Hebrews 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
Barclay on Hebrews 7: “…religion is access to God…That was the theory of the matter. But in practice life showed that was precisely what the priesthood and the sacrificial system could not do. There was no escaping the human estrangement from God which followed sin; and the problem was that not all the efforts of the priesthood and not all the sacrifices could restore that lost relationship.”
There’s a whole slew of words that might apply to this odd [and confusing] reference to Melchizadek who apparently had no genealogy at all. Call it an allegory, parable, analogy or metaphor. No matter which word you choose it speaks of a change that was A Big Shake-Up.
Jesus has completed the complexity and confusion of that old system to restore us to God. It’s called the reality of grace and forgiveness. We no longer need to be in the right place at the right time making the right sacrifice to cover the right rule…it’s finished.
Hebrews 4:7 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.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
It took me several readings of this passage before I caught that word “again” right there at the beginning. “God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” It’s Sunday. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just another day on the calendar that ends at midnight with a little church thrown in for good measure. This is the day the Lord has made…for you…again.
Thank God for that one little word, “again,” just in case you missed it the first time. Even if it was a long time ago, that one word “again” means this Sunday is Another Chance for you to hear what God has to say to you personally. This is the [certain] day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it…again.
John 20:11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white,seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”(which means “Teacher”).
Remember the chorus of a country music song from awhile back?
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of…
This Scripture reminded me of that chorus and how easy it is to miss a new encounter with Jesus because of mistaken identity or because we’re looking in all the wrong places. We think we know just what to expect of him, but…
Jesus may not always always look like what we’ve imagined he would…or even should…look like. We may find him in places and situations we never expected we would see him. That would certainly describe this early morning encounter between Mary and Jesus. Look how her awareness of the world changed when he spoke her name.
This is Easter morning, 2016, the most important reminder of your spiritual life. Remember hearing Jesus first speak your name? That was Continue reading
I began this Lenten journal on Ash Wednesday with what seemed like the bitter end: Judas betrayal of Jesus. The reality of his story is a reminder of the beginning he missed. Repentance is a “who” to repent to instead of a “what” to repent of. Isn’t that just what Easter is all about? Out of the Ashes of what we “were,” we are being Blessed…
• Blessed By knowing it’s not our spirit that sustains us. Self has Fallen Through the Cracks of life and in the process caught a glimpse of a promised new kingdom of heaven.
• Blessed By realizing that in the Unfamiliar Reality of the emotions of mourning God is replacing the need to cope in unbearable circumstances with the release of comfort.
• Blessed By an undeserved and unearned inheritance and an eternity to explore and understand what submissive, yielding and obedient is. Meek is the mystery of God moving us into position to fulfill his plans as we learn the difference between Be-ing vs Choosing.
• Blessed By Jesus using something as basic and daily as our body’s craveing for nourishment to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to crave: long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.
• Blessed By the mercy of Jesus and The Perfected Golden Rule: “Do unto others…as I have done unto you.”
• Blessed By the power God and the life of Jesus to create pure hearts by chiseling away stony pieces to bring us One Pebble Closer to being able to see God.
• Blessed By peacemakers who go Beyond Just Fixing to create opportunity for those in conflict to explore the reality of truth as God means it to be: a path to unity not separation.
• Blessed By a new perspective on Jesus words and the fullness of one Greek word. What once seemed focused on “persecuted” now includes “blessed because they “pursue” righteousness.” In Each Case theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It’s not over yet!
Matthew 5:3 The First Beatitude
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You’ve probably heard expressions like “high spirited or free spirited. Those expressions describe people whom God has chosen to give personalities that are more demonstrative, more confident of their place in life and are therefore more noticeable.
I doubt you’ve ever even noticed anyone you’d call “poor in spirit.” Maybe that’s why God has chosen this apparently very small group to be His number one focus. He noticed them precisely because their life is not about depending on their own spirit at all. Somehow they’ve Fallen Through the Cracks of praise and attention in our world but they’ve caught a glimpse of a different kingdom and another Spirit that sustains them.
I Timothy 1:12-16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
The Apostle said “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” There’s not one of us who doesn’t want mercy and grace. It reminded me of buying a car in a way. Features you might want often come packaged together so you can’t just take one, you have to take them all.
You don’t just get mercy and grace as individual features either. They come packaged “with the faith and love that are in Christ.” They are not meant to excuse our ignorance and unbelief. They give us the courage to admit the power of Christ to recover the destructive effects of our ignorance and unbelief “as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”
Take The Package Deal.
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The image of a teeter-totter came to my mind. On one end are the options of darkness and sin and on the other light and forgiveness. They’re the competing elements of life that bring up the issue of finding balance. Choosing to hover between those options is only going to leave us Off Kilter much of the time.
That struggle and making balance our goal is the inescapable evidence of our incompleteness and our need. Why would we want to settle for balance when we can get off the teeter totter and stand on firm ground with these promises?
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
I had to stop and remind myself to pay attention to what comes after verse 12 because that verse is such an important thought for me. I believe it with all my heart. I can be devout, I can be faithful…but…I am only “established in the truth [I] now have. I am still a learner.
There are so many controversies that rage in the world of faith; devout people blowing up abortion clinics, devout muslims killing themselves and others in the name of holiness. Devout Christians with polar opposite views on the very same subject. Christians, like me, wanting so much to do the right thing and have the right position on any topic. In the name of God, the temptation becomes picking a side to follow…rather than picking a Savior to follow.
That’s the Truth I need to be reminded of.
Back in Genesis God tells Abram in Chapter 17 “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!…”
The definition of a covenant is “a solemn, and binding agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.” Maybe a covenant is not a static, one-step, New Year’s resolution kind of thing but more like a cycle renewed each year? That concept makes sense to me.
That first step across the line from unbeliever to believer is only one step, but a momentous one, all based on the awareness of “if’s.” That’s when the cycle of “then’s” begins. It’s the beginning of God’s personal covenant with you: his promise he will move the “if’s” to “then’s.”
If…God, Then awareness…
If…awareness, Then the Holy Spirit…
If the Holy Spirit…Then truth…
If truth…Then grace…
If grace…Then forgiveness…
If forgiveness…Then mercy…
If mercy…Then love – 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us…
If love…continuous renewal and Limitless Then…
I’ve still turned the Christmas lights on this morning. I’m not quite ready to give them up. There is relief, though, that I can turn down the intensity of wanting to acknowledge each day of Advent with a blog post and return to my “Sunday and Wednesday” plan. It feels like a long exhale after heavy exercise. You do it for all the right reasons but it still feels good to be done. The benefits always come after… So I decided to look at what I’d written last year after Advent had ended.
“I Thessalonians 1:3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
There’s something of a letdown now that the intensity of Advent is done. There’s a sense of needing to come off the mountain high of this last month. That’s just what I Thessalonians 1 has offered me. It’s a reminder that my words are “work that comes from faith,” and …effort that comes from love. They brought me to that high point of of my Advent and Christmas celebration in those days and now this realization; there is no mountain high without the “stable” foundation, the…perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ IN the presence of our God and Father.”
One word appeared in both the paragraph I began with and last year’s writing…intensity. I liked finding I’d felt that intensity again this year. It’s the “Stable” Foundation that’s a benefit from the “exercise.”