October 28

Hebrews 12-James 1

We are in the Church Stream reading from the Easy-to-Read Version.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord, we have so much to learn from those who walked with you and were faithful to pass your Word to us.  Thank you for caring for us so.  Amen.
Hebrews 12 – In our discipleship, we are to be inspired by all the great saints who have led the way for us in following the call of God.  They reside in eternity now but they cheer us on in our marching even today.   Let’s put every distraction away as their lives remind us to do.  Let’s not be swayed amid our sufferings. It is discipline, yes, and faithful disciples are not hampered because of discipline…it makes us better disciples.  We’re also urged to remain strong in the Lord by remaining IN THE LORD (did anyone think it would be any other way?!).  Living unto God means to live peacefully, cheerfully, and wholly unto God in mind and body.  The continuing contrast of Sinai, Zion, and Heaven is laid before us. That should urge us onward also to pursue God. In Sinai when the commandments were brought down it was a terrifying and inspiring scene. But the Law does not save. In Jerusalem, Jesus was crucified, and that sacrifice covers for us. Therefore we are to be pilgrims virtually entranced to follow Jesus if we can use such a verb here.  Now that same God resides in heaven and what he has done for us commands our lives and we are to be so overwhelmed by His outpouring of love that we follow Him and pledge to remain so in His New Covenant.  The price of turning away from God’s Son shall be far worse than what those who shunned Him in the desert experienced.  God is still a consuming fire.

13 – You can tell that this chapter is the final appeal to the Hebrew Nation of Israel.  Hebrews was written, completed and circulated and not long after that, Jerusalem was burned by Romans and the Jewish nation was dispersed throughout the earth for almost 19 centuries.  In this closing chapter, they are reminded to be loving, hospitable, ministerial to each other, honorable in marriage, and vigilant against bad doctrines. Don’t be discouraged if the “old guard” at the Temple don’t accept you for they shunned Jesus too. Praise is the greatest sacrifice now!  The rest of the chapter is various things that switch their minds from the Sinai covenant to the New Covenant rooted in Christ.  For that is what the writer of Hebrews wants for them now – to be rooted in Christ and His great mercies.

James comes to us as a man rich in faith, insight, and character. He was Jesus’ brother. Yes, Jesus had younger brothers and sisters as the oldest of at least seven children in a family of nine or more. James, also raised by Joseph and Mary, grew up next to Jesus, .  His tie to Jesus was heart felt as well as a blood tie that went back a couple of decades.  Most of the disciples knew Jesus [live] for three years. James knew his brother Jesus for much longer. His final role was that of chief leader of the Church in Jerusalem. His final years especially saw a flood tide of conversions as the Holy Spirit moved in Jerusalem mightily.  This James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred. ‘More about this next week when we finish the Book of James.   He talks to us this day with much wisdom and direct instruction that is timeless in every culture on earth.
James 1 – wastes no time and gets into what he has to tell us.  We are to be “pleased as punch” when we are suffering for being Believers in Jesus. Hang in there, do not be alarmed, but persevere through it until we are mature in our faith. Such things bring wisdom. And we are to be praying; asking God for wisdom. James tells us to keep faith and thereby to have unshakeable faith. And you can believe that James knew what he was talking about! Be rich in humility, James continues. And as for temptation, let it be simply another item in life that drives us to God and makes us great people of prayer who are completely blessed by God; our anchor.  Be listening, calm natured, be students of God’s laws, and be ever-in-worship through serving the needy among you.  More from James next week.

The Thread Through the Streams

The theme and thread that surfaced each day was, “and what is it that drives you? What is the motivation here?…”

— Number 34-36  includes the ordering cities of refuge and hard fast rules for murder and all the contingencies involved therein. God wanted them to be different from the rest of the world where murder and killing was just the way things were. The motives for murder are as varied as the grains of sand on a shore and there is no end to the discussion for this. But God was very driven to see them be a people of life and service not shadiness and death.

— II Chronicles 17-23 was a loaded passage that could be 8 months of sermons! Jehoshaphat was wrongly motivated to have a deal with the pagans in Samaria up north. He was motivated to teach the Law in the towns up north that would listen. He became powerful. The Philistines were driven to pay Judah big money to keep peace. The Prophet Micaiah was driven to be honest with King Ahab who had delusional fantasies about success that weren’t true.  The Ammonites/Moabites are foolishly driven to attack Judah. Fear first motivates Judah to respond. Then God motivates them to worship before war. And it’s quite a motivator!
— Proverbs 13-16 has some sound motivation to be wise. The fools however have silly motivations that keep them fools. The lazy aren’t motivated. The hungry are motivated by hunger, the industrious are motivated to … etc.
— Ezekiel 21-23 shows God’s determined motivation to clean up Jerusalem and clean out Ammon.  The two ladies that symbolize Judah and Samaria are driven by a crazed lust that drives them to madness-level-prostitution and to having themselves murdered by the same ‘tall/dark/handsome’ warriors that they thought they couldn’t do without.
— Haggai 1-2 shows the people all motivated to build their own homes in a haste that has them forgetting to show due diligence and tend to the things of God first.  After they are deprived because of their wrong motivations, THEN they will hear the Lord/Haggai and work on the Temple.  The worship is moved up the priority list, the harvests pick up again and the blessing of God is among them.
— within John 6-7 we see a clear distinction between those who really want fellowship and to know and follow Jesus v.s. those who are motivated by piles of free bread. For them it was bargain faith.  So were they driven by faith? Hardly. They disappeared as soon as Jesus invited them to really come into God’s presence. Their motivations were temporal; immediate, not godly nor eternal.  And btw, the motivation of the leaders in Jerusalem were clear: kill Jesus.
—  Hebrews [the ending]  and James [from the beginning] both have a clear force driving them:  they want us all to be growing in our service, character, discipleship, love for Christ and God the Father.  It’s very good reading that is always germane.

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