Hebrews

Jump to chapter: prelude, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Prelude

Scholars have debated who wrote Hebrews for generations. Some have said it was Paul, some have said Apollos, and have some have suspected others, but I never revealed the author. What matters to you is that like the other 65 books in the Bible, Hebrews is a letter I inspired. 

Chapter 1

(1-2) From generation to generation, I have spoken to my people through the prophets and storytellers to reveal myself. Every life has played a role in the epic story that has always been about my Son. His arrival was the anticipated climax. He is the rightful heir to all of creation who rules and reigns with me. He was with me in the beginning as co-creator.

(3) When you see my Son, you see me. My glorious essence shines forth from him. Every good and beautiful thing in all of creation exists because of him and continues because he allows it as both Creator and Sustainer. He is also the Redeemer whose death on the cross cleansed you from the penalty of your sins. Because of him, you are perfectly pure in my eyes. He is sitting next to me, having finished his redeeming work.

(4-6) Jesus is infinitely more majestic than the angels. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Do not give in to the temptation to minimize his majesty and glory by making him any less than fully God.

I never called any of my angels “Son,” nor did I identify as their Father. Jesus is the firstborn of all creation, the principal representative of humanity. When I sent him into the world, my angels delighted to raise their voices in worship, heralding him as the magnificent one.

(7) My angels carry my messages to a fallen world. They exist eternally to do my bidding and they do so with gladness.

(8-9) He is no less than the I AM, eternal ruler of heaven and earth. He is the embodiment of justice and he reigns with fidelity. He loves what is good and whole; he hates what is evil and corrupt.

I have blessed him more than anyone, anointing him with infinite goodness. He exudes the joy that comes from Trinitarian oneness. Together with the Spirit, we have existed forever in perfect shalom.

(10-12) Within the flow of the Trinity, we are constantly building one another up. I tell my Son, “At the very beginning Lord (for like me, he is Lord), you built the earth from the ground up. You adorned the heavens with beauty. Son, even though this creation will one day pass away, you never will. Because of the fall, all created things will wear out. Like an old coat that has seen better days, you will roll it up and toss it away, though our relational glory and beauty exist from everlasting to everlasting.”

(13) I never say things like this to the angels. They have never held the place of honor at my right hand, ruling and reigning over all creation. Remember, angels are my servants. I created them to glorify me and to care for you.

Chapter 2

(1-4) Pay close attention not only to what my Son has accomplished, but what he continues to accomplish. In a world with so many divergent paths, you will wander from the truth if you are not careful. My angels declared the message of the law and that message proved reliable. The Old Testament is filled with examples of the consequences of failing to live in accord with the law, even the penalty of death. But my Son came and proclaimed a message of salvation much greater than the Law. He willingly kept the Law on your behalf, but he also willingly died on the cross to pay the penalties for your sins. Child, accepting his divine gift is your only option for being right with me. What do you imagine will happen if you try to persist under the Law? Go back and read those Old Testament stories again. The apostles witnessed the glorious goodness of the gospel and recorded what they saw in the books that make up the New Testament. In addition to hearing the message of the good news, they witnessed my Spirit working through my Son and through those who believe. Resist the temptation to focus only upon the finished work of my Son without remembering the ongoing work of my Spirit in you. The finished work and the continuing work go together. You cannot have one without the other.

(5-8) Child, angels were never meant to be the managers of my kingdom. Rather, I have entrusted humans with that job. In Psalm 8, David pondered this reality, writing,

What are human beings that you pay attention to them or those born of the stuff of the earth, that you care about them? For a little while, you placed them right below the angels, crowning them with a particular glory and a specific place of honor, commissioning them with the work of stewarding creation.

David wrestled with humanity’s unique role. Some believe that there is nothing special about being human and that people are just one species among many. In truth, humankind holds a special place in my heart. I created humans out of the stuff of the earth, but I also breathed my life into them.[1] You bear my image, possessing a unique glory unavailable to any other created thing. Do not underestimate my affection toward you, beloved. As an earthly being, you live right now below the angels who attend me in heaven’s throne room, but do not believe that they are somehow better than you are. You are special to me, uniquely loved. I have entrusted my people with the job of caring for creation, what some have called the “cultural commission.”[2] As a steward of creation, you do not have divine permission to treat it however you wish. You are its guardian and caretaker, so treat it honorably.

Creation care is a big job. You are the pinnacle of creation, but that does not free you to rule like a dictator. I have placed all things under your stewardship, but as you look at the world, I know that everything seems out of control. This chaos resulted from the fall,[3] and it will not be resolved in this age.

(9) Look again to Jesus. Like you, he was made lower than the angels for a time, incarnate and living in a broken creation. His life revealed what it means to be a kingdom steward. He lived for you, but he also suffered and died for you, redeeming all creation with glory and honor. I invite you to share in that glory by how you live and die.

(10-11) Beloved, I am the creator and sustainer of all things. Every leaf, every flower, and every bird exist with my permission. Every created thing testifies to my unending magnificence. In bringing you to glory, it was fitting that my Son, who ensured your salvation by his blood, would suffer as all people have suffered. He knows your pain, having experienced it himself.

Like you, Jesus is Adam’s son. He is fully human, just as you are human, and therefore capable of understanding your pain and temptation. He is the one who makes you right with me and who enables you to grow in faith. You are members of the same family.

(12) He is not ashamed of you, child. He is not disappointed with you. In fact, he proudly tells others about you. When the saints gather, Jesus tells them, “This is my child. I am so proud to call this precious one my own.” You will never be on the outside of the circle again.

(13) As family, you can trust Jesus. He is always advocating for you, never failing to identify himself with you. Where he goes, you go. He is like a father who carries your picture in his wallet, and shows it to others saying, “That’s my kid. I’m so proud.”

(14-15) Every person ever created was made from the stuff of earth. My Son was also flesh and blood, of the same essence as you. His life, in many ways, mirrored yours. He willingly died to destroy the one who wields death as a weapon, the devil. Death cannot threaten you anymore. Do not be afraid of it. When you keep worrying about what could happen, you are kept in bondage, even though my Son has removed your shackles. Live freely.

(16-17) He did not come to earth to help out the angels. He came to make things right with me for all of Abraham’s children, which is why he needed to become fully human. He could not properly represent you if he was not like you. The incarnation equipped him to be the ultimate high priest, who prays for you, gives an offering for you, and shows you grace and mercy. He sacrificed his life to restore you to wholeness in me.

