Movin’ On Up

 

4/09/2019

The Word: Hebrews 6:1-20

Let’s leave the beginning discussions of Christ. We don’t need to be laying foundational, discussions of baptism, resurrection of the dead, laying on of hands, and of eternal judgment. Let’s move on to talk that require more maturity.

It’s impossible for those who have tasted the Word of God, shared in the in the Holy Spirit and have enjoyed the heavenly gifts, and then fell away, to be restored to repentance, because they would be crucifying the son of God again. They would be exposing Him to public ridicule.

It is like rain that falls on land and produces food, the land is receiving blessings from God. But if the land grows thistles it is worthless and will soon be cursed.

But even as we speak to you of these things, we are confident of better things for you, dear friends. God is not unjust. He will not forget the work you did for Him in serving others in love.

We want each of you to continue to show the same exuberance, so that you can have the full assurance of your hope until the end. Our goal is that you would not become lazy, but imitators of those who inherited the promise through faith and patient endurance.

God made His promise to Abraham. He swore by Himself, since there is no one greater to swear by, That He would make a great nation of his descendants. Abraham waited patiently until he received the promise.

Since God wanted to show the heirs of the promise that His plan was unchangeable, He guaranteed His promise with an oath, so that we might be encouraged.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul. It is sure and firm, and goes behind the inner curtain, where Jesus entered ahead of us on our behalf, because He became a High Priest forever like Melchizedek.

 

My Reaction

I understand the writers exasperation at having to constantly remind the listeners that we need to more on to something a little meatier than just the basics. But he goes on to say that those who have enjoyed the fruits of the Spirit and then fall away are crucifying Christ again.

Don’t we always crucify Him by our unbelief? By our untrusting His words and promises?

Where is the God of second chances in this guy’s speech? If He turned His back on everyone who doubted or walked away, how would He ever populate heaven? I see Him as a long suffering, patient God, not willing that anyone should perish.

Of those several million rag-tag, gang of complainers that He led out of Egypt, only the youth and babes lived to see the Promised Land. But does that mean He rejected every person? That every person who littered the desert with their bones was lost forever? I don’t think so!

He must have been giving them 40 years to reflect on their bad choices and repent. Otherwise He could have saved a lot of time by just outright killing them and starting over again.

Oh, wait! That would mean that Moses would have a lot of kids to raise alone in the wilderness.

I am so glad that God IS merciful and forgiving no matter how many times we reject Him. He knows the end of my road before I was even a twinkle in my mother’s eyes, before my great-great-great grandfather first set foot on the shores of America, yea, before He created Adam and Eve. But before He’ll save or slay me He must justify His choice to the untold millions of intelligent beings scattered from one end of His creation to the other. They have to know that I was given billions of chances throughout my lifespan to accept His offer of love and salvation. I either chose to stand with Him though the heavens fall, or would be a rebel through eternity, if He let me live that long.

I’m just glad for the opportunity for movin’ on up!

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Our High Priest is Like Melchizedek

 

4/08/2019

The Word: Hebrews 5:1-14

Every high priest appointed by man is to be one that is able to deal gently with those that are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is weak in many ways. For this reason he is obligated to offer sacrifices for his own sins, just as he does for the people.

No one takes this honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take the glory of becoming a high priest on himself, but God called him:

“You are my Son

Today I have begotten you.”

He also said the same thing in another place:

“You are a priest forever, like Melchizedek.”

The whole time He lived among us, he offered up prayers and tears on our behalf, and He was heard because of His reverence.

Although He was the Son, through His suffering He learned obedience. Because He was appointed by God to be our High Priest like Melchizedek, when His work was finished here, He became the source of our salvation.

 

Milk or Solid Food

There is a lot that can be said on this topic but it is hard to explain, because you have become to lazy to listen. You have been hearing this for so many years that by this time you should be teaching others. We should not have to be teaching you the beginning principals of God’s word. You have become like people of no teeth with only the ability to drink milk, not able to eat solid food. Anyone who has regressed to infancy and is still drinking formula cannot handle the word of righteousness. The solid food of the word is for people who have matured and have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.

 

My Reaction:

There is nothing so blunt as calling a “Spade a Spade.” Like: “There is a lot that can be said on this topic, but it is hard to explain, because you have become to lazy to listen.”

Have you ever been a “lazy listener?” I know I sure have been. All through my childhood, I only listened when it was extremely interesting, or I felt I could profit from it. I think that I have improved somewhat, after passing my seventh decade.

Anyway, Seventh-day Adventists, who can rightly take pride in their educational system…K-University, should be the most well-versed people on the planet, in the things of God. But, large portions of Adventist youth have difficulty with the very rudiments of Bible knowledge, like finding different books or verses in the Bible. I dare say that most have never read it from cover-to-cover, only portions that were required for their classes.

Verse 14: But solid food is for mature people who have their senses trained by practice to distinguish between good and evil.”

Some will Enter God’s Rest

 

4/07/2019

 

The Word: Hebrews 4: 1-16

The author continues, Therefore, since the promise of entering God’s rest still stands, let’s be careful none of you will be judged to have failed to reach it.”

“You see,” he continues, “we have had the same gospel peached to us, just as they did in olden times.” But that message did not benefit them because they just heard it and went on their merry way, not really believing it and accepting, by faith, what they heard.

But, we have been given a chance to enter that rest that was preached to them.

 

It came about just as He vowed when He said:

“So I swore an oath in my wrath,

They will never enter my rest.”

 

What few fail to see, is that His work of salvation was finished since the creation of the world. In Genesis He wrote about the seventh day this way:

“And God rested on the seventh day from all His works,” (including the work of salvation.) (My words in Bold, for salvation is a part of His work)

 

And again in this statement:

“They will never enter my rest.”

 

Therefore, since it is still the case that some do enter this rest, but many do not, we must conclude that those who did not enter that rest, was because of their disobedience. So, God again set a certain day, namely, “Today,” as the right time to enter His rest.

Years later, He told David, “Today, if you hear my voice, don’t be stubborn and hard-hearted.”

You see, if Joshua had led them to their rest, then God would not have spoken later about another ”today” of opportunity to rest.

So there remains, yet, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For when you enter into God’s rest, you will also be resting from your own work, just as God rested from His work.

Therefore, let us make every effort to enter that rest, so that not one of us will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.

There is no creature hidden from Him, but everything is exposed to His eyes. His word is active and alive and sharper than a double-edged scalpel. It penetrates even to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even being able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We have a High Priest that was not appointed by man, but appointed by God Himself. He has come down to take a cloak of humanity, to be our High Priest, He has been tempted in every area that we have, but He did not sin. He is well able to sympathize with our weaknesses. So let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

My Reaction:

 

“It happened just as he vowed when he said:

‘So I swore an oath in my wrath,
“They will never enter my rest.’”

I’m taking this to mean. “I was so mad that I swore and fumed at the rejection of me by my creation. I created people to have a love relationship with me, but they would have none of it and refused to meet with me on my holy day.”

This seems to be about the same scene that is played out by kids on the playground or at a Birthday party, where the birthday boy invites a bunch of his friends over to his backyard party. He gathers them all together to introduce them to a new game that he wants to play with them. When he calls them together, most of the guests don’t gather in the group, some don’t even listen to the instructions even though they are standing right in front of birthday boy.

Finally, in exasperation, Birthday boy packs up his toys and runs into the house. A few of the guests follow him into the house and they enjoy the rest of the day doing the things that Birthday boy wanted to do with ALL of his friends. The others had to content themselves doing their own thing until it was time to go home.

The others didn’t get to enjoy what Birthday boy wanted to give them. They wanted to do their own thing. It wasn’t that Birthday boy made them the way they were. It wasn’t that he cursed them because they were that way. He was just saying, “If you don’t want to play my game by my rules, because you are selfish and stubborn, then you might as well go home now, because this is my party. I had every intention of having the best party that you’ve ever attended, but you would have none of it!”

Yes, I know, this is not an entirely correct way of picturing the situation, because I am not in eternity. I can only see one side of the events that the writer of Hebrews was trying to convey.

The last portion of this chapter is dealing with the role of Jesus as their High Priest and God’s Messiah. The author uses the comparison of Jesus as our High Priest…. Not too much unlike our modern politicians, who are raised in families where it is expected that they will get government jobs and work their way up to be the president one day.

Priests in that day were to all come from the tribe of Levi. There seems to be a sort of political form of hierarchy where different levels of priestly duties were filled by election. But the High Priests were chosen from the family of Aaron. So. if you were eldest son or grandson or great-grandson and so on, you were expected to fill the role of High Priest. These potential High Priests, I imagine, were highly protected, living a very sheltered life.

The writer of Hebrews, knowing this, went out of his way to point out that Jesus, the first, and only Son of God did NOT choose the sheltered life, but came down to live among us. He was tempted in every form of evil, just like you or me. But he didn’t sin. We do!

