NOT A FAR OFF GOD (HEBREWS 2 FOR OUR CHILDREN & OURSELVES)

HOW DOES A SIX YEAR FACE A HATEFUL CROWD?

THEY CALLED HER NAMES

THEY SPIT AT HER

THEY THREW TOMATOES

THEY THREATENED TO LYNCH HER

 

RUBY BRIDGES GOES TO SCHOOL Norman Rockwell

a photo of the actual Ruby

Ruby Bridges was the six year old who faced hatred each day when she crossed the lines to go to a white school in 1960. This is a story worth reading to your children — Robert Cole has a book for elementary children, Ruby herself has written a book, and Disney has an excellent movie out relaying where Ruby found her strength. She grew up in a strong Christian home where, in her own words, Ruby’s mother taught her to turn to God in prayer for every need. When we are in distress — where do we run? Where is our comfort, our security, our affirmation? (In Idol Lies we learned that we tend to find our own self-salvation strategies, running to other places than to God for these things.)

The scene in Ruby Bridges that particularly moved my heart occurred when Ruby was having bad dreams after experiencing the hateful crowds, and comes running into her parents’ room. Ruby’s mother asked her if she had prayed, and Ruby says she hasn’t. And her mother says, “Well?”

Ruby goes back to her room, and gets on her knees, tears rolling down her cheeks, crying out to God. And He comes to her and helps her to sleep. Ruby’s mother taught her that God was not far off, but would help her in her trouble. When Ruby was persecuted, her mother reminded her of how Jesus was persecuted, and how He prayed for the people who did not know what they were doing. Ruby was only six, but she was able to allow God to meet her needs for approval, comfort, and security. And she had a mother who had the faith that He would and sent her child back to Him.

Last week we began looking at how high Jesus is — He is the Creator, He is the Radiance and the exact representation of the Father, and He holds all things together.

This week the author of Hebrews shows us that despite all that — He is not a far off God. He is, as Tim Keller puts it in your sermon this week:

  • A King who comes near
  • A Champion who faces death before us
  • A Brother who identifies with us

This is your God.

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

1. What are your comments on the above and why?

2. If you are a mother, grandmother, or teacher of children — could you do what Ruby’s mother did? Have you had an experience where you encouraged your child to trust God and saw Him meet him or her in some way? If so, share here.

Monday – Wednesday  Bible Study

There is a huge difference between teaching your child morality and Christian virtues, and teaching him or her that she can trust God. Because the curvature of our soul is “deadly doing,” we get the cart before the horse.


UNTIL WE RUN TO GOD, AND NOT TO OUR IDOLS, UNTIL WE FIND HIM TRUSTWORTHY, WE CANNOT BE COURAGEOUS, LOVING, AND FORGIVING. WE CANNOT DEMONSTRATE CHRISTIAN VIRTUE IN OUR OWN STRENGTH.

If you have time this week — watch this optional video on teaching children. I did — and I’ll never slip in another Veggie Tales DVD for my grandchildren again. It is so good. If you don’t have time this week — you can come back to it when you do.


3. If you were able to watch the above video, share your comments here.

A KING WHO COMES NEAR

4. Review Hebrews 1:1-3 (Memory work) and share some of the ways Christ is high and exalted. How has doing this memory work impacted you? (This is your last week to polish it — so please do!)

 

I think Hebrews is often neglected because it is so challenging — but if you read prayerfully and slowly, He will help you understand. Ask Him now to be with you.

5. Read Hebrews 2:5-9

A. According to verse 5, to whom did God NOT give the order to subdue the earth and have dominion over it?

B. Now the author quotes Psalm 8 in verses 6-8. Find out all you can about humankind.

C. How well did Adam and Eve (and the rest of us!) do in obeying God?

We, like Adam and Eve, have failed to carry out God’s command in our rebellion. Here we see hope hope that this dominion will be re-instituted in the world to come. (As C. S. Lewis has shown in the Narnia series, though we are, indeed, the rebellious sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we will one day be kings and queens.)  Though we have failed God, He is not a King who abandons us, but One who came down, and is redeeming our failures. Now we see that Psalm 8 has a deeper Hero, One who did not fail. We have a King who did not abandon us in our failure, who DOES NOT abandon us in our failure, but who comes near.

D. Though we know from Hebrews 1 that Jesus is God, that Jesus made the world, and that Jesus holds all things together — we see here how He also chose to be temporarily abased — why? For us. Give some examples of that abasement.

