February 22, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: A Study of the Book of Hebrews

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October 27, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Introductory Lesson

*****I am posting this the day before my Proverbs 31 devotional runs tomorrow, October 28th, because my sweet girl is home from the University of Georgia, and I want to maximize my time with her.  For those of you who subscribe to my blog regularly this will be the same post many of you already received earlier this week except for the first few paragraphs. ***** 

If you are visiting Living Truth for the first time because of my Friday, October 28th Encouragement for Today devotion, welcome! I am so thankful you stopped by.  We are in the introductory week of my newest on-line study on the book of Hebrews.

Each time I write a devotion, I pray for each person the Lord draws to Living Truth.  The Lord brought you here today, so will you prayerfully consider joining us for our current on-line study, Living a Cross-Centered Life: A Study of the Book of Hebrews?  We have 4000 women signed up from all over the United States and abroad, and we begin on Monday, October 31st with Chapter One of Hebrews.  What better way to spend Halloween!!  If you want to learn more, please find a short video below with an introduction to the study. 

Jesus is the Name above all names!  Do you know this?  Do you believe this?

Today we begin a journey through Hebrews that will teach and expound on this amazing Truth from Scripture.  We will spend thirteen weeks studying and learning how and why Jesus is better than anything and everything that has ever been, that is, or that ever will be.

God has brought together a beautifully diverse group of women from around the world to study Hebrews.  We represent many nations, many states, many cultures, many denominations, and many generations.  Yet We all have one thing in common…a passion to grow deeper in the knowledge of God and His Word.

I have been so excited for this study.  It is the sixth study I have offered, and I am humbled and overwhelmed your response each and every time.  What makes me extra excited about this one is my new web site.  Now, when one of us leaves a comment, others can reply to that comment, so we can really engage in discussions with each other and pray for one another…just like a small group…a very BIG small group.  And if you don’t mind, when you leave a comment, let us know where you are from.

Today the video message is an introductory lesson.  The good news is, you will not have homework this week.  The lesson includes a welcome message and historical information to provide foundation and background for the book of Hebrews.  If you would like to read ahead into Chapter One you may, but we will not officially begin Chapter One until next week.  You may also read the book of Leviticus if you have not done so already.  It is not require reading, but it gives valuable information about the Levitical priesthood and the rituals and sacrifices required under Old Testament Law.  It is helpful in understanding Hebrews.

If you have not signed up, or you have a friend or friends that would like to sign up, it is not too late.  Simply register in the sidebar.  Be sure to sign up for the  on-line studies and subscribe to the Living Truth web site.  By subscribing, you will be assured of receiving each week’s lesson in your inbox on Monday mornings.  It will remain up all week.  So if you can’t get to it until later in the week or even later, it will always be available.

How the study works:

Every Monday, I will post a video message, a memory verse, a prayer, and your homework.  Remember that the e-mail does not include the video message.  You will need to visit the Living Truth web site directly to see to the message.  Please work on your homework throughout the week, and then when you get a chance, jump on the web site and share portions of your thoughts and answers.  That is what is makes an on-line study work…you sharing from your heart and life about what you have learned and how His Word has personally has spoken to you.

The book of Hebrews has thirteen chapters, so we will meet for thirteen weeks.  Our study falls during the holiday season.  Since it is a long study and we are all busy during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, we break twice, one  week for Thankgiving and two weeks during Christmas.  I have posted the first half of our schedule below.

October 24…..Introductory Lesson

October 31…..Week One

November 7…Week Two

November 14..Week Three

November 21..Week Four

November 28..Break

December 5…..Week Five

December 12….Week Six

December 19….Break

December 26….Break

January 2…….Week Seven

I am so eager to get started.  Please join me in praying for us and for the Lord to prepare our hearts for next week. 

Also, please leave a comment today and share what it is that brought you to this study and what you pray God will do through the time you spend in His Word through this study.  I will select one one winner to receive a Target gift card.  Please leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win.  Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Sweet Blessings to you!

 

October 31, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter One

Hebrews Chapter One – Jesus :  Better Than All The Rest

Good morning, Bible Study friends.  Are you as excited as I am?!  Our official first day has finally arrived.  Great anticipation fills my heart as we gather in my kitchen this morning.  How grateful I am for each and every one of you.  Your comments have filled me with such joy…reading each and every one blessed me more than you will know.  Thank you for taking the time to write and share your hearts with me and for sharing your prayers.

It is definitely a day for celebration.  We now have nearly 4100 women subscribed to this study!  That is truly only something God can do!!  Our “biggest small group ever”  just keeps growing because you so graciously share this with your friends.  Thank you.  We are still taking new members, so if you have a friend or friends you would like to invite, please share this post and encourage them to sign up by registering in the sidebar for the on-line studies as well as subscribing to the blog to receive the weekly posts in their inbox.

Instructions

Each week we will have a 10-12 minute lesson, a memory verse, a prayer and homework questions.  The lesson will be up all week so that you can do it on your own time.  Remember if you want to receive the homework in your inbox, you will need to subscribe to this web site.  To do that, look in the top of the sidebar.  There you will find a  link that says “Subscribe to Updates.”  Simply type your e-mail address in the inbox and press “Go.”  You will then receive each week’s lesson in your inbox on Mondays.  If you want to see the video, you will have to visit my web site directly.  To get to the web site, you may click on the title of the post in the e-mail.  It will take you directly there. 

Winner of Gift Cards.

Before we get to the lesson, it’s time to announce the winner of the gift card.  I was only going to give one Target gift card, but since so many of you responded, I am going to give away two.  If you win and you are not from the United States and do not have a way to access Target, please let me know and I will be sure to get you something else that you can use.  The two winners are:

Teresa (pastor’s wife) who commented on October 24th at 11:02

Jeannie who posted on October 28th at 10:05 a.m.

Please send your full name and e-mail address to deuteronomysix@aol.com, and I will send you your gift cards.

Video Lesson.

 Okay….we’re off!!!  Below please find our video lesson for Chapter One of Hebrews.

 This Week’s Memory verse:  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.  Hebrews 1:3a

This Week’s Prayer: 

Father, today begins a new day in my spiritual journey with You.  Thank You for bringing me to this study…for setting apart this time and place for me to be with You in Your Word.  As I begin my first lesson, I come before Your throne asking to be filled with the full, deep, and clear knowledge of Your will for me this year.  Please use my time here to invigorate, refresh, strengthen, and renew me.  Father, I also ask You to speak Truth in my life…even hard Truth.  If I am not living in a way that pleases You or loving others in a way that honors You or studying in a way that changes me, convict me by speaking Truth in love.  Make my heart tender to receive rebuke or discipline.  You have drawn me here, and I want to receive ALL You have for me!

As I join my sisters to study Your Word, knit us together in perfect unity.  Allow there to be absolute trust and confidence in all we say.  Father, plant our roots deep in Your Word and use us to continually build each other up.  Help us to be patient and gentle with each other. Help us teach, admonish, and train one another with grace in our hearts.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You. 

Father, make Your Word at home in my heart.  Invade every part.  Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.  Change my heart, O God, make it more like You!  AMEN.

Assignment:  Read Hebrews Chapter One

 Homework Questions:

1.  According to Hebrews 1:1 and 1:2, how did God speak to His people in the Old Testament? The New Testament?

 

2.  What proofs/attributes does the author give for Jesus’ supremacy in Hebrew 1:1-3 (name at least 4)?

 

3.  The first attribute is Heir.  Let’s learn a bit more about this in Scripture.  Read Revelation 5:1-10. 

  • What does John say in verse 5?
  • Who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah…the Heir to David’s throne and why is He worthy?
  • Take a few minutes and soak up these words from Revelation…enter into a time of praise, praising Jesus Christ…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…the King of kings and Lord of lords…the Heir of all things.
  • What happens in Revelation 11:15.
  • Read Romans 8:15-17.  What does it say?  What does this mean for you?

4.   The second attribute is Creator of the Universe.    Read John 1:3-4 and Colossians 1:16 (corrected from original post that said 2:16).  How do they speak to this attribute?

 

5.  Hebrews 1:3 continues with the fourth attribute:  the Express Image of God.  The Word image comes from the Greek word charakter from which we get our English word “character.”  It is a Greek term used for the impression made by a die or stamp on a seal.  Jesus, literally, is the exact representation of the substance of God.  God poured out every bit of Who He is into the precious life He placed in Mary’s womb.  For nine months she carried God incarnate.  And from the day of His birth until the day He died, the exact imprint of God lived on this earth in the earthly body of Jesus.  How do John 1:1, 14, 18 and Colossians 1:15 support this?

 

6.  Verse 3 continues with the sixth attribute:  Sacrifice.  Scripture teaches Jesus removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and though our sins are like scarlet, He made them white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).    Verse 3 ends with the seventh attribute: Position.  Jesus sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of God in heaven. 

  • Read Philippians 2:11.  What does it say?
  • Do you give Jesus the rightful place of honor in your life?  If yes, share how.  If not, what can you do to move Him higher and give Him that place of honor?

 

7.  Read Hebrews 1:4-7.  The author continues to attack the religious icons his audience has trusted in for centuries.  He now addresses angels.  He sets forth another attribute of Jesus’ superiority:  Greater than the Angels.  He uses seven quotations from the Old Testament which prove Christ’s superiority to angels.   What is the first one addressed in Hebrews 1:5?

  • What does Psalm 2:7 say?
  • What about 2 Samuel 7:14?

Remember, Jesus did not always have the title of Son.  He was always one with God, but He became God’s Son at a point in time.  It began in this world at His birth.  2 Samuel 7:14 says “I _______ be His Father, and He ________ be my Son.” Notice the use of future tense.

 

8.  In verses 6 and 7 what are other proofs that Jesus is more superior than angels?  How does Colossians 1:16 confirm this?

 

9.  Read Hebrews 1:8.  What does it say?  Read Psalm 110.  Share what you learn about Jesus in this psalm. 

  • Read Mark 12:35-37, 14:62, and Acts 2:34-36.  How do these relate to and affirm Psalm 110 and Hebrews 1:8? 

