:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hebrews Chapter 13 (part 2)

Hebrews Chapter 13 (part 2)

vs. 5-6

- “Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

- God is our provider. He gives us what we need. He never abandons us.

- This concept and idea of God is a hard one because of all the pain we see in our world. We look at starvation, natural disasters, diseases... all the things that afflict the world.

- And yet God says to be satisfied with what we have?

- Greed can strike at any economic level. Rich men who own major companies or run corporations... desire more companies, more money, more material things... they covet the things of other rich men... or perhaps... they covet the things of the poor man...

- The beggar in the street may look to the rich man and covet his money etc... or he may simply look at the man beside him on the street and want his coat rather than his own.

- A child has a new toy, but wants a “better” one... one like his brother's or his friend's.

- See II Samuel 11 and 12 for a story about David and the rebuke that he received from the prophet Nathan.

- Greed isn't always about money. It is about coveting the things of your neighbor... wanting it... not because you need it... but because he has it and you don't. You just can't stand to be outdone by someone else. Your pride gets in the way. Greed and pride go hand in hand. Your pride fuels your greed and vice versa.

- We want to be the best, or look the best, or have the most... and because we want to be seen as something great... we covet, or greatly desire, the things that would make us to be greater... and because of all that we gain... we see ourselves as greater than maybe we really are... and so goes the cycle... round and round and round...

- But God says to be satisfied with what you have... as in... quit looking at all the things other people have that you don't, and look at your basic needs. God provides what we need... although... not necessarily what we want.

- Is there desperate NEED in this world? Of course. There are millions of starving people who are in need of very basic things.. like food, clothing and shelter... So where is God in that? If God provides all our needs... why is there still need?

- A guy at church last week mentioned a Billy Graham quote. It was given during his speech on the National Day of Prayer on September 14, 2001... right after the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.

- “I have been asked on hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a "mystery." In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" He asked that question, "Who can understand it?" And that is one reason we each need God in our lives.” (Full message at:

- God is not evil... but in allowing us to have free will... He allowed us a choice of action.

- When sin entered God's creation... it ceased to fully be what He had purposed it to be. Sin caused evil to enter into this world. Adam in effect, turned God's earth over to the rule of Satan. God had given Adam rule over it... but when they sinned... Satan became king of the earth so to speak.

- So yes, there are bad things on this earth... but not because God put them there... they exist because their ruler is evil... and evil begets evil.

- Blaming God for all the problems in the world... is like blaming your car insurance company when you have an accident... It's a cop out.

- We are responsible for our own decisions. We can't blame the results of our decisions on God.

- Nor can we blame God for not warning us before we made a mistake... This week, one of the kids got in trouble during school. So he was being sent to the principal, and he was crying because “I didn't know it was a bad thing!” And so one of the teachers got down and asked a series of questions about the incident and they finally came to the conclusion that... yes indeed, he did understand exactly what he had done...

- God gave us His word. He came to earth and taught. He sends His spirit to dwell in us and lead us in right paths. If we choose not to follow... that's on us... not on God.

- God never leaves us... but if we choose to walk away from Him... that's a whole other story...

- Haggai 1:3-6
- I Timothy 6:6-11
- Ecclesiastes 5:8-15
- Philippians 4:11-13

vs. 7

- “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.”

- We aren't in this walk alone. If you think about a chain of people... there is always somebody in front and behind you. In this walk, we should be following someone's example... and in turn... someone should be following our example. This is the picture of discipleship in action. We are following... and we are leading.

- Someone in your life influenced you to walk down this path with Christ. Who was it? A family member? A friend? A total stranger?

- What was it about their lives, or their witness, that drew you to them? Drew you to want something that they had in their life that you felt was lacking in your own?

- Maybe it was something they said... maybe it was something they did. Maybe it was just simply that they took time to listen to you and helped when they could. Maybe it was some tough love. Maybe they told you when you were wrong...

- There had to be somebody...

- Maybe it was after you came to Christ on your own. Was there someone in that first church who took you under their wing and showed you the ropes so to speak? Was there an older man or woman of God who you looked up to in the faith?

- We should find people in our lives to follow. Not necessarily just one...

- A friend of mine once said that he was watching all the men in his life to see what kind of characteristics or attributes they had in the different aspects of their lives. Who were they as fathers, brothers, husbands, etc. And then he was looking at his own life and trying to consciously work on things he thought he was lacking. But it wasn't just one man. It was a lot of different men in his life.

- What he discovered was that where one was strong... others were weak... and vice versa. No one was perfect.

- The same goes for us. None of us are perfect... but if we find a place where we are weak... we should find someone who is strong... and look to their example to follow.

- The funny thing is... as we follow them... they may also be following us...

- We should always be ready to lead... and to follow.

- Luke 14:25-35
- III John 1:11
- I Corinthians 4:14-16; 11:1
- II Thessalonians 3:6-15

vs. 8-16

- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. You strength comes from God's grace, not from rules about food, which don't help those who follow them.”

- God doesn't change. His character is set. He doesn't change His mind about what is right and good. His moral code hasn't changed over the years.

- So when new ideas pop up saying that God is love and won't judge anybody... or when they say that there is no hell... or that God is just one of many gods... or that God doesn't care anymore... go back to the word... what does it tell you about God's character?

- Our God is a God of love... sure... but He's also a God of justice... and wrath. He's a God who is just in all His judgments. Hell is still there... it hasn't moved... When He said He was the only God... He didn't decide that He was lonely or overworked and added some other gods into the mix to help Him out...

- Everybody has their own view of God... and sometimes... they get a little twisted. Sometimes they get vastly publicized... Sometimes they gain many followers... Sometimes, they just make enough noise to create some doubt among a few close friends...

- Satan will use anything to confuse us... including Christ. He'll take everything we know about God... and try to twist it so we think we've found something that isn't right with Who God is...

- Love is a big one. People don't like to think that God is mean. Nor do they like to think that there will be consequences for their actions. Especially when there are loved ones who have died living life the way they wanted... We don't like to think that God would allow the people we love to go to a place like hell.

- So... Satan puts that thought there... “well if God is love... He wouldn't be that cruel... there can't be a hell with a loving God like that...”

- And so... what consequences are there for our actions? If we're all going to go to heaven anyway... what's the point in keeping ourselves from enjoying all the things that are possible in this life?

- Next thing you know? You're not worried about what God thinks anymore... cause He is loving... and He won't judge you... right? Wrong...

- God doesn't change... so the Old Testament God? Is still the New Testament God. New covenant maybe... but same rules...

- When it's talking about the food... that's going back the Judiazers. They were trying to teach that we still had to follow the Old Testament law in addition to following Christ.

- Old Testament law was given as a mirror... as a shadow of what was to come. It was given as a plan... a leading to something new and better. God didn't change... but our daily practice did.

- See, under the old law, a sheep or goat took the consequences for our sins. In the new law... Christ took it all once and for all... the whole world... nothing missing...

- We no longer have to make those sacrifices. We don't have to go out in the field and find a lamb and take it to the temple to sacrifice. That's one of those things that is done away with... and if that is done away with... it's easier to see that the things that went along with temple sacrifice are done away with as well as with the old system.

- There is a difference between being ceremonially pure and pure of heart. The old system called for ceremonial cleanliness. But when Christ came... the body being clean on the outside wasn't enough anymore...

- The new covenant made things harder... not easier... no longer were- outward appearances enough to get by on. We can't just do good things and make outward sacrifices. It's a matter of the heart... that only God can see... we can bring as many offerings as we like... but it doesn't change God's view of our hearts...

- The new covenant is based on relationship... not on what we eat or drink. It's not about what we take into our bodies, or what we do with our bodies... it's about the life we live and the decisions we make as to Who we follow.

- “We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of His own blood. So let us go out to Him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace He bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

- footnote- “The Jewish Christians were being ridiculed and persecuted by Jews who didn't believe in Jesus the Messiah. Most of the book of Hebrews tells them how Christ is greater than the sacrificial system. Here the writer drives home the point of his lengthy argument: It may be necessary to leave the “camp” and suffer with Christ. To be outside the camp meant to be unclean—in the days of the Exodus, those who were ceremonially unclean had to stay outside the camp. But Jesus suffered humiliation and uncleanness outside the Jerusalem gates on their behalf. The time had come for Jewish Christians to declare their loyalty to Christ above any other loyalty, to choose to follow the Messiah whatever suffering that might entail. They needed to move outside the safe confinement of their past, their traditions, and their ceremonies to live for Christ. What holds you back from complete loyalty to Jesus Christ?”

