The Change that Changes Us–Hebrews 5 Part 1

There is no doubt that Jesus is God.  In the theological realm he is God the Son in the trinity.  But, when he came to earth, he took off all the trappings of his Godly nature–the immortality, the complete power, The complete perspective of eternity and the protection from pain and suffering.  He did that physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  He came here as an equal–simply to provide the sacrifice we needed to be restored once and for all to God.  He was given a name above every name–after he suffered the pain and inhumanity dealt him.  He had to pray and seek the Lord–just as we do, while here on earth.

That is what makes him the right choice as our intercessor.  He not only knows us, but he has been us! He did it without grumbling or making an excuse.  He lived it, suffered it and endured it to the end in a flurry of humiliation and degradation. Yet, he still rose and became our greatest advocate.  He loves us like none other.  In the midst of that love and sacrifice–all he asks, is that we follow him and accept the gift he paid such a high price to provide.

What about us? Well we simply confess with our mouths that he is LORD and believe God has raised him from the dead–and we will be saved.(Romans 10:9).  It is a simple, but–life changing adventure.  Once done, like Jesus, we are never the same again.  We quickly learn that our behavior does not save us, but, the change in our life affects our view and actions in this world. We do not do the actions to gain salvation–instead, as his chosen, we simply live differently, as he did.  We must humbly embrace that we are new creations; (2 Corinthians 5:17) and enjoy the life that brings!

God Bless You

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father.”[a]

And he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”[b]

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus Our Great High Priest–Hebrews 4 Final

The role of High Priest is to be the liaison between God and Man.  Often, there was a disconnect between the high priest and those for whom he bridged the gap.  Being raised in a priestly household and serving in the temple since youth, gave a narrow perspective; and so often, the priests would not be responsive–nor would they relate to the needs of the people in their community.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus was a high priest that understood the people he shepherded.  He experienced every pain, trial and temptation his people faced.  He understood the power of temptation and the chaos of the human experience.  He endured pain, rejection and a spiritual onslaught of attacks from the enemy. Still, he came through that sinless and even more committed to people’s salvation and abundant life of purpose.

When we come to Christ, we do so knowing he is passionate about filling the gap between God and man.  He is neither surprised by our unique circumstances; nor, do they cause him to walk away from us.  He is an ardent advocate for us, and he wants nothing more than to restore the personal and eternal relationship between us and the Heavenly Father.  He only asks us to trust him and follow him humbly and gratefully.  As we do he will fill the gap between a holy God and a sinful community of folks like us.  What a great high priest!

God Bless You

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God’s Greatest Weapon–Hebrews 4 Part 2

It is the greatest weapon of all.  God’s word prepares us to face the world, face our own issues, face the enemy and ultimately come face to face with God.  Throughout scripture, God has made it clear that this book is more than a nice read.  It is a living and active source for power in the believer’s life.  Psalms 119-the longest Bible chapter is a chapter about, the Bible. In His description of spiritual armor,Paul makes the Bible the only piece used offensively, the remainder is defensive armor.  The Bible not only gives us God’s history of men on earth, it gives us a sense of his love and commitment to the relationship between us and him.

So what does that mean for us? We need to hide His word in our heart–then we will be prepared for life, for ministry and for Heaven.  We can face any issue,trial or temptation–armed to be victorious.  And when all hope seems lost–it is his word that reminds us to stand firm and never lose hope.  We have been gifted with new life, a spirit to guide us, and his word to lead, guide and direct us.  Thanks Lord, for Your word, the greatest battle tool of all.

God Bless You

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Entering into God’s Peace–Hebrews 4 Part 1

Make no mistake, the gift of eternal life with the Lord in Heaven is enough to surrender and follow Christ.  But, as the writer in Hebrews emphasized, it is only part of the gift.  When men follow God, he provides peace and rest as they face the journey each day.  In the chaotic mess that is the world, a life of peace and a rest from the trials and temptation of life becomes critical to make it to the end.  

In all the blessings, peace is a regular gift from God to man.  That peace helps men to bear up under difficult circumstances, and allows rational thought in irrational times. The world itself is in a constant state of unrest. Individuals and governments are constantly under attack and without stability.  The world longs for peace and stability–but, alas–they will never find it.

