CONSIDER HIM

Hebrews 12:3 – Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When life becomes difficult through many trials and tribulations, especially personal attacks because of your faith in Christ, it becomes easy to grow weary and lose heart. This was the case for these Jewish believers. These believing Jews were the “remnant” who trusted Christ. The majority of their fellow Jews rejected Messiah’s Day. That majority made it very difficult on the remnant that trusted the good news of the Gospel of Christ’s overcoming kingdom.

As believers, we have faith in Christ’s finished work through His cross. We also trust in the promised future resurrection of all believers and His glorious return with His saints to judge all unrighteousness. By faith, we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father. When persecution and resistance comes to our faith, it can cause a shaking. When our expectations are delayed, this too can cause us to lose heart as these precious saints were experiencing. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). The life of faith walks between these two tensions, “hope deferred and desire fulfilled.”

Our author speaks to us as he says, “consider Him.” Jesus’ life is our example. Jesus’ life in us is our hope. Paul exhorts each believer, “Put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10). Read Colossians and receive Paul’s instructions and his understandings of our battle. We must take action and “put on the new self.” His life is present, but by faith we must put it on day by day. In each new challenge, make it your habit to turn to God your Father and in Jesus’ name through the power of the Holy Spirit, put on the mind of Christ. You might ask, “How is that done?”.

When you are faced with difficulties, stop and ask for God’s presence.
Recommit your entire life to Christ and surrender your thoughts, emotions, and will to Him.
Ask the Father, in Jesus’ name, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Forgive those who are causing you trouble and thank the Lord for the opportunity to experience the sufferings of Christ.
Ask to learn obedience through this time, even as Christ learned obedience through sufferings.
Renew your faith in the hope of His glorious return with all His saints.
This will be a good start in putting on the mind of Christ. The Lord has called us to partnership with Him. He did the hard work, now we are to live out what was accomplished through His finished work at Calvary.

Father, in Jesus’ name and through the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask for the mind of Christ today. As I consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, I know it was for me and all who believe that He suffered. Strengthen me in the hope of my calling as I journey toward that expected day of Christ’s return.

THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTOR OF OUR FAITH

Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (KJV).

Do we see Jesus simply as a part of history or perhaps an important religious figure? Is he a theological figure in the New Testament to us, a great teacher? Perhaps we have embraced Him as our personal Savior. In today’s Scripture, the writer says we are to “fix our eyes” on the Lord Jesus. Further, He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” Everything begins with Him and ends with Him. In the book of Revelation, Jesus calls Himself, “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8). John the Apostle calls Jesus, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).

Consider the instruction, “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” How often is He looked to first? How much time do believers spend thinking about Jesus and His human expression of God’s love lived out in our midst. He is our example. More than that, His life resides in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. A believer has a moment-by-moment choice: draw from the old self or receive from the new life rooted in Jesus Christ.

Fixing our eyes means more than to look upon. Obviously, we do not physically see Jesus, but we can look upon Him as the one who completely lived out the Father’s will. We can read and meditate on His word, and we can see the results for those who have trusted Him throughout their life.  

Jesus authored our faith. The word finisher in the KJV means “perfected.” In order to fix our eyes on Jesus, we must read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God. We must learn what the author of our faith has said. Because He has already run the course and finished it, we can receive faith that leads to hope as we now run the course by His life that dwells in us. As He finished well, we too can finish well if we stay fixed upon Him.

Our verse says Jesus endured the cross because of joy. How can this be? He offered His life as a ransom for many that He knew would trust God for redemption. He despised the shame of the cross, but accepted it because He knew it was the only means to man’s redemption. When His work was finished, He sat down next to His Father. Being seated speaks of rest. Jesus is at rest having done the will of God. You and I might be anxious about many things, but our rest is found in His completed work of our salvation.

Fix your eyes on the risen Lord. Receive His rest for your life today. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication make your requests known to Him. Endure hardships, letting the Holy Spirit work maturity in your growing life found in Christ.

Father, I choose to fix my eyes on Your Son and not on the circumstances of this life. I confess today that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. I know that Your Son is the author and finisher of my faith. I receive the help of the Holy Spirit to finish well.

JESUS, MY EXAMPLE

Hebrews 12:1 – Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews pulls all of his thoughts together in this verse. The fact is, many have gone before us, which walked through challenges, temptations, and impossible circumstances. If they overcame, we can overcome too, because the one they were looking for has come. Sin is a nuisance for the believer, but it can be conquered in the power of Christ’s life giving Spirit. Jesus Christ overcame sin and the devil. He overcame living in His flesh. When He was tempted by the devil, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, He overcame by the Word of God. The devil tempted Him in the three major areas of a human’s life. He overcame in His spirit, His soul, and His body.

Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, set an example for us in how He resisted the evil one and served the purpose of His heavenly Father. Jesus was able to overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit which has been poured out for all flesh. God the Father, through faith in Christ’s finished work, has given us the promise of the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 24:49). It will take the “power of the Holy Spirit” to overcome the flesh and the devil (Acts 1:8).

In the Book of Hebrews the cloud of witnesses were all Old Testament saints who by faith, looked for Messiah’s Day. As we look back, the cloud of witnesses has greatly increased. It includes the saints of the first century and many others down through the centuries to our present time that are with the Lord and will come with Him when He returns to judge all unrighteousness.

Clear instructions have been given to each one of us throughout the Scriptures that we too are to overcome by faith. The writer of Hebrews speaks to each of our lives, as referenced in our devotional scripture, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” What are the encumbrances you face? What is the sin that dogs your feet? As we approach the end of another year, prepare your heart before the Lord to let go of encumbrances and sin. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal where He would be pleased to help you find freedom through Christ and His overcoming life.

The enemy of our soul has as his objective “entanglements.” It is entanglements which hinder our race. Each of us needs endurance to finish the course and stand before the Lord Jesus Christ confident we have finished well. Only as we “fix” our eyes on Jesus can we stay untangled and filled with endurance. Today, if you hear His voice through the writer of Hebrews, commit your life to the race. Begin now to remove the “entanglements.” Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart for any areas of sin. Repent and let the blood of Jesus cleanse you. Be filled afresh with His Holy Spirit, asking for endurance in the race.

Father, search me and see if there are any hindrances to the race I am called to run. Let all encumbrances and any sin, whether or not I am aware of them, be repented of and cleansed.  Help me, daily, to fix my eyes on Jesus. I pray that the year ahead will be the best yet in my pursuit of Your will and purposes.  

YOU HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE

Hebrews 10:35-37 – Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Confidence comes from trusting in the Lord no matter what our circumstances look like. These Hebrew Christians needed to be encouraged in God’s absolutes because of the severe persecution they were enduring. It is difficult to keep your eye on the prize when you are being beat up on every side. Every believer goes through difficulties in their spiritual journey. Some have more challenges than others. Some believers have become discouraged and quit trying; others have been pulled into a fringe type group not teaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.

As believers, we have been given promises by God. We all need endurance to keep going until we receive the promise. This is the life of faith. In the case of these Hebrew believers, the promise the writer is addressing is the return of Christ. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12-13).

The Scriptures declare that the righteous live by faith. “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Hebrews says, “If he shrinks back, My soul will have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38b). The Lord’s pleasure is in righteousness. The author of Hebrews writes, “We are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).

God’s desire for each believer is “persevering faith.” It is from this base of exhortation we read of the honor roll of faith in Hebrews 11. What a list of “by faith” people we find.

By faith, Able offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain
By faith, Enoch was taken, so that he would not see death
By faith, Noah . . . prepared an ark for the salvation of his household
By faith, Abraham when he was called, obeyed
By faith, even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised
Many more are listed who lived by faith
Hebrews 11:39, “All these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” Beloved, in Christ we are being made perfect by faith.

Father, I call on You to help me be preserved in faith. I thank You for all those who have gone before me that lived a life of faith. I pray that I might grow in my ability to abide in Your love and press toward the prize that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.

CHRIST OR JUDGMENT

Hebrews 10:26 – If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.  

