Category Archives: General Epistles

Jude 22-25 — When others fall

As much as it is important to contend with those who would attack the faith, we must care for those who have been affected by these attacks. So Jude tells us first of all to be merciful to those who doubt. … Continue reading

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Jude — Recognizing those we contend with

The problem with deception is that it is by its nature difficult to detect. That’s why it can be so easy for false teachers to slip into the church. They don’t come out blaring to the church, “I am a … Continue reading

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Jude — Contending for the faith

I love how Jude, the brother of Jesus opens this letter. To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. (1) This phrase bookends with the last two verses. To him … Continue reading

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III John — Walking in truth and love (part 2)

As we look at III John, we see many of the same themes that we see in II John, and for that matter in I John: those of truth and love. Here, though, we have a very practical application of … Continue reading

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II John – Walking in truth and love

Here we have a very short letter, written to a church that the apostle John lovingly calls, “the chosen lady,” probably in reference to the church being the bride of Christ. And I don’t think you have to look very … Continue reading

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I John 5:16-21 — A sin that leads to death

John has a somewhat curious thing to say in verses 16-17. He says, If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those … Continue reading

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I John 5:13-15 — When we have confidence in God’s love

I have to admit, it seems at times that John jumps around a lot in his thoughts. And the jump between verses 13 and 14 seems a bit startling as well. How do we go from talking about the confidence … Continue reading

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I John 5:6-13- The testimony of God

It is very interesting to me that God in trinity testifies to the way of salvation. I’d never really thought about that before. John tell us, This is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He … Continue reading

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I John 4:9-10 — The love God has for us

I said yesterday that I wanted to get back to some verses from chapter 4 that I skipped a couple of days ago. And they are absolutely vital because it goes back to something I said yesterday. I said yesterday … Continue reading

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I John 5:1-5:5 — If we truly know and love God (part 2)

Just a quick note. There were some verses in chapter 4 that I skipped last time and I really want to get back to. But before I go there, I want to complete my thoughts from yesterday. As I said … Continue reading

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I John 4:7-5:1 — If we truly know and love God

Jesus once said of false prophets, By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16) And while Jesus was specifically talking about false prophets, we can say the same of all those who claim to be Christians. Many people claim to … Continue reading

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I John 3:24-4:6 — Testing the spirits

There are many today who claim to follow Christ, to have the Holy Spirit, and to preach the gospel. The question we always need to be asking, however, is if they follow the true Christ, have the true Holy Spirit, … Continue reading

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I John 3:16-22 — But am I really saved?

“But am I really saved?” I’ve mentioned before that I really struggled with this question when I was a child. And to be honest, it’s a hard question to answer. It’s hard because only God truly knows the human heart. … Continue reading

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I John 3:16-18 — The mark of a child of God (part 3)

Actions speak louder than words. That is true of anyone who is truly a child of God. We saw that in James, and we see that here as well. Jesus’ actions spoke volumes. John said, This is how we know … Continue reading

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I John 2:28-3:24 — The mark of a child of God (part 2)

We saw yesterday that the mark of a child of God is righteousness. That true children of God seek to be pure as the One they love is pure. And that when they sin, they can’t do so without feeling … Continue reading

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I John 2:28-3:10 –The mark of a child of God

How can we know we are truly children of God? That we are truly saved? I remember having that question when I was a kid. I had received Jesus when I was about 7 years old, but for a long … Continue reading

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I John 2:18-27 — The anointing we have

One of the things the false teachers were apparently telling the people was, “What you have learned from the apostles is not enough. We have a special anointing from God that neither they nor you have.” But John tells his … Continue reading

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I John 2:18-25 — What Satan tries to sell us

I think it is easy sometimes to think of Satan merely as that roaring lion. The one who out and out seeks to destroy us. But the truth is that as often as he takes that tactic, he also takes … Continue reading

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I John 2:15-17 — In love with the Father? In love with the world?

