunity to believe. They have heard, but have rejected the truth of what they have heard. They have even feigned a form of repentance, but with no real heart change. There are those in our churches today who fit this description. They have been exposed to the truth of the Gospel, but refuse to accept it. They have all the appearance of being saved, but have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their sin-substitute. Instead, they think they can somehow save themselves through their own righteous acts. They can somehow earn their way into God’s good favor.

Our hope and assurance is in Jesus alone. He is our anchor. He is our source of confident assurance that we can never lose our salvation, and that we will inherit the promises that God has made to us who believe (Vs 12). I can know that I am right with God because I know that Jesus has died for me. He is my High Priest. My sins are forgiven and I can stand before God as righteous in His eyes.

Father, thank You for the hope that I have because of Jesus Christ. I am saved and can confidently know that my salvation is permanent, not based on my behavior, but on Your unchanging promise and pledge. You will never let me go. Your own Son stands in your presence as my High Priest, having offered the final sacrifice for my sins. He has paid the price, once for all, and I am Your child. Thank You that it does not rest on me and my good merits, but on Your good grace. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 5

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! – Vs 12 (NIV)

The letter of Hebrews is written to Jews. Thus, the name. This was more than likely a congregation of believers who lived outside of Israel – possibly in Italy. Within this congregation were believers, but also those who professed belief, but were not living it out in their daily lives. Their common bond, besides the gospel, was their Jewish heritage. For some this was posing a problem. Their “Jewishness” was making it difficult for them to embrace faith in Christ completely. They had been exposed to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but as chapter 4 seems to indicate, they were being disobedient to it. They were hearing God’s voice, but hardening their hearts (4:7). Now they are confronted with the reality that even though they had been raised on the Old Testament teachings of God and had been around the gospel message of Jesus Christ for some time now, they were still immature in their faith. They had not grown. They were like infants spiritually, who couldn’t handle the “meat” of God’s word concering Christ. “Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food” (NLT).

The writer has been telling them about the high priestly role of Jesus. That even though He wasn’t born into the priestly tribe of Levi, Jesus was appointed to be a high priest by God Himself. In that role, Jesus offered the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of man, His own life. “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him” (Vs 9, NLT). And while the author of this letter (probably Paul) would love to tell them more, he can’t, because some in his readership have become dull of hearing. They are spiritually slow to learn, difficult to teach, and unresponsive to instruction. So they are not able to grasp the significance of all the talk about priesthoods, sacrifices, and the order of Melchizedek. Their dullness is what is behind their spiritual child-likeness. Because they cannot or will not hear the truth of God, they end up remaining in spiritual infancy – stuck on the elementary or basic teachings about God, faith, and salvation. They never progress, never move forward in their faith. They’re stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy.

How many in the church struggle with the same problem today? They have been exposed to the Word of God. They have heard the message of the gospel. But they can’t grasp the significance of it all because they are dull of hearing. They sit in pews Sunday after Sunday, hearing the message of salvation, but refuse to accept it by faith. Even believers can be exposed to the deeper truth of God’s Word and refuse to obey what they have heard. John MacArthur has this to say:

“When we do not trust and act on any part of God’s truth that we know, we become hardened to it and less and less likely to benefit from it. Or we can avoid delving into the deeper parts of God’s Word, being satisfied with the ‘basics,’ we insulate ourselves from the Holy Spirit to that extent.”

We become satisfied with what we have and what we already know. We refuse to go deeper. We become content with milk and not meat. We remain in spiritual infancy when we should be progressing into spiritual maturity. We turn up our noses at the “solid food” of God’s truth. Yet Paul closes this chapter with the warning, “Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right” (Vs 14). So how’s your hearing? Better yet, how’s your appetite? Do you crave the meat of God’s Word or are you satisfied with the basics? Are you content with milk or have you moved on to the main course – the word of righteousness that can change your life and lead to spiritually maturity? By now you ought to be the one teaching. Are you?

Father, we have far too many infants in the church. Not new believers, but long-time converts who have refused to listen to Your Word and have remained in spiritual infancy. Show us how to help them gain an appetite for the meat of Your message. To grow and mature in their relationship with Christ. So that they can become teachers and instructors of others. So that they can know right from wrong and truth from falsehood. May spiritual maturity become a real priority and a constant pursuit among Your people. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 4

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.. – Vs 10 (NASB)

Rest. It seems to be the main theme of this chapter. In fact, the word rest is used at least 10 times in today’s reading. And what an attractive word rest is. It has a certain appeal to us because most of us are in desperate need of rest. We live busy lives filled with activity and action, seldom pausing long enough to really experience true rest. Even our sleep is filled with anxious thoughts and restless nights. We wake up tired instead of refreshed. We take vacations in the hope of finding rest, but return from them worn out and dreading the thought of all the work that has piled up while we were away. But the writer of the book of Hebrews talks about a rest that seems to be a non-negotiable. The rest he talks about is tied to the gospel and can be rejected through an act of disobedience. But what kind of rest is he talking about?