The author’s point:  Angels minister before the throne but Jesus is on the throne.  The author brings this passage to a climax in Hebrew 1:13-14.  Again he refers to Psalm 110, this time citing verse 1 to highlight the final victory of the Son over His enemies.  If the Son is to have an eternal throne (Hebrews 1:8), this victory is essential!  The author makes the point that victory is found in His Son, NOT the angels.

 

10.  Share what you learn in the following verses (look up some or all depending upon your time):

  • Matthew 26:64
  • Mark 16:19
  • Acts 2:33
  • Romans 8:33-34
  • Colossians 3:1

11.  Who does Hebrews 1:14 say the angels are?  What is their role?

Please know that I will be praying for you each and every day as you seek to know God more through His Word.  What makes this study work is for you to share your thoughts, your questions, and some of your answers.  Please interact with one another for that is how we will grow and learn.  I look forward to hearing from you!!

Sweet, sweet blessings to you,

 

November 7, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Two

Hebrews Chapter Two - A First Warning

Congratulations!!  You have completed your first week of on-line Bible study.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as you thought you would.

Thank you for sharing so much from your hearts!!  Your comments have taught me so much and made me think.  I love Carol’s “Stand Out” moments.  One of our women, Josana, attends a Messianic congregation and gave us rich Scripture from Revelation to add to what we had already read.  Heather expanded on how Christ embodies the three kingdoms of God.  I could share many more because so many of you left insightful comments.  

Thank you also for the corrections you sent.  Please know that those do not offend me.  I greatly appreciate you correcting errors so you don’t spend time in verses that do not apply to our lesson.

In this chapter, we find the first of many warnings found in the book of Hebrews.  The purpose of the author’s warning here is to encourage his audience to PAY ATTENTION to God’s Word and to obey it.  We will study his word choice and what it meant to his audience.  Some of what we read will be hard and sound harsh.  But it is a foundational Truth of Christianity…when we reject Jesus…when we reject the gospel message…there is judgment.  There will be people who by their own choosing will go to a place where they will be forever separated from God…a very real place called hell.  The author of Hebrews wrote this book because is desperate to keep the unbelieving Jews in His audience from going there.

Let’s dive right in to Hebrews Chapter Two.  Click here to watch video. 

 **I am including a link here that I hope will take you to the video.  If it does not work, click on the title of the post in the e-mail and should take you to my web site where you will be able to watch the video, or you may visit my web site directly.**

 

This Week’s Memory verse: We must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.   Hebrews 2:1.

This Week’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I am ready to begin another week spending precious time with You in Your Word.  As I begin this week’s lesson, make my heart tender to hear Your voice as You speak to me. Give me ears to hear and a heart to receive what You have for me in each and every lesson.  Speak a fresh Word to me. You tell me Your Word is living and active meant to speak to me today.  You tell me that when Your Word goes out, it will achieve what You desire and accomplish the purposes for which You sent it.  Father, do that in my life.  Speak to me.  Move me.  Change me.  Accomplish everything in my life that You desire.  Thank You for giving me this opportunity to spend time alone with You.  Help me to carve out the time no matter how busy I think I am.  Help me to put You first.  I ask this in Jesus’ powerful and effective Name.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Two

Homework Questions:

1. As we move into Chapter 2, the author of Hebrews interrupts his message on angels with an invitation.  He gives his audience the opportunity to respond to what he presented in Chapter 1.  He wants Christ to be not only exalted and understood but also believed and accepted.  Read Hebrews 2:1. 

  • What words does the author use to describe how we must listen? 
  • Describe what “paying attention to” Truth looks like.
  • How are you at paying attention to the Word of God? 

 

2. The second half of Hebrews 2:1 contains the warning.

  • What is the warning and do you think it still applies today?
  • How do we neglect what we have heard?
  • List some consequences of drifting. 
  • After what we learned in the introductory video about the author’s audience (rem inder - there are three types of Jews in his audience 1) Christian Jews - Jews who had accepted Christ, 2) Non-Christian Jews – Jews who had not accepted Christ, and 3) Jews who were seeking), to which group do you think the author was speaking here?

After much study, I believe that both theories make sense.  It could apply to those Jews who came to temple, who listened and heard the message, but were unwilling to take the step to commit and personally accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  But his message also could apply to believers who had accepted Christ, who continually heard the message but who, though saved, failed to apply it and live it out in their every day lives. 

 

 3.  Read Hebrews 2:3-4.  Here the author reminds his audience that they as a people had received the Word of God from the Lord Jesus Himself, and it was confirmed by those who witnessed and heard Him speak.   He heaps more proof on when he speaks of God confirming the message they heard by signs and wonders.  Read John 10:38 and Acts 2:22.  How do these verses support the author’s words in Hebrews 2:3-4?

 

4.  God sent the Law.  His people ignored it.  God sent the prophets.  His people ignored them.  God sent Jesus.  His people ignored them.  Finally, God sent the apostles with their miracles and wonders.  His people ignored them.  The author is desperate to do something, anything to change the hearts of God’s people.  This, sweet friends, is the heart of this book!

  • Do you see evidence of people ignoring God’s Law and power in our world today?
  • Who does God have on earth to speak to His people today?
  • What evidence do you see in the world today that the gospel message is not forgotten and is alive and powerfully at work?
  • What evidence is their in your life tht the gospel message of Jesus Christ is alive and powerfully at work?
  • What are you doing or what can you do in your relationships and your corner of the world to ensure His message stays alive and at work?

 

5.  Now, on to angels.  According to Hebrews 1:14, what are angels?

 

6.  Read Hebrews 2: 6-10. 

  • What psalm is quoted in Hebrews 2:6 (look in your study notes or in the side margins in your Bible)?  (If you want to go deeper and have the time, read this psalm in its entirety)
  • What does God give man in Hebrews 2:8? 
  • Is man currently exercising this Hebrews 2:8 authority over all things?
  • Why? Read Genesis 3:17-19.
  • Who does Hebrews 2:9 say is the answer?  Why is He the answer according to that same verse?

 

7.  Friends, according to Hebrews 2:10, Jesus came to this earth to bring salvation.  It was through Him that God chose to bring His children into His glory.

  • If you would like to go  a bit deeper, read 1 Peter 2:22-24 and share what you learn about Jesus’ death and suffering.  Take some time to break apart these truths and journal what each one means in your own life.  Will you take some time to thank Him for what He has done and what it means in your life?
  • Read Colossians 2:3-4 and share how these verses support Hebrews 2:10?  

 

8.  Read Hebrews 2:11-14.  In Hebrews 2:11, the author continues by teaching that in addition to becoming our Substitute, Jesus became our Sanctifier.  Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are forgiven, given a new nature, and made holy…perfectly holy!  How can this be, you ask?  I sin everyday.  I act selfishly.  I lie.  I choose to do wrong instead of right.  I get angry.  You are right.  We may not act holy because sin still exists in us in thought and practice.  But in the eyes of God, we who are saved, we who have accepted Christ, we are made holy through Christ’s righteousness.  God applies Christ’s righteousness to use.  POSITIONALLY before God we are holy.

  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.  What does this verse say?
  • Read Romans 8:7.  Write this inyour own words.  What does it mean to you?

Friends, God calls us now to become practically what we are postionally.  We should desire to spend the rest of our lives conforming ourselves into His image.   Are their things in your past or in your present that keep you from living as a true child of God…things you believe keep you from being conformed to His image.  If there are, take this opportunity to confess those things to God.  Right now will you BELIEVE God’s Truth that if you have asked for forgiveness, you are  FORGIVEN, FREED, TRANSFORMED, MADE HOLY and RIGHTEOUS?

According to 2 Timothy 2:20-21 your are a special utensil made for honorable use.  In Christ, you are a holy vessel intended by your Father in heaven to be used for holy purposes in His grand plan for your life.  Live in the reality of who you are…a precious child of God, created in His image, to live a purpose-filled life that brings glory and honor and praise to your Father in heaven.

 

9.    Read Hebrews 2:14.  Share what is says in your own words.  Why did Jesus have to become flesh and blood?

I love something John MacArthur wrote on this subject:  “God had to wrest from Satan the power of death and for that purpose Jesus came.”  Jesus changed His very nature to break the power of death that Satan held over us.  Read John 1:14 and Romans 8:3 (corrected from John 8:3).  What do they say about this Truth?

 

10.   Read the remainder of Chapter Two.  In Hebrews 2:16, the author of Hebrews again reminds his audience that Jesus did not take on the nature of an angel.  He descended lower than an angel and became flesh and blood.  He became a Jew, a part of the “seed” of Abraham.  God chose Abraham (Genesis 12) from all His people to be the father of a nation that He would bless.  Jesus came to save that nation. 

  • Read Galatians 3:26-29.  What does this passage say and how does it connect us with Hebrews 2:16?

 

11.  In the last few verses of Hebrews, the author points again to a characteristic, a name of Jesus we visited earlier…another part of His Person that makes Him greater than the angels.

  • Read Hebrews 2:17.  What is that characteristic or name of Jesus?
  • What is it about Jesus being flesh and blood that makes Him the perfect High Priest (John 4:6, Luke 22:41-44, Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 5:2).

 

12.  Hebrews 2:18 ends telling us that since Jesus Himself suffered, He is able to help us when we suffer and/or are being tested. The word “help” in the King James is “succour.”  The word “succour” is from the Greek word boetheo.  It means to run on hearing a cry.  Sweet friends, upon hearing our cry, Jesus…El Roi (God Who Sees)…our Deliverer…our Savior…runs to us!!  By using this word, the author again shows how Jesus is superior to the angels.  Angels serve but only Jesus can help us in times of temptation.  He was created to run to us and help us in our time of need.

As we end today, will you take time to thank Jesus that whatever it is that causes you pain or sorrow, you have Jesus?  He has already experienced it and come through it victoriously.  He was hungry.  He was thirsty.  He was angry.  He was homeless.  He was weary.  He grew.  He loved.  He grieved.  He wept.  He prayed.  He was temtped.  He was persecuted.  He was enraged.  He was wronged.  He was misunderstood.  He was mocked.  He suffered.  He died. 

