Tuesday, March 26, 2019

. . God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed
according to his will. Hebrews 2:4b

The epistle to the Hebrews was written to a second-generation church who had never known Jesus of Nazareth personally but had come to faith through the words of those who had heard him preach and had witnessed his miracles. This church had faced persecution, and many were wavering in their faith and thinking about returning to Judaism as they remembered it to be a safer approach to God. The writer reminded them that in the old days God spoke to them through the prophets, but in these last days, he spoke through his son, Jesus. Because Jesus is God’s own Son, he is superior to Moses, Elijah or any other prophet. By believing in Jesus as their High Priest, they would be saved from their sins and could find peace with God and meaning for their lives.

As God’s own son, Jesus is greater than angels. He led his life without sin and is man’s perfect sacrifice. They could trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and no longer be guilty and would have eternal life as promised by Jesus.

Those who knew Jesus personally witnessed his divine power over nature as he calmed angry seas. They were with him and saw his miracles of healing and casting out of demons. The epistle writer assures them that Jesus followers also had the truth of their own words confirmed by ‘signs, wonders, and various miracles as well as by receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.’ Believers knew of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Through faith, they could believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit would strengthen them to endure further hardship and give them victory over their trials.

Today’s popular culture offers many interesting and entertaining diversions. It gets harder to assign priorities when these are values that are God-given and worthwhile activities in themselves. They can include children’s sporting events, social media, concerts and theater, book and stamp clubs, needle art groups, get-to-gathers with friends, and vacations away from home. Sometimes these can seem more important than worshiping God in song and prayer and receiving forgiveness and healing for our souls in Holy Communion. How do we find the time to receive guidance and peace for our lives by studying His Word at home or in a group or writing a devotional for the Lenten booklet or just setting time aside for the intention of being alone with God?

The epistle writer urges the Hebrews and the church today to consider how superior a life leading to Christian maturity would be and to not drift away. He said we cannot ignore such a great salvation. Being with Jesus in our daily lives needs to be our focus. Our world is becoming increasingly complex and changes rapidly. But we can be assured that God has a personal plan for each of our lives. Our only real security can be in Christ who is always fair and merciful and willing to forgive our sins and strengthen us in our trials. The good news to the Hebrews, that God-sent signs, miracles and wonders and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are also still gladly offered to us by God as we grow in faith today.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to see signs of your loving presence today. Amen.

Nancy Whitney

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