(18) Your suffering became his suffering. Your temptations became his temptations. Enduring your brokenness, he can help you in your pain and temptation. He understands what you are going through, so reach out. He does not expect you make your own way through this world. He is always with you and for you. 

Chapter 3

(1-2) Beloved, I have called you to a high and holy way of life, centered upon my Son. I sent him to proclaim the message of the Kingdom. He is also the great high priest, who knows your sin and brokenness, and intercedes with me on your behalf. Jesus is forever faithful to his holy calling, just as my servant Moses was faithful to his.

(3-4) But do not consider Moses and Jesus to be equal. My Son’s glory outshines all of creation. My Son, my Spirit, and I conspired to call the entire cosmos into existence. Remember, he built everything from the ground up.[4] Moses was faithful to the mission I gave him, sharing my Law and teaching my people how my kingdom operates, but it was my Son who both initiated and upholds all of these things. Every magnificent thing reflects Trinitarian creativity.

(5-6) Moses had a difficult, perilous, and often lonely job, yet he did his work faithfully, testifying to everything I told him, including things that would not be fully realized until years later. Jesus is also faithful, but as Son, not a servant, and as you know, children have much greater liberty in the household, because everything belongs to them. Be confident in my Son because of that truth. Remember that because of your union with Jesus, you are also my child with full rights in my kingdom. As you live your day-to-day life, keep your hope solidly upon that reality.

(7-11) My Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write:

Today, if you hear his voice
do not stopper your ears as the rebels did
when they were tested in their wilderness wanderings.
They doubted God’s goodness.
Their unbelief provoked Him
to sentence them to 40 years of wandering.
Their hearts went off course
just as always
and they did not know the righteous road.
God let them have their way
withholding the rest they desired
unto the next generation.

The people of the exodus knew the reality of straying off my path. They thought they knew better than me and the consequences were severe.

(12) Learn from them, beloved. My people can get off track when they lose sight of me. When you follow the road signs toward evil and reject what I have revealed to you in my word and by my Spirit, you will find yourself wandering in the wilderness, alone and afraid. Stay close to me so that you do not get lost.

(13-14) I do not expect you to go alone. Let your fellow believers keep pointing you toward me. Be honest, present, and open with a few people. Regularly share your journeys with one another. When you disconnect from others, you end up lying to yourself and making excuses for sin and soon you are far off course. The spiritual life was never meant to be a lonesome journey. Everyone is connected. Keep reminding one another that Jesus is your confidence and the true source of your hope.

(15) Do not harden your heart. My Spirit is always stirring you. Do not ignore his nudges and whispers. You will always hear competing voices, but his voice is your true guide.

(16-19) When you find yourself downplaying your sin, remember the exodus. The Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt at my command, but they kept grumbling, worshipping other gods, and living in rebellion. Do you remember what happened? Because they did not trust me or my servant, they could not enter the Promised Land. Like them, you are invited into the promised rest, but you will never find it on your own.

Chapter 4

(1-2) Remember the exodus. How many people, insisting on their own way, ended up dying in the wilderness? Child, I still offer the promise of entering my rest, but you will not get there on your own. The wandering Israelites heard about my miraculous way, but they lacked faith in me and in Moses. Simply hearing the good news does you no good if your response is, “Oh, that’s a nice story” but you do not let it change you. You cannot be truly united to me or to one another without true faith.

(3-7) Rest in my Son’s finished work. Because of him, all my wrath is gone. You are welcomed and accepted as you are. My Sabbath rest has been available since the beginning of creation, but it was fully realized in my Son. Too many people miss my intention for the Sabbath. Some well-meaning people use the creation story[5] to support their argument for a young creation, believing that I created the cosmos in six 24 hour periods, and then rested for one more day, but notice here that we are still in that seventh, Sabbath day. Some people think that observing the Sabbath means avoiding any hint of activity, but that misses the point of my work and the unfolding story of redemption. My rest is available right now. Some will still refuse my invitation to rest. They heard the good news but continue working to earn my approval. I said through David in Psalm 95, “Today, when you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts.” Beloved, my Spirit is always with you, whispering and inviting; you need only to listen.

(8-9) After 40 years of wandering, my faithful servant Joshua led my people into the land that I promised to them, yet they still did not accept my invitation to rest. My rest was purchased for you by the second Joshua, my Son Jesus. It is no coincidence that my Son’s Greek name, Jesus, is rendered Yeshua, or Joshua, in Hebrew, which means “God saves.” Remember names matter, and it is true that I am a God who saves.

(10) When you finally settle into my rest, I will comfort you in your weariness. You will realize that you can add nothing to your salvation. You do not need to strive to prove yourself. Rest, child, rest.

(11) If you want to strive for something, strive to believe that I welcome you as you are. Strive to believe that you cannot earn my love. Strive to rest. Do not stop short of believing that my Son accomplished everything you need. You will never rest until you stop striving to earn my approval.

(12-13) My word is alive and moving. If you pay attention to it, it will cut right to your heart, more deeply than the sharpest sword. The threat of physical punishment may motivate you for a season, but it is my word alone that will penetrate your heart, revealing your truest desires, intentions, and motivations. Allow my word to do the necessary surgery to reveal your truest self. Despite what you sometimes believe, you cannot hide from me. I know everything about you. In fact, I know you better than you know yourself. Bring everything before me, both the good and the bad, so that I can show you your truest self in my Son.

(14) Beloved, do not be afraid to bring your full confession to my Son. He is the great high priest who continually intercedes with me on your behalf. After his resurrection, he returned to heaven’s throne room where he sits next to me and tells me how much he loves you. In fact, he loves you so much that he died for you and he would do it again.

(15) I know you are tempted to think, “Well, Jesus is God. He has no idea what kind of struggles I have to deal with every day.” Listen, he faced every temptation and trial that you have. He completely understands the passions that wage war against your soul. Because he knows, he has deep compassion toward you. Even though he never sinned, he is sympathetic to sin’s power.

(16) Because my Son understands the power of sin, do not even hesitate to come to him as you are. Do not try to clean yourself up first. Come with confidence that my grace is sufficient. Regardless of what you have done, you will find my mercy and acceptance. You will get lost if you try to make it on your own. Stay close to me.

Chapter 5

(1) A high priest is someone who I appointed as a conduit between me and my people. Under the old covenant, the high priest’s job was to offer the gifts and sacrifices that were brought by the people according to the Law as an agent of redemption.

