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Titus & Philemon - HEBREWS - James

DateScriptureDaily devotional commentary
May 23-31: 1 Chronicles
June 1:Hebrews 1-5* Basic Christianity and Beyond, N Sween
June 2:Hebrews 6-9* Why A New Covenant Plan?, D Sween
June 3:Hebrews 10-11* Accepting God's Plan: By Faith, N Sween
June 4:Hebrews 12-13* Accepting God's Plan: Self-Discipline, D Sween
June 5-15: 2 Chronicles

Basic Christianity and Beyond
June 1 reading
Hebrews 1-5
Bible Study Aids and
Hebrews Commentary
Our Great High Priest
David Legge
PROMISE: "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." (5:8-9)

Who is Jesus? Jesus fulfilled what the prophets had anticipated as God's son, heir - creator - sustainer of all things, radiance and exact representation of God. Jesus provided purification for sins before sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Is he an angel? No angel was ever given the promise of being God's son. As first-born, Jesus is worshipped by angels and is set above his companions. Angels were never promised a seat in God's presence. As Messiah, Jesus had this promise. Angels speak for God and their messages carry guilt if disobeyed. (See Exodus 23:20-23 where God tells Moses that "the Name" is in the angel He is sending to lead Israel to the promised land. Rebellion won't be tolerated.) Angels were never people. Jesus was made a little lower than angels.

What does Jesus offer? The Lord announced the offer of salvation, and God upheld it with signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Who is subject to Jesus? God put everything under Jesus. Right now it doesn't appear that way. But by suffering death for everyone, the creater became the author of salvation and completed the offer through suffering. He is now about to bring many people to glory with him. They also suffer in the process of becoming holy - not ignoring the offer of salvation. Those who share the common ground of suffering, Jesus calls his brothers, as the prophet Isaiah indicated earlier. The secret plan was for Jesus to share the flesh and blood of humanity, and destroy the power of the devil and death when he died. Without Jesus Christ, men were slaves to the fear of death, of loss. But Abraham (not angels) had promises, so the plan required Jesus to be like his brothers in every way, and to become their high priest to make atonement for their sins. Because he suffered when tempted, he can help others who are tempted.

What must we do to be saved? Keep thinking about Jesus and talk about your belief that he was sent to us to come between God the Father and us. Jesus was faithful to his Father over God's house, and Moses was faithful as a servant in God's house. "And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." (3:6b) So don't rebel against God's plan, and don't harden your hearts if you hear the Lord speaking through this reading. Testing can lead one astray, hardened by sin's deceitfulness, or with daily encouragement come, share in Christ and hold on to your confidence in Him firmly until the end of your life.

Why was God angry with the Israelites? After leading them out of slavery in Egypt, the Lord saw their hearts turn hard toward him, and he was angry with them 40 years while they died. They didn't believe God enough to trust and obey him. Unbelief, not the Father, keeps a person out of the promised rest and relationship.

What are the conditions? As you read and hear this offer, which still stands Today, combine it with faith. Believe that a Sabbath-rest remains for the people of God when each one rests from his own work. This rest to come is worth making every effort to enter, just as entering the Promised Land was worth all the effort. Are you surprised to learn that the word of God is living and active, and that by the word God sees inside us and all creation? We give the account of our life to this same God.

Who can stand before God and live? We couldn't, if it weren't for Jesus, our great high priest who is already in the heavens. So hold firmly to faith. Say it, read it out loud, sing it, shout it, profess it. Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses because even though he had no sin, he experienced temptation as a man. So approach the throne of grace with confidence for mercy and grace when we need forgiveness.

What is a high priest? A high priest is someone called by God to represent his fellow men in matters of God. During his life, Jesus prayed passionately to God while submitting to his Father reverently. He was not a spoiled son, but practiced and "learned obedience from what he suffered". God had promised that the Messiah would be a priest not of Aaron's line, but in the order of Melchizedek.

Are you getting this? Scripture can be hard to explain to anyone slow to learn, spiritually hard of hearing, maybe complacent. Like an infant drinking milk, some people stick with easier lessons their whole lives. Learning about righteousness is for people hungry for the solid "food" of God's word. Learning about righteousness is for people willing to train themselves by constantly using God's word, applying it with self-discipline to distinguish between good and evil. Are you willing to go on?

June 2nd reading: Hebrews 6-9

Why A New Covenant Plan?
June 2 reading
Hebrews 6-9
Bible Study Aids and
Hebrews Commentary
* Hebrews: The Letter To
Jewish Christians
, Phillips
PROMISE: "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (9:27-28)
In verse 4 of Chapter 6 there comes a warning against falling away from faith because "it is impossible" for those (vs 4) ... who fall away to be brought back to repentance (vs 6). After the warning he says - We are confident of better things in your case - things that accomplish salvation (vs 9). In other words he reminds the reader (you and I) as long as we remain loyal to Christ our salvation is certain because God cannot lie, and He is worthy of our trust. And his promises, like his word, endure forever. (vs 8-20)

Chapter 7:19 says "(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced ..."

