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Hebrews  ◦   Chapter 13

1 Continue to always be conduits of God's love and keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.2 Don't forget to be generous and hospitable, even to strangers; for at times, you will be entertaining angels without even realizing it.3 Be compassionate to those in prison, just as if you were in prison with them; and also be compassionate to those who are abused and mistreated, just as if you were abused and mistreated with them.

4 Marriage is a sacred union, the joining of two separate individuals in love, in heart, in mind, in devotion, and ultimately — bodily, to bring forth new life in their image from the outflow of their joined love. All of this is designed in order for created beings to experience, as far as they possibly can, the joy the Godhead experiences from their unity and loving creation of new life. Thus love in the marriage is not to be betrayed, for God will not prevent the damage and self-inflicted consequences that occur from betrayal and sexual deviance.5 Don't get entrapped with greed, but be content with what you have, for God has said, "I will never abandon you, nor will I turn my back on you."

6 Therefore, we can confidently say, "I will not be afraid, because the Lord watches over me. What can people do to me?"

7 Remember those who brought you the good news about God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Think about what they have said and also about their healthy lifestyles, and follow their example,8 but the best example to follow is Jesus himself, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

9 Be thinkers: Examine the evidence and don't get caught up in all kinds of strange teachings that misrepresent God and are not supported by evidence and truth. It is good to open our minds to the truth about God's graciousness which brings transformation of character, but ceremonial foods cannot heal the mind or transform the heart of those who eat them.10 We have a source of healing truth that those who persist in promoting the symbolic system refuse to accept.

11 The earthly high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place of the earthly temple to symbolize the truth of God's character–as revealed in the life and death of Jesus–being taken into the heart and mind, but the bodies of the animals are burned outside the city.12 And so Jesus was crucified and died (outside the city) in order that the people might internalize the truth about God into their hearts and minds and thus be fully healed and restored to unity with God.13 Let us then go to him, and follow him and be loyal to him — regardless of all human opinion — bearing stigma, or shame, or disgrace, just as he did for us.14 Here on this earth, there is nothing that will last, so become part of that everlasting heavenly city that is to come.

15 Through Jesus–through the truth he has brought that won us back to trust and through his continual work in our hearts and minds to heal and transform–let us continually offer to God the praise of transformed lives, the fruit of Christlike character.16 And remember always to practice God's methods of love–beneficence, sharing, and giving to others–for such service reveals God's methods and is pleasing to him.

17 Humbly follow the Christlike leadership of those in authority. They work to protect you from danger and assist you in growth, and they take their responsibilities seriously. Listen to them and cooperate with them eagerly, so their work will be filled with success and joy; and don't burden them, for burdening them will only undermine their ability to help you.

18 Remember us when you talk with God. We are confident that our consciences are clear and our lives honor God in every way,19 but I would appreciate you asking God to open the way for me to come to you as soon as possible.

20 May the God of peace, who, through the truth of his character of love and his eternal plan to heal and restore, overcame the power of selfishness and death and brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus — the great Shepherd of the sheep–21 recreate in you every faculty, ability and capability necessary for doing his will, and may he accomplish in us and with us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and honor for ever and ever. Amen.

22 Brothers and sisters, take it to heart and think seriously about my words of exhortation, for I have written only a short letter, and there is so much more to say.

23 Our brother Timothy has been released and if he arrives soon, I will accompany him to see you.

24 Greetings to all your leaders and all God's people from all those in Italy.25 May God's graciousness be with you all.