January 29, 2012

Living a Cross-Centered Life: Hebrews Chapter Ten

Hebrews Chapter 10:  Through the Veil

“Through the Veil”

Through the veil there’s a new and living way

Through the curtain welcome to the Holy Place

Through we once were separated, we are now invited in

Though the veil, through the blood, come to Him

Through the veil, through the blood, enter in

The Holy Place is open, come and worship

The Lamb for Sinners’ slain is King of All

We praise and glorify the Lord before His mighty throne

Through the veil, through the blood, come to Him

Through the veil, through the blood, enter in

Lyrics:  Gwen Smith

Don’t you love the lyrics to this song?  It was written by my friend, Gwen Smith.  She wrote “Through the Veil” while studying the book of Hebrews.  In the midst of discussing Chapter 10 with her small group, she literally excused herself from the room, went to a quiet place alone, and wrote this song.  Here is a link to hear Gwen perform this song live. 

She will be visiting our study here in Charlotte next month to lead our worship and perform “Through the Veil.”  How I wish each of you could join us!!  When you have a few minutes, sit quietly before the Lord and prayerfully listen.  I pray it will bless you as it has blessed me!

In this chapter, the author of Hebrews again points out the failure of the system of old sacrifices.  However, this time he gets very specific.  He presents three reasons …three benefits really…why Jesus’ sacrifice was superior to the Old Testament system of sacrifice.

1.  Christ’s sacrifice takes away sin forever and always.

2.  Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all.

3.  Christ’s sacrifice removed the barrier that had been set up between God and man.

Are you ready?  Let’s begin!

This Week’s Memory Verse: By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:20 (NLT).

This Week’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the cross.  Thank You for choosing to die for me…for shedding Your blood for the forgiveness of my sins.  Thank You that by the shedding of Your blood, You made a way for me to enter into the presence of God.  Thank You that by Your resurrection, You made a way for me to one day have everlasting life.  Help me, Lord, to cling to the cross and the resurrection and never forget the sacrifice You made for me.  I ask all this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Ten

Homework Questions:

1. How would you define sin?

Sin is mankind’s greatest problems.  It is what separates us from God.  After the fall, God’s first priority was to deal with sin.  He wanted fellowship with His people again.  To accomplish this, God took steps to make it happen.  He began with the Law.

2.  Read Hebrews 10:1-3.

  • What was the old system of sacrifice?
  • Read Colossians 2:17.  Share what it says.
  • According to Hebrews 10:2-3, what effect did the sacrifices actually have on the people?

3.  How is Jesus, the New Testament offering, like the burnt offering spoken of in Leviticus 1:3-5?

4.  Read Psalm 51:17 and Psalm 139:23-24. When you need forgiveness, do you come before the Lord with a broken spirit?  A contrite heart? If you do not, ask God to tender your heart to your sin.  Pray as David did the prayer in Psalm 139:23-24.

 5.  Read Hebrews 10:1-18.  Christ’s sacrifice was better because it was effective.  It totally removed sin, something the old system of sacrifice could never do.  

  • Compare what Hebrews 10:11-12 say about Jesus and the high priests.
  • Read the following verses.  What do they say about the effect Christ’s work had?  1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Colossians 2:15, 2 Timothy 1:10, 1 John 3:8.

6.  Reread Hebrews 10:16-17. 

  • What is the New Covenant promise according to Jeremiah?
  • Explain what this New Covenant means in your own words.

7.  Do you feel fully forgiven of all your sin and walk in the freedom of that forgiveness?

  • If you answered yes, how does this effect how you live day to day?
  • If you answered no, what keeps you from walking in that forgiveness?  I encourage you to take what you have learned these past few months and ask the Lord to enable you through the power of His Holy Spirit to believe in full faith that Jesus died on the cross for you and that His sacrifice makes you not only fully forgiven but also fully accepted in the eyes of God.

 

8.  Read Hebrews 10:19-22.  The author of Hebrews issues an invitation for his Jewish audience to “boldly” draw near to Jesus. 

  • How do Mark 15:37-38 and John 19:31-34 help you understand Hebrews 10:19-22?
  • In Hebrews 10:20, what are the two words the author uses to describe Jesus’ way?

 

9.  Read Hebrews 22-25.  The author of Hebrews tells his audience how to respond to what Jesus did on the cross.  

  • List at least three ways we are to respond.
  • What does it mean to go before the Lord with a sincere heart? With full assurance of faith?
  • Read Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 5:26.  Share the truths you glean from these verses.

 

10.  Read Hebrews 10:23. 

  • To what does the author of Hebrews tell his audience to hold fast?
  • What is that hope?
  • What are you doing in your life to “hold fast” to the hope you profess?

11.  How can we spur one another on?

 

12. The author gives his audience another warning in Hebrews 10:26-31.  (For review, the earlier warnings are found in Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 3:7-14, Hebrews 5:11-14).  Summarize this warning in your own words.

  • Read 1 John 2:19, Deuteronomy 13:13, and 1 Samuel 15:11.  How do they relate to this warning?
  • According to Hebrews 10:26, what are the two characteristics of apostasy?

13.  Read Hebrews 10:32-39.  Knowing the persecution many in his audience have suffered, he calls his audience to remember.  He then exhorts them not to throw away their confident trust in the Lord and points them to something as an encouragement.

  • What is his encouragement? (v. 35)
  • What does the author tell them they need to receive all that he has promised? (v.36)

14.  In Hebrews 10:38, the author tells his audience to “live by faith.”  What does living by faith mean to you?  Is there something in your life that requires you to live by faith?  What does that practically look like in your circumstances?

If you have something with which you are struggling, I encourage you to seek God’s Word on that issue.  Find specific promises that speak to your heart.  Stand on them, pray them, memorize them, and believe them with all your heart.  God will be faithful!!

Sweet Blessings to you,

 

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,

 

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,