Do you have an ungodly habit that you just can't seem to shake? Does it keep popping up when you thought you had it under control? Have you been installing filters instead of inviting Jesus?
Taming the tongue. This has been something that I have had to work on, and am still working on. It seems to be the "thorn in my side". Although I have seen vast improvement, taming the tongue is just something we can't do on our own. I wrote about this before and it came from a sermon my husband listened to, but it's all about the "filter". We can work on our filters all we want. Yeah- you might create your filter for taming the tongue quite well- but if it's only a filter, then eventually you will see (usually in a damaging way) that it was just a filter, and the problem was just supressed. The real problem being your heart. We all have filters- we filter what we say around certain people, we filter what we wear around certain people, we filter our habits, attitude, work ethic, etc. But the way to rid yourself of these things isn't to build a better filter, but to get a better heart. I'm not talking about the thing that pumps blood and keeps your body alive, but the thing that connects you to Jesus, and keeps your soul alive. I have really noticed- more so in the last few months, that I don't slip up with swearing or being negative, or having a bad attitude nearly as much as before. I then reflected on the past few months- and oh, what did I find? My relationship with Jesus has also been better the past few months! It is true- my whole life a testimony- that the closer to Jesus you are, the closer to perfection you become. We will never see perfection in our earthly bodies, but the Holy Spirit continues to weed out the ungodly things in our life, until our death. Instead of creating filters for your ungodly traits, Jesus removes them. Instead of installing a filter, invite Jesus! Jesus will remove bad habits, ungodly attitudes, bad language all for His glory! Just as He is getting the glory for changing me, He will get the glory for changing you. Instead of trying to change the problem on your own- by which we just supress it or hide it, ask Jesus to remove it! It is possible! Our filters will eventually get old and need replacing. Jesus will never need replacing. He will do the job better than anything or anyone else.
Do you have an ungodly habit that you just can't seem to shake? Does it keep popping up when you thought you had it under control? Have you been installing filters instead of inviting Jesus?
(Sigh). I know my nature is to show favoritism toward the rich. Not that I judge the poor- not that I don't accept them or love them... But for some (really) stupid reason, I try to impress the people with money. Remembering my blog for chapter 13, I know that I still struggle with the love of money. I know my heart is content with what we have and how we live, I know my heart loves the reward of trusting in God for provision, I know my heart knows what is more acceptable in God's eyes. Yet, my flesh loves things. My flesh loves the ignorance rich people can have. SELFISH and FOOLISH and COMPLETELY DUMB I know! I am not sure why I have those feelings. It's not something that I think about, but something I know is deep in my earthly mind. In the book "Search for Significance" by Robert S. McGee, he says that the "approval addicts" feel that they "must be approved by certain others to feel good about themselves". That explains my my need to be approved my the upperclass. It also says in this book, "Isn't it amazing that we turn to others who have a perspective as limited and darkened as our own to discover our worth! Rather than relying on God's steady, uplifting reassurance of who we are, we depend on others who base our worth on our ability to meet their standards."
Oh, Father God, how ashamed I am at the truth of these words in my life. Why do I try to impress those who mean nothing to me and who have such a limited perspective. YOU know me- to the depths of my heart you know me. Lord, may I solely find my worth in You and not anyone or anything else. Thank you Jesus for reminding me of this sin lodged deep in my mind. Forgive me for showing partiality to the rich only to gain meaningless and ungodly attention from them. Lord, change my heart. Amen.
What does verses 14-26 mean exactly?