In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, John MacArthur says this, “Rest involves remaining confident, keeping trust. In other words, to rest in something or someone means to maintain our confidence in it or him. To enter God’s rest, therefore, means to enjoy the perfect, unshakeable confidence of salvation in our Lord. We have no more reason to fear. We have absolute trust and confidence in God’s power and care.” It carries the idea that we can confidently “lean on” God both now and for eternity. We can depend on Him for everything and in everything – for support, for health, for strength – for everything we need. We have confidence in Him, so we rest in that confidence, because we know He is going to be there for us. It is like a child sleeping soundly in the arms of his father, even in the midst of a thunder storm. He rests because he knows he is safe from harm. He trust his father.

But this rest only comes to those who believe in God. Hearing the good news is not enough. You must believe. To not believe is to disobey and to disobey is to never enjoy the rest God offers. So we are warned to “be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Vs 11). The example given is that of the Israelites in the wilderness, who because of their disobedience, never got to enter the rest of the Promised Land. In the New Living Translation verse 11 reads this way:

“Let us do our best to enter that place of rest. For anyone who disobeys God, as the people of Israel did, will fall.”

The choice of words here is interesting. The author says, “Let us do our best.” The Greek word is spoudazo. It means to make effort, be prompt or earnest:-do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study. We’re to make every effort to enter that place or rest. We should so want to enter the final rest that God offers, that we will do everything in our power to see to it that we get there. Now this is not talking about earning our place in heaven or our salvation. But it is promoting the idea of value or worth. The rest God offers is so valuable that we will do anything to gain it. We will not allow anything to sidetrack us or distract us. And God will examine our intentions and our hearts through His “living and active” word. He will determine whether we have embraced His offer of rest through faith or not.

But if we believe, we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” and “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We can find rest NOW – in our times of need. We can come with confidence to His throne and appeal to His mercy and grace and He will give us rest – even in the midst of the storm. But we can also rest confidently that we will one day enter into His final rest for us. There is a Promised Land prepared for us. And while we wander through this wilderness experience of our own, we can rest knowing that He is taking care of us now, leading us, feeding us, providing for us – and guiding us into the place He has prepared for us.

Father, I need rest. I need physical rest, but I also need emotional and spiritual rest that only You can give. Forgive me for doubting You, because that is what causes so much of my unrest. I doubt, so I worry. I doubt, so I stress out. I doubt, so I wake up at night in a cold sweat. I am not resting confidently in Your word and Your promises. I am not resting in the assurance of Your promise of heaven. I obsess about the inconveniences of the “wilderness” and I grumble and complain. Father, I want to enjoy Your rest, now and for eternity. Show me how. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 3

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Vs 13 (NASB)

According to this passage, we have an obligation to one another. Both to our believing brothers and sisters and to those in our sphere of influence who remain unbelieving. This verse commands us to encourage one another daily. That word “encourage” is the word parakaleo in the Greek. It means to “come alongside to give help, exhortation, entreaty, comfort, or instruction.” We are to play a significant part in one another’s lives every day. But our encouragement is more than a pat on the back or a token “hang in there.” The context of this verse is a warning to not follow the example of the people of Israel, who provoked God to wrath. The children of Israel challenged God’s authority and tried His patience. They grumbled and complained during their days of wilderness wandering. They didn’t like the manna He miraculously provided. They didn’t approve of the leadership He selected. They saw God’s miraculous works for 40 years, but still chose to turn from Him on a regular basis. In short, they did not know His ways. They did not believe.

That seems to be the warning here. A warning against unbelief. In verse 12 we read, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you and evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” One translation puts it this way: “My brothers, take care that there is not by chance in any one of you an evil heart without belief, turning away from the living God” (BBE). This is not a warning against losing your faith. It is a warning about having never had faith to begin with. So we are called to exhort or encourage one another to true faith. Otherwise, we will end up the same way the children of Israel did – with hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is tricky, deceptive, and can easily delude us into rejecting God. Sin seldom appears as what it really is. It lies and deceives. And over time it can cause our hearts to harden toward the message and mercy of God.

