Monday, October 31, 2016

We're The House

Recently, I've been involved in the examination of an old house.  It was built in 1973.  Over the years, it has seen a lot of changes.  The original garage is now a den, and there is a relatively new garage extension.  The walls have been moved to add a 3rd bedroom.  Both bathrooms have been moved.  A screened porch was added on the back several years ago.  The cabinets in the kitchen are new, as is the countertop and the flooring.  It is a house which has been much loved and developed.  As a result it bears little resemblance inside to how it was when it was brand new.  The exterior is somewhat changed, but the changes there are not as obvious.

It still has a few problems, although minor ones, since no house is perfect in all its ways.  There are still issues which must be addressed.

In today's scripture passage, we find the beautiful analogy that we are Christ's "house".

So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, but Jesus gets far more honor. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house.
 Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house!
(Hebrews 3:1-6 The Message)

I love The Message version of this passage.  Let's continue to take a good, hard look at the Son of God.  He is in charge of His Church, His House, that redeemed group of humans for whom He came and which has accepted His finished work of salvation.

As the One in charge, he "develops" us.  There are times he has to do some "demolition".  We can always be sure that He does it right, though - - no building code violations, no shortcuts, no shoddy workmanship.  Paul alludes to this when he tells us in Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) ...

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

Let's examine our lives today and see where God is "working on" us, His beautiful house.  Are you undergoing minor repairs, or is God tearing an entire wing off of you (an "extreme makeover")?  Is He replacing your roof, your furnace, your bathtub?  Is He merely "redecorating" you at the moment?  Maybe he is adorning you with beautiful things!  Whatever stage of "development" you are in, I pray that you will recognize His hand in your life, Christian, and humble yourself under His mighty, loving hand.  Be bold, as today's scripture says, in your confidence that He has you in the palm of His hand!  He is in control, no matter your circumstances.

Our salvation is finished, secure!  We are forever His, because He is faithful.   Still, as part of His House we are all, after all, "under construction".  :)

I've never visited the Billy Graham library, but would like to, someday.  I'm told that his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, is buried there and that her tombstone bears an unusual inscription:


Father, where my floors are sagging, shore me up;
Where my gutters are clogged, clean me out;
Where there is mold, disinfect me;
Where cold winds blow in and steal my fire, seal me;
Where the enemy gnaws on my bones like a pestilent insect, inoculate me;
Where my rails are wobbly, steady me;
Where my rooms are empty, fill me with your Holy Spirit,
For Your honor and glory alone!
In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You Didn't Build That!

Life has become extremely busy, these last few days.  Last week, I blogged only twice (which means I had morning devotions only twice), and that makes me unhappy.  But, the past few days were filled with tremendous blessings, and about that I cannot complain.  Not.One.Bit.

That being said, it is with tremendous delight I have the blessed privilege of jumping back into Bible study this afternoon.  Let's resume with Hebrews 3, shall we?

Barak Obama was right.  (Some of you who know me well are laughing right about now!)  Do you remember how, during his tenure as president, Obama made the highly inflammatory statement, "You didn't build that!"  He was talking to a group of people about the small businesses they had "built", making the point that, had not the government provided them the infrastructure and undergirding necessary for the success of the businesses, those initiatives could not have succeeded.1

Now, I am not going to argue the politics of his statement here.  I am, however, going to make that point that, all political considerations aside, you certainly "didn't build that".

4For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
Hebrews 3:4 NASB

Just this morning, I was sitting talking with a Christian sister about the church start-up we are both involved with as some of the initial pioneers.  We were reflecting on how God has put that group of pioneers together so very beautifully, so that needs are being met and work is getting done.  In fact, we were agreeing on how stunned we were over the beauty of it!  If we had tried our best to hand-pick people to come on board the project, we would have done an inferior job.  People have volunteered talents we did not know they had.  Who led them to volunteer?  God did.  He knew.  We have even been able to see how years ago He put people into key positions, the purposes of which were not clear at the time.  Looking back, those moves now make perfect sense...

It is oh-so-tempting to look at how God uses us in ministry and to get puffed up with pride..."Look what I did!"  Well, no, you didn't.  But, God did.  He used you to accomplish His purposes, to cause His will to be done...on earth as it is in Heaven.  Whether He used you willingly or unwillingly, He used the gifts and talents He gave you, to accomplish His will.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17 ESV

The Builder of All God.

