Forgot to post these in September ....
My Oct. 4 lesson ...
Sunday we continued our study of Hebrews, talking about being confident in our faith because through His sacrifice Jesus secured our salvation.
Our memory verse encapsulates that thought, Hebrews 4:16 says, "let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time."
Have you seen "Stand By Me?" It’s a story of four 12-year-old boys who go off to find the dead body of a boy from town. Along the way they jump off a train bridge to avoid getting killed, end up in a lake full of leaches, and use a gun to drive off some older teens who are troublemakers.
There's not much more confident than a boy who thinks he can take on the world, whether it's jumping off a roof wearing a Superman cape or accepting a dare to lick a frozen pole. OK, so there are also examples of overconfidence.
So how confident are people today in believing that Jesus truly makes a difference? What can believers do to help raise the confidence level people can have in Christ? When do you feel most confident? Least confident?
Now let’s take a look at Hebrews 4:14–5:6. In our scripture this week we see how recognizing Jesus as our Great High Priest gives us confidence in our Christian walk.
God had assured the Jews that He would give them victory over every seemingly insurmountable obstacle, but the Israelites refused to believe. During the time of Hebrews the readers would be experiencing a lot of persecution for their believes, so they needed some reassurance that it was worth it and to keep the faith.
CONFIDENCE (HEB. 4:14-16)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
***Anytime we step out with boldness to spread Christ, we are showing that we are on the winning team.
Have you had to endure trash-talk from someone who roots for a rival team, and their team is winning and yours stinks? You just kind of slink away, don't you? But if you know you have a winner you shout it loud and proud. Well, we are on the winning team. Satan is a loser.
*** Verse 14 says, “let us hold fast our confession.” Romans 10:9 says if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, you’ll be saved. If you’ve made a confession, the writer here is telling us to keep it current. We can do so confidently, because we know that He, as our High Priest, is interceding for us. He advocates for us, standing in our defense before the throne of a Holy God.
Isn’t it nice to go to court and have a defender? Whom do you know who stands in your defense in some way? Jesus is the believer’s Perfect Advocate?
*** v. 15 - Jesus was tested.
--- He's walked a mile in our shoes, and more! Jesus experienced what it was like to be tired, hungry, thirsty, sorrowful, disappointed, taunted, beaten, and tempted. Unlike us, Jesus was without sin.
--- Not only that, but James writes in 1:2 that we should "consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials!"
*** Knowing that Jesus sympathizes with your weaknesses, can it make your prayer life and daily walk more fulfilling?
*** Memory Verse: Hebrews 4:16 - Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
BOLDNESS! Be confident!
--- The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness.
--- Think of the confidence you had as a new believer, wanting to share Jesus with everyone. Hopefully you still have that fire, but more often than not once we get some negative reaction, or we are pooh-poohed by friends, or don’t convert new believers right away to share our excitement, it fades, and God knows that.
--- Do you remember those guys who had enough swagger to hit on every girl at a party or in school? They had done it so much and with enough gusto that they brushed off rejection. If you were the wallflower or shy or low self-esteem, no doubt you wondered how they could do it. And scoffed at your dad when they said to just do it and don't be afraid of being turned down.
*** How can we have confidence as followers of Jesus to stand fast with our beliefs and to talk to others?
--- Study the Word. Know your scriptures. Be willing to be used. In Acts 8:26-40 Philip obeyed God, was presented with an opportunity to share the gospel with the Ethiopian, and helped to make a new believer who would spread the Word further.
--- Because our salvation is secured through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can have confidence that God is never too busy, never distracted with other obligations, and never disconnected from what is happening in our lives.
FOUND IN CHRIST (HEB. 5:1-6)
1 For every high priest taken from men is appointed in service to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this, he must make a sin offering for himself as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 In the same way, the Messiah did not exalt Himself to become a high priest, but the One who said to Him, You are My Son; today I have become Your Father, 6 also said in another passage, You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
*** Last week we talked about warnings to watch out for trouble. This week we're focused on the positive. The writer of the book of Hebrews is saying in Christ you find everything you need. Don't go back. Don't let go. Don't be like those people described as rocky ground in Matthew chapter 13 who live the life for a little while but when trouble comes they wither and die because there was no real root. Don't be like those people described by the weedy soil who make a profession of some kind and then let the cares of this world choke out that original confession. (John MacArthur)
*** v. 1-3: Jesus is the Great High Priest.
--- What sets Jesus apart? He is a "great high priest" who has passed through the heavens"
--- Every priest in Israel had to pass through something, through curtains in the temple to arrive in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. The high priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year to atone for the people's sins. He sprinkled blood and got out of there double-quick under penalty of death. There was no chair, no bench, nowhere to sit. It was a man-made structure.