(2-4) He was expected to be a true gentleman, merciful and kind to everyone and able to love both the malicious and immature, knowing the weaknesses inherent in humanity, and the many ways sin taints my creation. A true high priest was humble because he understood that the sacrifices he made day in and day out were not just for “those sinful people,” but also for himself. In every generation, the high priest was a flawed example of the perfect high priest who was yet to come.

(5-6) My Son is the perfect high priest, yet even he did not assume the role; I called him to it saying, “You are my Son, and I have appointed you to this role.”[6] I also told him, “Your priesthood will never end, because you are a priest in the tradition of Melchizedek.”[7] Melchizedek was divinely appointed, though not through Aaron’s line. In fact, he appeared to Abraham many generations before the Levitical priesthood was put into place. Melchizedek was not just a priest, but also the “king of righteousness,” just like my Son, who is both priest and king, and each in perfect measure.

(7) During his earthly ministry, my Son and I were in constant communion. He would take time to petition me on the peoples’ behalf, desiring my presence and power among the people. His compassion for all people, would bring him to the point of loud wails and tears, each tear revealing how much he loves you. He knew I had the power to whisk him away from his impending crucifixion, but he also knew that by his crucifixion, salvation would come. I heard every one of his prayers because he was never flippant about our mutual love and interdependence.

(8-10) Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. In his humanity, he experienced the full reality of life in a fallen world with its temptations, pains, and challenges. Like you, he had to learn what it meant to live with love and righteousness in a broken world. The intermingling of his humanity and divinity allowed him to grow to perfection. I know it is confusing to think about Jesus becoming perfect. In his divine role as the second member of the Trinity, he is completely whole and perfect, yet in his humanity, his perfection took on another level and because he is the perfect human priest, he became the only source of salvation. He is the perfect priest and perfect king in the tradition of Melchizedek.

(11) There is so much for you to learn about my Son’s identity, how we relate to one another, about the nuances of my unfolding covenants, and many other things, but your ability to fully understand them remains immature. In your human limitation, you cannot understand the depth and magnitude of what my Son, Spirit, and I accomplished regarding your redemption, and indeed the redemption of the entire cosmos.

(12-14) If you fully grasped the redemption story, you could explain the nuances of true theology, but as it is, you need to be reminded of the basics of the faith. Indeed, child, when you find yourself lost or confused, always come back to the basics. Basic nourishment is remembering my Son’s completed work on your behalf. When you grasp your salvation by grace alone, you can begin to chew on meatier topics that people have been thinking about for centuries, but those weightier topics are not healthy for immature believers who lack the wisdom to discern what is true among the morass of competing ideas. They soon become lost and overwhelmed in a jungle of theories and ideas. When that happens to you, remember to always return to the center where you will find me once again.

Chapter 6

(1-3) My child, though you should come back to the core message of the gospel every day, keep pressing toward maturity. The gospel is the bedrock upon which all other truth is constructed. Stop trying to save yourself by rule following and instead have faith in my Son’s finished work. Believe in the resurrection. It is not a spiritual metaphor; in my kingdom, everything will be physically and spiritually restored. In the new creation, I will put all sin, evil, and pain to death permanently.

(4-6) Child, it is impossible for those who have truly grasped the good news of my Son, who have been ravished by the Holy Spirit, and who have been nourished by my word to fall away, but there will be those who seem to understand and go all in, yet walk away. Jesus talked about the seed that fell among the rock in the parable of the sower.[8] When people return to that old way of living, it is like they are hanging my Son on the cross all over again. Let your whole life be one of repentance, as my servant Martin Luther said in the first of his 95 theses.[9]

(7-8) The proof is in the fruit. When the seeds of the gospel are planted, they are watered by my Spirit and tended by my word. When seeds bear a nourishing crop, you know they were good, but sometimes weeds, thorns, and thistles grow, which serve no useful purpose and are destroyed. You will see no such evil and pain in my everlasting kingdom.

(9-10) Beloved, this is stark language, but I have better things planned for you…your complete salvation and a restoration to wholeness. I see you. I know how you strive to love and serve others, stewarding the gifts I give you. Even though you love imperfectly, I honor your work. You have a right heart when you serve your brothers and sisters from a heart grounded in me.

(11-12) Hang in there. Keep pressing on, living for my glory as you wait in hope for better things. Keep trusting that I will always be with you. The world right now is only the entryway into a glorious future in my restored kingdom. Look to those who have gone before you and have persevered through temptation and trial, knowing the infinite reward that lies ahead, eternity with me.

(13-15) Remember the promise I made to Abraham. I swore to him that I would bless him with an abundance of children. By earthly standards there was no reason to believe that he would bear children, yet he trusted in me, patiently awaiting the promise’s fulfillment.

(16-20) People often seal their promises with collateral. When conflicts arise, those official contracts are binding. I also sealed my promise to Abraham with an oath, guaranteeing that I would fulfill my promise. Unlike fallen humans, I am utterly unable to lie. My word is truth. Because of my Son’s finished work, I will never break that promise. Let that be an encouragement to you. In him, there is nothing that can separate you from my love. Hold on to this truth with all that you have. As the storms of doubt and pain rage around you, cling to him. My Son crossed heaven to earth and back again for you. Your sin is not a barrier between us. Come, for I am always accessible and eager to be with you. My Son’s work is truly finished; his salvation and blessing are everlasting.

Chapter 7

(1-2) I want to return to the priest-king Melchizedek. He is barely mentioned in the Old Testament, though you can read the brief passage in Genesis 14. He was both the king of Salem and a priest who interceded between me and the people. After Abraham defeated kings in battle and rescued his nephew, Lot, he met Melchizedek upon his return. Melchizedek blessed him in my name and Abraham blessed him in return, giving a tenth of all the spoils taken from the battle.

Remember that in earlier days, names had more significance than they often do now. “Melchizedek” comes from two Hebrew words that meant “king” and “righteousness.”  He was a representative of my holiness and goodness. He was also described as the “King of Salem.” The word Salem is a form of the word “shalom,” which means peace, wholeness, and flourishing, so Melchizedek was the embodiment of righteousness and peace.

(3) Melchizedek’s lineage was never given. Despite the important role he played in Abraham’s life, I chose not to give those details. In the same way, neither the beginning nor the end of his priesthood were ever described. In much the same way, my Son’s priesthood has no beginning or end. He is the eternal mediator.

(4-6) Despite his brief appearance, Melchizedek towers as a significant figure in my redemption story. Abraham gave him a tenth of everything after receiving his blessing. The tithe became a part of the Mosaic Law. The Hebrew people in the Old Testament were required to give one-tenth, or a tithe, of their blessings to the priests descended from Levi, Abraham’s great grandson.

