Daily Update #208

Hebrews 13:1-25
When I finally left home to go off to university, my parents kindly drove me the long journey up to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We enjoyed the pleasant journey. But once installed in my new room and it was time to leave, I remember those last few minutes, as my parents crammed in lots of advice before finally saying goodbye and starting the long journey home. Their final words were “If you need anything, call. Remember to call”. Having children of my own, I now realise that they were taking what seemed the last opportunity to ensure that all their hard-work as parents was not undermined or forgotten. Passing on final instructions to keep me safe and well, their hope was that I would thrive and build on all that I had learned as a child, but there was always the knowledge that whatever happened, I knew I could call or simply get on a train and come home.
This final chapter of Hebrews seems a bit like that. We have read this book quite quickly and there have been lots of things to think about. Finally, the writer realises he needs to finish and pray that the recipients of this letter would grow into mature believers, so in a few lines, he pours out his final advice, almost like the 10 commandments.

  1. Love each other as brother and sisters (verse 1)
  2. Show hospitality to strangers (verse 2)
  3. Remember those in prison (verse 3)
  4. Remember those being mistreated (verse 3)
  5. Give honour to marriage (verse 4)
  6. Remain faithful to one another in marriage (verse 4)
  7. Don’t love money, but be satisfied with what you have (verse 5)
  8. Don’t get caught up in strange, new ideas (verse 9)
  9. Obey your spiritual leaders and follow their example (verses 7 & 17)
  10. Do good and share with those in need (verse 16)

These exhortations are all great advice, but perhaps you are thinking, “I can’t do all of those” or “where do I start?”
Let’s have a quick look at what this list looks like in our current lockdown situation:

  • Love each other as brothers and sisters – perhaps this looks like calling people for a chat and just listening to them.
  • Showing hospitality to strangers – obviously we can’t do this at the moment – but perhaps you nod to the same strangers on your daily walk – breaking the silence is always a good place to start. I have been surprised by the number of great conversations I have had with people, when out walking my dog.
  •  Remembering those in prison and who are being mistreated – this is a great time to start praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. If you don’t receive the Release magazine, you can access their information through their website and start praying.
  • Give honour to marriage – with all the changes that have happened over the last few years in redefining marriage, this is an important time to know where we stand on the subject. Honouring marriage not only means giving of our best in our own marriage, but also helping our friends and relatives grow together in their own marriages.
  • Don’t love money – I am sure that for many of us, lockdown has given us a chance to re-evaluate what we spend and how we spend it. But, we also have had the chance to reconsider our priorities. A few months ago, a man came into the Foodbank with some donations that he and his teenage son had bought. He shared with me, how lockdown had given him the great opportunity to spend more time with his son, which he hadn’t done before as he had had to work such long hours. He was adamant that family life was going to change as he reprioritised his life around what was important to him.
  • Don’t get caught up in strange new ideas – I guess for those of us who have the opportunity to spend hours surfing the internet, it is very easy to get caught up with ideas and opinions that on the surface look plausible and even appealing as Christian values. But the Bible reminds us to test everything to see if it really is in line with what the Bible teaches. For many of us, this is where we can benefit by being in a homegroup, where we have the chance to share things we have read or learnt and find out whether we are on the right track or not.
  • Obey your spiritual leaders. It is an awesome and fearsome responsibility for Matt and his leaders to be accountable to God for us. Knowing that they are praying for us and trying to help us know Jesus more closely, we need to follow their advice and teaching.
  • Do good and share with others – I know this is all encompassing, but I believe that God speaks to each of us in our own situations to show us how to share not only our possessions and time but also our faith with others.

So, where do we start. My suggestion is that you go back to chapter 13 in Hebrews and re-read it now. I can wait while you read it……..
What jumped out at you? Which command caught your eye or niggled you? Well that’s the one to start with.  But before you do, there is one final thing.
Remember – call me! Jesus says it over and over again in the Bible. Well, he actually says PRAY.
God’s promises in verse 5 and 21 will help you.
Verse 5: “I will never fail you, I will never abandon you”
Verse 21: “May He (God) equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him”

Let us pray:Father God, as our Father, you give us commands to help us live our lives in the best possible way. But every day we fail. As we look at this list today Lord, please help us to start small and focus on the one thing you want us to change. Thank you that you give us all the power and help we need to become more like Jesus. Amen.

Monday’s reading: Genesis 1:1-19.