Oh Lord Christ!  The universe is Your workmanship, but the Church is of it all the most rare, curious and excellent piece.  No less power was required to make the Church than was required to create the universe.  The latter was made out of nothing, and the former out of materials, flawed people, altogether unfit for such a magnificent building.  I am in awe of all Your works, and am so very grateful to be called not only Your daughter, but also Your servant.  Amen.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Angel Salvation?

As a reminder, the whole of Hebrews, especially chapter 1, was written to clearly define who Jesus Christ is, with 2:16, our key verse for today, being no exception.  (Hebrews had a dual purpose, the second being to encourage persecuted believers).

16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

During the first century A.D., many heresies were flying here and there, many of them centered on the Person of Jesus Christ.  Judaizing was one; Gnosticism was another one, which I blogged about below:

This tendency to heresy continues unto the present day in our Christian faith, often born from the fact that some Bible student, commentator, professor or pastor wants to "discover" some new teaching in the Bible.  Of this we all who live the Word of God should be very wary, as this love of "secret knowledge" reeks of Gnosticism!  I love what Harold Brown1 has to say about this:

It is a curious fact about Christianity that it is the only major religion many of whose paid, full-time priests, prelates, and professors spend much time and energy trying to show that it is false and should be totally changed or perhaps even abandoned. Buddhists do not do this; neither do Hindus. Muslims certainly do not, or if they do they do not live long. This shows, I believe, that the religion of Scripture, historic, biblical Christianity, is obnoxious to the Prince of Darkness, so that he makes a point of tempting the professors and priests of Christianity to undermine their own doctrines.

One heresy that originated in the first century and is seductive to this day concerns angels and their relationship to Jesus.  The book of Hebrews is clear that angels are created beings, whereas Jesus is not.  Verse 16 is yet another verse to distinguish the second Person of the Trinity from angels.  Jesus Christ is no angel.  He is God, who took on Himself the nature of man, thereby making Himself "a little lower than the angels" (2:9-10).

But, verse 16 is a puzzlement in the sense that it appears to condemn fallen angels who are currently under judgment from God.  Is there no hope from them?  Does Hebrews 2:16 say that?

First, we have to recall that angels, though created, were not created with a "sin nature", the same one we inherited from our forefather, Adam.  There is a reason that Christ is referred to in Scripture as "the last Adam", as this refers to His taking on the human nature and becoming born as a baby, male human.  The "nature" of angels is quite different.

So, is the fate of fallen angels sealed?  It appears to be.  It is certain that the salvation available to humans through Jesus Christ is not available to fallen angels.  And, based on the following scriptures, no other salvation seems extended to them either.

5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who savedca people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,d serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Jude 1:5-7

3Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 
1 Corinthians 6:3

We must understand that God can do anything He wants, except violate His own Word.  He will not be untrue to Himself.  We must also accept that we do not understand all things and that, with humility, we need to leave the angels to God.  Certainly, we have our hands full dealing with our own mess on a day-to-day basis!  Fortunately, our precious Lord Jesus, because He became a man, understands our "mess", is able to sympathize with our trials and temptations, and is therefore able to strengthen and help us to overcome them, in His all-powerful name.  Let's praise Him for His amazing grace!


1  Jackson, Wayne. "Is There No Plan of Salvation for Angels?" Access date: October 19, 2016.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cred and Peace

Cred: do you know what that means?

Cred is a street word that is short for "credentials".  If you have "cred" then you have the authority necessary to accomplish something or to demand respect.

This reminds me of my late 20s and early 30s, when my childless self would judge the parenting of my siblings and others who were navigating the shark-infested waters of parenting.  Some of those were not shy about telling me how, as a childless person, I lacked "cred" to advise them.  Later, when I became a parent, I realized that they were 1000% right!

In her "Entrusted" Bible study this morning, week's 4's video portion, Beth was giving part of her personal testimony.  A key point she made is that God has formed her into the influential, dynamic Bible teacher she is today in part because of what He brought her through in her past.  Because she endured and through the power of the Holy Spirit triumphed over horrific events in which she had no control, she now has cred to help others going through similar trials.

Hebrews 2:14 and 15 (ESV) - - -

14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Aren't there just some things in the Bible that you have to say to yourself, "I don't get it.  I'll never get it.  And, by the grace of God, that's okay."?

