Day 20 Hebrews 13

Oh, and a few last things:

Let brotherly love continue. Show hospitality. Remember the imprisoned and the mistreated. Honor marriage. Don’t love money.  Be content. Follow the leaders who have set a good example.  Keep sound teaching.  Bear suffering.  Look forward to the city to come. Offer up praise to God. Do good. Share.  Obey your leaders. Pray for us.

That’s a lot but here’s the trick: The God of Peace will equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Isn’t it curious that it is The God of Peace who equips?  I’m gonna have to think about that awhile.

About God?
God provides all we need to do anything He asks.

About Me?
Peace sounds very inviting.

About the World?
Come to me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest. ~ Jesus

Day 19 Hebrews 12:18-29

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Heb. 11:1-3

“For you have not come to what may be touched…But you have come to Mount Zion…—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”  Heb.12:18ff

It occurs to me that faith believes in the invisible.  Faith believes in the things that remain after all the shaking is finished.  And though some actually saw Jesus a long time ago my faith must believe in a God I cannot see and a kingdom I cannot substantiate by pointing to a map. And in spite of it all being invisible my response is to be gratitude, worship, reverence and awe.

That’s asking a lot isn’t it?

I know it’s crazy but I buy it.  I buy all of it.

About God?
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”  1 Tim. 1:17

About Me?
“By faith…he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27) Me too Lord, me too.

About the World?
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom. 1:20

Day 18 Hebrews 12:1-17

There are so many phrases in this section that I truly love.  The whole idea of endurance and running the race and finishing well and the reward being JOY, I like all of that.  But true to these last 7 weeks in my training program (did you know Jesus did personal training?) my word was “sin.”

The thought is “do not grow weary or faint-hearted. In your struggle with sin…”

It’s easy to be tired of this struggle.  I really only purposed to regularly prayer on this specific topic until the current Bible study I am attending was over.  I even made this the screen saver on my cell phone: “Lord, reveal go me the areas of my life that contaminate my relationship with you.”   I journaled these prayers and God has been faithful to answer.

My prayer changed when the Coptic Christians were beheaded.  Ann Voskamp had a blog post that included 2 Chron. 7:14 and while I didn’t change my screen saver, that became my prayer.  Not just for me but for the planet.  God impressed upon me there was some connection between me confessing my sins and Him healing our land.  I have no idea how that works but a switch flipped and my personal holiness took on a much bigger proportion.

I have to confess here, I am not faithful to journaling either of these prayers every day but God keeps showing up and poking me about sin.  “Here’s a little something.  Have you thought about this?  Did you give grace there?  Was what you said encouraging?  Love more.”

Apparently they were right when someone said the race was a marathon and not a sprint.  If you have to run I prefer the latter but preference is not a consideration when God loves you.  He has holiness that He wants to share.  It is part of the inheritance package.  I am supposed to “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  I’m going to see Him at the finish line.

So do not grow weary in struggling with sin…endure and keep on enduring.

About God?

God does not give up on us.

About Me?
Tommy:  “I let you down so many times, God.”
God:       “No, my child, you were never holding Me up.  I hold you up with my victorious, righteous right hand, never the other way around.  In this relationship, I hold you up.”
                                                                                                                             From God’s Chisel ~ The Skit Guys

About the World?
Who sits on the throne in your life?

Day 17 Hebrews 11:17-40

I don’t think I’m crazy. Yesterday’s reading was all of chapter 11 instead of just 1-16 and of course my comments were on the end of the chapter that was not even supposed to be included. Now – and this is how my brain works – I should rightly discard yesterday’s comments or move them to today or start over or at least do something to acknowledge “it wasn’t my fault. I tried to do it right. It was a mistake. I was misled.”

Wow! That is a serious amount of CYA for something that no one in the entire planet cares about. It reminds me of when I was about 10. My mother gave me some hand me down pumps with jewels on the toe. She wanted me to wear them to some event, probably because they were the only dressy shoes I had available — but I was mortified! They were definitely not my style and I was embarrassed at what people would think of me. I will never forget my mother’s words. “No one is looking at you.” What? What a shocker to the 10 year old who thought they were indeed the center of the universe.

I think I won the argument and never put those ugly princess shoes to the test. But, here I am today, still worried someone might think I screwed up. My perfectionism runs deep. (I’ll just print this out and take it to a future counseling session…it will save us all time.)

“By faith…”

By faith, Beverley believes that what she wrote yesterday was for yesterday. By faith, she will embrace today in freedom; denouncing perfectionism for the false and deceptive god that it is.