His Word teaches us that He is….. 

Adonai (Master)

All in All

Author and Finisher of our Faith

Bread of Life

Counselor

Deliverer

Lamb of God

Light of the World

Portion

Prince of Peace

Refuge

Rock

Strength

Strong Tower

Shield

Truth

Wisdom

After reading these names, are you overwhelmed by the magnificence of our God?  Who is a God like ours?

He is majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, unfailing in love, and unending in time!

Spend some time this week thanking Jesus for who He has been, and who He promises to be in your life.

I love you all!!!  May God richly bless your time with Him in His Word!

 

 

 

November 13, 2011

Living A Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Three

Hebrews Chapter Three – Jesus Greater Than Moses

Good Morning sweet Bible study girls, I am so excited to meet you back here today!!  Thank you for your faithfulness to comment throughout the week.  We are learning so much from each other.  It is cool to see and hear how God is sending many of you all over Scripture to enrich our study of Hebrews.   I so appreciate the time and attention you are giving this study.

I am thankful for your help in ensuring all errors are corrected in the homework.  Please continue to assist me in that area.  As hard as I try, there always seems to be one or two that I miss.  Also, when I get a correction, I do correct it in the post immediately.  So be sure to check there first to see if it has been corrected.  It will save you a bit of time.

This past week, we recorded the lesson that I taught here in Charlotte to send to a publisher who is considering publishing my Bible Study curriculum. (BTW – If the Lord brings it to mind, please be in prayer for that decision.  Trusting God fully with it.)  Since that recording is on Chapter 4, I thought I would post it next week for our Chapter 4 video lesson.  So be prepared for a thirty minute teaching video rather than the usual 12-13 minute video.  I hope you don’t mind the exta length.  I will not do that very often, but I thought you might enjoy a full length teaching…especially for Chapter 4.  It is such a rich and beautiful chapter on rest.

 Okay, are you ready to dig in?  Let’s begin. Click here to watch the video.

 

 This Week’s Memory Verse: For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Hebrews 3:14.

This Week’s Prayer:

Father, as I begin a new week in my study of Hebrews, draw close to me.  Enable me to hear Your voice and receive Your instruction. As I open Your Word, speak into my heart.  Give me wisdom and discernment to know exactly what you want to teach me.  As we study how the Israelites hardened their hearts against You, Father, I beg You to ensure that I never ever reach that place with You.  Keep my heart tender to Your love.  Fill me continually with Your presence so You never feel far away.  Surround me with believers who will speak Truth in Love to me if I ever begin to wander.  Set a guard around my heart and mind that I would never fall prey to the lies of the evil one.  Keep watch over me day and night, Lord.  I love You!! 

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Three

Homework Questions:

1. Why do you think the Israelites had such great reverance for Moses (hint: read Exodus 20)?

In this chapter, the author of Hebrews wants his audience to consider Jesus once again on the basis of everything He has just said in the last few chapters.  It appears from his word choice in Hebrews 3:1 that he is probably speaking to the Jewish believers in his audience.

2.  He continues verse 1 by calling his audience to ___________ their thoughts on Jesus.  What two names does the author give Jesus in this verse?

 

3.  The title “apostle” is from the Greek word apostolos and means “one sent forth.” 

  1. How was Moses an apostle?  What did God send him to to?
  2. How was Jesus an apostle?  What did God send Him to do?

 

4.  The author of Hebrews ends Hebrews 3:2 characterizing both Moses and Jesus as  ___________________.

  1. How do we know Moses was faithful? (Numbers 12:7-8)?  If you are familiar with the life of Moses, share a few ways Moses was faithful. 
  2. How do we know Jesus was faithful (John 4:34, John 8:29, John 17:4)?  Share evidence of Jesus faithfulness in Scripture and in your own life.

 

5.  Read Hebrews 3:3-6.  What word is repeated in all three verses? 

  1. To what is the author referring when using this word? (See 2 Samuel 7 for a deeper understanding of this word).
  2. What distinction does the author make between Moses and Jesus when speaking of “the house?”

 

Friends, Moses was a faithful part of God’s house.  But Jesus made the house.  John 1:3 says, “Through Him [the Word, Jesus], all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”  God alone created the house and to this day continues to build on that house with every life that comes to know and believe in His Son Jesus.  Men and women, like Moses, like you and me, are the tools He uses to do the work in His house. 

6.  Read Hebrews 3:6.

  1. To what kind of life is the author calling those who are members of the household of faith? 
  2. What does it mean to “hold on to our courage” or “hold fast to our confidence” and the hope of which we boast?
  3. Share some differences you would find between a woman who lives her life this way compared to one who lives her life with no confidence and no hope in the things of God?
  4. Which way do you live your life?  Why?
  5. Do you know someone who lives without confidence and without hope?  Will you commit this week to share a word of encouragement with him or her?  Share with us how God used your boldness.

 

7.   In Hebrews 3:7-19, the author issues his second warning.  Remember his first warning was against drifting found in Hebrews 2:1-4.  In this second warning, he cautions those in his audience who have accepted Christ intellectually but not with their whole heart of the danger of doubting and disbelieving God’s Word due to a hardness of heart.

  1. What is the basic warning here and from where does He qoute this warning?
  2. Reread Hebrews 3:7.  Who is speaking in this passage?  Why do you suppose he introduced this passage of Scripture this way? 
  3. Hebrews 3:8-11 refers to a specific incident in Exodus Chapter 17.  Read Exodus 17:1-7.  What sin did the Israelites commit?  List the reasons you find in Hebrews 3:8-11 for God’s displeaure with them.
  4. Read Hebrews 3:11.  What was the consequence for their disobedience?

 

8.  The author of Hebrews makes his warning very clear in Hebrews 3:12.  Read the verse and write it in your own words. 

 

**If you would like to go a bit deeper and have the time Read Numbers Chapter 13 and 14:1-25.**

  • In Chapter 13, what assignment did Moses give the men?
  • What was the scouting report from the majority of the men?  What about Caleb?
  • In Chapter 14, what was the people’s response?
  • How did Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb respond to the people?
  • Share what happened to Joshua and Caleb.
  • At the end of Chapter 14, how did God respond?  What punishment did he exact against His people in Numbers 14:20-23?
  • How did God reward Caleb for His faithfulness?

 

9.  Sisters, because of their unbelief, an entire generation of God’s people missed their inheritance and died in the wilderness.  According to Hebrews 3:13, how can we avoid this same hardness of heart.

  1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5.  Share what you learn.
  2. Do you have a community of believers around you?  If you do, will you take time to praise God for them and pray for them today.  Maybe you might even consider sending them a text, e-mail, or note of thanks to let them know how they have blessed your life.
  3. If you do not have a circle of encouragers, pray for the Lord to bring them in your life.  And by the way, being in this study is a GREAT first start!!

 

10.  Reread our memory verse Hebrews 3:14.

  1. What does the author of Hebrews say we must do to share in all that belongs to Christ?
  2. What does it look like to be faithful to the end?
  3. How can we practically live this faithful walk with Christ (hint: John 8:31, John 15:5).  Are you currently doing this in your life?

 

11.  Again the author reminds his audience in verse 15 to harden not their hearts.  He desperately wants the people in his audience who have fallen away to turn back to God.  He wants them to experience God’s blessings.  Like his audience we too need to realize the incredibly great blessings God has prepared for those who love Him.  If you would like to know more about these blessings, read Ephesians 1:13-14. 

 But his audience was not able to receive all that was theirs because they lacked one thing.

  1. What did they lack (Hebrews 3:19)?
  2. What is faith (see Hebrews 11:1)?

 

12.  Friends, each one of us has times when we behave like the Israelites in the wilderness…times we harden our hearts.  Hopefully they are momentary and not continuous acts of rebellion. 

  1. When we find ourselves in this place of drifting or negecting or doubting, what can we do to align our hearts with Christ and bring ourselves back into a healthy, vibrant relationship with Christ?
  2. What protections can we put in place in our lives to protect against drifting/doubting/disbelieving?

 

This lesson is such a powerful one.  When we cannot see or feel God, we may be tempted to give up on God or to harden our hearts as the Israelites did.  We may stop believing the Truth we know and begin believing lies.  The great new is that we can protect against this.  But the burden is on us.  It is our responsibility to keep our hearts tender through repentance, to gain encouragement through fellowship, to gain strength and faith through the study of His Word, and to gain Holy Spirit power through quiet time and prayer.

Please keep your comments coming.  I am amazed at how much we are learning from each other.  God is powerfully at work in our midst, and I LOVE it!!!

Blessings to you,

 

 

November 20, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Chapter Four

Hebrews Week Four – Another Warning and Rest

Can you believe we are beginning Chapter Four?  This is one of my most favorite chapters in Hebrews.  I just love learning about God’s rest.  It is something for which we all long, but so often never  obtain.  This week we will learn exactly how we can receive and live in the fullness of God’s rest.

A few important items before we dig in to our study:

1)  We will NOT meet here next week for a new lesson.  We are taking the week after Thanksgiving off so that we can ENJOY our time with family and friends.  When we gather back together on Monday, December 5th , we will study Hebrews Chapter Five.  Feel free to use your time off to REST.  Or if you want to dig deeper and you have not yet read Leviticus, you may want to use this time to read it as it will give you a bit of insight into what we will discuss in the next several chapters.  Or if you want to learn more about the Old Testament high priests in particular, you might want to take the time to read Exodus Chapters 28 and 39. 

2) Some of you have asked how to make comments on the web site.  Visit the web site at www.wendyblight.com.  Once there, scroll to the end of the post on whichyou would like to leave a comment.  You will find the word “comments” with a number before it.  Click on that.  It will take you directly to the comments for that post.  You can read the comments or scroll to the end to leave your own comment.  You may also reply to the comments of others by clicking on the “reply” box in someone else’s comment.  To comment on another post, you will need to get out of the comments section of the post and find that post.  I hope this helps those of you who asked about this.