As I read this, I can’t help but think that John was reflecting back to Jesus’ own words when He said, No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will … Continue reading

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I John 2:12-14 — As we mature

As I read John’s words here to his different readers, it strikes me that there are different stages that we go through in our Christian lives. First, as children. John writes, I write to you, dear children, because your sins have … Continue reading

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I John 2:1-2 — When we fall

We saw yesterday that though we are children of light and are called to live that way, we do fall at times. And when we do, if we confess our sins and repent, God will forgive us. (1:9) Here in … Continue reading

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I John 1:8-10 — Our struggle with sin

It would be easy, having seen the last two blogs I have posted, to get the impression that I’m saying a true Christian should be perfect. That there should be no sin in our lives at all. And John does … Continue reading

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I John 1:5-2:11 — To have fellowship with God (part 2)

We saw yesterday that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. So if we are going to claim to have fellowship with him, then we need to be walking in that light with him. If … Continue reading

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I John 1:5-2:11 — To have fellowship with God

In a lot of ways, the word “Christian,” is applied to far too many people. Many people claim to be Christians, but by their lives show themselves to be anything but. At this point, many people may scream at me … Continue reading

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I John 1:1-4 — Proclaiming He who is life

And so we come to the last “long” letter of the New Testament. Or at least the last letter with multiple chapters, anyway. And from the very beginning, you can almost hear the emotion coming from the apostle John who … Continue reading

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II Peter 3:10-18 — Because this world isn’t forever

If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear in this passage, it’s that this world will not last forever. Peter says, But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements … Continue reading

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II Peter 3:1-15 — The patience of God

We talked a couple days ago about the complaint people have that God seems to be doing nothing about all the evil and injustice in this world. And we saw that justice will come, and that it is certain. It is … Continue reading

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II Peter 2:10-12 — Underestimating Satan

C.S. Lewis once said about demons, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and … Continue reading

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II Peter 2:3-9 — A destruction that is not sleeping

Sometimes we wonder why God allows so much evil in the world. We wonder why God doesn’t do something now about the people who are doing evil. And in addressing the false teachers and their fate, Peter gives us an answer … Continue reading

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II Peter 2 — Our need to know God’s word

We saw yesterday that our faith is based not only on our experiences with God, valuable as they are, but also on God’s word. And now in chapter 2, Peter tells us why it is so vital to know God’s word … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:16-21–What our faith is built on

What is our faith built on? Why do we believe what we believe? At the very base, it’s built on God himself and who he is. And it’s built on our experience of him. We’ve experienced God; we’ve tasted the … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:2-15 — If we truly know him and love him

I’ve been reading Luke 19:11-27 in preparation for a message I’ll be giving in a few weeks at church. And as I read this passage in II Peter, it caused me to reflect on that passage in Luke. In Luke 19, … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:2-4 — That grace and peace may abound

One of my favorite passages in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian is when Lucy meets up with Aslan, and she says, “Aslan! You’re bigger!” And Aslan replies, “That is because you are older, little one.” “Not because you are?” “I am not. … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:1 — A faith that puts us on equal standing

It’s rare that I ever get stopped by a verse such that I just have to write about it and it alone. Particularly when it comes in a greeting. But this one stopped me. Peter writes, Simon Peter, a servant … Continue reading

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I Peter 5 — Facing suffering as a church

Throughout this letter, Peter addresses Christians as they face persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ. He addressed them first as a collective body of Christians throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. As the living stones who were … Continue reading

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I Peter 4:12-19 — Living for the will of God (Part 3)

If there’s one thing that most people don’t think about when it comes to knowing the will of God in their lives, it’s that sometimes it’s God’s will that we go through suffering. The more I read the New Testament, … Continue reading

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I Peter 4:8-11 — Living for the will of God (Part 2)

A lot of people want to know what God’s will is for their lives. And they tend to think of it in terms of “What job should I have?” “What ministry should I join?” Or “Who should I marry?” But … Continue reading

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I Peter 4:1-7 — Living for the will of God

From the very beginning of the letter, Peter made something very clear that he gets back to here. In chapter 1, verse 2, he let us know that we were chosen by God for obedience to Jesus Christ. And this … Continue reading

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I Peter 3:18-22 — The hope that we have

When people mock us for our faith, it can be disheartening. And when we are persecuted for our faith, it can be easy to ask why. “Why does God allow this? Why does he let us suffer? And how long will we … Continue reading

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I Peter 3:13-4:6 — Living for Christ that others may live

Throughout this letter, Peter has been encouraging his readers to follow the example of Christ in suffering. To not be afraid of people, but to instead set apart Christ as Lord in their lives. One thing that struck me as … Continue reading

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I Peter 3:8-17 — Living as servants of God (Part 4)

After addressing specific examples of how people should live as servants of God (slaves, wives, and husbands), Peter now addresses us all. First he addresses how we are to relate to one another. Finally, all of you, live in harmony … Continue reading

