How’s Your Hearing?

How can I hear from God?

On this Sunday afternoon, I want to share a few thoughts about revelation.

This morning the Father put a couple things on my heart about this question.

For much of my Christian life, I would go weeks even month not really inspired, not feeling like I was hearing anything like the voice of God. Much of the revelation that came into my life, came through others who heard God. I possess a strong ability to remember what I hear so I could re-share revelations I heard elsewhere, and others would be blessed.

I still receive tons of great insight from others and God often speaks through others into my life.

But I’ve come to believe that God’s best is for each of us to hear Him for ourselves.

Yes, there are times when we are slammed by circumstance and satan’s schemes when our only hope of receiving comes from our brothers and sisters.

Still, Jesus said,

It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” – Matthew 4:4

Keep in mind, the Greek word for “Word” here is rhema–the spoken word of God.

So this morning God linked this up with two other portions and this connection might helpful to you as it was for me.

First, there is a passage in 2 Corinthians 9 where Paul taught about giving, but it applies here.

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. – 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NLT

This is a giving scripture. But I want to suggest that as God gives you a bit of revelation from His word, consider whether it’s bread for you alone, or could it be seed, something you need to plant into other soil.

This is a spiritual law. As you plant, you will reap. Money, yes, but the word too. Sow what you have, and God will give you a harvest. From that harvest, you will have more for your own food, more to spread abroad, and perhaps more important still, He will put you in the lives of those who need a word. God will open your mouth and fill it with what they need.

The second connection comes from the day Jesus taught the crowds in parables.

And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” – Mark 4:24-25

Take a deep breath and read that again. We read over this because it’s not part of the parables, but it’s kind of filler. But it’s not filler. It’s deep and powerful truth.

Your ability to hear is based on how you care for what you have heard. What follows is really striking.

If you are a careless hearer, revelations that moved you in the past, things that used to make your heart beat faster, will be taken away from you!

photo of a boy listening in headphones
Photo by Jonas Mohamadi on Pexels.com

How you listen today and how careful you are handling and sharing the revelation that comes into your heart, has a direct connection to its power to transform your life.

If you want more revelation, listen better, share more liberally.

God is speaking today.

His word is life!

You can have it. You can hear it.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”Luke 6:38

Thanks for hanging out with me.

cropped-BenHeadshotSee you again soon

Don’t miss Monday’s post.

Ben

Bread

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

A couple weeks back, in the post, Sitting Savior, we took a quick look at what Jesus accomplished before He sat down at the right hand of the Father.

Today, I want to press into one aspect of the New Covenant that always get’s my juices flowing. I don’t believe we talk about it enough.

We see it painted into the tableau of the Lord Supper–not the painting–the event. But Jesus talked about it frankly in John 6 and it made those who were following Him wonder if they were making a terrible mistake.

Let’s set the scene. Early in John 6, we see Jesus feeding the multitudes with fish and bread. Well, really the disciples fed them, but Jesus’ sets it up for the boys. This multitude is so impressed, they follow Him across the lake. Next, we find ourselves at the synagog in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base during most, if not all of His ministry years.

A dialog ensues in which Jesus drives His following off in droves. He begins by suggesting they only want to be near Him because He fed them. They bring up mana and how God fed their forefathers in the wilderness.

What happens next gets pretty bizarre…

He says in effect, “Yes, I know about that–that was Me.”

I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” – John 6:41

The crowd murmurs with an understated, “Wait, what?”

So He pressed in,

 “Do not grumble among yourselves…I AM the bread of life.” – John 6:43,48

A man in the congregation sees, from the corner of his eye, his wife rise up in the women’s chamber, collect her children and walk out the back. She catches his eye and gives him a look that says, “stay if you want, but I’m out of here. I’ll be waiting in the car.”

Then Jesus presses on,

if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” – John 6:51

Now the exodus begins in earnest. But rather than pull back and explain Himself, Jesus just goes all in.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6:53-58

This one might have even rocked His core crew, but they got it. They understood that they didn’t have to understand. His words held life, even when they didn’t have a clue what He was talking about.

In Matthew 13, when Jesus taught with parables, He actually told the boys it was so some would not understand. He intentionally put roadblocks in the way of people so they could not get to Him at a surface level. If they were not willing to trust Him alone, they would go away offended.