3)  This week our video will NOT be a You Tube video.  Instead, it is Vimeo recording of my Chapter Four lesson that I taught here in Charlotte.  It is about 30 minutes long.

Praying that no matter your physical or emotional circumstances, each of you will experience in very real ways the Grace and Love of our Gracious God and enjoy a most wonderful and joy-filled Thanksgiving. 

Below please find the link for Chapter Four’s teaching.

Untitled from Advance Student Ministry on Vimeo.

This Week’s Memory VerseLet us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  Hebrews 4:11.

This Week’s Prayer:

My sweet Jesus, my Great High Priest, thank You for leaving Your heavenly throne, for invading this sin-infested place called earth, and for living amidst and among your people.  Thank You for loving me so much that You would endure persecution, unimaginable pain and suffering, and die a criminal’s death so that I could be forgiven of my sin. Father, fill my heart with sincere gratitude and appreciation more than ever before for what you did for me that day on Calvary.  Let me live a life that expresses my appreciation each and every day.  Father, through the power of Your Holy Spirit help me live in a continual state of Sabbath Rest.  Give me Your peace so that even in the midst of my most difficult and stressful days, I can rest in Your presence in me.  And, Father, enable me to not only endure my trials and temptations but also overcome them victoriously in Your Name.  Thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and for the gift of a Great High Priest who experienced all I experience and even more.  Help me to draw on the grace and mercy that is freely available to me through His death and resurrection.  I ask all this in Jesus Name.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Four

Homework Questions:

To understand this lesson better, we need to understand the biblical concept of rest.  The English word “rest” and the Greek word katapausis, from which it translates, means “rest, repose.”  The idea is to cease from work of any kind, exerting no action on your own.” 

1.  Strong’s Concordance says of rest, “God’s rest is entered when the believer is confidently assured within and outwardly lives peaceable in the assurance of God’s daily provision.”

  • What does it mean to be “confidently assured within?”
  • What does it look like to “outwardly live peaceable in the assurance of God’s daily provision?”

 

2.  The writer of Hebrews refers to several different rests found in the Old Testament.  In Hebrews 4:4, he refers first to God’s Sabbath rest.  On the seventh day, God finished His creation work, and Scripture tells us He “rested from all His work.”  The author also refers to a second rest, Israels’  rest in Canaan, in Hebrews 3:11. 

  • Read Exodus 33:14.  What does it say?

What do these two rests have to do with you and me?  Sweet friend, be encouraged because the author is about to tell his audience and us that we have the opportunity for that same rest and, really, an even better rest.  The Canaan rest for Israel in the Promised Land is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we give our lives to Him. 

  • Read Matthew 11:28.  What does it say?
  • Read Matthew 11:29-30.  What do these verses say?

At salvation, we receive peace with God.  When we take the next step and submit our lives to Christ, we receive the peace of God.  Believing in Jesus allows us to enter into God’s rest.  The promise of Old Testament rest still stands.  But sometimes we too, like the Israelites, find ourselves unable to live in the fullness of that rest. 

  • Examine your life.  What keeps you from experiencing God’s rest?

 

3.  Read Hebrews 4:2-5.  Moses generation heard the truth.  They received God’s Word from Moses.  But they failed to believe it. 

  • How many times do you find the words “rest” or “rested?”
  • Why was truth of no value to the Israelites according to verse 2?
  • What needs to happen when God’s Word is given for it to do its work?
  • Read Romans 10:17.  How does faith come?

 

4.  The good news from God’s Word is that the failure of the Israelites to enter into God’s rest did not negate our ability to receive God’s rest.

  • Read Joshua 21:43-45.  Describe the rest Joshua’s generation experienced.
  • Read Hebrews 4:8-10.  What does the writer of Hebrews say about this rest?

The author of Hebrews makes the point in this passage of Scripture that although Joshua led the nation of Israel into the land of their promised rest, it was not the true and final rest.  It was partial and temporary.  If Joshua had had provided the final rest, there would not have been the continuing inviation of rest in Psalm 95:7-8.  The rest that eluded the O.T. (Old Testament) Jews is available to us, and it comes not through Moses, Joshua, David, or the author of Hebrews.

  • From whom does our rest come?

 

5.  Read Hebrews 4:10-11.  In summary, the author of Hebrews has talked about two kinds of O.T. rest (God’s Sabbath rest and Joshua’s Canaan rest).  Scholars believe Hebrews 4:10 speaks of a third and final rest.  But interestingly, Hebrews 4:11 says we must “make every effort” to enter into that rest.  The King James translation says, “let us labour” to enter into that rest.  The word “labour” derives from the Greek word spoudazo which means “to make effort, earnest.”  It signifies “to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, to give diligence.”  It seems the author is saying we must work to rest.  Work to rest? 

At first, this seems to not make sense.  But then I thought about when I take a vacation. I spend days preparing, cleaning, catching up on mail, completing last minute tasks, picking up dry cleaning, arranging for dog care, mail and trash pick-up.  Honestly, by the time the day of departure arrives, I am exhausted.  But when I get to my destination, I am truly able to rest because everything has been taken care of.  I can relax and enjoy my time away and my family.  But I had to plan to rest.  Can you identify?

The same goes for us spiritually.  We must plan for our rest.  We must be purposeful and diligent. How do we do that?  Move to the next question and you will discover the author’s answer.

 

6.  Read Hebrews 4:12 and write it below. 

  • List the descriptive words for the Word of God in this verse.
  • Read Proverbs 1:8-9 and Ephesians 6:17.  What do these passages add?

 

7.  I want to be absolutely certain we do not confuse this “judging” work of God with condemnation. 

  • Read Romans 8:1.  What does it say?

God’s Holy Spirit uses His Word to prick our hearts and convict our spirits of a change that needs to be made.  But He will never condemn us and cause us shame.  That is the work of the evil one.  And, friends, it is SO important we pray for the Lord to help us discern the difference.

  • Read Psalm 139:1-12.  What words do you find here that confirm what the author of Hebrews says in 4:13?
  • As you meditate on the words God uses in Hebrews 4:12 to describe His Word (living, active, sharp, judges, penetrate), which word most describes God’s activity in your life right now?  Which of the words, if any, causes you fear or discomfort as you think of God working that way in your life?

God’s Word speaks to our hearts.  He uses it to change us from the inside out…to refine us…to make us more like Him.  He uses it not to condemn but to heal, not to destroy but to restore, not to bring shame but hope.  He uses it to set us free!  And it is in that freedom that we find rest, His perfect peace and rest. 

 

8.  Read Hebrews 4:14-16.  In the last few verses of Chapter 4, the author returns again to reminding his audience of who Jesus is.  His message turns from being negative and full of warnings, to positive and encouraging.  This begins the first of many chapters where we will learn about Jesus as the Great High Priest.

  • Read Hebrews 4:14.

What I am about to write may be review for some of you, but it is crucial to to the concepts in this passage. Before Jesus, Jewish law allowed one priest each year, the high priest who served the tabernacle, the privilege of coming into the presence of God on behalf of the people. The Law forbid the people themselves from entering into the presence of God.  Within the tabernacle, there were two rooms and a heavy veil separated one room from the other.  The room behind the veil, called the Holy of Holies, contained the Ark of the Covenant.  God Himself resided within this holy room.  Only the high priest had authority to enter behind the veil into the presence of God.  And this only happened once a year when the high priest offered a perfect lamb, a blood sacrifice, to cover his sins and the sins of the Israelite people. 

Then Jesus came.  Because of God’s grace and His great love for His people, He sent Jesus to live on this earth…to take human form…to live among us.  He sent Him to be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb.  The coming of Christ eliminated the need for the high priest’s annual blood sacrifice.  Jesus shed His blood once and for all to remove the barrier sin had erected and to allow all people direct access to God anytime, anywhere. 

The author wanted his audience to understand that Jesus is the Great High Priest…greater because He accomplished the forgiveness of sins through His one-time sacrifice, His death and resurrection.  Though His death, he opened the way for everyone who believed in Jesus to enter into the fullness of God’s presence. 

  • How does the way the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus distinguishes him from the O. T. high priests?
  • Why is it significant that Jesus asc ended into heaven (see John 17:1-5, Hebrews 9:11-12)?

 

9.  Read Hebrews 4:15. 

  • Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses? 
  • List a few examples from Scripture where Jesus faced testing and temptation.

 

10.  Can you imagine how this sounded to the unbelieving Jews in his audience?  They knew God as Jehovah.  He was holy, righteous, perfect, and all-powerful.  How could their Jehovah God experience weakness, testing, trials, and temptation?  How could their Jehovah God sympathize with them? They had no personal relationship with Him.  The law forbid them from ever being in His presence.  In their experience, only the chosen, most faithful and favored of God’s Old Testament people experienced intimacy and relationship with God.  Yet, the writer of Hebrews was telling them that Jehovah God desired a personal relationship with them and identified with them in every area of their lives.  His teaching was revolutionary. 

Friend, when you face a trial or temptation, when you feel weak and trapped, unable to stand strong, remember Jesus.  He is your personal Savior.  He suffered and died for you.  He battled Satan in the wilderness and won.  He fought for you then, and he fights for you now.

  • How did He win that battle? (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • Is there something in your life you are battling?   What is God speaking to you through His Word about how you can overcome and win your battle?

 

11.  Rewrite Hebrews 4:14-16 using “I” and “me” in place of “we.”  Read it aloud.  Spend some time praising God for what He has done for you.

  • According to Hebrews 4:16, because of all that Jesus has been through and all that He has done for us, how can we approach our Father in Heaven?
  • Read Luke 22:31-34, 40.  What insight does Jesus give us in these words about temptation and sin?  What is the answer?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.  What does Paul teach us about temptation in this verse?

12.  “Come boldly!” He says.  Will you end our lesson this week doing just that?  Will you spend some time before we meet again at the foot of the cross…just you and God.  Whatever your need is this week, big or small, bring it to Him.  Sit quietly.  Listen.

  • What do you hear?  Will you please share it with us by leaving a comment?

May God richly bless your time with Him in the Word these next two weeks.  Please know that as I sit before the throne and thank the Lord for my blessings this Thanksgiving, I will thank Him for each one of you!! 

Love in Him,

December 4, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Chapter Five

Hebrews Week Five – Jesus:  The Perfect High Priest

I missed meeting with you girls last week.  I left my computer at home and spent Thanksgiving with my family in Walt Disney World.  We had beautiful weather and ENJOYED being all together in the “happiest place on earth!”  When I returned, I checked my web site and loved hearing how you used our time apart to catch up on and dig deeper into your lessons.  Your personal stories, prayers, words of wisdom, and answers bless all of us.  Please continue to share.  And for those of you who feel  behind, please hang in there and be encouraged.  We will take a longer break over Christmas to enable everyone to catch up and pick up again after the first of the year.   But for the next two weeks, we will dig back into Hebrews.

Throughout the book of Hebrews, the author continually presents a revolutionary picture of God and of Jesus.  This chapter is no different.

In the Old Testament, God was aloof.  Because of sin, He had to separate Himself from His people.  The Israelites were forbidden from being in His Presence.  Every interaction they had with God had to be done through an intermediary…a priest. 

But God longed to regain the relationship He once had with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  To accomplish this, He sent His Son, Jesus.  Through Jesus, God was able to once again become part of  our lives.  He experienced in His own body everything we think and everything we feel.  He did this so He could sympathize and deal gently with us. 

In John 10, God gives us a beautiful picture of His Son as a shepherd, the Great Shepherd.  The shepherd always stayed with his sheep.  He slept at the gate of the sheep pen.  He knew His sheep by name.  Just as the shepherd loved his sheep and gently dealt with them, Jesus loves and deals with us in the same way. 

Keep this picture of Jesus in your mind as we study again how Jesus was better than the Old Testament priests, more specifically how His priesthood was better than the Old Testament priesthood.   

 

 

This Week’s Memory Verse: But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Hebrews 5:14.

This Week’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to teach me each and every week.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who teaches me and gives me understanding.  Father, I offer back to You all that I have learned.  Please take it and multiply it within me.  Take me to deep places with You.  Over these next months, the principles I have learned will be expanded.  You will give me more “meat” to chew on.  Enable me to ingest it and digest it.  Don’t let a single morsel of knowledge go unused. May I be different for the time I have spent with You.  With every day I spend in Your Word continue to heighten my spiritual senses to discern Your voice, to know truth from lies, and good from evil.  Teach me, Lord, teach me.  I ask all this in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Five

Homework Questions:

Once again, the author of Hebrews presents his case that Jesus is superior, again pointing to Jesus’ priesthood and the fact that He is the Great High Priest.  The frequency with which he addresses this subject matter in this letter reveals what a great stumbling block this truth was to his audience.

1.  Read Hebrews 5:1-5 and list the qualifications for the Great High Priest.  If you want to dig deeper read Exodus Chapter 28 and Numbers 25:10-13. 

 

2.  How is Christ similar to Old Testament high priests?  How does He differ?

**I want to remind you to continue to hide your memory verses in your heart.  This week’s verse is a key memory verse for our study.  What we are studying is deep and difficult.  Pray this verse when you are struggling with the lesson and  feel discouraged.  Know that with every verse you read and every question you answer, you are training your mind and deepening your faith.  God will bless your efforts.  He is faithful! **

 

3.  For the next several verses, the author of Hebrews sets forth evidence to prove that Jesus meets all the requirements for high priest, and is, in fact, the only perfectly qualified high priest.  He begins with a quote from the Old Testament…the same verse quoted in Hebrews 1:5.

  • What is the Old Testament verse? (Hint: it is from Psalm 2)
  • Why does he use it again here?
  • Read Romans 1:1-4.  How does this passage support the author’s words in Hebrews 5:5?

 

4.  The author presents more evidence in the next verse.  God not only said: “You are my Son,” but also said, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  He quotes from Psalm 110:4.

Who is Melchizedek?  He is mentioned in only two places in the entire Old Testament – Genesis 14:17-24 and Psalm 110:4.  We will discuss him more in Hebrews Chapter 7.  First, Melchizedek was a king and a priest. Aaron was only a priest.  Tuck these facts away in your mind for a later lesson. 

Scripture reveals nothing about Melchizedek’s ancestry.  We know he lived during Abraham’s time, long before God established the Aaronic priesthood.  Why is this important?  Because it reveals that he was a priest of a different order.  He did not come from the Levitical line which began during the time of Moses and ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. 

There is nothing in the Old Testament recording Melchizedek’s death.  We can assume he died, but nothing records his death.

  • From the facts I just stated, share how Melchizedek’s priesthood was different from and superior to Aaron’s priesthood.

Okay, let’s stop here and take a breath.  If you are thinking, I give up.  I will never get this stuff.  It is too complicated.  Please do not give up!  I had these very same thoughts.  I promise!  But then I read to the end of this chapter and was encouraged by the author.  You see he knew these thoughts would flood our minds.  He speaks specifically to our thoughts in the last few verses of this chapter.  Stick with me.  You will be so thankful that you did.  You are digging deep into God’s Word.  He will bless you richly as He takes you deeper still with Him. 

 

5Read Hebrews 5:7-8.  In these verses, the author states how God prepared Jesus for His priesthood during His days on earth.

  • Share what you learn in Hebrews 5:7 about Jesus’ next qualification.  See also Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 2:48-52, 22:39-46, and John 4:6-8, 19:16-18, 25-30.
  • Read Hebrews 5:8.  What is the next piece of evidence he offers for Jesus’ qualification?

How can the Son of God “learn obedience?”  Read these words written by Warren Wiersbe:

 i]n the same way any son must learn obedience: by the experiences of life.  We must remember that our Lord, in His earthly walk, lived by faith in the Father’s will.  As God, He needed to learn nothing.  But as the Son of God comes in human flesh He had to experience that which His people would experience so that He might be able to minister as their High Priest.  He did not need to learn how to obey because it would be impossible for God to be disobedient.  Rather, as the God-man in human flesh, He had to learn what was involved in obedience.  In this way, He identified with us.  

His preparation involved the experience of suffering and death.  The best, and oftentimes only, way to learn sympathy is to suffer ourselves.  Jesus learned obedience through suffering.  He learned the full meaning of the cost of obedience because for Him, the path to obedience led to death on a cross.

 

6.  What a wonderful truth this is.  There is no pain, no loss, no hurt so deep that our God cannot sympathize.  When our hearts are breaking, He is right there with us, enveloping us with His Love and Presence.  He whispers into our hearts, “I know my child, and I understand.  No matter how hard it is, precious one, I will never leave you or forsake you.”

  • Read the following verses and share what they speak to you:  Mark 14:35, Matthew 26:42, and Luke 22:43.

Friend, if you are hurting or doubting God at this time, take comfort in these verses.  God did not take Jesus’ circumstances from Him.  Rather, He equipped Him to face what He had called Him to do.  Jesus knew this was the only way He could become the perfect High Priest that God had destined and called Him to be.   God will do the same for you and me!  Sometimes God may choose not to answer our prayers in the way we asked. Sometimes He may choose not to change our circumstances.  But through the power of His Holy Spirit He will strengthen us to change our prayer, to pray more earnestly, and/or to trust more deeply.  He will equip us to rise up and be ready to handle whatever it is He has calls us to walk through.

  • Share what the following verses teach you about prayer:  Luke 3:21-22, Luke 6:12, Luke 11:1-13, and Luke 18:1.
  • Does this lesson challenge you in your prayer life?  What one thing will you change in your prayer life because of what we have studied today?

 

7.  Read Hebrews 5:9.  In what ways was Jesus’ sacrifice different from those offered by the Old Testament high priests?  For insight, read Leviticus 16:11, 15-16, and  29-34.

 

8.  There are only two possible responses to Jesus’ work on the cross.  You either believe or you don’t.  Whoever believes, whoever puts their faith in Jesus Christ, obeys His call and receives eternal salvation.  Whoever does not believe, no matter how good or how moral he is, is disobedienct and will not receive salvation.

  • Read the following passages and share how Jesus suffered and sacrificed to become your great high priest:  Isaiah 52:14, Isaiah 53, Mark 14:6-72, and Mark 15:16-20.
  • What part of Christ’s sacrifice to be your perfect high priest touches your heart the most?

In verse 10, the author again brings up the name Melchizedek.  Are you like me right now saying, Oh, no, not him again!  I think the Jewish audience to whom he was speaking said the same thing.

The author knew this.  So just before he launched into a deeper discussion about Melchizekek, he interrupts his teaching with a warning.  I promise, you will understand this warning.  He is very clear.  In fact, when I read it, it became that Hebrews 4 living and active word we studied.  It pierced my heart to its core, causing me to ask myself, is that me?

 

9.  Finally, we arrrive at our memory verse.  It is our third warning.

  • Review your reading and homework to locate the first two warnings (hint: Hebrews 2:1 and Hebrews 3:7-8).
  • Now read Hebrews 5:11-14.  What is the third warning in Hebrews 5:11?
  • What words does the author use to describe his audience?

In the King James translation, he says his audience is “dull of hearing.”  The word “dull” comes from the Greek word nothros, which means “slow, sluggish, indolent.”  It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that retards spiritual development. 

  • Is this verse speaking to you?  Have you walked with God for a long time?  Have you been reading the Bible for years?  If you answered yes to these questions, then ask yourself these questions.  Are growing in the knowledge of the Word?  Are you going deeper in your prayer life? Are you living out your faith in a way that is unmistakable?

If his words convict your heart, let me encourage you.  You are not stuck because you are here!  You said “yes” to God to study His Word.  You said “yes” to make yourself vulnerable to join this group.  God is moving and working in your life. 

Friend, God wants us to LOVE and DELIGHT in His Word.  Listen to these words from Jeremiah:

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.  Jeremiah 15:16

Don’t you love that!!  Because Jeremiah bears God’s Name, God’s Word is his joy and heart’s delight.  When God’s Word comes to him, he eats it.  He did not just read the Word; he digested it so that it became a part of who he was.

That is my prayer for us today.  That we would so love God’s Word that it would be the source of our joy and our heart’s desire.      

 

10.  Read Hebrew 5:12. 

  • What is the author telling his audience is their problem?
  • In the NIV, he says, “you need milk, not solid food.”  What do you think he means when he uses “milk” and “solid food?”

 

11.  Read Hebrews 5:14 and rewrite it in your own words. 

  • What characterizes a mature believer in Hebrews 5:14?
  • What does spending quality time in God’s Word contribute to your relationship with Christ?
  • Read 1 Timothy 4:7 and 2 Timothy 2:15 and share what you learn.

 

12.  Our study this year is entitled “Living a Cross-Centered Life.”  What have you learned over the last few weeks to help you better live a cross-centered life?

 

As we close our lesson today, please know that I continue to pray for you and look forward to reading your comments each and every day!

Blessings,

December 11, 2011

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Six

Hebrews Week Six - The Certainty of God’s Promise

Congratulations, my sweet sisters in Christ!  Today is a day for celebration.  You have persevered through the first half of one of the most challenging books in all of Scripture.  Thank you for your hard work, commitment, and faithfulness to comment and share your heart.  My prayer has been these past six weeks and will continue to be that you are gaining a greater love for and understanding of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We will take some time off over the next few weeks and return on Monday, January 9th.  If you find you are behind, this will be a perfect time to catch up without being rushed.  If you are caught up, then I pray you will use this time to spend with the Lord in His Word wherever He leads you.

I will be spending time with my family…especially Lauren as she will be home from UGA on Tuesday.  I can hardly wait!!  I may post a few times during the break, but you will always be able to find the lessons by scrolling down the posts.   And please continue to leave comments because I would be so sad if I did not hear from you for three weeks!

Also, if any of you would like to leave a guest post during the break and share something special God has spoken to you during this study, please let me know by e-mailing me.

I will continue to pray for you and want you to know that this has truly been one of my favorite studies.  Yes, because Hebrews is rich and wonderful.  But also because you girls are such a blessing.  I just love how you share and reach out to and pray for one another.  It is a beautiful fellowship.  I pray each one of you has a blessed and restful Christmas and that you will truly sense the deep and abiding presence of our Lord and Savior….Emmanuel…God with Us!!

Below please find our lesson for this week.

This Week’s Memory VerseWe have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19a.

This Week’s Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to meet me in Your word each and every week.  I especially invite You to be with me this week as I end the first half of my study.  Father, give me an abundance of Your wisdom and knowledge, give me discernment to find the treasures hidden in this last chapter.  Every week has been so challenging.  I have struggled to understand, yet You have been faithful.  Week after week, You are teaching me who Jesus really is.  You are teaching me how to live a cross-centered life, one that focuses my heart and mind on Jesus… what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will. Keep me anchored in His Hope…never let me drift away.

Tender my heart to worship Him in the fullness of Who He is.  Instill in me a desire to be still and truly know and feel His Presence.  Give me rest in the midst of busyness.  Give me peace in the midst of chaos. Father, empower me to live out all that I have learned.  I ask this in Jesus’ Holy and Majestic Name.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Six

Homework Questions:

1.  Read Hebrews 6:1-3.

  • In Hebrews 6:1 we find the fifth “let us” verse (others are 4:1, 4:11, 4:14, 4:16).  What does the author say we must do?
  • List the elementary teachings to which he refers.  When you are finished, rate your understanding of each of these teachings on a scale of 1 to 5.
  • Think of a mature believer in your life.  What is the evidence you see in his or her life that exhibits spiritual progress?

 

2. Examine your life over this past year. 

  •  Have you made spiritual progress in this past year? If yes, share how.  If no, why not?
  • What steps will you take this next year to go deeper still in your spiritual growth?   By the way, participating in a Bible study is a sure sign you are going deeper in your spiritual journey!

 

3.  Read Hebrews 6:4-6. 

  •  List the spiritual experiences of “those” spoken of here.
  • Read Numbers 13:1-14:12.  How is this passage similar to what we read today?

 

4.  In verse 6, the author arrives at his next warning. 

  • Reread Hebrews 4-6 and write this warning in your own words.
  • What is impossible and why?
  • Do you read this to mean someone can lose their salvation?

The scholars, who teach that these verse speak to Christians, contend believers can lose their salvation.

  • Read John 10:27-29 and Romans 8:35, 38-39.  How do these verses speak to the argument that one can lose their salvation?

 

5.  What do you think the author means when he writes it is impossible once a person has fallen away to return because it is “crucifying the Son of God all over again?”

 

6.  Read Hebrews 6:7-12.

  • The author’s illustration is that all those who hear the gospel are like the earth.  Explain what it says in your own words. For a similar illustration, read Luke 8:4-15.
  • Looking back at the two groups in Hebrews 6:7-8, to which group is the writer of Hebrews speaking in verses 9-10?
  • To which group would you say you belong?

 

7.  List evidence of a believer’s salvation…the fruit of her faith…found in verses 9-12.

  • What word in verse 10 describes the motive behind a believer’s work?
  • It is important to remember, it is not our works that save us or keep us saved.  But they are evidence of our salvation.  Read James 2:14-25.  What does this passage add to our discussion?

There is a balance between God’s gift of grace  and human effort.  We cannot earn God’s favor.  We cannot earn salvation.  Yet at the same time, the entire New Testament contains clear teachings that how we live after salvation…what we do for the Kingdom…matters to God a great deal.  Scripture teaches that He created us to do good works.

  • Read Ephesians 2:8-9.  What does it say?
  • Read Philippians 2:12-13.  What does Paul teach here?

 

8.  In Hebrews 6:12 the author again speaks to the unbelievers in his audience.  He again addresses laziness and directs them to examine the lives of the believers in their midst and imitate them.  What two words does the author use to characterize believers?

Friend, the beginning of our faith journey, although important, matters not as much as how we live out our faith each and every day.

 

9.  Read Hebrews 6:13-16.  Scripture teaches us to trust in the Lord.

  • Read Psalm 37:3-5 and Proverbs 3:5-6.  What do they say about trusting the Lord?
  • The author of Hebrews sets forth Abraham as a model of great faith to his audience.  If you would like to go deeper on this subject, read Romans Chapter 4 where Paul speaks of Abraham’s example of faith in depth.

 

10.  In this chapter, the author sets out to prove God is trustworthy because of Who He is.  What proof does He set forth in verses 13 and 14?

  • Everytime God makes a promise, He puts His character on the line.  Read 2 Timothy 1:12, Titus 1:2, and James 1:17.  What do these verses teach about God’s character?
  • Every one of God’s promises is secured by His character.  He is unchanging…the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Do you have something for which you have been patiently waiting…something for which you need to trust Him today?  Review the truths of this lesson and prayerfully surrender it to Him today.  Trust Him to be faithful with that which you have given Him. [See 2 Timothy 1:12 for encouragement].

 

11.  Read Hebrews 6:17-20. 

  • In Hebrews 6:18, what are the “two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie?”
  • Read Plsam 102:25-27, Hebrews 1:10-12, Hebrews 13:8.  How do these verses support the author’s teaching?

12.  Read Hebrews 6:19-20.  In these final two verses, the author of Hebrews says “be encouraged because Jesus is your hope.”  He is the full assurance of hope.

  • To what does the author compare hope in verse 19?
  • Why does he use this comparison?
  • When Jesus came, he ushered in a new way.  Luke 23:44-46 speaks of the very moment Christ sacrificed his own life to make the last and final atonement for sin.  Read it and share what it says.  Read Mark 16:19, Acts 2:33, and Hebrews 1:3, 12:2 and share what they say.

 

13.  How has Jesus been an anchor in your life?

 

14.  Let’s review for a moment.  Throughout the past six chapters, the author has methodically presented his case.  He exhorts his audience to go on to maturity.  He sees many of them as stagnant, not growing in their faith.  As part of his message, he issued many warnings.

  • Review and list the warnings (Hebrews 2:1-4, 3:7-13, 5:11-14)
  • What is the best way to avoid all of these warnings?  Hold firmly to the ______________.
  • Read Romans 8:35-39.  Write it below.
  • How does it make you feel to know that God loves you unconditionally and to know that in Him your life is secure?
  • What woud change in your life if you did not have that as your assurance?

Merry, Merry Christmas and a Most Blessed and Happy New Year!

January 8, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Seven

Happy New Year and welcome back to our Hebrews Study!!  I have missed meeting with you each week.

Heather, a huge thank you for guest posting and sharing such a beautiful and practical devotion with us.  The winner of Heather’s giveaway is Cheryl Downey who posted on January 4th at 10:22 a.m.  Please contact Heather at thegoodariel@hotmail.com to claim your gift.

As we jump back into our study, let’s do a bit of review that I think will be helpful to the next several chapters as we dig deep into the priesthood of Jesus.  Remember only men from the tribe of Levi were able to serve as priests under Old Testament Law.  And then, not all Levites qualified.  Only those who were descendants of Moses’ brother, Aaron, could serve as priests.  In this chapter, we will learn even more about the Levitical priesthood and why Jesus’ priesthood is superior.

Below please find the video lesson for Hebrews Chapter 7.

This Week’s Memory Verse: But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lives forever. Hebrews 7:24.

This Week’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You have taught me so much about You and Your Son over the last six chapters.  Thank You for Your Word and how it confirms itself over and over again from Old Testament to New Testament.  Thank You for loving us so much that You did not leave us in a place where we had to be separated from You and could only be in Your Presence through a priest.  Thank You for sending Jesus so that we could be in an intimate, personal relationship with You.  Thank You that anytime I want to talk with You, I can.  Thank You that because of Jesus, You hear me.  I love You, Lord.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Seven

Homework Questions:

1. Melchizedek is a type of Christ, yet Scripture tells us very little about him.  Despite this lack of information, the author of Hebrews uses Melchizedek to help us understand the central, most important, aspect of Judaism…the priesthood…and why Melchizedek’s priesthood is greater than that priesthood. Let’s begin with this question:  Who is Melchizedek?