For us, peace is always available–we are called to rest in him. When we lay down our tools, weapons and armor and crawl into his arms, like a child we can rest with no fear or longing. There is no other refuge so perfect; nor is there another promise so sweet; as the promise Gd makes us–“Trust me and follow me and I will give you peace and rest.”  Do not try to do this life on your own–it will wear you out! Follow the Lord and he will provide all you need–especially peace and rest.

God Bless You

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”[d]

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his

It is Truly an Issue Of The Heart–Hebrews 3 Part 2

After almost a half century of Bible study, one thing is readily apparent–God looks first at the heart, then at the actions.  The writer of Hebrews gets to the meat of the Christian life–it is a heart issue.  He discussed the folks that were literally freed from slavery and led from Egypt by God himself.  He provided protection, provision and a plan to free them and give them the lives they longed for.  

Yet, in the end–those people died in the desert. It was not that they failed to follow the lead, they simply refused to trust God and fully submit to his leadership.  They followed the basic rules, they even did all the traditional things–but the truth was that they never let go of being slaves and embraced the freedom God offered them.  So, God could not allow them to enter the life he had prepared.

As his kids, we are always at the same crossroads. We can go through the motions of the Christian life–check the boxes and keep the traditions–but, unless we surrender our hearts to him, we will never experience the freedom he offers.  If, however, we choose to simply trust and follow him–the boxes to check become irrelevant–our heart will project an attitude that only a loving child can have for a loving and devoted father.  If we live that life, we will experience freedom and joy that pours beyond all things.  We will be the chosen children and be blessed beyond measure.

God Bless You

Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,
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. 14 We 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.

Focus on What is Important–Hebrews 3 Part 1

The writer of Hebrews was exposing one of the enemy’s great tactics.  Exchange good for best.  The Hebrew nation was reverently devoted to Moses, the great liberator. He led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and across the desert for forty years.  In that journey, Moses watched the people fail God time after time–still, he never wavered. As the great leader, Moses marched them to the entrance of the promised land, but, his own sin kept him from entering.  
 
So, the writer reminded the chosen people of Israel–“Moses is very good–BUT–Jesus created Moses.  Israel was so busy worshiping what God created, that they forgot that worship needs to focus on the creator–not the created. They clearly meant well,  and as men go, one would be hard pressed to find a more devoted follower of God. Still, there is no created thing ever greater than its creator.  That is why, both then and now, we are called to focus on our creator, not the created.
 
In present day, we do the same.  We get focused upon great preachers, great worship bands, beautiful churches, attendance, all great things and also great tools to point us to the our Lord; the author and perfecter of the faith. When, we focus on the created, however, it is a slow but inevitable spiral that sins us away from God and into the hands of our enemy. 
 
It is incumbent upon us to focus on Christ–the name above all names! His sacrifice, his resurrection and his advocacy on our behalf.  There has been, is, nor will ever be one that comparative to the amazing and powerful name of the Lord.  If we will remain focused upon him, we can still admire and enjoy all the things he provides to draw us to him–he simply reminds us that the focus must remain on God! Philippians 2 says it best–
 
“Therefore, God raised him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name–so that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow; in heaven, on earth and below the earth–and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord–to the glory and praise of God the Father!” Phil 2:9-11
 
God Bless You
 

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. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 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.

The World’s Shift–Hebrews 2 Part 1

 In our journey, there is no status quo.  We are either moving toward God, or we are moving away.  If we fail to recognize who we are in Christ, we naturally flow away from God.  In the world, there is a limit of loyalty to a servant or employee.  They will do what they are told, as long as it is of benefit; but, they rarely take initiative or feel a sense of duty that moves beyond the paycheck they receive.

Owners, on the other hand work to keep the business alive as they would their family.  They are tied to the company far more deeply than financially–in fact, they are the last to take a paycheck when times are tough.  It is the same in our walk with God.  

