Community is the Action that Moves Belief to Maturity!
If someone were to give you $1,000,000 for no apparent reason, would you have any trouble giving away $100 to a person in need? Why or why not?
How does reflecting on God’s enormous amount of love shown toward us help us love one another?
How does the work of Jesus bind Christians together as a family?
Christians have experienced love in a way that non-Christians have not. We have been transformed by the love God has for us in Christ Jesus. This love is the defining bond that creates and holds believers together as a family. The work of Jesus is so powerful that it makes family out of strangers, people with cultural, preferential, generational, and racial differences. The most important thing in every believer’s life is Jesus. That is how we are eternally bound together as family. We may not all like sports, art, or board games, but we all deeply love Jesus. Some of us may like Star Wars; others may think Star Wars and Star Trek are the same thing. Even so, if we know Jesus, we have the most important thing in common.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Read Hebrews 10:19-23.
What does it look like to enter God’s presence with “boldness”? According to Scripture, how are able to do this?
What are some things in life that are absolutely unsure?
What does it do in your heart to know we can draw near to God with full assurance
Read Hebrews 10:24-25.
Now that we have seen what God has done for us in Christ, we can turn our attention to the effect of the Gospel on our lives in relation to each other. We now have a foundation to love each other with brotherly affection. Notice how the church is supposed to respond. We are to give to each other the very same love we have experienced from God.
What are examples of how we can be “concerned about one another”? What is the difference between brotherly love and nosiness?
How is “stirring up one another” an act of brotherly love in itself?
Why is it important to regularly gather together?
How would this passage address the Christian, who says, “I love Jesus; I just don’t need the church”?
What are some practical ways we can spur each other on this week?
How can you practically support the body of believers, your brothers and sisters in Christ? In what ways can you motivate them toward love and good works?
Father, thank you for how you have loved us. Thank you for sending Your Son to cleanse us! Help us this week to take the grace we have experienced from You and lavish it on others.
10:19. We experience Christ’s power by drawing near to God, maintaining our faith, and loving other believers. “Therefore” emphasizes that in view of what Jesus has done, believers can approach God with confidence. “Confidence” describes a boldness believers have because of our new relationship to God. “The Most Holy Place” was that part of the sanctuary which symbolized the presence of God. This verse uses the term not for the tabernacle but for the presence of God. All believers can come to God’s presence. This privilege is no longer limited to the priesthood. Believers can approach God because of the blood of Jesus. Not animal sacrifice but Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself has opened the door. All who have found a new relationship to God through Jesus can experience this privilege.
10:20-21 We have the boldness to enter into the holiest place because Jesus has opened for us a new and living way. He serves as our great priest to encourage us to enter God’s presence. Christ’s way to the Father is new because he opened it by his death. The resurrection of the sacrificed One has made the way living, or effective and enduring. “Curtain” refers to the veil that stood between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. In Hebrews it becomes a symbol of Jesus’ human life. As a human being, Jesus opened up a new way to God. Jesus presented his human life to God to bring us to him. Jesus’ human life and sacrificial death have made the Most Holy Place wide open so believers can enter directly into God’s presence. This was part of Jesus’ high priestly service.
10:22. We can now approach God and have the mercy and grace of our High Priest standing over us. How? First, we are to come with a sincere heart. This calls for genuine devotion rather than hypocrisy. Second, we are to come in full assurance of faith. This demands a bold confidence that God has provided full access to his presence through Christ alone. Third, we are to have our hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience. This demands constant confession of our sins and openness to God. Finally we are to have our bodies washed with pure water. This may be a reference to baptism as an outward commitment to Christ, or it might be symbolic as is the previous reference to hearts sprinkled with blood. If it is symbolic, the hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience would picture our salvation, and our bodies washed would symbolize a righteous lifestyle. In this new state of purity made possible by Jesus, believers can come boldly to God and claim his grace and mercy.
10:23. This exhortation appeals to us to maintain spiritual consistency. We are urged to hold firmly to the hope we profess. This hope offers glory which beamed more brightly than the glories of the old order. “Unswervingly” denotes an object which stands absolutely straight, not departing from the perpendicular. We are to lay hold of Christ and never let go, even in the slightest. No persecution, real or feared, was to lessen the ardor of these believers for Christ.
