Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hebrew 3


I copied and pasted the chapter below in case you want to read it.

Lots of talk of not turning away from God.  Talk of those in the wilderness not getting to go into the promised land.  Jesus greater than Moses...it's big stuff that I think makes most people think: If I'm not good God doesn't want me around.


What does God want then?  The people spoken about in this chapter are the Hebrews that were led miraculously out of Egypt.  They had been slaves there for over 400 years.  God had a place to take them, he just asked that they trust him and he would get them where they needed to go.

Easy enough right?

He asks us not to harden our hearts too.  He says he wants us to trust him to get us where he wants us to be.
If you have read this blog before you know that God asks us to trust him to save us.  Easy enough.

But I was thinking that God wants us to trust him for more than a ticket to heaven.

'Cause this world is hard to navigate.  Very hard...and I've come to believe that if we don't get some good advice from God we are very likely to shipwreck everything.  

Let's face it, we don't have much of an option with death when it is all said and done.  If we don't trust God with that one we'd be pretty stupid.   

But this life... there is an illusion that we can control things.  That we can do things are way.  But the truth is that while we may be able to accomplish some things, we really have very little control over our circumstances.  We can't make people love us, we can't keep sickness at bay, we can't control the decisions our children make.  

Shoot, I can barely control my own emotions or thought life.

We have to entrust ourselves to the one who is trustworthy.  Who gave up his own child so that we could have a relationship with him.  Someone who would do that is worth trusting.


Hebrews 3

Jesus Greater Than Moses
 1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Warning Against Unbelief
 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
 8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
   during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
   though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
   I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
   and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
   ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”[b]
 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
   do not harden your hearts
   as you did in the rebellion.”[c]
 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hebrews 2:14-18

Hebrews has depth.  It lends itself to so many stories.

In Hebrews 2:17 the writer speaks about Jesus or God becoming just like us.

There is  a song I like very much.
It's about a man who didn't love God.
(Funny right?)
But his wife and children went to learn about God weekly.

Every Christmas the family pleaded with him to go to church with them.
"It's Christmas!" they would implore, "You have to come with us tonight."

But Dad preferred the solitude by the fire while his family was gone.  He chuckled about the virgin birth, God coming to earth.  What nonsense.....how could anybody believe that story.

So year after year the family went to Church without Dad.

Waaaaaaa!

Dad sits by the fireside and watches as a snowstorm rolls in.

He notices that there are two sparrows flying about aimlessly seeking cover from the storm.

They will die if they do not make it to shelter.

The Dad, moved with compassion puts on his coat and boots and walks outside in an attempt to help the two birds find shelter.

But he is too big, to frightening. The birds flutter here and there avoiding his guidance.

"If I could only fly a moment," he thinks "I know I could make them understand, just for a moment fly beside them, I know it would all be clear then."

He is suddenly hit with the reality of God coming to earth.

How else would a loving and compassionate God show himself without terrifying us.

He would send Jesus, a man, just like us.  He would experience life with it's great joys and deep sorrows.
He would know what it was like to be tempted to do wrong, to face injustice, to be used, to be betrayed, to give himself up as a ransom payment for all of us.

That's what Hebrews is explaining in verse 17 and 18.

God come to earth to show us the way home.

I'm so glad he did.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

hope

This is the best I have today.  It has me pegged.  I didn't write it.
Paul David Tripp did.

I am a mass of contradiction, I don't want to be but I am.
I preach a gospel of peace, but my life isn't always driven by peace.
I talk about a Jesus who alone can fully satisfy the soul, but I am often not satisfied.
I celebrate a theology of amazing grace, but I often react in un-grace.
And if I rest in God's control, why do I seek it for myself?
Even in moments when I think I am prepared, I end up doing what I didn't want to do.
Irritation
Impatience
Envy
Discontent
Wrong talk
Anger
Self-focus
Are not the fruit of the new life, are not the way of grace.
So there is this law operating inside of me.
When I step out with a desire to do good, evil follows me wherever I go.
There is a war that rages inside of me, between a desire for good and sin that is anything but good.
There are times when I feel like a prisoner, held against my will.
I didn't plan to be mad in the grocery store, but that guy make me mad.
I didn't plan to be discontent, but it just enveloped me in the quietness of the car.
That discussion wasn't supposed to degenerate into an argument, but it did.
I am thankful for God's grace, but there is daily evidence that I'm still in need of help.
That battle inside me cannot be solved by
Theology
Strategies
Principles
Techniques
Plans
Preparation
Helpful hints
Outlines.
I have been humbled by the war I cannot win.
I have been grieved by desires I cannot conquer.
I have been confronted by actions I cannot excuse.
And I have come to confess that what I really need is rescue.
So, have mercy on me, O God.
According to Your unfailing love.
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions
And my sin is always before me.
I embrace the rescue that could only be found in You.
Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Amen