--- If you had been a first-century Jew and were hearing this verse for the first time, you would have shuddered at the thought of just any individual daring to enter the Lord God’s presence. Every Jew knew that only the high priest could enter the most holy place in the temple
--- Jesus, as the great high priest, didn't have to go through any curtains or face punishment. He passed through the heavens to sit on the right hand of God. (John MacArthur)
*** Called by God.
--- Verse 4 makes it clear that the role of the high priest was not sought; he was called to the position as Aaron was as the first Israelite high priest.
--- v. 6 - Jesus was appointed to fulfill the ultimate work of a high priest, an eternal position.
*** Melchizedek was only in Genesis for three verses, but is referenced here and in Psalm 110:4 - The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
In Genesis 14:18-20, Melchizedek appears as a priest of the Most High God and the king of Salem (perhaps a short form of the later name “Jerusalem”). Abram (Abraham) gave a thank-offering to God through Melchizedek following a great military victory.
It’s a mystery why Melchizedek is so important because of a short mention, but obviously he warranted great importance with God. We will learn more about Melchizedek in an upcoming study.
TAKE AWAY POINTS
*** We can have confidence as Christians because Jesus is the Truth. Keep Christ as the source of your power instead of relying on your own strength.
*** Understanding the Bible will make you bold in your witness.
*** Give it all to Him.
There's a tale that before the Crusades, knights being baptized would hold their swords out of the water. In essence they were saying, “My sword will not be joining the Kingdom of God. It will remain a part of the kingdoms of this world.” The taking of another human life being incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, the knights left their swords out. As I read about this, it made me wonder, what parts of my life am I unwilling to submit to Jesus? My wallet? My time? My beliefs? My ideology? It doesn’t work that way. Jesus says “whoever tries to keep their life will lose it.” With Jesus it is an all or nothing proposition. We don’t get to compartmentalize our faith. If we are to follow Jesus, then His commands and teachings influence every part of our lives. (Joey Clark)
Memory Verse: Hebrews 3:13a - But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today...
Main Idea: Believers must encourage each other to firmly hold to Jesus.
Warning signs are everywhere! Think of how many you see that you ignore. Every year there is a contest to find the most ridiculous warning labels. Here are some compiled by Forbes.com:
~ The Jabra Drive ‘N’ Talk is a Bluetooth speakerphone accessory for cellphones to be used in the car. The Drive ‘N’ Talk carries this contradictory warning label: “Never operate your speakerphone while driving.”
~ Nytol sleeping pills says "may cause drowsiness."
~ Picture on a chainsaw says, "Do not hold the wrong side of a chainsaw."
~ On gas caps for personal recreational vehicles such as jet skis and ATVs it says "Never use a lit match or open flame to check fuel level."
~ Vidal Sassoon hair dryer says, "Do not use while sleeping."
~ A letter opener for Staples said, "Safety goggles recommended."
~ Razor scooter says, "This product moves when used."
~ Finally ... Midol Menstrual Complete has a warning not to use it if you have difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate. ... ((((I'll let that one sink in ...))))
*** Now, spiritually speaking, what kind of warnings do you wish were in place for your spiritual journey with Christ?
--- The writer of Hebrews delivered a warning, calling on the readers to learn from history. We will discover a lesson from history and two actions we are to take to avoid the same mistakes made by the Israelites.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY (HEB. 3:7-11)
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works 10 for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” 11 So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.”
*** 1. Fix your thoughts on Jesus.
--- A. Verses 1 through 6 in the chapter relate that Jesus is greater than Moses, just "as a builder of a house is greater than the house itself."
--- B. The author of Hebrews is quoting from Psalm 95 in these verses to show how just as Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and delivered them through the wilderness and into the promised land, Jesus leads His followers of our the bondage of sin and into eternal life.
--- C. The Israelites lost focus. They didn't keep their eyes on the prize. They dropped the ball. We are called to think about and meditate on Jesus and the Bible. The hymn says it all:
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace."
*** 2. Rebellion leaves you distant from God.
--- A. The Israelites grumbled about a lack of water (Exodus 17:1-7), about a lack of meat (Exodus 16), and eventually even refused to go into the promised land at the given time because only two men - Joshua and Caleb- were ready to act on faith. (Numbers 14)
--- B. Is there a time in your life you were rebelling against God?
*** 3. Be faithful as He is faithful.
--- A. Even as the Israelites rebelled, God continued to guide them, to provide for them and protect them.
--- B. Can you think of someone who helped you out during your rebellion and didn't give up?
HEED THE WARNING (HEB. 3:12)
12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God.
*** 1. Watch out.
--- A. Unbelief can sneak into your life and take hold. Take concern for other believers.
