Ep.211: Hebrews 4: Faith, Temptation, and Mercy.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Hebrews 4 says,
Since we have a great high priest who has gone into heaven,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are–
yet he did not sin.
So let us approach with confidence God’s throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need
Hebrews tells us here to find help in our time of need by confidently approaching God’s throne.
What is our time of need? Hebrews describes two.
The first time of need is when our faith is slipping. Hebrews pictures faith, not as something we acquire and possess it forever. It’s more like an investment that we can hold or sell. When the stock market falls, it’s tempting to sell off our investments at a loss before they lose all their value.
Similarly, our investment in faith sometimes goes up in value, and other times seems to go down. And down. And down. Hebrews advises us to hold on to our faith, because it has great value, even when we feel like it is worthless, and we’re ready to sell it off as a lost cause.
A second time of need is when we are tempted. Our temptations vary from simple things like stealing or lying or eating too much chocolate, to more complex activities like holding grudges, letting ourselves sink into hopeless depression, giving up on difficult relationships, or needlessly squandering mental and emotional energy on news and conspiracy theories. Hebrews reminds us that Jesus faced the same temptations we do. He knows how weak our faith is and how susceptible we are to temptation. As our high priest, he leads us to the throne of a merciful God who helps us, not an angry God who judges.
Our father, we hoped that faith would be a simple journey, but we find it fraught with difficulties. Scripture points us to you, who we cannot see. We sift through its ancient stories looking for food to nurture our faith. But how seldom the Old Testament law, and the mystical teachings of Jesus, and the rational rhetoric of Paul bring us life or hope or give us strength against temptation.
We thank you that our faith is in you, God, not in the book that tells us about you. Not in the systematic theology that explains the book, nor in the stories that fill it. Today we come to the throne of grace, where you are king and father, helper and savior. Teach us to hold fast to the faith we profess.
At the throne of grace, we remember the temptations that assail us.
– We are tempted to immerse ourselves in anxiety-inducing news and conspiracy theories and social media, and to respond with outraged shock or quiet despair at the state of our world. O Lord, save us from the news and social media and ourselves, reveal to us Christ and his kingdom.
– We are tempted to despair at the state of your church, to avoid the community of your people because of its petty politics and vested interests and endless arguments. Give us grace for other Christians, for they too are gathered here at your throne of grace.
– We are tempted to draw back in relationships, to isolate ourselves. Teach us to actively love the people we live with, to initiate conversation and friendship and acts of love for neighbors. To seek people out on Zoom when we cannot visit them in person. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We pray this confidently, at the throne of grace, in the strong name of Jesus our high priest.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.