Here in John 6 He asks them in effect, “Does this offend you?”

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” – John 6:67

Great question.

Jesus asks this question today, too. Does this gospel offend you?

Today, the world and its children question God at every turn.

Let’s jump right into the deep end.

For example, the world says, “How can God condemn a gay man for being gay? It’s genetic. He was born that way. If God didn’t want Him gay, God shouldn’t have made Him gay!

Hmmm…

So we back down. There’s something about this argument that gives us cause to be offended at God.

Jesus looks us in the eye–yes–us Christians–and says, “Does this offend you?”

Let me help you on this topic. God didn’t create me with an evil desire to be with other men. But I was born with a sin nature and completely bent toward sins of many flavors. I am by nature self-centered. Oh, how my flesh delights in pleasing myself, in promoting myself.

I came out of the womb (a good Christian womb at that) lying, cheating, stealing, swearing, fighting for my own way. I wanted to be my own Lord. That desire still wars against my spirit, and sometimes gets the upper hand.

If God didn’t want me to be a liar, why did He make me this way. If God wanted my sex life to be completely devoted to one woman and only in one context, why did He give me this sex drive? Why does God continue to allow the birth of people who are enslaved to sin? Why?

Does this offend you?

Jesus isn’t afraid of losing those who don’t hold on to Him as their only hope of life. Jesus is never looking for fringe followers. He’s looking for those who throw in their lot with Him. Only complete regime change works in this New Covenant.

Only those who are willing to take Him into their life at the expulsion of all other gods, all other priorities, all other lovers.

And so we come back to the flesh and blood.

He finally explains it all to His disciples at the last supper. He didn’t want them to gnaw on Him like a herd of zombies. He wanted to implant His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, within each of them, within each of us. He wanted us to become a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. The two become one flesh–me and God–you and God.

He’s not looking for a long-distance relationship here. He’s looking for intimacy. He doesn’t want to shout to us. He wants to be in our spirit so that His whisper bubbles up a spring of life from within us. His word flows from us because that daily life producing bread–that Word of God come from within.

The secret to this “so great salvation is God on the inside.

WOW

I again need to borrow my brother Larry’s word…Hallelujah!!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by,

Blessings

Ben

You can catch up with our Hebrews musings here.

So Great

…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

How great is so great?

This phrase so great is one Greek word. Tēlikoutos if you care. It’s not a very common word in the New Testament, only four uses in the whole book.

The one that caught my eye comes from the book of Revelations.

And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. – Revelation 16:18.

This so great is used for stuff that has no basis for comparison. If you can wrap your mind around this, it can’t be compared because any comparison would dimmish the greatness of it. If I said our salvation greater than the way Chesley Sullenberger landed that plane on the Hudson, or greater than the way God saved Israel from their Egyptian captors, I bring it down to a lower standard.

You might be tempted to call it the greatest salvation, but again greatest implies comparison.

So great is our salvation that it must not be compared. All comparison simply diminishes the greatness of our so great salvation.

So great!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by today

Shine where you’re screwed in.

Ben

Neglectors

The gospel of Jesus Christ is offered freely to any who come to Him.

…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; – Romans 10:9

But as a gift, though offered to all comers, it’s not received by all.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, – John 1:11-12

Some reject God’s offer outright. These have no expectation of eternal life in the presence of God. Some delude themselves with a “good place,” fantasy. Others simply expect an end of life and nothing more. Still, others think hell will be a huge party where all their friend will join them for enteral sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.

Again, these are not the ones being warned in…

Warning #2

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. – Hebrews 2:1-4

Today we talk about neglectors. (Dictionary.com offers this as an acceptable form of the word, I promise.)

Ok, there is some overlap with the drifters from yesterday. But at the core, it’s a different kind of sin. Unlike those who float in and out of faith, these neglectors never pull the trigger.

Like the drifters, they are in church. How do I know? The book of Hebrews is written to the church. It’s not an evangelistic letter sent to Nero to be read to the masses. It’s a letter from an apostolic leader to a group of Jews who gathered to grow in their faith in Christ together.

All the warnings in this book are to the Chruch, so we must be attentive when the writer gives us these danger signs.

How does one neglect?

I think there are levels of neglect.

