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Hebrews  ◦   Chapter 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded with so much evidence of God's goodness and with so many people who have experienced God's healing power that comes through trust, let us rid ourselves of everything that obscures our view of God (and of selfishness with its desires that so easily distract and damage) and let us diligently finish the treatment course laid out for us.2 Let us fix our minds on Jesus–the perfect revelation of God–who establishes and fully matures our trust in God. For the joy of healing and restoring God's creation, Jesus endured the cross, nullifying its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider the significance of all that Christ has done: The all-powerful Creator permitted his creatures to torture and kill him rather than use his power against them! So don’t get tired, or give up, or lose heart.

4 In your struggle against selfishness, you have not yet had to lay down your life so that others might live.5 And you have forgotten that God loves you as his children, for the Scripture says: "My child, don't make fun of the Lord's treatment and don't get discouraged when he sets you straight,

6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he works to heal everyone who becomes his child."

7 Endure difficulties as opportunities for growth: God is treating you as his children. For what father doesn’t want his children to be healthy, and grow, and mature — and what child is not disciplined by their father?8 If you do not experience God working to heal, mature, and improve you (and God works to heal everyone), then you are illegitimate children and not his true sons and daughters–you have rejected his offer of kinship.9 Think about it: We have all had human fathers who instructed and corrected us, and we love and respect them for it. How much more should we willingly participate in the healing plan with the Father of all intelligent beings, and live!10 Our fathers worked with us and taught us for just a few years, to the best of their ability; but God works to heal us for eternity, that we may partake of his perfect goodness and love.11 No discipline or therapy is enjoyable at the time–it's painful! But if intelligently cooperated with, it results in healing of mind, development of Christlike character, and peace of heart.

12 Therefore, stiffen your upper lip and straighten your spine, and redouble your determination to stay the healing course.13 "Remove the obstacles to your recovery" so that the infection of selfishness may not permanently deform your character, but rather that you may be healed.

14 Do all in your power to live peacefully with all people and to be Christlike, for without a loving, gentle, humble, Christlike character, no one will see God.15 Be sure that no one squanders God's graciousness and instead permits bitterness, resentment, vengeance, malice, anger and the like to grow within and damage many.16 Be sure that no one permits lust or sexual immorality to grow within, or be completely self-indulgent and godless like Esau, who had such little self-control that for a single meal he sold his inheritance.17 Afterward, as you well know, even though he sought the blessing and his inheritance with tears, it was too late: it had already been given to his brother.

18You have not come to a mountain, like Sinai–that you can touch, or that is burning with fire, or is covered in darkness or gloomy storm clouds–19 or to the sounds of trumpets, or to a voice that spoke words so pure that those who heard it, while still preferring selfishness, became so distraught that they begged not to hear the voice again.20 And because they were so infected with selfishness and guilt that they couldn't survive in God's presence, God, in order to protect them, put up a barrier and commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned."21 And Moses, seeing the rebelliousness and hardness of the people, was so terrified that they would ignore God's warning, that he said, "I tremble with fear."

22 But you have come into the reality (of which the symbols only pointed to), to Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem — the heavenly city of the living God — and you are part of that city. You have come to join millions upon millions of angels rejoicing in God’s presence,23 into the heavenly sanctuary — the true church of Christ — whose identities are stored in heaven. You have come to God — the source and standard of righteousness for all people; to the archived individualities of righteous human beings perfectly restored into Christlikeness of character;24 to Jesus — the conduit and administrator of God's healing plan; and to the reality of God's true nature and character, which was much more potently revealed and disseminated when Christ died than in the symbols offered by Abel.

25 Be certain that you do not reject him when he speaks. If those at Sinai could find no other healing solution after they rejected him when he revealed himself in symbols, how much less will we find it if we turn away from the truth about God, revealed when he came personally from heaven?26 At Sinai, his presence shook the earth and the mountain, but he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but the entire universe."27 The words "once more" indicate that God will finally and fully reveal himself and remove the lies that have misrepresented him, thus purifying all things so that all things in harmony with him will remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom built on God's methods and principles that can never be shaken, let us rejoice and worship God in harmony with his ways, in reverence and awe,29 for our "God is a consuming fire"–a consuming fire of love, holiness, purity, righteousness, goodness, and truth.