February 20, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Thirteen

Winners of Giveaways:

“I Choose Not  to be Offended” Giveaway…copy of Jesus Calling…goes to Breinny who posted on February 3rd at 3:01 p.m.

“Even in the Darkness Giveaway”…copy of Hidden Joy…goes to both Lori who posted on February 15th at 3:25 p.m. and Stephanie who posted on February 15th at 3:50 p.m.

Congratulations!!  Please send me an e-mail to deuteronomysix@aol.com, with you full name and mailing address so I can send you your books.

Lesson 13:  Living a Cross-Centered Life

You made it!!!  We have reached the end of our journey.  How I wish I could hug each and every one of you and spend the day together celebrating this most monumental achievement.  This has been the longest on-line study we have done together, and you have been so faithful to hang in there!  This journey through Hebrews has demanded much of us, and you have no let up.  You persevered to the end.  We now have a working knowledge not only of this challenging book but also of the rich history of God’s people and His priesthood.  I am so proud of you!!  And you can be assured of this:  God will richly bless your faithfulness.

Thank you for investing your precious time in this study.  I am so thankful for each and every one of you!  I will be starting a new study in April on my book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.  I would love to have you join us.  If you are registered for this study, you are registered for all future studies, including the Hidden Joy study.  If you are unsure if you are registered, just click on the link in the right column that says “Sign up for Wendy’s On-Line Bible Studies.”  If it gives you an error message when you register, then you are already registered.

Please don’t be a stranger from now until April.  Stop by and visit when you have time.  I will continue to post between now and the next study.  In fact, next week I will be introducing a new author who is a dear friend of mine and the wife of our pastor.  She has written an amazing book on prayer that has just been released, Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars.  Be sure to come back and visit for a chance to win a copy of her book.

Now…let’s move on to our study.  With this chapter, the author of Hebrews moves us to the practical.  He spends this last chapter teaching believers how to practically live out their faith.  Warren Wiersbe summarizes it well with these words:  “true faith demands true living.”   

Jesus says it even better:

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 (NIV 1984)

 The author calls us to live lives of integrity.  Friend, we must never forget that we may be the only Jesus some people ever meet.  Our lives must be living, breathing evidence of a cross-centered life.

Let’s begin….

 This Week’s Memory Verse: Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.  Hebrews 13:15 (NLT).

This Week’s Prayer:

Precious Father, You have brought me such a long way.  This is my last week of Bible Study.  Thank You for all that You have taught me these past months.  Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to receive and understand the wonderful things in Your Law.  Thank You for the amazing knowledge You have revealed about the history of Your people and about the true meaning of the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice.  These are truths that have changed my life and my faith forever.  Father, don’t let me close this chapter and forget all that I have learned.  Plant these words deep in my heart and enable them to take root.  I give You my heart and hold nothing back.  Take Your Word, the double-edged sword, and pierce my soul.  Mold me and change me to be more like You.  Use me, Lord, to take what I have learned and do great things that will bring glory and honor and praise to You.  Teach me to stand strong in my faith, to be a Light in this dark world.  Give me courage to live out my faith no matter the cost.  I love You, Lord, lead me down paths of righteousness, fill me with everlasting joy, use me, Lord, use me for your glory!!  I ask this in Jesus’ Name.  AMEN

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Thirteen

Homework Questions:

1.  The author of Hebrews presents three pieces of evidence that demonstrate a cross-centered life.  The first piece of evidence  is Christian Fellowship.  Read Hebrews 13:1-6.

  • Hebrews 13:1 says to love one another as brothers and sisters.  Share places in your own life where you observe and or experience the “brotherly” love spoken of here.
  • Why does such love fail to exist in some churches, communities and relationships?
  • Hebrews 13:2 says to show hospitality to strangers.  Read Matthew 25:40.   What does this verse tell us about helping a stranger?
  • Practically, how can we offer hospitality today?  What keeps us from doing this?

 

2.  Read Hebrews 13:4. 

  • What is another way of loving one another according to this verse?
  • List ways we can honor marriage (Hint:  read Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-7).
  • Do you struggle with any of these words as you read them?  If you do, invite the Lord to show you if there is any place in your marriage where you are not honoring His will and His way for you and your husband.  Listen prayerfully to His answer and then comit what you hear to Him in prayer and ask Him to change your heart.  Watch and see the wonderful things He will do.