The first part of verse 14 is like that for me.  There is nothing more inscrutable or past my understanding that the doctrine of the Incarnation.  To think that Jesus-God experienced the fullness of human existence....that just blows my mind.  He shared in our flesh and blood.  He shared in our physical death.

Because God the Father willed it, Jesus endured it.  For whatever the reason, Father demanded that His Son "have cred" with the human experience.

This passage of scripture makes it clear that, if Jesus had not shared in our flesh and blood, even to the point of physical death, He would not have been able to destroy the stronghold Satan holds over the planet Earth.  Jesus would not have been able to deliver us from Satan's clutches, had He not lived as a man, died as a man and risen bodily from the dead (again, as a man).

Those of us who are in Jesus Christ, those whose hearts beat for Him, have no need to fear when our physical death approaches.  The opposite of such supernatural peace is a crippling fear that enslaves...often for a lifetime.

People do not have to live this way, immobilized by fear, "zombie-fied" by the fear of death.  Jesus did what He did to set us free from eternal, spiritual death, but not only from that!  He also did what He did to free us from the FEAR of it, as we live this life He also lived!

One of my favorite songs, and one we are going to sing this Sunday at the very first service of a brand-new church, is called "In Christ Alone".  Its lyrics boldly proclaim the truths we've been studying today.  Give a look and a listen.

As sung by Kristian Stanfill - - - 

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand


Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Friday, October 14, 2016

Big Daddy Weave: A Gorgeous Tapestry of Legacy

My aunt is coming to visit!
I write these words with tremendous anticipation.  She lives in Kentucky, which is not THAT far away, actually.  But, my uncle has been physically limited for the past several years and, although when he wasn't they "came south" to the home community, they never visited my home (which is about 1.5 hours from Ancestors' Ground Zero).
So, I am beyond excited!!

I just love my aunt to pieces, one reason being that she is quite a bit like me, hahaha!  That's no surprise, given genetics.  We absolutely delight in each other's company.  In many respects, although we have for much of our lives been separated by distance, I am her spiritual offspring.  As I was excitedly telling my very good friend about my aunt's impending visit, I said, "You are going to recognize so much of me when you get to know her."  I am her niece, but also one of her spiritual children.  And, I'm so grateful for her legacy to me.

In today's verses, Hebrews 2:11-13 (ESV), if you will recall, Jesus is in a sense "speaking" a reply to the Father, who was "speaking" to the Son in Hebrews 1:5-14.  Note how in today's passage Jesus calls His followers his "brothers" and also "children".
11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.b That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,c 12saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

In these verses, the author of Hebrews quotes both Isaiah 8:17-18 as well as the words of King David in 2 Samuel 22:3.  I love how the writer, weaves the Old Testament prophecies into this gorgeous New Testament tapestry of legacy.

Isaiah was God's faithful prophet, to whom God promised that his children would be a remnant of faith.  David was a man after God's own heart. To David God promised Messiah would come from his own lineage.  Jesus, Yeshua Messiah, now calls them (and us!) both His brothers and His children.

There is no job harder than being a parent, biological or otherwise, in my opinion. It is a relationship heartbreakingly beautiful....or simply heartbreaking.  Don't you know that God feels the same about us and the decisions we make?  When we glorify Him, His limitless heart swells, and when we destroy the gift He has given us, His magnificent heart breaks.  God: the original Big Daddy Weave!

Who are your children, Christian?  Whom has God given you?  Who has Big Daddy Weave woven into your tapestry?  Are you praying for them?  Are you sacrificing for them?  Are you loving them as Jesus-with-skin-on?  Father has given us to Christ so that as "children" we may learn from Him. Cockerill says this:
"The Greek word for 'children' is often used as a general term for younger people with a close relationship to and respect for the one addressing them as 'children'.  Thus Christ's calling them his 'children' preserves the uniqueness of the Son, affirms his solidarity with the 'sons and daughters', and suggests that they are in need of his assistance.  The term 'children' is also fitting for those in need of instruction ..."
And, He has given us offspring so that they may learn from us.

It is easy as a parent, biological or spiritual, to become discouraged or appalled or nearly suicidal over the antics and actions of our biological or spiritual descendants.  But, remember...even the great Isaiah did not physically live to see God's promises totally fulfilled in his children's lives, nor did David live to see the Temple built or the first advent of Jesus Messiah.

