The Spirit reminds us at the close of Hebrews, "Let brotherly love continue." And, "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
The practical encouragements of God, bring reminder of the basics, love for one another, the admonition to do good, and to share. How basic are the desires of the Lord's heart. Not so much the burnt offerings, or the announcement of large gifts, but the sacrifices that bring praise to the Lord as we love, pray and encourage each other. In Him good works flow out from us, and sharing, whether in word, deed or acts of charity, as we are moved in the Spirit.
"We have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat."
As the priest along with the offeror could partake of a portion of the offering sacrificed at the temple, the meal was always flavored with an admixture of the legalism of the law. Rigid, with possibly the flavor of the resentment of having to do so. Whereas, the Christian coming before the Lord's Table, sitting or reclined, in a position of ease, rest and safety, no longer incumbered by the law, enjoying the love and grace of Jesus. The emblems of the bread and the cup, which we freely partake of, now reminding us of His completed work on the cross, done on our behalf.
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled"
The Spirit, warns the believer of underlying circumstances that would allow a root to take hold within their life that would allow bitterness to take hold. Many are the reasons which cause us to question the faithfulness of God. How come? Why this? Where are You? It's taking too long, may be some of the commentary toward the Lord as we question the situation. The solution, we all could use more of His grace. It's His favor, His lovingkindness towards us, His mercy that bears us up in the time of testing. Resting in His love is a great place to be at, trusting in Him. In all things, recall His faithfulness, taking your eyes off the situation, and placing them upon Him.
But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, "Lord save me!"
"I know, I know" had been a pat answer for many years from one brother to another. Having given his life to the Lord many years prior, yet since leaving his old church, friends and ministry, embarking on a new life that sought employment, housing, the pursuit of old life styles, all of a long sudden the cares of life crowded out the joy and peace he once knew. Oh, I catch it on the radio......when he had a vehicle, now things of employment, health and other troubles came his way, still he only sees the wind. In the midst of the storm, we can too often fail to engage our lives with the Lord, failing to reach and lay hold of all He has. "And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him....." vs 31. In all things, we in faith, need to grab on to His hand stretched out to us. Bible reading, prayer, in person worship and fellowship, loving and serving are all key to stay afloat.
Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.
The first verse of one of six Psalms, 113 through 118 that were chanted or sung by the priests as the Passover lambs were scarified at the altar. They were to be reminded of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness towards His people. Psalm 118 is especially telling, as we see in verse 24, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Though the brutality of the crucifixion endured by our Lord was horrendous, it would mean a new beginning for all who would receive Him. It would mean for those in Christ Jesus, life in His death and resurrection. "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord." verse 17 "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting." verse 29
Mark 10: 21
"And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him"
Jesus, in speaking with the rich young ruler, looked upon him with great love. Though our Lord, on His way to keep His appointment with the cross, took the time from His journey to dialogue with this one, who seemingly had much going for him. Power, prestige, wealth, youthfulness and honor was just some of the long list of items attached to his resume. Having much, but not really having anything, the emptiness within his heart brought no real hope or assurance of eternal life. Seeking Jesus' counsel would bring the real answer for him. Though not immediately heeded, we can only hope that down the road, the words of Jesus were taken to heart. For those we have had the opportunity to in love, share the good news of the gospel, we pray for receptive hearts.
"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and in holes in the ground."
In the great hall of faith, we've seen those who exemplified their faith and trust in the Lord, some to the point of giving everything, including their very lives for the sake of the gospel. Though we in the western world face little of this type of persecution, we would be well advised and forewarned that times of temptation will come our way. Temptation that would seek us to turn away and discourage God's work and hold us captive. Stay the course, keep your eyes on Him, press onward in Christ Jesus.
1 Samuel 17:47
"that all this assemble may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give into our hands."
David, a youthful shepherd boy, untested in battle, facing a giant of a warrior, was unfazed by the railing taunts of intimidation called out against the Lord and himself. As now and in the future, David would face many challenges that would present themselves as ominous , formidable foes, some by his own doing, others as outright challenges to his trust in the Lord. David did, as he would continue to live by his word, "for the battle is the Lord's and He will give into our hands." David would simply put his trust, in quiet belief of God's faithfulness. Can we too do the same in Christ, whatever the situation.
"Please do not depart from here, until I come back to Thee, and bring out my offering and lay it before Thee. And He said, "I will remain until you return."
Gideon, speaking with the Lord, was uncertain, fearful, probably hungry with doubt and discouragement all rolled in, yet in faith did not want the Lord to depart without bringing an offering to present to Him. Casting all other feelings aside, Gideon in faith displayed a heart of worship. We can glean a strong encouragement from the word of God here, that we ought to be a people of worship in the good and not so great times. We can count our blessings past, present and future, in faith, trusting that the lord is at work.
And Joseph said to his Father, "Not so my father, for this one is the first born. place your right hand on his head." But his father refused and said, I know, my son, I know........"
Often at our request or desire, may come the Father's refusal, or perhaps it's a reply to wait, or an okay, or worse yet an accommodation. I'm glad that the Father really knows best. His plans, His impeccable timing, His purposes and desired results, far outweigh our best thoughts and intents. Often not the desired answer we had hoped for, yet the quiet confidence of His love and best care for His beloved comes in the answer, I know, my child, I know.
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase, and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last for a long time."
Jeremiah had been informed by the Lord, that the children of Judah would be taken into captivity by the Babylonians for 70 years. Ripped from their homes, marched 900 miles away to a strange land, away from everything that was familiar and comforting, the Lord assured the prophet and captives that they would indeed return to their homeland to rebuild and repopulate their land. The deeds put away for safe keeping, was the Lord's way of assurance that He indeed would bring the captive's home. The people in distress because of all the goings on, were told to make the best of the situation, trusting that God would bring them through the future years of uncertainty. Like we at times, going through the hard times, uncertainty, hurting or fearful, questioning Gods word and His faithfulness, ought to remember the unwavering faith of men like Jeremiah, who looked beyond the here and now, and looked to God and His promises.
"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."
Earlier in our study, we simply defined faith as a quiet confidence in God's word, and that He is able to work on our behalf in spite of unusual circumstances and consequences beyond our control. We come to Him believing His word, even when things seem impossible and the ramifications are unbelievably threatening. We believe that He is, and we obey His word, trusting He will accomplish what is right.
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward."
The Spirit has just reminded the readers of all they had previously gone through. With great joy, they had endured times of testing and tribulation, but now, their faith waivered under continued pressure. The encouragement then, as it is now, was to hold fast their (our) earlier confession of hope in Christ, knowing for He who promised is faithful. They went, as we do, through the testing, we stand only in Christ.