In most church congregations, some never pull the trigger. They never actually surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. It would be super easy to just fit in with a church family as a neglector today. Perhaps they have a spouse who is connected. Or they come to church with their parents. They have been in church all their lives, and it is always assumed that they are in Christ. They know the lingo. They play along with the church crowd. They know how to look the part.

They can fake worship.
They can fake prayer.
They can fake tears.
They can fake tongues.
They can even fake evangelism.

But they’re in charge of their own lives.

Their church life is an act. They know the truth. They figure when they’re older they can actually “get saved,” but they will not “waste their youth” on religion.

It could be they don’t really think they are so bad.

To a neglector, well, they’ve been good all their lives. They keep the rules. They look the part.

But like the rich young ruler, though they have kept the law, they will not surrender the lordship of their own life to the Lord Jesus.

They want to be their own lord, their own boss, their own king.

But there be great danger in these waters.

The writers says “How will we escape?”

If you’re feeling a tug from the Holy Spirit, neglect Him no more. Turn your life over to Him today.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Tomorrow–we’ll put a little of the “so great” into our understanding of this salvation. Come back soon.

Ben

Want to catch up? Click here.

Drifters

Hebrews teems with promises and encouragements, wonderful reminders and strong theology. But it also holds a number of stern warnings. With the promises, it delivers consequences that need to be reckoned with. When taken as a whole, the book disrupts any leanings we have toward universalism and even shines the spotlight on eternal security for our scrutiny.

Aside: Don’t hang up on me. I’m not saying I don’t believe in eternal security, but our study will uncover some weakness in our pray-a-prayer-and-forget-it gospel.

Warning #1

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. – Hebrews 2:1

First – notice the “for.” Again, this militates against chapter breaks, since clearly what follows belongs with chapter one.

But what part of chapter one are we “for”ing back to? …pay attention to what we have heard. What have we heard? Let’s read a couple more verses and see if we get some more clues.

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. – Hebrews 2:2-4

The writer is taking us back to the first four verses of chapter one, in particular, verse two.

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. – Hebrews 1:2

Jesus, who is superior in every way to the angels and prophets spoke to us through His words and His life. He continues to speak to us through the testimony of those who walked with Him. Further, this testimony is confirmed to us by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

These four verses actually hold two warnings.

drift wood on rack near the shore
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

1) Don’t drift.

I love that he uses such a visual word, drift. He’s not warning against a turn-and-run rejection of the gospel. He’s not warning about scoffers and skeptics. He’s warning about the kind of Christian that warms the pew every week but does not walk by faith.

He’s talking about dusty-Bible Christians.
He’s talking about when-it’s-convienient Christians.
He’s talking about Sunday-morning-only Christians.

They are drifters. They have not left the church or the basic belief system. But their life is not marked by faith. They live life with minds set on the things of the flesh. Every problem gets the natural solution, and prayer is the furthest thing from their mind until it’s the only thing left.

Paul talks about this in Romans 8.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8

Don’t skip over that. Here Paul speaks some of the most sobering words in all of the Bible.

This carnal mind, mind set on the flesh, is not indifferent toward the things of God. This drifter is actively hostile toward God himself.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8 that this one who fills his or her mind with the natural world and its thoughts and priorities CANNOT please God.

Later in Hebrews, we will learn that only the life lived by faith and not by sight can please God.

Have you been drifting? Have you been walking by sight and relying on natural solutions for your day to day needs?

Get out of those waves that wash to and fro. Step out of that sandy-bottomed trap and get on the Rock today.

You can please God. You can hear those wonderful words – “Well done.” But it’s not going to happen by itself. You’re going to have to put your faith in Jesus.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about warning #2.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Walk in the light.

Ben

Looking to catch up? You can find all of chapter 1’s posts here.

A Saturday Reminiscence

We’ve reached chapter two! YAY!

But guess what. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote a letter, not a chapter book.

Chapter book, tee-hee. The first time I ever heard of a chapter book,  my kids were in grade school. It was a huge step up. They moved from Dr. Seuss–with no chapters–to Captain Underpants. Frankly, I think we had more to learn from the good doctor than the underdressed superhero. But I digress…

I’ve been a big fan of audio Bibles for a long time.

Long before portable CD players or books on tape or cars with anything more than radios, my mother used to read the bible and record it onto cassette tapes. My father traveled for a living and spent long hours driving up and down the middle Atlantic states.