So what if all we see is the underside of the tapestry, with all its knots and crazy connections under there?  We rest in the hand of Big Daddy Weave, the Master Weaver.  Let's trust and pray, yield and obey, and in His everlasting goodness.

Oh!  And, Big Daddy Weave is a contemporary Christian band.  Listen to their wonderful offering, "My Story" here:
(If there is an ad that starts to run before the song starts, click "Skip Ad" as soon as possible.  Some of them are pretty vile and disgusting.)

Oh Father God...."for grace that is greater than all my sins, the kindness of Jesus that draws me in...Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him." Thank you for Your timeless grace and Your legacy woven upwards, downwards, backwards and forwards, like threads connecting us to You and to each other.  Hallelujah!  In Jesus' name, amen.


Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

God's Sister

Well, good afternoon!  I had to take a brief hiatus, in order to create a 25-page document for a friend. That intense and time-intensive project used up all of my writing mojo!

Do you have a sibling?  I have two.  When I became pregnant with our first child, I knew immediately I desired to have at least one more.  My husband and I became parents late in life.  I didn't want an only child to have the additional burden of being "alone" in this world at an early age, should God desire to take my husband and me on home to glory.  God graciously blessed with two sons, and now each has the other to call "brother".

There have been times when they have wanted to cheerfully kill each other!  Well, you can't choose every member of your biological family... Hopefully, in the end, they will love and support each other, if they allow the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in their lives; such is my daily prayer.

In our Hebrews passage today, Jesus Christ is called the "brother" of those who belong to Him. Doesn't that add an interesting dimension to our relationship with our God and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Consider these verses from chapter 2, especially verse 12, and let's look a little more deeply at what this term "brother" means.  The three Old Testament quotations in today's passage correspond to the Father's proclamation of Jesus' divine Sonship in 1:5-14.  Hebrews 2:12, in particular, corresponds to Hebrews 1:5.

10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.b That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,c 12saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

"Children of God" is perhaps easier for us to grasp, and we'll most likely look at that verse tomorrow.  But, brother?  Here is what Bruce had to say in his commentary:

The quote in verse 12 is from Psalm 22:22, a psalm which early Christians all attributed to Jesus Christ as speaker.  Why?  Because he quoted from the earlier part of Psalm 22 on the cross.  So, it logically follows that Jesus would be the prophecy fulfillment, the speaker, in the second part of the psalm also.
"And since those who are sanctified to God through his death are sons and daughters of God, the Son of God is not ashamed to acknowledge them as his brothers and sisters - - not only as those whose nature he took upon himself, but those whose trials he endured, for whose sins he made atonement, that they might follow him to glory on the path of salvation which he himself cut."

I want to put down a comment here from Cockerill, concerning the "For it was fitting...." aspect of verse 10.  Cockerill says it so beautifully!
Christ's suffering was neither a logical necessity forced upon God, nor a mere decision of his will, but an appropriate expression of the divine character.  Thus his incarnate suffering was integral to the Son's person as the ultimate revelation of God's nature."

Had Jesus Christ not assumed the flesh and blood of humanity, He would have been unable to redeem it!  Unlike us, His brothers and sisters, who are being changed by His Holy Spirit who lives within us, Jesus Christ did not go through a period of "moral development".  Instead, He assumed the human nature and lived a life of perfect and complete obedience, even under the worst kind of suffering and, ultimately, the most torturous death.   Praise His Name forever!

By confessing His brotherhood with us, His people, He thereby extends an invitation for us to rest in and to enjoy that filial relationship with God which has been made available for us by our Brother, the Pioneer.

Dear Triune God, Your magnificence is past comprehension!  You have made me Your daughter, and Your sister.  I just can't even begin to fathom that.  But, I thank you with all my heart for choosing me and for allowing me to choose you.  I look forward to an eternity of exploring more fully what that means.  In Jesus' name, amen. 


Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1990. Kindle edition.
Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Payment Dear

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all....
Romans 8:32 (KJV)

When I awoke this morning, after morning prayers, one of the first things I did was to check my iPad to see if there were any huge news stories or (as I like to call them) "flaming arrows".  This morning's article, If I Die Before You Wake, by @ewerickson (Erick W. Erickson) riveted me.  (See link under Sources: below.)  I've followed Erick's career for the past few years and love that boy like a son.

