Last week I watched my grandkids, and this week I’m still getting caught up. I have some great thoughts on Malachi 3:12 that I am working on, and I hope to blog about this soon. But in the meantime, here are some awesome things I have found in Hebrews 12!
Starting with verse 14:
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
This is so convicting for us today. Are we making EVERY EFFORT to be at peace with people? It will take being humble, living out verses like:
- He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7)
- he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:7)
- But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matt 5:39)
- I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isa 50:6-7)
Going on to verse 15: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
This verse deals with the sin of idolatry. Look at this Old Testament reference: “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.“ Deut 29:18
Why do we fall into the sin of putting something ahead of God? We feel like God is not enough. We lose confidence that he will take care of us. We don’t see that we HAVE the grace of God.
This is illustrated by what comes next in the passage:
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
What went wrong with Esau? He did not appreciate his birthright. He had an awesome inheritance that would include both physical and spiritual blessings. But he did not see what an awesome thing he had. The moment he got hungry, all he cared about was meeting his needs.
Do we see what an awesome birthright we have? The writer of Hebrews goes on to show us exactly what we have:
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.“
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
This is flat out amazing. When we contemplate what we have, it really can keep us from being bitter, from turning away from God, and from sinning.
Because it is a very serious thing that we should appreciate what we have, and let this motivate us to make every effort to be holy.
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? 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.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
In doing a Greek word study of this last verse about worshiping with reverence and awe, I was surprised to see that the word for “awe” really means “fear.” So many times in the Bible, we are told that the word “fear” means “reverence” more than it means “being afraid.” But in this case the word really does mean “being afraid.”
And it makes sense in this context. God is telling us very strongly that it will not go well for those who don’t treat the gift he has given them as utterly precious. As it says it Hebrews 2:2, “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?“
We are going to be shaken. Judgement Day IS coming.
We MUST “be thankful and so worship God acceptably.” Literally, being “thankful” here means that we “have grace.” The passage has come full circle. We start out by being admonished not to miss the grace of God, and we end by being advised to hold tightly to it, so it overflows into our heart and into our every behavior, and we are thankful. Then we worship and serve God in a way that is immensely pleasing to him.
In going through years and years of trials as a Christian, one of the hardest things is to hold onto grace and gratitude, and not let bitterness enter our heart.
One couple who exemplifies the way we SHOULD be is Gary and Christy Roberson. Gary at one time was in the ministry. He LOVES to serve God. But at some point he moved to Atlanta so his children could be in a church where there was a great teen ministry. He ended up working for many many years in a demanding job that required him to travel. Christy had to work full time at a job that probably wasn’t her favorite thing to do. (If you’re reading this, and I post the wrong information, let me know.)
They went through many other challenges in life. Gary was appointed as an elder, but had to step down due to health concerns. I believe they lost a grandbaby.
But through all of this they continued to serve God admirably. Gary taught the adult Sunday school class. They both got with many couples and families and counseled them. They certainly helped Ken and I in an enormous way with raising our family.
Just recently, Gary and Christy reached a point where they were able to semi retire. They put out the word that they would like to serve in the ministry at a small church, to receive a supplemental income. And who hired them? A small church in Hawaii!
They held onto the grace and God has blessed them in a huge way!
This picture brings tears to my eyes. I am so happy for them.
So let’s all hold onto the grace we have and make sure we NEVER get discontent, never want more, never get bitter.
Life may not be what we want it to be. Our dreams may feel broken.
But as Christians we are blessed with a tremendous birthright, a marvelous salvation. That is more than enough.