Hebrews 13 – 9
Throughout the book, we are also challenged to remain faithful to Jesus and follow great models of faith from the Old Testament despite hardships and persecution. These challenges will make us uncomfortable but instead of fearing them, remember that rejecting Jesus is foolish. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s love and mercy and is worthy of all our trust and devotion.
[The Bible Project]
All of Scripture is God letting us look into the past to show us how to build our life of faith today. Usually I read as if chapters are layers that pile up one after another to result in the truth of the book. Reading Hebrews backwards is like peeling those layers back, one a time, to discover for myself truth that can be built into everyday life AND the future. So these are cliff notes from my writings on chapters [13 – 9] each numbered and listed without further editing in that same “backwards” order. My goal is to discover confirmed evidence the Holy Spirit is working through these layers of God’s word to teach me exactly what I need to learn.
 Outside” is where Christ receives your brokenness and disgrace and makes them his own. It’s the plan of God that we who are outsiders can go to where “new” begins, the Cross.  God has saved the unmerited favor of His Grace IN us. Living with the reality of that forgiveness is the discipline of Grace that turns faith into action.
 Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US. That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds. US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative.  Today we have God’s incredible exception to those annual sacrifices. The blood of Jesus and the Grace of God have provided a way to remove the guilt of our sin from God’s memory forever…but our memory is still a natural consequence of sin.  Circumstances are where God begins. Right from the beginning God desired to be present with us because of love. Right from the beginning when circumstances might have denied that truth, God began.
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
I’ve looked for evidence in these second chapters of God’s continuing desire to replace and repair what is worn out, run-down, or broken. That word “broken” has been a part of every post. God created life to be an unending circle for those first two people but they broke the circle because they violated the rule of one unique tree. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Why two unique trees? I know what the results of that break are and I know Revelation 2 is the answer that repairs that broken circle.
Despite our best efforts here on earth perfection is still lost. God has noticed our desire has changed from being content to know His perfection to the confusion of trying our best to sort out the knowledge of good and evil. “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…you cannot tolerate wicked people.” I know “that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” I know “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary…Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. ”
Here’s the Good News from Revelation 2 about that other unique tree. “The tree of life” is still standing, untouched, and we still have it’s promise of that first love. There is repair and renewal for that worn out, run-down, or broken circle. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
The Firsts are done. The Easter celebration is over. What’s next? Now comes the hard part; continuing the renewal we just celebrated. Renewal will take you beyond what you already know to the recognition of all you still need to know to sustain you. This prayer is both our plea and our evidence of renewal happening in our life. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Mark 1:12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. 14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” [NLT]
I couldn’t avoid the red letters of verse 15 in this very familiar story. This chapter is filled with truths I think I know but I know for sure there are still new kingdom things to ponder. Those things turned out to be the few verses that preceded Jesus’ own words combined with this quote from a commentary on Mark .
“Life would be very different if, instead of yearning for some distant and at present unattainable goal, we did all that we could to bring that goal nearer.” [Barclay]
Forty days of temptation plus a dear friend and cousin who’s been arrested don’t bring to mind a neon GO sign do they? Don’t forget the fact that Jesus was fully human and he’d just endured a long period of Satan making sure he knew that. Jesus was experiencing humanity at it’s lowest point but it became his confirmation that “The time promised by God has come at last!”
There’s another compelling thing to remember: he was fully God. That’s even more important because it’s our evidence that his eyes were wide open to just what his “unattainable” goal was – he would not avoid the cross. That was his painful reality and he still chose to do all he could to bring that goal nearer.
That’s the example Jesus gave us to follow: holiness that defies humanity.