He reminds the reader that we can boldly approach the throne of God’s grace, expecting mercy and finding help in our time of need.

Moses, a Faithful Servant: Jesus, a Faithful Son

 

4/04/2019

 

The Word: Hebrews 3:1-19

 

So then, my brothers who share with me the highest of all callings, think for a few minutes about the messenger and the High Priest of the faith that binds us together in Christ Jesus.

He was faithful to the charge given Him by God. Compare Him with Moses who was also faithful in his duty to the household of God. This man, Jesus, has been considered worthy of greater honor than Moses.

Moses was considered a faithful servant, but Jesus was considered a faithful Son. We are considered members of His household if we maintain our trust and joyful hope, rock-solid until the end.

 

Be on guard against a creeping unbelief

Take note of the Holy Spirit’s words, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not stiffen your hearts, like your ancestors did in the wilderness. Your fathers heard my words. They tested me, proved me, and saw my works for forty years, but it meant little to them.

Therefore, I became angry with your stubborn fathers and swore they would never enter my rest.”

You should be very careful then, my brothers that, none of you deserts the cause of the Living God by a lack of trust or wicked living. Help each other stand firm in your faith every day, while it is still called “Today.” Beware that none of you becomes deaf or blind to God through the glamor of sin.

These words are still being said for our ears to hear: ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’.

It’s all too clear that it is refusal to trust God that prevented these men from entering into His rest.

 

My Reaction

 

Many times, from my youngest childhood, I have heard and read the stories of the Old Testament. Sometime during my High School years I began to wonder about what I was reading. When God told the people whom He had rescued from Egypt to enter the Promised Land and kill every man, woman and child, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Why would a loving God ask that of a people He had made holy? One who had given them the Ten Commandments, one of which says. “You shall not kill.”

These were people that were the leftovers of the group that had left Egypt. The bones of their parent were scattered all over the Sinai Desert because they refused to trust God. Yet, when commissioned the kill the inhabitants of the land, they started saving out a few of the best-looking women and a few men for slaves.

So, they didn’t trust God any more than their parents. Within just a few years they were marrying these sex-slaves they had captured. Their refusal to trust and obey God would soon come back to bite them in the butt.

Nearly 4,000 years after they were told, by God, what to do with these heathen people, the Jews are still having to fight for every square foot of the land God had given to Abraham and his descendants.

So, I asked myself, “How could all these people, that were rescued out of slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, be so dumb as to NOT listen and obey what God had told them to do? Even though it didn’t make much sense to them?

Then I began to grow into adulthood and my questioning began to take a turn. “How can we be so dumb?” Modern-day Christians aren’t any better at following God than the ancient Jews… or Adam and Eve, for that matter.

Today, we have a written record of God-following people throughout history who have witnessed the miracles and revelations of God and yet mistrusted Him. These are eyewitness accounts for the most part.

Christians are the most well-versed people on the planet when it come to the actions and words of God. Yet, we don’t trust or believe God any more than Adam and Eve and the people of the next 6,000 years.

“Why is that?” I’ve wondered.

Is it because of the changes that have taken place at the DNA level as a result of the sin of our first parents?

Maybe is it because satan has made sin look so glamorous that we can’t resist it?

When satan told Adam and Eve that by eating of that exotic fruit they would be given “knowledge of good and evil.” Well, they already knew “good”… and the perfect. But what was this evil of which the serpent spoke? It must be awesome, it has made a serpent able to speak!

What else could have kept me enthralled for so many years, with Tax Resistance and starting a church of my own, The Church of the Better Way.

At my lowest point I would proclaim, “I’m not sure there is a God. If there is really a heaven, I’ll have to make my own.

I didn’t get there overnight, but over several years of not trusting God. Then, not believing Him.

 

 

The Salvation Pioneer

 

4/3/2019

The Word: Hebrews 2:1-18

It is imperative that we keep a firm grip on what we have heard and believed. If the old message, the one announced by angels was valid, think how much more crucial it is that we hold tight to the message delivered by God’s own Son, then accurately passed on by those who heard His messages. Meanwhile God is validating that message of salvation with all kinds of signs and miracles, as he sees fit.

God didn’t put angels in charge of this business of salvation that we’re dealing with here. It says in Scripture than man was made a little lower than the angels, but it was man that He put in charge of everything that He had made.

Even though man was in charge of everything, we don’t see that anymore. But what we do see is Jesus, who was also made a little lower than the angels, elevated through His experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel. By God’s grace He experience death in every person’s place.

It make sense then, that the God who got everything started and then maintains it, would complete His work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect as He leads all these people to glory.

Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat us as family, saying “I’l tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know about You; I’ll join them in worship and praise to You.”

Since the children (who sinned) are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior would take on flesh and blood in order to rescue us by His death. By embracing death, taking it into Himself, He destroyed the devil’s hold on death and freed all who are scared to death of death.

It’s obvious that He didn’t go through all this trouble for angels, but for people like us, children of Abraham. For this reason He became one of us, in every detail of human life. Then, when He came before God as our High Priest to get rid of our sins, He would have already experienced our all our lives. He would be prepared to give help where it was needed

 

My Reaction

My first thought is, “I’m not one of the Jews that the author is addressing, so what does all this mean to me?”

But then I am reminded that Jesus was a Jew and from the first time that I believed in Him, He accepted me as His brother. At my baptism God adopted me into His family.

Even though my kind of people were created a little lower than the angels, He has adopted me as His so. As an heir with Jesus, by faith, I have been elevated above the angels. Mysterious! Nearly incomprehensible! Unfathomable love at work!

Why then, would I want to worship angels? They could not have done for me what Jesus has done. Praise God!

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God’s Final Word: His Son is Superior to Angels

4/2/2019

 The Word to Hebrews (Chatper 1:1-14

In the olden days, God had to speak through the lips of prophets, in many times and ways. But in recent times He has spoken to us through His Son.

This Son is exactly like the Father, only shielded by a human body. He sustains all things created by His powerful word.

After the Son provided purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of His Father in heaven.

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. This superiority was expressed many times by our fathers.

Speaking of Messiah through David, God said, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

Then again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angel worship Him.”

When speaking of the angels He says, “He makes His angels spirit, and His servants flames of fire.”

But about His Son He says, “In the beginning, You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but You will remain. They are like an old garment, rolled up to be discarded. Like a garment they will be changed, but You remain the same and Your years will never end.”

 

To which of His angels did God ever say,” Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?”

Can’t you see? All angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.

 

My Reaction

 

It seems to me that the author is starting out this letter trying to document from the old writings that angels are NOT gods. Perhaps the people of his day were tending to venerate angels, much like a large segment of people today.

Why wouldn’t they? I’m recalling the story of Balaam, who is hired by a foreign king to go out and put a curse on God’s people. While riding his donkey through a vineyard, the animal suddenly stops and refuses to go any farther. Balaam gets so irritated that he starts yelling at his donkey (nothing unusual yet). However, in his anger he doesn’t even notice when the donkey starts answering him and giving excuses for not proceeding.

Then God “opened his eyes,” and he saw the angel standing in the pathway with a flaming sword. Balaam falls off his mount, onto his face and starts worshipping.

WOW! Wouldn’t you or I have a similar reaction? If you ever find yourself talking to your ass because you are frustrated, don’t try to worship the angel that comes to help you do the right thing. Angel are NOT God.

And there was Gideon. This was the guy who wanted to worship the angel who burned up his food offering at the threshing floor.

In all the cases mention in the Bible where men have encountered angels there have been an attempt on man’s part to worship the angels. All except one!

When Jesus encountered the fallen angel out in the desert, he did not fall to his knees. Jesus did not recognize him as anything but who he really was… a fallen angel in his death throes.

In fact the angel pleaded with Jesus to worship him in order to by-pass all the trouble a death that was going to befall Him shortly.

In effect he was proposing to thwart God’s Plan of Salvation.

 

So. I think the author is putting this introduction out there to put new believers on guard against this tendency of people to deify angels.

 

The Book of Hebrews

 

3/31/2019

 

Introduction

It is rather unclear who this let was intended for, or who was the author, but the epistle itself reveals its nature and purpose.

The purpose of the whole letter is to show the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant. The readers of the letter are encouraged to react to the threat of persecution by recommitting to the plan that Jesus had brought to them.

Since he speaks so much about the old and new covenants, one would have to conclude that he is addressing converts to Christianity, both Jewish and possibly Greek, who have a solid foundation in the laws of God.

 

The book seems to alternate between teachings and challenges to those teachings. There are four of these teaching / challenge couplets.

  • Jesus and the salvation that He brings is greater than salvation that was announced through the Law of Moses.
  • Jesus is our “apostle” (someone sent by God for a specific mission), and he brings us into a more lasting peace and rest than Moses and Joshua did for the forefathers.
  • Jesus is a more effective High Priest than those appointed by the law of Moses.
  • Through the Messiah, God’s faithful people are stepping out in faith to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

With this being said, let’s begin.