 

3.  Read Hebrews 13:5-6.

  • What is the author’s teaching?  How does it relate to loving one another?
  • Read Exodus 20:17.  Write this Commandment below.
  • How does Colossians 3:2 guide us in living out this call from the author of Hebrews?

 

4.  Read Hebrews 13:7-9 .  The author of Hebrews now moves on to the second piece of evidence of a cross-centered life:  Honoring our Spiritual Leaders.

  • To what does the author of Hebrews call his audience in these verses?
  • Who are some people in your life who have set a Christian example for you?  How do you remember them?  Take time today to pray for those people and thank God for the influence they have had in your life.  Maybe even write them a note of thanks and blessing, telling them how they have impacted your faith.
  • What is the warning in Hebrews 13:9?  What should be be wary of today?

 

5.  Read Hebrews 13:15-16.  What are the two sacrifices we can offer God?  Choose one of these and apply it in your life this week.  Share with us later in the week how God uses it to bless you and honor Him.

 

6.  Read Hebrews 13:17-18.

  • According to this verse, what is another way to honor our leaders? 
  • What emotions and thoughts does verse 17 elicit as you read them?  Do you agree with the author’s instruction?
  • Why should we trust our spiritual leaders?  Read James 3:1.  How does it relate to this discussion?
  • To what does the author of Hebrews call his audience in Hebrews 13:18?
  • Would you prayerfully consider praying for a Christian leader today?  It may be a national leader or preacher,  your own preacher, a Sunday School teacher, a Young Life Leader, a pastor, or a worship leader.  After the Lord has laid that person on your heart, contact him or her and let him/her know you are praying.  Let him/her know you will cover them in prayer for a certain period of time.  Keep in communication as you pray.  Watch and be amazed at what the Lord does in and through your obedience.

 

7.  Read Hebrews 13:20-25.  The author of Hebrews now presents the third and final piece of evidence of a cross-centered life: Spiritual Lordship.

  • Read John 10:11-14 and 1 Peter 2:25.  Share how the Hebrews passage and these passages make Jesus more personal.
  • What does the author of Hebrews pray for his audience in Hebrews 13:21.  Write what this verse means personally in your life.
  • Read Ephesians 2:10.  What does this verse teach us about oursevles?

 

8.   It is only when we fully surrender our lives to Christ and make Him Lord over all that God can work in and through us to enable us to be the women He knew and created us to be before time began.

  • List some ways God “perfects” and equips His people.
  • Personally, how has God perfected and equipped you?  Was any part of this process painful?  How?
  • How is God now using that equipping in your life?

 

9.  Read Philippians 2:13.  Share what it says and how it relates to this discussion.

 

10.  Take a deep breath, sweet friend.  We are on our last few questions!!  Let us spend the last few questions remembering.  In Hebrews 13:22, the author of Hebrews instructed us to “pay attention” to what he has written in this letter.  Please take time to do just that…to reflect on what you have learned.

  • How has the year you have spent in Hebrews affected your love for Jesus?
  • What difference has spending the last nine months in Hebrews made in your life?
  • Write down one or two new truths from this study that you have learned and have applied ( or will commit to apply) in your daily life.
  • Describe one way your life is different because of this study.

Let me close our study with a prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank You for bringing me into this fellowship of women.  Thank You for the spiritual truths, promises, history lessons, and warnings that You have taught me over these past seven months.  Thank You that You are faithful even when I am not. 

I praise You as the Holy One of Israel, Jehovah God, the One Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Thank You for revealing the secret things about Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.  I praise Him today as my Savior and my Great High Priest.  Thank You that by the shedding of His blood, You made a way for me to enter into Your presence.  Stir my heart, Lord, to desire more and more of You…to daily enter into Your  presence. 

