Posts tagged ‘Hebrews’

November 18, 2013

843 Acres: Gospel-Driven Hospitality

by Bethany

843 Acres: Gospel-Driven Hospitality
M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 11-12 (text | audio, 5:53 min)
Heb 13 (text | audio, 3:13 min)
Highlighted: Heb 13:2

Hospitality: In the ancient world, hospitality was a matter of protection and survival for weary travelers. Today, however, hospitality in the West is mainly associated with etiquette and entertainment. Yet even that description misses the mark. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer writes, “You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” [1]

Community: Hebrews reads, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” [2] “Hospitality,” says Tim Keller, “is an attitude of the heart that seeks to turn strangers into guests and friends, especially people that the world excludes.” Hospitality has been given to us by God to build community. It is not given to us for our own personal happiness or pleasure. Just as Jesus did not treat his body or his possessions as his own but gave them up for us, so we are called to be conduits of his hospitality to strangers a.k.a. “potential friends.”

Ideas: We may think that we do not have enough money to entertain, but God delights in using common things for his glory. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no less common than bread and wine before God transforms them into a communion supper. We may think that we do not have enough space to entertain, but God has given us many ways of showing hospitality: asking neighbors into your home, inviting colleagues to church, hosting a dinner at a restaurant, hosting a community group at your home, volunteering with the diaconate, serving with a mercy ministry, ushering at church, “passing the peace” in the service. Who knows but that we may entertain angels unawares.

Prayer: Lord, Your hospitality is different than the hospitality of the world because it welcomes the people that the world excludes. Show us how to show hospitality to the widows, the orphans, the homeless, the needy, and those who will never repay us. Let us practice gospel transformed hospitality with PG&Js in our small homes, knowing that it is you, not our work, that transforms a group of individuals meeting together into a community in fellowship in you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Danny Meyer. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. | [2] Hebrews 13:2 ESV

November 15, 2013

843 Acres: Religion for Atheists

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 5-6 (text | audio, 11:03 min)
Heb 10 (text | audio, 5:07 min)
Highlighted: Heb 10:19-22

Religion: Atheist Alain de Botton argues that it is “too easy” to dismiss faith as a triviality: “There is something to learn from the example of religion even if you don’t believe any of it.” He says that educational institutions, for example, rightly replaced religion (e.g., the letters of Paul) with culture (e.g., the plays of Shakespeare), but they should not have thrown out the tradition of the sermon. “What is the difference between a sermon and our modern, secular mode of delivery, the lecture?” he asks. “A sermon wants you to change your life and a lecture wants to give you a bit of information. I think we need to get back to that tradition of the sermon because we are in need of morality, guidance, and consolation.” [1]

Confidence: What de Botton fails to grasp, however, is that something happens in the sermon—that is, in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word—that is far more than morality, guidance, and consolation. The writer of Hebrews talks about what happens when the body of Christ gets together: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” [2]

Spirit: The Spirit, not the sermon, changes our lives. Yes, we are in need of morality, guidance, and consolation, but these things are by-products of a greater reality—a restored relationship with God. In other words, the basis of our communion as believers is not our mutually held beliefs, but the blood of Christ. Thus, when we take the cup and eat the bread and hear the words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” something cosmic happens. We celebrate that we are people united by his blood.

Prayer: Lord, We give you thanks that, as a result of your common grace, even people who do not believe in your existence see the good things that emanate from religion. We even confess, Lord, that we often stop where they stop; we forget the power of the Spirit in the teaching of your Word. Increase our faith and bring us into your presence. Amen.

M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, November 16: 1 Chr 7-8 (text | audio, 4:52 + 3:27 min) & Heb 11 (text | audio, 5:30 min)
Sunday, November 17: 1 Chr 9-10 (text | audio, 5:34 + 2:13 min) & Heb 12 (text | audio, 4:01 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Alan de Botton. “Atheism 2.0.” TEDGlobal 2011. | [2] Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV

November 14, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 3-4 (text | audio, 8:15 min)
Heb 9 (text | audio, 4:20 min)
Highlighted: Heb 9:11-14

Hebrews 9:11-14

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come … he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Isaac Watts. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. 

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

AUDIO: Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman

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November 13, 2013

843 Acres: Where Religions Agree and Disagree

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 1-2 (text | audio, 10:53 min)
Heb 8 (text | audio, 2:09 min)
Highlighted: Heb 8:10-12

Gap: All religions agree that there’s an ultimate reality and that there’s a gap between that ultimate reality and us. They disagree, however, about how to bridge that gap. Some say that we should make sacrifices, offerings, and oblations. Others argue for good works or moral codes. Still others advocate prayer, meditation, and enlightenment. They say that, if you want to reach the divine, you have to do something—gather your strength, keep the rules, free your mind. Is Christianity any different?

