Joy in January: Dance for your Life!

Joy in January: Dance for your Life!

Life, glorious life!  How we take life for granted, until...

someone we love dies,

our health or safety is gravely threatened,

we realize our days are waning because of the years...

It is then that we value what we've had all along.

But there's a Life that we never need fear will diminish, be endangered, be lost...

In fact, this Life can grow in our experience even in this time-based, fearful, waning physical life.

What is this Life?

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Resurrection ZOE -- the Dance of LIFE!

Resurrection ZOE -- the Dance of LIFE!

Easter isn't Easter unless it's Easter to YOU!

So declared a radio preacher early in Holy Week a few years ago. At first I said, "Yes!"  Then I thought about it awhile and said, "Not really! Easter is Easter whether I get it or not."

What is Easter anyway? Easter is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. He had conquered sin and death on the cross and then was raised, so that we could walk in newness of life. (cf. Romans 6:4)

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Mercy Came Running (Hebrews 8-10)

Mercy
Mercy

MERCY!  Ah, what a lovely word.Mercy speaks of compassion, love, tenderness, "thinking the best," overlooking faults and failings...and we could go on.  Those of us who have mercy-showers in our lives are blessed beyond measure! How reflective is mercy of our merciful, loving Creator.  Even throughout the Old Testament, we read of God's tender mercies and loving-kindness toward the children of men.

justice
justice

But there was a "not so little thing" called God's Justice, that is, His holiness and righteousness, that hindered the full expression of His mercy and love to us sinful creatures.  That's where our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes in...His Person and His work released us from the just wrath of God against sin so Mercy could come flooding forth upon us.

No where do we see the what's and wherefore's of the mercy of our God better spelled out than in Hebrews, chapters 8 through 10.  There we see the provision God made over generations to show mercy to a stiff-necked people (a.k.a. you & me).

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens… Hebrews 8:1 NASB

As Ray Stedman has so clearly said:

On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took a cup of wine, passed it to his disciples and said: "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:27-28). With those words and that symbolic action, he borrowed the phrase used by Moses when he took the blood of an animal, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words" (Ex 24:8). The contrast was deliberate. Moses used the blood of an animal; Jesus used wine as a symbol of his own blood. Moses spoke of the covenant of the law; Jesus alluded to the new covenant of grace. Moses spoke of God's words which provided for the partial covering of sins so God could remain with his people; Jesus promised the actual remission of sins so God could live within his people forever. It is that excellent new covenant which chapters 8-10 of Hebrews...expounds.

Because of Who He is, Son of God and Man (Hebrews 1-7), what He has done carries infinite weight!  Let's look at what His work entailed according to these chapters in Hebrews:

I.  He is the Mediator of a  New Covenant (8:6-13; 9;17-22), “based on better promises.”

new covt
new covt

Compared to the Old Covenant (Law), The New Covenant is immeasurably more glorious!  No longer is it, "I do it; therefore God does it."  This was at the heart of the Law ("If you obey, I will bless you and be your God.").  Rather now in the New Covenant, it's all about, "God does it: therefore, I do it."

Isn't that the way, Jesus lived His life on earth?

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. John 5:19 ESV

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. John 8:28

For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. John 12:49

The New Covenant then is all about God and what He has done through the finished work of His Son.  And it's also about what He is now doing in His world, in and through His people.

10 commandments
10 commandments

But the problem is that the Old Covenant proved that we humans are not reliable vehicles of the divine life and ways.  So how can the change take place from the "I do it, so God blesses me" mentality to "God does it, and I'm His instrument?"  That's the beauty of the New Covenant provisions and promises.  Take a look at those amazing truths stated in our passage (Hebrews 8:6-13):

  1. The Law written on the heart (Heb 8:10; 10:10).  No longer are God's ways (the Law) written on tablets of stone (2Cor 3), but now they are written on human hearts.  And even that heart of ours has been changed.  Look at an important cross reference: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  Ezek 36:26-27 ESV Not only is the Law written on a new heart, but the Holy Spirit is united with our spirit.  He causes us to walk in God's ways...isn't that incredible?!  So now there is the truth united with desire and power!
  2. Intimacy with the Living God (Heb 8:10-11).  Jesus said that the heart of His zoe, eternal life, is that we know God! And this is eternal life [zoe], that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  John 17:3 Since we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, the resident Teacher, we know God! The Apostle John referred to this glorious truth in his first epistle: But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know... But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.   1John 2:20-27
  3. Complete Forgiveness of Sins (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).   And this is primary.  Until sin was permanently dealt with, God's justice and holiness "prevented Him" from uniting with His people.  But now the way is open...Why?  Because...
The_Holy_of_Holies
The_Holy_of_Holies

II.  He is the Minister in the  True Tabernacle (8:2-6; 9:1-14, 23-28)....Jesus entered the True Tabernacle...the Holy of Holies of the throne room of heaven.   And what did He do there?

III.  He Himself is the Offering of a Perfect Sacrifice (10:1-18).

He offered HIMSELF!  He was the perfect, eternal sacrifice because of His perfect, indestructible life (Hebrews 7). He presented His perfect blood so that He could perfect for all time, those who are in the process of being sanctified while on this earth (10:10,14) It's a finished work that is a done deal forever.  It is totally true, perfectly and forever int the eternal realm.

images-4
images-4

But you may ask, "Why am I not experiencing this now?"  The answer is all about faith.  Just as we enter the New Covenant by faith in the finished work of the eternal Son of God, we also live by faith every day of our lives in this temporal realm (Col 2:6-7).  As we run our lap in the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1-4), we fix our eyes on the indwelling Christ.  We surrender to His indwelling, resurrection zoe Life.  Then we experience the glory of the New Covenant:  "God does it; therefore we do it!"  If we begin to live according to our own, even morally "good" way," we go back to OC living, expecting something of God in response to our "good works" (like a reward) or in addition to our "good works" (like help to do what I'VE determined to do).  Then we're back to, "We do it ; therefore God does it."

So let me ask you a question.  What would change for you if you took the risk to abandon yourself to the New Covenant, Indwelling, Risen Christ...ceasing from your own labors, self-effort, good works...and live in His Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:9-11)?

Freedom!  Joy!  Fruitfulness!  Rest!

Listen to how two brothers from the past describe this glorious life:

...The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you . . .” (Colossians 1:27). It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification— imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace...Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ to me. It is the gift of His patience, love, holiness, faith, purity, and godliness that is exhibited in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy— it is drawing from Jesus the very holiness that was exhibited in Him, and that He now exhibits in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is something altogether different. The perfection of everything is in Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfect qualities of Jesus are at my disposal. Consequently, I slowly but surely begin to live a life of inexpressible order, soundness, and holiness— “. . . kept by the power of God . . .” (1 Peter 1:5).    (Oswald Chambers)

If today I am patient, it is not I but He who lives in me who is patient. If today I love, it is not because I try my best to love, for the power of love is not in me.  But it is because there is One who loves in me. If today I forgive, it is not due to my generosity or effort or ability.  It is instead purely due to the One who lives in me and always forgives.  He is my forgiveness. If today I am humble, this does not happen because I remind myself how proud I am and that therefore I need to be humbled.  My humility does not come through suppressing my needs and then determining to be humble.  It is the Person (the Lamb) in me who is humble.  Since He is my humility, I therefore am humble.   (Watchman Nee)

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I love the imagery of this song.  Can't you just visualize our Father God "bursting forth" when Jesus cried from the Cross "Tetelestai/It is finished!/the sin debt, paid in full!" and breathed His last?  Usually we think of us finally being able to come into the throne room of God (Heb 4:16).  But here we see it from the opposite direction -- God "chomping at the bit" (I hope that's not irreverent) to get at us with His loving-kindness and tender mercy.  When the veil was rent, God came flooding out to the world of men.  Oh, embrace Him by faith today!

Mercy Came Running Phillips, Craig, & Dean

Once there was a holy place Evidence of God's embrace And I can almost see mercy's face Pressed against the veil Looking down with longing eyes Mercy must have realized That once His blood was sacrificed Freedom would prevail And as the sky grew dark And the earth began to shake With justice no longer in the way

Chorus: Mercy came running Like a prisoner set free Past all my failures to the point of my need When the sin that I carried Was all I could see And when I could not reach mercy Mercy came running to me Once there was a broken heart Way to human from the start And all the years left it torn apart Hopeless and afraid Walls I never meant to build Left this prisoner unfulfilled Freedom called but even still It seemed so far away I was bound by the chains From the wages of my sin Just when I felt like giving in

Repeat chorus

Sometimes I still feel so far So far from where I really should be He gently calls to my heart Just to remind me

Repeat chorus

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For further meditation:

Hebrews 8-10, Ray Stedman

Oswald Chambers, "Sanctification"

Hebrews 13: Living an Unshakable Kingdom Life

unshakable kingdom
unshakable kingdom

...we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken...Hebrews 12:28 NIV

Ah, the Unshakable Kingdom! And it's ours!  It's the promise of Jesus in the New Covenant.