We are God’s kids–made a little lower than the angels, but heirs to God’s kingdom. So, if we miss our relationship and position, we begin to act like employees and drift away from the sense of family and position offered in being his child.  God loves us and would–in fact did give up everything to be close to us.  If we can remember that, then we will live like owners and not drift away from a loving God and father. We need to stand firm in Him, and follow him as his heir–not his hired hand!

God Bless You

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Jesus Made Fully Human

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little[a] lower than the angels;
    you crowned them with glory and honor
    and put everything under their feet.”[b][c]

In putting everything under them,[d] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[e] Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.[f]But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The Supremacy Of Christ–Hebrews 1 Part 1

My mentor as a youth, would often quote Soren Kierkigaard when he talked about Jesus.  The quote has stuck with me since 7th grade…”Jesus was the most definitive figure ever to stalk the panorama of human history.” When the author of Hebrews started his discussion of God’s desire for relationship with his chosen people–the Hebrew nation; he showcased the main thing, first–Jesus.  

When we discuss Jesus, we first need to take stock in who He is. Jesus is God–He traded his Immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent nature–to become the example, the messenger, the message and the sacrifice for the restoration of our relationship with a Holy and eternal God. He was not just an amazing man, teacher, leader or rebel–He is God, in the flesh.

He created the universe, he defeated sin and he rose from the dead and remains our advocate to the Father. Because he is God, he is above the angels–in fact, as Paul said in Philippians 2, “Therefore, God placed him at the highest place and placed his name above every name; so, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth; and, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”  

For us, the issue is not his lordship–that has been long established.  The issue is whether we are willing to bow the knee, and confess that lordship in our daily life. When we do, He promises to lead us through the amazing journey of life–to our eternal home with Him, in Heaven. It is a great gift–especially when we grasp from whom we received it.

God Bless You

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whomalso he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father”[a]?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”[b]?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”[c]

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”[d]

But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.”[e]

How Must We Then Live–Titus 3

It is somewhat of a paradox, really, when Christ takes the lead in our life, there is an inevitable change in our attitudes, habits and behaviors.  It simply cannot be helped.  Often times, after the newness of the change wears off, we begin to think that our behavior is what makes the difference in our lives.  That simply is not true.  We are saved  by grace–PERIOD! It is a gift from God, not of works–lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Interestingly, though, as we follow and trust him; we begin to be transformed into his image.  That transformation changes our view of the world, of our lives and of our mission.

If one follows Christ, they become his ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5:20. As  we represent him, we begin to think and act like him.  The great news is that the old is gone.  We do not look back, we simply move forward.  As we do, we do not let our behavior define us, instead, we let Christ define us. He sees us through a father’s view and wants only for us to be free and enjoy a full and meaningful life.  To do that effectively, we live subject to authority.  We are kind, respectful, peaceable and considerate. We are not door mats to be walked upon, instead, we are banners of recognition of the difference Christ can make in a life.

Finally, we are not perfect.  We continue to struggle daily with the trials and temptations thrown out by the world.  We cling to Christ like a rock in the middle of a rushing river.  Knowing all the while, that without him–we can do nothing. It is never the behavior that defines us–it is always our faith and humility that transforms us!

God Bless You

 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Make Your Life the Sermon–Titus 2 Part 2

The saying goes–actions speak louder than words. Paul is attempting to show Titus and the people in his church that their life’s actions speak louder than their words. Whether young or old, male or female, slave or free; each person is  responsible for their own actions.

Paul knew that the world is looking for an excuse to stop the church–to counter that, he encouraged the young preacher to embrace a holy life and to teach his congregation to do the same.  In doing that, the church then takes away any excuse for the world’s horrible persecution.

In our day, we too are called to live a holy life. The calling is not the basis for our salvation, but, it does lend credibility to our message of hope and it keeps us focused on what is important. 

Such a life also gives direction and example to those who come after us. Our families and those with whom we share our lives–look to us for the answers to life’s questions and problems. It is therefore, incumbent upon us, to show them a way to live a life that brings meaning and joy. Embracing that lifestyle, will, in the end, give us a message that will speak, and a life that is full and meaningful.

God Bless You.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness

and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,

and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.