Back in 2006, a study was conducted regarding people who underwent heart bypass surgery. The late Dr. Edward Miller noted that of the 600,000 bypass operations performed in a single year, only 10% of the patients cooperated with the lifestyle changes that were necessary in order to make the procedure effective. He is famously quoted as saying: “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of the have not changed their lifestyle. And that’s been studied over and over and over again.” Even though they were given another chance with their ticker, they didn’t cooperate with the fixes so they ended back up on the operating table or worse.
We have been given a new start by Christ. Our hearts have been renewed, that is, our inner person has been forgiven and cleansed. That isn’t the result of our efforts or abilities, it is solely the result of God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice. Yet even though our salvation isn’t attributed to our own efforts, we still have to cooperate with that new heart we’ve been granted. We need to live from that new heart.
We’re going to be finishing up chapter 1o of Hebrews this Sunday, reading v19-39.
We see a lot of “let us”‘s in this section. What does it mean to you to “draw near to God”? What things keep you from following that instruction? What do you think the writer of Hebrews would say to that?
Why do you think the writer encourages his readers not to lose their hope in Christ? What sort of things discourage you in your walk of faith? How can you keep your hope in Christ alive and fresh?
How important is the church community to your life of following Jesus? The first readers of this letter were facing persecution and would easily be tempted to avoid meeting with other believers because it would be easier and safer to stay out of sight. The writer doesn’t seem to allow for that? What reasons do you have, or have you heard for not gathering with other believers? What can meeting with other believers result in according to the writer (v24-25). What encouragement do you get from meeting up with fellow faith travelers?
The last section of this chapter is possibly one of the harshest in all the New Testament. It’s caused a lot of consternation for believers throughout church history. His main point seems to be a warning about rejecting God’s means of providing salvation, namely, Jesus. To reject God’s offer and turn to something else doesn’t lead to life, just the opposite. The writer then points them to the bigger picture (v37) to encourage them to persevere. In what ways can the promise of God’s restoration of all things help us to persevere during the hard times of life? How can we develop habits of looking towards a good ending when we struggle?
Prepare to be challenged but encouraged this Sunday! Hope to see you there!