Thursday
Oct162014

The perfect Offering

Explore the Bible
November 2, 2014 

Daniel Johnson
minister to students
First Baptist
Dover

Hebrews 9:11-15

No one enjoys car troubles. The appearance of the “check engine” light has ruined the day for many people. Worn spark plugs, a dead alternator or a bad thermostat can cause all sorts of expense and headaches. When the light comes on, an afternoon spent washing and waxing the car will certainly make it look attractive on the outside, but the problem still remains on the inside, under the hood. 

The author of Hebrews is making the case to his readers that faith in Christ is superior to the observance of Old Covenant practices. Hebrews 9:11-15 explains that the Old Testament sacrificial system, with its sacrifices of goats and bulls, cleansed only the outside of a person from ritual impurity. While effectively serving a symbolic purpose, animal sacrifice was ineffective in actually fixing the serious problems brought on by sin. Much like washing a broken-down car, it cleansed the outside but did not take care of the actual internal issues.

Jesus Christ, however, is greater than the Old Testament sacrificial system. His perfect sacrifice on the cross fixes the problem, as His death appeases the wrath of God brought on by sin, while also maintaining God’s holiness. As opposed to the blood of animals offered in sacrifice, Jesus’ blood is actually effective at repairing the internal problem, and the sins of those who place their faith in Him as Lord will be forgiven.  

At some point in their lives, almost everyone will experience car problems. Often, friends are quick to refer the names of talented mechanics. Similarly, Christians know the One who can repair the sin problem that dooms all people to hell. Jesus paid the required price of death and is the only Mechanic who can fix each individual’s sin problem, and those who do not follow Christ should place their faith in Him as Lord. Therefore, Christians should share the gospel with those who need it, just as people would pass on the name of a good mechanic to a friend.  

Thursday
Oct162014

Overcome being forgotten

Bible Studies for Life
November 2, 2014 

Sandra Hardage
member
First Baptist
Bismarck

Genesis 39:21-23; 40:5-8, 20-23

Joseph’s faith was tested, but his trust in God was strong. He was hated and sold into slavery by his brothers; was bought by the captain of Pharaoh’s guards; was made head of Potiphar’s house and estate, and was accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife and thrown in prison where he met the baker and cupbearer.

Joseph’s situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. Being in prison for a crime he did not commit was devastating to Joseph, and like most of us, Joseph probably wondered why God had allowed such things to happen. But Joseph’s trust and faith in God would continue to sustain him through these despairing times. 

As Joseph interpreted the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer (Gen. 40), there was suddenly a ray of hope concerning his departure from prison. The cupbearer had promised to mention Joseph to Pharaoh, but instead he forgot Joseph for two long years. Joseph was forgotten by the cupbearer but not by God, whose plan for Joseph’s life was not yet complete. The timing for Joseph’s rise to power had not yet come. 

Had Joseph been remembered at the time the cupbearer was released from prison, Joseph might have missed learning additional skills needed to save the lives of many during the famine. In every trial in which Joseph found himself, God was there giving him the opportunity to learn the language and culture of the Egyptians in preparation for a position God had planned just for him. Joseph would be raised to second in command in the court of Pharaoh in God’s timing and at the exact moment Joseph was prepared to accomplish His purpose.

For reasons only known to God, He brings trials and hardships into our lives to prepare us for special purposes to serve His kingdom. Ever felt forgotten? Can’t see how you can serve God’s purpose in this circumstance? Look for the lessons He is teaching you. Is He preparing you now to serve Him in a special way? Perhaps God is not ready for you to move forward just yet.

Thursday
Oct162014

Only Jesus transforms

Explore the Bible
October 26, 2014 

Bill Bumpas
member 
Park Hill Baptist 
North Little Rock

Hebrews 8:1-13

We are in the middle of the football season, and I am intrigued how both teams prepare for their big game. The coaches work hard to strategize a game plan and then practice all week long to implement that plan. The team that comes out on top is usually the one that succeeds best in carrying out the game plan.

God always had a game plan for redeeming mankind. The sacrificial system of offering the blood of animals took place in the Tabernacle and was administered by the high priest. 

Hebrews 8 explains that this first Covenant between God and the Jewish people was only a shadow of things to come. In the second Covenant, the sacrificial system would remain in place but it would be a superior Covenant based on “better promises” (Heb. 8:6). 