(7) It is my design that the one who is superior blesses the one who is inferior. Parents bless their children. Bosses bless their workers. Teachers bless their students. One of the most important roles kings and queens have is to bless their citizens. Melchizedek, the king, blessed my servant Abraham.

(8-10) Think again about his priesthood in comparison to the Levitical priesthood. In one case, the tithes are received by men whose priesthood is temporary, but in the second, they are given to one whose priesthood is unending. Try to grasp this metaphor. Every religious leader is mortal. Every minister will eventually die, and the message will be picked up by another, yet there is also an eternality that preexisted the Mosaic system. The author of Hebrews made this point by suggesting that even Levi, the first in the Levitical line, paid tithes through his great grandfather Abraham. Here is the point: There has always been something, someone, more important than the Mosaic Law.

(11) All of this connects to my Son. There were many Jews seeking to be faithful to my word, but perfection was not attainable by following the Mosaic Law. If righteousness through the law was possible, I would have had no need to send another Melchizedek. The Levitical priests would have been sufficient.

(12-14) The old ways of living and law keeping were ineffective to transform my people. Understanding Melchizedek, also means understanding the Law of Moses differently. Jesus’s earthly lineage came through Judah’s line, not Levi’s. He never served as a Levitical priest. People from the tribe of Judah had no claim on the priesthood, so is it appropriate to conclude that my Son serves in a priestly role? Absolutely.

(15-17) Jesus is a priest not like Aaron, but like Melchizedek. He did not become a priest because of his lineage, taking up the family business. Rather, my Son’s priesthood exists because of an indestructible life. Neither sin nor death were able to take his life from him. He conquered both and, like Melchizedek, my Son’s priesthood is unending.

(18-19) Child, these two priestly lines also point to the two covenants. Aaron’s line administered the law of Moses under the old covenant, but that old way has been set aside because it could not bring people to perfection. Your hope is not found in keeping the Law, but in my Son and his indestructible life. It is through Christ alone that you can draw near to me.

(20-22) My Son’s priesthood comes with a promise that I never made about the Levitical line. Hear this: I have sworn that my Son will be an everlasting priest, forever interceding for you. I will never change my mind about this, and my word is solid. This new and better covenant is guaranteed in my Son.

(23-24) Under the old system, priests came and went, they were born and died. Generation after generation carried out the temple business, passing along the work to their progeny, but this is not so with my Son. Because he lives forever, his priesthood is never ending.

(25) Take comfort. My Son will completely save all who trust in his name. There is nothing he will not do and nowhere he will not go to pursue relationship with you. He is with you in the darkest, most painful places. At your worst, he will still find you. He will never stop pursuing you because his love for you is infinite. He continually tells me how much he loves you and how he cannot wait for us all to be together.

(26-28) It is good, right, and necessary for you to have a priest like my Son, who is the embodiment of holiness, purity, and glory. Though he often spent time with people whose lives seemed the most broken and sinful, his sinlessness set him apart. Unlike the Levitical priests, he never needed to make sacrifices daily, either for his own sins or for the sins of the people. He offered himself as the one perfect sacrifice when he died on the cross. Under the Old Testament system, both the priests and their sacrifices were echoes of Jesus, the only perfect priest and sacrifice. Sin still reigned under the old system.

Chapter 8

(1-2) Beloved, I am telling you these things so realize that you have the perfect high priest in my Son. He is sitting right next to me, an eternal testimony to what he accomplished. The old system was a facsimile of what was coming. The priests took great care to set up the tabernacle according to my specifications so that they might encounter me there, but life in my heavenly court is infinitely better.

(3-5a) Similarly, the gifts they offered were imperfect representations of Christ’s true and holy sacrifice. According to the Mosaic Law, my Son could not have offered sacrifices in the temple, because he was not from the Levitical line. Doing so would have broken old covenant law, but all the old covenant rules and tradition were mere shadows of my Son’s glory.

(5b) Moses took my word to heart. When he was with me on Mount Sinai, I gave specific instructions, and when he began assembling the holy tent, he made sure it was done with exacting detail, yet even with his sincere desire and attention to detail, the tabernacle was still just foreshadowing what was coming.

(6-7) In comparison, the new covenant ministry of my Son is infinitely greater because it is grounded in better promises. Under the old covenant, holiness depended on getting things right through perfect obedience to the Law. As you know, beloved, your obedience is far from perfect, which is why my Son, the mediator of the new covenant, is so much better. The terms of the new covenant depend upon his faithfulness and perfection, not yours, which is immensely good news! If my covenant with Moses had worked, a second would have never been necessary, but in truth it was never intended to. The law’s purpose was to reveal your need for divine rescue.[10]  

(8-10) My prophet Jeremiah wrote about this new covenant. He reminded the Israelites that they had failed to uphold the Law, a pattern that had been repeated generation after generation. Through Jeremiah, I told the people this:

            Pay attention! A day is coming
            when I will set up a new covenant with my people.
            This new covenant will be a different one
            than I established during the exodus
            when I led them out of Egypt by the hand.
            They did not uphold their end of the bargain
            so I ignored their efforts, something new was needed.
            In light of the repeated law breaking,
            generation after generation,
            I will enact a new covenant.
            I will put my law into their minds
            and inscribe my words on their hearts.
            My word will dwell in them.
            I will be theirs, and they will be mine.
            Sovereign and citizens,
            Father and children.

(11) Under this new system, there is no need
            for one person to say to another
            “this is what God expects of you
            and this is who God is.”
            By my Holy Spirit,
            I will be present within each person.
            Do you want to know who I am?
            Pay attention to what is stirring in you.
            You will know right from wrong.
            You will understand that there are things
            much more glorious than you can learn from your five senses.

(12) Hear this message, beloved:

            I am merciful toward your sin.
            When you fall short of my holy standard,
            you are forgiven.
            When you think or act inconsistently with
            what my Spirit whispers,
            you are still covered with my lavish grace.

Again, hear this truth
meditate on it until you get it.
Because of the new covenant,
enacted by my Son,
            perfect priest,
            perfect sacrifice,
            perfect mediator,
I no longer remember your sins.
Let me say it again:
I no longer remember your sins.
They are completely gone.
All those sins that you have committed
the ones you think about over and over again…
listen, they are gone.
When I see you, I see my Son’s perfection in you.
He has freed you from your chains.
You are no longer a slave, you have been set free.
Live like it.[11]

(13) This new covenant made the old covenant obsolete. It is vanishing away. Let it go and live in the reality of your new identity. 

