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Friday, September 6, 2019
Today’s Scripture Reading | Hebrews 13:1–8, 15–16
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (NRSV)
The Holy Scriptures are replete with commandments and instructions for living a good and honorable life according to God’s tenets. Today’s reading from Hebrews is one such directive.
All of these passages seem to have many similarities, yet they are often quite different, depending upon the author, the audience to which it has been sent, or the circumstances then prevailing in that community. What is so valuable about all of these epistles, even though they may have been written and useful in ancient times, is that their messages and instructions have applied not only to the changing times throughout the ages, but they are also helpful in these troubling times of the twenty-first century.
What almost all of these passages have in common is a statement of God’s blessed assurance of God’s eternal presence and help in our lives. In today’s scripture it is in verse 5: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
Although it is not a part of today’s lesson, over the years my favorite such expression of God’s assurances has become the final phrase in Matthew’s beautiful Gospel:
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
“The Lord is near to all who call upon him . . .
. . .
unto all who call upon him in truth.”
“Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home.”
(“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past,” by Isaac Watts)
Written by Barlow Nelson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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