In today’s Bible reading we complete our reading through Hebrews. The writer of the book of Hebrews encourages his readers to avoid the love of money and be content with what you have. Then he reminds them that Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He adds, “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)
How much time do we spend worrying about tomorrow? What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Throughout Scripture, we hear that God promises to take care of His children. (Psalm 37:25) God withholds nothing from those who live righteously. (Psalm 84:11) Jesus plainly told his Disciples, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough worries for itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
I said yesterday that the primary lie of the Prosperity Gospel is that Jesus isn’t enough. The true Gospel says that Jesus is more than enough. If Jesus promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (the eight words) we can truly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”. (Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 118:6)
If God promises to provide for His children and then He promises to never leave us, what could we possibly need?! And what could we ever worry about?
Aside from a brain chemical imbalance, I suggest that if you’re consumed with worry and anxiety, you might need to go back and revisit the verses in this devotional from time to time. Memorize these precious promises from God in His Word.
In today’s Bible reading, the writer of Hebrews says all of the other priests who came before Jesus brought the blood of goats and calves into the holy places to make atonement for the people. Once every year the high priest would bring a sacrifice to atone for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 9:7)
However, he says that when Jesus entered the Most Holy Place, He brought His own blood to atone for the people’s sins once for all time, securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)
And as I said two days ago, Jesus didn’t have to bring blood for His own sin since He was without sin.
Never again will anyone need to offer another sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin-debt sufficiently dealt with God’s wrath. Jesus’ sacrifice was so complete that you don’t have to worry about whether or not God will accept you. You are completely acceptable for all time.
Until you cross over to the other side of eternity, you will continue to have to deal with temptation. You will always have to deal with sinful inclinations and sinful behaviors. But if you are one of God’s kids, you can never do anything that will bring His displeasure to throw you out of His presence. You have been forgiven once-for-all. You have been adopted once-for-all. You have been accepted once-for-all.
And that’s good news!
Jesus is a better priest than Melchizedek, the King of Salem, King of Righteousness, King of Peace. In fact, Jesus was from the priestly order of Melchizedek. We read in today’s Bible reading that unlike all the other priests who came before Him, Jesus didn’t have to offer a sacrifice for Himself before offering a sacrifice for the people. Why? Because unlike all priests who came before Him, He didn’t have sin for Himself to have to atone for. Unlike all other priests who came before Him, He was sinless.
So why does the writer of Hebrews make such a big deal of Melchizedek? The Jewish people had always looked up to Melchizedek because he was the one to whom Abraham tithed the spoils after defeating the King of Sodom who had raided Abraham’s nephew Lot. Melchizedek blessed Abraham. He was seen as a messianic figure and precursor of Jesus.
As I said earlier, the main theme throughout the book of Hebrews is the supremacy of Jesus in the New Covenant over the Old Covenant system. As highly as the Jewish people looked up to Melchizedek, the writer of the letter emphasizes Jesus’ supremacy over him.
Jesus isn’t just a little higher. Jesus is supreme over all other priests who came before Him. Including Melchizedek. Jesus’ supreme sacrifice of Himself covered all sin for all time. Never again do God’s people have to find an unblemished lamb to bring to a priest to make a sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient — more than sufficient — to atone for our sins.
In today’s Bible reading, we see Paul doing a very foolish thing. He says that God has told him that if he returns to Jerusalem, he will face trouble. In fact, Paul says that everywhere he goes, the Holy Spirit confirms that if he goes to Jerusalem, he will face imprisonment and afflictions. (Acts 20:23) So why would he go to the very place where he would face such hardships?
Dr. Luke answers that question with Acts 20:22: “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there.”
Earlier, I said that Paul did a very foolish thing. Actually, it wasn’t foolish at all. In fact, it was the wisest thing he could have possibly done!
Where the Holy Spirit leads, you will find peace. Now, I didn’t say that where the Spirit leads, you will find prosperity. No, where the Holy Spirit leads, you will always find peace and God’s blessings. You don’t want to be where God doesn’t want you to be.
Many years ago, I lamented to a friend that I hadn’t yet been called to my first church ministry position after seminary. He wisely remarked that “No place is better than the wrong place. Trust me, I’ve been there.”
As our son prepares to go back to Australia with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) for two years, many people have asked Amy and me if we were concerned with his leaving and going literally to the other side of the world. We respond, that if God is calling him to study and minister there, the last place we want him to be is here with us. Yes, we will miss him. Yes, we will be concerned with his welfare. But we know that he is in the hands of a totally sovereign God who is always good and Who loves our son more than we do.
If you have a sovereign God (and we do), your anxiety level drops a great deal. God knows what He’s doing and is always in control of every situation.
In today’s Bible reading, King Herod kills James and holds Peter in jail, ready to present Peter to the Jewish leaders after the Passover. Herod assigns four squads of Roman soldiers to guard Peter. This might seem to be an overkill. Why would King Herod assign sixteen Roman soldiers to guard an unarmed, unassuming peasant? Well, there was the case of the apostles’ deliverance from captivity in Acts 5:17–26. Obviously, Herod believed there was something special about Peter and he wanted four soldiers at a time, in rotating shifts, to keep their eye on him 24/7.
Peter didn’t know what awaited him. But he had eyes to see how many soldiers were assigned to him. Wasn’t he worried? Wasn’t he concerned that this might be his last night before meeting a fate similar to James?
No. No, he wasn’t concerned in the least. In fact, Peter’s sleeping so peacefully, when the angel appeared in his cell, he had to strike Peter to wake him up. Peter was certain that God was in control. As a result, he rested comfortably that night.*
Whatever you’re going through, how sure are you that God is in control? Do you have incomprehensible peace? (Philippians 4:7) Take God at His Word. Know that He is absolutely in control, regardless of how things may look. Realize that despite how things may look, your world may not be falling apart. It’s falling into place.
*Note: Insomnia and anxiety can be brain chemical issues. Yes, God can fix brain chemistry without medicine, but there should be no more shame in taking medication for these issues than for taking any other kind of medicine. If you have anxiety and insomnia, pray. And seek medical attention if God sovereignly chooses to not heal you without it. I’ll address miraculous and medical therapy when we get to our reading in Acts 28. Stay tuned!