Chapter 9

(1-5) Under the old covenant system, I had established an order of worship and set aside a place that represented my holiness. The priests were expected to set up a tent, called a tabernacle, which is where they would meet with me. The tent was divided into two sections—an outer part known as the holy place, and an inner part known as the most holy place.

In the outer part, there was a table, a lampstand, and the bread of the presence. These items reminded the people of my presence and provision. The inner sanctum held the altar of incense and the golden Ark of the Covenant, which itself contained a jar of manna, Aaron’s staff, and the tables of the Law. The Ark was topped with a cover called “the mercy seat.” You can read about these holy items in Moses’s books.

(6-7) Every day, the priests would enter the tabernacle to perform their duties including tending the lamp and changing the bread, but the high priest entered the most holy place only once each year. He would bring the blood of a sacrificed bull and goat, which had been offered for the unintended sins of the people and sprinkled on the mercy seat, which was a physical symbol of my mercy toward my people. You often think about your intentional sins, but there are also “unintended sins.” In a world where everything has been tainted by sin, there is still evidence of brokenness and evil, even when they were never intended.

(8-10) Under the terms of the old covenant, you could not come into my presence in the most holy place. It is still true that if you insist on following the old system of sacrifice and obedience to the Law to prove your righteousness, you will not be able to come into my presence. You cannot have it both ways. The old covenant required a lot, but it does nothing to cleanse your conscience. True forgiveness is not found in penitent actions, but in my Son’s mercy. Following rules about what to eat and drink, how to prepare your meals, or how to dress may make you feel like you are doing something to secure your salvation when in truth, they do nothing to save your soul.

(11-12) Everything changed when my Son came. Unlike everyone who came before him, he was the only true high priest, a herald of the new covenant. He left the symbolic system for what was true and real, my actual dwelling place—not created, but eternal. As the true high priest, he was not limited to entering the most holy place only once a year. He tore open the curtain, and it will never shut again. It was not by symbolic animal sacrifice, but by means of his own blood, that he accomplished true and eternal redemption.  

(13-14) Under the old system of the Law, my people were symbolically purified through animal sacrifice, yet the sacrificial animals were also imperfect. The blood of my perfect Son is infinitely better. He was not only the perfect high priest, but the only perfect sacrifice. It was his death on the cross, not rule keeping or following tradition that set you free to live a life of service in my kingdom.

(15) Because he is both perfect priest and perfect sacrifice, he is the mediator of the new covenant, reconciling heaven and earth. When you put your trust in the efficacy of his sacrifice, you will receive an eternal inheritance, which is life with me. His death completely satisfied every sacrificial requirement of the old covenant.

(16-19) You know that a will does not go into effect until a person dies. Until then, the inheritance is only a promise of what is to come. Under the old system of the Law, my promises were only enacted with death, which is why after telling the Jews my whole covenant, Moses took the blood from calves and goats, mixed it with water and, using a brush made of wool and hyssop, sprinkled both upon the law and the people. Physical death helped my people understand the seriousness of sin, but also how serious I was about them.

(20-21) Moses said to them, “This blood seals the covenant we have with God, just as he commanded.”[12] He then consecrated all of the holy items including the tabernacle and the vessels used in worship to seal the covenant and remind my people of what was at stake.

(22) Because you no longer live under a sacrificial system, you may feel disconnected from the realities of death. If you felt a visceral connection between the actual shedding of blood and sinfulness, you would feel its gravity so much more. Under the Law, just about everything needed to be blood-purified because forgiveness cannot come without death. Even in your own relationships, for forgiveness to happen, you must kill your right to retaliate and put to death your animosity toward the offender.

(23-24) Remember the richness of the old covenant symbolism. All the rituals represented things yet to come. These symbolic copies were ritually purified, but they were never meant to replace my Son, who is the more perfect sacrifice. Heaven is not symbolic. My Son, the Christ, entered my true presence and lives forever as your mediator and advocate.

(25-26) Unlike high priests under the old system, once Jesus was crucified—perfect priest and perfect sacrifice—he never needed to do it again. Redemption was accomplished. His suffering was also finished. His crucifixion was a one-time sacrifice, but its power was sufficient to secure your eternal redemption.

(27-28) On earth, every person is granted one life and one death, and after that comes judgment. Yet, beloved, my Son’s perfect sacrifice has covered all your sins and your redemption is secure.

Do not fret about what will happen when he returns. He is not coming to judge you; he has already completely dealt with sin. When he comes again, it will be to embrace you, and everyone else who is eager to see him. O, my child, what a glorious reunion that will be!

Chapter 10

(1-4) The Law, which foreshadowed the true righteousness found only in my Son, was never meant to be the path to redemption. Even if you follow the same rituals year in and year out, you will never come to perfection. If sacrifice led to perfect righteousness, people could have done it once and eliminated their sin, but when you have tried to follow rituals to change your behavior, it leaves you frustrated because you are reminded that sin is unrelenting. Let your imperfection remind you to turn your eyes again to my Son’s finished work, remembering that no ritual, sacrifice, or spiritual discipline can take away your sins.

(5-7) When my Son came into the world, he quoted from Psalm 40: “You do not desire sacrifice or offerings, but my own body is being prepared. You do not find pleasure in the offerings, but rather, O LORD, in following your will. As has been prophesied, I am here to submit myself to you.”[13]

(8-10) What did my Son mean when he quoted the psalmist, and why did it matter? Because in giving himself, he was set aside the old covenant and ushered in the new. The old covenant could not perfect you, but through the blood of my Son, you have been made perfect, once and for all. I know that you look at your own life and think to yourself, “I am so far from perfect.” Beloved, I know all your imperfections, but faith in my Son created union with him, so in my eyes, his perfection is your perfection. When I look at you, I see what my Son has accomplished.

(11-13) Day in and day out, the Levitical priests performed their religious duties, offering me the same sacrifices, but they had no power. On the other hand, my Son gave the perfect offering the first time and he took his seat next to me, meaning his work was finished. He awaits the time when all evil, sin, and death shall be finally crushed beneath his heel.

(14) Beloved, spend some time pondering verse 14. It gives you a clear picture of what my Son’s sacrifice accomplished and may help with some of your confusion about your own sanctification. It says that my Son, “by a single offering, made perfect for all time those who are being sanctified.”[14] I have already told you that my Son’s single sacrifice was sufficient for your salvation, yet this verse concludes with the phrase “those who are being sanctified.” In other words, you will continue to grow in wholeness as you walk through life. Your standing before me is already guaranteed, even as you continue to grow.