Within: God, not man, initiated salvation for sinners. He called Jesus to die on a cross for us and gave us his Spirit to draw us unto him. As Hebrews says, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” [1]

Unique: In Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller writes, “Every other religion and philosophy says you have to do something to connect with God; but Christianity says no, Jesus Christ came to do for you what you couldn’t do for yourself. Every other religion says here are the answers to the big questions, but Christianity says Jesus is the answer to them all. So many systems of thought appeal to strong, successful people, because they play directly into their belief that if you are strong and hardworking enough, you will prevail. But Christianity is … for everyone, especially for people who admit that, where it really counts, they’re weak. It is for people who have the particular kind of strength to admit that their flaws are not superficial, their heart is deeply disordered, and that they are incapable of rectifying themselves. It is for those who can see that they need a savior, that they need Jesus Christ dying on the cross, to put them right with God.” [2]

Prayer: Lord, You are the ultimate priest-king who has changed our disordered hearts. We admit that, where it counts, we are weak and incapable of rectifying ourselves. Therefore, put your Spirit in our hearts so that we all may know you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV | [2] Tim Keller. Encounters with Jesus.

November 12, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: The Greatest Problem in the World

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kgs 25 (text | audio, 5:05 min)
Heb 7 (text | audio, 3:51 min)
Highlighted: Heb 7:25

Discerning Brokenness

The greatest problem in the universe is not abortion, divorce, genocide, or cancer. The greatest problem in the universe is the wrath of God.

We are creatures prone to sin and, as a result, we have no hope of drawing near to God without being consumed by his wrath for sin.

The priesthood and its system of sacrifice was established to atone for our sins, but it was imperfect and weak.

Imagining Redemption

A better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. For Jesus holds his priesthood permanently bc he continues forever. Heb7

Jesus, as high priest, offered himself, not a lamb, as a sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath. Now, through him, we draw near to God.

Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. Heb7

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for sending Jesus as a once-for-all atoning sacrifice for us and we praise him for submitting to your will.

Lord, We #confess that we are so sinful that, if we had any hope in drawing near to you, you had to act. We could not. Your Son had to die.

Lord, We give you #thanks for sending him to die for us. Thank you for the Law, whereby we understand the meaning of his sacrifice.

Lord, May we walk in the knowledge of your justice and love today. Knowing that Jesus is our intercessor, we draw near to you. #supplication

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November 11, 2013

843 Acres: The Uncertainty of Tomorrow

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kgs 24 (text | audio, 3:20 min)
Heb 6 (text | audio, 2:37 min)
Highlighted: Heb 6:19-20

Uncertainty: There are some things that we know to be true and others that we know to be false. Yet there are many things whose truth or falsity are not known to us. We are “uncertain” about them. We are uncertain, to varying degrees, about everything in the future. To take a simple example, we do not know how this devotional will end—much less the circumstances of our lives when we finish it. Will I find a seat on the subway? Will the phone ring with news from a friend? Will I get a headache? We do not know these things—much less things that will happen in the next 24 hours, 365 days, or 10 years. Tomorrow is uncertain.

Certainty: In contrast to the uncertainty of our lives, Hebrews talks about the certainty of God’s promise. Through Abraham, we partake in the covenant: “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” Hebrews says that God confirmed this covenant by “two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie”—that is, a promise and an oath. When we see Jesus hanging on the cross, we see the certainty of his promise and oath: “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf …” [1].

Practice: Tomorrow we may lose something or someone we love. We may get news of a seemingly hopeless diagnosis. We may get promoted or our child may be accepted to a top school. Yet our hope is not in the resolution of these bad circumstances or in the continuation of these good ones; our hope is in Christ. He alone is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. How do we make sure that he is our anchor in the tormented and fickle sea of our lives? We practice the simple and daily disciplines of prayer, reading, contemplation, and community. Since we do not know what will happen tomorrow, we cling to Christ today.

Prayer: Lord, We praise you for confirming your covenant with a promise, an oath, and a son. For this is our sure and steadfast anchor. We confess that our circumstances often loom larger than our faith. Increase our faith. Give us new vision to see our circumstances as you do. Let us cling to Christ. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

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November 8, 2013

843 Acres: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kgs 21 (text | audio, 4:15 min)
Heb 3 (text | audio, 2:10 min)
Highlighted: Heb. 3:12-14

Exodus: When God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, they were full of celebration. With one voice, they sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously … The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” [1]Three days later, however, they complained about the way He gave them food and water. They said that they would rather be slaves again than depend on Him. Then, a few weeks later, they worshipped handmade idols, saying, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [2] How did they fall away from the Lord so quickly?