E. It has often been said that in the Old Testament Jesus is concealed, but in the New Testament He is revealed. How do you see the concealed Hero of Psalm 8 revealed in Hebrews 2:9? What did Jesus do for us?

A CHAMPION WHO FACES DEATH BEFORE US

We have often talked about the “penny dropping.” There is something we know in our heads, but it may take a while for it to drop to our hearts. Last weekend Melinda Schmidt and her husband Dave were with me (Melinda is a host on Moody’s Midday) and she asked me, as she is so gifted in doing, some penetrating questions. She was so excited about the videos for Idol Lies, and was my cheerleader as she watched. She said, “I know how devastated you were by Steve’s death (Melinda was a friend who stood by me) — and yet — you are pressing on. Why didn’t you retreat — why did you press on?”

Her question made me think. I know I honestly at first told Steve I wanted to die with him — and he said, “No — I am not your life. Christ is your life. You must be here for the children — and for whatever He has called you to do in these remaining years.”

That impacted me. But also — his death and the death of my father and my mother, all within a short time of one another made me realize: death is real. Did I know it my head? Yes — but seeing it made it drop to my heart. I too will die — I am like the grass — life is faster than a weaver’s shuttle — and I really am going to face God. I want, I pray, that I will live in abandonment. And I CAN face death, for I have One faced it for me, and now I have confidence that I am Redeemed, and can go through the doorway of pain, of the last enemy, to unspeakable joys.

F. Read Hebrews 2:9 and write a prayer of praise here for what Christ did for you.

A BROTHER WHO IDENTIFIES WITH US

6. Read Hebrews 2:10-18

A.  How was Jesus made “perfect” (translate perfect “complete’) according to verse 10? What should this tell us about suffering in our own lives?

B. Find evidences of Christ’s love for you in verses 10 through 13.

C. What else did Christ’s death accomplish according to verses 14-15?

D. Find more evidences that He is not a God far off but one who will help you in verses 16-18.

7. Share one way He has helped you this week.

Thursday-Friday

Listen to Keller’s sermon. (I am hoping it isn’t too late to get the whole package on sale — try this link. Or, here is the link for this week’s sermon: Brother, Captain, King: Link

8. Share your notes here and also, what particularly stood out to you and why.

Saturday

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

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8.Share your notes here and also, what particularly stood out to you and why.

1. I love Keller’s contrast of the greek gods compared to Jesus-He isn’t Olympus who sits on a throne distant from us enjoying his position and only looks down when he is bored-He is a King who gets involved, who came down, became human and died for us.

2. I loved how he pointed out that deep down everyone fears death, yet we amass wealth, step on others to get ahead and live it up for today could be our last-yet what is the point since we are going to die anyway-what would all that we did on Earth matter-why does it matter to live anyway if the fact is all of us are going to die-and that is it, no God, no eternity? Death is a foe and is Satan’s weapon, but we have a captain, a champion who got in the middle of us and our foe and suffered death and rose so that he could destroy the power of death.

3. This is what stood out to me, mainly because of my approval idol, so I will post my notes. It is too good to miss anything:

“Back then when you wanted to recommend yourself you gave them a geneology. You would leave off the family members you were ashamed of and put on top the ones you were proud of.

How stunning it is in Matthew 1 how they recommended Jesus to the people In that time-the geneology is there and you have women in there and women were of low status..the women are: Tamar-incest surviror, Bathsheba-adultress, rahab prostitute, mary unwed single mother. By moral standards these are people we should be ashamed of, but jesus proudly gives them a place of honor in the geneology of the King of the universe. This double negative is the cosmic positive. It doesn’t matter what you have ever done because through the death of Jesus you can be part of his family, someone who sings over you, who he is proud of. It doesn’t matter what the world says-you are not ruled by the world anymore. We have a brother who is proud of us.

People have fear and discouragement because of things that are happening in their lives. What are you afraid of if this is true?

4. You can get rid of all fear of the future-Jesus has gone into the future for you and has secured the future-a future is a world under our feet-the way it is supposed to be. He has gone there, secured it and is waiting for me.

Afraid of the past-In Jesus Christ it is over-your past is over-don’t be afraid.

Discouragement of your troubles- Suffering-The help you give people in their troubles won’t mean anything unless you are there by their side. We have the only religion that says God doesn’t boom the answers to our suffering. We have a God who came down, who was rejected, experienced imprisonment, torture, and being cut off from God-he is there with us..He is with us. He is a faithful, merciful high priest.”