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Special Future

This is awkward for me to write about.

It's Hebrews 2:5-11 (go get your Bible and read that).
I don't know why it's embarrassing for me.

It says that we have been made a little lower than the angels.
(Yeah, the only people to whom I might have to say "fear not" to are my kids when I'm having a bad day).

But it goes on to say that "we do not see everything that is subject to them."  Later in verse 11 it says,  "he (Jesus) is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters".

It seems that the writer of Hebrews is letting us know that at some point God will have us doing something...somewhere....

That seems weird to me because I don't know that I'm up to the challenge.
But at the same time, it's kind of Narniaish.  And I've always hoped that Narnia was a very real place.

I'd like to be a queen in Narnia.

Maybe that is the sort of thing God has planned for those who love him.

But it seems lofty to me and more than I'm ready for.

But I also think of this:

C.S. Lewis wrote:
I find in myself desires
that this world cannot satisfy.
The only logical conclusion is that
I was made for another world. 


I think God has good things on the other side...and I for one am excited to get there.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Drift Away

I haven't been around in a few days.

I've finished reading the book of Hebrews...but obviously I haven't written much about it.

I got busy, you know, doing stuff like laundry and cooking dinner and driving my kids to school, and the library, and to Target to buy gym clothes.

The normal stuff that fills up a normal life.

In my Bible (Hebrews 2) there is a heading that says:
Warning to Pay Attention

PAY ATTENTION!!!!

So, I guess we should pay attention.
There is a warning about not drifting away.

I know a little about drifting.
I grew up on the Pacific Ocean, everyone I knew could swim very well including myself.
It was kind of a necessity.
The Pacific can be very violent and really, kind of sneaky sometimes.
We have undertows that can quickly drag you under water and rip tides that can drag you out to sea.

It wasn't until I was 16 that I ever experienced a rip tide personally.

I was swimming a small way from the shore but every time I looked to the shore I seemed to be further away from it. 
I couldn't figure out why.

That's drifting away.

So Bibically what was the writer of Hebrews worried that these people would drift away from?

Verse three is the key here...
"How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?"

Escape what?
Well, verse two makes it clear that there is some sort of punishment.

I hate punishment.

I'm punishing my daughter right now because she won't write her school lessons nicely.
OR she'll write them nicely but will use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

Mostly it's a battle of wills.
Punishment isn't fun for the punished or the punisher, but sometimes it is necessary.

So if we want to escape punishment what do we need to do?
Be good?
Pretend to be good when we are at church?
Give a lot of money away?
None of those answers are in this passage.

NO to all of those.  However there is a distinct trait and habit of human beings to drift from so great a salvation to trying to be good.  We often think that if we are good God will give us a place in heaven.
Well, if that is true I am doomed.

We get punished if we ignore "so great a salvation."

Who would want to ignore that?
If you have read this blog before you know that salvation is a big, giant freebie from God to us.

We just ask for salvation and his answer is, "yes."

Granted, it cost God himself dearly, but he wants a relationship with us, so somebody had to pay the price for all the crap we do.

Jesus paid the price for you so that you don't have to be punished!

HOORAY!!!!
So don't drift away from that. Don't try to get God's approval by being good.  Before you know it, you'll be miles from God and you might not remeber your way back.
Don't ignore the great salvation.
Tell God you'd really like the great salvation.  In that moment the Bible says that you will become part of God's family and he will reserve a place for you in heaven.

So, that's a pretty good thing.
See you in heaven.

P.S. Obviously I got out of the rip tide.  But guess what?  I didn't get out by myself.
A lifegaurd saw me and swam out to save me.

