Encouragement from Hebrews

Encouragement from Hebrews

Tracy L. Smoak is my guest blogger today. She has a great post on the Encouragement from Hebrews! Tracy is a Bible study writer and a photographer–both of which we have in common. I hope you enjoy her post on one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Finding Encouragement from Hebrews

A recent visit to the ocean reminded me of God’s glory. Standing on the shore before dawn, I watched the sunrise in all its grandeur of reds, golds, pinks, and oranges.

There’s something about that pageant that inspires awe.

I see Jesus rising to His throne with the crowning of each day as light blazes into what used to be dark.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory.

Hebrews 1:3, NIV

Life has trials that can discourage us. Things haven’t turned out like we thought. We strain to see beyond hardship and sorrow to find hope.

Since the heavens are works of Jesus’ hands (Hebrews 1:10), we have the assurance of His power and might. Jesus not only creates beauty with a spoken word, but He carries us when we can’t walk.

Because Jesus suffered temptation, He is able to help those of us being tempted to despair, give up, or give way to bitterness when disappointments damage our dreams.

Hebrews 2:18

Focus on God Through Adversity

In the middle of a storm, the only true refuge is in Jesus’ arms. When my marriage failed, when my son turned away for five years, when my health gave out, and when I lost my job, the only place of safety was in the certainty of Jesus’ love.

When adversity upends our expectations, we have a choice: Trust God to redeem the agony or deny He is able to rescue us. The writer of Hebrews, no stranger to persecution or pain, cautions believers: “Don’t let hardship and trials harden your heart and make you turn away from God” (Hebrews 3:13-15).

Though Jesus was the Son, He learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8-9). With time, we too can see how nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Jesus lives forever and has a permanent priesthood. He lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Like Jesus, let us say, “Here I am–I have come to do Your will, my God” (Hebrews 10:24).

Faith in Adversity

When we step forward in faith, trusting God will lead us to better places we can endure. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promises is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

By sharing our stories, we can help each other find the strength needed for today. “Let us spur each other on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

If we remain resolute and don’t throw away our confidence, God will richly reward us (Hebrews 10:35). Think here of the joy Lazarus’ family experienced seeing him arise. Did lepers’ skin tingle as the flesh became new? What must it be like to see colors after the dark of blindness?

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 11:1-2

Be confident that God sees you today and will move heaven and earth to demonstrate His love.

A native Floridian, Tracy L. Smoak’s passion, is to encourage others in their faith journey. Smoak contributes to Guideposts. Her debut novel is Who Brought the Dog to Church?, and her Bible study is Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place. She loves photography and authored two hardcover devotionals with original nature art (Redemption Press: Living Water to Refresh Your Soul and Arranged with Love). Smoak holds a master’s in Education and a bachelor’s in Communication. Her website is www.tracysmoak.com. Devotions with her photography set to music are available: http://www.youtube.com/@tracysmoak/playlists.

You can get Stephanie’s study on the Book of Hebrews here.


The Gift of Gab

The Gift of Gab

A few years ago, my doctor did some genetic testing to find out why certain things were happening inside me.

It was nothing serious but could become a problem if not stopped. In addition to finding out about a few enzymes I was missing, I also found out I am 71% Irish/English. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the United States, but I had no idea I had that many Irish genes.

Throughout my adulthood, I have been told by complete strangers how “Irish” I look. I have even been asked where I’m from because of my “accent.” When I said Ohio, they laughed and said, “No, it’s not an Ohio accent I hear.”

I have never been to Ireland but I am dying to go!

I started reading more about Ireland and things to do there. One interesting article I read had to do with the Blarney Stone located near the top of an old castle. Apparently, you have to hang upside down and kiss it to receive the gift of gab.

The gift of gab is defined as the ability to speak with eloquence and wit.

I need to kiss that rock!

 The Irish American Mom, whose website you can visit here, quotes John O’Connor Power, an Irish politician.

“Blarney is something more than mere flattery.

It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.

Those who mix with Irish folk have many

examples of it in their everyday experience”

~ John O’Connor Power (1846 – 1919)

I really love to talk but write, uh, not so much.

I want to speak with eloquence and wit. But, I’m not sure that is me.

Sometimes I write like I talk, too. Ugh!

So, when God called me to write I felt obligated to explain to Him that I was NOT a writer. He seemed unconvinced.

I wrote and taught a Bible study twelve years ago on Revelation. It was okay and my class seemed to like it. Soon after that I felt led to write a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. I included Spiritual warfare since it is covered in Ephesians 6 and I titled it The Few, the Humble, the Church;  A Study in the Book of Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare.

I self-published it 11 years ago. Since I am inexperienced in marketing, I did my best to get it into churches and bookstores. I got very discouraged when it proved to be difficult.

I knew I was to keep writing, but I really had no interest in it. I avoided it for many years until 2017.

The Lord led me through the book of Hebrews during my quiet time. When I wanted to move past it, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write a Bible study on it.

I didn’t want to!

“Who will read it?” I asked. “What’s the purpose?”

He replied, “I can’t do anything with it if you don’t write it.”

“Okay, fine!”

It has been quite a ride writing this study. I have learned so much from Him and His Word. I have begun small Bible studies as well as attending writers conferences and a critique group while I finish it. My sister has been a great help by reading and working through it as I write each chapter.

Its title is: The Jewels of Hebrews

Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone, like amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, plus many more.

You will also STUDY the Bible!

I take you through the Torah, or Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament as we study Hebrews. It is a mixture of reflection, teaching, and fill-in. I pray God will use it to set people free and reveal His Son to everyone who reads it.

It is not published, yet. That’s my next step.

But someday, Lord willing, I will be able to gab with you through my book while you read and study God’s Word.

I may not be the most eloquent or witty, but my desire is to teach you about Yeshua through my studies.

Be on the lookout for it!