Sin convinces us that we aren’t even sinners. It causes us to self-justify and rationalize away our behavior as necessary and acceptable. And in so doing, we call God a liar. We reject His assessment of us and rebel against His authority. So we are called to encourage one another day after day. To do what? To believe! To trust! To obey! To listen to His voice and not harden our hearts (Vs 7-8). We are to encourage one another to live by faith. To believe in the promises of God and the reality of the cross. Read what the author of Hebrews has to say later in his letter:

“And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away. But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.” – Hebrews 10:38-39

We have a faith that believes and assures our salvation. We don’t fall away. We don’t rebel. We don’t allow the deceitfulness of sin to delude us and deceive us into rejecting God and His Word. To do so would be to have never believed at all. You can’t lose a faith you never had to begin with. True, saving faith continues to believe. But we must be there to encourage one another when difficulties arise to continue believing the truth of God and to reject the falsehood of sin. And we need to do it as long as today is still called “today.” Because the time is short.

Father, I want to be more of an encourager of those around me. I want to come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ and exhort them to continue believing. But I also want to challenge the unbelieving people all around me to examine their hearts and to accept the gracious gift You have offered them. I want to warn them to not allow the lies of sin to harden their hearts against you and seal their own fate. Make me more of an encourager every day. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 2

Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. – Vs 17 (NLT)

Chapter 1 reminds us of Jesus’ sovereignty and power. It refers to Him sitting at the right hand of the Father. He is the creator of all things. And yet, He subjected Himself and came to earth as a man. He subjected Himself. He took a position that was lower than the angels. When Jesus became a man, He willingly lowered His rank. He who was worshipped by angels, became lower than the angels.

But it was necessary. In order to accomplish God’s plan for man’s redemption, Jesus had to become one of us – in every respect. So that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. But not only did He become like us, He suffered for us.

And it was only right that God––who made everything and for whom everything was made––should bring his many children into glory. Through the suffering of Jesus, God made him a perfect leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation. (Vs 10)

Jesus can relate to us, not just because He became one of us, but because He has suffered in all things like we do. Since He himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted. He understands. He can relate. He can empathize.

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

And it was His sinlessness that made Him the perfect sacrifice. He was the one man who could pay the penalty that God required. And He did it for me. He became like me so that He could die for me. That is amazing love.

Father, thank You for Your amazing love. Thank You for sending Your Son to die in my place, to pay a price I could not afford to pay. I am blown away by Your plan for MY salvation. That You would send Your Son to take on human flesh and die a sinner’s death, that He did not deserve. All for me. Forgive me when I take that death, that gift, for granted. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Hebrews chapter 1

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. – Vs 3 (NASB)

“The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven” (NLT). What a clear statement of Jesus’ deity. He is the exact representation of God because He IS God. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands” (Vs 10). His word is so powerful that He spoke the world into existence. And yet He still came to earth, took on human flesh, lived a sinless life, died a sinner’s death, and rose again, just for me! And now He sits in the place of honor right next to God the Father, where the angels worship Him.

I think that we have so humanized Jesus that we have virtually eliminated the deity of Jesus. We are so used to seeing images of the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus in a robe, walking across the Judean landscape in some movie version of His life, that we forget just how powerful, regal, holy, and awe-inspiring He is. He no longer walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He sits on a throne. He no longer holds loaves and fishes in His hands. He holds a scepter. The world He created is decaying and changing, yet He is unchanging and everlasting. He is the same Jesus who was there when the world began and He will be there when it comes to an end. His life is not limited to the 33 years He spent on this earth. He is eternal. He has no beginning and He has no end. He is God.

In our effort to get to know Jesus, let’s not forget to worship Him. While we find it so easy to relate to the humanity of Jesus, let’s never lose sight of the deity of Jesus. It wasn’t just some man who died on a cross in my place – it was the God of the universe! The One who made me died for me. The One who created the tree from which the wood of the cross was made. The One who made the elements from which the nails were formed that would pierce His hands. The One who formed the rocks from which His tomb was carved. The One who rose again and is one day coming again. Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Father, let me never take Jesus for granted. Keep me focused on the reality that He is God. His human flesh did not change that. He was God when He was born as a baby and He was God when He ascended back into heaven. He is God. He is powerful, holy, and worthy of my honor and obedience. In my efforts to understand who He was when He was on this earth, don’t let me forget where He is now. He is at Your side and He has all the power of the universe at His disposal. And He uses that power to intercede for me! “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org