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Hebrews 13:5a

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Hebrews 13:5a

5a Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.


EXHORTATION:

Christians must be careful to avoid covetousness in life. It is a pernicious sin. The prophet Habakkuk said, “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil” (Habakkuk 2:9)! In other words, one who lives covetously to secure a life of ease, which is seemingly free from troubles, will only invite greater troubles to his house.

In exposing its maliciousness, the Scriptures warn Christians against living with a covetous spirit. Consider some of the following Scriptural depictions of covetousness:

  • Covetousness or “love of money” is “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10a).
  • Covetousness is an ensnaring sin. 1 Timothy 6:9a says, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare”.
  • Covetousness leads to “many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9b).
  • Covetousness is an afflicting sin. Covetous people have “pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10c). No wonder the apostle James says, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you” (James 5:1)!
  • Covetous people “have erred from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10b).
  • Covetousness deceives the hearer of God’s Word into pursuing wealth at the expense of God’s wisdom, which will thereby “choke the word, and he [the hearer] becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22; cf. Ezekiel 33:31).
  • Covetousness interferes with a life of contentment and godliness (1 Timothy 6:6-9).
  • Covetousness holds down people from entering the kingdom of God. In Mark 10:23, Jesus said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:5).
  • Covetousness brings God’s wrath upon people (Ephesians 5:6). Thus Proverbs 11:4 reminds us, “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Let us therefore be content with whatever the Lord has given us, and do not covet the luxuries and riches of this world.

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Jeremiah 29:13

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Jeremiah 29:13

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.


EXHORTATION:

This is an exhortation found in the concluding section of a letter that the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish captives who were deported from Jerusalem to Babylon in 597 BC. He knew that the Jewish people would have a difficult time in that heathen nation. So in that letter, Jeremiah, like a very concerned pastor, sought to instruct and encourage them. He told them how they should conduct themselves in that heathen land so that they may be good witnesses to the idolatrous Babylonians.

Jeremiah also warned them not to follow the false Jewish prophets who were among them. He wrote, “Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD” (vv. 8-9). Those false diviners had given the Jewish captives the false hope of a quick return to their homeland. But Jeremiah told them that God would bring them back only after 70 years; as such, they should live in peace in the land and work to establish themselves there. He admonished them not to be afraid nor discouraged. The prophet also reminded them of their responsibility to seek the LORD in prayer so that the divine promise of their return after 70 years would be fulfilled according to His Word.

God’s people should always seek Him in prayer according to the knowledge of His will, as revealed in His Word. His promise is that if they seek Him, they shall find Him. The LORD wants His people to search for Him wholeheartedly. Even when He chastises His people for their sins, He graciously calls them back to Himself. His chastening is to remind His children that only when they diligently and sincerely seek Him, shall they enjoy His presence, provision and protection. The Lord shall not hide Himself away from His people forever. It is His pleasure to draw near to all who would draw near unto Him at His gracious promptings in their hearts. He will hear their prayers of repentance and forgive them. He will give them His peace even in the midst of their many afflictions. Whatever be the circumstances of their lives, He will draw near to all who genuinely seek Him in prayer. Do not doubt whether He will receive you if your heart is moved to seek Him. He seeks us before we seek Him. Our “search” for Him is the response of our hearts to His invitation.

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2 Peter 1:4b

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2 Peter 1:4b

4b That by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.


EXHORTATION:

Having described the promises of God as “exceeding great and precious”, the apostle Peter now enumerates God’s ultimate purpose in giving His promises to the believers. God’s plan is to aid the believers, through the promises, to become “partakers of the divine nature”.

The Greek root word for “partaker” (koinōnós) is the same Greek word for “fellowship”. It means sharer or partner. What does it mean to share in the divine nature? It certainly does not denote the teachings of the heathen religions that man would ultimately be absorbed into what they call the divine one or become one with their so-called “god”. The notion that the creature could become one with the Creator is not only totally contrary to biblical teachings, but is also absolutely abhorrent to God!

It is important to note that Peter did not say that we might participate in God’s being, but in His divine nature. The term “nature” here indicates God’s character, and not His essence and substance. The expression “divine nature” does not indicate the Person of God. We can never participate in God’s Person, for we are and will always remain as human beings whom God has created. The last portion of our verse gives us a clearer understanding of what Peter meant by “divine nature”. Peter sheds light on the intended meaning of “divine nature” when he mentioned “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. So the divine nature is the opposite of “the corruption that is in the world through lust”. In other words, we are called to partake in God’s holiness. Hebrews 12:10 also mentions the same purpose of God concerning the believers that “we might be partakers of his holiness”. Likewise, in Ephesians 4:23-24, the apostle Paul exhorts us, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

God gave us the promises that we may be attracted to His holiness to become partakers of it. We should not be like those who are allured by the material prospects of this world and become partakers of the corruption of its lust (or evil desires). “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

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2 Peter 1:4a

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2 Peter 1:4a

4a Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises


EXHORTATION:

The promises of God are assurances which God has given to His people in the Scriptures. We can trust God to bestow all His promises to us because He is faithful and able to fulfil all that He has promised. Hence, none of His promises will fail.

These promises are “exceeding great” because they come from an infinitely great God. The promises of the Bible are an expression of God’s greatness, all-sufficiency, omnipotence, omniscience, grace, mercy, love, etc. His great power to bring about all His plans and promises, makes all His promises to be exceedingly great. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). Our Lord Jesus Himself said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). As God is great, so are His promises.

All the promises of God are also referred to as “precious promises”. The word “precious” obviously means valuable, costly, honourable, etc. They are like a treasure storehouse of inexhaustible help from God to His people. They constitute also the best and most befitting help amidst all our challenges and trials of life. Furthermore, the promises of God give us the most earnest encouragement to face temptations and trials and come forth as triumphant Christians. Indeed, Christians can find their most assured help in God’s promises. When doubts and fears assail our hearts, God’s people can firmly stand upon the promises of God.

Every biblical promise from God is absolutely trustworthy because the One who promises is unchanging, faithful, ever true, all-powerful, and all-wise. When God has promised, He will perform because it is His word of truth and power. He performs all that He utters. The promises of God are given to believers for their inheritance. He will bestow them all upon them, just as He has promised. 2 Corinthians 1:20 declares unto us that “all the promises of God in him (i.e. in Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Christ is the guarantee of all the promises of God unto us. So the apostle Paul asked rhetorically in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

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Psalm 105:3

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Psalm 105:3

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.


EXHORTATION:

Believers are exhorted to “glory” in the LORD’s holy name. The Hebrew word rendered “glory” is the same word from which we get the word “hallelujah” (meaning “praise ye the LORD”). It denotes praise. The special subject mentioned for believers’ praise is the holy name of their God. In other words, the fact that the LORD is holy should help them to rejoice and praise Him from their hearts.

The very fact that the LORD is holy gives us confidence to trust Him and believe all that He has promised. The LORD’s holiness guarantees us that He is good and perfect, and that He will show unto us His goodness, love, mercy, truth and grace. Because He is holy, He shall be faithful in all His promises which He has given us in His Word. Therefore, we can trust Him at all times, and rest in His goodness and love.

So without hesitation, we glory in His holy name. We rejoice and praise Him for His holiness. The Lord’s holiness is something to exult in. There is nothing whatsoever to be ashamed about our God. We only have reason to rejoice and be glad that the LORD our God is perfectly holy.

We rejoice that we are forgiven and brought into a close relationship with Him who is infinitely holy. We are glad that we are given the most wonderful privilege to trust and follow the Holy One. We rejoice that we can commune with Him. We rejoice that our holy God leads us daily in His paths of righteousness. As we walk with Him in His righteous ways, we praise Him for the honour and blessings which He grants to us.

Thus the psalmist says, “let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.” We who seek the Lord exult in the opportunities that we have daily to seek Him. How wonderful it is that we can love Him, learn His Word, know His will, walk in His ways, and seek Him without fear! Worldly men may rejoice and glory in the wealth, luxuries and pleasures of this world, but we rather rejoice in that we can seek the Lord who is holy. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, the LORD exhorts us, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Let us truly rejoice and glory in the holiness of our God.

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Hebrews 7:25b

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Hebrews 7:25b

25b Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.


EXHORTATION:

The whole verse says, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

This saving ability of Christ rests upon not only His death and resurrection, but also on the fact of His ever living to make intercession for those who come to God by Him. Unlike the Levitical priests whose intercessions were interrupted by their deaths, Christ lives for ever as the Intercessor for those who come to God through Him. His intercession for His people is uninterrupted as He lives forever in heaven before the Father.

If Christ had not resurrected from the grave and ascended to heaven to intercede for us, His death alone could not have saved us. The reason He can save us to the uttermost is that He lives for ever as our perfect Priest. He can take us all the way to heaven because His Priesthood is eternal. Other priests fell short, because they died. But Christ’s Priesthood is uninterrupted, unchanging, unending, and hence He alone is able to save us to the uttermost.

Some Christians, when they fall into sin, become very concerned that they would lose their salvation. However, the apostle John tells us, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). So, if we come to God by confessing our sins and believing in our Saviour’s abiding intercession for us, we can be assured of His forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification. Because Jesus lives for ever to intercede for us, we have the guarantee that our salvation cannot be lost. He secures us by His perpetual life and intercession before the Father.

God the Father needs no persuasion to look upon us with compassion, other than to have Jesus, who died for us, living before Him forever as our Advocate. True, our sins cry out for God’s vengeance, but the voice of His Son, who has shed His blood for us on the cross, cries still louder for His mercy and pardon. And His plea for us is offered endlessly before God!

Christ’s plea for us shall not fail for it is based on His atoning death on our behalf. Christ is an Advocate who will not fail. So, everyone who trusts in Christ can be comforted and assured of their eternal salvation.

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Hebrews 7:25a

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Hebrews 7:25a

25a Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.


EXHORTATION:

The Lord Jesus Christ “is able to save”. He is mighty to save, for He is our divine Saviour. Titus 2:13 refers to Him as “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (cf. Titus 2:10; 1 Timothy 1:1). Jude 1:25 refers to Jesus Christ as “the only wise God our Saviour”, to whom belongs “glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever”. As the omnipotent God, Jesus Christ has immeasurable power to save sinners from their sins and eternal condemnation. In Isaiah 45:22, He says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” The Lord Jesus “is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42).

Moreover, the Lord Jesus has made the perfect sacrifice for our sins, so that He may be our great Saviour. Concerning Christ and His sacrifice for sin, Hebrews 9:26 says that “he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” In Ephesians 5:2, we read that “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Christ’s sacrifice was the most pleasing and acceptable sin-offering to God for the redemption of sinners. So Hebrews 10:12 says, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God”. The Lord Jesus Christ is now seated on the right hand of God the Father, for there is no more need for Him to stand to offer any further sacrifice for our salvation.

Therefore, He “is able also to save (us) to the uttermost”. The Greek word “uttermost” means completely, wholly, entirely. He is able to save us fully and eternally from all our sins and damnation. By this statement, we understand that even the “uttermost” extent of guilt is not beyond the power of the Saviour. Our sins might be innumerable, but our Lord Jesus is able to save us from all of them “to the uttermost”. As someone has aptly put it, “He is able to save us from the guttermost to the uttermost”.

Who can receive this great salvation? How can we inherit this perfect salvation? According to our text, anyone “that come unto God by him” shall be saved to the uttermost. Everyone who comes to God through the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved to the uttermost. One only needs to repent from one’s sins and trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour in order to be saved to the uttermost. Oh, what a great Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord!

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Hebrews 3:12

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Hebrews 3:12

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.


EXHORTATION:

E]veryone in the church is admonished to see to it that he has no evil heart. It is with brotherly love that such an admonition is given. The writer of Hebrews addressed them as “brethren” to show that his admonition is given not out of any hard feelings or distrust or jealousy, but rather, out of a loving care for their spiritual safety.

What does “an evil heart of unbelief” imply? It implies negligence and rejection of divine truths while pursuing sin. Such a heart would not submit to the claims of the Gospel of Christ. Indifference to the grace exhibited in the Gospel would be apparent. It would refuse the application of the Gospel truths to itself. That is the ultimate sign of unbelief. Just as it is by faith that a person receives Christ as his Saviour and Lord, it must also be asserted that it is a vivid manifestation of unbelief if one rejects Him. As submission to Christ’s righteousness is the greatest act of faith, rejection of His righteousness is conversely the greatest act of unbelief.

Some openly reject Christ and scorn His Word. Others do so secretly by merely paying lip service in their profession of faith. Their profession of faith is employed only as a cloak for their sins. While they claim to have given their hearts to Christ, they continue to yield themselves to hidden lusts lurking in their hearts. Their natural inclination is to sin, as sin reigns in them. It is impossible for unrestrained love for sin and faith in the Saviour to thrive in the same heart. While faith in Christ leads to sanctification, unbelief paves the way to more sins.

In an evil heart of unbelief, love for the world and for its pleasures, riches, honours always supersede the eternal things of God’s kingdom. In such a heart of unbelief, spiritual matters are deemed unworthy of its pursuit. Loss of material gain or comfort for Christ’s sake will not be tolerated, as it glories in the things of the world more than the things of Christ.

Such an evil, unbelieving heart will inevitably depart from the living God. Apostasy (or departure from God) first exists in one’s heart, and then is manifested in one’s life. Apostasy finally exposes the prideful, selfwilled heart of an individual. Such departing from the living God is an immense evil and the greatest insult to God! It is the worst tragedy one can bring upon oneself. So brethren, be vigilant against the apostasy of your hearts.

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Hebrews 11:6b

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Hebrews 11:6b

6b For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


EXHORTATION:

A person who approaches God in worship and prayer is aptly described as “he that cometh to God”. Such a person must believe the existence of the living and true God as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. It is not sufficient to believe in some supernatural, powerful force or energy that some would vaguely refer to as “God”. One must believe that He is the God whom He Himself has revealed through His Word. And for us, that means to believe in the God who is also one with Jesus Christ. To believe in anything other than what He has revealed Himself to be, would mean that the true God is not at all worshipped and sought after.

The one who truly believes in God as He Himself has revealed about Himself, will love to come to His presence. Such a person will draw nigh unto Him constantly and will walk with God as Enoch did. A true believer comes to Him not only during occasions of worship and prayer, but at all times – every day and every moment! His life is a longing “march” towards Him. A true believer is not an occasional visitor to God, but one who always abides and communes with God.

We must not only believe that God is, but also that He is the rewarder of them that seek after Him. Everyone who approaches God must also believe in His goodness and faithfulness to answer prayers and bestow blessings upon all who come to Him in faith. When a sinner seeks Him in repentance and faith, the Lord will bestow upon him His salvation. No one can ever commend himself to God, for he has nothing to offer to God. He must approach God with a humble and sincere faith, trusting that He is gracious to bless him with peace and joy.

In fact, God is a lavish rewarder. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Ephesians 3:20 tells us that He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us”. He abundantly pardons and grants us eternal life. He gives His Holy Spirit to those who believe and blesses them “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”. God will see that those who diligently seek Him in faith shall have all His bountiful blessings. Most of all, God Himself is the Reward of all those who seek Him.

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Hebrews 11:6a

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Hebrews 11:6a

6a But without faith it is impossible to please him.


EXHORTATION:

Let us consider what faith is all about. Faith needs to have the knowledge concerning God. In other words, one needs to take heed to what God has revealed about Himself and His will. Only by hearing the Word of God can one come to know God, His plan of salvation, His commandments, promises, etc.

However, a man’s mere knowledge of the Scriptures does not necessarily prove that he has faith. A man may know some Scriptural doctrine and yet not have faith. Granted, knowledge of God’s Word can lead to mental assent or agreement to all it says. Still, a man may not have true faith. He must receive it wholeheartedly for himself as the truth whereby he can be saved, and must willingly submit to live by its truths.

So, genuine faith is relying or leaning on the truth, saying, “I will trust God and His Word. I will trust the Gospel of Jesus Christ that it declares unto me. I will trust it for my salvation and take it as my guide all the days of my life.” Such a faith will be accompanied by repentance from sins and submission to obey God’s Word.

We read that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. No man has ever pleased God without faith. If a man is without faith, he will remain a sinner alienated from God. Faith is necessary to salvation because we are told in Scripture that works cannot save.

Without faith, no one will consent to God’s truth and declare it. When a man is without faith, he will reject the truth of God and promote falsehood by what he says and what he does. It is most displeasing to God that a man would embrace falsehood against the truth of His Word.

If a man is without faith, he will reject God’s warning about his sins and unbelief and continue in his unholy ways, which are displeasing to God. Faith makes one to submit oneself to God’s will and please Him.

Faith causes us to examine our life and see whether we live in a manner pleasing to God. Faith aims at God’s glory. Of Abraham, it is recorded that he “was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). How essential it is then that each of us examine himself diligently and make sure that he has faith. See to it that your life is conducted in faith lest you displease the Lord and incur His wrath.

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Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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