So they bought a battery powered cassette recorder/player, and my mom would sit down at the dining room table and read the Bible into the machine.

When my dad hit the road, he would pack up some spare batteries and take the player and a shoebox full of cassette tapes. As he tooled up and down Rt 95 he’d be renewing his mind.

Oh, how I wish I knew what happened to those tapes. They probably went the way of the landfill when my mom moved out of her home and into her apartment.

How I would love to hear her voice reading the scriptures. (No offense to Mr. Scourby, or any of you other readers.) But what could be more comforting than hearing the voice that brought me Winnie the Pooh and the Chronicles of Naria reading to me about the destruction of Nineveh in Nahum, or Elijah chopping the false prophets into little pieces?

But seriously, I would love to have Muth’s voice reading through the Psalms. What a great way to spend my commute to work.

Back to my point. It’s great to listen through a book of the Bible. It’s super helpful to understand the overall themes of the book and get a feel for the real point the author is trying to make.

So as we move into Chapter 2 (next week) we’ll find it starts with a “For.” Maybe we’ll start to get a sense of where we’re going!

See you Monday with a step into Chapter 2.

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by and listening to me reminisce.

Love you,

Ben

By the way, if you’d like to see where we’ve been so far in our gleaning through Hebrews, this page has the links to the entire series to date.

This Is How I Fight My Battles

If you are in Christ, you are in a war!

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. – 1 Peter 2:11 NASB

Traditionally we see the enemies of our soul as the world the flesh and the devil. These three powers and their armies array themselves against men and women of faith.

These, our enemies, utilize massive machines of war.

They come after us with evil intent.

Their objective–to lay waste to every Christ follower. They’ll try to take us out one by one, or in platoons.

They use disease.
They use hate.
They use crime.
They use natural disaster.

Our enemy–the chief mischief maker–comes only to steal, kill and destroy, by any means at his disposal.

So what are we to do?

How do we fight such a foe?

OK–I’m not sure you’ll believe me when I tell you.

You’ll say I’m oversimplifying it.
You’ll think I’m ignoring facts.
You’ll call me–no you wouldn’t do that–but–no, you won’t.

What if I told you, it’s all in your mind?

The whole thing–it’s in your mind.

Ben–you might say–Ben, it’s not in my mind. I’m sick. I’m emotionally wounded. I’m broken. How can you say it’s in my mind.

Hear me now. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I’m saying the battle–the war for your life starts in your mind. That’s where the attack comes. That’s where the firey darts land. That’s where the lies take hold.

Is your disease a lie. The symptoms don’t seem like a lie–do they?

Nope–real as can be.

So what then–pretend I’m not in pain with every step I take. Make believe I’m healthy when my body is wracked with pain.

No!

But if we are ever going to turn this war around we need to change the way we’re thinking. We need to change the way we’re talking.

Paul tells us this about our war.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Is he just talking about spiritual things? Am I overstating the case when I try to apply this to all the evil in the world that turns against us? Can we actually deal with the triune evil of World–Flesh–devil with this supernatural weaponry?

The phrase that catches me in Paul’s description is this one about things that rise up against the knowledge of God.

You see Peter said,

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. – 2 Peter 1:4

Did you pick up on that? We become partakers of the divine nature by means of promises.

But promises are only words. What good can words do against all that rages in this world?

Jesus used words to calm the storm. David used words to defeat Goliath–ok–there was also that smooth stone. Hezekiah took the lying words of his enemy and laid them out for God to see and as good as dared God to move on his behalf.

Jesus told us

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.Mark 11:23

We let the chaos of the world around us, shake us. We tremble before a bad diagnosis. We fear the bill collector. The boss intimidates us and we lie and cheat for him.

Jesus never walked in fear, and our verse from Hebrews will tell us why.

“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET”? – Hebrews 1:13

Jesus always fought from a place of peace, and He never lost. He brought peace to the storm from a place of peace in Himself. He cleaned the demoniac without so much as raising His voice. He even calmed Peter when he was trying to figure out how to pay his taxes.

The answer to our battles–everything from day to day stress–to debilitating disease–is this. Get into the presence of God, and get ready to put your feet up.

