Friday, December 29, 2017

Expressions of Faith. Hebrews Ch 10. Insanity?

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
 Hebrews 10:11-18


A saying attributed to Albert Einstein among others is

Verse 11 sounds like it fits that definition.

However, this passage isn’t talking about insanity. It’s referring to God’s Law.

In Old Testament times, sacrificing the best, closest-to-perfect animals was required for the atonement for sin.

High Priest after High Priest performed the Levitical rituals to remove the stain of sin from the lives of the Jews.

Every time the result was the same. 
It was a temporary fix.

Animal sacrifices covered past sins. 
They did nothing to reduce or remove the desire to sin.

  • Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Tearing of the veil covering the entrance of the Holy of Holies in the Temple allowed direct access to God.
These two events combined to begin a change. The need for the unending ritual of animal sacrifice ended.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost brought the fulfillment of verses 16-18.

If you are caught in the déjà vu, “Groundhog Day” cycle of repeated sin, make a sane decision.
Ask the Holy Spirit to
“put [God’s] laws in [my] heart, and… write them on [my] mind.”

Next is a BONUS Expression of Faith on January 1: Happy New Year!
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Timeless Truths: Spiritual Lessons I Learned from My Dog

The opening paragraphs that end at the heading "Spiritual Lessons I Learned from My Dog - Prolog" was the conclusion of Tuesday's blog: Almanac. Chuck's Dog. If you didn't read that post, that's okay. You might change your mind by the end of this post. 

I hope all dogs go to heaven. I'm not convinced of the theological soundness of that position, but this Timeless Truths blog presents three spiritual truths that a relationship with a dog fostered in me. This was more epiphany than long process, and I use Scripture to support each lesson.

I had to stop dozens of time while writing Chuck's Dog because I was crying too hard to see the computer screen. Once, a picked up Hogan and hugged him through my tears and sobs. He licked my face, something Duke might have done to me 10-times in his life.
Clockwise from top left. First hat. On the old backyard steps at our house. With a chew toy--Duke's Godzilla teeth destroyed heady-duty Kongs in 3 months! At Crown Point. Rolling on the new artificial turf while it's warming in the driveway before installation. Sunning on the new steps in our backyard. Center: Chuck and Chuck's Dog taking a nap, which we both liked immensely! I still nap . . . bbut it's lonely without my dog .
I think Hogan misses Duke off and on.
I know that I miss Duke all the time. Because
I'm Chuck, and Duke was Chuck’s dog.

Spiritual Lessons I Learned from My Dog - Prolog

Some of you won’t even open this blog post because of the title.

Wait! You did open it.

Edited first line:
Some people of you won’t even open this blog post because of the title. My goal is to make this post relevant, even compelling. There is nothing in this post that lowers the majesty of God, nothing that raises dogs about their appointed place, nothing that implies dogs are better than people.

Since you’re still with me, let’s get going!

Three Spiritual Lessons I Learned from My Dog
Duke was my dog. He died in November of this year (2017). He was the best dog I ever owned, although owned isn’t how I saw the relationship.

Duke was a constant. A given stimulus generated the same response every time. Looking back at the relationship of nearly 11-years, it dawned on me that I could be a better follower of Christ if I applied three specific actions of Duke to my spiritual journey.

1. Join a Pack
Every one of us is part of a pack when we’re born. Depending on your theological bent, you may not be accountable for which pack you follow until you reach what is known as the age of accountability in some circles.

Whether you subscribe to that or not, at some point in time everyone must choose to follow God or to follow Satan. Roman’s 3:23 is the least wordy of the 52 verses that point out the universality of sin.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

That’s a straightforward statement by Paul, the greatest theologian of the New Testament era.

Dogs are looking for a pack to join. Descended from wolves, pack behavior is instinctual. After floods or earthquakes, domesticated dogs that are not returned to their owners form packs.

The alpha dog achieves that rank by demonstrating toughness. Dogfights may occur, but the Leader of the Pack is rarely challenged. Dogs that lose a fight with the leader are forced out of the pack.

All humanity has been separated from our home by sin. Everyone is looking for a pack, whether they call what they are doing that or not. Pack behavior is inherent in dogs . . . Humans as well. Romans 12:2 makes it plain that there is a choice—conformity to God’s will.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There are only two packs to choose from. Satan’s pack is deceivingly enticing. God’s pack provides infinitely more.

2. Drink When You’re Thirsty
Duke was a great drinker of water. Drinking water was a full-on attack by his tongue on the defenseless H2O molecules in his dish. There was no doubt that he was drinking and no doubt after which dog of our two dogs had been drinking. After Duke drank, usually for at least 20-seconds, the ground around the water dish was wet, not damp.

In Isaiah 55:1, the prophet relates God’s offer of water whenever you are thirsty.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters

In John 7:36-38 [Alternate ending], Jesus
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me. And let anyone drink 38 who believes in me.” As Scripture has said, “Out of him (or them) will flow rivers of living water.”

Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman in the fourth chapter of John. He offers her living water. She doesn’t understand and asks what’s so special about the living water. Jesus replies in John 4:13-14.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22:17 speaks of living water offered by God to the thirsty.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

3. Eat What You’re Given
The trainer I took Duke to for obedience lessons said, “If it takes your dog more than one minute to eat the food you put down, you’ve put down too much food.”

That was never a problem for Duke. He ate whatever we put in his dish. In Duke's world, dish = food. He ate fast and furiously, no matter what I put into his dish. Getting him to take pills and supplements was rarely a problem because whatever was in the food dish was for him. The crowds ate what they were given.

The Israelites ate manna, specialized nourishing wafers that appeared daily from the hand of God. Ground, mashed, or boiled manna was the first miracle food. Manna and quail are the only foods guaranteed by God for the entire forty-years the Hebrews wandered in the desert. The Hebrews ate what they were given.

Crowds of listeners ate fish and bread that Christ gave them. The disciples ate unleavened bread and drank wine at the last Passover supper because Christ gave it to them. The disciples ate what they were given.

In John 6:32-35, Jesus explains that in the Kingdom of God, He is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus goes on to explain, whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

The bread Jesus offers is available in the Bible. Truth, direction, and inspiration are there in overflowing amounts.

My dog knows enough to eat what he’s given when he’s hungry. Read some Scripture every day; that’s God’s fuel for your soul.

What’s the bottom line here?

Follow my dog’s example.
Choose to follow Jesus . . . [Join God’s pack.]

Drink the living water of salvation . . . [It can quench your thirst for meaning permanently.]

Eat the spiritual food God provides . . . [through Scripture, preaching, and teaching of Godly principles.]

Rest in peace, Duke.
May the peace of Christ be on all my readers!

Next Timeless Truth: How to Make Your Life a Masterpiece #1. What do you think of yourself?
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Thoughts on Hebrews Hiatus Questions set #3

Merry Christmas!

Due to service time schedules and changes in Sunday programming, my class is going on hiatus from Hebrews until January 7. I’ll still post questions or an activity that relates to Scripture on Mondays 12/18, 12/24, and 12/31. However, my class will not be discussing these questions.

What immediately follows is solely my commentary on Monday’s post except where another source is cited. 

The idea for this activity came from the Advent Scripture readings posted the week of 12/18.

We hear about the prophecies about Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) in the Old Testament. 

  • I've wondered how many of those prophecies there were since the Jewish mainstream theologians missed the boat when interpreting them.
  • I did a search for "Old Testament Messianic Prophecies." There were a number of choices including some that had over 300 of them.
  • When I saw a list compiled by Jews for Jesus, the decision was made for me. Although the site says there are 40 prophecies, when I numbered them in Word it came up 38, and the last one of those wasn't prophesy of the Messiah. Hence the "37" in the title.

I hope you give some thought to the writers of the prophetic verses, those who missed the message of Messiah, and what message(s) from God you might be missing.

  1. What do you do to keep connected to God?
  2. How often do you pray to God?
  3. How often do you read the Bible?
  4. Where do you go to learn Biblical truths? <Where do you worship and fellowship?>

Next week's Hiatus activity focuses on the NEW year.

Here's this week's activity.
Selections from 37 Fulfilled Old Testament Prophecies of the Messiah
"Real answers" in black. Class discussion in red.

1. The Messiah would be the seed of the woman. Satan is put in his place by Jesus death and resurrection.
Genesis 3:15
Romans 16:20Galatians 4:4
Revelation 12:9Revelation 12:17
2. The Messiah would be the descendant of Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed,
Blessings or curses.
Genesis 12:3
Acts 3:24-26
3. The Messiah would be a willing sacrifice. One Son of God. Eternal.
Genesis 22:1-18
John 3:16
Exodus 12:1-51
John 1:29John 1:36John 19:33
John 19:361 Corinthians 5:7-8
1 Peter 1:19
6. The Messiah would be lifted up. Son of God would be lifted up-crucified.
Numbers 21:6-9
John 3:14-18
7. The Messiah would be the star coming out of Jacob. Star shows the way to Christ and his rule. David is from Jacob's line. All who accept the Messiah will be delivered.
Numbers 24:17
Matthew 2:2Revelation 22:16
2 Samuel 7:12-16
Matthew 1:1Luke 1:32-33
Acts 15:15-16Hebrews 1:5
Psalm 2:1-12
Mark 1:11Luke 3:22Acts 4:25-28
Acts 13:33Hebrews 1:5
Hebrews 5:5
Psalm 16:8-11
Acts 2:22-32Acts 13:35-37
Psalm 118:22-24
Matthew 21:42Mark 12:10-11
Luke 20:17-18Acts 4:9-12
Ephesians 2:201 Peter 2:6-8
18. The Messiah would be born of a virgin. This was easy. Our pastor used this Scripture in his sermon, so we startedd with it.
Isaiah 7:14
Matthew 1:22-23Luke 1:31-35
Isaiah 11:1
Isaiah 53:3
Matthew 2:23
Isaiah 40:3-5
Matthew 3:1-3Mark 1:1-3Luke 1:76Luke 3:1-6Luke 7:27John 1:22-23
Jeremiah 31:15
Matthew 2:16-18
Jeremiah 31:31
Matthew 26:28Mark 14:24
Luke 22:201 Corinthians 11:25
2 Corinthians 3:6Hebrews 8:6-13
Hebrews 9:15Hebrews 12:24
Micah 5:2
Matthew 2:1-6John 7:40-43
Zechariah 11:12-13
Matthew 26:14-15Matthew 27:3
Matthew 27:9-10
Zechariah 12:10
Matthew 24:30John 19:31-37
Revelation 1:7
37 prophecies are too many for a single class session. What's here is probably too many, too, so...
I included a PDF with the first column empty for the complete list of 37 references. If some of the lines in the charts are AWOL, blame Microsoft.

The number of people who’ve joined my class on this journey humbles me. I wish each of you who take the time to read and hopefully react to these blog posts a joyous Christmas and a blessed start to 2018.

On January 8, 2018, we’ll return to Hebrews—Chapter 10 to be specific.

Until Wednesday...

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