A good chunk of the chapter features a quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34. In the passage, God talks about making a new Covenant with His people. The Covenant would be written not in stone, but in the minds of His people and on their hearts. God would forgive their wickedness and open up an opportunity for everyone to know Him. 

And all of this would happen because of Jesus, a High Priest who ministers in heaven, the “true tabernacle” (Heb. 8:1-2). Christ is the Cornerstone and far superior than the first Covenant. Christ came to do what the first Covenant could not accomplish. 

Some may think that God had to switch game plans in His battle against Satan. “Plan A” didn’t work so He had to go to “plan B.” But that is not the case. The sacrificial system of the first Covenant points directly to Jesus. What the blood of goats and bulls couldn’t do, Christ accomplished by shedding His precious blood for us. 

The writer of Hebrews was encouraging the Christian Jews to stop clinging to the obsolete Covenant and embrace the New Covenant of Christ. And the message to us today is to trust God’s game plan for our redemption – Jesus.

Thursday
Oct162014

Overcome temptation

Bible Studies for Life
October 26, 2014 

Phyllis Watts
member
Second Baptist
Arkadelphia

Genesis 39:3-12

At first glance, I wonder why Joseph got in so much trouble when it clearly states in Genesis 39:3 that “the Lord was with him.” After all, he did tell Mrs. Potiphar that he wouldn’t sin against God – or did he?  According to Genesis 39:9, Joseph doesn’t renounce the possibility of doing this wicked thing. Instead, he asks Mrs. Potiphar, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” as if he wanted to know if they could get away with it. That’s where Joseph was playing with fire. He was flirting because he was getting attention. He tried to sound upright, and trustworthy, but he stepped too close to the flame. 

James warns us in James 1:14, saying, “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” 

We have to be so careful not to go near the flame. If we learn something that we think we are the first to know, we are “enticed” to share it so we’ll be the “first to share” and upgrade our importance in our circle of friends. Then when we share it, we have given in to gossiping, which is a sin in God’s eyes. So we should remove ourselves from the conversation that involves “new” information about people. The same is true when we hear dirty jokes. The temptation is greater that we will share it with others, or will think of another one to top that one. 

The bottom line is that we must be proactive when it comes to temptation. If you can’t have sugar, do not drive by the Donut Palace. If you don’t want to fight, stay out of the ring. If you shouldn’t go to a certain place, don’t ask for directions to get there.

But if you do find yourself in the middle of a temptation, call on God, for in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV), we are promised: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

Thursday
Oct022014

Only Jesus saves

Explore the Bible
October 19, 2014 

Bill Bumpas
member 
Park Hill Baptist 
North Little Rock

Hebrews 7:23-28

Jesus is all we need. The Son of God is sufficient for salvation. The Book of Hebrews was written to proclaim the superiority of Christ. Jesus is greater than angels, Moses and the high priests. It was important for the writer to establish Christ’s supremacy because some of the Christian Jews were tempted to turn back to Judaism. Others believed salvation depended on Jesus and something else. In other words, Jesus was not enough. 

There are those in this day and age who believe that faith in Jesus is not enough for salvation. Some have been deceived into believing that one can be saved by good works. 

In this passage, the New Testament author demonstrates that Jesus is greater than anything else and better than any other way. Jesus is the exact kind of High Priest needed to bring us into a right relationship with the Father. The writer focuses on the difference between the high priest of the Old Covenant and the Christ of the New Covenant. Unlike the high priest, Jesus lives forever, and thus His priesthood is permanent (Heb. 7:24).

Because He lives forever, Jesus completely saves and is always interceding with God on our behalf (Heb. 7:25). Romans 8:34 reminds us that Jesus is doing His interceding from the right hand of God. 

The author of Hebrews goes on to state that Christ is set apart because of His uniqueness. Jesus is the sinless Son of God, who has been exalted above all things (Heb. 7:26).

Jesus is also greater than the high priests because, unlike them, He is perfect and doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for Himself. In addition, His sacrifice was once and for all (Heb. 7:27).

Who or what are you placing your hope in for eternal life? Jesus claimed that He is the only way to God (John 14:6). He backed it up by His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. When it comes to determining your eternal destination, remember that “salvation is found in no one else” but Jesus (Acts 4:12).