(15-16) My Holy Spirit goes with you in the process of becoming like my Son. He tells you:

            Here is the covenant I have made with you
            after the finished work of Jesus.
            I will dwell with you and within you,
            writing love on your hearts
            and godliness on your minds.[15]

Do you want to know what is good, right, and loving? Turn down the noise of the world and listen to my Spirit who dwells in you.

(17) But my Spirit also says, “I do not remember your sins anymore.”[16] If you stop at the first part, and neglect the second, you will be stranded in hopelessness. Child, remind yourself every day that I do not remember your sins. Without that assurance, you risk sliding back into self-righteousness, which is a hopeless way to live.

(18) My forgiveness is complete. I do not forgive only part way. There is literally nothing you can do to make up for your unrighteousness, so rest fully in my Son’s embrace.

(19-22) Because of your redemption, secured in my Son, you can now have the confidence to come into my presence. He has smashed every barrier between you and me and is always with me advocating on your behalf. Live from your true self in my Son, certain about your standing before me. Evil’s stain has been washed away by the living water that comes through my Son. Remember that in your baptism, you were raised to a new and pure life, the Christ life.

(23) I will never forget my promises to you, but I do not want you to forget them either. Beloved, this is a key to faithful living with me: Remember my Son’s finished work.

(24-25) Allow both your eternal security and my Son’s ongoing work within you fuel how you live and love. Think hard about how to encourage others as they encourage you. Ask yourself, “How can I love fully and live righteously?” You will learn how to do this as you continue to meet with other like-minded believers. Some Christians go it alone, but solitary faith never works as well. True Christian community fertilizes love. Mutual encouragement boosts growing faith. You know the day of my Son’s second coming is just over the horizon. Share your joyful anticipation with one another as you ponder that glorious day.

(26-27) Do not turn your back on the message of forgiveness. When you reject my Son’s gift and return to your own sinful ways, his sacrifice is of no use. At the end of days, I will destroy every evil that contradicts the wholeness and integrity of my kingdom. If you choose to make your residence in sin city, you can expect to get burned.

(28-30) Under the old, imperfect system, law breakers were put to death if there were multiple witnesses to an offense. Arrogantly rejecting my Son’s perfect sacrifice is so much worse. When you treat his blood with evil intent, you go in the opposite direction of his gift of grace. What do you expect will happen? Do not forget what you have heard about my response to evil. In the Law, I said, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay” and “I will judge my people.”[17] Just because you know me to be merciful, do not believe I am indifferent about sin. I have a fiery hatred for anything that despises the wholeness of my good creation. As I restore wholeness, you will witness my fury against evil.

(31) I am not a playful kitten; I am a roaring lion. C.S. Lewis was right when he described the lion Aslan, the Christ figure, as “good, but not safe.”[18] My power and glory cannot coexist with sin and evil. Indeed, in the presence of my holiness, evil stands no chance.

(32-36) Remember your history. Think back to when you first believed the gospel. Turning your life over to my Spirit’s keeping did not guarantee you a carefree life. Indeed, you still experience pain and suffering. People make fun of you for being a Christian or imply that your belief in me is not valid. You also know the stories of many others who have suffered for their faith, some tossed in prison and some killed. You showed compassion for those who are mistreated on account of my name. You joyfully endured the ridicule and exploitation that comes with following me, because you kept my promises in view. The treasures that await you are so far above any earthly possession or comfort. Life with me is unending. Cling tightly to the confidence you have felt in my Son; he is your great reward. A life of faith is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Keep going step by step. When you finish the race, you may be sure I will not withhold my promised reward.

(37-38) Even the saints of old knew this to be true. My prophet Habakkuk wrote: “In only a little while, the coming one will not delay.”[19] The coming one is my Son. The time is short. Habakkuk continued, “My righteous ones shall live by faith. If they shrink back, my soul has no pleasure in them.” In other words, child, I have called you to a faith that endures the hills and valleys of life under the sun by to hope. If you follow a while and then say, “Forget you God, I am going my own way,” it grieves me, because there is no life apart from me.

(39) Remember who you are. You are not someone who shrinks under the pressures of life. You are not someone who is destroyed by the suffering and evil in the world. You are a child of strong faith. You are not a quitter. Keep pressing on.

Chapter 11

(1) Faith is one of those words that can become so mixed up that it essentially loses all meaning. Some people believe that faith is some ethereal idea, the exact opposite of reasoned thought. Untrue. Faith is grounded in reason. Every person, regardless of worldview, has faith that the sun will rise tomorrow because reason and experience tell them that the sun always comes back up. Faith that a future event will occur is grounded in reason and experience.

Hebrews 11, which is often considered to be a hall of fame of the faithful, opens with this truth: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, faith involves having confidence in what has been promised, bolstered by history and experience.

(2) Before my Son’s arrival, generation after generation had faith in my promised Messiah, even though they died long before he even arrived. I welcomed their faithfulness.

(3) It is by faith that you know and understand that I created the universe as an outflow of my love. There was no one there to witness it, so how can you know? First, I revealed to your ancestors how I progressively spoke creation into existence one sentence at a time, yet by studying the universe, you also understand that where there once was nothing, now there is something. You recognize that life forms have increased in complexity because it fits the available observations. In other words, even though you were not there in the beginning, you can have faith that I created the cosmos out of nothing because that is what the reasoned evidence suggests.

(4) From the dawn of time, people knew about me. Abel had faith that I was watching over him, and he sacrificed from the best of his flock to honor me, whereas his brother Cain did not. I was pleased to receive Abel’s gift of faith and found him acceptable.

(5) Enoch demonstrated faith by walking with me day by day, so much that he just kept living by faith until I swept him up into heaven.

(6) These early saints believed in me even though they had never seen me. It takes faith to accept that there must be something or Someone more than your senses reveal. I am pleased that your intuition and reason work together in faith to lead you to me.

(7) Consider Noah. I warned him about the coming catastrophic flood, which is something no one had ever seen, yet because he had faith in me, he built a giant boat in the middle of the desert. He paid attention to my voice, even though he faced constant jeers from others for years on end. They all died, but by his faith, he became an heir in my kingdom.

(8-10) Abraham showed faith when he left everything he knew—his family and his comfortable life—to seek the inheritance I had promised, even though the journey was uncertain. I said “go” and he went, becoming the father of many nations. In his old age, I granted him two sons, Ishmael and Isaac who had children who had children because he was faithful to what I told him.

