Archive for the ‘Hebrews’ Category

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. Hebrews 10:35 (NKJV)


Dr. Justin Coulson[i], the author of What Your Child Needs From You: Creating a Connected Family, suggests that rather than using carrots and sticks, try to instill motivation within your child. That’s not a quick fix thing but rather a slow process that you develop through having conversations with your kids and setting a great example.

As we look at a few areas of concern, here’s what you may do.  Let’s say, for instance, that your teenager is reluctant to study.  Help them look at the big picture. Ask them something like, “what do you want to be/do/have?” Coulson suggests that once they’ve got a vision for the future, then you’re on your way.

On the other hand, if your teen doesn’t have specific academic or career goals yet, find out what interests them.  You can encourage them to volunteer at a car shop, nursing home, or the music store.

A very common area of conflict for parents of teenagers is how to get them to clean their rooms and pick up after themselves.  Talk with them in terms of your values and their responsibility.  Remind them that everyone at home is expected to abide by a minimum standard, talk about what that minimum standard is, and how you can achieve it.

Don’t forget the power of appreciation. When your teens have done as they were asked, let them know you’re grateful. This motivates kids of any age — we all like to hear that we’ve made someone happy or grateful.

One other source of conflict with today’s kids may be exercise.  See if you can find their interests and their strengths and encourage them to pursue them.  If your child exercises better with others see if they can take part in team sports.  If they prefer individual challenges you can help them track their progress.  Success on the field, on the scale, or the weight room can be very motivating.

The research is clear: the more we can encourage our children’s autonomy and internal motivation, the better the long-term outcomes will be.


Father God, help to guide my teenage children during these challenging years of their life.

[i] http://family-studies.org/motivating-kids-without-carrots-and-sticks/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=c522b8ed26-Newsletter_100&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-c522b8ed26-104541745


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Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Hebrews 2:1 (NKJV)


Marriages don’t usually and suddenly go from “’till death do us part,” to “I want a divorce” with no warning signs in between.  The question is whether you would recognize any red flags if you saw them.  According to MSN Lifestyle[i], here are eleven early warning signs divorced people say they should have acted on—but didn’t. (We’ll explore them in the next few days)

  1. He didn’t care about my feelings. As we wrote a few days ago, couples that say “thank you,” and “I love you” regularly enjoy more positive, healthy relationships. Showing respect, appreciation, and affection also contribute to a feeling of happiness and well-being.  When your spouse does not display any of these, he/she may be sending you an unspoken signal that things are not well in your marriage.  As Kristin Smith, of Great Falls, Virginia, tells, her soon-to-be ex-husband’s lack of interest in her life is what initially stood out. “He didn’t get any joy out of making me happy. Whether it was showing up hours late to a fundraiser I organized, or not picking me up from oral surgery because he was too busy, it was all about him. Mother’s Day and my birthday were often barely acknowledged, and I shed a lot of tears on special days like that.” She adds, “My husband watched me cry and cry over him. Loving people should not want to watch the ones they love cry.”

Like many children of divorce, Kristin didn’t want to entertain the idea herself, so she hung in there for 26 years.  As she explains, “When you’re in love with someone it’s easy to see the bad in them and still defend them.”  She continues, “As my marriage counselor told me, kindness is forgiving someone once or twice and enabling is forgiving the same bad behavior over and over again.”

People in happy, healthy relationships encourage each other, build each other up, and relish in making their spouse feel loved and cared for.  Your spouse may not be very expressive, at least through words, but their actions and attitude toward you still demonstrate their loving care toward you.


Father God, help me to show love to my spouse how they need it.

[i] http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/relationships/11-early-warning-signs-of-divorce-most-people-miss/ss-AAayKrG#image=1

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Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex. Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)

The American Psychological Association[i] provides research on what makes a marriage work and which shows that people in a good marriage have completed nine psychological “tasks”:

  1. Separate emotionally from the family you grew up in; not to the point of estrangement, but enough so that your identity is separate from that of your parents and siblings. This is what the bible speaks of when it states: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Mat. 19:5; Mar. 10:7; Eph. 5:31). Many have a difficult time separating from their parents, even after marriage. The most important human relationship, once we get married, is that between a husband and his wife.  It even takes primacy over the relationship between us and our parents.
  2. Build togetherness based on a shared intimacy and identity, while at the same time set boundaries to protect each partner’s autonomy. When we marry we do not lose our individuality. As Ellen White stated, “The two who unite their interest in life will have distinct characteristics and individual responsibilities.”[ii]
  3. Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship and protect it from the intrusions of the workplace and family obligations. A fulfilling sexual relationship is not only pleasurable, it also helps with the bonding, closeness, and intimacy needed to have a strong marriage.
  4. For couples with children, embrace the daunting roles of parenthood and absorb the impact of a baby’s entrance into the marriage. Learn to continue the work of protecting the privacy of you and your spouse as a couple. Some people devote so much time to care for their children that they neglect their own relationship. The result is frustration and drifting away which may end up in the breakup of the home.  The best thing you can do for your children is to take good care of your relationship with your spouse.