Caution: Looking back on these events, the Psalmist warned, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” [3]Hundreds of years later, the writer of Hebrews quoted the Psalmist and expanded the message: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called, ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence to the end.” [4]

Gospel: The Hebrews were slaves to Egypt; we are slaves to sin. They were released by the plague of the firstborn son; we are released by the death of the firstborn son of God. On the cross, the work of God is on display far greater than during the Exodus. How much more, then, must we cling to belief!

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, like the Hebrews, we can turn quickly from celebration to sin. Yet we do not have the strength to endure in faith. Therefore, we beg you to increase our faith. As we look to the cross, help us to remember your work and to exhort one another daily so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we admit that we are prone to wander. Amen.

M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, November 9: 2 Kgs 22 (text | audio, 3:46 min) & Heb 4 (text | audio, 2:16 min)
Sunday, November 10: 2 Kgs 23 (text | audio, 7:39 min) & Heb 5 (text | audio, 1:41 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Exodus 15:1, 2 ESV | [2] Exodus 32:4 ESV | [3] Psalm 95:7-11 ESV | [4] Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV

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November 7, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday (Edwards): Pay Attention

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kgs 20 (text | audio, 3:41 min)
Heb 2 (text | audio, 2:41 min)
Highlighted: Heb 2:1-3

Hebrews 2:1-3

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

Jonathan Edwards: Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1

[Those who carelessly neglect the salvation of Christ] live a senseless life, neglect the business of religion and their own souls, not taking any course to get an interest in Christ or what he has done and suffered or any part in that glorious salvation he has purchased …

Did our salvation lie with such weight on the mind of Christ, as to induce him to become man, to suffer even death itself, in order to procure it? And is it not worth the while for you, who need this salvation and must perish eternally without it, to take earnest pains to obtain an interest in it after it is procured, and all things are ready?

Shall the great God be so concerned about this salvation as often to overturn the world to make way for it; and when all is done, is it not worth your seeking after? What great, what wonderful things has he done; removing and setting up kings, raising up a great number of prophets, separating a distinct people from the rest of the world, overturning nations and kingdoms, and often the state of the world; and so has continued bringing about one change and revolution after another for forty centuries in succession, to make way for the procuring of this salvation! And when at the close of these ages, the great Savior comes, passing through a long series of reproach and suffering, and then suffering all the waves and billows of God’s wrath for men’s sins, insomuch that they overwhelmed his soul; after all these things done to procure salvation for sinners, is it not worthy of your being so much concerned about it, but that it should be thrown by, and made nothing of, in comparison of worldly gain, happy clothing, or youthful diversions, and other such trifling things?

O! that you who live negligent of this salvation would consider what you do! What you have heard from this subject may show you what reason there is in that exclamation of the apostle: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”

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November 6, 2013

843 Acres: Jesus: The Incarnate, Final, and Exact Word

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kgs 19 (text | audio, 6:37 min)
Heb 1 (text | audio, 2:22 min)

Confusion: The author of Hebrews was writing to Palestinian Jewish-Christians—that is, people who were nationally Jewish, linguistically Hebrew, and religiously Christian. They were living in a pluralistic culture, where being a Christian meant that they were marginalized and persecuted. Although it was fairly safe to practice Judaism, openly embracing Christianity was not allowed. Thus, the believers wondered, “If God loves us, then why is our life so hard?”

Incarnate: To answer this question, the writer turns our eyes to Jesus. In Christ, he says, God has given us his incarnate word. He has spoken to us by a person so that we may know him in relationship. God did not merely give us information about himself; he gave us himself: “[H]e has spoken to us by a Son.” [1]

Final: Moreover, in Christ, God has given us his final word. The writer compares what came before Christ to what came with him: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in the last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” [2] In other words, Jesus is better, fuller, and more excellent.

Exact: Finally, in Christ, God has given us his exact word. In the Old Testament, there is a special fire that leads the children of Israel through the wilderness [3], that stops the Egyptian army [4], that descends upon Mount Sinai [5], and that burns perpetually at the altar [6]. This fire is a physical manifestation of God’s glory so that we can behold his beauty, transcendence, and holiness. As the “exact imprint of God’s very being,” Jesus is that fire. He is God’s glory in the presence of God’s people.