10:24-25. This exhortation calls us to responsibility to one another. The appeal to consider demands concentrated attention. The goal of this attention was to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. As Christians we have a corporate responsibility. We must help others who stumble and falter. We must concentrate on the needs of others and not on our individual salvation only. To spur other believers forward in the Christian life, followers of Christ must meet together. Some of the readers of Hebrews were neglecting to meet together for worship, and this limited their ability to give and receive encouragement toward good works. Christians who meet together with the aim of promoting godliness and love for one another can be remarkably successful in their ventures.
DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE
HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME
The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.
UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.
FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!
INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.
OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
The modern media’s portrayal of the “lone wolf” seems to be growing more and more popular. From movies where the hero is mowing down hundreds of bad guys by himself, to books about “maverick” politicians standing against the grain and defying the status quo, it would seem as if we love a stand alone hero. But how realistic a notion is this one man versus the world mentality? And have we tried to adopt this model into our spiritual walk?
Even a cursory examination of Jesus’ first interactions with his disciples should be sufficient for the realization that we were never intended to go it alone. In fact, if we take it way back, what was the first thing after creation that God said was “not good”? For man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)! We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and our God actually exists in community. Three persons in one being, and we affectionately define that truth as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 John 5:7-8; John 1). So, if we are his image bearers, is it a hard leap to think that maybe we were intended for community as well? Not at all. And surely Jesus’ calling of Simon and Andrew is a great example of that intention. He didn’t call Simon, and then later come back for Andrew, but rather called them together, in community with himself.
God has not called us to “go it alone”, and for us to aspire or attempt to do so is both foolish, and counter to the Gospel! We are one body, with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:20). Our spiritual community should invade our personal lives, our family, our relationships, and help us to be the person Jesus has called us to be.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Much of life revolves around relationships, yet this is one area that many of us struggle with the most. For a host of reasons, we fail to be intentional, but it’s never too late to start. Here are some guiding principles to keep in mind as we strive to repair or grow deeper, more meaningful relationships this year.
We should start by nurturing our existing relationships, like close friends and family. Look for chances to show your love and affection by genuinely investing your time, attention, and energy into these people (Romans 12:9–10). Don’t put it off until there’s a problem.
Many of the strongest relationships are those that have been fractured but allowed to heal. Choosing to forgive, or allowing yourself to be forgiven, isn’t always easy. When we lean on our faith, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength and guidance we need. If you’re in a broken relationship that you’d like to restore, do it today. The pain of an unresolved hurt is far greater than the discomfort required to resolve it (Matthew 18:15).
The people we surround ourselves with largely determine our success or failure. They impact our decisions and influence how we treat others. With these points in mind, it’s a good idea to evaluate your circle of friends. Do negative influences surround you? Do you have friends that are unhealthy, unwise, or even unholy? If you do and these people aren’t willing to grow and develop with you, then they’re holding you back, and you should consider kindly and gracefully stepping away from their presence (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Some of the best relationships are still out there, waiting to be discovered. Don’t let a past hurt, fear of rejection, or shyness get in the way of stepping out and connecting with others. If you need strength, you can find it in Christ (Philippians 4:13). Any doubts you might be holding onto have been put there by Satan himself, who wants you to be alone. God’s plans for you include being strengthened and uplifted in community with others—every day (Jeremiah 29:11).
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
We, as Christians, approach those who have sinned against us with the sentiment of grace deeply ingrained in our hearts. We forgive others because we ourselves have been forgiven. Forgiveness is the releasing of our wrath and condemnation in favor of these things:
Praying for those who have evil intentions for you (Matthew 5:44),
Abounding in love that is only possible when you really are abiding in Christ (Psalm 86:5),
Never avenging yourself, but leaving it to God’s capable hand (Romans 12:18-19),
Doing good to those who never do good to you (Luke 6:27-28),
Watching your own life, and ensuring you’re not guilty of the sin that’s been committed against you (Luke 17:3).
Forgiveness does not mean,
Feeling good about something bad that happened to you.
Letting someone out of the consequences of their wrong, (ask David about sin’s devastating consequences, 2 Samuel 12),
Never being disciplined by a loving Father (Hebrews 12:5-6).