(11-12) Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was also faithful. She was well beyond childbearing years when she became pregnant with Isaac because she believed what I said. Two people, Abraham and Sarah, in the eve of their earthly life, became parents of generations more plentiful than the stars above or the sands below because they had faith.

(13-16) All these faithful people died. They did not see the realization of what was to come, but they had seen what was possible, which kept their faith in me alive. They all knew that there was something more than the toil of an earthly life, keeping their faith that they would come to a better home. They were pilgrims with a shared desire for a better country, my eternal kingdom. When they went out, they never looked back and their faith was not in vain, because indeed, I have prepared a city for of the faithful.

(17-19) Abraham not only trusted in a promised lineage or a better country, but also in my supernatural provision. At my command, he took Isaac, who was the son of promise, and prepared to sacrifice him without knowing what would come next. He remembered that his lineage would come through this child, yet even so, when I told him to kill his son, he made all of the preparations, believing even if he killed Isaac, I would raise him from the dead. I had already raised Isaac from a womb that was as good as dead and, in his mind, this was no different. Once again, I provided.

(20-22) Isaac was faithful too. In blessing his twins, Jacob and Esau, he remembered my promised provisions. At the end of his life, Isaac’s son Jacob offered specific blessings for each of his 12 sons. Jacob’s son Joseph, who was taken into Egyptian captivity, had faith that one day his people would return to the land of promise telling his family to bring his bones back home when they went.

(23-25) Four hundred years later with my people still enslaved in Egypt, Moses was born. Even though the king commanded that the Jewish children be killed so that the Jews would not become too many in number, his mother was unafraid, keeping Moses hidden for three months. He was taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter, who raised him as her own son. As he grew, he remembered his roots. He gave up his royal identity and willingly identified with the slaves who were his true people, because he had a higher hope than living for momentary pleasures.

(26) Although my Son’s incarnation was centuries into the future, Moses chose the way of Jesus, even with all the suffering that came with following him. Though life in Egypt promised immeasurable treasure, he looked beyond his comfortable life to a higher reward—life with me.

(27-28) Moses heeded my call to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt where they had been slaves of Pharaoh. Because he believed in my omnipotence, he was unafraid of Pharaoh. He had glimpsed my power and knew that all Pharaoh’s kingdom could not hold a candle to my glory. All my people believed Moses when he told them to kill a lamb and spread the blood on their thresholds, saving them from the angel of death, who I sent to take every first born.

(29) By faith, Moses led my people through the middle of the Red Sea, walls of water standing aside at my command to let them pass. At any moment, I could have drowned them all, but they believed I would see them through safely. Not so with the Egyptians, who continued trusting that their power eclipsed mine.

(30-31) In the promised land, the Hebrews had faith that I would help them conquer the well-defended city, Jericho. I did because in their faith, they marched around the city for seven days just as I had commanded. When she saw what was happening, Rahab believed my power was with the Israelites, so she treated the spies with kindness.

(32-34) The Old Testament is filled with many stories of people putting their faith in me—Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah. Yes, they were sinners, yet they placed their faith in my ability to save rather than in their own abilities. And, of course, David, Samuel, and all the prophets lived with faith in my divine plan. They tried to live justly, remembering my promise of redemption. I delivered some of them from certain death. I kept Daniel safe when he was thrown to the lions. I honored the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into a fiery furnace, keeping them miraculously unharmed.

In every generation, my people realize that weakness is an opportunity for my power to shine through them. I make warriors out of weaklings, and armies flee before them.

(35-38) I brought the dead back to life because women had faith. Enduring pain, many have refused to let go of their faith because they were looking beyond to a better life. Some were mocked, some were beaten, and some were shackled and imprisoned. Some were stoned, sliced with a sword, or sawn in half. Many willingly accepted momentary discomfort, knowing that something greater awaits them.

(39-40) None of the Old Testament saints lived to see the realization of my promise, but their hope in a far better kingdom was not in vain.

Chapter 12

(1) Beloved, generations of faithful men and women have testified to my greatness. Allow their lives to encourage you on your own faith journey. Lay down your doubts so that they do not burden you. Set aside the sin that hinders your life. As you live, remember the freedom you already possess. When you cast off your burdens, you can run with lightness and freedom toward the finish line.

(2) My Son was there in the beginning and he will be there at the end. He was creating when the world began. He came to set everything right, living perfectly and dying sinlessly. He remained faithful to the end because he knew the beauty of wholeness that awaited him, and you. The dehumanizing shame that the cross was intended to produce could not hold him down. He rose from death and ascended back to heaven’s throne room, where we reign together.

(3-4) Jesus’s life and death secured your eternal standing, but as your teacher, he also showed you the way to live. He endured hardship and torment knowing what was coming. Let his patient endurance encourage you to keep going. You may be tempted to lose heart or grow tired of the Christian life, believing sin is easier, but I did not create you for sin, but for love and wholeness. Battle against the fragmenting effects of sin every day. Never give up. Keep fighting even when the battle leaves you bloodied and bruised. You are a warrior; live like it.

(5-6) As my beloved child, remember this truth:

Do not disregard my discipline,
or give up when I reprimand you.
It is not hatred, but love, that corrects
and I will chasten all who call me Father.[20]

 (7-8) You are my disciple and disciples endure discipline. You cannot learn the ways of love if you just float about willy nilly. Every student is shaped by their teacher. I would not be much of a Father if I did not care how you live, nor direct you in the ways you should go. If I failed to discipline you, you would not be my child, but instead would be like one who grew up without parents in undisciplined chaos.

(9) Human parents who discipline their children consistently and lovingly help their children to know how life really works, and their children respect and love them for it. My Fatherhood is far more consistent and loving than any earthly parent. Should you not also then heed my discipline?

(10) Your parents’ discipline was imperfect because they are imperfect. Like you, they are often governed by self-centeredness. At times, parents can be too lenient, which leads to chaos, and at other times they are too strict, which leads to broken spirits. They do the best they can at the time, but unlike human parents, my discipline is never imperfect. Every bit of loving correction you receive from me is for your holiness and wholeness. 

(11) I know that discipline hurts in the moment, but I want the effects of sin to be uncomfortable, because I did not create you for sin. When sin leads to pain, it decreases the likelihood that you will repeat it. Instead, I created you for righteousness and peace.

(12-13) Straighten up and stand tall. I created you for strength, so act accordingly. Keep your eyes on the narrow road and get walking. Your holiness comes from the journey. Your healing comes by living a whole and loving life in the presence of my Son.