- It is time my friends to stand up for something we believe in. When I was looking for the Billy Graham quote today, I stumbled across one of his others: “The most prominent place in hell is reserved for those who are neutral on the great issues of life.”

- Jesus was not popular. He was not rich. He was not famous... maybe infamous... He was not held in high esteem... He was a wanderer. He was homeless... His own family thought he'd lost His mind.

- To follow Christ... is not popular. It's not easy. It doesn't mean that you'll have tons of friends... It doesn't mean you'll be successful. It doesn't even mean that your family will love you more...

- Quite to the contrary... it means that once you start this journey... you have embarked on a road filled with stones and hard places. Mountains to climb, deserts to traverse. There will be times of oasis... but... sometimes it may feel like they are few and far between.

- But you can't ride the fence! Christ doesn't let you into heaven if you're half saved... you're either in or you're out... there's no in between. So even if it means moving out of your comfort zone... and facing the booing and torment of the crowds... it's time to stand up for Christ. He stood up for you in a BIG way... will you do the same for Him?

“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His Name. And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

- God wants our hearts. He doesn't want our actions... The old covenant was all about action. It wasn't about wanting to do something for others or for God because you LOVED God... it was about looking like you were doing everything right...

- The new covenant is about loving God first.... and doing things for others BECAUSE you love God. When you see a need... you love with GOD'S heart. When you feel down... you praise anyway, because God sees the big picture... and your life... is not about moments... it's a bigger picture... you are one thread in a gigantic tapestry... so rejoice! Praise! Lift your voice to glorify God! Because even when things are difficult for our one string... the whole tapestry is being woven together to show the world the BIG picture of God's plan from the beginning...

- The author said “a continual SACRIFICE of praise.” It's not always easy to praise God. You don't always feel like singing praise songs, or speaking about the great things God has done... But we are to make the sacrifice... stop worrying about ourselves... and look outside our thread. We're not alone in our battles... and God is ultimately triumphant... so the sacrifice... is one of giving up self-pity and self-absorption... and saying... “God, I'll praise you anyway...”

- Psalm 50
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- I Samuel 16:7

vs. 17

- “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

- Our spiritual leaders are there to help guide us. They are not there as a burden to us. So when they correct us in our walk... we should do what they say.

- Now I know there have been leaders who have fallen themselves and who have NOT been the best of examples, or the best ones to follow in the long run... however... it says that they are held accountable to God...

- If someone is leading you... and you are following, trusting that they are following God... then they are accountable for your soul...

- That doesn't mean you can decide to follow someone because you know they're not living exactly where they should and so you can get by with not being exactly right yourself...

- Following anyone still means testing everything against the Word. Blind following probably isn't a good idea... but if it's a spiritual leader, like a pastor, telling you that you need to check or change something in your life? You need to check it out...

- Our job as followers is to make leading easy... So they can do their jobs with Joy... not Sorrow...

- I've heard this saying passed around our house a lot... “If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy...” Meaning that if the boss lady is upset... she's gonna make life miserable for everybody else as well... (this does not describe my mother... but we pass it around as a joke...)

- If your pastor is upset or unhappy or having a hard time because of you or somebody else in the congregation... he's not going to approach his Sunday morning sermons the same way... it's going to be a little harder to get down and pray for a word for his congregation when he's struggling with what to do with the problem. And if the problem persists and a change is refused... then he's REALLY got something to worry about... not only how it will effect the church as a whole or you individually on the surface... but your souls for eternity!

- I Peter 5:1-11

vs. 18-25

- The author concludes with some blessings/prayer for the readers and prayer requests... much as we should when we talk to fellow believers.

- “Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon. Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with His blood—may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All Glory to Him forever and ever! Amen. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you. Greet all your leaders and all the believers there. The believers from Italy send you their greetings. May God's grace be with you all.”

- As an ending, I think this is wonderful, so I'll just say that as a model, this is a great way to end a conversation... a great way to think about each other... to pray that the rest of the body would be built up... and to expect that they can also pray for you in the same manner...

- “May God's grace be with you all...” :)

- Philippians 2:12-18
- Ephesians 4:1-5:20