And this:

“The truest ultimate beauty is the one who gave up his beauty so that we can be lovely to God. The truest ultimate strength is the one who was strong enough to be weak and vulnerable so we could come to God. The greatest glory is the one who gave up his glory so that we can have God; and just as Jesus glory, beauty and strength is enhanced by having lost it so that when you suffer and are looking at him you are walking in the same path-a path into maturity, greatness, wisdom, sympathy toward other people, communion with God and into royalty.”

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8. Sermon

Loved it all. Jesus is our King, Captain, Brother. Loved the picture of the battlefield. The Captain looks over and sees you running for your life, your foe is much bigger, stronger, and faster than you. He comes and puts himself between you and your enemy.
Jesus has heard our screams and came down. (What a contrast to the horrific description of the murder of Kitty Genovese in NY, where 38 people looked on but no one helped)

Jesus is our Brother who is proud of us. “You are not ruled by what they say anymore – He is not ashamed of you!”

Am I afraid of the future? My Captain has secured my future, it’s waiting for me.

God does not “boom” answers to us from heaven, He came down.

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My takeaway:

Jesus is proud of me, honors me and sings over me. It doesn’t matter what the world says of me- I am not ruled by the world anymore-I am His. This is a balm to me because my approval idol can be an insidious beast inside me waiting to pounce when I am weak.

When I am weak and suffering and look to the approval idol and let the beast in-oh my he begins to eat me alive as he whispers lies into my head..”You are a failure, an idiot, why did you say what you said-do what you did? Now they are going to think this and that about you-criticize you to others”..Then worry, anxiety and fear creep in. The beast wants me to take my eyes off of Jesus in that moment and I am in danger of that downward spiral when I do.. Yet when I fix my eyes on Jesus and remember the truth-remember that I am lovely to God because He gave up his beauty so I can be..When I suffer or fear someone is criticizing me or judging me, if I look at Him, my beauty, strength and glory is enhanced-I am walking in the same path as Him-a path into maturity, greatness, wisdom and sympathy toward others, communion with God and royalty..

I wasn’t looking to Him recently at work-They are down two people so they put me on dishes-four hours a day every day-scrubbing burnt on stuff off of large steel pans-hurrying to get it done in time. Also having to put them away. I have swollen knuckles, cuts on my fingers that are easily infected, and my body is hurting by the end of the day. I have worked in kitchens and worked hard doing dishes but most times they rotate people, and when you do dishes you have people who help dry and scrub. Anyway, I am fearful about telling my boss-I don’t want to come across like a wimp. So this is the beast inside and I am now aware and am turning-fixing my eyes on Him. I am going to talk with my boss about it Monday and I am going to be truthful and I can be because I am lovely to Jesus-He is proud of me regardless of what my boss and co-workers think. He will give me His mercy and compassion toward my boss and all she has on her plate being two people short.

I have noticed my boss has been coming to me with her problems at home. She has a lot on her plate and tells me she is distracted at work because of it. One day I walked into work after having a rough evening and morning at home with the boys and she greeted me and asked did you have a good night. I told her -well, it was rough with my oldest son, and I didn’t get much sleep but I prayed and God brought me such comfort.” That was it..she smiled, stared at me a while and didn’t say anything and went back to work.

I am waiting on God to open doors there at work so I can share the Gospel but since being on the blog and listening to Keller I am learning that it is the overflow of being with Him-He flows out of me..He is my life and since He is my life they will see His love in me. Satan wants my co workers to remain in His grip and He wants to bring me down to accomplish His purpose..I find he ramps his attacks up..Yet the battle is the Lord’s and he has already won, SO I need to choose to listen to Jesus and knead the Gospel deeper into my soul..Jesus is my life-my identity-He is risen-Death no longer has power over me-and He takes me outside myself and gives me compassion and love for those who don’t know Him-who are bound by lies, lost, and without hope.

Sorry-babbled a lot but this is where He has me now..Yet, I have to say I need so so so to speak truth to my soul and to repent and turn when I embrace these lies..I see more and more how I need Him-every hour I need Him..how He is my strength in my weakness-and I am becoming more weak it seems which is so good-my pride is being broken slowly..oh how I need Him…

    Reply

    Rebecca — you are reminding me of Brother Lawrence in the kitchen. So proud of you.

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Thank You to those of you who prayed for me after I posted last wk for the first time. I truly believe that prayer was answered and the Lord blessed me and allowed me to get unstuck. I’m still in the circumstances, and many family things especially need to be resolved, but I thank you so much for praying for me.

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