I knew that Erick's wife, Kristi, had had some health problems over the years, sometimes serious ones.  I knew of his recent crisis with blood clots in his lungs.  I did not, however, realize the drastic turn both of their healths had taken in recent weeks.  I learned from the article that his wife has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer that only affects non-smoking women.  And, Erick continues to suffer with serious cardiovascular issues.  In the article, Erick was also extremely transparent about the emotional collateral his family has suffered, due to his political stances on this presidential election. This godly, Christ-honoring family has been buffeted and battered by both health crises and our toxic American culture, in general.

Some of you have felt that, in your own life.  I was reading a post by Paige on Facebook a couple days ago.  She drolly said that she was not going to discuss politics anymore before the election because no matter whom she announced she was voting for, it would be wrong.  Others chimed in that over-zealous friends had made Facebook an unpleasant venue, due to hateful stances and comments.  It can certainly be that.

Currently, I am studying Hebrews with you, as you know, because you came here expecting another Hebrews post this morning.  But, what you may not know is that I am concurrently studying the new Beth Moore study, Entrusted.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing loss, due to his or her stalwart faith in Jesus Christ today.  Let me close today's post by sharing some thoughts from that study of 2 Timothy.

In this letter Paul drives home the point that Christians fellowship with each other in many things: worship, fellowship, marriages, meals, laughter, Bible study - - - but that we must also be willing to suffer together the EVIL launched against us for carrying the name and testimony of Jesus, and for standing for truth and righteousness.

Standing true to the Word of God will not only open us up to attack, it will make our hearts vulnerable.  Beth's words:

"The raw vulnerability of untempered love...of that handful of people who hold your heart - - - 

skinned alive - - - and could slay you with their absence.  Untempered love is terrifying.  

But what's life if we never love others past the rational sensibilities of our self-protection? 

Divine love does not spare itself.  And, a life that risks no loss is no life at all." 

Erick's words from this morning:

"My faith and politics are more and more irreconcilable. What matters more to me now is to do what I think is right, not to do what is popular. It is not to lead others, but to speak for those who cannot speak and do for others what they cannot do. I am no leader. I am just blessed with a platform where I say what I think is right and true and make sure those who agree know they are not alone.
The world wants believers to be alone and if my wife and I die before my children wake, they will feel alone and helpless in the world. So they must know Truth on the cross. That truth can guide them when I cannot and sustain them when I cannot and comfort them when I cannot."
Beth, in her study, emphasizes the "gospel" and the "gifting".  What Erick is saying here mirrors that because both of these contemporary giants of the faith are speaking Truth, based on the Word of God, the Bible.  Erick, like Beth, is using his Holy Spirit-given spiritual gifts to spread the gospel.  It permeates his life, and he is paying dearly for it.  The man is under severe spiritual attack.  I ask all you who read my words here to please, please pray for him and his family.

I also challenge you to examine your own heart, if you claim the Name of Christ, if you say you are His.   Two questions:
1.  Are you using the unique set of spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave you to spread the gospel?
2.  Do you have the courage to stand for what is right and true?  To stand even when it costs you dear?

Oh, the days roll on and our world descends more and more into chaos and ungodliness, the choices we are called on to make are going to become increasingly costly!  For myself, I want to draw close to Jesus Christ and cling to him now, so that as more and more tests come I will be found standing firm alongside Him whose Name is Faithful and True, to Him who was and is our Pathfinder, our Trailblazer, our Him who endured the cross and despised the shame (Heb. 12:2) .... to Him who tasted not only suffering but death, so that we, His brothers and sisters, could lay hold on eternal life.

9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 2:9-10 (ESV)

Dear Father,
While I certainly don't seek or crave suffering, I know that it will again touch me, as it comes to every Christian at one time or another - - not the general category of suffering common to every human at some point, but the specific kind of targeted suffering which results from bearing the name of Jesus Christ.  When those times come, may we follow in the footsteps of our Perfect Savior, allowing suffering to increase our faith, to purify our dross and to cause us to walk ... resplendent!  In Jesus' name, amen.



2.  Moore, Beth, Melissa Moore, and Kristi Smith. Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy. Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2016. Print. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Our Pioneer and Trail Boss

When you hear the term "pioneer", what comes to mind?  Maybe you think of The Oregon Trail, the westward expansion that greatly multiplied the geographical area of these United States.  Maybe you think of a scientist who discovers a radical new process or who uncovers a mystery of the universe previously hidden.  Maybe, like me, you start to hear the Star Trek theme in your head.  "To bold go where no one has gone before..."

Nabeel Qureshi's current best-seller, No God but One: Allah or Jesus, has been mentioned in my blog before.  In reading, I've learned a great deal about the Muslim faith from Nabeel, who was steeped in it from his childhood.

One of the things that Muslims assert as a pillar of their faith is that Jesus did not die on the cross. There are a couple of theories they use to explain their position.  One, you may have heard of.  It's called The Swoon Theory.  Essentially, it says that Jesus merely lost consciousness, or went into a coma, while on the cross, mimicking death.  The other theory is a little more far-out. It claims that Satan disguised another man by putting Jesus' face on him, so that people believed it was Jesus who died, although it was not.

The reason I bring this up is Hebrews 2:9-10 (ESV) - - 
9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
The pastor of Hebrews plainly states that Jesus died.  He "tasted death for everyone".  Cockerill reminds us that the importance of Jesus' death cannot be overemphasized.  Paul says the same, in 1 Corinthians 15, where he adds the dimension of the importance of Jesus' resurrection.  (Obviously, a death is necessary for a resurrection!)

Verse 10 reminds us that Jesus' death was no mere death, but rather the most heinous, violent and torturous death available to the people of that day.  Jesus did not just die - - - He suffered incredibly as He died. The pastor of Hebrews makes the point that it is through His obedient suffering, which culminated in His death, that He became the Pioneer.

What are the various layers of meaning to that term, our Pioneer?
1.   Jesus was the only God-Man, the only flesh-born human to live a sinless life.
2.   Jesus, through His example, left a powerful example of obedience, endurance and triumph for us beleaguered redeemed sinners to follow.  Remember, this letter/sermon was addressed to the blood-bought people of God, not to the world in general.  When we are called upon to suffer for our faith, we are only further cementing and legitimizing our identification as God's sons and daughters.  (See Hebrews 12.)
3.   Jesus, through His resurrection, was "the firstborn from the dead".  In other words, the same God-directed resurrection power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in the lives of those who bear His name.  And, ultimately, it will raise our bodies (no matter their physical state) from the dead on that great resurrection day of which only God knows the date and hour.   This is our destiny as Jesus Christ's spiritual offspring, His children.

Maybe you are someone else's "pioneer".  Think about that for a moment.  Whether you are a Christian or not, I'll bet there is someone who looks to you....for support, for guidance, as an example. What kind of pioneer are you?  What kind do you want to be?

I don't know about you but, even as a Christ-lover and Christ-follower, I often feel inadequate.  Does that surprise you?  Did you think that Jesus was a magic pill who made everything easy and allright? If anything, following Jesus makes me increasingly aware of my own inadequacies, my own propensity to screw things up, to fall on my face, UNLESS I am keeping my eyes firmly fixed on My Pioneer and (this is the secret) leaning on Him for guidance, wisdom and strength.  As a Christian, I KNOW I am hopeless as a goat when I try to power through in my own strength.

Probably no one reading this has ever been part of a wagon train.  But, do you know what the first rule of the wagon train was?  It was to respect the authority and leadership of the Trail Boss.  As long as I do that, I can then be the best "pioneer" to others who look to me as possible.  And, I can find rest for my soul in that.  Praise God!

Lord Jesus, thank you for "pioneering" on my behalf and on the behalf of all who will make You their "trail boss".  Thank you for suffering for me, dying for me, rising from the dead for me, being my example for this earthly life and for the promise of my future resurrection.  I love You and worship You with all my heart.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In Subjection

I was joking with a Southern brother the other day about how he was pronouncing a word, in his S. Alabama drawl.  The word in question was "foothills".  My point was that if he pronounced the word "foot-heels" he was going to change the connotation for his hearers immensely!
"Foot" and "Heels" come to mind as I contemplate today's scripture passage - - Hebrews 2:5-9 (ESV)
5  For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.  6  It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him, 
or the son of man that you care for him?

7  You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor.

8  Putting everything in subjection under his feet."

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.   9  But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In trying to think of an analogy for today's "scripture-picture" I thought about teaching.  You see, today, this "old dog" is going to learn a "new trick"!  (Or, perhaps more than one!)  Yes, I have a friend who is teaching me how to use social media to expand my little RDM (Resplendent Daughter Ministries).  We have an appointment later today for me to learn "stuff".  So excited!  Here's the thing, though:  my friend is going to have to "make himself a little lower" than his current state of understanding, in order to teach me.  All great teachers have the ability to do this.  It is not enough to merely possess knowledge, if you are going to teach.  In addition to the knowledge of the subject matter, you must be able to communicate it in a way (usually several ways) your various human pupils will comprehend!

Our scripture passage for our meditation today is the first of a "trio", which together comprise Hebrews 2:5-18.  Overall, the larger passage drills home the importance of Jesus Christ's incarnation as the God-Man, as well as His suffering, both required by Father and also the instrument by which the Son came to the place of exaltation described in Hebrews 1:1-14.

Jesus lowered Himself to put on flesh, to become a human, in ways we will never understand.  Yet, during all of His earthly ministry, still all things were under his control (vs. 8).  All things were still "subject" to Him.  (Remember Him calming the waves, stilling the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Mark 4:35-41?)  Cockerill exclaims, "No other early writer expounds both the deity and humanity of Christ more eloquently than the author of Hebrews."

I am riveted by this statement today:  (vs. 8) - - "We do not yet see everything in subjection to Him."
All is in subjection to Him, controlled by Him, obedient to Him....but we can't see it.  Now, that can be taken in two ways.
1.  It can be that we are either blinded by Satan or willfully refuse to see this truth.
2   But, an equally fascinating interpretation to consider is that we just simply have no idea of all He rules and reigns over!  Here we are on our tiny planet, in a vast universe.  How much we do not know!  All of it, we will NEVER know!  I am confident that we have an extremely insufficient view or understanding of His vast kingdom, which is eternal, which will never end.

This truth begs the question, "What about those who refuse His lordship in their lives?"  Well, they are still subject to Him, to His eternal plan, like it or not.  You can go easy by accepting Christ as Savior, the path by which you can experience fullness of joy, the abundant life.  Or, you can go ugly and rough - - rejecting Him, scrambling through by your own measly power, ever perhaps "accomplishing something", only to find at the end of your life that it has been meaningless.

Everything and everyone is under His rule NOW, His power, part of His plan, for good or for evil (our choice).  I fully recognize that this post is going to tick some people off - - those who have no desire whatsoever to accept, follow, or serve Jesus Christ.  Not my intention, but there again, these scriptures are God's words, not mine.  Don't shoot the messenger!

The final and ultimate fulfillment of Christ's rule will culminate in His return to earth to set up His earthly kingdom.  At that time the prophecy of His enemies becoming His "footstool" will be literally and physically made so.  See Psalm 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:24 and Hebrews 10:13.  Oh, and Genesis 3:15 - - Satan's head will be utterly crushed.

"Bow now or bow later" because, eventually, ALL WILL BOW.

Lord Jesus, I don't want to merely be subjected to You; I want to serve You, in all my ways, through all my days.  And then, through forever, may my service and worship of You go on and on an on.  In Your Name, amen.


Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Three Amens to the Good News

When I think of the concept of "table", which is the topic Leah Adams is presenting for her The Loft bloggers today (, I think of the Lord's Table and how, in Matthew 26:17-30, the Lord at that time held the first "service" of His Church. In my study and exposition of Hebrews, today's verses are a beautiful mesh with that topic:

3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Yesterday, I meditated on the consequences of neglecting this incomparable salvation, through which the Lord Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament).  Today, I want to focus on Hebrews 2:3-4 's verification, attestation, endorsement of the gospel message.

Do you think that it is any accident Jesus used the communion table as the setting of His first church service.  He could have "declared" it on a fishing boat, or on a hillside under a tree, or in a garden, like Gethsemane or Olives.  But, He chose a table.  Why do you believe that is?

Elsewhere (John 6:63b American King James version), He spoke these words...

the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Food, which we commonly eat around a table, sustains our physical life.
Jesus' words, the gospel, give us spiritual life - - life which goes on past forever.

In the ordinance of The Lord's Supper, Jesus inexorably connected His message with our very existence, by connecting the physical elements of bread and wine with our spiritual sustenance.