Prayer: Lord, When we ask, “If God loves us, then why is our life so hard?”, fix our eyes on Jesus. Some of us may think that we do not have to suffer because he did, but Christ calls us to share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory. [7] In our trials, therefore, we can endure, knowing that the incarnate, final, and exact word of God was abandoned so that we may be embraced. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Hebrews 1:2 ESV | [2] Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV | [3] Exodus 13:21 | [4] Exodus 14:24 | [5] Exodus 19:18 | [6] Leviticus 6:12-13 | [7] Romans 8:17

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August 28, 2012

843 Acres Reader’s Choice: On Outlandish Expectations and Strong Senses of Entitlement

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice* Tim Noble | Why I like this post: I am a millennial and I hate it when I fail at things.  But that’s because I forget that Christ’s victory over death far surpasses my inability to succeed at daily tasks.  Looking for my personal justification in the covenantal love expressed on the cross releases me from my “outlandish expectations.”

843 Acres: On Outlandish Expectations and Strong Senses of Entitlement
Highlighted Text: Heb. 12:3
Full Text: Is. 5Heb. 12

Millennials | Millennials comprise the largest generation since the baby boomers [1]. What are they like? Pew Research says that they are “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change” [2]. Several years ago, however, Ron Alsop wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “[T]hese young people have great – and sometimes outlandish – expectations … an unusually strong sense of entitlement” [3]. He continued, “Where do such feelings come from? Blame it on doting parents, teachers and coaches. Millennials are truly ‘trophy kids,’ the pride and joy of their parents. The millennials were lavishly praised and often received trophies when they excelled, and sometimes when they didn’t, to avoid damaging their self-esteem.”

Glory | If Alsop is right, we have a huge opportunity to put God’s glory on display in our culture. In Hebrews 11, the writer lists the many Old Testament figures that chose faith over fear – e.g., Noah, Abraham, Moses [4]. All of them were persecuted, but none of them received what was promised – namely, their final perfection [5]. In light of their lives, the writer exhorts us, “[L]et us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely … looking to Jesus … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” [6]. He continues, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” [7].

Context | In other words, we can show God’s glory in our culture by clinging to Christ, not our self-esteem, for endurance [8]. Our “outlandish expectations” and “strong senses of entitlement” are tethered to the age to come, not this age! We don’t need cultural trophies because Christ himself is our trophy. We endure adversity by knowing that after the cross comes the crown. When we view the world like this, we won’t grow weary. Instead, we’ll endure until we come “to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and … to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” [9].

Prayer | Lord, You have given us new hearts and new identities. We don’t need to be coddled by this world because you’re on our side! [10] Give us a confidence that is unshakable so that we can endure adversity with joy because we know what’s coming. Let us consider Jesus, who endured immeasurable adversity for our sake, so that we will not grow faint of heart. Amen.

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More about Tim: Tim has been reading The Park Forum for 2 years.  In his spare time, Tim likes to try new restaurants with his wife, Kyo, or go on runs through Central Park.

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More about Reader’s Choice: This week and next, we’re featuring “Reader’s Choice” to promote our 843 new readers campaign. Different readers will share their favorite posts and why they liked them. We hope this blesses you … and perhaps encourages you to help us reach our goal!

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Help us reach 843 NEW READERS by Labor Day, SEPTEMBER 3! We now offer two ways to receive 843 ACRES by email: five times weekly – Monday through Friday (your friends can sign up HERE), and two times weekly – Monday and Thursday (your friends can sign up HERE). For more information on this campaign, click HERE.

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On the M’Cheyne reading plan, our reading today is Lamentations 5 and Psalm 36.

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Footnotes

[1] Most people consider the Millennials to be those individuals born between 1980 and 2001.  |  [2] Pew Research Center. Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next (various resources).  | [3] Ron Alsop. “The Trophy Kids Go to Work.” The Wall Street Journal. 21 October 2008.  |  [4] See Hebrews 11 (which is often referred to as The Roll Call of the Faithful).  |  [5] See   Hebrews 11:40 (noting that those who have gone before us “should not be made perfect” apart from us).  |  [6] Hebrews 12:1, 2.  |  [7] Hebrews 12:3 ESV  |  [8] The way that our culture views “self-esteem” is largely counter to the biblical perspective on how we should view ourselves. Yes, we should affirm people, but the problem lies in how we are affirming them or on what basis are we affirming them. For additional thoughts on this topic, see Sam Crabtree, “Is It God-Centered to Praise People?” 13 March 2012; Jonathan Parnell, “How Should We Think About Self-Worth.” 1 March 2012.  |  [9] See Hebrews 12:18-29.  |  [10] See Psalm 118:6Hebrews 13:6Romans 8:31.

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