Hebrews 3:3 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,” 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.
For much of my life I’ve been a home improvement fan/promoter/nut. I’ve spent many hours doing hands-on carpentry, creating some useful and beautiful things and then enjoying the results in my home. Turn’s out it was good training. When I read this passage this morning it became a connection for me between God’s vast wisdom and my real day-to-day life; I am a fixer-upper but “God is the builder of everything.”
God’s tools are simple; his Word, your time and Jesus…The Real Fixer-Upper. Those tools provide ideas; you provide effort and the end result is the shared enjoyment, even delight, in the house you’re building together. “We are his house if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”
Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoke through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 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. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
I’m not sure why Hebrews seems so difficult. Since everything builds on what has gone before this might be the perfect follow-up to Easter for me. I read and write daily even though I only publish twice weekly. On the surface those few paragraphs seem pretty simple but sometimes it takes me days of re-reading and re-writing to come to some recognition that my words are the truth I now have, minus the fillers and fluff [as much as possible]. Then I wait for information and sometimes affirmation and/or confirmation because God says he’ll do that.
The phrase “pay the most careful attention” was what stopped me in this chapter. Here’s an interesting thing to ponder: Is it really your truth if you haven’t paid careful attention to what you’ve heard and say you believe, or is it just somebody’s else’s truth you’ve borrowed? Something is happening within our family of believers that’s making us vulnerable to drifting away from what we say we believe. Is Borrowed Truth why it’s so easy to say one thing and do another?
Borrowed Truth, in itself, is not unheard of. It IS how we learn. Remember the Apostle Paul wrestling with that same conflict of his own behavior? Here’s the truth I have for today. We won’t escape this issue in our lives either. What we have to pay careful attention to is that our “borrowed” truth becomes the reality of “bought and paid for” truth that Easter promised each of us it could be. That’s growth.
John 19:28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ words “It is finished” are an important reality of our life in Christ. I thought about their importance to the personal drama of my own “first” Easter with Jesus. It felt so big, so dramatic, so epic…and so complete…but it had just barely begun.
I wonder why it’s so easy to look at epic moments in our life of faith as finales when beginning right there on that cross, our hope lies in exactly the opposite being true. That’s the truth of Jesus words “It is finished.” Easter was not an epic finale but The Crescendo of a New Beginning.
I John 2:27 NIV As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
I love this passage. I hope you’ve experienced it’s truth in your own life too. Sometimes you hear people ask “how do you know this church stuff is real?” This verse is the answer. Anointing is not a word that is commonly used and only heard occasionally in church.
It’s really easy to begin to depend on what other people know for your faith. That’s their anointing. It’s not what “they” know that transforms you. God promises he will give you your own real, life-changing faith and absolute truth in the time you spend getting to know him through his Word and his Spirit. That’s your anointing.
I remember a Bible study where a man came who’d struggled with addiction for many years. He didn’t have the history of the basic childhood Bible stories or even regular church attendance. He must have really felt like a fish out of water…but for whatever reason…he came. Not only did he come that night but he did the reading for the next week and came again.
There was a moment when he shared something he’d learned from that reading and followed it up with “and nobody taught me that” with such excitement that my heart was filled with gratitude and praise. That was his anointing and God proved himself The Perfect Tutor again.
Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Don’t live in the paralysis of self-analysis wondering about your every choice. Believe that God is in Every Moment, every thought, everything that happens; that His Spirit is guiding and interceding; that your behavior is being influenced by God…whether or not you’re consciously aware of it. That’s the “much more in my absence” part.
Be prepared to be dragged into the correction of conscious awareness sometimes; to have to admit you made the wrong choice, to have to repent, to have to forgive, and to have to ask for forgiveness. That’s the “fear and trembling” part.
Be prepared to have moments of grace and glory that warm you, change you, teach you, humble you…and surprise you with the conscious awareness of knowing that you did hear from God and responded. Remember it’s a joint effort, you are not in this alone. That’s the “working out” part.
Excerpts from Mark 3 NIV
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him…21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”…
I’m having a negative reaction to everything I read today. I don’t like reading that Jesus was angry and distressed. I don’t like that he made plans to keep himself away from the people. I don’t like that his own family was ready to haul him away because they thought he was out of his mind. This is a clear indicator that I’m deeply involved in romanticizing the human Jesus and I don’t like that either.
I read a book “Imaginary Jesus” by Matt Mikalatos. It’s not a “Christian” book per se, it’s a novel and underlying the humor of it is a very serious reality. It’s the mistake of seeing Jesus as what we need him to be in any given situation. Here’s part of the description from Amazon: “When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing.”
I don’t want to miss The Real Jesus because of my need to make him look and act like I think he should…but…I don’t want him to be angry, or distressed either. That’s too raw, too human, and too much a mirror of what my reaction might be. Maybe that’s the point. The Real Jesus will show me my own humanity despite my creative attempts to mold him into an imaginary image. Obviously he’s not finished yet.
Mark 6:47-52 NIV And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he [Jesus] was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
This Scripture is a different kind of picture of what “belief” looks like for those closest to Jesus. It turns out those most intimately connected to Jesus can suffer bouts of what verse 52 calls “hardened” hearts. I’m pretty sure fatigue, fear, confusion had a lot to do with that. That’s true of us too, but these were his disciples. That’s a surprise isn’t it?
We can fix those physical conditions with more rest and more knowledge. Those are surely needed, but the heart problem needs something more. That fix is being willing to consider Jesus is watching for opportunities to come you. He may choose unusual circumstances to walk into your life or your circumstances and then climb right into the “boat” with you.
“Take heart” no matter how astounding it seems, his words “Surprise, It’s Me” are his comfort and assurance for your heart and your life.