  • Read Hebrews 7:1-3.  Name the two titles given Melchizedek in verse 1.
  • What did Melchizedek do for Abraham?
  • What did Abraham do in response?
  •  Share what else you learn about Melchizedek in verses 2 and 3.

2. Melchizedek’s priesthood was royal. Scripture identifies him as not only a priest but also the King of Salem.  As we learned earlier in our study, Old Testament law did not allow this dual role of priest and king.  But it was predicted by the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 6:13 which says,

“It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.”

And as we have already studied in Psalm 110 (verses 1 and 4), David also speaks to a Messiah who will be both Priest and King.

  • Read Hebrews 7:2 and list Melchizedek’s two titles and their meanings.

By his name alone, Melchizedek represented righteousness and peace.  These are two words that often go together in Scripture and are usually associated with Jesus.

  • Read Psalm 85:10, Isaiah 11:5-6, and Isaiah 32:16-18.  Share what they speak to you.

3. Melchizedek’s priesthood was personal.  It was not hereditary.  The author of Hebrews identifies him, not by his blood line or genealogy but by the statement that he was a priest of “God Most High.”  For Old Testament priests, genealogy was everything. If a man was not a Levite and a descendant of Aaron, the law forbid him from serving as a priest.

  • What problems could arise due to the fact that priests were chosen by blood line and not character?  How did God solve this problem? (For an example, read  1 Samuel 2:12-16, 27-34)
  • What does Hebrews 7:3 say about Melchizedek’s family history?
  • Why do you think it significant that there is no record of his genealogy?

 

4.  Melchizedek was eternal.  A Levitical priest served from age twenty-five to age fifty.  The Levitical priesthood itself began with Moses and ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  But there is no biblical recording of Melchizdedek’s priesthood ending or beginning.  It just was.

  • Scholars believe this symbolizes the eternality of his priestly order and is yet another piece of evidence that Melchizedek’s priesthood is a t_ _ _ of Christ’s eternal priesthood.

5.  Read Hebrews 7:4-7 and share two ways these verses affirm Melchizedek’s greatness as a priest.

6.  What we learn from Melchizedek’s life is that priesthood is NOT based on inheritance alone.  The key to priesthood is that it is received directly from God.  For Old Testament priests, priesthood came through God’s Law.  And because the Old Testament Levitical priesthood was based on the Law, God needed to establish a different priesthood for Jesus because He did not qualify under the Law since He was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi.

Also, the purpose of the priesthood was to reconcile men to God through a system of sacrificial offerings.  And it accomplished this purpose to a point.  But it was imperfect in that it could not give men complete access to God.  Perfection would only come when they could offer full and complete access to God.

  • Read John 14:6.  What does it say?  To whom was Jesus speaking?
  • Read Hebrews 10:1-2. How does this reinforce what we just read?

7.  The truth the author wants his audience to know is that the Old Covenant sacrifices offered in the Temple only covered the sins of the people.  They never removed them.  Had the sacrifices fully and completely removed sin, the priests would not have had to offer them day after day, year after year.

  • Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.  What does this say and how does it support what the author of Hebrews is saying?

8. Remember the author’s audience as you read this and how absurd his words must have sounded to them.  They were Jews steeped in the tradition of sacrificial offerings. I am certain that they could not fathom the idea that the priesthood Moses had instituted thousands of years earlier was temporary, inadequate, and imperfect.  It was all they knew.  Day in and day out, year in and year out they faithfully brought their sacrifices.  Now this teacher…this man…this religious leader was telling them it was no longer valid.  He was telling them the old priesthood had been replaced by Jesus and that He was now the new way to receive forgiveness of sin and access to God.

  • Read Hebrews 7:12.  Of what does the author speak here?
  • Define the word “change.”
  • What would you have thought if you were a Jew sitting in his audience?  Would his words have convinced you?

 

9.  Read Hebrews 7:15-17.  Below you will find verses 15-16.

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,  one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.

Let’s examine the word “another” for a moment. The Greek language has two words for “another.” Allos, meaning another of the same kind, and heteros meaning another of a different kind.  Allos indicates the adding of another, a quantitative difference.  Heteros indicates a change in type or kind, a qualitative difference.  As applied to Hebrews 7:15, the author is saying Jesus is not another Levitical priest like those who ministered in the temple.  He is a completely different kind of priest.

  • Now read Hebrews 7:18-19.  Why did the author of Hebrews state that the old requirements for priesthood were “weak and useless (NLT)” or “weak…and unprofitable…(NKJV)?

10.  The climax of his case comes now with the author telling his audience that Aaron has been replaced by Christ.  The old has been set aside for the new.

  • What is the better hope in which we have confidence in Hebrews 7:19?
  • If you had to distinguish the old and new system as they relate to sin, what do you believe is the most profound difference?
  • Read 1 Peter 1:10-12.  Share your thoughts on this passage and how it relates to our lesson this week.

11.  Hebrews 7:20-22 tells us God established the new system with an oath.

  • Find the oath.  From where does it originate?  Identify the three places we already have seen it in Hebrews (hint: chapters 5 and 6)
  • Quite often when God does a big thing, He does it with an oath.  Not because it makes His promise any more valid or reliable, but because the oath places emphasis on the importance of what He is saying.  If you want to go a bit deeper on this subject, read Genesis 22:16-18.  If you do this, share how God used an oath here and why.
  • Read Hebrews 7:22 again.  What does this passage tell us about Jesus’ role?
  • Describe what having Jesus as your surety (or guarantor) means in your own life?

12.  Read Hebrews 7:23-28.  Let’s focus on Hebrew 7:25 because contains a most marvelous promise.  Below please find this verse in several translations to give you greater insight into the verse.

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (KJV)

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (NIV)

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (NASB)

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save] those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. (NLT)

  • Spend some time with this verse and these translations.  Share what God speaks to your heart.
  • Friend, the promises found in these verses should fill our hearts to overflowing with praise and gratitude!  According to Hebrews 7:25, who does God save?
  • What is the assurance we have in the last half of Hebrews 7:25?

13.  Christianity is often criticized for claiming Jesus is the only way to God.  Christians make this claim because it is what the inerrant, unchangeable, eternal Word of God says.

  • Read John 14:6.  What does Jesus say here?

Jesus is not only able to save.  He is the only one able to save.  His the only one who has been given authority by God to free people from the slavery of sin and death.  Jesus alone delivers us from ALL sin…past, present, and future.  There is no other requirement for salvation than faith…faith in Jesus.  All God asks is for in return is a humble and contrite heart, a tender and remorseful heart that desires forgiveness above all else.

And, if that is not enough, once we receive forgiveness, Jesus remains near, ever interceding on our behalf.

Picture yourself bowing before Him and confessing your sins…your critical spirit…your gossiping tongue…your unforgiving heart?

Now, listen to His words as He goes before His Father in heaven on your behalf:

“Father, I know it looks bad.  I know this is her third time asking for forgiveness about this.  But she is struggling.  She is trying.  She is praying.  She is on her knees.  She is broken.  Remember, Father, I have already paid for what she has done.  My grace is sufficient.  She has been forgiven.  See my righteousness in her, Father.”

Because of what Jesus has done, sweet sister in Christ, you and I are able to stand in the presence of a Holy God and be found blameless and holy in His sight!  Can you think of a greater gift?

As we end today, I have two questions for us to ponder.

*Do you believe what we have studied this week is Truth?  If you do, how does it encourage you as you interact with your Father in heaven?

*Will you take time to thank God for the gift of Jesus in your life?  Journal how He moves your heart.  Stay in this place a while and praise Him…thank Him…feel Him…need Him…love Him.  He is most worthy!

May God richly bless you this week as you spend time in Hebrews Chapter 7.  Please share your thoughts with us as you read, study, and pray.  I will be praying for all of us as we dig deeper with Him.

Blessings,

 

January 15, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Eight

Hey Bible study friends,

This morning I awakened weary, feeling as if I could not lift my head off the pillow.  Although it has been my joy and delight to spend the last few days caring for my sweet girl as she recovers from having her wisdom teeth extracted, it has been exhausting.

It would have been so easy to skip church and stay in bed, but my son asked to go to his life group at church.  How could I say no?  So grudgingly, I stepped into the shower and got ready. 

As I entered the sanctuary, I felt a longing to be filled.  Yet when worship began, my thoughts turned critical.  I disliked the opening worship songs.  I stood quietly, grumbling.  Why didn’t I just stay home and read my Bible? 

Then our pastor began to preach.  His message drew me in.  Verse by verse, God’s Word poured into me.  My spirit began to lift. 

He prayed.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

Worship began again, but this time my heart was primed and ready to praise.  The words seeped deep into the marrow of my bones.  The lyrics moved me….

Mold me.

Lead me.

Heal me.

Fill me.

Jesus…

Jesus…

Jesus…

Jesus….

Speaking His Name filled me to overflowing! 

My spirit lifted.  My strength returned.  My joy restored.

In one hour, the Lord used His Word and His sweet Spirit to refresh and renew me. 

Friends, are you weary today? Do you long to be refreshed, renewed, healed, restored? 

There is no better way than to be in His Word.  So, join me as we dig into this next lesson about our sweet Jesus.  He is waiting to fill each one of us.

 

This Week’s Memory Verse: 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, and I will write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be My people.’  Hebrews 8:10.

This Week’s Prayer

Father, how I love You.  Thank You for the gift of grace.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You that through the promise of the New Covenant, Your Word is now etched into my heart and mind.  Father, give me the deep desire to love Your Word and learn Your Word. Give me understanding to know what it means and how to use it in my life.  Use it to mold my heart and make it more like Yours.  Enable me to live it out in my life each and every day.   Bring to mind the truths and promises I need when I need them.  Give me opportunities to share it with others so they too may know the love and hope I have found within its pages.  I love You and ask all this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Eight

Homework Questions:

1.  Read Hebrews 8:1 and answer the following questions.

  • What do you think is the author’s main point?
  • What two proofs does the author present for the superiority of Jesus?
  • Read Hebrews 10:11, John 19:30, Mark 16:19, and Luke 22:69.  From these verses explain what distinguishes Jesus’ priesthood from the Levitical priesthood.