He rescued me from a rip tide I didn't even know I was in.
The funny thing is that even when the lifegaurd got to me I didn't think I needed any help.
I tried to refuse him, but he was persistent and I finally allowed myself to be dragged to shore.

I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions about that story.




Monday, January 9, 2012

Angels

Angels

I love the thought of angels.

Whenever I begin to think of angels images of chubby babies with wings come to mind.

They seem very nice to me because I love babies and I love things that fly, so flying babies make me almost giddy.

Then after the chubby, baby angels, I think of feminine looking beings with golden hair wearing banners that say things like Peace on Earth, and hope.

Neither of these are likely to be what angels are really like.

They're pleasant enough though.

The Bible doesn't describe the physical appearance of angels in much detail, but what we do know is that there are a lot of them in existence (a countless host of them appeared when the cute baby Jesus was born) and  that when people see them there usual reaction is to be very terrified.

Angels are always saying, "Fear not."

That's usually their opening line.

Some people in the Bible fall down when they see them (I figure they faint in fear).  Angels are often described as shiny or glowing (my guess is that they glow because they have been in the presence of God himself).

But they probably don't look like cute babies with wings...because who could be scared of those guys?

I have never seen an angel of which I was aware.

But from what I can gather they are very intimidating, very imposing and very awe inspiring.

They probably get the adrenaline going pretty fast in a mortal human being if they appear to one.

Max Lucado has some books that have some illustrations of angels.
They are often depicted with swords and look tough the way a soldier looks tough.

I think he's on to something with those illustrations.

Well, in Hebrews 1: 14 the Bible says:
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"
(by the way, this is a rhetorical question to which the answer is yes).

So how amazing is this?  Here is what I know.  I will inherit salvation.  I know this not because I deserve it or I'm really saintly, but because I trust in Jesus.

So, this verse says that angles are real beings that are here to serve me.

WOW!
Why would God send angels to help me out?
How would I feel is God opened my eyes and let me see the spiritual world around me?
When do these guys show up?

Is this getting weird to you?

It gets weird to me until I realize that there really is a battle between good and evil going on in this world.

One needn't look any further than the evening news to be aware of that.  And you can bet that's just the tip of a very large, very horrible iceberg. 

There is a spiritual war going on.  If you don't believe it try explaining how Hitler duped an entire nation of educated people into killing off all Jewish people.

That idea doesn't make a lick of sense in any average persons book.

Or think about what grown ups do sometimes to children.  
Why would someone hurt a child?

So there is a spiritual war going on.   And it makes sense that there would be spiritual beings battling.

And if they are sent to serve those who know Jesus, we must need help, and protection, and battling done on our behalf.

That's a lot to take in....

But I'm glad that a good God sends angels to help us.  I hope when I get to the other side I will get to speak with some angels who fought for the followers of Jesus.  

I bet they have some really good stories to tell.  I bet some of them will make us laugh.  Some will make us cry.  Some will make us realize how close we were to very awful things.

Most of all we will be thankful and humbled by what God has done on our behalf.

Thanks God.  

  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Colossians, No Wait Hebrews

So after the book of Philippians is the book of Colossians.  Usually I read straight through, but I have been having discussions at work and we landed in Hebrews for a while so I thought I'd just read through Hebrews instead.

So I thought I'd meander and write about Hebrews and sort of introduce the book to any readers who don't know about it.

Hebrews was written to...HEBREWS...Ta Da!
I know that's kind of a surprise, but it's true.  
Scholars don't really know who wrote this book, it could have been James, Paul, Apollos, Barnabas, Luke (use the force Luke) or Jimmy John (okay, Jimmy John is NOT a real possibility), just thought I'd thew it in there for fun.

The particular group of Hebrews that it was written to were Hebrews outside of Israel in other parts of the Roman Empire.  Letters were often circulated to various churches, so many Christian Hebrews may have read this letter.

Christian Hebrews?  Christian Jewish people?  Is this possible?

YES

Actually, the first Christians were Jewish.  Jesus is Jewish too.
Yeah, I know, a lot of people don't realize this, but it's a fact.

Can someone be Jewish AND a Christian?
Absolutely.