Hear our Lord's words,

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32 NIV

But what is the New Covenant?  What is this "ticket" so to speak, into the Kingdom?

The New Covenant is all about the finished work of Christ through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  It's all about total forgiveness of sins, a new heart that is fixed on loving God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit who causes us to walk in HIS ways...and so much more!  All received by grace through faith, not striving and working!

And as we come to the end of the letter to the Hebrews, we see that living from who we are as partakers of the New Covenant has certain qualities about it:

1.  It's a life of stability (12:15-29). We are receiving a Kingdom that's unshakable, that can't crumble to the ground or be taken over by someone stronger!  And it's right here, right now!  And this kingdom is characterized by grace and freedom and peace...not fear and dread!  It's a kingdom where Jesus is King, and we are His people!

But it's also a kingdom that's not yet!  There will be a time when all will be set right; a time when...

...at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:10-11 ESV

2.  It's a life of brotherly love (13:1-4). We graciously receive and welcome "strangers" -- the invisible, neglected, unknown.  We remember prisoners...those physically incarcerated, as well as those imprisoned emotionally and spiritually.  Hebrews 13:2 says that we may be receiving angels unaware.  But actually, according to the gospels, we serve Christ when we serve the needy. (Matthew 25:31-45)

Phil Yancy, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, tells about a conversation between a rich American visitor and Mother Teresa.  The American couldn't comprehend Mother Teresa's "fierce commitment to the dregs of Calcutta."  In response to his confusion, she told him,

We are a contemplative order.   First we meditate on Jesus, and then we go out and look for Him in disguise.

Where is He in disguise in our lives?

Mother Theresa with child
Mother Theresa with child

Maybe He's in disguise in our marriages.  Kingdom, New Covenant living is where we do the old-fashioned thing by honoring marriage as God's design...and by treating our spouses as brothers/sisters in the Lord and as friends (S of S 4:9-12;5:1,16).

3.  It's a life of contentment (13:5-6). We live free from "devotion" to money...why?  Because God Himself is our true Treasure!  He says..., so we can say...!

And what does He say?

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

So we can say,

The Lord is my helper;I will not fear;what can man do to me?

4.  It's a life of remembering & imitating  (13:7-8). We remember, and even study, the "exit" from this life of our spiritual leaders.

As John Piper says,

Beware of living heroes; prefer dead ones...Get heroes, especially dead ones.

Why?  They have already heard the Lord's "Well done!" They've made it to the finish line!

So then we can...

...imitate their faith.  Why?  because...Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

He was faithful to them in the past.  He is faithful to us in the present.  And He will be faithful to us and to our children and future generations on into the future!

5.  It's a life of identification (13:9-14). New Covenant living is not dependent upon religious rituals, foods, feasts, etc. (See Colossians 2:16-17).  Our "altar" is the Cross, the finished work of Christ.  And what do we "eat" there?  We eat Jesus by faith (John 6)  and get in Him:  forgiveness, righteousness, joy, peace in the Holy Spirit, hope, and so much more (Romans 14:17; 15:13).

And just as Jesus died outside the "camp" (Jerusalem and the religious establishment of His day), so we are also willing to go against the ways of the "camps" we may be part of, when they conflict with the ways our Lord and King are leading us.

What "camps" are you part of today?  Your church? your friends? your family? a relationship? your workplace?  Do you have to "sell your soul" in order to fit in and feel part of the in-crowd?  I'm here to say, DON'T DO IT!  Go to HIM outside the camp and be willing to bear HIS reproach...no matter what that may mean!

My husband and I have been part of various, what I call, Christian camps -- different traditions, from very conservative to somewhat chrismatic*.  I remember one time moaning and complaining to the Lord,

Lord, I don't fit anywhere!

The Holy Spirit said to my heart,

Congratulations!  You can fit everywhere, because you don't fit anywhere! [Read that a couple times slowly!]

Then He reminded me of Jesus who had no place to call His own, who died rejected and abandoned by even His own.  And I remembered Jesus' "healthy detachment":

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. John 2:23-25 NASB

So our expectations of fitting in can actually lead us to quench the Spirit in our own lives.  So again I say, don't do it!  "Go to Him outside the camp"...and the delightful surprise may be that there are others outside the camp...maybe waiting for YOU!

outside the camp
outside the camp

6.  It's a life of sacrifices (13:15-16). Jesus did the once for all sacrifice!  But we as believer-priests (1Peter 2:4-5) offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.  We are not afraid to acknowledge His name and give Him the credit that is due Him.  As Hosea so colorfully says,

We... offer our lips as sacrifices of bulls.  (Hosea 14:2, alternate trans)

So we put our lips on the altar and let them pour out with praise and thanksgiving and glory to our great God.

