Archive for the ‘Hebrews’ Category

Life without the script

April 18th, 2017 by Maureen

For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Heb. 7:19

Rather than continually struggling on our own strength to play out some humanly constructed version of “perfect,” saying our lines and standing on our marks, our lives become impromptu response to God. Right now, at this very moment, God sees each of us as perfect. Focusing on perfection is like going to an amazing show and spending the whole time looking at your ticket. We are, in fact, not only at the show, we are in the show, but it’s not a scripted performance. This show is not about playing our parts so well but about experiencing authenticity in being and becoming the art that the Artist is creating.

Lord, help me see, hear, and enjoy Your amazing show that I call “life.”

This means something

April 15th, 2017 by Maureen

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of of the Father. Heb. 12:2

Jesus death and resurrection not only answers all the prophecy and symbolism of the Jewish narrative, His story also follows the plot pattern of mythic hero stories. Perhaps God put Jesus in a story that would carry universal meaning for Gentiles. This pattern is present in ancient myths all over the world. It’s obvious in epic stories, superhero stories, and even smaller stories about everyday life journeys.There is a somewhat universal pattern for a hero’s story in which the hero leaves home on a quest with great stakes and great reward; meets a mentor who helps and equips them for the journey; experiences a series of trials that force the hero to face the desires and temptations that hold them back. In other words, there is a physical journey to save the world and an inner journey to transform the hero to strip away fear and doubt – and fatal flaws that might hinder the quest. After a time of reflection and preparation the hero voluntarily enters the supreme ordeal willing to sacrifice themselves to accomplish the quest. In many of these stories there is a death and resurrection, either figurative or actual. The hero sacrifices everything to defeat the foe, experiences an actual or figurative death, and is reborn. The hero returns with a reward, an elixir that that restores and heals the world he left behind.

For Jesus’ horrific story of torture and death to make any sense at all the results accomplished by such suffering would have to be tremendous, and the prize, substantial. Victory over death, hell, and the grave, defeat of the forces of evil, redemption of the human race fits the bill for a worthy quest. The crazy cosmic plot twist is that the inner journey is something Jesus experienced vicariously for us while the physical quest was something that we experience vicariously with Jesus. An even crazier twist is that Jesus’ reward is us. We are the joy set before Him.

Lord, thank you for this most amazing redemption story.

Sustained

March 8th, 2017 by Maureen

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. Heb. 1:3

If we have seen Jesus, we’ve seen the Father. God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Spirit of God, the force and energy of love that spoke worlds into being, the breath of life that made us living souls in the first place, sustains us now. This is the interactive Love that ignites and animates and powers our spirits with His own breath and character. If He sustains everything, He sustains each of us.

Lord, sometimes I forget how huge Your reach really is. My stuff is so small to You. Thank you for sustaining me when all that stuff seems big to me.

the other Cloud

January 19th, 2017 by Maureen

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Heb. 12:1 (NIV)

Each of us has a personal cloud of witnesses who inspire us. They may be made people from the Bible, historical figures, or individuals we know personally. Their stories inspire and encourage us. When times get hard, when we feel discouraged, inadequate, or pulled away from what we know God has for us our cloud of witnesses serves as motivating examples of how to focus, keep going, problem-solve, and how to trust God and respond to His voice.

Lord, thanks for my cloud.

The wonders of Christmas 5

December 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus is mirrored in Melchizedek in whom the new priestly office arises, not based on the law of precepts constrained by the frailty of the flesh but by the authority of an indestructible life demonstrated by Christ’s resurrection. Heb. 7:15-16

The birth of Incarnate God Who is both Priest and King is a wonder of Christmas. God didn’t send a high priest to confirm and enforce the system the Jews had built around their understanding of law, sacrifice, and forgiveness. He didn’t send a king to rule according to that system, or any other earthly system. God Himself experienced birth and dwelt among us to restore His spiritual kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. Instead of demanding compliance as adherents and subjects, Christ invited humans into the roles He created us for: royal priests and beloved children of His loving, gracious, and redemptive Kingdom.

Lord, I want to celebrate this season as child and priest of the everlasting Kingdom where I live now and forever.

The wonders of Christmas

November 27th, 2016 by Maureen

This season offers an opportunity to renew our sense of wonder. C.S. Lewis wrote “Once in our world a Stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”  As Christmas approaches we can enjoy contemplating just what that stable in Bethlehem contained:

We have our beginning and our being in Him. He is the force of the universe, sustaining everything that exists by his eternal utterance. Jesus is the radiant and flawless expression of the person of God. Jesus makes the glory of God visible and exemplifies the character and attributes of God in human form. Heb. 1:3 (Mirror Bible)

This is the Presence that took on human flesh at a particular time, in a particular place, in the specific context of a redemption story God had been writing for ages upon ages. No wonder stars exploded and angels sang at the birth of Him who birthed the universe.