Father, Your Word says to be still before You.  Help me to do this.  Help me to stop striving in my own flesh and to rest in You.  Your promise me REST.  You promise to keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is steadfast because she trusts in You.  Help me to fix my eyes on You and You alone, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Help me to trust in You and in all Your ways.  As I empty myself of me, fill me with more and more of You.  Father, give me the fullness of Your Peace and Your presence…transform me from the inside out. 

And as I leave this study, Lord, give me a hunger and a thirst to stay in Your Word.  Continue to lead me through Your Holy Scriptures.  Continue to teach and remind me of Who You are and of Who I am In You.  Never let me stop learning.  Never let me stop growing.  Let Your truths and promises take root and grow wild and free in my heart.  Let them consume me from the inside out.  And as I change and grow, open my eyes and my heart to see where You want me to take me.  Use me, Lord, use me to do Your great kingdom work.  I ask all this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

With great love and admiration for each and every one of you,

 

Comments

  1. Hmmm…part of me doesn’t want to start this week’s homework, because then I’ll be done with the study and I’ve enjoyed this so much, I don’t want it to end…but the other part of me can’t WAIT to dive in!! What a beautiful conundrum :). Thank you so much for this study Wendy! Thank you for all the hard work and trusting in the Lord you have poured into this work. I have learned soooooo much through the study of this book and I can’t wait to go through your book again, this time being lead by you! {I can’t help it, I’m geekn’ out a little over here!}. My Monday night girls are joining in too and I can’t wait for you to meet them here on your blog!

    <3 Heather

    • Oh, so excited you have girlfriends joining us for the Hidden Joy Study!! I can’t wait to meet them as well.

      Praying today you are feeling stronger and better.

      Love you,

  2. I am like Heather I dont want to start the homework but eager to do so. I will miss seeing your smiling face on Mondays. Can’t wait til April, Hope you will still be doing the Video teachings as well. They have become apart of starting my week.

    In the NIV 84 translation I love in Verse2 ” Do not forget to entertain strangers for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it”

    How awesome that thought is and it just gives me chills. To think the stranger I meet on the street may be an angel. Wow!!!!

    Thank you Wendy.

    • Yes, I will be doing video messages for Hidden Joy. I am so excited you will be joining us for this study!!

      Blessings,

      Wendy

  3. I am sad, but also filled with the joy of studying God’s Word together. Before I get started on this week’s homework, and begin thinking about all I have learned from this study together, I want to share about a video comment you made last week. You said, “God’s goal in this life is not to make us happy, or wealthy or wise, or the most popular; God’s goal for us is sanctification, and that’s to grow and to make us more and more like Him.” This is so profound! If we remember this, we can be so much better focused, and accepting of God’s refining in our life. This also ties so well with this week’s video about “katartidzo”, making us perfect. It is a gift from God — for our benefit and for His glory. We should accept it, appreciate it, and work towards it — if only it were that easy! Thank you, Wendy!

    • You are so welcome. I am thankful the Lord has used this study to bless you and draw you closer to His Word and His heart.

      Blessings,

      Wendy

  4. Charlotte Askew says

    I am sad that the study is coming to an end. I am always so grounded in God’s Word when I am doing one of your studies.

    There is something that I would like to say, and I have learned that if you have something good to say about a person, then say it while you can. So, here goes.

    Wendy, I enjoy listening to pastors preaching a sermon. But, all too often I don’t get a lot out of it. Everything is so formal (speaking of Baptist here). GIVE me a teacher any day. GIVE me WENDY as my teacher. With every lesson, I come away so deeply soaked in God’s Word. In every lesson, I learn and I learn a lot. In every lesson, I am a blessed woman. In every lesson, I am fed and all too often, a sermon does not feed me. You feed all of us sweet lady and we are all blessed by you.

    I thank you for all the work you do. Thank you for your faithfulness to God to come here and feed His children. Thank you for your devotion to lead and teach us.

    My prayer is that God will bless you Wendy, along with your family and each of your lives.

    • Sweet, Charlotte. Thank you for these kind words of encouragement. They truly bless me. I LOVE teaching and walking alongside women studying the Word of God. It fills me up!!!! Thank you for praying for me, my family and all of the women in this study. I join you in praying God will continue to bless us and grow us as we pursue our relationship with Him.