--- B. God’s grace is sufficient to forgive us of our sins as we confess them (see 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.). However, any professing Christians who develop a pattern of disobedience and retreat from their confession of Christ as Savior and Lord are warned to make sure, to watch out, to see to it that their faith in Christ is genuine.
--- C. Since we are to keep watch over our hearts, how do you do this in your own life? How might we keep one another accountable in a Bible study group or even in a church congregation?
--- D. Do you think there are any observable signs or indicators that a person is developing a rebellious heart. If so, what are they?
--- E. Paul gave a similar warning in 2 Corinthians 13:5 when he challenged the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER (HEB. 3:13-15)
13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. 15 As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
*** 1. Encourage each other.
--- A. Memory verse! 3:13a: "But encourage each other daily..."
--- Do you know someone who needs less discouragement and more encouragement?
--- B. In John 13:34-45 Jesus says that loving one another is not optional: A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.
We could all be as positive as Texas high school running back Apollos Hester, who has a grasp of what's important and how to have a winning attitude:
“It’s a mindset, yes ma’am, Hey, you can do anything you put your mind to. Never give up on your dreams. Keep smiling. No matter what you’re going through, you fall down, just get up. If you can’t get up, your friends are there to help you up, your mama’s there, your daddy’s there, God’s there, hey I’m there to help you up, you’re there!”
--- C. As believers were are to encourage one another. To do so glorifies Jesus.
1 Pet. 4:8-10 – 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
*** D. Question - What does daily encouragement in the faith look like? Can you think of at least one way you can encourage someone in the faith this week? Whom do you know who needs a call, a visit, an email, and your prayers?
*** 2. Persevere now and until the end and you will be in Him.
--- A. Verse 14: For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start says that if have genuine faith it must endure. This verse means that if someone does not have faith that endures, then it is not genuine faith.
*** 3. ”It was then that I carried you.”
--- A. Verse 15: "As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
--- B. God’s grace carries us through the difficult seasons of life. Keep your heart ready to accept His help.
It’s like the poem “Footprints,” hanging in every grandmother's bathroom: “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Our faith grows because we see how God’s grace carries us through the difficult seasons of life.
*** 1. Rely on, or find, an accountability partner. Use them for support, encouragement and to talk about areas where you need to make sure your faith is solid.
*** 2. Encourage Pastor David and other church leaders. Use emails, handwritten notes, and other mediums to let the pastor and other leaders know that your group is praying for them.
*** 3. Think of our memory verse - Hebrews 3:13a - this week.
My Life Group lesson from Sept. 21 ...
Memory Verse: Hebrews 2:18 - For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.
Main Idea: God’s Son took on human nature to free us from sin and death.
*** The joke goes like this: "You are unique, just like everyone else."
Every one of us is a unique individual. Yet, we all have at least one thing in common. That’s right. We’re all human. We’re not plants, insects, or animals. We’re not robots or random collections of cosmic matter. We’re flesh-and-blood human beings, created in the image of God.
*** QUESTION - What are some positives about our uniqueness as individuals? What response do you have when you think about our common humanity?
Here’s another thing that, according to Scripture, we have in common. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior (see Rom. 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.). The world’s first two humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and became sinners (see Gen. 3:1-7). Every human being descends from this first couple; therefore all of us are born under the curse of sin.
*** QUESTION - Jesus was born of a woman. Why is it important that Jesus was human?
--- "What if God was one of us," the song goes, but thankfully he's not a slob like one of us.
--- Answers in Genesis writes that if Jesus had just been a spiritual being he would not have spilled blood and we could not be truly cleansed from our sins.
Because He was fully human, we could see our own sufferings in Him, for He endured the same types of trials as we face, and He persevered under great physical pain. We can identify with Him since He was fully human (Hebrews 2:14). He suffered pain and endured emotions so He could relate to and sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15).
EXPLORE THE TEXT
TO DESTROY THE DEVIL (HEB. 2:14-16)
14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring.
*** v. 14 - Jesus shares our humanity.
--- Let’s talk about the term “hypostatic union.” It’s what the theologians use to explain that Jesus is fully God and fully man. While we may not be able to fully grasp this doctrine, the hypostatic union is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus. (Answers in Genesis )
--- He walked. He talked. He laughed. He ate. He drank. He smelled the flowers. He wept. He touched. Surely He got a cold virus. He stared at the stars (although he probably never asked “What is the meaning of life?”). Right there in the Bible it says that Jesus got tired. He got frustrated frequently with his disciples.