Jewish people are Jewish by birth, just like Chinese people are Chinese by birth.  Being Jewish is a nationality.  Of course, you can also follow the Jewish religion and you can do this is you are a Jew by birth or if you just want to become Jewish.

Some Jewish people accept that Jesus was the Messiah/Savior and they become Christian Jews OR what is commonly called a Messianic Jew.

So you can be both Jewish and a Christian.

So that settles that.

The book of Hebrews is chock full of great stuff and one could study it for a very long time.  
So let's jump in and start with something so great that it makes me want to hug people.

In chapter one verse three it says this:

"The Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being..."
There is more, but I'm going to stop here and just dwell on this for this entry.

Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being...

Do you know why I love that great sentence?

Because it means that when we look at Jesus we are seeing what God is like.

OMG

Yea, really oh my God.  God is like Jesus.

And Jesus is someone I can totally approach right?

Jesus wanted little kids to come see him, 

Jesus hung out with prostitutes and very dishonest men.  

Jesus healed people who were sick and cried when he saw the desperate straights that humanity is in.

Jesus said any one who wants to come to him can come to him.

Jesus was tempted to do very bad things.

Jesus fed fish sandwiches to hungry people.

Jesus talked to people that everyone else avoided like the plague.

Jesus warned people to search for real truth.

Jesus saw through fakers.

Jesus told it like it was.

Jesus did things I can't do.

Jesus got mad at evil.

Jesus laid down his life for me.

If that is what God is like, then count me in.  

Count yourself in if you want.

Just ask God to come into your heart...he is ready...and guess what?  He really likes you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What do I Need?

Phil, Phil, Phil........

Lot's of stuff in the book of Phil.

I finished reading the book of Philippians today and I was struck by something.

NEED

So here is what Paul says about need in Philippians Chapter 4.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have leaned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

That last little part on there is great....it's daily inspiration to hang on the fridge...I can do all things....I LOVE THAT.

Here is a little problem I found with that one.

I found that I was approaching God with some spectacular plan of my own design and pretty much telling him that "I can do ____________ through Christ who gives me strength.  Right God? Right?"

Then thinking, "Come on power of God to do whatever I want."

Except that God is not a genie in a lamp, and he is not Santa Claus.

He is God.

And thinking about that makes my heart pound a little harder, because God is beyond my ability to explain, or comprehend and I certainly don't wield an ounce of power over him and I'm pretty sure he can't be manipulated my my crafty little plans.

So doing "all things" must have a deeper meaning than getting God's power to do what I want.

So I had to think about something else too.

Paul says he knew what it was to need and to have plenty.

I have had a lot of experience with having plenty, most of us in the western world have.
We have so much that we have to do things like go on diets and purchase magazines about controlling clutter, or hire organizers to tame the stuff in our homes.

I'm not against having plenty, in fact I think it's very nice, and I think God is okay with having plenty too.
It's what we do with the plenty that concerns him (but we'll save that fun topic for another day).

Need

I have known for a long time that God will supply my needs.  He has a long track record with me and many other people of doing so.  He has met my needs in some very creative ways and more often than not he has given me my wants too.

But not always.

Because you know what happens to a person who gets everything they want.

It is something called, a spoiled, rotten brat.

And God doesn't want a bunch of spoiled rotten brats running around.

So sometimes he strips us down I think.  He clearly did it with Paul.  Paul's life was in danger many times, and ultimately he lost his life for the sake of Christ.  It is believed that he had his head chopped off.

So I started thinking, "Didn't Paul NEED his head?"

Why did God not supply that need?

Then I thought of another story I heard just the other day about a missionary who ended up being shipwrecked and slowly died of starvation.
His last act in this life was to write praise to God as he lay dying.

That guy needed some food and God didn't give it to him.

So how are we to take this all in?  Clearly there are things people need to live and sometimes they don't get them.

We have two choices:  
1. We can decide that God must not REALLY supply what we need, which would make him a liar and not very good at all.

OR

2. God defines our needs in a very different way.  He is ultimately good and gives us what we need according to his big, giant plan.

In the past thirty two years I have learned too much about God to doubt his ultimate goodness.  I waver at times, I definitely have questions, but when it comes down to a final answer I know that God is good.