While Scripture is full of stories, parables, and words about forgiveness, the heart of the matter is that it will not always be easy to forgive. People do horrible things to one another, and sometimes genuine forgiveness isn’t going to bring about the restoration of a relationship. This is especially so if the person in the wrong is unrepentant and unwilling to change. So, while it may be difficult to immediately forgive, we need to spend time dwelling on the fact that no matter what has been committed against us, it has been committed against God a thousand times over. This is yet another reason why genuine biblical community is so crucial to living a Christ-centered life, because we need help remembering who God is, and in turn, who that makes those of us who are His.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
2 Kings 5:13
“Mom, I can’t do this!” I cried. “Yes, you can my son. I know it’s hard, but stick with it. The payout will be worth the effort.” It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, but I followed her advice and didn’t quit. At 14 years old, I was hired for my first job. I was the groundskeeper for a dental office. Every Saturday I had to go mow the lawn, trim the edges, spray and pull weeds, pick up sticks, and rake leaves. My first working Saturday was at the beginning of my summer vacation in June. It was over 90ºF (32º C). It was the first day of hard work I’d ever had to do alone, and I was not happy! After four hours in the heat, my mom brought me lunch. She asked how it was going. Dejected, I was less than halfway done! It seemed like I would probably never finish. “Can I quit? They can hire someone else to do this!” Despite my protest, my parents didn’t let me quit. They encouraged me to press on and keep working hard. At the end of the summer I had made quite the fortune for a 14 year old, a little more than $1,000! What once was taking me 8 or 9 hours of foot-dragging labor was now only taking me 3 to 5 hours depending on the days’ temperature. That summer helped form me into who I am today and taught me a very valuable lesson about perseverance and payout. The catalyst? My mother’s encouragement.
In today’s scripture, we see that the servants of Naaman the Leper encouraged him to follow the word of the prophet. Naaman didn’t like what he had been told by the prophet’s messenger and was about to turn around and head home. But his servants intervened. They encouraged him to follow the prophets’ instructions. Naaman succumbed to their prodding, and did as the prophet said. The result is that his leprosy was completely removed from his body! A complete transformation. A miracle. The catalyst in this instance? The servant’s encouragement. As the groundskeeper, I worked hard and my payoff was completely worth it! It was all due to my mother’s encouragement to continue working. Naaman followed the prophet’s instruction despite his emotion and his leprosy was cleansed from his body. Again, this is due to the encouragement of an outside source.
Challenge yourself to encourage someone today. They’re going through struggles you may never know about, but perhaps you can be the hands, feet, and mouthpiece of Jesus to them. Naaman’s healing was brought about by his obedience. If he hadn’t been encouraged, I suspect Naaman may have died a leper, having never followed the prophet’s instructions.
Be the church, be an encouragement to those around you, and if you need it yourself: be like Naaman and accept the gentle instruction and encouragement of your peers. Encouragement changed the whole course of Naaman’s life, and perhaps it can do the same for you and your community.
Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
In general, people like security. We seek what is comfortable. Yet the reality of our world is that much instability exists. For example, finances, health, and even a country’s ability to survive are not guaranteed.
When our foundation is shaken, we often feel overwhelmed. Sometimes Satan causes the difficulty—with God’s permission, of course. At other times, challenging circumstances are brought about by the Lord’s hand. Regardless of the source, we have the promise in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And in either case, the Almighty’s purpose remains: to glorify Himself in our world and in our lives.
There are different reasons that the Lord permits turmoil, but for now, let’s focus on one: He will not allow anything that enables man to seem self-sufficient in his own eyes. Therefore, God may lovingly allow enough trouble for us to realize our need of Him. Consider the trials the Israelites faced each time they turned away from the Lord to worship other gods. In many ways, we do the same thing today. Individually, in our churches, and as a nation, we often glorify “gods” like money or status. But the One who created us will not tolerate this.
In our pride, we tend to think we’re able to manage without God. But out of love, He may stir up our life to reveal our dependence upon Him. If you are basing your security on anything except Jesus Christ—even something as seemingly innocent as comfort—it will prove to be sinking sand.
Adapted From: http://intouch.org
One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.
Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,