Life -unscripted and unpredictable

Hebrews 13b

Finish concluding.

“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”

It’s through Jesus’ sacrifice, through his spilled blood, we are made holy. No ritual or right will make us holy. Only the blood of the one true sacrifice, Jesus.

Things may not get wrapped up here. Our lives may end with unsettled debates, with questions unanswered, with things left unfinished. Our lives are not a 43 minute TV drama plot. We get fed a steady diet of conflict-resolution, conflict-resolution all tidy and complete before the preview of the next episode which will feature….conflict-resolution.

“But we are looking for a city that is to come.”

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.”

Let’s Talk about Jesus. To each other, to those around us who don’t know him yet. Normalize Jesus in our world, in our homes, yes, but in our daily lives. We can’t talk about Jesus without praising his goodness.

Share.

Be obedient. We are the slaves of who(m)ever we obey. The world culture is telling us to live to please ourselves, Jesus, through our leaders is telling us to die to ourselves and live for him. Who are we obeying? Our lord is the one who can tell us what to do and then we obey.

Be obedient.

Now this prayer for us all:

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Thanks for reading this.

May God bless us today with a fresh understanding of how much he loves us.

Home improvement kit

Hebrews 13

Tools for living.

The writer puts so much in this last chapter that it’s difficult to condense.

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?”’

Love each other,

be hospitable,

carry that hospitality into prison, honor our marriage vows,

don’t be greedy,

Because God is with us, what can man do to us?

” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.”

Remember, how has God worked in our past, in us and in our leaders? Jesus doesn’t change. He is the same today as he was yesterday or a thousand yesterday’s ago and he will be the same tomorrow.

I need to hear this. As I’m writing this, I’m going to China for a small plant expansion and I have been dreading it. I’m not strong in the area where I will be working. Honestly,I am fearful.

Jesus will be with me. He has the same power, knowledge, Grace, mercy, strength, wisdom and all everything else that he has had in my past, in our collective past. I don’t feel it yet but I believe it.

Lord willing I will finish this chapter and book tomorrow and then I will be in China for a couple of weeks. Last time I was there, there wasn’t any Facebook. What? No Facebook?! So I will be off here for a while. Pray for me, for our team, that we are safe and that it all comes together like it should.

(Update: the expansion went together as planned and designed. The were some glitches and God was gracious to give me the tools to work through and fix them).

Thank you for reading this. May God bless your day.

Reaching the bottom

Hebrews 12C

Coming to the bottom of the tool box.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.”

Have you ever rummaged through a tool box or drawer looking for something and get do totally distracted by the cool things you find that eventually you forget what you were looking for in the first place?

That’s what these last few verses feel like to me.

Live a holy life. (Holy means separated, different, of a separate origin or destination).

Don’t be bitter, live In the grace you have been given. Let it be flowing in and out of your heart.

Stay sexually pure. How in our sex drenched culture with no rules or boundaries do we stay pure? Only have sex with the one I am married to. The manufacturer of my toaster tells me not to make toast in the shower. I can still do it, just for the tingling but it will hurt me eventually. God is my manufacturer. He made me and knows how I work best. He has said for my best interest and my best life, only be intimate with the person I am married to.

“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”’

We are not dealing with God in the way he dealt with the Israelites in the Old Testament, whew! No our revelation of God is much more overwhelming.

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

“for our “God is a consuming fire.”’

Jesus and this christian life are not items to be trifled with.

Praying for the impossible

Matthew 7 has some verses that keep me going. Here are a few.

“7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Continuing to pray for the impossible. Sometimes I’ve had to that. But the thing behind the praying is kind of like the beginning of the the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”

When we are praying, we need stop and think, Who is it that we are praying to?

We are praying to the God who said “let there be light” and suddenly, even though light had never before existed and without a source for the light, there was light. This is the God we are praying to. Powerful, creative, unlimited. Everything we see and know has limits. God does not. What if what we need doesn’t exist now? How can we ask God for something that doesn’t exist? We can Because he is limitless and creative and powerful.

Before we start to pray let’s remember who we are praying to and before we give up and stop praying let’s remember who we are praying to.

One of the impossible things God has done is to make a way for sinful man like me to be with him, a Holy God, for eternity. He did this by sending his only son Jesus to die in my place. Jesus death has paid for all my mistakes, those done in ignorance and those willful deliberate disobediences. All my sin, all of our sins, forgiven. Impossible yet true.

God can and does do the impossible. That’s part of who he is.

(Some of those who know me expected me to bring up my truck Rusty. I didn’t. Or did I?)

The D word

Hebrews 12

The hard stuff.

Discipline.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

Being Gods child means we will be under his discipline. Just coming out of Christmas, which for me is a time of relaxed disciplines, I usually take the week after Christmas off, no alarm clocks, no schedules, rules remain the same, but less structure. Diet…diet? There is food everywhere, most of it completely full of carbs. As a guy this is great, as a diabetic this is a challenge. I have maintained some control but I’m pretty sure that if I did a blood test right now my blood would spill out in little white cubes.

I need discipline to keep myself healthy. Spiritually I need discipline to keep me healthy. Gods grace is awesome, but sometimes I use it like a spiritual vacation and let myself go to unhealthy extremes. I need help, I need direction, I need discipline. I don’t like it, but I need it.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Jesus There are people who need to hear about how much you love us. Please keep me healthy, physically, mentally, spiritually so that I can be useful to you.

Not dead, so he is…

Good news for the new year.

 

Jesus is alive.

 

He was dead, but he is alive.

 

1 Corinthians 15

 

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

 

Why is this important?

 

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

 

But He IS alive.

 

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

 

Our greatest enemy, the enemy we all will face, death, has been defeated by our greatest friend, the friend that paid for our sins with his life, Jesus.

 

Good news for the new year. What will we do with this news?

Condemnation

When I was 5 I told a cousin that they were going to hell for something they were doing. I think it had to do with a bicycle or a cookie, both very important things to a 5 year old.

“7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

In the 52 years since then I have changed my position. I hope that my cousin doesn’t go to hell. In fact I hope they ask Jesus to forgive them and they go to heaven.

I cannot, in the few minutes I spent researching to write this, find proof of this but I believe that what Jesus was saying in this passage is do not condemn to hell another person. Do not condemn.

Later in this chapter we see the the golden rule. The one rule that if we follow it we will also be following all the other rules.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

I don’t want to be condemned to hell. I will not condemn my cousin, or anyone else to hell. There are people that make me crazy but I must treat them not as they deserve but as I want to treated. This is hard stuff.

Not doing so well with this this morning.

I am today just as I was when I was 5 in need of forgiveness for myself.

Father forgive my sin. Help me forgive others.