 

2.  According to Hebrews 8:2, what is Jesus doing on the throne?  Share what this means in your life.

 

3.  What distinguishes the place from where Jesus ministers and the place from where the Old Testament high priest ministered? 

  • Describe or draw a picture of the heavenly tabernacle as you imagine it to be from what we have studied.
  • What parts of it are most meaningful to you?

 

4.  What does the author say about Jesus in Hebrews 8:4? Why?

Jesus never stepped outside His role as Son.  There is no evidence that He entered or even attempted to enter the Temple to perform the duties of a high priest.  John MacArthur says it well when he wrote:

“God never mixes shadow with the substance, the type with the antitype.  Jesus could not minister the old offerings, in the old, earthly sanctuary.  He ministers the new offerings in the new, heavenly sanctuary – built by God, not men.”

The old Testament high priest served in a copy or shadow of the heavenly tabernacle.

 

5.  What does Colossians 2:17 say?  How does this relate to our lesson?

 

6.  Read Hebrews 8:6, what role is Jesus given in this verse?

Jesus is our Mediator.  “Mediator” derives from the Greek word mesites, which is from the Greek word mesos, an adjective denoting “middle, in the middle or midst.”  Mesites as a noun means “a go-between.”  Moses is often referred to as the mediator of the Old Covenant.  Under the Old Covenant, the high priest was a mediator between God and man.  Now Jesus is the better mediator of a better covenant!

 

7.  Read Hebrews 8:9-12.  God had a master plan all along to reconcile His people back to Himself after the Fall.  But this plan had stages.  It was foreshadowed through His Word, through types, and through the prophets.  In fact, Jeremiah the prophet announced this plan thousands of years earlier.

  • Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8, with whom did God make this New Covenant?
  • If this New Covenant was made to Israel and Judah, how are we beneficiaries? (Read Romans 1:16-17)

8.  The New Covenant started with the Jews.  Jesus was born into a Jewish family.  He was a Jew.  Jesus’ ministered to His own people, the Jews (see Matthew 15:24).  Jesus’ next step was to send out His disciples.

  • Read Matthew 10:5-6.  What are Jesus’ instructions?  To whom were they to minister?
  • Read Luke 24:46-48.  What are Jesus’ next instructions and to whom did He give them?
  • Read Acts 1:7-8.  According to Jesus’ instructions, where was the message to go first?
  • Read Acts 3:25-26.  What does Peter say about this subject?
  • Look again at Acts 1:7-8, where was the message to go after Jerusalem?

 

9.  Read Hebrews 8:10 and write the verse below.

  • Explain in your own words how the Old Covenant differs from the New Covenant.
  • Read Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 36:26-27.  How do these verses reinforce what Jeremiah and the author of Hebrews say?

 

10.  Share ways in which you have experienced the reality of God’s law being written in your heart and mind.

 

11.  God’s New Covenant internalizes His Law through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is His Spirit that gives us the inner ability to obey God’s law and, in turn, enjoy His blessings.

  • Read John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-8, and 1 John 2:27.  What do these verses teach about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

 

12.  Read Hebrews 8:12-13.

  • Give the major difference between the Old and New Testament as they address the forgiveness of sin.
  • Scripture teaches thatJesus paid the penalty for our sin.  Because of what He did on the cross, our sins are forgiven, to be remembered no more.  “Remember” as used here derives from the Greek word zakar.  It means “to think of, to bring to remembrance, to bring to mind.”  God no longer holds our sin against us.  They are far from His mind, never to be spoken of again.  What does this truth speak to you about forgiveness and forgetting in your own life?
  • Has the Lord brought someone to mind whom you need to forgive or you have forgiven but struggle with forgetting?  If so, take first steps toward forgiving or forgetting.  Remember as you ponder this, sweet friend, that you are ABLE through God’s grace and through the power of His Holy Spirit.
  • Write down your steps, pray about them, and ask the Lord for the strength and courage to take the first step.  Invite a friend to pray with you and hold you accountable.  There is no greater freedom than releasing unforgiveness and forgetting wrongs done to you!!  Walk in that freedom today.

This has been one of my favorite lessons.  As I ended today, I thought about what I would have been thinking if I had been a Jew listening to this message.  Would I have been convinced by now that Jesus was the better way? 

The writer of Hebrews could not have known this, but his words at the end of Chapter Eight, stating that the First Covenant would be obsolete, were literally fulfilled within just a few years of him writing this letter.  Rome destroyed the city of Jerusalem  and the Temple in 70 A.D.   Without the Temple, there was no altar, no Holy Place, no Holy of Holies, no mercy seat.  There was no place to minister and offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins.  The Old Covenant truly was obsolete!

Be sure to share your comments and questions.  They are THE best part of this study for me.  I love watching God work in and through our time together.

See you next week!! 

Blessings,

January 22, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Nine

How I have enjoyed reading your comments.  We are in overwhelming agreement that Chapter 8 was a very powerful lesson.  God’s Hebrews 4:12 living and active Word is truly coming alive for us!  This week will be no different.  In Chapter Nine, we will compare and contrast the Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary.  Again taking us deep into Old Testament history. 

Throughout these many chapters, the author of Hebrews has given us glimpses of the sanctuaries, but this week his letter culminates in a most beautiful lesson of the value of these two holy places and how they relate to our faith.

And let us not forget that the author of Hebrews never condemns the Old Covenant system.  He exalts it, recognizing that its people, rituals, and ceremonies have great value because God instituted them.  However, he is adamant that his audience, and we, understand God created them solely for the purpose of foreshadowing what was to come.  They all pointed to the coming of Christ.

I love what John MacArthur says of the Tabernacle, “The Tabernacle is important and demands attention to our study, because it is a giant portrait of Jesus Christ.  Everywhere you can see Him.” 

Don’t you love that?!  As we open the pages of Chapter Nine, let us ask the Lord for an extra measure of His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to enable us to see Christ in each and every detail of that giant portrait!

Let’s dig in…..

This Week’s Memory Verse: …For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22b

This Week’s Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You that You redeemed me from the curse of sin and death. Thank You that by the shedding of Your blood, You forgave all my sin….past, present, and future. Father, I claim Your promise that by Your stripes, I am healed. Thank You that I have the mind of Christ and hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart. Thank You that Your love abides in me richly and flows through every part of my body. Help me to live every day in the presence and fullness of that abiding love… loving others…forgiving others…just as You have done and will continue to do for me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Nine

Homework Questions:

1.  Read Hebrews 9:2-5.  If you are interested in a more detailed description and the instructions as to how it was made, read Exodus Chapters 25 and 26 and/or Exodus 36:8-38.  Draw or describe what you would see if you walked into the Tabernacle.

 

2.  According to Hebrews 9:2, what do you find in the first room?  What was this room called?

  • Read Exodus 25:31-40 and draw or describe the lampstand.
  • Read Exodus 25:23-30 and draw or describe the table and what was on the table.
  • Read John 6:32-33 and share how it relates to the bread on the table.

*Clarification.  The author of Hebrews lists the Incense Altar as being in the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), but it was not.  It was part of the ministry of the Holy of Holies, but it rested just on the other side of the curtain in The Holy Place.  To learn more about this altar, read Exodus 30:1-10.*

3.  What was between the first room and the second room?

4.  According to Hebrews 9:3-4, what was the next room called and what was in it?

  • Read Hebrews 9:4-5.  What was in and around the Ark?  To learn more about the Ark, read Exodus 25:10-22.
  • What do Psalm 80:1, Psalm 99:1, and Isaiah 6:1-4 add to our discussion?

 

5.  For a deeper understanding of the Old Covenant system of sacrifices as it relates to the role of the High Priest, read Leviticus 16:1-34.

  • What do these verses speak to you?
  • How would you feel if we still lived by this law today?  Would your faith be different?  If so, how?
  • According to Hebrews 9:7 (and the Leviticus reading), what was the High Priest required to offer in the Holy of Holies?

 

6.  Read Hebrews 9:11-14. 

  • List as many differences as you can find in verse 11 and 12 between the old order and the new order.

7.  Read Hebrews 9:13-14.

  • What was the purpose under the old system of blood sacrifices?
  • Read Genesis 3:6-15, 21 and Exodus 12:3-13.  Explain how blood played a part in God’s saving grace even before the Tabernacle and before Jesus.
  • What price did God ultimately pay for saving grace?

 

8.  According to Hebrews 9:11-15, what things were accomplished by the blood of Jesus and how was His sacrifice different from all prior sacrifices?

     *If you want to go deeper, read the following verses and share how they speak to this question:  John 10:17-18, Romans 3:23-26, 5:8-9, Colossians 1:13-14, 19-20, and 1 Peter 1:18-21. *

 

9.  Read Hebrews 9:18-20 and Exodus 24:6-8.  Explain how Moses used blood in relation to the Old Covenant and write the words he spoke.

 

10.  If today we live under the New Covenant, under Jesus’ shed blood, which changes us from the inside out, why do you think so many of us continue to live with guilt and shame?  Do you personally struggle with these emotions?  Why?

 

11.  Read Romans 8:1-4, 32-35.  How do these passages speak to what we have learned in this chapter?  To your personal life?

 

12.  Read Hebrews 9:24-28.

  • Where does verse 24 tell us Jesus entered?  Why does this verse tell us Jesus went there?
  • Contrast the two sanctuaries.
  • How many times does the author use the word “appear.”  Share what each tense used means for us as children of God.
  • Read John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:21-55, and 1 John 3:2 and share what they teach about Jesus’ return.

I ended my video message with the story of Barabbas.  Barabbas went free not because he deserved it but because Jesus took his place.  Will you take some time to thank Jesus today?  Find a precious, personal way to thank Jesus for the sacrifice He made just for you on Calvary.

Sweet Blessings to you,