By faith, today I will find my value and identity in who God says I am and who I will become through Him.

By faith, if the whole world is looking, let them see a person who needed a Savior and found Him.

About God?
He’s the real deal.

About Me?
A work in progress.

About the World?
Trying to hold it all together by yourself? Good luck with that.

Day 16 Hebrews 11:1-16

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

The writer of Hebrews has listed the history of God’s people by way of the Faith Hall of Fame as this chapter is so often called.  I do love that Jenny called this “the story of God through everyday people.”  That really awakens the idea that these guys were not super heroes. They were ordinary people that chose to believe God.  Sometimes they got it right and sometimes they got it wrong – but they continued the walk of faith to the end.  For me “to the end” means not just the end of their earthly lives, but rather to the end of their calling.  God used each and every one of them to move His plan of redemption and rescue forward.

These Chapter 11 people persevered in their faith during a different age.  They looked forward to a Messiah who had not appeared and I doubt they could even imagine the cross, the grave or the resurrection.  God provided “something better for us”.  Just as the Hebrew listeners, we who have believed have received the promise from a Savior that has already come.  We stand now looking back and resting our hope on the work Christ has done.  But, having different vantage points to faith does not separate us.

Just the opposite — “…apart from us they should not be made perfect.”  In the Scripture, “be made perfect” usually means to complete or finish.  If we consider Hebrews 11 as the story of God then we need to see that it is not finished just yet.  We are called to stand on the shoulders of those Chapter 11 folks and continue being ordinary people who live by faith in an extraordinary God.  Others may have to stand on our shoulders and so it will go until the day everyone has heard and Jesus returns.

About God?
God promises a day when the bride will be made ready.

About Me?
My “ordinary life” of faith is needed because I am a part of God’s Story.

About the World?
So faith comes from hearing the Good News. And people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ.”   Romans 10:17 (ICB)

Day 15 Hebrews 10:19-39

“But recall the former days…”

Let me just say how many times people with good intentions have admonished me not “to keep recalling the former days….those former days when, in my case, it seems you and the people around you were on fire for “making community happen.”   Often, their meaning is, you can’t live in the past but those of us feeling called are not trying to repeat a program or follow a person who is long gone.  We are trying to remember what was the fuel for the fire; what drew us together so that we can find today’s ways to bring that back into being.

Just the intentional stirring of the ashes, kindles a new warmth in me and in some who “recall the former days.”  But for a good while, there seemed one fire code after another that stomped on the embers and demanded battery operated candles. My frustration became a fire but the totally wrong kind. This could not be what God  had in mind. And then these words: “Have no expectations for results. Stop trying to lead the church and just be the church.”

Right fire, wrong ground.

So some of us rubbed two sticks together somewhere else with the idea if it lights, it lights.  And on the first try, it has a tiny flame.  I am trying not to expect anything except to be faithful and see what happens.  I have three more new stick rubbings planned.  Each one with the same ideas…build community, share our faith, no expectations. Then loop back around 1, 2, 3, 4.

It’s an experiment in revival.

“…do not throw away your confidence,…For you have need of endurance…”

This is the tricky part of any endeavor.  It always starts out with a ton of confidence – excitement, hope.  But it doesn’t always ignite right away; sometimes it just plain dies.  Did I get the message wrong? Did I make this up? There is always that possibility but a rough road doesn’t equal a wrong road.

And just now the Lord says,  “Endure.  Stick around and keep looping for a while. Keep looping and looking for signs of embers and stir them gently – blow on them tiny breaths.  Forget the mentality that this is something you are doing for them.  You are doing this for you! Because this is what YOU need and long for and I, Jesus, want it for you. And is it just okay that this is my gift to you?”

Now here’s the thing.  When you start writing you never know where it will lead.  I’m tempted to erase this whole entry, but what the heck. Only a couple of people read this and I think I can trust them enough to be what feels like “vulnerable”. So, I refuse to polish this up or write something that feels like a safer thing.

About God?
God loves everybody, personally and individually…even me.

About Me?
Being real means being needy.  That’s not a bad thing.  To embrace neediness is to be open to Jesus.

About the World?
What the world needs now is love, sweet love…

Day 14 Hebrews 10:1-18

“…I will put my laws in their hearts, and write them on their minds, then he adds, I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

In their hearts – the center of their being and on their minds – the feelings, will and intellect. This is where God has placed the essence of who I shall become in Him. It is the playbook, the game plan, the direction I am to go and since I am His I carry it within me.  I don’t know if I could go so far as to say this is the Holy Spirit or if this playbook must be acted upon by the Holy Spirit, but I do know it is no longer “other” if it is within.

I feel like the middle of a sandwich – God above pressing down upon me and the Holy Spirit rising up from within. And in this gentle process the transformation of a life takes place.  Maybe when that process is complete and we reign with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth, the Holy Spirit will no longer need to be within us.  (Now, that’s a curious thought. I wonder.)

And he will no longer remember my sins and rebellion.  All will be forgiven and wiped away as if it never happened. For as wonderful and critical as the gift of memory is, it can also be a crushing and shaming device when manipluated by the enemy of my soul. But God, in His ridiculous love and mercy will have no memory of my failures and unbelief.  My prayer is that my own memories will be as He wants them….for my good and for His glory, as Bob is fond of praying. Maybe that is part of the sandwich press of sanctification. 🙂

About God?

God will never be satisfied until His children are living in His full restoration.

About Me?

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Ps. 119:34

About the World?
Forgive and forget is a human impossibility but not a God impossibility.

Day 13 Hebrews 9:15-24

“…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Personally, I am very comfortable with the understanding that Christ has fulfilled the Old by ushering in the New Covenant.  He became the blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind and that work is finished.  Of course, geometrically speaking, salvation is a point and sanctification is a line extending from that point. I am somewhere on that line, moving toward being formed into the image of Christ.  By my calculations, I’ve got quite a ways to go.

But when he does come – for the second time – salvation will be complete for those of us who are eagerly waiting for Him. The point and the line will merge into one present moment and will live on into eternity.  I really can’t get my head around it…but then thankfully, I don’t have to fully understand it.

But here’s my thought for today: While I am moving along that sanctification line I think I’m supposed to be eagerly waiting.  Eager – a strong and impatient desire. I think of eager as a longing…like how the creation is longing for redemption.  It’s strangely not the feeling of wanting to jerk Jesus out of heaven right this minute – though there are days. No, it’s more a longing to be made whole but not at the expense of those who have not found the “point”.

About God?
At just the right time, God sent Jesus and at just the right time He will send Jesus again. His plan is right on schedule.

About Me?
Lord, kindle in me flames of eagerness and compassion.

About the World?
I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life. John 8:12

Day 12 Hebrews 9:1-14

As I read about the “earthly place of holiness”, it struck me how things were made of or covered with gold. I remember seeing a display where a man had reconstructed the temple furniture and everything was gold.  Then I thought about those TV studio sets on some of the religious broadcasting shows – the furniture is trimmed in gold.  I always thought that was such a cheap imitation look even though I knew what they were going for…some kind of a holy setting.

God is the one who instructed the people to use gold. It was meant to signify something of the highest value and purity – precious and dear. It is even shiny and reflects so it mimics the radiance of God’s glory. It was the best man could do with what was available.

But just like the cheap imitation furniture on TV, things made of or covered with gold are a million miles from the holiness and character and likeness of God himself. And the new covenant that Jesus brought into being was a million, gazillion times better than the earthly prototype.

This causes me to wonder, what things in me are just gold-plated?

“Search me God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

About God?
God is the genuine article.

About Me?
If there is anything glittering in me, may it be the radience of Jesus.

About the World?
Golden calfs are just wood underneath.

Day 11 Hebrews 7:11-8:13

“…he always lives to make intercession for them.”

As I have been praying in my 2 Chron 7:14 way, this verse spoke to me.  I know the intercession here goes far beyond praying. Jesus is the mediator between God and us in everyway.  But when I see the word “intercession” I think of prayer. To think that Jesus is actively praying for me… well, that’s quite a thought.

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him..”

That’s the front half of the verse.

“Consequently” –  refers back to His permanent and unchanging position (and mission)
“He is able” – this is no hope-I-can-make-a-difference mediator – this is God and He can and did and will.
“to save to the uttermost” – this is not fix it up work; this is 100% transformation
“to those who draw near to God through him” – God has made a way for anyone to draw near to him and the way is Jesus.

About God?
The Father has made a way for man to return – He put Jesus in the middle, to mediate our passage.

About Me?
To think how faithfully Jesus intercedes in prayer for me, encourages me to follow His lead for others.

About the World?
As a Christ-follower I have been given the job of reconciliation – pointing people to the Mediator by my words and my life.