Tag Archives: Hebrews

This Is My Gift to My King

Today is Epiphany. This morning on our way to church I said to my son, “Yesterday was the 12th day of Christmas and today is Epiphany.” He replied, “Did you just realize that?” Clearly his gift is a quick wit among other creative talents.

Epiphany is the church holiday in which we celebrate the Magi from the east visiting the child Jesus. They brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but before they bestowed these gifts on the young Jesus they offered Him their worship. The Magi worshipped Jesus not for what He had done for them but simply because of who He is. The story of their visit is recorded in Matthew 2:1-12.

In church this morning our pastor talked about the significance of the three gifts the Magi brought, and then he asked what gifts we can give to Jesus. I decided I would share the significance of the Magi’s gifts, as well as my thoughts on my gifts to my King.

The first gift of the Magi was gold. This was the customary gift given to kings. This gift points to Jesus as being a king from His very birth. He is the highest of royalty. The Magi sought Him as the King of the Jews. He is ultimately revealed to be King of kings: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16 (NIV).

The second gift of the Magi was frankincense or incense. It was customary for priests to use incense in the temple as part of their worship of God. It was the priests who presented sacrifices in the temple to atone for the sins of the people. But these sacrifices were only temporarily effective for that purpose and had to be repeated over and over. This gift of incense points to Jesus as the final priest. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14 (NIV). He has been our sacrifice once for all to atone for the sins of the world.

This third gift of the Magi was myrrh. This is a spice that was used in burial. This points to Jesus as a prophet who will be killed for preaching the truth just as the prophets of the Old Testament were killed. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37 (NIV). Jesus knew that He would be treated just as the prophets were. He was born for this purpose — that He would die and be buried with myrrh to atone for our sins. But praise God, He rose again.

So what then is my gift to my King? What can I give that is worthy of His glory? First of all I give my worship of Him simply for who He is and not for what He has or will do for me. I can give my time and myself. As I listened to the sermon this morning, though, it occurred to me that one of the greatest gifts I can give to Jesus is this blog. As I write to glorify His name and to share His mercy and love with others, I hope that this gift is pleasing to Him so that someday I will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV).

What gift will you bring to the throne of the King?

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It Is Finished Even as It Begins

A new year begins today. It’s another year to live and work and play, and to make resolutions to be better than last year. It’s another year in which many will again strive to earn God’s grace and their own salvation by singing in the choir, volunteering for the altar guild, giving to the poor, attending church or mass each week, or any number of other good deeds.

But why do we work so hard to add to what Jesus has already done? Why do we try to earn what has been given as a gift from God? On Calvary Hill Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30. Paul wrote that Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. There is nothing more that we can or need to do for our salvation.

Even the act of believing in Jesus, the ability to have faith in His saving grace, is a gift from God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

So as you begin 2013, rest in the grace of Jesus assured of His mercy and your salvation.

Go forth and sing in the choir out of gratitude for what He has done, but do not fret if you miss a practice or are unable to sing for a Sunday service.

Help out with the altar guild to share the blessing of God’s grace with others, but do not allow yourself to grow weary with the work.

Give to the poor out of thankfulness for the bounty God has bestowed on you, but do not give out of mere obligation and with resentment.

Attend church or mass because you desire to fellowship with God and other believers, and to worship the Lord in community, but not because you think you will lose points with God if you do not.

Perform good deeds as the Spirit leads, in the power of Jesus, so that God might be glorified, but don’t be deceived into thinking such deeds are necessary for your salvation.

For centuries Satan has tried to strip the children of God of the peace of knowing His love and grace. The Accuser engenders fear and doubt in the minds of believers, trying to deceive us into believing that God hates us and requires us to pay for our own sins and earn our own salvation.

But God’s Word is clear on this point: It is finished. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love and mercy; His grace is sufficient to cover every sin and grant us eternal life with Him. Nothing Satan says or does can change this truth.

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

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The Victory Is Won

I’ve been listening to the new Third Day album Miracle for the past few days. I love it! But that’s really no surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Third Day song I didn’t like. But there always seems to be one song on each album that stands out for me. On Offerings it was Thief, on Wherever You Are it was Rise Up, on Revelation it was Run to You, and on Move is was Make Your Move.

On this latest album the stand out for me is The Victory. I love the hard rockin’ beat, but I also love the message. We all have to run a hard race in this lifetime. We face obstacles and many times it feels like a constant battle. But when we stand firm in Christ, we know we have already walked away with the Victory.

I decided to share this song today to encourage those who are growing weary of the race, who feel they can’t fight another day. Remember that the race has already been run and the fight has already been won by our Savior Jesus.

I also wanted to share it in honor of all the veterans who have fought the good fight to protect our freedom to live and grow in Christ in this wonderful country I live in. (I know Veterans’ Day was technically yesterday, but I’m off work today in honor of the day so am posting this today.)

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, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV).

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Grace Is Not New

Many characterize the Old Testament as a book of God’s wrath and the New Testament as a book of God’s grace. But as I read the whole of scripture, I find grace and wrath throughout. There is grace for the humble and wrath for the proud in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Two translations of a verse from Proverbs illustrate this truth.

Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Proverbs 3:34 (NASB).

He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
Proverbs 3:34 (NIV)

This Old Testament verse is quoted twice in the New Testament, in James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5. In quoting this Proverb, James and Peter are teaching the new church that humility is at the core of the Gospel of grace that they preach. We trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ because we know we are unworthy to be able to earn God’s grace on our own. The proud, who believe they do not need Christ, remain under the wrath of God.

There have always been scoffers and proud mockers who deny the majesty of God. Until Jesus returns there will continue to be. These scoffers say that our faith is futile and useless because God does not exist, or if He does then He surely does not care about us mere mortals.

But there have also always been the humble, those who desire to know God and trust in His grace and strength. And as much as the mockers would like to think humble believers in Christ will someday cease to exist, that all religion will one day be irrelevant, we will survive because God has granted us grace and mercy.

I sometimes think about all the people who lived before Jesus walked the earth and wonder what their eternal fate was. They could not have trusted in the saving grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, because it had not yet happened. And yet I cannot help but believe that His blood covers the humble and afflicted of the Old Testament. It’s the ultimate time paradox – one that, for me, is answered by the timelessness of our dear Savior.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). He lives outside the bounds of linear time as we experience it. His grace is sufficient for the humble who trust in Him.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 (NIV).

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Trusting by Faith – A Triolet

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith this week and how it is by faith that we can see the glory of God. This world is blinded to the mystery of who He truly is, but by faith His children see Him and all His love and majesty.

I am thankful for the gift of faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV). God has promised to never forsake me, to give me hope and a future, to forgive my sins and show me mercy, and to give me eyes to see His truth.

Trusting by Faith

Trusting in my God by faith in His promises
Knowing in my heart He is faithful to fulfill
Seeing not with eyes, but by His Spirit of truth
Trusting in my God by faith in His promises

Seeing now what I was blinded to in my youth
Relying on faith to keep my heart from untruth
Trusting in my God by faith in His promises
Knowing in my heart He is faithful to fulfill

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Blogging – A Poem

For my last Thankful Thursday of 2011, I thought I’d write a poem about how thankful I am for the opportunity to blog and the technology that makes it possible. I am also thankful for my fellow bloggers, this wonderful community that I have become a part of over the past two years.

[Note: Imagine my surprise when I went to dVerse Poets Pub during lunch today to find a wonderful article by Gay Cannon about couplets in poetry! So I linked this one. :) ]

Blogging

Words once rambled in my head,
cluttering my mind like rising bread

I might dump them on a journal page,
where they’d grow dusty and dim with age

Lonely, they were, with no one to read,
no one to ponder the thoughts I’d freed

Enter the Internet and WordPress blog platform,
allowing my writing to fly, be transformed

Sharing my faith in Jesus and His grace,
what a blessing it is to seek His sweet face

Telling the world the truths I had learned,
the mercy God offers, wholly unearned

Still only words on a page it might seem,
until there were readers, fulfilling a dream

Now I was sharing my ideas, each thought,
considered by one a search engine brought

Then there were comments posted in reply,
a dialogue started between readers and I

Soon my new friends, all heaven-sent,
offered truth, faith, and encouragement

Brothers and sisters in Christ, worldwide,
friends in whom my fears I can confide

New readers, future friends, daily connected
as the circle of believers grows as expected

The Holy Spirit drawing us closer each day,
using the Internet in a most awesome way

Strengthening His church as together we meet,
praising in cyberspace, His plan is complete

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).

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The Root of Thanksgiving – A Poem

The Thanksgiving Day Quotemeal email I got from Heartlight.org was a wonderful quote by Henry Ward Beecher, a mid-nineteenth century clergyman:

Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow.  A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.

As I read it, a poem started to form in my mind so I thought I flesh it out for today’s post.

The Root of Thanksgiving

Seeing his co-worker get a promotion
Mr. Proud is angry and unhappy
thinking the promotion should be his
Never thankful for the job he has

Seeing his co-worker get a promotion
Mr. Humble rejoices with him
believing his day will come
Always thankful for the job he has

Seeing his neighbor drive a new car
Mr. Proud swears at his old truck
sure he should have a new BMW by now
Never thankful that he doesn’t ride the bus

Seeing his neighbor drive a new car
Mr. Humble smiles as he starts his old beater
knowing it will get him to his destination
Always thankful that it is his free and clear

Seeing fat cats on Wall Street and CEOs
rake in the dough, Mr. Proud is indignant
certain their wealth should be spread around
Never thankful for the blessings he has

Seeing fat cats on Wall Street and CEOs
rake in the dough, Mr. Humble is saddened
confident they don’t have the peace of the Lord
Always thankful that money doesn’t define him

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you;
   never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV).

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Community – A Poem

9/27/11 Update: I linked this poem to dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night ~ Week 11. If you like poetry, dVerse is the place to be.

It’s Thankful Thursday again, and so I’ve been pondering all that I am thankful for, searching my heart and mind for a thankful poem. Something that I am particularly thankful for this week is community.

I thought about the various communities I belong to. There is my family, immediate and extended, that is a community of sorts. There is my local church community. There is the blogging community that I am part of. There is my work community. And there is the small city community that I live in. Each community has its own characteristics and blessings. My favorite communities are those in which God is at the center.

This poem is a double acrostic, with community at the beginning and community at the end, and what I love about community in between.

                                COMMUNITY

                  coming together with smiles, music
             o
ut in the hall gathered with three or two
      m
elodies, singing, talking, sharing, no boredom
  m
any friends, our safe and contented place of asylum
u
nity the core of community, like Cajuns out on the bayou
  n
eeding each other to lean on, love, in trials or in fun
       i
nfinite joy and grace always genuine, not quasi
             t
hankful for kinship, a bond that’s ancient
                    y
es, our Lord has shown us the way

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).

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The Word of God – A Poem

This poem is a tribute to the Word of God, which I am so thankful for. I love to be able to read His Word! I pray for those who desire to read the Bible but don’t have access to it. It is inconceivable that just owning the Bible is illegal or dangerous in 52 countries. But when you think about how powerful His Word is, I suppose it makes sense to keep it out of the hands of people if you want to control them. God’s Word, when it takes hold of the heart, will not be displaced.

The Word of God

The Word of God
is alive
fills my life
with blessings
wisdom and
comfort

The Word of God
is active
changes my heart
with conviction
truth and
love

The Word of God
is sharp
judges my thoughts
with precision
repentance and
faith

The Word of God
is watchful
sees me
with understanding
mercy and
grace

The Word of God
is a lamp
by which I see me
as He sees
my heart and
soul

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV).

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The Veil Was Torn!

MercyMe is coming to Portland next Sunday, and I am hoping to go, so I’ve been listening to their most recent CD in the car this past week. It’s called The Generous Mr. Lovewell. I’ve written several posts about some of the songs on this CD, including Move, Crazy Enough, and Beautiful. But this week, a thought occurred to me about another song on that CD called All of Creation. The first verse is:

Separated
Until the veil was torn
The moment that hope was born
And guilt was pardoned once and for all

This verse reminded me of a women’s retreat I went to about eight years ago. I learned something at that retreat that makes this verse, particularly the second line, especially meaningful. I decided I wanted to share what I learned here on my blog.

When our dear Savior Jesus dies on the cross, something amazing happened. All our sins were atoned for, our debt to God was paid; and that is truly awesome. But something even more profound happened at exactly the moment He died.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 (NIV).

Did you catch that? The curtain in the temple was torn in two. Now you may have read this many times and thought nothing of it. I know I had before I learned what this meant. If you are picturing some sheer curtains like you have in your living room, or even some sturdy drapes, you are picturing this “curtain” or “veil” all wrong. And you will notice that no one tore it, it was torn in two all by itself; or more appropriately, by the death of Jesus.

So what is this curtain that was torn in two? To find out, we have to venture back into the Old Testament and see what was said about the temple, which was preceded by the tabernacle during the time the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness. These are God’s instructions to Moses:

“Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain. Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.” Exodus 26:30-33 (NIV).

The curtain was, I was told at the women’s retreat, at least two inches thick. From the description in this passage of Exodus, I suspect it was absolutely breathtaking. Of course, you would expect nothing less for the curtain through which one would pass to enter the Most Holy Place. This was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept; it was the place where God resided among the Israelites.

So do you think just anyone could go through this curtain, walk into the Most Holy Place, and have a chat with God? No way! We are told in Leviticus 16 about the Day of Atonement, the only day any of the people of Israel could enter the Most Holy Place; and on that day only the High Priest (which was Aaron at the time) could enter. In later years, the other priests would tie a rope around the ankle of the High Priest when he entered the Most Holy Place, just in case he died when he was in the presence of God, so they could pull him out.

But when Jesus died, that curtain was torn. The barrier between the people and the place where God dwelled was destroyed. At that moment, “hope was born” because we can now come boldly before the throne of grace and into the presence of God. To be sure, we ought to come into this place with reverence and awe for the Almighty, but we can come. We needn’t be the High Priest; and we surely don’t need a rope tied around our ankle.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV).

Well, now that you know how wonderful it was that the curtain or veil was torn, so that we are no longer prevented from approaching God’s throne, I hope you will enjoy this great MercyMe song that reminded me of this awesome truth.

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