Earlier this week I got together with some brothers and we began a study in Hebrews. The discussion covered chapter one and the first four verses of chapter 2. The discussion led to a realization that Salvation is a gift that we cannot do anything to get. God gives it to us freely, but we have some responsibility not to squander it or ignore it. We need to spend time with God in prayer and His Word.
I know I talk about this activity all the time, but it seems to be everywhere I turn in His Word. The other has to do with encouraging our brothers and sisters which reaffirms the need for us to meet.
This discussion has been bouncing around in my head all week, but the part that prompted me to write about it was a passage from 1 Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
Chapter 5 in 1 Thessalonians is dealing with the day of the Lord. Paul speaks of how the Lord will come like a thief in the night, but it will not be that way for the brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 (ESV)
4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I read that passage by Paul, and I see the need for all who believe in paying close attention to the world around us. We are not to be fearful, but aware and be sober-minded. Know God’s Word and grow your relationship with Him through prayer and study. That passage brought me back to Hebrews 2.
Paul spent chapter one defining who Jesus was and how important the gift of salvation was and then I had to read the first part of chapter 2.
Hebrews 2:1-4 (ESV)
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” And where do we hear that today? We hear the Word of God; the Holy Bible. And it is not enough to simply give it a passing thought, “we must pay much closer attention.”
As I considered just these two passages, my heart was flooded, especially this morning, with more passages and thoughts of how important this all is in knowing God. My next thought was someone would ask, “How can you say we need to spend time with God in the Bible” and I went to Hebrews 1
Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV)
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, two but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Then John 1
John 1:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So, I look at these three passages and what I draw from them is the need to spend time in the Word to communicate with God and grow closer to Him and know Him better.
The other thing that Paul tells us is to test everything, and the only benchmark that I have is God’s Word. It is the only place of absolute truth and inerrancy.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)
21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.
Encourage One Another
There was another piece to this morning’s prayer and study, and it dealt with encouragement. I read several passages: Philippians 3:17-21, Jeremiah 29:11-13, and 2 Peter 1:3-4. All of these dealt with encouragement. Then I read 2 Peter 1:5-11 one of my favorites.
2 Peter 1:5-11 (ESV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
When I read this passage and the list of attributes we are to build on and share I see only one way to get the correct specification to begin construction, and that is in God’s Word. I know I could cobble something together based on my own understanding, but God has warned me of the folly of that path in Proverbs.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
You know there are days that I do not want to study. My head is a cloud of mush. I cannot focus, and I can make no sense of anything I read, but I pray, and I ask for guidance to understand, and I may not be able to put two sentences together to write anything, but God gives me What I need for that day.
The days when I am just not up to it, in my mind, I never seem to pull out. Those days just stay cloudy until I surrender. Pride usually is in the mix somewhere. Once rid of that the clouds begin to lift.
So, I cannot say I am in the Word as much as I should be, but I can with all certainty say that when I am in the Word of God, the days are better and the hunger for the word grows like an addiction. I need it as much as air and desire it as much as my favorite food.
Father, I just give you thanks for today. I pray that this hunger for your Word and the desire I must share my experience will never fade. Lord, I love you and give you thanks for pulling me from the darkness. I pray you may use me to do the same for others. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.