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I Peter 3:1-7 — Living as servants of God (Part 3)

From the very beginning of this letter, we’ve seen that we were chosen by the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ. In short, we were chosen not to live for ourselves, but for Jesus Christ. … Continue reading

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I Peter 2:18-25 — Living as servants of God (Part 2)

I suppose one of the groups of people that had the hardest time submitting to authority were the slaves in Peter’s time. One of the things that had to attract them to the teaching of Christ was the idea that … Continue reading

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I Peter 2:12-17 — Living as servants of God

I mentioned in an earlier blog that sometimes Christians live as if God were an upgrade to their lives. The result of this is that they pretty much continue to live as they did before but they add on a … Continue reading

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I Peter 1:13-2:12 — Because we don’t belong here

Having lived in Japan for 20 years, I sometimes feel like a man without a country. Of course I am American, but having been out of country so long, I am totally out of touch with the culture there and … Continue reading

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I Peter 1:3-12 — The reason for our hope

Peter was writing to a people that were suffering persecution, most likely under Nero. We don’t know the exact circumstances under which Peter wrote this letter, but it was probably either just before Nero started his full bore persecution of the … Continue reading

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I Peter 1:1-2 — Who we are. Who we are called to be.

I don’t always take so much time looking at the greeting section of these letters in the New Testament. But as much as any letter in the New Testament, and perhaps more, this greeting connects to everything else that is written in … Continue reading

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James 5:15-20 — A faith that pursues

The letter of James ends rather abruptly compared to a lot of the letters that you see in the New Testament. But it ends with one of its main themes: a faith that expresses itself in love. And here we … Continue reading

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James 5:13-18 — A faith that prays

As I said before, a lot of James at first glance seems disjointed, but the more that I’ve read this book, the more I’ve come to see the overall flow of it. And here James comes back to an idea … Continue reading

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James 5:1-12 — How faith responds to suffering

James started this letter by talking about how God uses trials to make us mature and complete. And for the last several chapters, he talked about how true faith should look as it matures. That true faith causes people to … Continue reading

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James 4:13-17 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 8)

I think with this passage, James pretty much concludes his speech on how true faith expresses itself. And again, throughout his whole letter, he has focused on love, speech, and purity. In these last few verses, I think he’s going back to … Continue reading

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James 4:11-12 — How true faith expresses itself (part 7)

Having addressed hearts that had been polluted by their love for the world, James now gets back to the tongue and how polluted hearts can affect it. James talked earlier about how they were always fighting and quarreling among themselves … Continue reading

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James 3:13-4:10 — How true faith expresses itself (part 6)

James here briefly gets away from talking about controlling the tongue (he’ll return to it later), and starts talking about the third way that faith expresses itself: purity. He said back in James 1:26 that an essential part of true … Continue reading

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James 3:2-12 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 5)

I suppose I could have just titled this blog, “The tongue,” or some other such title. But I wanted to remind myself that this is really part of a longer argument that James is making. That faith expresses itself in … Continue reading

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James 3 — If you would be a teacher

As I look back on my life, I kind of marvel at how I have gotten to this point in my ministry. I just ask myself, “How did I get here?” It all started simply enough, I suppose. My brother … Continue reading

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James 2:17-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 4)

There was something that I wanted to add in the last blog, but it was getting long as it was, so I decided to put it here. One thing that I have been trying very carefully to do is to … Continue reading

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James 2:17-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 3)

We said yesterday that it’s not simply enough to say, “I believe in God,” in order to be saved. Nor, for that matter, is it enough to say “I believe that Jesus died for my sin and rose again” in … Continue reading

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James 2:14-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 2)

I think it’s easy at times to parse the Bible into neat little sections, especially as we do our daily Bible reading. What I’ve been noticing more and more over the past year, though, is that when we do that, … Continue reading

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James 1:26-2:13 — How true faith expresses itself

One of the things that James really is strong on is that true faith expresses itself in more than just saying, “I believe in God.” Many people today say, “I believe in God.” But as we will see in later … Continue reading

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James 1:19-25 — Open hearts

At times, I must admit this letter James wrote seems a bit disjointed. He just seems to jump from topic to topic. But the more I’ve been reading this letter as a whole, the more united it has become. In … Continue reading

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James 1:13-18 — For our good

“Why is God doing this to me? Does he want me to fall?” Sometimes, as we go through trials, that’s how we feel. That God actually wants us to fail so that he can punish us. But nothing could be … Continue reading

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James 1:9-12 — Where we put our trust

Who or what do you put your trust in? Trials tend to reveal this clearly. For many, it’s in worldly wealth. They think that money is the solution to all their problems. And so for those who have wealth, they pour … Continue reading

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James 1:1-8 — That we may be mature and complete

What is God’s intention and desire for us? In a word, “wholeness.” That we would be whole in our relationship with him. That we would be whole in our relationships with each other. That we would be whole in every … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:20-25 — Equipped

I love how the writer of Hebrews closes his letter. Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:17-18 — Following and praying for your leaders

I have great respect for the pastors who have been over me. I’ve been teaching God’s word for a long time, but have never sensed the call to be a pastor. If all being a pastor meant was teaching God’s … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:7-16 — Serving the one who never changes

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (8) This is a famous verse, and one of my favorites. It reminds me that my Lord is unchanging. And that is comforting in a world where people change all … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:5-6 — What we love, what we put our trust in

I’ve gotta admit, having money makes life easier. It makes it easier to deal with serious health problems, as we can afford more expensive types of treatments. It allows us to have better cars or homes when our old ones … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:4 — Honoring our marriages

When you look at the spiritual and moral landscape of the United States, Japan, and many other countries, it’s amazing to see how the concept of marriage has deteriorated. You don’t even need to dip into the idea of gay … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:3 — Remembering the imprisoned

I considered just finishing up Hebrews today, but I did want to look at some tidbits in this final chapter a little more closely. Here in verse 3, as a part of showing brotherly kindness, the writer of Hebrews says, … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12-13 — Because we have this inheritance

We’ve talked the last couple of days about the inheritance God offers us in Christ and the dangers of refusing this inheritance. But if as Christians we have now received this inheritance, how then shall we live? The writer of Hebrews tells … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:15-29 — If we turn our backs on God

There are two sides to every coin. And we see that in this passage. On one hand, there is the inheritance that God offers to us if we will become his children and heirs. On the other hand, there’s judgment … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:16-29 — The inheritance we have

We saw yesterday that the writer of Hebrews warned us not to be like Esau who tossed aside his inheritance because of his ungodliness, and was unable to regain it though he begged for his father’s blessing with tears. And … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:14-17 — Holiness

“Sure, I’m a Christian. I believe the Bible. I believe in Jesus.” Many people in the church say this, and yet their lives don’t show it. They’re still living the way they always have, and there is no change or … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:1-13 — When we face trials

No one likes to face trials in life. But God does allow them. Why? The writer of Hebrews tells us in verse 10. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. We are broken people … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:1-2 — We also

Running has never been my thing. I recently have picked it up again though my runs tend to be very short, no where near a 10k, no less a marathon. But as Christians, we are called to join the great … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:36-40 — What a life of faith does not mean

There are a number of people who seem to think that if you have enough faith, your life should be all smooth sailing. No health problems, no financial problems, just a happy-go-lucky life. They apparently have never read this chapter. … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:32-35 — Faith and grace

I have to admit that I have trouble understanding why people like Gideon and Samson are mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” despite their failures. It’s amazing to me that their failures are not even mentioned in this chapter. But … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:32-35 — When we trust God

Have you ever noticed the people that the writer of Hebrews mentions as “paragons” of faith in verse 32? Most of them were hardly paragons. Samuel, though he was a great judge and prophet, failed greatly when it came to raising … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:23-31 — A faith that knows who to fear

It has often been said, “If you fear God, you need not fear anyone else.” Jesus himself warned us, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:17-22 — A faith that believes that God is good

“God is good.” “All the time.” “All the time…” “God is good.” I’ve been to a couple of churches for which this was kind of a mantra. But how many of us really believe it? Oh sure, in good times … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:11-12 – – Faith to see beyond (part 2)

“It’s impossible. I can’t do it.” How often do we see situations in life and say that, if not with our mouths, then in our hearts? That’s how Abraham and Sarah must have felt. God first gave them the promise … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:8-16 — A faith that sees beyond

This earth is not our home. Most Christians know this. But how many actually live this way? Abraham did. The writer of Hebrews said of him, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:7 — A faith that prepares for judgment

Judgment day. It’s not a subject that people like to talk about. Particularly non-Christians. Oh, they don’t mind the thought of criminals and other “evil” people being judged by God. But somehow, when they think of “evil” people, they never … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:1-6 — The need for faith

Why is faith so important? Because for whatever reason, it is the one thing that God desires from all of us as his creatures. The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is for their faith that God commended all … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:1-6 — The foundation of our faith

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (1-2) A lot of people see these verses, and think of them as the definition … Continue reading

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Hebrews 10:32-39 — In a little while

God never promised us an easy life. In fact, Jesus promised us just the opposite. That there would be times of trouble. That people would even hate us for following Christ. And while that may or not be real to … Continue reading

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Hebrews 10:26-31 — If we choose to reject Christ

What will you do with Christ? When all is said and done, that is the ultimate question that everyone has to answer. For those who decide to put their trust in him, they find life, both here in this world … Continue reading

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Hebrews 10:19-25 — Opened up

This is one of my favorite passages in scripture, and one I committed to memory a long time ago. Every year on the Day of Atonement, the people would wait outside the tabernacle as the High Priest went through the … Continue reading

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Hebrews 9:11-10:18 — Why all this blood?

One of the key points for this passage that we’ve been talking about is shadows and copies. And in the midst of all this, we’ve been talking about all the sacrifices of bulls and goats that were made as a … Continue reading

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Hebrews 9:9-10:18 — What shadows and copies can and cannot do

For the last couple of days, we’ve been talking about shadows and copies. And essentially what we’ve been saying is that shadows and copies can show us pictures of reality. A shadow can give us a general idea of what … Continue reading

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Hebrews 9:1-8 — Shadows and copies (part 2)

Yesterday we read in chapter 8 that the tabernacle was a shadow and copy of the true tabernacle. Here in chapter 9, we see in what way it was a mere shadow and copy of the real thing. The ark … Continue reading

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Hebrews 8 — Shadows and copies

A lot of people wonder at the Old Testament and why we even have it. Especially the parts about the making of the tabernacle and all the laws, many of which are no longer applicable to us today. The reason … Continue reading

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Hebrews 7 — King of righteousness, King of peace, our Priest forever

Merry Christmas from Japan, everyone. As we remember Christ today, I suppose it’s only appropriate to read this passage and remember just who he is. And he is far more than a baby in a manger. The writer of Hebrews … Continue reading

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Hebrews 6:9-20 — Impossible (or “The reason for our hope”)

I said yesterday that if you hold that Hebrews 6 says it is possible to lose your salvation, then once that person falls away it is impossible to get it back (6:4-6). There is no out. One reason is this … Continue reading

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Hebrews 6:4-8 — Impossible

This is one of the more controversial passages in scripture. Many Christians use it to try to prove that it is possible for a person to lose their salvation. The writer of Hebrews says, It is impossible for those who … Continue reading

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Hebrews 5:11-6:3 — What true maturity is

There are some Christians that long to grow deeper in the faith. To learn the deep things of scripture that go beyond the simple gospel message. The question is, “Are they ready for it?” The audience that was reading this … Continue reading

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Hebrews 4:11-5:10 — Why we can dare to draw near

How would you like to have your whole life exposed for all to see? Nothing hidden. Your life an open book for the world to see? Now think of standing before God on judgment day with that book open before … Continue reading

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Hebrews 3-4 — The need for faith

Many people want to know God’s blessings in life. Many people want to find true life and joy. But far too few are willing to put their trust in God in order to obtain these things. And that’s the problem that … Continue reading

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Hebrews 2-3 –Why we dare not ignore the gospel

One of the key themes you see throughout Hebrews is the supremacy of Christ. In chapters 1-2, you see his supremacy over the prophets and the angels. In chapter 3, we see his supremacy over Moses. And in chapter 4, … Continue reading

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Hebrews 2 — What Christmas is all about (part 3)

For the past couple of days, we’ve been looking at Christmas through the lens of Hebrews. First, we talked about how it was because of Christmas that we can truly see what God is like. That through Jesus, the invisible … Continue reading

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Hebrews 2 — What Christmas is all about (part 2)

What’s wrong with the world today? Until we answer that question, we can’t really answer what Christmas is about. And that’s what the author of Hebrews addresses here. He says in verse 5 that in the world to come, when … Continue reading

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Hebrews 1 — What Christmas is all about

As I write this, Christmas season is well in swing and is in fact just around the corner. And in Hebrews, we find out just what Christmas is all about. Who is this Christ that came? And why is he … Continue reading

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