      Blessings,

      Wendy

  5. My answer to #4… I am so blessed to have genuine spiritual leaders in my life, starting with my husband, my pastors, my prayer partners and the one name that keeps flooding my heart is YOU WENDY!

    Abba Father,
    Thank You so much for Wendy who You have appointed to keep watch over this flock of ladies from many nations. Thank You that she has responded to Your call to be our shepherd. Lord, give her strength, patience, perseverance and wisdom to lead her heart, as working for You above human masters. Give her the deep knowledge in her soul that she will receive an inheritance from You as her reward. You are a just God, You will not forget the hard work and the love she has generously poured into us. Bless her for using and multiplying her gifts to serve us. She is a faithful steward of Your grace! Lord, let Wendy find rest in You when she is weary or burdened, for You are gentle, humble in heart and You will give her rest for her soul. Place Your hedge of protection over Wendy and her family. Open the avenues to bring her amazing teaching to an even wider audience. Open the floodgates of heaven so she doesn’t have room to store all of Your blessings! In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen!

    I love you Wendy. Sisters, you have rocked my world through this study! Love, love, love to you all. xoxo

    • Amen and amen. Thank you for this prayer. You have the most precious gift of prayer, and I am blessed to be a beneficiary of it. I love you too, Noelle, and am so thankful the Lord has crossed our paths through on-line studies. I praise Him for this friendship and for the fact this it is ETERNAL!!!

      Love you,

      Wendy

  6. I notice that when I keep the truth- that we might be entertaining angels- in the forefront of my mind, God inevitably makes my daily life far richer. When I ask a stranger how they are doing, they might break into tears giving me the open avenue to put my arm around them and to pray for them. I love how God has endless ways to use us and how He gives us the joy of being a part of His miracles of changed hearts. He can obviously do it all Himself, but He cares about our joy of giving through the process. I love that!

  7. Wendy-

    Thank you SO much for facilitating this study!!! It has been amazing for me to dig into God’s Word and be refreshed in the foundation of Christ I discovered about 12 years ago. I feel much stronger and more confident in who I am in Christ as a result of digging through Hebrews with your teachings as guideposts. I have journaled extensively throughout and look forward to reading back over my answers at various times in the future. I wish you the best with all future studies you do and will be praying for you and everyone who takes part.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Suzanne

    • It makes my heart sing to hear you say, “I feel much stronger and more confident in who I am in Christ as a result of digging through Hebrews…” Sweet, Suzanne, that is my prayer everytime I lead a study. So I praise God for His faithfulness to answer prayer. May He will bring you back to us again sometime for another study. Until then, may you continue on your journey to know Him better and love Him more.

      Blessings,

      Wendy

  8. Dearest Wendy and fellow bible sturdy girls,
    This has been my first experience with Proverbs 31 Ministry and on line bible study. I must say a whole new world has opened up to me through the gifts all of you have shared. I came with a thirst to deepen my relationship with the Lord and to gain a better understanding of his word. It is unbelievable where you all have taken me. The strength that I have gained from trusting in God’s word and the examples from other bible verses studied, have sustained me through some difficult trials and possibly discipline. The blessing is that I have shared this journey with my family and friends as well. I am now reexamining my spiritual role as a mother and new grandmother, resting on the assurances that God will provide me with all that I need to continue to lead my family in their spiritual journey.
    Blessings to you all, for influencing my life by your knowledge, support, and wisdom. Cheryl

    • You are so welcome!!! I love knowing that life in your family and in your home is changing because of the time you have spent with God in His Word!! How wonderful that you are sharing what you have learned with those you love. We have had an amazing journey, and I pray that God will continue to take you deeper still with Him as you continue to seek Him in His Word.

      W

  9. May I add that I am going back through our study, so that I might retain the truths that you have lead us to. Shat a gift you have been blessed with Wendy and thank you for sharing!!

