I have been experiencing a supreme sense of the immediacy of Jesus and His coming as Christmas approaches. The King is coming, the King is coming indeed!
“I am the Souvereign of the universe and have all the power and creativity which has brought it into being and is now sustaining you. At the moment I am focusing it here in this room on you. Every bit of that is here and available through My Spirit to you. And, mark, just as it is available to you, it is available to every true child of mine who listens to Me. What you need is just to be aware of the height, length, breadth and depth of this power which is demonstrated in My love. Every moment on this earth is precious and it is precious because of your relationship with Me and My transforming power. That is THE GOSPEL, live it this week with all your thankfulness in full expectation of My appearing soon, my appearing again has always been imminent”.
As we come now to the last chapter of Hebrews, the melody line has drawn the message of the letter to a conclusion and now we are faced with various exhortations on the practical application of the whole of it. Most of the instructions in this section are pretty straightforward, but the teaching is very dense. This means that if we are to draw the greatest benefit from this passage we need to stop with each instruction, meditate on it and ask Jesus to show us, personally how it should play out in our lives.
Up to vs 15, I count 5 distinct instructions, although some are linked. Each one is a challenge. Take vs 5 for instance. Keep your lives free from the love of money. Learn to be content with what you have. Maybe at our age this is not such a great challenge, but the world out there and within the church as well, is driven by a sense of discontent. Whether major desires that are not being met or just with the behaviour of the person who lives next door.
Now here is the important message I have for all of us today. If this was just a list of instructions, which many people treat it as, then trying to obey and fulfil them would only lead to more frustration and discontent and often a sense of failure. But we live by the gospel of Jesus. Now look at how He is woven into all these instructions.
We should be content, because we are depending on Jesus, who will never leave you or forsake you and is your helper.(VV5,6.) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and to morrow (V 8.) Through Him we are to offer the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, (V 15). May the Lord Jesus work in us what is pleasing to Him (V 21).
So living according to the gospel involves developing and fostering our relationship with Jesus first, then doing the actions we feel He is leading us to do, through His word or the prompting of the Spirit or even by a suggestion from a brother or sister. As we focus on Jesus, He has promised over and over, no matter how difficult the instruction or situation is, His power will always be sufficient, His grace will always be sufficient to carry us through.
Now here is a word of warning or maybe encouragement. Each one of us is going to fail multiple times in this walk. The temptation is to feel ‘convicted’, ‘downhearted’, ‘discouraged’, asking ourselves sometimes, is it really worth i? There I have gone and done it again, and then we tend to make up our minds to just to keep trying harder and harder. That is where we must understand how this gospel life works. In 1 John he writes “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, but if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
So here is the gospel way: Keep your relationship fresh with the Lord. Walk as much as you can determine by the Spirit, trusting in His empowering love and grace to follow Him. When you fail in any way, turn immediately to Jesus and confess your sin and He will give you another start, as often as you need it. Focus on Him, not on the works and your failures and His power will work through you and gospel joy and the feeling of freedom will follow.
On Friday I will throw out a few questions on Hebrews to help us gather our thoughts together on this fascinating letter