It is imperative not to reject God’s grace! We need to consider all that is at stake and no matter what, do not refuse the richness of forgiveness offered to us through the Son of the Most High God. The early Christians needed this warning just as we need it today. Along with that firm exhortation, the writer adds: pursue peace and holiness and pull out by the very roots any form of bitterness. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears. Don’t wait until it is too late; receive God’s mercy today. His Story was written so we can not only learn from the errors of others but also see for ourselves the goodness of God’s grace which calls us to repentance and trust. This then gives a life worth living. As we trust in the Lord at all times we will be drawn to Him rather than want to hide from Him.
The Great Hall of Faith chapter in God’s Story begins with a definition of faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we still do not clearly see. Faith and blessings are often interlinked. Abraham had lived by faith and passed blessings down to his son Isaac. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. The next generation also experienced the faith/blessing combination. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. When we live our lives by faith, being certain in God whom we do not see, we can bless those who come behind us. What a legacy to give: the example of a life lived faithfully. While on earth, we may never fully know just what kind of impact we’ve made. But there can be no impact for good or for God if we hide our light under a basket. Let’s shine brightly for our Lord and King! Our children, our nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and neighbors need light in order to properly grow. Little seeds of faith require good soil, water and light. Let’s allow the Gardener to use us in this process.
My mom was raised on a farm and she’s still a wonderful gardener. Each season finds her doing what needs to be done to bring about beautiful blooms in her many flowerbeds. The first time Russell and I had a rental home with a little yard, I wanted to have flower gardens like my mom but found it very hard to while keeping up with three toddlers. Her wise words to me were to put flowered-printed dresses on the girls, bright colors on Isaiah, and spend my time playing outside with my young ones, for they were my flowers for this season. Through blended families, Mom is now the grandmother to fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandsons. She has watered those souls with prayers and shines her light on them as she spends time with each—in her gardens, in her kitchen, at their sporting events and on and on. I picture that when she leans against her hoe, like Jacob did on his staff, she is thankful to God knowing her “gardening” has made the world a more beautiful place.
To further clarify his point of the superiority of Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews retells the story of a Melchizedek, a priest, with a name that means king of justice and peace. This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him… And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed. The writer goes on to explain the priesthood of Jesus and how He is our permanent, powerful, and perfect priest. Others may bless us in our lifetime, like how Melchizedek blessed Abraham, but the blessing of Jesus extends into eternity. Father, how thankful we are that Your Story has an extensive history and it has room to include each of us. We who believe in You are blessed and no matter if we are returning home from winning a battle or are still in the midst of the fighting, You have overcome our sin and through Jesus it is paid for in full. Thank You for the blessing of being Your child. Amen.
God’s promises are certain and true. We are firmly cautioned not to become lazy or seek to take matters into our own hands. Instead we are wise to imitate those who live faithfully and to trust the promises of God for ourselves. The writer of this letter hoped to refresh a specific promise made years ago for his readers, one that had impact on their lives, and still does on our lives today. For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
Reminders about the past can give healthy encouragement to those in the present. “Team white van” made a long drive from Texas to Florida and allowed us to enjoy a great family Christmas gathering at Russell’s dad’s home. Along the way, we stopped in Pensacola where I met first Russ thirty years earlier. I loved reminiscing about our early days as a couple and telling our kiddos, each one now older than we were back when we first fell in love, about how I met their father. There were some turbulent times during the years leading up to sealing our love with a promise on our wedding day. By God’s grace that promise stands. God models faithful promise keeping. He is just and will not forget our love toward Him and diligence toward loving others. Be strong until the end, for we can have confidence in Him. And as His Story faithfully tells, His promises include blessings!
It is unclear who wrote this letter to Christians with a Jewish background, but what does ring clear is the truth that Jesus Christ is superior to everyone and everything including all of the traditions within the Jewish heritage. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. This illustration about the land is a warning to all of us against falling away from the goodness and redemption found in Christ alone. It is essential for us to check what it is that we are growing in our character and to live useful and not worthless lives. This letter written to the Hebrews is fascinating. It is filled with warnings and blessings and retells God’s Story in a concise and powerful way. Give it a fresh read, circling the blessings for yourself, and be blessed!
God, I pray that we would not drift away from You but out of gratitude we would press on into purposeful and effective living. Let us not coast but produce a crop of goodness that blesses You and blesses those You place in our lives. Amen.