I love the image of a footstool. Jesus isn’t stomping on the head of demons in this picture. He’s putting His feet up as one does when the work is finished. He’s got his sandals off, His feet washed and upon His footstool because the battle is over. He won.

Do you see it? Find the promise of God for your situation and declare it over your life. Use your words to shut down the lies satan keeps playing in your head. Speak the Word, and don’t give place to the lies in your mind.

It’s your mind–take it back. Take every thought captive, and fill it with the truth.

cropped-BenHeadshotSorry if this was a bit of a ramble tonight–but well–not sorry.

See you on Monday.

Ben

You can catch up here.

The Same

Earlier in this Hebrews series, we looked at some verses that form the basis for my understanding of theology. Here’s another.

…BUT YOU ARE THE SAME… – Hebrews 1:12 NASB

This truth bookends Hebrews.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

I said if you want to know what God is like–what kind of things He does–what kinds of things He doesn’t do, you look at Jesus. Jesus ONLY did what He saw His Father do.

These bookend verses make this theological idea vastly more potent.

If Jesus healed every sickness and disease while He walked through the little towns of Galilee, He still does.

If He ever had compassion on a sinful woman or man, He still does today.

If He ever hated hypocrisy He still does today.

If He ever brought salvation to a repentant sinner, He still does today.

This is why the gospels are so important. We must look at Jesus. He will show us the Father.

Remember in John 14 when Jesus was preparing the boys for His crucifixion?

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? – John 14:8-9

There it is, my theology in a nutshell.

Look at Jesus

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Have a great day.

Ben

Have you missed some of this series – you can go back and pick up what you missed here.

Creations Cloak

Here’s a glimpse of eternity that hits the blend button on my brain.

Let’s start by making one simple observation. Our writer takes this eternal being who both created the earth and heavens and will outlast it all, and clearly names Him Jesus.

And, “YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.” – Hebrews 1:10-12

Some claim the New Testament doesn’t insist on the deity of Jesus but come on. Could it be more clear?

Moving on.

Let’s think about this image for a moment.

Earth and heavens are like a garment that will grow old, like a mantle (cloak?) rolled up and discarded. As part of our introduction to Jesus, we learn that he tailored this garment, and as its owner holds the right and ability to throw it off in the right season.

I know scriptures like this have been used to justify a disregard for our environment. The assumption that it’s all going to burn or be put off has led to generations of Christians who cared less for our current home than is fitting. That’s ugly–just saying.

But the real point of the teaching here is not the earth’s shelf life or its disposable nature. Rather, this bit screams of the amazing nature of eternity and our wonderful Savior who stands as its author.

These heavens that will grow old like a garment have not yet stopped expanding. From what science tells us the universe continues to press through the birth canal of creation. The light-giving Word that started it all moving, “Light be,” still, to this day, continues creating.

Science found a galaxy designated MACS0647-JD over 13 billion light years from us, the second most distant galaxy.

Big cloak!

We have images of this galaxy. The light of those who-knows-how-many starts found it’s way into our telescopes. This light left that galaxy over 13 billion years ago to reach our probing eyes. Yet, beyond it, and in every direction, His Word continues to create.

But there will be a day when it all grows old.

Then Jesus will roll it all up like an old robe, and toss it into the goodwill.

This word image staggers the imagination.

He holds it all in his hands.

Isaiah tells us,

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. … All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. – Isaiah 40:15, 17

I always loved that picture–dust on the scale–the stuff you blow off before you weigh something measurable.

To finish up, I’ll just restate the obvious once more.

(Grammar warning–the following is intentional.)

This one, Jesus, who IS before everything we know came into being, and who IS long after it has all been tossed into the bin, entered space and time to join in relationship with you and me.

Let’s worship Him today.

Glory to Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by.

cropped-BenHeadshotWalk in the BLESSING He has so lavishly given.

Love you,

Ben

If you want to get caught up on our study of Hebrews, you can find all the articles listed here.

For more info about MACS0647-JD check out this article.

Blueprint for Joy

The year was 1987. I was careening toward my 30th Birthday. We had a dear friend, Linda, who was living with us at the time, helping us as a nanny for my baby daughter Jessica.

Linda knew all the Christian rock bands and music of the era. She put together a mixtape (hee hee – remember mix tapes?) and it included one from Mylon Lefevre called “Love God Hate Sin.” (Warning: The youtube link at the bottom of the page will take you to a time and place that may seem otherworldly–the 80s. Yikes.)