(14-17) Do not lose sight of relational holiness. I am all about relationship, and I want you to live in the same way. Pursue peace with everyone—not indifference, but true peace. Strive for wholeness, because right in the center of what is whole is where you will find me. Be gracious to others as I am gracious toward you. Self-centeredness leads to bitterness and division, which causes all sorts of problems. Self-centeredness ruins many relationships. Sexual immorality is a particularly painful type of sin because it uses other people’s bodies for self-centered pleasure. Do not be governed by your immediate desires. Remember Esau who was so hungry, he was certain he would die from it. Because he was governed by his stomach, he was willing to give up a much greater reward, his inheritance as first born, for a bowl of stew. Later, when his belly was full, he changed his mind, but it was too late. Stay present to the moment you are in, but do not lose sight of eternity.

(18-21) At Sinai, my great and terrifying majesty shrouded the mountain. No one was to touch it unless invited by me. The glory of my blazing fire blinded their eyes. A trumpet heralded my presence, and my voice was like the deafening rush of many waters. In their terror, the people begged to get away from my infinite glory. They could not endure my commands, for example, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” My holiness and purity are so great that I cannot dwell with unrighteousness. Even Moses, the one I specifically called to hear my message, trembled fearfully at the sound of my voice. My holy standard, given at Sinai, was no comfort to my people because it revealed the depths of their unrighteousness.

(22-24) Under my new covenant, you come to a new mountain, Zion. Mount Zion is my holy dwelling, the city of redemption. In this shining city, angels celebrate my magnificent goodness. All my children are gathered there, sharing in my Son’s inheritance. Zion is the city of reconciliation, where the judge dwells with those who have been released from bondage. Every person perfected by my Son’s blood sacrifice, will be at that celebration. Jesus is there too, of course, having put in place the new covenant by his crucifixion. Generations, all the way back to the beginning, have been redeemed. Even Abel, the murdered son of Adam and Eve, found true justice in my Son’s cosmic redemption. In Zion, we celebrate everything made right in Jesus.

(25) Do not refuse my Son’s invitation. Consider the generations who rejected my gift. They could not escape judgment by following their own path. Neither can you. Jesus is the only way to join heaven’s celebration. I have shaken the whole earth with my voice, and I will do it again. The sound of my voice will shatter every evil thing that opposes goodness, truth, and beauty. Only they shall remain in Zion’s loving kingdom. Be grateful for your invitation to an unshakable kingdom, your citizenship secured by my Son. Let the truth of your redemption give voice to your worship. In reverence and awe, offer thanks for the miracle of redemption because it is in him that my infinite power and holiness can dwell with fallen, but redeemed, image bearers.

Chapter 13

(1-2) In light of your security, live a life of love. Give yourself in love to those who also call me LORD, but do not stop there. Be kind to strangers, sharing your gifts with them too, because I am always paying attention to how you love others. Indeed, you may be caring for heaven’s very messengers and not know it.

(3) Do not neglect those who are in prison, for they also bear my image, regardless of what they have done. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember those things that have imprisoned you. Call to mind the ways that you too have been mistreated. You are interconnected.

(4) Treat marriages honorably. Marital intimacy is one of the clearest pictures of Trinitarian love. Do not let self-centered and sinful lusts invade the marriage bed. Sexual immorality and adultery are the very opposite of wholeness and interconnectedness.

(5-6) Be cautious about the allure of wealth. Money is a wonderful gift when it is used to glorify me, but a terrible burden when it finances your pride and self-centeredness. Practice contentment. Your greatest treasure, life with me, cannot be bought. I have promised that I will never abandon you, beloved. Even in the darkest, most confusing seasons of your life, remember what the psalmist wrote, “God is my help. I have no need to fear, because people can do nothing to me.”[21] Your standing with me is 100% secure. In light of your eternal security, what else matters?

(7) Do not forget the generations of saints before you, those who passed along the truth of my Son’s redemptive work. Consider their lives. Ask questions like “How did they live?” and “Who was God to them?” Then, imitate their faith; they have already cleared some of the brush from your path.

(8-14) My Son is eternally unchanging. Do not fall into the trap of believing that his extravagant grace was sufficient for others, but that you are an exception. His promises never change, no matter what you do or think. There are people who may seek to add or subtract from the message of grace; do not pay attention to them. You have been saved by grace alone. The altar of Christian faith, the table of communion, has no place for old covenant sacrifices. The bodies of sacrificed animals under the old system of the law were brought outside the camp and burned so as not to be among the people. Jesus, your perfect sacrifice, was also brought outside, to Golgotha, where he was separated from the people and bore reproach and rejection. You may be rejected for believing in him, but your security is not on earth, but in a better kingdom, Mount Zion.

(15-16) In light of my Son’s perfect and everlasting sacrifice, let your life be an offering to me. Let every word you speak bring glory to my name. Act with goodness and generosity toward others, because how you treat others is a true and pleasing offering.

(17) Pay attention to those who instruct you in the faith. Those farther along the path have wisdom and knowledge for your benefit. Practice listening well rather than complaining about the things they teach you. Let their prayers for you be filled with joy rather than bitter complaint.

(18-19) Seek to live with a clear conscience, knowing that you are honoring me regardless of situation or circumstance. I am glorified when you live with integrity, rather than from falsehood. Pray that other believers would also live with integrity.

(20-21) Beloved, believe with all your heart that I am the God of shalom and cling with hope to the resurrection. Jesus guides you through troubled times and he will be with you to the end. By my Spirit, you have everything you need to live a life of love. My Spirit, who dwells in you, leads you toward a life that is pleasing to me and brings eternal glory to my Son. 

(22-25) Allow challenging words to mold you into Christlikeness. Let suffering increase your thirst for communion with others and with me, never forgetting that because I am faithful, you will never be outside of my grace. 


[1] Gen. 2:7.

[2] Gen. 1:26.

[3] Gen. 3.

[4] Heb. 1:10.

[5] Gen. 1.

[6] Ps. 2:7.

[7] Ps. 110:4.

[8] Mark 4:17.

[9] Martin Luther & Kurt Aland, Luther’s 95 Theses with Pertinent Documents from the History of the Reformation (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967).

[10] Rom. 5:20-21.

[11] Jer. 31:31-34.

[12] Exod. 24:8.

[13] Verses 6 – 8.

[14] Heb. 10:14, ESV.

[15] Jer. 31:33.

[16] Jer. 31:34.

[17] Deut. 32:35-36

[18] C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (New York: Collier, 1970),76.

[19] Hab. 2:3-4.

[20] Prov. 3:11-12.

[21] Ps. 118:6.