Be Holy: Work at Peace & Holy

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

It feels a little like cheating to jump into a passage way at the end of Hebrews. The writer has spent 12.5 chapters making his case for Christ. At this point, he’s starting to wrap things up with some stern teaching that we must take our faith in God seriously enough that it changes how we live.

holy_350Make every effort . . .: What follows won’t always be easy.

to live in peace . . .: Living in peace is the opposite of living in anger or argument or irritation or conflict.

with all men . . .: Not just the people that don’t argue with me or the ones that treat me fairly.

and to be holy.: Work at being set apart to God and set away from normal, sinful human behavior. Do I work at that?

Think: Why do you think it takes so much effort to live at peace with people and to be holy? How do you “be holy”?

Pray: Ask God for big help in your effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.

Do: Memorize this short, short verse by saying it 25 times in a row. Then write it down from memory and stick it up somewhere you’ll have to look at it each day this week.

Be Holy: Don’t Miss It

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)

How can anyone miss the grace of God? It’s what makes God so . . . God, right? He gives through faith in Jesus what we do not deserve — eternity in heaven with Him. Not after we earn it with a lot of good works and not so we can earn it later with a lot more good works.

holy_350He gives it to us who trust in Christ for free as a present because He loves us. He likes us, even. Without the grace of God, well, I’m out. I’m empty. I’ve got nothing but a future in hell that I earned with a giant pile of sin I could tell you about. It’s steaming and ugly and makes me want to throw up when I think of it. (Really.) God, in His grace, offers forgiveness for all of that.

So why do so many miss the grace of God? One reason is that it doesn’t sound like a great deal to them. They’ve priced their own sinfulness so low, they simply can’t believe God’s grace is worth much. “Look at me! What is there to forgive? Why do I need Jesus to die for me? That’s for real sinners.”

That’s one way to miss God’s grace.

Think: This verse tells us to see to it that nobody misses God’s grace. How can we help people “catch” it?

Pray: Thank God for His grace for all who trust in Jesus. Ask Him to make that grace obvious in your changed life.

Do: Make a short list of a few people you know who might be missing the grace of God because they can’t see their own need for it.

Be Holy: Define Sexual Immorality

“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16-17)

What does it mean to be sexually immoral? That’s the question millions of us have used to justify being sexually immoral. As soon as we start trying out new definitions for sin, we’d better ask ourselves what appetite is driving our research.

holy_350Hungry Esau sold something irreplaceable for the price of a lunch because in that moment he placed a higher value on his physical longing than any possible consequence waiting for him in the future. And all the “I’m sorry’s” in the world couldn’t undo that choice.

God calls his attitude “godless.” Godlessness is deciding that in this moment God is not a reality. For me, right now, God doesn’t exist, so I will never have to answer to Him for what I’m about to do. Godlessness fails if God is real and if He demands holiness.

He is and He does.

Think: Have you ever started to question the reality of the biblical God — or of the definition of sin — because of a strong craving for something physical? What would you say is the opposite of godlessness?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be the opposite of godless.

Do: Read Esau’s sad story in Genesis 25:29-34 and 27:30-40.

Be Holy: Holy Holy Holy

“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ ” (Hebrews 12:18-19)

We don’t get God’s holiness. We trivialize Him. We make Him smaller in our minds and with our words so that we can imagine being in relationship with Him. The Israelites cowering before Mount Sinai didn’t have that choice. God’s all-consuming holiness appeared there as a storm and fire and thunderous holy voice painful to sinful human ears.

holy_350It’s not just that God has a high-and-mighty attitude, that He is too proud to mingle with His unclean creatures. It is that He is truly high and endlessly mighty. He is completely other from anything sinful; His holiness will consume corruption in fire. He must not share space with it.

So He established a holy perimeter for the trembling Israelites to keep them from getting too close. Even the stray calf would be killed for wandering into His zone of powerful righteousness.

Still, there He was, to bring His Law to His people, to give them the opportunity to live as He required and to be forgiven. That was love. Terrifying, epic, holy love.

Think: Do we tend to trivialize God’s holiness? Does our closeness with Him because of Jesus sometimes make us too casual about respecting Him?

Pray: Thank God for His holiness and purity and power. Then thank Him for making you clean by washing you in the holy blood of Jesus.

Do: Try to imagine what it must have been like to be in that crowd of Israelites huddling next to Mount Sinai and waiting for Moses to come back with words from God.