Grace for Breakfast

The year is really no longer “new,” and the image I’ve chosen for this study is — thankfully and finally — out-of-date (although we did have snow flurries on Sunday morning), and so today we conclude our study of Hebrews with the rich content of chapter thirteen.  For weeks, I’ve been planning and pondering how to tie up some of the major themes we’ve covered together.

For instance, we noted very early on that the writer of Hebrews gives very few exhortations in his letter that are strictly moral or behavior oriented.  Instead, he focuses on warnings against the sin of unbelief, for it was this very thing that lay at the heart of Israel’s downfall.  However, here in the last chapter we have some do’s:

  • love one another
  • practice hospitality
  • care for prisoners
  • honor your marriage vows
  • be content

Yet, even now, the author is careful to tie his admonition to the believer’s standing in Christ, for the exhortations given in verses 1-5 are given in the power and the promise of verse five:

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Another theme that I had planned to review in detail begins in Hebrews 6:12 with the encouragement to imitate the faith and patience of those who have inherited the promises.  This theme is perpetuated in a huge way with chapter eleven’s table of contents of Old Testament saints, and now chapter thirteen urges readers to consider who else they might emulate.  The message is, “Go find some heroes,” for this is the sort of hero worship in which the hero will deflect attention to where it belongs, heroes who motivate us to worship God.

Best laid plans notwithstanding, I have found that with every reading of Hebrews 13, verse nine has been the burdock on my coat sleeve:

 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

Is this a strange verse to focus on?

Not if you remember that we said from the beginning that our study of Hebrews would increase our appreciation for the book of Leviticus!

Apparently there was an unhelpful teaching at large that involved food — perhaps  Jewish dietary restrictions were being taught as a path to righteousness?  The author is not specific, but without a doubt, in our century there is no shortage of unprofitable thinking about food whether it’s excessive dieting, addictions of all sorts, and even obsessions over what goes (or doesn’t go) into our bodies — as if that could defile us more than our faithless words or ceaseless striving, (Matthew 15:11).  Efficient idol-factories that they are, our hearts have even found ways of turning fasting and the Lord’s supper into something they were never intended to be, when the truth is:  There is no food regimen that will fix your life!

With both feet planted firmly in his understanding of the Old Testament, the author reaches back for truth from Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement.  The offering for sin made on that all-important day was carried outside the camp — and burned.  None of it was eaten.  Hebrews 13:12 draws a dotted line all they way forward to the cross, where, outside the city gate the sin offering to end all sin offerings was offered, and the “food” upon which we all now are strengthened is grace.

This truth unmasks the hollow place that sends me to the refrigerator (again?) between meals.  Over-eating or boredom-snacking or stress-binges may be signs of a grace hunger that no food on this earth will satisfy.

The drooping spirit that sends me to the third (or fourth?) cup of coffee just to put one foot in front of the other may be more than just fatigue, but rather a sign that strength of spirit is lacking.

Where does this strength of spirit come from?

According to Hebrews 13:9, it doesn’t come from food.  It comes from grace.

Is it possible to eat grace for breakfast?

The only reliable resource for feeding the spirit is Christ.  This final chapter of Hebrews points us to the altar which brings us the abiding presence of Christ who is “the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”  It points us to “the outcome” of the conduct of those who have run and are running the race of faith ahead of us.  Most of all, the book of Hebrews points us to faith, the power that fuels right conduct, the source of all true righteousness.

As we bring our study to a close, here is my prayer for you and for me:

Lord, sweep us into the river of Your grace that we may remember — and never forget — where the strength comes from that will keep our wandering hearts close to you.

Amen.

//

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Thanks to all of you who have persevered in this journey through the Epistle to the Hebrews.  I’ve appreciated your input and your encouragement!

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

34 thoughts on “Grace for Breakfast”

  1. So many powerful nuggets in this post. I actually took notes. I love how you dig deep into the word and find truths that we normally half read over, such as strength of the spirit doesn’t come from food, it comes from grace. I often go for that second, third or fourth cup of coffee especially in the middle of a homeschooling day when what I really need is grace! Thanks for teaching.

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  2. This is great, Michele! I love how you describe our hearts as “efficient idol factories.” So true! Thanks for the encouragement to fill up on God’s abundant grace early in the morning! Blessings, friend!

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  3. No food will fix our lives – so true! Only God can. Grace for breakfast, love that. I typically ask the Lord for the grace I need to pour out to my husband and kids all day. I can’t start my day without it. You can tell if I don’t! 😉

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  4. Hey Michele,
    What an interesting study in Hebrews. I was in Chapter 13 myself this morning.
    And, I’m so glad that food doesn’t determine our holiness or lack thereof!! So glad that food doesn’t fix our lives!
    Great word today.
    Blessings,
    Melanie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michele,
    I love the thought of grace for breakfast. Having battled my own emotional eating…I do know that we look for what our soul craves in all the wrong places. I know I need to refuel on God’s word and no other substitutes will do. How quickly our society turns food (too much or denying one’s self) into idol worship. Thanks for this reminder of what I really need to strengthen God’s temple!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michele, It’s interesting that I would read this today as I am literally going through sugar withdrawal. (I have cut out all sugar except fruits in an attempt to get my body on a more healthy well-balanced diet.)

    Which made me pause when I read,

    “This truth unmasks the hollow place that sends me to the refrigerator (again?) between meals. Over-eating or boredom-snacking or stress-binges may be signs of a grace hunger that no food on this earth will satisfy.

    The drooping spirit that sends me to the third (or fourth?) cup of coffee just to put one foot in front of the other may be more than just fatigue, but rather a sign that strength of spirit is lacking.

    Where does this strength of spirit come from?

    According to Hebrews 13:9, it doesn’t come from food. It comes from grace.

    Is it possible to eat grace for breakfast?”

    Thank you so much for sharing. The Lord used you in a mighty way through these words.

    Blessings.

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  7. Michele, I am so thankful for this series. When the Lord showed me I needed to work on my faithfulness at the first of the year, I did not know where I was going to look for encouragement outside of the Bible. It’s amazing at how the Lord brought this to me every week along with a couple of books I stumbled across a few weeks ago. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. Thanks for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

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  8. I so enjoy your posts, Michele! I loved how you took the scriptures and applied them practically for us. Yes, perhaps when I feel the urge for a 3rd cup of coffee, it is really a sign I haven’t spent time with The Lord before I set out in my day! Lovely!

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  9. Michele, after just goring on chocolate chip cookie dough and warm cookies, you stepped on my toes! Seriously, great thoughts. Spiritual strength comes from grace, Christ, not extra food. Thanks for reminding us that the sin of unbelief is the sin to guard against.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My favourite line:
    Is it possible to eat grace for breakfast?
    This morning I did eat a breakfast of grace by reading your devotion and Hebrews 13. I fed well from the encouragement of the scripture as well as your post. Quite the balanced breakfast 🙂
    Thanks!
    ~Sherry Stahl

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