Over at a friend's house yesterday, I sat at her table.  When I arrived they had just finished a meal. My friend wiped off the table to prepare a place for me to sit and talk, as we worked through a task together.  I noticed the table at which I sat.  It was neither pristine, nor new.  It showed signs of use and wear since, over the past couple of decades, it has been gathered around almost daily.

When we bring ourselves to God's spiritual table to feast on His Word, whether we physically partake of communion elements or not, we always enjoy blessed spiritual communion with Him.  And, the church is meant to worship corporately, as a Body of believers, as well.

Our spiritual tables will not remain "unmarked" as we move through this earthly life as individuals or as groups of believers.  Satan will continue his diabolical efforts to destroy the cause of Christ, the spread of the gospel, by deception, pride, lack of repentance, fear and other such nefarious means.  In the process, our table will receive some scratches, perhaps even some gouges.  The paint may come off in places, as we fight the good fight of faith.

There may be times, even, when we ask, "Is it worth it?"  But, we see here in Hebrews 2 that the disciples certainly believed the gospel was worth it all, even their very lives, because most of them died horrible deaths as martyrs.  People don't give up their lives for something they don't know in their hearts to be true.  People won't deliberately die to perpetuate a deception.

Then, God Himself, in all Three Persons, worked many signs and wonders.  The first was the appearance of the angel to Mary, followed by the immaculate conception, and on and on.  The New Testament is full of signs and wonders surrounding the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The final miracle is the gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each believer, to equip him or her to gather around God's table and share the faith, then to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Dear God, we shout "Hallelujah!" for these three beautiful "amens" to the gospel!  Your ways are indeed perfect and beautiful in our sight!  It is earth's greatest privilege to love and to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The First Warning

One of the greatest things about the Bible is that you can study it for a lifetime and still learn new principles for living.  Today was a very busy day, involving me driving "all over town", down to the big city and back, and then driving some more.  So, it is not until after dinner tonight I was able to sit down and meditate on the Scriptures.  There never seems to be enough time in the day...

What I learned tonight is that the Old Testament law was delivered to men by angels, but that we have no direct testimony of this happening.  It is stated as a fact in Hebrews 2:2-3a(ESV).

2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

The closest thing we find to testimony of this occurs in Deuteronomy 33:2 (ESV) - -

He said, “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand.

But, then, Paul re-affirms this method of delivery and declaration in Galatians 3:19.  Similarly, Luke records Stephen stating something similar in Acts 7:53.

The point was this:  the Old Testament law was brought to mankind from God the Father, by means of His holy angels.  However, salvation was not entrusted merely to angels; salvation came to mankind through the work of God Himself, in the Person of His Son.

This makes salvation (the gospel), exponentially greater than the Law, although it does not negate the Law or diminish it.  Christ stated that He came to "fulfill" the Law, that is, to complete it (Luke 4:18-21 and Mark 1:14).  This "great salvation" provided for us by and mediated on our behalf by our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, is the overall theme of the book of Hebrews, a theme that receives further elaboration further into the book.

What does it mean to "neglect" this amazing salvation?
Cockerill says that it means "to despise God's revelation and treat it as inconsequential."

The penalty for neglecting the Old Testament law was physical punishment and even often death; the penalty for ignoring the gospel is even worse - - - spiritual death.
So, it is clear from this scriptural warning that any person who rejects Jesus Christ's "only way" to peace with God will not escape the fires of Hell.

But, more than that, I believe this first warning from the author of Hebrews is also for Christians. Even though Christians possess salvation for themselves, we often let ourselves be distracted by "shiny things", earthly pleasures that consume an inordinate amount of our time.  While our own salvation is secure, how can we "fiddle while Rome burns"?  How can we spend our time on our own personal pleasure and entertainment while those around us who have not heard the Gospel are Hell-bound?  The warning for Christians is that we won't escape our Savior's displeasure if we hoard the gift we have been given.

Father God, help me to use my time wisely every day, even though this is a constant challenge.  the older I get the more conscious I am that my time here is limited, and that I need to choose well. Thank you for giving me the GRACE to hear and accept, not to reject, your incomparable salvation. It is only through the miracle of Your goodness and kindness that that could have been accomplished. I am grateful, forever grateful.  In Jesus' name, amen.


Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition.