Hebrews 8:10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.[NIV]
Trusting your heart and mind really are under God’s control has to become one of the main disciplines of experience for the believer. There are other experiences we have a better handle on: gathering information from the Bible, the Church, Godly people, prayer and service in the Lord’s name. OK, got it, now what?
That answer to “now what?” is so simple…and yet so much harder because the reality is even those disciplines are not our own. They certainly express our faith, but where did that faith come from? They’re certainly the evidence of experience that proves the reality of our desire to please God, but where did that come from? Faith and desire both came from the simple acceptance of what God promised at the day of our salvation. Simple right?
Just as faithfully as we practice those other disciplines of experience we need to learn to practice this simple truth…“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Simple acceptance is what makes this discipline of trust so much harder. Can you believe God intends you to trust His presence in your mind and heart even when you fail, even when you don’t know which choice to make, or even worse, when you’ve made the wrong one?
Dare to trust living with God’s real promise for your life and believe: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” All it requires is simple acceptance…but it’s hard evidence of real trust in God.
NIV Hebrews 9: 1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary…23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
Truth: God is Sovereign and human’s are willful. I don’t know where I found this quotation but it’s inserted itself into my thinking about Hebrews 9. “Circumstances are where God begins.” Those three sentences led me back to the very beginning. I’m going to assume the fall of Adam and Eve was not a surprise to God. Right from the beginning He desired to be present in their lives. I think it’s possible those first two people were created to be God’s dwelling place but instead temptation and circumstances resulted in the first broken relationships. Those circumstances were where God set into motion the plan He’d always had to save His relationship with the people he loved. Jesus was NOT plan B.
Right from the beginning God desired to be present with us because of love. Right from the beginning when our circumstances might have denied that truth, God began to work within us. The same lives that could be broken by temptation and circumstance could now become His earthly sanctuary and a dwelling place for His own Spirit through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
Hebrews 11:39 & 40 [NLT]
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
Hebrews 11 turned out to be a literal page turner for me. I read it in different versions of the Bible and then I read more about these two verses in several commentaries all because of one word – US.
US? Yes…it’s “us!” We have become part of the history of these people from the past because of God’s completed work in Jesus. Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US. That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds. US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine the past, present and future as a triangle. The triangle is also the identity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and they are the reality of the Field of Hope for our daily life, past, present and future..
Triangles are the strongest shape. When a force is added to a triangle it is spread evenly through all three sides. They work together like a building truss and make a structure that is extremely strong and stable. That strength is the promise of God. It’s the field of hope that includes all of US.
FIRST THE NIV
Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
AND THEN THE MSG
Ephesians 2:19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
I can’t do any better than letting the Word confirm the Word. God left the “light” on for you. Welcome home!
Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
These are my thoughts:
God obviously has plans for our life and our future. I don’t think God organizes identity parades down the golden streets of heaven to show off his successes so that prompted these questions to think about. When are “the coming ages?” Where are those “heavenly realms” and what was actually “prepared in advance for us to do?”
Our very existence was “prepared in advance” that we could be “alive with Christ.” Maybe learning to do life honoring that truth is the sum of what God calls “good works” not just our little segments of activity. The “coming ages” could be the years we’re given to practice life in Christ here on earth before God chooses to complete them and Heaven becomes our new reality. “The heavenly realms” might be something as simple as earth being the practice ground where we begin to recognize there are intersections of daily life that lead us to His Kingdom.
Life is the palette God chose in advance to prepare us to be His handiwork. He created life for us out of a nature that was deserving of wrath. We’ve been saved through faith, raised up and seated in Christ Jesus in order that “HE might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Exodus 3:14 & 15b God said to Moses, “I am who I am…“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
”…every time you see “Lord” in the English Bible you should think: This is a proper name (like Peter or James or John) built out of the word for “I Am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.” John Piper from “I Am who I Am
• John 6:35 “…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
• John 8:12 “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
• John 10:9 “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
• John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
• John 11:25 “…I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
• John 14:6 “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
•John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I don’t think I’ve ever consciously thought of God in terms of His proper name being “I Am.” That idea has added another dimension to the already meaningful “I Am” statements of Jesus. If you’ve ever had an English class you know the definition of a verb is a word of action that supports the main identity of the subject. Our subject is God. His name “I Am” is the verb. “I Am” is the present-tense version of the verb “be/exist.” God is! The “I Am” statements of Jesus confirm the reality of his complete identity with I Am.
That’s a reality that’s still true for us today. “I Am” is our confirmation that Jesus is still taking action to create an unbreakable thread that binds his followers between Himself and I Am.