  10. This is my first on-line Bible Study experience also, and I am so grateful for it because as I wrote early on I am mostly house bound and also unable to write because of a painful spreading neurological disease, but I can type! When I watched the video segment I would set up my word document beside it and type notes during the video teaching. Then I would copy and paste the lesson and answer the questions in a different font. Thank you, Wendy, for all the time that you put into preparing and teaching this. I am going to go back and work on your previous Bible studies in the same way. I learned a lot about trusting God. In my devotional reading today I read something by Charles Spurgeon where he was talked about being down and then realizing that he could fully trust God’s promises. He wrote “Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls.” This is a lesson I have to keep learning. It reminds me of the chapter where we were reading about the rest God offers, and of the theme of faith that runs through the whole book.

    • “Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls.” Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom with us from Charles Spurgeon. What a powerful, life-transforming statement. It blesses me to know that God used the avenue of on-line study to allow you to study His Word in a way that works for you. May He continue to teach you as you seek Him through new studies. Please keep in touch!!

      Blessings,

      W

  11. I just completed the lessons, I know i am a bit late in doing so, but it was intentional because I didn’t want the journey to end so soon. I can’t imagine where I was seven months ago, I was hurt, confused, sad and depressed but now oh what a transformation. Even though my circumstances are still almost the same but my faith in God has increased, the joy of the Lord is my strenght and I can see the hand of God moving clearly in my life.

    This study has blessed me, the ladies in this study have blessed me, Wendy you have encouraged, helped, thought and blessed me and I am so grateful for this oppurtunity and His grace upon my life and all of us here in this study.

    Can’t wait for the next study to begin so I am going to start reading your book (i have the e-book now) and prayfully expect greater things when the study starts.

    Really love you gals so much. Thanks for being there for me.

    Best regards,
    Olayinka

  12. Ok, I’m waaaaaay behind {just starting this lesson today, been sick}. I’m confused with number 2. I get the Ephesians reference, no problem, but I don’t understand the I Peter 1:3-7 reference and how it relates to honoring marriage…except maybe not to give up even when trials come along??

    <3 Heather

    • Heather hope you are feeling better and back to your usually active self soon. But you got
      me thinkin this early about #2 and marriage. But when I read the Hebrews verse then went to read 1 peter 1;4 where it says “be beautiful inside in your heart..” Then back in Hebrew 13’4 where it says “and be pure… ” I looked up pure and one of the words next to it said “stainless ” I see a heart as being pure and unstained when we are created and that is how we should be in our marriage, adding nothing except that which God provides which is pure and unstained by anything “out there” .

      Not sure that helps but thats what I see when I look at these verses and meanings a little more closely.

      Thanks for this early morning wake up what a way to get my juices flowing – in God’s Word!-

    • Should be 1 Peter 3 not 1 Peter 1….so sorry!!!

      W

  13. I totally don’t know where I was reading this morning, it was before coffee but it was on marriage and it was what I needed today, even the first peter 1 was not what I was reading. This morning was truly God directed … But I’m back on track.

  14. As I was working on 4 and 6, I Thessalonians 5:21 and II Timothy 3:16 kept jumping around in my head. When we look to our spiritual leaders, Hebrews 13:9 warns us not to get carried away with the “next BIG thing,” that’s topping the best sellers list. First Thessalonians 5:21 reminds us to, “Test everything. Hold on to the good,” and that includes what we learn from our spiritual leaders. If we ever have a question about what someone is teaching us, especially in matters of faith, we should take the time to test it against the Word of God. Talk to that leader and ask them to explain what they are teaching and show us in Scripture how they came up with that conclusion; it may simply be that you need more clarification in order to understand. After all II Timothy 3:16 tells us that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” and that is what we must test ALL of our knowledge against.

    Just a thought 🙂
    <3 Heather

  15. Thank you for your P31 devotional and the video. I needed to hear what you were saying. I sat listening with tears streaming down my face. You were a blessing to me and I just wanted you to know how much it meant to me. I have signed up for your bible study in April and will order your book today. I can just tell by listening to you that you are a woman of God and that the Lord is using you to bless so many others. Thank you so much. God bless you!

  16. Wendy~
    I am a bit behind and am just starting this last chapter now. What a blessing you are! I have learned so much thru this study..I am filled to overflowing:) Continually praising God for the gift of your friendship and leadership. The Lord shines through you. Continuing to lift you up in prayer as you prepare for the upcoming study in April.
    Love you sweet friend!
    ~colleen

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