Day 10 Hebrews 7:1-10

“He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.”

The verse is speaking about Melchizedek but ultimately about Jesus.

Jesus is first the King of Righteousness. The thoughts that come to mind are “holy, right, perfect, pure, all-knowing and worthy of my obedience and worship.”  If I look up righteousness it may not say all that but this morning that is what my heart tells me.  He is God and I am not.  He is other and of a completely different order than I. His ways are, indeed, above my ways and His thoughts vast beyond my thoughts…even the ones He might have given me at some time in the past.

When I see Him in His righteousness I am undone.  Anything I could say is wasted breath because He knows all things, understands all things and all things belong to Him.  I am not in His league and my plans and ideas and well made points are simply gone from my lips.  The striving crumbles gently into dust. I stand in awe but not afraid – just emptied of myself.

He is also King of Salem – King of Peace. Emptied, now peace has room. It seeps into my heart and spreads like a mist until there is no empty space.  It just fills and calms and cleanses. I am reset and now we can begin.

About God?
The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Ps 145:17 GNV
About Me?
You are worried over so many things when only one is really needed.
About the World?
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Is 32:17

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Day 9 Hebrews 6:13-20

“so… we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

Thanks to technology we have an almost God’s eye view on things and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  As far as I can tell, I have nothing to offer except to pray for God’s mercy on us all.  It hardly seems like anything.  In fact, it almost seems selfish – shouldn’t I be doing something that actually stops swords and bullets? Pray?..I don’t know how that works or why.

This I do know.  We who have found refuge in Christ are to be encouraged by the hope we have secured and for me, I need to respond to that hope.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves,
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin
and heal their land.”
2 Chron. 7:14

We used to pray this verse for America – well, “my land” just got expanded to include the planet. And while I have no clue how my confessing and seeking and repenting helps God’s children on the other side of the world I will take this strong encouragement and hold fast to hope.

“Lord, I sense you calling me to this prayer from 2 Chron. 7:14 because somehow my doing this will matter for the people who are hurting, suffering and looking for refuge. I pray you will remind and encourage me in being faithful to what you are asking.  I guess it’s okay to take this as a promise from you – that you will heal our land.  Here is something only You can do. Do it Lord – for your glory.  Amen.”

About God?
He cannot lie.

About Me?
Hold fast to hope.

About the World?
Father, in heaven, may Your kindgom of peace come and come quickly.

Day 8 Hebrews 5:11-6:12

…yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation.

My bible study group has been reading a book that basically, to me, is about confronting sin and knowing what to do with it.   It strikes me that one way to stay at the bottle-fed stage is to think we have handled sin and moved on. What a trap! 

My first understanding of sin as a new believer was the marvelous and miraculous way God took away my desire for things that did not please Him.  I didn’t have to quit anything, there was no pressure to conform or perform, I just changed.  Many of these changes were outward expressions.  Things people could see and hear.  My language changed much to the surprise and awe of my co-workers. My stress changed from frantic “holding on” to peaceful resting in His care. My fear of losing and being abandoned needing to control  my circumstances, including saving my marriage, somehow softened into trust.

In fact, new desires replaced old ones and things I could have never survived losing became simple offerings because I wanted to do something else more.  That’s how I gave up smoking.  It wasn’t because He asked me to; it was because I wanted to give money to my church.  I didn’t really have any “money” I felt was my own except that $3 for the carton of cigarettes each week. So I made a deal with God – You help me quit smoking and I’ll give the $3.  Two days, cold turkey and a large pack of JuicyFruit and the local church was $3 a week richer!

Then I coasted a while.  “Didn’t swear, didn’t chew, didn’t go with boys that do.”

I was doing all kinds of good things and I was growing and I was loving God in my life. Then one day in church there was communion and we were to confess our sins before taking the elements.  I could not think of anything to confess. I couldn’t think of anything the people around me would have to confess.  So, in the silence of my thoughts I told God I just didn’t get this part.  This is what the Spirit said, “you say, …I have need of nothing..and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”

My heart ached with the shock. I confessed just those words.  I didn’t know what else to say. Later I went to find this passage in Rev. 3:15-22.  As I read it again today, I see “you are neither hot or cold”.  This speaks to me of being content with drinking milk – the same message and the same commitment over and over thinking I’m doing everything according to God’s good pleasure. What happens to our zeal, the adventure, the walking into the unknown hand in hand with Jesus?

I began to ask.  Lord, what displeases you? Is there something You want me to confess and change?  He has been faithful to answer by voice, by the Scripture and by the pang in my conscience. By solid food, I have had my powers of discerment trained to distinguish good from evil.  It is a process I expect to continue until I meet Jesus face to face and I am grateful.

This morning before I left my bed, I lay confessing something new.  God is asking me to step out into areas that are undefined.  There are no steps of action, no purpose for future ministry, nothing that looks like a way He has ever led me before.  Yesterday I said yes and before bedtime I had failed. I can’t really explain except to say it was about just asking for help each time I thought I might be off the way.  I didn’t and when I didn’t it was more and more obvious to me that I was off the path but still I didn’t.  What kind of self-control is that?

As I confessed this morning, knowing we were starting over, I realized He was asking me to trust Him in a way that would bring glory to Him alone.  It would be a testimony that only He could have done and He was inviting me to try it.

“Lord I cannot do anything that will bring you glory and all my efforts to do it are missing the mark, not to mention, the point. I have no idea what it is like to depend on You for every step. If you don’t show up I’ll be lost but if You want to use me, here I am.” 

These are the things that belong to salvation.  The tiny steps of understanding that move me from milk to meat; the realizations of how far I am from being like Jesus and how much more there is to learn; the child-like joy of being invited to lean on Him and to bring Him glory.

About God?
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps 86:15

About Me?
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Cor 4:7

About the World?

We have all missed the mark but the door is always open.

Day 7 Hebrews 4:14-5:10

from Staci on IF:E blog this morning:

In the video, Jamie was talking about how the passage says that Jesus was tempted in all the same ways that we are, but He fought it and fought it and fought it, and He never sinned. So we can approach Jesus with confidence, knowing that He’s been there, and He understands where we’re coming from.

I have this mental image of Him coming along side of me and saying ” I’ve been in this place before, and I remember how hard it was to walk through it. I can see how you would be tempted in that way.” And as He validates my feelings and struggles, He gently steers me to the right path and encourages me to start walking. It’s not shameful. It’s not condescending. It’s not threatening or forceful. It is full of love and compassion and understanding, yet at the same time undeniably pointing the way to obedience.

I was writing about “What does this mean about the world?” when it occurred to me that that image of Jesus in response to my temptation ought to be my attitude toward the world. Not judging or preaching, but humbly drawing from my own experiences in temptation in order to understand where someone is coming from first, then softly, gently, gracefully showing the way to a better place.

From Jillian:

Just another undisciplined overweight old woman, but if I’m serious about serving God faithfully as I age, I need to be fit. I catch myself being reminded of what I shouldn’t do, and doing it anyway, which is disobedience… I appreciate your prayers that I will be obedient and exercise the Spirit’s gift of self-control.

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers…to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”

Let’s hear it for community around the Word! I don’t know if I want to write about the Scripture or about the comments that have been such a blessing and encouragement to me today.

God could have sent Jesus – the perfect and spotless Lamb and had Him die and be raised without having to go through the mess of begin a human being.  I mean if you are already perfect you do not have to prove it to us. Instead Jesus came to be a model because we needed to see how it was done.  He did not just hand out a bunch of words and good teaching and ask us to measure up.  He jumped down in to the dark hole with us and showed us the way out.

So, from down in the darkness, Jesus prayed for help.  I guess part of my problem is I sometimes don’t recognize I’m in the darkness.  Case in point from Jillian’s words this morning.  I know God has been speaking gently to me about getting fit and I keep thinking about it but doing nothing. I am living by flashlight instead of Sonshine and I have not even noticed!  Of course I could wait for some darkness that I can’t miss – like a major health crisis but I also could just have a V-8, duh!

Jesus asked for help in being obedient from the One who was able to save him.  Maybe part of my reluctance is I know my self-discipline and determination all too well.  I am waiting for motivation to rise up within me because I think it is my only hope for success.  Until that happens, what’s the point?  Well, dodo, here’s the point: you are not the one who is able.  How about that?  This might be about motivation if it was your own idea but this is not your own idea.  This, in fact, this  is yesterday’s lesson – about responding with haste to the “His inbirthed persuadings”.

The One who could save Jesus heard him because of his reverence. Reverence? Dictionary.com says “a gesture of deep respect; an obeisance, bow or curtsy.” In other words “bend the knee”. This act of calling out and asking for help and wanting to obey but seeking the only One who can actually make it happen – it’s submission!  It is not the submission that reaks from being beaten down or pinned against the wall.  It is not the submission of following the rules and the Law.  It is the image Staci offered this morning: “It’s not shameful. It’s not condescending. It’s not threatening or forceful. It is full of love and compassion and understanding, yet at the same time undeniably pointing the way to obedience.”  It is not just letting God be God; it is bowing down and saying “You are God and I am frozen to the spot in awe.”

About God:
He is able. He is the only one who is.

About Me:
Step into the great adventure of faith and obedience.

About the World:
When I act with true empathy, I act like Jesus.

Day 6 Hebrews 4:1-13

“Let us strive to enter that rest…”

What exactly does that mean?  How can striving and rest go together?  They are opposites, aren’t they?

So the word strive is spoudazo in the Greek (4704).  “It means be swift, go fast, be speedy by showing full diligence, acting fervently to accomplish all that God assign through faith (“His inbirthed persuasion”) Accordingly, 4704 spoudazo and faith (4102/pistis) are directly linked (Eph. 4:3-5; 2 Tim 4:7-9).” [Http://biblehub.com/greek/4704.htm]

Let me just say I love that description of faith – His inbirthed persuasion.  That is exactly what faith feels like – something God has placed “in me” as a persuasion to come close to Him or follow His lead.  But I digress.

So my new definition for striving here is “speedily make entering His rest a priority; part of resting is acting but only on what He has assigned through the persuasion of faith.”

(There are about 52 things I would like to dig out in this section. Like, why 4:12 about the word of God/WORD who is God? What about disbelief? And…but I have to limit myself today.)

This is what I do get. I need to set my priorities on the promptings of faith that are calling me to action. Stay clear on these and don’t slip off the path into other things.  The callings are empowered; they are God’s work through me – they are light burdens. I think this might be the place where disbelief is banished and Jordan Rivers are crossed.

About God?
God is for us.  And He wants us to believe it.

About Me?
Be speedy and diligent to attend to the promptings of “His inbirthed persuasions”.

About the World?

You can trudge through on your own, or you can step in the footprints of God.

Day 5 Hebrews 3:7-19

“they were unable to enter because of unbelief”

This week I’ve had occasion to listen/read some snippets of powerful teaching (Christine Cane; Jenny Allen; Sarah Bessey, Jen Hatmaker) and to research some worship songs I heard at the IF:Gathering weekend.

I have really missed worship music more than I knew. It has seeped pretty much out of my life because I listen to books in the car, I never turn on the radio at home and I’ve been out of our church worship services pretty much for almost 9 months leading children’s church.  Heaven knows I haven’t picked up my guitar in ages. So, when we sang at IF:G I heard some new stuff and my heart was stirred.  You might even say, it got softer…tender.

The music led me to worship.

Worship takes me into God’s presence.  I’ve been thinking for a while about the verse, “Do everything as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23; Eph. 6:7; 1 Cor. 10:31). What a difference it makes to see whatever I am doing (we all know I am a human doing by nature) as being done for His glory and His approval.  It’s like bringing Him in on the conference call.

I’m not one to often stop and pray…”Lord what will you have me do today? Or Lord, should I do this or that?”  Maybe that’s how you’re supposed to do it but it’s a desperate and rare occasion for me.  I start with doing…doing what’s in front of me and then taking on more doing.  But what is “rest to my soul” is seeing it as unto Him. It’s funny. When I can’t visualize Him cheering me on – that’s a kind of “inside my brain acknowledgment of His being there” – that’s how I know to let something go or change my attitude.

Oh, I was talking about worship.  Well, I knew today’s reading was quoting from somewhere else in the Bible, so I looked it up.  That would be Psalm 95.  It’s an odd Psalm really – like it is two parts that don’t go together.  Verses 1-7 1/2 are about worship and then 7b to the end (v11) are about obedience and unbelief.  But… maybe they do go together…

Come let us worship [bow down] and bow down [bend the knee].

Let us kneel before the Lord who made us,

because He is our God

and we are the people he takes care of and the sheep that he tends.

Today listen to what he says…

Psalm 95:6-7

So what’s the point? Worship, in whatever form – the yielding of my voice and lifting of my hands – the bowing down and remembering who He is and who I am – that massages my heart and kneads it into softness. When my heart is soft I will listen better. My defenses are down – I stop contending and testing and I lean in to believe and obey His voice. I find rest.

About God?
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor” Rev. 4:11

About Me?
Lord, give me a heart to worship, believe, obey and rest.

About the World?
Oh that you would hear His voice!

Day 4 Hebrews 2:10-3:6

“consider Jesus…who was faithful to him who appointed him…”

Maybe I’m on a Jesus roll because for the last couple of days in Hebrews his name keeps highlighting on the page.  I don’t think it’s my Kindle malfunctioning.   And now my eye catches “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory…”

I just have to wonder if I give Him more glory.  More glory, than say, my favorite TV show or new favorite book or… my own opinion?…  I guess I am more likely to look to myself as being the house builder instead of being the house. And boy am I a fixer-upper!

Apparently it was Solomon – the builder of God’s house – who wrote Ps. 127:

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

Lord, forgive me when I think I am the house builder instead of the house.

Forgive me when I ascribe glory to other things when Jesus is the one worthy of more glory than any of these.

Remind me that in being Your house, I can be confident and boast about the hope and life and eternity I have found in You.  Let that be my boast to a hurting and needy world.

About God?
The builder of all things is God.

About Me?
“Some boast in chariots, others in horses; but I will boast in the name of the Lord” Ps. 20

About the World?
God is the contractor and Jesus is in the home restoration business.

Day 3 Hebrews 2:1-9

“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. BUT we see HIM…namely Jesus.”

Hebrews is about faith, right? “Faith,” Heb. 11:1 says, “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Faith – our faith – is evidence.  It is the evidence that Jesus is real, that his work on the cross is real, that heaven is coming, that today we live and breathe and have our being because of what He is doing in and thru us.  Wow! I sound like a preacher.  Too much Christine Caine last night.

So, the point for today? We see Jesus…we can’t see all the rest…the part where the whole world bows down to Him – but we can see Him and in Him is where we can nail our faith.  “What HE said!” …follow that, believe that, cling to that, be that, do that.

About God?
There is nothing outside of His control. Period.

About Me?
My faith – given to me by His grace, is evidence.  Gives a whole new meaning to being a witness, doesn’t it?

About the World?
“People are dying for the faith we take for granted, that we take and hide under a bushel that we take and paint vanilla — so we don’t get persecuted.”  ~ Ann Voskamp (http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/02/the-wake-up-call-to-the-church-that-is-isis-whos-answering/)

Day 2 – Hebrews 1

“in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”

The God of the universe has spoken to the world in various ways at various times.  I am told that all creation speaks of His existence so that I am without excuse.  But at a certain point in His plan, “in these last days”, the Word to us is Jesus!

There were laws and there were prophets to draw the outline, to give us some idea but when the time was winding down and heading toward completion those things were insufficient.  God colored in the picture of His very self when Jesus came.  Jesus, not a substitute for God, but the very essense of God, in fact God in the flesh.

In Hebrews, (I can’t help but chuckle about who makes the coffee) the writer carefully explains that Jesus is NOT a created being like an angel. He goes on to tell us the difference in no uncertain terms.  Jesus is God verses something God has made/created.  And as such “in these last days” – my days on this earth – He is the the ultimate model to see what the Most Holy Godhead wants me to follow.

It’s so simple (yeah, right) – see Jesus, do Jesus.  What would Jesus do? How would Jesus love? What would Jesus say? Where does Jesus go? Where does Jesus (who is God) get his ideas, His power, His motivation?

Pick up your cross DAILY and follow Me.  Minute by minute, my heart must say, “lead on.  Lead on brother, lead on.”

About God?
Jesus – heir of all things; creator of the world; the radiance of the glory of God; the exact imporint of God’s nature, upholds the universe by His power; purifier of our sins; seated at the right hand of Majesty; name above all names.

About Me?
God you have spoken to me in many ways in the past but the Word for these last days is Jesus.  See Jesus – Do Jesus.

About the World?
Love the Creator; Enjoy the creation.

Day 1 – Hebrews: Introduction

The video doesn’t play and in fact, it doesn’t play on Vimeo either.  The question is “why do you need this?”  And the verse is Heb. 3:13

Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  

Its 8:09 am here and there are 104 comments and I have read them all.  There will be more…and more and I’ll come back to read those as well. (Now at 3:30pm there are over 700.)

These are my sisters, my tribe, my compatriots.

I don’t know any of them except by their words written on a computer screen and yet I know them. I love them.

I am over taken by their honesty and their hurts and their struggles and their weariness and their pain.

I am blessed by their faith, their courage, their desire to seek after Jesus… to wrestle with sin and calling and life here…all the while longing for more of Jesus and glimpses of heaven.

I have been “them” and I am them now.  And all I want to do is hug them for a long while and pray for them — collectively, the whole bunch of us:

Father, Abba, hear our cries. 

We are here on this IF:Equip page to make Your glory known.

We are here. 

We are hurting.  We are tired, oh so tired.

We are struggling.  We are weak.  We are broken in so many places. We are afraid. We are needy.  

We are pouring ourselves out for so many good and precious reasons and we are feeling empty. 

We are grateful.  We are excited. We are wondering.  We are dreaming. We are longing.

We are stepping out, stepping back, coming home, leaving the old, embracing the new.

We are looking …for healing, affirmation, encouragement, answers, direction, comfort, hope…community.

We are looking to You and for You…together.  Those who speak are speaking for all of us. We are trying to be brave and courageous. We are not standing at a distance; we have been drawn to the well and before the throne.

We are Your daughters.

Father…Abba…meet us here.