Are You Coming?
5 day plan
In this final installment of our 9-part journey through Hebrews, we are presented with practical challenges and godly responses to life. They are short and easy to understand—but they truly are a challenge to implement in our lives daily. How are we to face these challenges? PRAISE. This final plan of Hebrews illustrates the importance of offering the sacrifice of praise in the midst of challenges.
Hebrews 13:1–6 (ESV)
1Let brotherly love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Thoughts on the Word
Practical Challenges Pt. 1
Hebrews ends with a series of short quick summary truths. They are very practical. They tell us how to live our lives every day. The daily discipline of these truths will keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus and not the world around us.
Today, these truths are practical in two areas. First, be a people who love well. We need to demonstrate love to strangers, those who are suffering in prison, and those who face mistreatment because they follow Jesus. These people all need the family of God to gather around them and pour out love on to them. They are just needy, needy people—and one day that will be us.
Also, keep free from sexual immorality. It is not love, it is abuse and God will judge it.
Second, remember, God will never, ever forsake us. Here, the challenge to God’s people is to trust God for our provisions and not to get tied to money and trusting it. God has promised to care for us. God is fully capable of caring for us and our needs. On top of that, if God is by our side, what can man do to us? It is a challenge to remember this as we go through our day to day activities – and the challenges we face every day.
Father, two simple commands today. They are very simple. Love the family of God, and know that You are my Helper. It is easy to avoid loving tough people, dangerous people, or unknown people – especially when everyone faces such uncertainty. So give me a heart to just love everyone around me. Sometimes, I struggle because I have so little to give; I do not think that it will make a difference. Help me to remember that I am a rich person. I have the richest friend in the world beside me helping me! So give me a generous heart to all I pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 13:7–9 (ESV)
7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
1 Thessalonians 5:12–14 (ESV)
12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Thoughts on the Word
Practical Challenges Pt. 2: Jesus NEVER Changes
This is the next set of short challenges to God’s people.
These challenges call us to imitate our leaders in faithfulness to God. When we have faithful leaders, we are blessed people. They give us a roadmap for our own lives. They cover us with a spiritual covering that breaks many of the spiritual attacks that we face. They provide solid teaching so that we can be strengthened in our hearts—strength that comes from the grace of God, not food. We receive great blessing if we have leaders like this. So pray for our leaders that they will be able to lead like this.
In the midst of this charge to bless leaders, we read something special about Jesus—He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the perfect leader. Again, this is the Jesus we have. Great leaders still have their failings and struggles, but Jesus never fails. So we imitate the greatest leader in history. He is perfect for every generation and every culture. His passion for me never changes. His love for me never change. His willingness to bear God's anger for my sin never changes. I can trust Him today no matter what happens because He will always put me in a place to face life victoriously.
Father, thank you for Jesus. He is the perfect example of Your heart. When I question whether You love me, or see where I struggle, or know my pain - I can look at Jesus and see You. Jesus did so much. Father, You did so much. Thank you. Thank you also for leaders over me who have Your heart for me and the rest of God’s people. Hold them strong, protect them and uphold them with Your mighty hand.
Today when I have needs, give me a heart to trust Your unfailing love. When I look at the future, give me a boldness to strive with confidence. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 13:10–13 (ESV)
10We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
Numbers 15:32–36 (ESV)
32While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 35And the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Exodus 29:14 (ESV)
14But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
Thoughts on the Word
Outside the Camp
Outside the camp.
This was the place where the wicked died. It was a place where unclean things were thrown and burned. This was the place where the lepers and other unclean people lived. It is not the place for the King of kings and Lord of lords to be sent. Yet, Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was a place of rejection by man—but it was a place of sanctification for God’s people. That is how man treated Jesus—they killed Him outside the walls of Jerusalem like He was an unclean criminal whose death had to happen outside the city walls.
Here, the people who followed Jesus were being treated exactly the same. The Jewish people rejected them like they rejected Jesus. They excluded them from the temple like they were unclean people. They harassed and mocked them like they were criminals and lepers. They chased them away - just like they drove Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem to die.
Let us be willing to go outside and bear the same shame that Jesus bore. It is a garment that is blessed!
Father, I do not like being treated like a criminal or someone worthy of judgment—still, if I have to bear this reproach because I love Jesus, then it is a great shame to bear willingly. I love Jesus that much. To join Him in the shame that He bore is no great dishonor—it is a great privilege. So I ask that You give me the grace to bear any injustice with the same grace that Jesus did. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 13:14–16 (ESV)
14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Psalm 107:21–22 (ESV)
21Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Thoughts on the Word
The Sacrifice of Praise
What does praise to God cost us? Is it a sacrifice?
For these people to worship God and follow Jesus, was a costly decision. For some believers, it costs them their lives. For many of us, there is very little cost. For some it is missed time at a beach or resort. For others it is a missed game of football, rugby. For still others, it is missed opportunities at work.
Sometimes giving thanks is the most difficult sacrifice that we can make. Sickness, work pressure, family struggles… all conspire to make giving thanks a big sacrifice. Releasing praise – along with thanksgiving – often takes great courage and strength. Often courage and strength that we do not have. We must sacrifice our pride, our right to be heard, our need to have others see what we are going through, or the requirement to move on and let God deal with the problem in His time.
Praise and thanksgiving start with the understanding that we do things differently than others. This earth, our home city, or our country is not home. We travel through this world but we are headed home – to heaven and the heavenly city there. That makes a big difference when we look at things. Things that happen in this world are left behind because we go home.
Finally, there is the sacrifice of giving to others who have greater needs than we have. I am constantly amazed how easily and quickly we become attached to things that God gave us to share with others. It becomes a sacrifice to share. God knows that though. Often it is things that we really need as well – we trust that God gave them to us because He saw our need. Still, there are times when God wants us to sacrifice at these times also. When we willingly do that—He is pleased!
Father, what am I to do so that You are pleased with me as I respond to Your call to sacrifice? It can be just being thankful today for every trial and challenge that I have faced. It can be the willingness to praise when I want to do something else. It is a willing heart to give when I really want to hold. Father, I saw a lady do that this week. She said “thank you” for a tough year. She praised Your name and blessed You for the good things that You did. God, I need to follow her example this day. Keep that testimony firmly in my heart today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 13:17–25 (ESV)
17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 22I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25Grace be with all of you.
Thoughts on the Word
Blessing our Leaders
Follow the spiritual leaders God gives to you. They are not perfect, but they will stand before God and answer how they did their work. Make it as easy for them as you can—it is not an easy job.
The writer closes with a special blessing for these people in verses 20,21. It is one of my favorites to speak over people. So may God grant you everything YOU need to walk in love and obedience. If God raised Jesus from the dead, then He has the power to help you succeed here.
God bless you abundantly.
Father I thank you for every one of these friends. They have walked through Hebrews with me and seen Jesus in a new way. They have seen that Jesus is greater than anything they left behind. Now I ask that You encourage and strengthen them to hold on to Jesus tightly. May they never let go. May they never drift in their walk. May they never lose hope. May they always remember that many people before them struggled, yet through faith gained God's eternal blessing.
May each of my friends join that list. May each of them see that God can make them worthy of the same honor. In Jesus' name, Amen.