NLT Hebrews 1:1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 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.
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days…he has spoken to us through his Son.” This is it folks, the absolute truth that has lasted through such a long history that it’s beyond our calculation of time. Christ is “the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised.” [Hebrews 9:15]
God has promised you a changed life for today and an inheritance for all eternity. We have this inheritance because “in these final days, he [God] has spoken to us through his Son” not because of all the do’s, dont’s, could’s and should’s we cling to. “When he [Christ] “cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” to celebrate your inheritance with you…got it?
Dis·cern·ment – the ability to judge well.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Reality and healthy survival demands our being able to judge well to live well. That ability to judge well is what our Sovereign Judge, Resurrected Perfecter an Evidence of Truth have united to provide us. Defining the “division of soul and of spirit” requires more imagination than the grisly image Hebrews paints of a sword whacking through bone to reveal the living inner part, the marrow, that actually provides it needed nourishment.
Hebrews is saying the soul is like a boney structure we might identify as the biblical hard heart. The penetration of that boney structure has to happen to reveal the marrow, the Spirit, inside that hard heart. That allows the Spirit and the Word of God to become the needed nourishment of our growth, impact the intentions of our heart and teach us to judge well. It’s the total package.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
1. one that gives evidence, specifically: one who testifies in a cause or before a judicial tribunal.
2. one asked to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its having taken place.
What a day! I’m thankful I have a “great cloud of witnesses;” the heroes of the Bible and real-life saints whose evidence has become part of my life of faith. I’m thankful this morning for the realization that in addition to those heroes and saints that great cloud also includes what the dictionary defines as the judicial tribunal; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I’m celebrating a new awareness on this day of the Resurrected Perfecter.
“For the joy set before him he [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We’re quite familiar with the middle part of that sentence; “[Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame” and we know the end of the story – He’s risen, Hallelujah! But pay special attention to the first and last last phrases of that sentence. “For the joy set before him” followed by “and [Jesus] sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This Easter morning I have a new awareness there was a celebration of joy at the “throne of God” when the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were physically reunited. Their reunion completed our list of witnesses in that great cloud and put the final plan in place. The Sovereign Judge, the Resurrected Perfecter and the Evidence of Truth were to be witnesses AND evidence forever on our behalf.
That’s what makes this Easter celebration the best day of your life! Hallelujah!
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of notable political figures being carefully guided through a pressing crowd surrounded by a cadre of secret service agents for their protection. That image came to mind when I read “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” Have you ever considered who your personal cloud of witnesses are; the Biblical secret service agents that have impacted your life…and why? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own list. Here’s mine..
Jesus: because he showed me his love, and that I was worth it.
Solomon: because he connected the passion of human love to the love of God for his people.
David: because he was brave enough to repent even though there were desperate consequences to his sin.
Peter: because there’d never been any doubt in his mind that he would faithfully serve Jesus…until that moment when he heard his own words of denial. Then repentance changed his heart’s focus from service to a deep love.
Paul: because he believed in a power that had nothing to do with his own abilities and ideas. He was faithful, willing and yes…an opinionated messenger that Jesus was the Savior of the most unlikely people…even him.
These Biblical heroes are my secret service detail. They’re the “great cloud of witnesses” that are my examples of a better way to get through the hazards of being human so I “will not grow weary and lose heart” in the name of Jesus.
“Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says.” From Devotion of Hearing by Oswald Chambers
These last few days I’ve spent some time thinking about what my goals are when I read the Bible. Sometimes I am unsure about what to read. I really am trying to “hear” what I read but nothing “speaks” to me. It seems presumptuous to look at God’s Word and say, “nope, not that” but I do that at times. Here’s the bottom line of even that very selective reading plan…I’m there and so is God.
It’s times like that when the devotional “words” of personal heroes of the faith like Oswald Chambers can be a welcome catalyst of direction. His title and simple confession I quoted above reminded me that even my written words can become a “devotion of hearing.” The secret is learning to be a better “listener” as I read what God has to say for himself…and write myself a note so I’ll remember.
Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Luke 11:28 (ESV) But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Hebrews 2:1 (ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
Excerpts from Hebrews 6 [NIV& TLB]
1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity,
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him
12 Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.