But before Mylon recorded that crowd pleaser, it had become somewhat of a byword for the group of brothers and sisters in Christ I hung out with. We were a pretty tight-knit bunch of disciples growing together in the Word. We did life together for a long time.

Our cry was always Love God – Hate Sin. It’s still on my answering machine at home: Love God – Hate sin and wait for the beep. (It used to say “wait for the trumpet blast,” but the little “meep” that follows was just too anticlimactic.)

As I understand it, the text for the song comes from Psalm 97,

Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. – Psalm 97:10

But I find it right here in Hebrews 1:9. The author, still quoting from Psalm 45 says this:

“YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.” – Hebrews 1:9

(By the way, I’m not shouting, that’s just how the NASB quotes the Old Testament–all caps. I guess they had to shout since their writings were just not as effectual as the life of Jesus–kidding!!)

Cause and Effect

We know for certain from the case the writer is making, this verse is referring to Jesus.

That’s right, Jesus, who Isaiah calls the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) walked through Galilee anointed with the oil of joy, more than any other man.

JOY

Think of the joy that Jesus must have felt as He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, physically and spiritually. What joy there was walking through a graveyard and setting the demonized man free. Unspeakable joy!

But frankly, if we learn anything from Jesus’ example it’s that joy is not about circumstances. It’s a confidence and a knowing. It comes from the peace that God brings to the chaos of the unregenerate heart and mind, as it yields to Him. It’s the confidence that God holds us in the palm of our hands as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It’s the reality of the presence of God in our innermost being as all hell breaks loose around us.

Later in Hebrews, we will see how Jesus walked through torture and death toward joy.

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

But check it outJoy is the effect, not the cause.

The stated cause? He loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

I want to say that it’s easy to love righteousness. Who doesn’t love righteousness? Well–on Sunday morning in church it’s pretty easy, but what about on Monday night–watching the game when the booze and vulgarity start flowing. Or on Tuesday morning around the water cooler–ok–Keurig machine, when the gossip starts swirling around the room. How easy is it to love righteousness then?

Maybe it’s late at night when no one is watching, or on that business trip, or in the college dorm, when you’re away from your support net.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. – Matthew 5:6

Does your hunger last you through the week? Or are you only hungry for righteousness on Sunday morning? (I know, I’m meddling.)

But there’s more to this cause clause, He hated iniquity.

I hear people say love the sinner, hate the sin. But I’ve seen how this movie plays out. The sinner feels like the one hated because we are way more brutal toward the sins of others than we are loving toward the sinner himself.

As far as the sins of others are concerned (ok–brace yourself–this is going to rock your theology) your job is to let them know God is not angry with them.

WHAT!!! I thought you said, “hate sin.” Now your coddling it!

NO

2 Corinthians 5 teaches us, first that we are new creatures in Christ, but then it goes on to talk about God’s attitude toward the sins of those outside the faith.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

It’s worse than I imagined…Not only is God not holding their sin against them, but He wants us to let them know that. He assigned us as ambassadors of this same reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20

So how do I hate sin, Ben?

I’m glad you asked.

Hate your own sin.

Hate what sin is doing to separate you from God, from God’s will and purpose for your life, from wholeness and soul prosperity.

Hate what sin is doing in others enough to let them know they no longer have to serve that taskmaster.

When it comes to the sins of others, think of it this way.

A man or woman outside of Christ is not sinning by choice. They are slaves to sin. Consider a child held captive by human traffickers. Whatever acts those children are forced into are not because they are evil or sinful children. It’s because their taskmasters are wicked men or women. (themselves enslaved to master who is lower still) These children need rescue, not condemnation (as do the traffickers themselves.)

Without Christ, it is impossible to say no to sin.

Our old man must die and be raised in newness of life in Christ Jesus. Then sin will no longer have a hold over them. Read through Romans 6 some time and see the word pictures Paul uses to illustrate this point.

So there it is. Love God, hate sin, and walk in joy, It’s my blueprint for joy.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Love God, Hate Sin

Ben

And if you want to catch up on our wander through Hebrews, check here.

Here’s Mylon Lefevre’s Love God, hate sin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiSIOLmcpxA