Tag Archives: Hebrews

Why can we be thankful in 2021?

Hebrews 13 says, “Therefore let us offer, through Jesus, a continual sacrifice of praise to God proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”

A little boy was asked to say the prayer before a meal. He looked at the dish then said, “Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I’ll thank you anyway.” The little boy’s impression may have been that he wanted to “accidently” feed the dish to the cat, but he was thankful. We may not like the looks of life, but we still have reasons to be thankful.

Not liking the looks of life may especially hold true in 2021. There is no escaping that it has been a rough year. COVID19 has caused much difficulty. Its grip has caused anxiety, unsettled routines, financial hardships, and even worse – the pain of loss. Couple this with the usual cast of life’s seasons, and it has been a historically hard year. The looks of it may not be that appetizing. The original recipients of Hebrews could understand our perspective.

Hebrews was written to a group of Christians facing persecution. They were being told everything they heard and believed about Jesus was false. They needed to revert back to the Old Testament ways of worship. Heavy pressure was being applied in an attempt to force the believers away from Christianity. Life did not look appetizing for these folks, so the writer wanted to encourage them.

There are many reasons, the writer concludes, believers can continually be thankful. Notice the word continual. Thankfulness is not designed for just the good-looking seasons of life. It is also for the times that do not look good. There are always reasons to be thankful, even in 2021. Here are just a few.

Jesus is always the same.

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” He is changeless.

  • The same Jesus who was with God the Father at creation is still with us.
  • The same Jesus who danced in the flames of the fiery furnace is still with us today.
  • The same Jesus who was willing to leave Heaven to help us is still helping us today.
  • The same Jesus that conquered sin and overpowered death still has his power today.
  • The same Jesus who was in control yesterday is still in control today, and he will be in control tomorrow.

Jesus is changeless. In an everchanging world, we can be thankful Jesus stays the same.

The Lord will not leave us.

No matter how bad things get the Lord will stay with us.

Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So, we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” God will always be there.

This applies to the easy times in life, and to the times when life looks grim. Perhaps a good place to see this is in Acts 7.

In its infancy, the church endured harsh persecution, and Stephen was one of those early martyrs. Acts 7 tells us Stephen was stoned because of his faith. More than that, it shows us where Jesus was during the stoning. Verses 55-56 say, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Jesus wasn’t absent during Stephen’s stoning. He was present and encouraging Stephen.

This was a terrible time in Stephen’s life, and the Lord was there. He wasn’t absent or idlily watching from a distance. The Lord was right there – standing, encouraging, cheering, helping. In what can easily be considered the darkest moment in Stephen’s life, he could have confidence in the Lord. The Lord didn’t abandon him; the Lord was there with him.

There is not a great chance we will be stoned, but life can have some terrible moments. We can be thankful the Lord is there. He is there to bandage our spiritual wounds. He is there to help wipe our tears and heal our heartaches. So, we can say with confidence, “I will not fear. The Lord is my helper. Thankfully, he is always there.”

This life is only temporary.

Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting a world that is yet to come.

This verse serves as encouragement for us. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.

While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better. And for this, we can truly be thankful.

We have life.

Finally, we can be thankful we have life. It may become messy at times, but the Lord has granted us life. “I have come that you may have life,” Jesus says in John 10:10, “and have it to the full.”

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.” We can be thankful the Lord has given us life.

Why are you thankful in 2021?

Someone has said, “Giving thanks is too often demoted to a secondary place in the prayers of Christ’s people. We are quick to make our requests and slow to thank God for his answers, because God so often answers our prayers, we come to expect it. We forget that it is only by his grace that we receive anything from him.” Why are you thankful this year?

2021 will undoubtedly be recorded as a hard year in world history, yet there are reasons we can give thanks. The Lord has blessed us in many ways, and for that, I am truly thankful. Why are you thankful in 2021?

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Valley of Broken Promises

“I will always love you.”

“Till death do us part.”

“I’ve got your back; you don’t have to worry about this round of layoffs.”

These are promises many of us have heard only to find out they have been broken. Many of us have found ourselves walking through the valley of broken promises on more than one occasion. We were given a promise, but the promise wasn’t kept. Words were flowing freely, but the commitment was not behind them. Many may break promises, but there is One who will not send us to the valley of broken promises.

The Lord is faithful, and he always keeps his promises.