The writer of Hebrews gives this severe warning based upon what he had previously written concerning the “one-time offering of the sacrifice of Christ.” Remember, these Jewish believers considered returning back to their Judaism because of the severity of the persecution they were experiencing. The writer of Hebrews established the truth of the “one-time sacrifice of Christ” as the finished work of God. There remains no more sacrifice, only a fearful looking ahead to judgment.

The threefold purpose of the will of God can be seen in a summary of the New Testament:

Christ’s sacrifice and the power of His resurrection
The coming of the Holy Spirit to bring forth God’s new creation in the earth through believers in Christ’s eternal work. The result being Christ revealed in each believer as a witness to the world of the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God
The return of Christ when He judges both the “quick and the dead.” In other words, the living and those who had died.
There is no more sacrifice to be offered, only what Christ has already done. The only thing remaining is Judgment Day.

Hebrews 10:26-31 are difficult scriptures for some to understand, especially if they are not read in the context of the writer’s letter.  “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26a). The emphasis is on “willfully.” The Apostle John in his first letter says, “continues to practice sin” (1 John 3:9).  Receiving the knowledge of the truth does not mean born again. It implies that one has heard the truth and understands its implication: Christ is the end of sacrifices. “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (no more sacrifices will be offered), but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26b–27). The issue, is going back to the Law as a means of salvation. In the Law, there were continual sacrifices offered for sins. Christ became the end of the Law for dealing with sin. This is why the writer says that there is no more sacrifice. The one and only acceptable sacrifice is Christ’s death.

For these Jewish believers, going back under the Law would be trampling underfoot the Son of God. It would be regarding the blood of the sacrifice as unclean and would be an insult to the Spirit of grace. If the sacrifice of Christ is rejected then the only expectation is judgment. The Lord will judge His people.  The writer uses the Law as his example. “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28). He then says, “How much more severe punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and regarded unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29)?

The writer is making this point: don’t go back, because only judgment will lie ahead. He then reminds these Jewish believers of the entrance into the kingdom of God beginning in verses 32-34. “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). Tomorrow we will devote ourselves to this great exhortation.

Father, I thank You for the blood sacrificed in Christ’s death. I plant my confidence firmly in His blood. My sins have been cleansed, and I am sanctified through Your covenant in Christ.

HOLD FAST YOUR CONFESSION IN CHRIST

Hebrews 3:1 – Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

The book of Hebrews has been called the “Royal Book.” It addresses the royalty of Christ. He is the One every true believer confesses as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our High Priest. “He ever lives to make intercession for us,” We can draw near with confidence to the throne because our redeemer has passed into the heavens. He is able to understand the weakness we have because of sin. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who had been experiencing severe persecution. The intended readers were thinking of abandoning their faith and of lapsing back to Judaism. The author exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Hebrews 10 is a powerful portion of Scripture that establishes what Christ has fully done for each believer. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23-24).

In the past, these believers followed the Law of Moses which instructed God’s Covenant people to bring continual sacrifices for sin. The author wants these Jewish believers to understand the Law was only a shadow of the good things to come. Further, the sacrifices they once offered year by year could not make them perfect. If the Law could have produced perfection, the worshipers would no longer be conscious of sin. Instead the law was a constant reminder of their need to receive God’s forgiveness. In Hebrews 10, he writes of the impossibility of the blood of animals to take away sin. Those sacrifices atoned or covered up sin so God could have mercy upon His people. The Father looked ahead to the better sacrifice which He would offer on behalf of lost humanity. Only one sacrifice was needed now, the sacrifice of Christ. The one sacrifice of Christ is sufficient.

A new and living way has been established. Through the blood of Christ, we have confidence to enter into the holy place. “A new and living way was inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). Because we have a great high priest over the house of God we can draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith because our hearts have been washed in His blood. Our confidence is in these facts. The writer says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). From this position, we are to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

The writer encourages these Jewish believers in what God accomplished through the faithfulness in Christ when he exhorts, “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Tomorrow, we will consider why it is important to encourage one another as the Day of Judgment draws near.

Father, I thank You for Your ultimate sacrifice on my behalf, Your own Son. Thank You that my conscience has been cleansed through the blood of Christ so I can have confidence to enter into Your presence. I commit myself to hold fast to my confession, drawing near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.