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Friday, April 4, 2008

Purple Crocus (photo by Doris High)
The crocus are in full bloom.

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"Holding Firmly!"

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess" (Hebrews 4:14).

I enjoy a selection of verses in the book of Hebrews that all begin with the phrase "Let Us" which is known grammatically as the hortatory subjunctive. Hortatory is from the Latin hortatorius, from hortari, "to exhort, to incite, to encourage."  This is my favorite preaching and writing style whether I am the listener and reader or whether I am the preacher or writer.

Salad (photo by Doris High)Early in my ministry I preached a sermon from Hebrews repeatedly using the phrase "Let us" and a friend, Jeff Ronald, commented afterwards that he liked my salad sermon. At first I couldn't understand what he was trying to say, but then he smiled as he further explained: "You kept saying 'let us' (lettuce)!"

The author of Hebrews uses this phrase "Let us" twelve times. When I read this book or hear sermons preached using this phrase I am encouraged and motivated, as it seems the author or preacher is leading me, not pushing me. In fact the writer of Hebrews was facing the same circumstances as his readers so he presents a style of writing in which he has a form of personal resolve while challenging them at the same time.

We all deal with different temptations and challenges in life as we seek to stay faithful to God.  The writer of Hebrews is addressing believers who were facing persecution and were tempted to go back to their old way of life which would be easier for them in their present circumstances. That always remains a temptation for all who follow Christ in varying degrees and for different reasons. 

Today, here in America, it may be the busyness of life, affluence, the pressure of secular teaching, the barrage of media influence, major family conflict and many other issues we confront daily that lull us into complacency or may pull us back into the world.  One that I have regularly noticed is the heavy load many people bear as they overcome the consequences of disobedience to God.  It may have been years of tobacco, drug or alcohol abuse, immorality, wasteful spending or any other attitude or behavior that at one time controlled our lives. 

Turning to Christ does not immediately negate the long-term consequences of these sinful choices.  In reality some of them will remain a recurring issue all throughout life.  The enemy of our soul may repeatedly whisper in times of despair, "What's the use?"  There  is great temptation to just throw in the towel and give up.  And sadly we have known those who have done just that. 

Our daily verse emphasizes perseverance, a major theme throughout Hebrews. "Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."  The word translated "hold firmly" is in the present active and conveys the ongoing need to actively participate in this "holding on" to our faith.

Later in Hebrews there is a great promise.  I have often been blessed by it and have committed it to memory. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded" (Hebrews 10:35).  Ponder that descriptive phrase "richly rewarded"; hide it deep in your heart today as you hold firmly to faith!  May the promise of God's future reward be a powerful stimulus for obedience today as you persevere
and hold firmly to your Christian faith .

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we rest in what you have done for us in the past. We trust You for what You are doing presently in our lives and for what You are going to do in the future as we place our confidence in You.  We have no confidence in the flesh because our weaknesses quickly overtake our good intentions.  Our confidence is based solely upon the redemptive work of salvation imparted to us when we received Christ as our personal Savior.  As we walk in Your ways we are confident that we will one day be richly rewarded and our faith will be proven genuine.  It is not by our intellect or will power that we remain steadfast but it is through the reliance of Your Holy Spirit that we walk in confidence and bring pleasure to You.  Amen.

For those interested in a little deeper exploration into the Greek sense of hortatory here's a brief article.

Today's Suggested Music
Supplemental Resources

"Holy, Holy, Holy"  Audio  from the Wholehearted hymns collection

"Blessed be Your Name"  Audio

"Psalm 34"  Audio  Andrew Hostetler

Today's photos were taken by our friend Doris High.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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