And I also know that he is not a liar.

Because I wouldn't waste my time on a God like that, I'd just do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted because it God is bad AND a liar he is definitely not getting my allegiance.

The truth is, he has my allegiance, because he has shown me countless times that he is good, and trustworthy and truthful.

So what do I do with need?  How do I quantify what is a need?  To stay alive I need three things; food, clothing and shelter from the elements.

If I live somewhere really warm, we could probably take it down to one: food.  Because really and truly if you life somewhere balmy the last two won't really kill you if you don't have them.
Except that would be embarrassing... and pretty unreasonable.

However, is the ultimate goal of life just to stay alive?  

Good luck with that one, because no one is getting out of this life alive.

Here is what I think this really all comes down to.
If you are a follower of God he has a plan for your life and a deadline for your life.
He will give you everything you need to carry out the plan, and then he'll take you out of here.

So needs are really all of his deciding if you have given your allegiance to him.

When if comes down to what we REALLY, REALLY NEED, there is only one thing.  We need to know God, we NEED to know that when we leave this world we will meet him and he will accept us.

This is a need he HAS undeniably supplied for everyone and it came a a great personal sacrifice to himself.
He gave us Jesus, his death to pay for or sin, and his resurrection to prove that there is life after death (I'll write about that soon) and hope that this life is not all there is.

So all REAL needs are met, we just have to ask God to give us a relationship with him.

His answer will be yes, so don't worry about that.

"He has given life, and godliness, and the knowledge of him who called us, for his own glory and goodness."
So go ahead and trust him.
He's good, he's good, he's goooooooooooooooooood.


Amen


Monday, January 2, 2012

Still in Phil

Couldn't resist that blog heading.  I love rhymes.

I'm still reading in Phillippians, though my reading today also took me to Mark 3 and 4 and Hebews 6 and 10.

Please don't be under the impression that I read this much Bible every day, it's just that I'm sick and laying in bed and reading is a great way to pass the time between the naps and eating chicken soup.


The book of Phil is one of my favorites.  It holds one of my favorite verses:


2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.


Before we go any further I have something to make you laugh, as you know the Bible has many versions and I frequent a website called biblestudytools.com to compare them, because though I own a few translations, I don't have nearly as many as biblestudytools.com.

Here a a few variations on Phil. 2:14

Do all things without protests and arguments; (Bible in basic English)

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:(KJV)

And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations: (Douay - Rheims)
(hee, hee, YE....do ye, do ye, do ye)

Haced todas las cosas sin murmuraciones ni discusiones, (La Biblia de las Americas)
(!Que bueno!)

Faites toutes choses sans murmures ni h├ęsitations, (French)
(Oui ye)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing ;(NAS)

But here is my all time favorite:

Do everything without kvetching or arguing,(Complete Jewish Bible)

Quit ye your kvetching!!!!

I have to admit I kvetch all the time....ye.

And, when I don't kvetch out loud, I kvetch in my head.

But, I do get the idea.  It means not to be a whiner and not to be argumentative.
This is loud and clear to me now because as I sit writing, my children are supposed to be doing their chores.  A couple of them are, and they are doing it without kvetching, this is very attractive and wonderful.  The others are complaining, and procrastinating and arguing about who does what.

Kvetching is totally unattractive and somewhat infuriating.

My real favorite part of this passage is the shining like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life part.

The word of life.

Do you know what the word of life is?

Its' all over the Bible.

One of the best word of life verses is in John 1:12
"To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God."  

That's the word of life.  You can be one of God's children, all you have to do is ask God to forgive you and understand that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross paid for every bad thing that you or anyone else has ever done.

Wala!

The shining like stars in the universe is kind of nice too.  That is apparently a very beautiful way of saying that as you tell people that God loves them and wants a relationship with them you will end up looking pretty good yourself because you are doing what God designed you to do.

When I think about people that do this, it's true.
Billy Grahm (very sparkly)
Jim Elliot (wow)
Beth Moore (shiny)
Grandma Han (ohhhh)

I know, they aren't really glittery, but there is something amazing about their person, it is as if God himself is shining through them.

And that's all I have for today.


http://www.xenos.org/teachings/?teaching=1126