  • Psalm 12:6 says, “The Lord’s promises are pure,
        like silver refined in a furnace,
        purified seven times over.”
  • Numbers 19:23 says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie.
        He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
    Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
        Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

Looking through history reveals God’s flawless record of keeping his promises. He promised Abraham he would become a great nation, and Abraham did. He promised Israel they would possess the land of Canaan and they did. The Lord promised Israel manna in the desert, and the manna showed up just as he said. The Lord is faithful in keeping his promises.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
  • Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

For you and I, this means the promises we find within Scripture are true. The promises we cling to in the middle of the night are true. The promises we rely on in rough times are true. The promises in which we place our hope for a better tomorrow will be fulfilled. The Lord’s promises are true.

Choose to claim the promises we find in Scripture about our family, finances, and future, and cling to them. They are true because God always keeps his promises!

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Abraham’s Faith

He was promised a son. He was promised from this son would come many descendants. Then Abraham was called to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Genesis 22 records:

22 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

Abraham’s faith is being tested. How far will he allow his faith to take him? Genesis 22 goes on:

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

Notice Abraham tells his servants he and Isaac will return. Like Isaac, Abraham knows the Lord is in control. Abraham’s faith compels him to trust the Lord.

In Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer says:

17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

By faith, Abraham knew the Lord would keep his promises. Therefore, he fully trusted the Lord. The Bible encourages us to fully trust the Lord. In Proverbs 3, Solomon suggests we trust the Lord and seek him in everything we do.

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a long-awaited promise

A promise was made for many years. The promise was made through such people as Nathan, Isaiah, and David. God himself made the promise in the Garden of Eden, and when its fulfillment was close, the angel Gabriel was given the task of announcing its arrival. The promise is a Savior. Someone to help us in our time of need. We can celebrate because the long-awaited promise was delivered on Christmas.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways through our ancestors the prophets, and now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son, he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in Heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Jesus is the one for whom many generations waited. He is the one they knew would be coming, and for us, we can say he has come. Jesus is God with us to save us. In his coming, Jesus brings life, help, peace, forgiveness, and hope to us.

Life

  • “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full,” Jesus says in John 10:10.
  • Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Because God’s children are human beings, made of flesh and blood, the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

Help

  • Hebrews 2:16 says, “We also know that the Son did not come to help angels. He came to help the descendants of Abraham.”
  • Hebrews 2:18 says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Peace

  • Philippians 4 encourages us to allow the peace of God, which goes beyond our understanding, to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Forgiveness

  • Hebrews 2:17-18 says, “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.
  • 2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that God made him with no sin to be our sin so that we could be made new in him.

Hope

  • Jesus reminds us in John 14 he is going to prepare a place for us. When it is ready, he will come back to take us with him.
  • 2 Corinthians 4 says our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that will far outweigh them all.

The long-awaited promise has been fulfilled. God gave us Jesus for Christmas. Take a moment to thank God for his gift today. Take a moment to thank him for his goodness.

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hold on!

The 26.2 miles of a marathon is hard. It takes much perseverance for runners to finish the race. Often, they have a goal. A reason to complete the race which pushes them forward. Everything starts out grand, but the mileage soon becomes grueling.

The Bible compares life to a marathon. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us run the race of endurance God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Life is a race of endurance. We know it has its thumps, and life can even shake us clear to the core at times. Like a marathon, life can be agonizing, but we can have hope in the fact Jesus understands the agony.

Jesus understands.

We run life’s marathon by keeping our eyes on Jesus, “…the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Jesus understands the agony of this life. The daily thumps, the tears, the sorrows, the heartaches, and the pains. Jesus even understands those moments where it seems there is no way out. He has experienced life. Jesus gets life’s good moments, okay moments, and excruciating moments. And, Jesus welcomes us to rely on him through it all.

We are encouraged to approach the Lord with confidence to find grace and help in our time of need. We do not have to go through the agony of this life alone. Jesus is with us and cheering us on. Understanding what you and I are going through today, Jesus is inviting us to cling to him. He gets the harshness of our current circumstances, and he gets the awesomeness of Heaven. So, we are challenged to focus on Jesus and set Heaven as our goal to finish the marathon strong.

Cling to Jesus

Scripture says…

  • “Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
  • “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

The next time you find yourself going through a crisis, try to remember to rely on Jesus. Cling to him. He understands, and he is there to offer help and encouragement.

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showing our thankfulness

Being thankful can display itself in many ways. Along with encouraging us to always offer thanksgiving, the writer of Hebrews suggests two ways we can show our thankfulness.

Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others. For with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”

2 Ways to Illustrate Thankfulness

Doing Good

This is seeing how we can benefit the world around us and doing it. This is interjecting good in what we do every day.

In January 1925, a 6-year-old boy showed signs of Diphtheria. This signaled the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome, Alaska. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental, but effective, vaccine. Dr. Welch’s supply was small and soon depleted. The nearest vaccine was located in Nenana. The towns were separated by 600 miles of frozen wilderness. A group of trappers and prospectors agreed to cover the distance with their dog teams running a relay from trading post and trapping station and beyond. One sled started from each town. Drivers ignoring the risk of frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion. Braving the -50-degree winds for 120 hours, the relay team was able to deliver the vaccine to Nome. The result was the avoidance of a pandemic as only one other life was lost to the disease. The good deed of these individuals gave an entire town life.

To us, these men are heroes. To themselves, they may have just been doing what they did every day; braving the elements to accomplish the task at hand. Good comes in all shapes and sizes. It does not have to be headline grabbing to have a tremendous impact. What good can you do today?

Sharing with Others

Perhaps this is easier to picture. We have something that would benefit another person, so we share it with him or her. Money is obviously the first thing that comes to mind, but financially is not the only way we can share with one another.

One example of someone sharing what they have is the Hopkins family. The family has a Black Friday tradition of donating blood rather than shopping. “It’s a way to give back. I think a lot of times when we go shopping it’s for things that people want, but this something that obviously people need, so we feel privileged to be able to provide that,” said Mike Hopkins. The Hopkins family is sharing with their neighbors in a big way.

Doing good and sharing with others are just a couple ways we can live out our thankfulness to the Lord. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what good can we do? What can we share with others? The Lord has been gracious to us, and we can illustrate our thankfulness through our actions.

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4 reasons to always have thanksgiving

While at the store purchasing a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, a little boy said to his mother, “Thanksgiving should come after Christmas, then we would have more reasons to be thankful.”

In the fast-paced, bad news culture in which we live, it is easy to overlook reasons to be thankful, yet there are reasons to offer praise to the Lord.

Always Have Thanksgiving

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to always have Thanksgiving. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name,” implores Hebrews 13:15.

Reasons to be Thankful

We are encouraged to continually offer thanks to the Lord. This is not because it has been a super year or everything in life is grand right now. For many that is not the case; however, there are still reasons to offer thanks.

  1. The Lord is continually with us. God promises he will not leave us or abandon us.
  2. The Lord is not changing his mind about his Promises. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
  3. Our current situation and circumstances are only temporary. The Lord promises he will come again.
  4. The Lord grants us life.

What reasons do you have to be thankful? Take a moment to make a mental note of your thankful list.

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.”

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not yet home

Quick word of caution. This story may cause a tear to fall.

An elderly man was in a hospital room and he was fading quickly. The nurses and doctors decided it was time to call the gentleman’s family, and they gathered around his bed. As he was lying there, holding his wife of 50 years hand, looking at his son and grandchildren, he whispered, “Don’t cry. I’ll see all of you again. This was not my permanent home; I’m only passing through.”

A moment later, the man looked up and said, “I can see the Lord’s face.” Peacefully, the man fell asleep and went to be with the Lord.

“For this world is not our permanent home. We are looking forward to a world yet to come.”

Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is only a temporary stop in eternity. The original recipients of Hebrews were undergoing severe persecution, and the writer wanted to offer some much-needed encouragement to them. The Lord was with them, and he was not going anywhere (Hebrews 13:6). This persecution was only going to last a little while, and a better day would be coming.

This verse serves as encouragement for us as well. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.

While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better.

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being content

A Content Life

In a 2010 interview, Eunice Sandborn, age 114, said she had a happy life. She didn’t have any complaints. She believed complaining was a choice, and in her 114 years, there were times she had to choose not to complain. Eunice was content as she celebrated her birthday making her the oldest living person in the world.

The Search for Contentment

It seems Eunice had found contentment. We all search for it. Some look for it in a big home, there are those who look for it in how many cars they own, and still others search for contentment in a bank account balance. Being content is a desire we all share, and Scripture encourages us to find our contentment in the Lord.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “Don’t love money. Be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Finding Contentment

Life has seasons of plenty and seasons of need. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord is with us in both seasons. We may even find the most contentment in the leanest of seasons.

The words of Hebrews 13:6 point to the complete reliability of God and his promises. God’s people can count on him no matter what comes.

Remember, wherever you are in life today, the Lord is saying to you, “I will never fail you. I will not abandon you.”

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