My opinion on it is this: I don't believe that good works gets you to heaven. Period. However, good works that result from faith, do! It is the faith in Jesus that gives you eternal life- and good works is evidence of your relationship with Jesus. If you say that you love Jesus, but your life doesn't refect good works- then I would unapologetically say you're a liar. Loving Jesus and believing in Him are different. Many people "believe in Jesus"- but as this text says, "Even the demons believe- and shudder!" Your life should be ever changing if you are truly connected with the Vine. He will continue to prune you, and you will continue to produce good fruit. Just as this passage says, good works are a result of faith, just like the examples of Abraham and Rahab. I have an example- though not as impressive as Abraham or Rahab- but I had a plumber come here this morning to fix a job that someone else had done with our sump pump... remember the "service man" from previous blogs? As we speak, his mess is getting fixed. Anyway, I had been downstairs a couple times to see how things were going.. The man here was exhausted, frustrated, and uncertain of how or when the job would be complete because of the hardness of the cement in the sump pump well and the limited ways in removing the cement. Although I must say, he was gentle spoken and had a good attitude. I felt bad for him- it wasn't his mistake that he was cleaning up after- it was someone that was negligent. Anyway, I was doing dishes, going about my day, and I felt a strong urge to pray for him. Ok God! No- go downstairs and pray for him. Yikes- really? What is he going to think of me- some crazy woman??? (there goes my approval addict habits!!!) But instead of ignoring the Spirit, I dried my hands, went downstairs and asked the plumber if I could pray for him. I tear up just thinking of it, because it was an act of obedience- good works even- because I had faith that God asked me to for a reason. After I asked him, he said, "I just got done praying myself"! HOW COOL! I learned that he was a brother in Christ and I really believe it was the power of prayer- of not just one heart praying (him) but two hearts praying together- that the sump pump job got completed and in good time. Matthew 18:19-20 says~ Again I (Jesus) say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Even if the two or three are gathered in a smelly basement, hovering over a sump pump of all places, God will be with them. I tell you the truth- He was.
It's so easy to say, "count it all joy" when you face trials. But how easy is it to practice? That's a good question to ask yourself. I really believe that the closer you are to Jesus, the easier it is to be joyful in all circumstances- no matter the severity. Jesus has everything under His control- the perfect and best control. When we get mad at God or anxious when we face obstacles, it could be that we have a control issue. We might be angry or upset that we can't do anything about the issue- we have no control. Many people have control issues. Are you one of them? When we can count it all joy, it means we have given up that control. We know that we can fully trust the Lord in all things and that no matter what the result of our trial- even death- we know God is completely in control, and that doesn't bring us anxiety, but peace. Only people that love Jesus and trust in Him can have peace and joy in a time of uncertainty.
Who wouldn't want wisdom? I can't think of a single reason why anyone wouldn't want more wisdom. Verse 5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom..." in which case, I think we all do! Therefore, ask God, who gives wisdom to all who asks- as long as they don't doubt. When you ask God for something- anything- do you believe He will answer you? Now we know as believers, that sometimes God answer isn't yes. It can also be no, or not right now. But do you believe with all that you are that God would give you wisdom if you ask for it? This text doesn't say, God will give it to some. It doesn't say God will give wisdom to preachers. It says God will give generously to all without reproach! Don't delay- ask God today!!
Verse 22: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." I love the illustration James gives us of someone who looks at himself in the mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like. If you read the Bible, do you obey it too? When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, do you listen or ignore Him? When a pastor does an altar call and asks the congregation to respond or calls the people to repentance, do you stay in your seat- regardless of the loud thumping your heart is making, the sweat that's dripping from your hands or the unexplainable urge in your spirit to respond to the calling and prompting of the spirit? When you read the Bible, God asks us to respond. The response He wants is an open and willing heart to obey and practice what is learned. If you read something and you get it- don't pray about it- just do it. Often times when people say, "I'll pray about that," it often means we want to prolong our obedience- or forget the truth we read so we don't have to change our ways at all. (Thank you Perry Noble for that insight. http://newspring.cc/, http://www.perrynoble.com/) Everything we read in Scripture can be applied to our lives. It is all truth, and as 2 Timothy says in chapter 3 verse 16: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."
Are you doer?