"The Old Testament law was imperfect because it could not impart devine life or the power to fulfill its demands, nor did it offer complete and perfect access to God." - - Donald Stamps
It is very difficult to write a summation of Chapters 8, 9, and 10. The chapters require a careful reading and some meditation. The writer seems to be aware of the difficulty of the subject matter when he opens the chapters by saying in 8:1 "The point of what we are saying is this..."

He then goes on to develop the theme of contrast between the Law of Moses (imperfect) and the New Covenant of Christ (perfect).

June 3rd reading: Hebrews 10-11

Accepting God's Plan: By Faith
June 3 reading
Hebrews 10-11
Bible Study Aids and
Hebrews Commentary
* Hebrews CF Devotionals

PROMISE: "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." (11:3)
The author of Hebrews continues to weave facts from the Old Testament, quoting and refocusing them for us to see Christ's role in the New Covenant. On the one hand, the tabernacle/temple/sanctuary and articles in them were physical, viewable copies of original things with the Majesty in heaven. Similarly, the law of Moses was a shadow illustrating better things to come. Its daily and annual sacrifices were made only by men of Levi descent to sanctify themselves and the people of Israel coming to worship God. Afterwards, those worshippers still felt guilty for their sins, and would need cleansing and the annual atonement for sin again and again. The required procedures of the Old Covenant Law showed Israel that blood from the death of bulls and goats was necessary for forgiveness and sanctification, but couldn't take sins away.

As the generations went by, the same neverchanging Lord God promised through Psalm 40:6-8 and Jeremiah 31:31-34 (et al) a new and better covenant was coming. Burnt and sin offerings didn't please God. Psalm 40 said to watch for a volunteer who recognized the scriptures pointed to him, and who knew he had come to do God's will. The time was coming for the Messiah - Christ was promised. But it would take a wait, like Abraham's patient wait for the oath promises to come true, and then he knew the rest of the promises would come for sure. Now Christ, who is making us holy through his sacrifical death, waits for future promises, and we wait for him to come the promised second time, his enemies defeated, providing our salvation.

A man fell into a hole and couldn't get out. A doctor walked by and the man yelled up, "Can you help me? I can't get out!" The doctor wrote a prescription, threw it down into the hole, and walked away.

A priest walked by, and the man yelled up, "Help! I've fallen into a hole, and can't get out. The priest wrote a prayer on a piece of paper, threw it down to the man, and walked on.

Soon the man's friend walked by. "Hey, Joe! I've fallen into this hole and can't get out. Can you help me?" Joe said, "Sure" and jumped into the hole with his friend. The man said, "Joe, are you crazy? Now we're both stuck in this hole!"

But Joe said, "No, see, I've been in this hole before, and I know how to get out."
The West Wing "Noel" episode, 2nd season

King David gained courage from promises (1 Chronicles 17:25), and the New Covenant promises are much better than the Old. If you "see" this, the writer of Hebrews challenges us to persevere with hope for the promises while we wait, with several "Let us..." suggestions for groups of faithful.

If you "see" this, you are looking through faith. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Check out the examples of people of faith, like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham who died in faith with more promises to come. Why did they wait? Why was Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac? (v 11:19) By faith fathers passed on promises and instructions, blessing their sons. By faith some went through amazing battles and won. By faith others went through torture, hard lives, and horrible deaths. They all knew God had planned and promised something better for them and for us, and dying while waiting wouldn't separate them from the promises.

June 4th reading: Hebrews 12-13

Accepting God's Plan: Self Discipline
June 4 reading
Hebrews 12-13
Bible Study Aids and
Hebrews Commentary
* Choosing Perseverance, APIBS
* Money Myths, Pinckney
PROMISE: "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (12:10)
The writer opens Chapter 12 telling us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus..." (12:1-2)

In vs 4-13 the author tells us to

In the conclusion to Chapter 12 (vs 14-28) there is a warning against refusing God. "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks." (vs 25)

Telling us to keep on loving each other as brothers (13:1), he goes on to command us that "marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure." (13:4)

Throughout the scriptures God reveals His high standards for His people in marriage and sexual immorality in sexual things appears to particularly anger God. Only with God's help can we overcome this sin that entangles so many. (vs 12:1)

I would like to particularly draw the reader's attention to "keep your lives free from the love of money..." (13:5) and the beautiful promise that follows:
        "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." (13:5)
"So we say with confindence 'the LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?'" (13:6)

June 5th reading: 2 Chronicles 1-4
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Copyright © Nancy Sween, 2003-

Today's Bible commentaries, mostly by Don and Nancy Sween, were first posted daily on the Today's Bible Commentary Blog from November 2003

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