Lord, help me discover what’s in the Stable for me this season. Every year I look there seems to be more!

*C.S. Lewis. The Last Battle. (The Chronicles of Narnia #7). 1956.

Goodness therapy for angst and guilt

November 5th, 2016 by Maureen

Let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works. Heb. 10:24

Is it that effective in the long run to try to guilt people into doing good works?
We can choose to do outrage and grief: constantly focusing on the brutalities and grieving the injustices of life on earth.
We can choose to do sin patrol: noticing and pointing out all the ways we and other people mess up, might mess up, or have messed up in the past.
Or we can choose to do good: looking for, embracing, and celebrating Christ’s renewal, restoration, reconciliation, and redemption of us. Maybe we aren’t here to do His good work so much as that we are His good work.
The outcomes and impacts on the lives of others, and on the state of the world in general, will be different when we come from a place of love and goodness than when we come from a place of angst and guilt.

Lord, help me to stir others to recognize and enjoy Your love and goodness.

The longest view

August 14th, 2016 by Maureen

we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. Heb.9:18

Our perceptions are not as reliable as God’s love and goodness. Our grasp of facts are not as accurate as God’s truthfulness and wisdom. Our abilities and contributions are not as trustworthy as God’s power and grace. God can help us gain more clarity, confidence, and hope, but none of us will always see things as fully as they truly are.

Lord, I can’t see much from down here but I hold onto You knowing Your view is infinite and Your intentions are perfect.

The ticket is not the show

July 28th, 2016 by Maureen

For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Heb. 7:19

Focusing on perfection is like going to an amazing concert and spending the whole time looking at your ticket instead of engaging in the show. Right now, at this very moment, God sees each of us as perfect. Not because our behavior conforms to a set of standards devised to measure perfection. Jesus is perfect. His blood is perfect. The hope is the nearness of God. The hope is continually discovering our transformed selves. The hope is learning how to live in Him as the person He has really made us to be rather than continually struggling to live up to some constructed version of “perfect.”

Lord, help me enjoy being at and in the show.

For His glory, by His grace, out of His love Kingdom

May 29th, 2016 by Maureen

You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. Heb. 10:34

The better things Jesus has for us now and forever is better than what we expect or make up for ourselves. The best the Hebrews could hope for was a Messiah who would be a military and political victor who would free them to establish a nation where they could attempt to serve God and practice the law perfectly. Jesus offered them something better: a kingdom of grace and transformation. There is a better thing than law and religion for those who follow Christ. There is a present now and ever-shall-be-world-without-end-amen Kingdom established for His glory, by His grace, out of His love. There is an authentic, transformed life as a beloved child of the King Himself.

Lord, help me grasp what it means to live as if Your Kingdom has come.

Basic assumptions about faith and hope

April 29th, 2016 by Maureen

Faith is the substance of things hoped for  Heb. 11:1a

A hopeful faith starts with certain working assumptions: 1) God loves you; 2) God is good; 3) The good God who loves you, and went to great pains to have a relationship with you, has both the power and the desire to help you with your present situation; 4) The ultimate, eternal outcome of God’s intervention will be good and helpful whether or not God deals with your circumstance the way you expect. We find hope, peace and confidence in Him as these assumptions become substantial realities in our lives.

Lord, I want to ask with substantial hope, but please help me even when I doubt my assumptions.

Fulfilling faith

March 13th, 2016 by Maureen

…and these all (the Hebrews who are in all the Old Testament stories) were faithful because of their trusting but did not receive what was promised because God had planned something better that would involve all of us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Heb. 11:39-40

God loved the Ancient Hebrews. He gave them the law and guided their journey in a unique way that lent context to Jesus’ experiences on Earth. But exclusivity was never God’s intent. He so loved “the world,” not just the Hebrews. Jesus said it and Paul emphasized it. The promise is for every single one of us and Jesus fulfilled the promise. For us post-resurrection people receiving is a matter of believing something that already is, not something that is going to happen later. Back at the beginning of this same chapter faith is defined “as substance of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The substance and evidence is the redeeming Christ crucified, and something better than the Hebrew law and exclusive faith experience is happening now. We can experience fulfillment because Jesus fulfilled the promise.

Lord, I believe, help me to see and to live the promise fulfilled in all the areas in my life and perspective that seem unfinished to me.

Materialism is the enemy of gratitude

November 7th, 2015 by Maureen

Be free from the love of money and be content with what you have; for God Himself has said, I will never leave your or forsake you. Heb. 13:5

Too much focus on whatever material things, success, or prosperity that we want from God makes it harder to fully, consciously experience complete contentment with Him in the present and to experience deep gratitude for Him. Intimate relationships aren’t built on what one individual can get out of the other, even if one of those individuals has the limitless resources of God Almighty. Our Father is not going to be stingy with us or make us beg, but our focus belongs on Him not what he holds in His out stretched hands. Because He never leaves us or forsakes us, we can simply trust Him, enjoy Him, and thank Him.

Lord, thank you for the complete and satisfying blessing of what I have right now.

Another day, another same but different story

September 5th, 2015 by Maureen

By faith Abel…by faith Enoch…by faith Noah…by faith Abraham…by faith Sarah…by faith all these…by faith we… Heb. 11

To make his point about faith the author of the Book of Hebrews told stories about people familiar to the original readers, the Hebrews. We all have lived stories that carry the same big themes. We have have lived stories that show that God is at work in our everyday lives. Each of us has a unique story and a unique voice that fits into the big story of God’s love and faithfulness. Remembering our own stories and listening to the stories of others broadens our perspectives and strengths our faith about what is going on in our lives right now.

Lord, I love how You write the same message of love and reconciliation in so many different ways.

We are not alone

August 21st, 2015 by Maureen

I will never leave you or forsake you. Heb. 13:5

Jesus experienced the forsaking because humans did the leaving. God is and always has been with us even when we don’t know it or feel it. Before the deception of Adam and Eve, God walked beside them in the cool of the day. Before the law of Moses, God made friends with humans and spoke with them. Before Jesus came to redeem all humankind, God continued to carve paths of communication with those who followed His law. Then He sent Jesus, (aka Emanuel which means “God with us”) to live with us and redeem us. Then He sent His Spirit to dwell with us and in us so that, if we so choose, His presence with us is something we can know and experience all our lives.

Lord, I don’t want to leave or forsake You either!

Jesus takes the “fatal” out of our flaws

August 9th, 2015 by Maureen

We do not have a high priest who is unable to feel our weaknesses, but one who has been peirazo (tempted or tried) in all the ways we are yet without hamartia (sin or fatal flaw or missing the target). Heb. 4:15

Jesus is an experienced traveler through this arduous journey we call life. He understands the flight, fight, or freeze responses that stress and fear create. He knows our innate impulses toward self-preservation and self-satisfaction as well as relationship preservation play into the choices we make and how we feel about those choices. He knows how desires, necessities, and even noble causes can distract us from more important goals. Only Jesus managed the human journey without messing up. He understands that too.

Lord, thank you for taking the “fatal” out of my flaws.

God actually does get it

August 3rd, 2015 by Maureen

The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones to bread…Jesus replied “Man does not live by bread alone.” Matt. 4:11b Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not My will but Your’s be done. Luke 22:42 [Jesus] can feel our weaknesses and been tried in every way, just as we are…Heb. 4:15

Our High Priest understands what its like to be human. He understands what it’s like to want one thing but choose something else. He also understands what it was like to endure suffering and face pain when there is no choice. Jesus knows what it’s like when we are the one holding the cup. The Father knows what it is to have to stand by and let a loved one drink from it.

Dear Lord, thank You for being there when I don’t want to be there but have to be there.

Who, what, when, where, how, and why

October 18th, 2014 by Maureen

Now in putting everything in subjection to Jesus, God left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Heb. 2:8

We can get bogged down in the “whens,” and “wheres” of Christ’s dominion, looking for evidence of it in the world and stressing over our own individual surrender to it. Yet all creation has been held together by Him since before there were “all things.” God created and ordered time and space but He has always transcended them. He brings us into this transcendence through one “before the foundation” yet specific time and place event on earth: Calvary. Why is the most simple but most astounding concept of all: He loves us and always has.

Thank you that who and what I am in You transcends the evidence of earth’s whens and wheres. May I be on earth as I am in Your transcendent thought of me.

Pulling bitterness up by the roots

October 10th, 2014 by Maureen

Take care that no one forfeits the grace of God, that no root of bitterness grows up and causes trouble and because of it many may be defiled. Heb. 12:15 (Mounce Reverse Interlinear)

Grace is never the heavy. It is not an accuser. It does not condemn. Because of this grace may not look as strong as it is. We may beat ourselves up over our own failings or let bitterness defile the relationships that try our patience. Disappointment and frustration can break our spirits and cause us to forfeit grace for something that seems more powerful. In reality nothing is more powerful and transforming than the grace of Christ.

Lord, uproot all bitterness in my life and help me to live inside the strength of Your grace.

Running on empty

October 1st, 2014 by Maureen

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Heb. 4:16

When we are stretched and drained beyond capacity, when there is no more money or resources, when we are out of patience, energy, and ideas, when another step is too much to ask, His grace and mercy are there. Before we do something or say something we can’t reverse and will regret, God is where to turn.

Lord, show me Your mercy and fill me with grace and mercy for others.