First of all, I want to say how cool it would be if we knew that we had entertained an angel! Could you imagine if you knew beforehand that an angel would be coming over for dinner? What would you prepare? Would you prepare an extravagant meal? When I think of hospitality, I always think of having someone over for a meal because I love to cook, and especially, I love to cook for people. But I honestly think hospitality goes so much farther than that. Dictionary.com says the definition of "hospitality" is:
The other thing about hospitality in this text that I didn't really think about till today, is the text says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to" whom? Your friends? Nope! To strangers. I know that might be uncomfortable for some- it is for me. But that is one of the "sacrifices pleasing to God". Of course it is fun to have friends over- but are you neglecting to invite strangers into your home? I'm not talking about the guy that's passing down the street that you spontaneously go over to and say, "Hey, my house, 5 o'clock." I'm talking about people in your church, your workplace, your community that you don't know... yet. Have no idea who to invite? Ask God. Maybe He has a plan to use you in someone's life. Maybe He just wants you to take this verse seriously. So, who's on your "to have over" list?
Second, I want to address verse 5. "Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have." This is the sacrifice pleasing to God that I think I struggle with most, although I have come a long way. My parents used to tell me that I would have to marry a man with money to accomplish all the things I wanted in life. Did I tell you my husband artificially inseminates cows? Yeah, not exactly a 6 digit income. However, I am completely okay with that. Let me rephrase: I am completely content with that. A few years ago, I still had many dreams and things I wanted in life. I loved diamonds (still do), but then I wanted many of them, I wanted a big house that I designed, loved BMW's, love classy attire, had a desire to be a successful business woman of some sort- roll with the big ones. It was hard for me to see my friends have all this "stuff" and me being without. Now granted the friends that had plenty were also 10-20 years older than me and had much longer to save and buy things. But the point was- I just wanted to have much, and look like I had plenty. Although I know the saying, "money can't buy happiness", I didn't believe it. I didn't believe that Jesus was enough. But I honestly can say I do now. I still like nice things, and I'm sure most woman could say they love diamonds, but I have had a heart change. As I type this, I cry, because I am so grateful to Jesus for this change in my heart. It was one of the deepest idols in my life. I would have never been happy. My husband would have never have felt like a man who could provide for his family, because his wife would always want things he couldn't afford. I truthfully don't want diamonds, a fancy car, a lavished home or the classy attire anymore. All of it was me trying to fit in with the world- and not just any of the world- but the people who love money more than they love Jesus. I don't wanna be that woman! I want Jesus to be my everything- for He is all I need. Through my relationship with Him, I have become much more content with what I have, and I have surrendered my worldly dreams to Him. I'm not saying I never struggle, because I do. The Bible doesn't say that life is free of struggles. But it does ask in this verse for your life to be free from the love of money. In fact, Matthew 6: 24, Jesus says: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." What master do you serve?
Discipline. Nobody likes to receive discipline. It means we have done something wrong, and nobody wants to admit they did that. I love the section of Scripture in this chapter that discusses discipline- it's a great reminder that discipline isn't punishment, but rather correction. Read verses 5-11 again:
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, not be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom He receives."
It is for discipline that you have to endure God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God disciplines those He loves. Wow, that's encouraging as I look back at all the discipline I've received! Being a mom now, I understand discipline more than I ever have. When I was receiving the discipline as a child from my father, I always received it as punishment. It seemed unfair, unjust, unloving. Yet, now as an adult, I can look back and see how my dad was just looking out for my best interest because he loved me. Being human, we make mistakes, and I'm sure I will make a few along the way with my children. But God never makes mistakes. When He disciplines, He is correcting our sinful nature into holiness. He is making what is a wrong into what is perfect. A good father would do things to better his child, but our heavenly Father will do things to perfect His child. Our purpose in life is to glorify our Father through Jesus, and God will correct our ways through discipline to make us more like Jesus. Discipline is never fun. Discipline isn't enjoyable at the moment- even when you know you are being perfected. But it's awesome to see how God's discipline has made me more like Jesus! Here is an example in my life:
Typically I have an aggressive attitude. The Bible calls us to be gentle- and naturally, that's just not me. I have ruined relationships time and time again just in the way I have approached situations or how I have reacted to things people have said to me. It's not the best trait of mine, let me tell you. As a teenager and young adult, I wasn't really aware of it. Well, I guess I shouldn't say not aware of it- but let's say ignored it. Part of my aggressive attitude would be denial of it! My parents or friends would say something about it and I would freak out at them and act as if I knew nothing of it- infact, I would then accuse them of not knowing me and judging me. Sigh. That was me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the tranformation He has done in me, I truly believe that trait is almost obsolete. I say almost because if I've missed too much time with God and His Word, I see the beginnings of this habit starting to come out in me again. However, God has given me opportunities with my family, my family-in-law, friends and strangers that have done service in or to my home, to practice gentleness, even in the most frustrating experiences.
We purchased a home two years ago, and since then have found multiple things wrong with it. The people who built the home did a poor job and cut corners in every area possible. It has been very frustrating. One of the things we had to deal with was our well. We have a joint well with our neighbor, and the well that is on our property was not in use. The prior owners should have properly, and legally abandoned the well with cement. Well, we ended up having to do it. The man who came to do it did a poor job. To begin with, he didn't want to the job as it was a small paying job for a big labor job. I needed someone to do it, the DNR knew about it, and I had a deadline. I pleaded with this company to take care of it for me and assured him I would use his services in the future. He came to my property and began to fill the well with cement. (Now, you men who know about this kind of stuff- he needed to use cement rather than bentonite because our pump was stuck down in the well.) So there he went, filling the well with cement via a big hose. Well, apparently the end of the well wasn't capped and so we had a bunch of cement start coming into the basement through the bathroom! It was a mess. The guy should have made sure and not assumed that it was capped. But instead he had to clean up a big mess that was avoidable. So, to make a really long story short, our sump pump was ruined, our floors and walls had cement staining on them, and we had a mess of cement outside. He left it that way and didn't apologize for the mistake.
Now, the old me (only a couple years ago) would have reemed him out left and right, being very disrespectful and hurtful. However, because of God's discipline through practice and correction, I handled the situation very well. I remained calm, showing my dissatisfaction with what happened. I treated him with grace and much mercy. I obviously won't be using his service again, but the way I handled the situation was a display of Christ in me.
About a month after this event happened, I was taking communion at our church, and walking down the aisle after partaking in the communion I saw the man and his family sitting there. He was visiting our church.
It brings tears to my eyes. If I hadn't received loving discipline from my Father in heaven, I would have been extremely ashamed and embarassed that day. I would have owed that man an apology. But instead, I could walk with confidence that I treated him as Jesus would have, and as I passed by him, I could greet him.
What would have happened if I had the old Leanne "take care of the situation"? My ungodly example may have steered him completely away from Jesus by seeing me at church, partaking in a godly practice such as communion. My attitude and sinful aggression could have turned him off of Jesus, which would lead him to eternal death.
We need God's discipline. Without it, we succumb to our sinful nature and grow in it rather than growing in holiness. When you are enduring His discipline, know it is for your good- and God isn't punishing you, but rather correcting you so that you are more like Him. Ask God how you can be corrected, and embrace the time rather than rejecting it. If I had rejected God's discipline, I may have done much more damage- not only to me, but also to someone else. What do you do with His discipline? You know, just as an earthly parent disciplines, we still have a choice to obey and submit to the discipline and follow the guidance given for correction, or we can disobey and run the other direction. Which will you do?
Chapter 11 talks about faith and gives examples of people in the Bible that displayed faith. I want to highlight the story of Noah. Have you seen the movie Evan Almighty? I know the theology might not be spot on- but the display of how crazy Noah looked back in the day was awesome. At the time of Noah it HAD NEVER RAINED. I didn't say rained sometimes, or even rarely. I'm saying, it had NEVER rained before. One day, God told Noah that it was going to rain so bad that the entire earth would be flooded. His intentions were to destroy all human life and animal life except Noah, his family and some animals to continue reproduction after the flood water dried up. If it had never rained, could you imagine how crazy it would look for a guy to build a massive boat to save himself and his family from the flood? If someone tomorrow started building a huge airplane because he thought the earth was going to blow up and he wanted to save himself, his family and some animals, I would think he's a lunatic- especially if he said, God told me to!! I believe in God, and that would still sound crazy to me! I knwo my example is a bit much- but there are scientists talking about the earth being destroyed and the end times and there are a whole lotta hollywood films that dramatize each possibility! Anyway, it took a great deal of faith for Noah to believe what God said, and obey. Sometimes it's not the believing that takes so much faith, but the obedience. If Noah just said, "Okay God, I do believe you that there is a flood coming," and left it at that, he wouldn't have obeyed God. Instead, God asked Noah to build the ark- to specific measurements, and he did it because of his faith in God, no matter how loony he looked to his friends and community. (To read the whole story on Noah and the Ark go to Genesis 6-9.) Do you have that much faith? Would you do something that God asks, even if you would look crazy to your friends and community? Do you have a cap on faith? Where does it end? At what point would you say, "No God, that's too much"? Just like Moses in verse 26, Noah considered the reproach of God greater wealth than the treasures (or reputation, friendships etc.) of Egypt- or in this case Noah's city. Before I continue, I want to highlight something else after reading Genesis chapter 6. Go with me there, starting in verse 5:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (italicized is mine)
What does this say? Noah was a righteous man who walked with God and because of his faith, he found favor in God's eyes. THAT is why God used him. Do you think God would have used someone in this circumstance who didn't have enough faith to build the ark- even when it seemed crazy? Do you think God would use someone today who doesn't have enough faith to do what he asks? Do you have that much faith? Is God able to use you in extrordinary ways because you not only believe what He says, but also do what He says? Don't you want God to be glorified through your faith in Him? Don't be like Moses in Exodus 4 where God asks him to speak to the people and Moses doesn't have enough faith that he could do it. Moses was not good at speaking to people- maybe even had a speech impediment- but God said, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak." Even after God asks Moses, and then encourages him, Moses still refused. Moses missed a great blessing, and God was not happy with Moses for his lack of faith. Instead, God used Aaron. Don't let opportunities pass you by because of your lack of faith. Be available to God because of your great faith!
I also want to exalt verse 26 of chapter 11. I think it is so important that we pause and reflect on this verse, but before you do, please read the verse in context:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses chose to be unpopular for the sake of Christ. Moses chose to be mistreated for the sake of Christ. He chose to leave a family of earthly power to become family with Divine power. He considered Christ more important than any thing else he could have on earth. Through that love of God, he had immense faith and God used him to do amazing things- like parting the Red Sea. You don't do that by yourself! Do you see Christ as a greater wealth than any treasure you could have on earth? Are you willing to give up your reputation for the sake of Him? Are you seeking earthly reward or heavenly reward? Can God give account of your faith in Him? When you meet Him at the gate of heaven, what will He say of you? Will He say to me, "Because of faith, Leanne...." or will He say, "Because of Leanne's lack of faith I used someone else..."? Without faith, it is impossible to please God (verse 6). Is God pleased with you?
I stopped at verse 7 and absorbed the meaning of the response, "Behold, I have come to do your will, O God." We think life is about us. Well, it's not. We dream up our future, we plan our life to reach our goals, we make decisions to have babies or to not have them right now, we move to a different state to 'start over'. But what is all this? It is OUR plan. Jesus came to do God's will, and we were created to His will also. We weren't created to glorify ourselves, or live life the way we dream- although sometimes, God grants us our dreams- we were created to glorify God. That also means, we were created to do His will. Although we were created to do His will, we have to want to do it in order to. We are not robots that God pulls this way and that- He allows us to make choices. Whether you follow Jesus or not, you have a choice to follow Him everyday. If you don't believe in Jesus, the first step is make a decision to follow Him. If you already follow Him, then aligning yourself with HIS will rather than yours is your next step. When you submit to His will rather than your own, you are choosing to glorify Him rather than yourself. Jesus was so willing to do the Father's will. Are we? Will you be willing to do whatever He asks? One example of how I submitted to His will rather than my own, is with birth control. Joey and I did not want children- at least not for a couple years. We had plans to travel, get financially stable, and enjoy life for a few more years before we wanted children, in fact, we weren't even sure we wanted any. That was our plan. Well, God had a different one. God made it clear to Joey and I through a few circumstances that He wanted us to get off birth control, and to trust in Him completely. It was hard, I had been on birth control since I was 15, and the thought of not having that security was frightening. We decided that trusting in God was better than trusting in our own plan, and although our plan was to not have children yet, we submitted to His plan- even if that meant children right away. We were off birth control for a year and then we got pregnant with Oskar. Honestly, I cried for the first 3 months of the pregnancy. My flesh was still fighting the surrendering of my desires and dreams for God's. It's not always easy. But let me tell you that God's plan was better than mine. He's not lying when He says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) Are you willing to do whatever He asks? Take your faith to the next step and tell God you are willing. You will be pleasantly surprised at the things He will do if you're willing.
After reading this- it made me more aware of why Jesus had to shed His blood- why he had to die for our sins. Reading the Old Testament can be challenging at times because much of it can seem irrelevant- but everything in the Old Testament, when studied, points to Jesus and is very relevant. This text is a good example. The parallels between the old covenant and the new covenant made in Christ are phenomenal. A couple examples: Since the priests made sacrifices that required the blood of an animal, Jesus had to give more than that- in which He gave His own blood. Once a year, the high priest would go into the Holy Place and offer a blood sacrifice for the unintentional sins of the people, but Jesus gave Himself once- the ultimate sacrifice for all sins- forever. Jesus had to die so that we might live. Wow, do I love Jesus- and I am so grateful for His sacrifice.
Are you? Are you grateful for His death on the cross? Do you love Jesus? Many are quick to answer, "of course I do!" But I have a challenging question that I have heard from a few sermons. Would you want Heaven without Jesus? In otherwords, would you be satisfied going to Heaven if all your friends and family were there, but Jesus wasn't? Are you sure you truly love Jesus? Jesus is everything- nothing else matters. If you had a tough time with this question, I challenge you to get deeper with Jesus. The shedding of His blood, is the reason you even have the opportunity to go to Heaven, but if in your heart, you aren't "eagerly waiting for Him" (verse28) - then are you even going? I don't have the answer to that- but I am scared on behalf of the people who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, but their hearts aren't truly in love with Him.
So I ask, do you love Jesus? Are you eagerly waiting for Him?
In verse 10, it says, "I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts..." I find it so awesome that the closer I get to Jesus, the more realization I have of holiness. I see this verse as that- Jesus renews my earthly-centered mind with a heavenly-centered mind, and He transforms my heart that desires earthly things into a heart that desires heavenly things. That change isn't made by me, but by Jesus. The awareness I have now of sin in my life is so much greater, and my desire to be holy and Christlike has overcome much of who I am. It is fascinating how good God is.
Sin. Are there sins from your past that you are hiding? Sin that you feel if you confess, or let out would ruin you? Do you think that the sin is too great for forgiveness? Do you have chains holding you down from freedom in Christ? THERE IS NO SIN THAT WILL EVER EXCEED GOD'S MERCY AND FORGIVENESS. And if you continue to hold on to sin because of your shame or lack of faith that God will forgive, it is preventing you from true freedom in Him. Verse 12 says, "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember them no more." It doesn't say, I will be merciful toward some of their sin- Jesus forgives all sin. When He died He paid the price for all- the lies, the theft, the abortion, the affair, the drug addiction, the porn addiction- ALL sin for ALL people. All you need to do is recognize that you are a sinner, and you need for a Savior, then make a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior and follow Him with all of your life. (Receiving Christ) YES Jesus is THAT good. And He IS faithful.
