Psalm 19 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
Memories and Northern Lights
• I remember the first embarrassing realization of how ignorant I was about religion and faith.
• I remember when I admitted Jesus had become something personal to me.
• I remember when I first saw myself through Christ’s eyes.
• I remember the display of Northern Lights on the Easter after I’d recognized that reality. I stood out on the deck in the cold Minnesota night to watch “The Skies Proclaim the work of his hands.” I was sure God was letting me know he’d gotten my message.
• I remember (most of the time) what I am like without Christ. I am one of those “sinners.”
• I remember (most of the time) that without these memories I might never have had anything worth remembering at all.
1. The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship…8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The challenge of so many words of simple truth repeated in slightly different ways made this chapter seem complicated to me. I finally had to re-read these 14 verses in the light of a 3-point philosophy of writing I learned way back in junior high. My “aha” moment came when I realized that Simplicity and Complexity have to coexist in the life of a believer.
1 – Tell them what you’re going to tell them:
• “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—…”
2 – Tell them what you want to tell them:
• “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
3 – Tell them what you’ve told them:
• “For by one sacrifice he [Christ] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
There’s more to these words than just reading and agreeing. The simple part is the truth that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The complex part is recognizing that within us the deep and mysterious truth of “once and for all” and “made perfect forever” coexists with the reality of our life; we are still “being made holy.”
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.
I John 5:6-10a & 11-12a NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life…
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…”. The Spirit, the water and the blood have been, and are still, testifying in your life. It’s easy to recognize that testimony after you’ve been adopted into God’s family. But what about those years before? Those three were not just standing in the wings hoping you might come to your senses. They were there testifying to you about the reality of Christ.
I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion. The name I had been baptized with wasn’t actually my new name…yet. That process took years but I came home one day to find my Dad with papers in hand weeping because I was finally his daughter.
It doesn’t make a bit of difference what the human details were. The participants might not have been perfect or even particularly religious. The Lord in his mercy, saw that young girl and was testifying to her about another adoption that would take another 15 or 16 years: this time by a heavenly Dad.
Like me, you were not adopted into God’s family because he’d waited long enough…or by the skin of your teeth…or your wise choices. Long before that adoption became a reality there was a process in motion: testimony was happening. Don’t overlook it. That recognition can be one of the strengths in your life. Think back and see for yourself how faithful God has been to you both Before and After.
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.
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.
The angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it…” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.
“…the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city….”
This brings to my mind, “once saved, always saved.” Right now Lot seems like the most stupid of men doesn’t he? Does he hesitate because of the need to act immediately without time to reason and prepare OR is he questioning if the message is really from God? Either of those options lead to the same conclusion. Lot is unsure of who he’s to follow. Not Godless (maybe) but not Godly either!
However God is not unsure about Lot. It’s hard to fathom why, but God has committed himself to Lot and He will not hesitate to act to save him, and his family. And therein lies the seed of forever. We think we have chosen God, but remember I John 4:19? We love because he first loved us. We think we have committed ourselves fully but our choice is limited by the truth we now have. God says “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” 2 Peter 1:12
Here’s the Good News. God ‘s heart is not limited by the truth you now have. He has all truth. When your heart spoke those words of your personal commitment, God chose to accept the Christ in you and your words, without reservation, totally and completely…forever. His intention is for YOUR forever, even if he has to “seize” your hand and drag you to safety. It’s a sure thing.