*** Verse 14 also says that Jesus came to take on the Devil.
--- QUESTION – What are some of the Biblical names for the Devil? - Satan, Lucifer/morning star who fell, tempter, father of lies, god of this age, evil/wicked one, adversary/enemy, great dragon). How do these names help you understand the Devil’s character?
--- What too many people – and this includes Christians fail to admit – is that the Devil is all too real.
1 John 3:8 - 8 The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.
--- What we need to remind Satan is that he's a loser. It's in the Bible. He's already lost. Not only shouldn't we fear Satan, HE SHOULD FEAR US.
*** v. 15 - "You may take our lives, but you'll never take our freedom!"
--- The Scottish voted to reject independence Thursday, whether to become free from English rule. Something William Wallace would have much rather have been able to do 700 years ago instead of battle!
--- In verse 15 we read that Jesus was made human in order to free us from the power and penalty of sin. Now that's real freedom!
--- You know those studies that say you have a 25 percent greater chance of dying if you drink too many Mountain Dews, or a 55 percent greater chance of dying if you jump of a cliff? Well, the reality is, unless there's a rapture in the next 75 years there is a 100 percent chance of death.
Many live in fear of death. We think about “What comes after death?” and “Is this life all there is?” Here is the good news for those who will trust in Jesus: We no longer fear death because we know Jesus overcame it by His resurrection.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 - 55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
*** v. 16 - Abraham’s offspring.
--- The term “Abraham’s offspring” can refer specifically to the Israelites, the physical descendants of Abraham. In this context, however, the term probably is broader in meaning. It can refer to all peoples of the earth in that God promised to bless all the nations through Abraham (see Gen. 12:3). The apostle Paul spoke of this broader meaning in Romans 4:13-25, where he declared that God’s promise of salvation by grace was guaranteed not only to Abraham’s descendants through the law (Israelites) but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith:
Romans 4:16-17 - 16 This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all 17 in God’s sight. As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations. He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.
By His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, Jesus has removed forever the sting of death for believers. By His death, the Author of life rendered powerless the prince of death, the Devil. God the Son took on real flesh and blood to rescue those with whom He shared human nature. This rescue is given to every human being who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (see Rom. 6:23).
*** QUESTION - What characteristics of God are demonstrated through Christ taking on a human body? What other passages come to mind that point to Christ defeating the Devil? How do those verses add to your understanding of who Christ is?
TO MAKE PROPITIATION (HEB. 2:17-18)
17 Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.
*** v. 17 - Jesus was human to save us.
--- The term “propitiation” refers to a wrath-bearing sacrifice, which Jesus Himself became when He offered up Himself. It carries the idea of a sacrifice that turns away God’s wrath and judgment.
--- We don’t need a High Priest anymore. We don’t need a Pope. We have direct access to Jesus to ask forgiveness and thank him for being the only acceptable sacrifice to our sins.
--- Therefore, for believers - for all of us brothers and sisters in Christ - there is no more fear!
--- In His humanity Jesus did not want to die—He did not enjoy the thought of being beaten and crucified. He asked God THREE TIMES if there was another way:
Matthew 26:39 - Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:42 - Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:44 - After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
--- When it came time, however, Jesus accepted God’s will.
--- Mankind cannot say that God has not lived as man, and thus cannot relate. Jesus understands the challenges of living as a man, and extends His mercy, in part, because of His understanding.
*** v. 18 – Memory Verse: Hebrews 2:18 - "For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested."
--- Jesus knows temptations.
--- QUESTION - How often do you give in to temptation because you are tired or sick or you’ve run out of patience? What causes you to give in? As Junior Asparagus sang on VeggieTales, “life should be a party but my hot dog has fallen off the bun.”
--- It's easy to say that we have it harder nowadays, that the temptations of today are more than what they faced 2,000 years ago. We fight temptations when it comes to technology and alcohol and drugs and money.
--- But think of it this way: He is aware of the full weight of temptation on His followers. In Matthew 4:1-11 it is written that Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, fasting and tired and hot. Then he took on the Devil. He wasn't just tempted by Satan. Satan was sitting RIGHT THERE having a discussion and trying to tempt Jesus.
--- Jesus provides believers the way of escape from temptation:
--- 1 Cor. 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.). Therefore, we can turn to Him and find mercy and strength to resist temptation. He promises that when we come to Him, we will find mercy and grace to help in our time of need, because He sympathizes with our weaknesses, yet without sin.
TAKE AWAY POINTS
QUESTION - Did anyone have anything stand out in reading the Bible this week that you can share?
*** Jesus paid your sin debt in His death on the cross. We owe a debt so enormous that you could never repay even if you tried. So don’t.
*** Look at the study guide on page 40. Think of a friend or family member who needs to know that Jesus became flesh and shed his blood for our sins. Write their initials in the book and pray for them this week.