Father God, help us to manage these psychological tasks so we may enjoy a good, healthy, and long-lasting marriage.

[i] http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/marriage.aspx

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home.  p. 114

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Friends, please take what I’ve written most seriously. I’ve kept this as brief as possible; I haven’t piled on a lot of extras. Hebrews 13:22 (MSG)


Just putting a few thoughts to paper is not enough to make it a love letter. Here are a few more details to make it a meaningful one:

Grammar. John Biguenet[i], a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans explains: Consider the case of Confederate officer William F. Testerman, for example, who penned these concluding sentences to his beloved: “Direct your letters as before and dont forget your best friend so I will end my few lines but my love to you has no End remember me as ever your love and friend. Excuse bad riting.” Perhaps Miss Jane Davis, to whom the soldier’s letter was addressed, forgave his prose. He did, after all, write from the battlefield. But you, in composing your love letter, seek to make eloquent those reasons of the heart most resistant to glib formulation. “Bad riting” won’t ease your task. Make subjects agree with verbs, and pronouns, with their antecedents. Remember that there is a difference between “your” and you’re” as well as “their,” “there,” and “they’re.”

Complimentary Close. Biguenet recommends you to be extravagant. Don’t just end with “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” “Affectionately,” “All best wishes” or “Yours truly.” On a love note to his wife Nancy, President Reagan ended with these words: “It is true sometimes that Mr. Reagan loses his temper and slams a door but that’s because he can’t cry or stamp his foot—(he isn’t really the type.) But mad or glad Mr. Reagan is head over heels in love with Mrs. Reagan and can’t even imagine a world without her— He loves her. Mr. Reagan.” On another one he wrote, “I’ll write no more because I’m going to catch up with you wherever you are and hold you for a moment. Merry Christmas Darling—I love you with all my heart. Your Husband.”

At the same time, if you’ve done your job up till the last sentence of so intimate a letter. Your assignment today is to finish this first love letter and prepare to deliver it.


Father of love, help me so that my words convey my deepest feelings for my spouse.

[i] http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/a-modern-guide-to-the-love-letter/385370/?lang=en&utm_campaign=10today&flab_cell_id=2&flab_experiment_id=19&uid=19455910&utm_content=article&utm_source=email&part=s1&utm_medium=10today.0212&position=4&china_variant=False

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He Can Hold it Together

Scripture:  God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way. By his own mighty word, he holds the universe together. After the Son had washed away our sins, he sat down at the right side of the glorious God in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 (CEV)


Observation:  Upholding. Gr. pherō, “to bear,” “to carry,” “to bear along,” “to bear up.” Here there may be the added meaning of movement, purpose, guidance; proceeding with definite intent. Christ is the one who is upholding all things in the entire universe and who keeps the heavenly bodies in their appointed paths. Compare the phrase, “by him all things consist,” that is, hold together (Col. 1:17). Pherō is more comprehensive than our English word “consist,” since it embraces the concept of purposeful working, of planning. This definition changes the concept from that of a mere power sustaining the physical universe to that of an intelligent Being who has a plan and is in the process of carrying it out. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (397). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]


Application:  It is estimated that there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.  Scientists estimate that in the Milky Way alone there are 500 million potential planets, other than the earth, where life can exist. If these numbers are applied to all the galaxies in the universe there could be a staggering variety of planets capable of supporting life.  It is all speculation, but several branches of mathematics, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics have all come to similar conclusions: our universe is just one of many.

There’s another “universe” just as vast. . . the human brain.  Our brains are remarkably complex objects with a hundred billion neurons, a quadrillion connections, and we still know very little about how this organic super computer operates. But we do know the human brain is the most complicated thing we have yet discovered. It gives us the power to form language and culture, consciousness, the idea of self, the ability to learn, and understand the universe and reflect on our place within it.

The vast expanse of the universe moves, expands, contracts, all in a uniform, organized fashion.  It is God who holds the universe together.  The vast universe of the human brain is also held by God.  We don’t understand how it happens, how it all works, but know that it does.  So, if God holds the universe together, and He knows everything about how our brain works, doesn’t He also know how your family works, and can’t He hold your marriage together, too?


A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank You for holding everything under Your hands’ control.  I submit myself, my marriage, and my family under Your control today too.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

Scripture:  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)


Observation:  Author. Gr. archēgos, “leader,” “originator,” “founder,” “pioneer” (RSV). Archēgos is rendered “Prince” in Acts 3:15; 5:31 and “captain” in Heb. 2:10, in each instance with reference to Christ, as here. Christ is the center of the plan of salvation and the source of every Christian grace. It is He who calls fallen men out of the dismal darkness of sin and into the glorious light of the gospel. It is He who cleanses them from their previous life of sin and qualifies them to become sons and daughters of God. It is He who justifies them by His grace, by virtue of His atonement on Calvary. It is He who plants their feet on the pathway to heaven.

Finisher. Gr. telēiotēs, “perfecter.” The work of justification is only the beginning of the Christian experience. We are not only to lay the “foundation of repentance from dead works” but are to “go on unto perfection” (see on ch. 6:1). We are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to gain victory after victory over our besetting sins (see on Heb. 12:1) and to “grow up into him [Christ] in all things” (Eph. 4:15). Our characters are to be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). This is the work of the indwelling Christ (Gal. 2:20) as the “perfecter” of faith. This is the work of sanctification. See on Matt. 5:48. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (481). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]


Application:  One of those famous quotes from New York Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra, or a Yogism, goes like this:  “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  It sounds kind of funny, kind of crazy, but it is actually very profound.  He illustrates the fact that if we don’t set goals for our life we will probably end up someplace, but not where we had hope to be.  I may wish I would have a doctoral degree, but if I don’t set in place that as a goal, and make plans accordingly, chances are I won’t get that doctoral degree.  Maybe I wish I owned a house, but if I don’t make that a goal, and work, save, and plan accordingly I may end up with nothing more than a wish.

It is the same way with marriage.  You may enter into marriage with dreams and romantic ideals, wearing rose-colored glasses, hoping things work out for you and your spouse.  Instead, you could set a number of goals and move together in the direction of reaching them.  Some of the goals you could set for your marriage should include such things as owning a house, retire from work at a certain age, the number of children you would like to have, saving money for the kids’ education, going on mission experiences together.

Of course, the most important goal is to remain married until death comes or Jesus returns.  With this goal in mind, you can recruit His help knowing Jesus will help you reach that goal successfully, and happily.  Our text today encourages us to keep our eyes on the goal, as Jesus did.  That’s how he was able to put up with the constant challenges He faced to the end.


A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for teaching us the importance of setting goals.  Help us to set life-long goals for our marriage and family, and help us to reach them successfully.

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He Understands!

Scripture:  Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!  So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. Hebrews 4:15-16 (CEV)


Observation:  cannot be touched with the feeling ofGreek, “cannot sympathize with our infirmities”: our weaknesses, physical and moral (not sin, but liability to its assaults). He, though sinless, can sympathize with us sinners; His understanding more acutely perceived the forms of temptation than we who are weak can; His will repelled them as instantaneously as the fire does the drop of water cast into it. He, therefore, experimentally knew what power was needed to overcome temptations. He is capable of sympathizing, for He was at the same time tempted without sin, and yet truly tempted [Bengel]. In Him alone we have an example suited to men of every character and under all circumstances. In sympathy He adapts himself to each, as if He had not merely taken on Him man’s nature in general, but also the peculiar nature of that single individual. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Heb 4:15). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]


Application:  I know that people mean well when they tell someone who has lost a loved one words like “I know how you feel.”  What they mean is that they too have experienced a loss at some point in time and therefore they know what that experience is like.  While they intend well by saying something that will help the other person feel better, the reality is that very few words, if any, will make a person in that situation feel better about their loss.

For any of us on the receiving end of such sentiments, we smile, we express appreciation, and deep inside we wish there was an answer to our pain, or that there was someone who was truly experiencing what we do and yet could remove our pain.  At the same time, we sure don’t want the memories of our loved one gone and fear that if the pain goes away so will those memories.  One of the things that parents who have lost children fear the most is that their children will be forgotten.

Our text for today reminds us that Jesus is the only one who can truly sympathize with us.  In other words, He is the only one who can truly feel what we do.  Now, while we know and understand that concept, it’s much easier to accept it and adopt it when things in life are going well.  It is in the long run, when we are in the midst of the day-to-day pain and agony, that those words really make a difference and begin to bring the healing we desperately need.

In the meantime, your loving actions, your presence, your kindness toward the bereaved are more valuable and more important than any words you may say.


A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank You because You are the only one who truly understands and feels our pain, and because You are the only one who can bring solace, comfort, and lasting peace to our lives in turmoil.

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