Have you every watched a herding dog work? Part of the time it is out in front, leading the way, then it loops to the back, side to side, nipping at the heels as necessary to keep everyone on course, then back out in front again. Hebrews 12, to me, is the personification of a herding dog. The first verses are the dog, out in front – this way, here we go, keep going, doing great. The last verses are back behind – don’t get off path, stay the course, are you insane, do you know what happened to the Israelites who just touched the mountain, nip, nip. And I particularly love the very center of the chapter – verse 14-15 – Be holy and don’t let anyone miss the grace of God. (that is what it is all about, right?).
9. a. what you must reject (verse 1a): shame, guilt, inadequacy, pride, self-reliance, self-confidence, distraction, wavering, (baggage and sin)
b. with perseverance – my own race (the one marked out for me)
c. on Jesus
10. a. It is provided in love and for training, not punishment. It is provided by a loving Father for my growth and development. I am allowed to receive the rewards eternally from the pain of the short-term training.
1. Pray: One way to exercise your arms and knees is to bend them together, like we do when we pray
2. Work: Another is to get out and do good works for the kingdom. Help, the poor, the widows and orphans, the disabled, those in need – for the purpose of serving God, not man.
3. Stay on the course: When the running gets hard it is easy to want to go rest under that nice oak tree, just for a little bit. God stays to stay on the course, not off in the weeds. We can become so distracted by “easy self-help guides” that we forget that we are given challenges to teach us to rely on God not ourselves. (duh!)
4. Play well with others: There is no extra prize for getting through life first, but there are eternal rewards for running in a pack with others helping them even as they help you.
5. Be holy.
c. (Personal) My family, coworkers, those in mission work that I help support, other BSF leaders and HQ, my co-leader in BSF, my pastors and elders of my church, my family and the 16 kids in my class.
11. The analogy I think of is that of electricity. Under the old covenant, the work was not complete. The power was there, turned on and all could feel and knew of its presence, but any misstep was deadly – not out of threat or punishment, but out of reality. Under the new, the work is complete, the electricity lights the landing field, sending a beacon of welcome to all believers to come home.
12. Following the analogy – do not mistake: the pretty lights are lit by the same power – and now that they are on and fully lit we have no excuse or justification for not following the beacon. Choosing to not follow God is far more deathly than accidentally coming too close to him in the old testament. In the old, they lost their earthly life, in the new someone loses their eternal life.
13. a. Hero worship – I think we are living in a generation and a time of information and communication that hero worship (except for the fanatical) is gone. No man is good and thus no man is great. In the past, blemishes were hidden and people were idolized. Today it is all but assumed that those who have risen to power are flawed and deceitful.
b.By being unshakable in my faith and devotion. By not wavering from the path. By keeping my focus on Jesus.
1. I loved part 5 of question 10b – be holy. It made me think. Most of us have some sensibility of what we would do or bring into church. We wouldn’t stand up in a church and start cussing. We wouldn’t go to church and take money from the offering plate to line our own pockets. We wouldn’t bring pornography or drugs or other vices into church. But church is not a place, it is a body – my body as a believer. Why would I do or bring any of those things into this church any more than I would into the four walled structure. It gave me some new thoughts about being holy.
2. Question 13a – Wow, that sounded cynical – Please don’t mistake this for a lack of admiration and respect for those who live a humble life of service to God and the church. That is not what I mean. But I think there was an era, maybe our parents generation, maybe grandparents, where people admired “great men”. The history books seem to be filled with them. But my sense is that the people of today are not better or worse than those of history, but the information we have about them is more honest. The history books are filled with men of honor and duty to principle and values. The people in equivalent positions today are accused of adultery, child molestation, transmitting nude pictures, etc., etc. The higher we try to climb on our own self worth, the harder we fall under the light of scrutiny and information. But those who lead as servants, who serve in prayerful obedience to God, those are the ones to be modeled.
The people I look up to the most? Those who spend the most time down on their knees!