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May 10 Sunday Update and Devotional

  

A Video Update from Devon

Devotional on Hebrews 1:1-3

Larry Malament

The book of Hebrews is letter written to first century Jewish believers who were in danger of giving up as followers of Christ because of their difficult trials. Their trials were severe and prolonged.

Suffering for a long time is difficult because it can feel as if there is no end in sight. It is like driving in a fog where you can only see a few feet in front of you. It’s scary, it’s dangerous, and it’s very hard to know what lies ahead.

Not surprisingly, to care for these Christians in ancient times, and to care for us today, God in his steadfast love commissioned a wise pastor to write this letter.

These believers needed help just like we do. They needed help to see beyond the fog of their situation even though the fog had yet to clear. So, what should they look for? The answer was not in “what” they should look for but in “who” they should look for?

The letter’s purpose was to encourage these saints that God is near in Christ, and that there is nothing better than being near the Savior.

Two thousand years may separate us, but in many ways our experiences are still the same. Their stories are our stories, even if our troubles might be uniquely different.

To help us in our current circumstances as he did with the ancient readers of this letter, the author of Hebrews draws our attention away from seeing only our trials, to seeing Jesus who is with us in our trials.

In the opening verses of his letter, the writer encourages us with three reminders.

First, he encourages us to see God’s love for us in the incarnation.

[Read Hebrews 1:1-2]

The story of the incarnation is one of the pillars and greatest encouragements to our faith. It is the miracle of Jesus coming to us personally and speaking to us individually that we might have saving faith in him.

For centuries the Jewish people waited and prayed for the Messiah to come.  For centuries prophets spoke of him; “at many times and in many ways”, and although the prophecies alluded to Christ, they were incomplete.  Although they were inspiring – some even spoken by angels, they were mere shadows of the truth to come.

But in these last days God no longer speaks in mysteries or through angels, but by his Son.  All the hope, prophecies, and prayers were finally answered in Jesus Christ.  This opening verse reminds us that God came to us as he did Adam and Eve, but that he came wrapped in flesh dwelling among us personally.

Pastor Jonathan Griffiths makes the following observation about the incarnation: “The final word from God in the final age of salvation history (these last days) has been spoken in Jesus, the incarnate word of God.”

Jesus is more than just the “final” word in salvation history. He is the incarnate God who came to bring us into his kingdom, give us his righteousness and his eternal life. He came that we might have life and have abundantly.

Verse 2 goes on to describe Jesus as the “heir of all things.” But what does this mean?

It means we are his inheritance, and we are his possession.  He willingly bled and died for us that we would become his. But he is also “our” inheritance. Read how the apostle Peter describes this.

[Read 1 Peter 1:3-5]

Peter, describing all the blessings we have received in Christ reminds us that the greatest blessing is that we have been born-again to a living hope. Even in times of suffering we have a living hope with a promised future.

Hebrews 1:2 says more! Not only is God’s Son the “heir of all things,” he is also the one “Through whom also he created the world.” Jesus is the one through whom God created the world. John writes it this way in John 1:3: “All things came into being by him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being.” 

Everything that Jesus made was good, and although stained by man’s sin, God has promised us in his word that his creation will see a day when all will be restored, and we long for that day.

Second, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to see that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory even when our world is dark.

[Read the first sentence of Hebrews 1:3]

Turning our eyes away from the ugliness of our suffering and trials, the author of Hebrews turns our attention to the glory and beauty of God in the risen Christ.

Devon mentioned in Isaiah 53:2 that Jesus came as one who had no beauty that we should desire him. But now, as the risen lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, he puts on full display the glory and beauty of God.

We don’t see him as he walked the earth, and we don’t see him beaten, scourged, and marred as he hung on the cross. We see him as the risen Christ, worthy of all honor and glory. We see him as he is to us now; the good shepherd who cares for us, his sheep. We see him as the one who carries our burdens making our yoke light. We see him as the one who knows all our weaknesses, knows our temptations, and knows how to sympathize with us. We know him who calls us to come quickly and without fear to his throne of grace for mercy and help in time of need.

Moses caught a glimpse of God’s glory, but he longed to see so much more.  He experienced some of God’s presence as he hid behind a rock and heard his voice in Exodus 34:6 where we read, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”

The “so much more” of God that Moses longed to see, we see in Jesus.  We don’t just hear God speaking of his goodness, we see it in Jesus. We see the radiance of the Father’s glory in him, our redeemer who is our only hope in this life. His glory shines over every dark trial we face, and as those who have the hope of eternal life, we can be confident our trials won’t last forever. What does last forever is the living hope we have in Christ.

In Hebrews 1:3, the writer also describes Jesus as “the exact imprint of his nature.” This means that the Son not only manifests God’s glory through his radiance, but he represents God in all his character. 

In Colossians 1, Paul describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God,” the one in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Jesus bears the very nature of all that God is in his perfect character. The only way we can look on the perfections and goodness of God is in the face of Christ—his mercy, his kindness, his steadfast love, and his faithfulness. God’s love for us is fully captured in Jesus Christ.

So today, what vision has captured you? On my wedding day when I saw Marilyn in her wedding dress coming through the doors of the sanctuary my breath was taken away, and I believe my heart stopped.  It was a moment that captured my heart forever. May the glory and beauty of Jesus’ saving grace capture our hearts even when there seems to be little beauty around us.

There is a place we can see many of God’s attributes today, and that is in his church. It is here where we see kindness, love, goodness, and mercy on display, and during this pandemic God’s character has been put on glorious display through the members of Grace Church!

Third, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to see the blessings we have been given in Christ.

Verse 3 describes Jesus as the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power”.

One “blessed assurance” is that our world is under God’s sovereign care and control. He is sustaining our world, and us simply by speaking. He has promised us that he will always be with us, never leaving us or forsaking us, and we can be confident he will never stop sustaining us even in our most severe trials.

As encouraging as this truth is, the writer of Hebrews goes on to present to us even more of the blessings we receive in Christ.

[Read the second sentence of Hebrews 1:3]

This is our most “blessed assurance:” we have been saved from our sins, made righteous in Christ, forgiven, and reconciled to God the father.

What blessing could be more glorious than to be saved from the slavery of our sin, and from the wrath of God? There is nothing better than this, there is no better news than the gospel, and there is no greater blessing than being forgiven and made a child of God.

The writer then says that after atoning for our sins, “He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” 

A final blessing in these verses is to know that the work Jesus begins he finishes. Because of this truth Jesus is now ruling over everything.  Every trial that we face is real, but not outside of his perfect, wise, loving, and redeeming sovereign plan.

He may not relieve our circumstances but he has relieved us of our greatest need, and we can find comfort knowing that he is greater than our circumstances, greater than our enemies (including a virus), greater than our trials, greater than our fears, and greater than all our sins.

What gives hope in our painful and difficult circumstances?  Who do we turn to when we’re overwhelmed by what is before us? We turn and look again at Jesus Christ, fixing our eyes on his cross as a reminder that there is nothing he wouldn’t do for us.

Listen or Sing to These Songs

 

A Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for his unchanging character and faithfulness and that he is the one whose sovereign hand is in control of every circumstance we face.

  • Pray through the list of prayer requests that Nora sent out this morning

  • Ask God to bring this time to an end so that we can enjoy the benefits and blessing of gathering as the people of God in the presence of God.

  • Thank God that soon all the pain, sickness, loneliness, and tears will all be over when Jesus Christ returns for his bride. Ask the Lord to come quickly.

A Sermon to Listen To

Take some time today or this coming week to listen to the below sermon from Colossians 1:15-23 from Larry.

The Incomparable Christ