GRAND FINALE: Think of where the author to Hebrews has brought us these last couple of weeks. The first 10 short chapters showed step by step how everything in the Old Testament was pointing towards and was ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but those who put their faith and trust in Christ are given the perfect righteousness required to meet our covenant obligation to God. Then chapter 11 showcases many of the heroes of the Old Testament, and how they accomplished what they did because of the faith they were given; the same faith that is given to you. Now the grand finale begins with one of the coolest words in the whole Bible; in fact it's so cool, it's only used one other place (1 Th 4:8).
Although in English it's translated into the rather mundane word 'therefore,' it's a compound word which literally means NOW LISTEN UP - PAY ATTENTION - BECAUSE OF WHAT'S PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED - NOW THEREFORE: HERE'S HOW YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LIVE. I think what comes next is probably going to be important.
DO YOU EVER WISH THE BIBLE WAS MORE PRACTICAL? One of the biggest misperceptions about the Bible is that people think it has no practical application in their lives. Hebrews 12 is one of many examples of just how practically oriented scripture is. Take a pencil and underline all of the imperative phrases (action phrases calling you to do something practical) in chapter 12. The first two are 'throw off everything that hinders' and 'run with perseverance.' Keep going. I underlined 12 phrases. How many can you find?
DISCIPLINE DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN PUNISHMENT: We have negative associations with the word 'discipline;' it's what happens after we get caught doing something wrong. Certainly there are times where hardship is the result of God disciplining / punishing / correcting us, and we are told to endure those hardships (v7-11). But v12 presents discipline in another sense: strengthen up / straighten out your weaknesses. This is exactly why we call these skills we've been working on this year - especially daily Bible reading & prayer - Spiritual Disciplines. They are not punishments, but they do take hard work to develop. In fact, as v14 goes on to say, you must 'make every effort.'
FEAR TURNS TO JOY: When God established His covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai by announcing the Ten Commandments, the people were absolutely terrified (v18-21). But look at the contrast between this paragraph and the rest of the chapter beginning in v22. The chapter ends the same way it begins: with a call to action, translated with the word 'therefore.' Memorize the concluding sentence:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The living God (v22), the judge of all (v23) who is a consuming fire (v29 / Deut. 4:24).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Fix your eyes on Jesus (v2) & worship God acceptably with reverence and awe (v28).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Check out the first course in the Worthington CRC Lifelong Learning program: