Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Drifting--or Not. Hebrews 2.

We've all seen it...the scene in a movie where the individual or couple is sitting in the boat, paying no attention, and it becomes untethered, and slips away from the dock.  Many times, the paddles are not on the boat, or the motor won't start, and the folks in the boat are stranded on the water, drifting, drifting...
The spiritual life can be like that--drifting, drifting, nothing holding us, and suddenly we are in the open sea.
This is why the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:1,
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard [about Jesus Christ], so that we do not drift away from it.
The reason, of course, is the importance of the truth.  It's eternal, and affects us forever:
2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
The reference to the "word spoken by angels" has to do with the Old Testament law and prophets, and the writer is pointing out that the greatest of all opportunities for salvation and eternal life is within the readers' grasp, but that they are in danger of simply letting it slide. The readers have heard the Apostles speak, some of them heard the Lord Himself, and they saw the gifts and miracles of the Holy Spirit, confirming the word spoken.  How could they drift away from those wonderful, powerful truths? Evidently it's possible, and it does happen. 
This brings up both a question, and an observation:
Have YOU drifted away from the truths you know?  Drifting is different than rejection.  Drifting occurs because of inattention, laziness, weariness.  Drifting is different than being wounded by evil men and women who sometimes occupy positions of religious influence.  Drifting is simply "I don't care." It is one of the devil's best tools, because it happens so quietly, and you are so relaxed and inattentive that you just don't notice.  

Now an observation:  Drifting is curable.  Unlike the movies we've seen where the couple drifts into danger and can't get out because there is no mooring, no paddle, no motor, there is always a way back. You can always revive yourself (it requires your decision to "drift no more"), and return to the things you know to be most important.  It takes extra work, extra attention, because just as a groggy man has trouble paying attention to the things happening to him, so spiritual grogginess takes hold, and it requires effort to come fully awake.
Here is how to wake yourself from spiritual sleep:
1. First step is to recognize that you are drifting.
2. Ask God to help you wake up.  Don't ask just once.  Keep asking, and asking, and asking.  
3. Begin to read the New Testament.  Read about Jesus, His words, His deeds, His goodness, His grace. Ask God to help you understand.
4. Pray about the things in your life. 
5. (and I say this with some concern) Go to church if you can.  The problem with church is that most of it feeds only the external life, and it's exceedingly easy to pretend you're awake when you're really asleep.  In addition, some of you may have been wounded in church, and be deeply conflicted about returning there. However, church does provide you with a meeting place for the Spirit, and many churches are truly holy places.
6. Feed your inner life by giving attention to the Spirit.  This is hard in our modern world, where virtually everything is based on the external, on appearance, on the temporary.  You can do this "feeding" by seeking God in personal worship, and by asking for the Spirit of God to fill your heart and mind and gift you as He wills.  As you do this, your spiritual life will enrich itself and deepen, and you will cease drifting, and move close to Him. Almost all "drifting" is solved by honest communication between you and God, when you speak to Him as a friend and companion, and learn to experience and enjoy His presence.  When you do this constantly, drifting away from Him is a virtual impossibility.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hebrews 1, Part 2

The first statements of the book of Hebrews are about the greatness of Jesus Christ.  This is the theme of the book--the greatness of Jesus Christ and the greatness of the salvation He offers to you. In many ways, the book of Hebrews is a book of contrasts and comparisons.  The writer compares Jesus with angels, with Moses, with Aaron, and so forth.
In the first chapter of Hebrews, the writer compares and contrasts Jesus with the angels, who in their own right are great. We have all heard the motto, "I have angels watching over me..." that is true, but God Himself, in the person of His Son, is watching over you as well.  You cannot escape His notice, and you cannot remove yourself from His protection, IF you believe in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here is how Jesus Christ is greater than angels:
God the Father Himself calls Jesus Christ His SON, Hebrews 1:5:
You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: " I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son"?
God says of Jesus, "Let all the angels of God worship HIM." 
And also, "He makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire..." but to the Son, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever...(the writer of Hebrews thus identifies Jesus as Paul does:  "God manifest in the Flesh," the God who emptied Himself to live on earth as Man).
And, "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain...
If you look at the context, it's clear that the writer of Hebrews believes that Jesus is God, and that Jesus is the Creator (along with the Father--see John 1).
Angels, on the other hand, are the servants of the Father, whom He has sent to take care of "the heirs of salvation," See Hebrews 1:14, below:
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
In other words, if you're into comparisons, Jesus is the greatest.  He is God, the Creator, the King of the universe.  Angels, on the other hand, are servants.
This matters to you because Jesus Christ is worthy of your worship.  He Himself once said, "You call me Lord, and Master... And you say well, for so I am."
Worshipping Him is not something you do only in church, (although you can certainly worship in church), but comes from your heart and spirit, from your innermost being, where the "real you" lives.  In fact that is where He desires your worship--from the depths of your soul, so that your worship flows out to your entire being, and fills you with the knowledge of His presence.  Worshipping Him in this ways is the song of the heart, and gives life and meaning to all you do, because everything becomes His and yours together as He fills your life with His presence. He may dwell in "light unapproachable," but you can walk in that light, and your life can be filled with the light of His presence.