So I ask, what sin are you trying to hide from God? What chains are holding you down? What shackles are preventing you from complete freedom in Jesus? Confess your sins to Him today- allow Him to free you- and He will "remember your sins no more."
What does this image do to you? It made me weep. My heart filled with compassion, my flesh was temporarily destroyed. I saw this picture on Facebook, and I couldn't stop staring at it. This is who I want to be. I want to be willing to give whatever I have to someone who needs it. I know it wasn't a car, $100 or something big and amazing. But I think this is more significant. This man simply gave the woman his shoes. Something so simple, yet so important. Many of us would be willing to write a check for $100- but would you be willing to give someone your shoes? I'm not talking about the shoes in the box in your storage room. I am talking about the shoes you are wearing. If this thought doesn't wreck you or make you think, check your pulse. What a great example- a real example of Jesus. Do you truly want to be like Jesus?
I want to highlight verse 11 and 18. It says, "Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthhod (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?" Then verse 18, "For on one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God."
The reason I wanted to highlight these two verses is because there are some that don't think they need Jesus. I am not only talking about unbelievers- they are obvious about their belief to be self-sufficient. I am also talking about those who call themselves believers, but still practice self-sufficiency. By this I mean they do not call on the name of the Lord- rather, they walk their lives on their own. When in difficulty, it is only when they have failed time and time again on their own that they decide, well, maybe God can help me.
In the Old Testament, before Jesus ever came to earth as a man, the people had priests to confess their sins to, and the priests offered sacrifices on an altar to God on behalf of their sins. We learned this in chapter 5. We also learned in chapter 5 that when Jesus came He offered the ultimate sacrifice- His life- to pay for the sins of all- past, present and future.
These are my own words about verses 11 and 18. Perfection couldn't be attained through the Law, and that is why another priest arose after Melchizedek. His name was Jesus. Just as there was imperfection with the Law (the way the Israelites lived) , there is imperfection in us and in the way we live. In our lives, we all set up our own "way" of living. We all have different standards, dreams, goals, desires we want out of our life, and we all live our lives differently in order to meet those standards or attain those dreams. And although it might look good to us, just as the Law looked good to the Israelites- hey, if we follow the Law (or our own "law") life seems good, and things seem in order. Well, just as the Law was imperfect, so are our own plans. But God's plan is perfect. I'm not saying that following Jesus makes a life without suffering- in fact, Jesus was made perfect through His suffering, therefore, we should expect the same.
As verse 18 says, the old Law was useless once Jesus came, because the Law made nothing or no one perfect, but Jesus was perfect, and through Him, all are made perfect.
What a great God we serve!
So in conclusion- if you could be made perfect by things you do or a law you follow, there wouldn't be a need for Savior. But you are a sinner and you are imperfect- imperfect without Him. Therefore, you do have a need for Savior- and His name is Jesus. That is why He came- to sacrifice Himself as a "sin offering" to the Most High God. As a result, we can be made perfect through Him, that we might have everlasting life in Him. There is no more need to follow a law, or sacrifice animals on an altar. There is only one need- and that is to make Jesus your Savior. Amen.
"For God is not unjust..." (verse 10). Do you believe that? Did you believe it...when He took your father's life? Or your child's life? Or when you or your spouse lost their job? Or when you lost your home? Or when you failed a class, when you worked so hard to pass? Or when your best friend moved away? Or when you couldn't get pregnant? Or when your spouse had an affair?
God seems just when everything in your life is going great. Right? But how do you respond to Him when things seem difficult, or unfair? Do you still think of Him as faithful, a God who provides? Does your faith falter when circumstances in your life are challenging? Do you cry out to God, "Why are you doing this? This is unfair! You said you would provide...!" You're right...He DID say He would provide. One example is in Matthew 6:25-32: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what your will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown in the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."
I'm not talking about God providing the winning lottery ticket, a rich husband or nothing bad to ever happen in your life... but He will provide what you need, and He will even provide some of your wants. Remember that when He allows circumstances in your life, like: the death of a close family member or friend, a job loss, an affair in your marriage, etc., He will use it for His glory. Don't be like Abram and Sarai who wanted to have children so badly- especially a son who could carry on the family name. They probably thought God to be unjust because they hadn't gotten pregnant and they had been asking God for a child for many years. He hadn't answered their prayers when they had hoped. Then, when they were very old in age- much too old to bear children, they were told by God, that they would bear a son. Because God didn't work fast enough for them, and maybe were even partly in disbelief, they thought He wasn't going to follow through on His word. So, they took matters into their own hands and Abram slept with Sarai's servant, Hagar, and bore a son named Ishmael. If they had only waited, and trusted that God would provide what He said! Shortly after Hagar conceived Ishmael, Sarai got pregnant with Isaac, even at her old age.
Are you going to trust God with His way, His timing and His perfect plan? Or are you going to take things into your own hands and make things more complicated, steer yourself in the wrong direction or make bad decisions all because you think He is not going to follow through on what He said? God is just, and He will provide for your needs. It might not be in the way you think, or how you think- but He is just and He is faithful. Not only will God provide for your needs, but also the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Cling to these promises, and if God tells you something that He is going to do for you or through you, TRUST Him, for "God is not unjust"!
The heading for the last section of the chapter is "Warning Against Apostasy". Apostasy means "abandonment of one's religious faith". The author is concerned about the believers who aren't growing in knowledge of His wisdom. He refers to the immature believers as ones that receive milk (as a child) and mature believers to receive solid food (like an adult). The majority of people start in their faith as immature, only able to receive milk because they are still futile in their thinking. You can't expect a baby to understand a book written to a teenager, and I know it sounds silly- but the same is true with our spiritual maturity. I remember the days when what I read the Bible, didn't make much sense at all. Not that I understand God's Word completely- because I am very far from that, but I do understand it much better than I used to. God gives you understanding as you are able to receive it. As we grow in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus, God gives us more wisdom, knowledge and understanding of Him. If you find yourself to be insecure in your faith, take heart- because you aren't born mature, you grow. And after receiving, understanding and obeying the "basic principles of the oracles of God" you will be able to receive the solid food. If you think you are receiving milk, ask God to give you more wisdom, knowledge and understanding. James 1:5- "If any of you lacks wisdom, let Him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." The reason I believe the heading of this section is "Warning Against Apostasy" may be that people get frustrated because they don't understand the Word of God or even the basic principles of following Him. Instead of asking God, they harden their hearts, and become "dull of hearing". Instead of growing, as God desires, they take steps backward. The last sentence in this chapter says, "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." Did you get that? Constant practice. It doesn't come without effort. But don't give up, because the rewards of having wisdom and knowledge are well worth the cost!
Have you entered into His rest? Matthew 11:28-29 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." That sounds nice, doesn't it? His rest is available for those who trust and obey Him. As the example given in Hebrews, the Israelites believed in God, but they disobeyed Him, therefore, they did not enter His rest. Who needs rest? I am not talking about sleep. I am talking about the rest in your soul, that things of this world don't bother you, difficult circumstances become easier- and it's only because Jesus' burden is light, and He will hep carry you through the times of difficulty and pain. When you follow Jesus wholeheartedly, the things of this world that seemed so important to you become meaningless- because you realize Jesus is all you need- and He provides what you need. You will have rest in His provision in all circumstances, because He is faithful, and you can trust Him. If you say you believe, but you don't trust Him, I believe it's because you haven't truly seen Him. Those who have seen Him can trust in Him and put their hope in Him. That's how our lives are changed- because we SEE Him, then TRUST Him, then OBEY him, and then, He does a great work in and through us by the Holy Spirit. I challenge you today, do you truly trust Him?
Lover of Jesus, wife to a great husband, mother of 3 young children. I love to write, cook, and make greeting cards! Read more about me and my family here.