A Brief Update
Today, January 31, Greenridge Baptist Church has closed there facility due to inclement weather, leaving us without a facility to gather for corporate worship. In light of this, we are providing some songs to sing or listen to and a brief devotional to walk through as a household. May God bless you this Lord's Day and may you enjoy his grace shown to us through Jesus Christ.
Songs to Sing or Listen To
Devotional on Hebrews 1:1-3
Hebrews is a book 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 is difficult especially when it is prolonged 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 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 as we do. They needed help to see beyond the fog of their situation. So, what should they look for? The answer was not in what should they look for but in who should they look for. The purpose of the writer of Hebrews was to encourage these saints that in every circumstance God is near in Christ, and 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, God, through the author of Hebrews draws our attention away from seeing only our trials, to seeing Jesus who is always with us in our trials.
[Read Hebrews 1:1-2]
In these opening verses, the writer encourages us with a reminder to, first, see God’s love for us in the incarnation of Jesus. 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 are finally answered in Jesus Christ. This opening verse reminds us that God has come to us. One writer says this about the incarnation: “Jesus is the final word from God in the final age of salvation history [these last days].”
But 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 ultimately eternal life. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. The author of Hebrews also tells us that “He is the Heir of all things.” What is it that Jesus inherits?
It is us! We are his inheritance, and we are his possession. He willingly bled and died for us that we would become his. Not only are we his inheritance, but he is also our inheritance:
[Read 1 Peter 1:3-5]
Peter, describing all the blessings we have received in Christ reminds us that our greatest blessing is being born-again to a living hope, so even in times of suffering we have that living hope of a promised future. We can be confident of that promised future because we are in Christ who not only rules his kingdom but is the very creator of that kingdom.
We also see in Hebrews 1:2 that Jesus is the one through whom God created the world, and he now recreates fallen humanity through the cross and resurrection. All that God made was good, and even though it has been stained by man’s sin, he has promised us in his word that his creation will see a day when all will be restored.
[Read Hebrews 1:3]
Second, the writer of Hebrews wants us to see that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory even when our world is dark.
The author wisely turns our eyes away from the ugliness of our world, the pain of our suffering and the difficulty of our trials by showing us the glory and beauty of God in the risen Christ.
Jesus is the risen lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, putting 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 as he was in his human suffering: beaten, scourged, and marred hanging on a cross. We now 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 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 all our temptations, and knows how to sympathize with us. We see him now as he sits on his throne and calls us to come quickly and without fear to his throne of grace for mercy and help in time of need.
Moses caught just a glimpse of God’s glory, and he longed to see so much more. In Exodus 34:6 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.
The writer of Hebrews continues by saying that Jesus is “the exact imprint of [God’s] nature.” Jesus not only manifests God’s glory through his radiance, but he represents God in all his character. Colossians 1:15 states that “He is the image of the invisible God.” All the fullness of God dwells in him. Jesus bears the very nature of all that God is in his perfect character. We are allowed to see the perfections and goodness of God 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’s saving grace capture our hearts even when there seems to be little beauty around us.
Jesus isn’t physically present among us, but he is present still. We see him in his word and in his church. Thankfully it is in his church where we see and experience the character of God in the people of God: his kindness, love, goodness, and mercy are on display.
[Read Hebrews 1:3]
Third, the writer of Hebrews wants us to see the blessing’s we have in Christ. He writes in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Here we are assured that our world is under God’s sovereign care and control. He sustains our world through his word. He has promised us that he will always be with us, never leaving us nor forsaking us, and we can be confident he will never stop sustaining us even in our most severe trials. How do we know this?
Verse 3 concludes by saying that “after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” This is the foundation of our blessed assurance: we have been saved from our sins, reconciled to God, made to be his children, made righteous, and promised an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading because we have been born-again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-5).
What blessing could be more glorious than to be saved from the slavery of our sin, and the wrath of God? There is no better news than the gospel, and there is no greater blessing than being forgiven and made a child of God.
Additionally, knowing that Jesus “sat down” gives us a final blessing. This blessing is that we know that Jesus is ruling over everything as he sits at the right hand of God his Father. He is watching over and providentially caring for us in every trial that we face.
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 us hope in our painful and difficult circumstances? Jesus Christ our Savior. Who do we turn to when we’re overwhelmed by what is before us? Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him (us) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Song of Response
Sermon Audio from Recent Sundays