Foundations

Hebrews 6

Education

Education is like building a house. You lay a foundation and build up from there. My formal education started at Washington elementary in Pendleton Oregon. Mrs Anderson kindergarten teacher extraordinaire. The things I learned there I take with me everywhere.

As a Christian I also have an elementary education and foundation. It is what the rest of my faith is built on. The depth and strength of this base of knowledge will provide security and longevity to whatever is built on top of it.

“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.”

We don’t leave these behind, we build on them.

Why would someone walk away from Jesus? I’d like to do an exit interview of a modern Christian who left Jesus to find out.

It’s different for this group. The group that the writer of Hebrews was talking to was abandoning their faith and going back to Judaism or leaving all together. Why? Because they didn’t want to be tortured and killed. I understand that motivation. We see it today. Not here so much but the day is coming.

Hold on to Jesus.

“is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

We need to hold onto Jesus and support each other. We are the body of Christ and the body needs all of its parts. Let us hold on to Jesus and to each other to the end.

(Side note: I have dreams about the end times. Survival and faith seem to be the theme. I had one last night. I was in a concentration camp that was also an auto salvage place. My truck Rusty was not in the dream. I think the culmination of things is about here. It’s Just my thoughts and my dreams though. We know it’s nearer today than it was yesterday).

Jesus, our priest and our defense lawyer

Hebrews 4C & 5

A priest is someone who goes to God on my behalf. The high priest was the guy who went before God to make the annual sin offering. Jesus my high priest.

He has “been there” but he hasn’t “done that”.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We can be “honest to God” with Jesus. We can tell him what we are going through, say exactly what our temptation or trial is. He is familiar with our situation. He knows how it feels.

“7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus is our priest. Jesus is also our sacrifice. Jesus is our intercessor, our lawyer before God.

My goal is to grow up. To be maturing. To be able learn and share my learning.

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Watching

Hebrews 4b

These song lyrics terrified me when I was a kid.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. “

Why did we behave better at Christmas time? As kids? Santa was watching us.

Guess what? God watches us too. All year long. He doesn’t just watch our behavior but he sees inside our hearts and knows our motives.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Back in James we were told that the word is a mirror reflecting us so we can see ourselves and I suggested it was so that we could wipe our nose. Here the writer says the word of God is an x-ray. Seeing inside our hearts and exposing our motives. God doesn’t expose us to humiliate us. He shows us our hearts so that we can know ourselves and know where we need healing.

After a meeting at work yesterday a friend asked me how I was. I said that I was fine. He probed just a little deeper and exposed a festering boil that caused a 3 minute rant from me. I hate that. But a faithful friend will help us heal.

Jesus is a faithful friend.

We don’t have to be afraid of exposing our inner self to him. He already knows it, he sees our hearts, but waits for us to stop denying, confess and get on with the healing.

Lance my boils Jesus. I’m tired of living with this spiritual infection. Heal my heart. Make me clean.

Atonement

At-one-ment. Bringing two separated things together.

A broken relationship needs something to repair it. Our sin has separated us from God and we both want that relationship restored. It will take something extra. It will take sacrifice.

Sacrifice. In the Old Testament Jewish priests would make animal sacrifices for sin. Only the life blood of an animal, and it had to be an animal without blemish, could wash away the stain of sin from a human heart.

Jesus has become both the sacrifice and the priest. He offered himself to pay for our sin. He is the only human who ever lived an unblemished life.

“23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

Jesus has lived a human life and lived it without error, without sinning, and then laid it down to pay for our sin.

Will you receive his gift today? He has taken my place, he has taken our place, so that we can return to our relationship with God.

Sigh of contentment

Hebrews 4

Rest.

During the busy holiday season it’s what I crave. A chunk of time to rest. I Just looked over Mary’s holiday schedule. There isn’t much room for rest for her and as her “roadie”, for me either.

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 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.”[d]

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Faith in Jesus, trusting in his work that he accomplished when he died for our sins, hearing that message and believing it. That is how we enter spiritual rest.

Again the day we can decide to believe is today. Today is the day we do all the important stuff. It’s the only day we can do anything. We may plan on doing it tomorrow but we can’t. We have to wait until tomorrow becomes today. Yesterday is filled with memories, they may be regrets or joys but today is the only day we have to act.

Jesus died to forgive our mistakes. It’s his gift to us this Christmas season. A gift of forgiveness and rest from our striving. Will we receive his gift this today?

Prophet

Prophet: a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.

A very long time ago a man who is gifted in the prophetic gifts gave a bible verse to Mary and me. He gave us more than one but as I was reading through 1 Corinthians 16 I saw it and remembered that day.

The verse is 9 but I will put it in context and add some at the beginning. This is Paul speaking to his congregation at Corinth.

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

This verse and this event take me back to a time when my belief was new and exciting and scary. God spoke to me then through this man, a prophet. He is speaking now through the Bible and through other believers but it isn’t as specific as that verse was to me that day.

I don’t know how that verse has been fulfilled in my life, at the time, it made me think of mass evangelism but that isn’t what I have done. I raised a family. I worked and lived and Mary and I stayed married. I haven’t started any churches like Paul did. I served in one, the same one for about 32 years.

This verse though makes me think of another verse that explains my life a little better.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

This verse makes me think that God isn’t a trophy maker, He is a tool maker. When we are saved he changes us into tools that he can then use to enlarge His kingdom.

As a electrician I know that every job requires specific tools to get the job done.

Father God, May I be one of those in Your hands today.

Radio man

Eph 6:18 “And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…continually keep on praying for all the saints”.

When I was a kid I used to play with green army men. My least favorite man was the guy with the radio. He wasn’t fighting anyone, he was to my mind useless. As I’ve have grown up watching documentaries on war, I have learned how important the radio guy is. He is the one to call for air strikes, to call in more troops, and to call in for medical help. Paul here in this passage is telling all of us that we all need to be radio men. We need to stay in contact with the God who controls the spiritual air strikes, supplies and troops and the medics. I need to pray more because God is my help.