And then of course, we have the sacrifice of doing good and sharing...signs of true faith.  As James says,

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works...For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:18,26 -- but check out all of James 2 ESV

7.  It's a life of submission (13:17-19). We follow God's chosen leaders and make it a joy for them, not a grief.   But we realize that they also have "feet of clay" as do their followers.  So we pray for them that they finish well!

As John Piper says,

If you're watching [living] leaders, pray like crazy that they make it to the end...that they finish well!

We all know of leaders who have "shipwrecked" later in life...let's support and pray!

8.  It's a life of enablement (13:20-21).

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

the Great Shepherd of the sheep
the Great Shepherd of the sheep

One of the richest and most beautiful of benedictions in Scripture tells us that it's not about our adequacy and ability to live this New Covenant life...it's about His equipping and working.  What a relief!  We are His vessels, His instruments.

Remember, the New Covenant basically says,

God does it; therefore, I do it.

Look at these other passages that say it well...and glory!

2Cor 3:5-61Cor 15:10Gal 2:20Phil 2:12-13

9.  It's a life of listening (13:22-25). So we come full circle.  This passage says to "pay attention" (NLT), to hear to listen.  Haven't we seen that throughout the letter?  It presupposes that when God speaks, we must listen...and so a closing reminder.  New Covenant, Unshakable Kingdom living is a life of listening to our Speaking God who has spoken in His Son (Heb 1:1-3)...let us HEAR HIM!

A Mighty Fortress

Our God is, a consuming fire, A burning holy Flame, with glory and freedom Our God is, the only righteous judge, Ruling over us with kindness and wisdom We will keep our eyes on You We will keep our eyes on You

A mighty fortress is our God A sacred refuge is Your Name Your Kingdom is unshakable With You forever we will reign

Our God is, jealous for His own None could comprehend, His love and His mercy Our God is exalted on His throne High above the heavens Forever He’s worthy... We will keep our eyes on You We will keep our eyes on You

We will keep our eyes on You We will keep our eyes on You So we can set our hearts on You Lord we will set our hearts on You!

HIMSELF  by A. B. SimpsonOnce it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord; Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word. Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own; Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust; Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost. Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast; Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer; Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care. Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says; Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be; Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me. Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One; Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine; Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine. Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail; And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the veil.

simpson-ab
simpson-ab

For the beautiful sermon connected to this poem by A.B. Simpson, a brother from the past, click here.

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For Ray Stedman's commentary on Hebrews 13, click here.Hebrews 13, Ray Stedman, Faith at Work

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Streams of Living Water, Foster
Streams of Living Water, Foster

For an enlightening description of the verious traditions of the Christian faith, readStreams of Living Water, by Richard Foster.  In that book, Foster goes into the biblical and historical backgrounds of the different traditions ("camps"), as well as the strong points to emulate and the pitfalls to avoid.

Hebrews 10:24-25 -- CONSIDER...One Another

Let us consider...one another!   Hebrews 10:24-25 When we come toward the middle of Hebrews, chapter 10, we have what I like to call "the Hinge" (10:19-25)...verses that tie the doctrinal and practical sections together.  And right there at the end of "the Hinge" is our second of three CONSIDER's.

As you may recall, the first time we encountered the word Consider, we talked about how the word means to focus intently like a star-gazer would do.  And of course, our primary focus is always to be on our great High Priest, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ -- our Great High Priest and Mighty God enthroned above.

When we look at our third Consider in chapter 12, it will be again our Lord Jesus Christ, who as the God-Man endured the Cross.  But now, sandwiched right in the middle, is our second Consider -- Consider...one another.  Why?  Because if we belong to our Lord, we belong to each other.  That's why I often sign my emails, One with you in HIM, when writing to my sisters and brothers in the Lord.

Last year a posted a fun blog about the interaction between two of my grandsons, Evan & Carter...brothers!  I'd like to share the Bible study section of that post, which I called Am I My Brother's Keeper? right here.  But if you would like to read the stories that go with it, just click on the link.

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Our Abba Father's desire for us His children is that we would be devoted to one another, no matter how much we may disagree and even dislike each other.  We are in the same blood line, the same family!

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together. This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves! 1John 3:14-16 MESSAGE

We have a connection with each other that can't be broken, whether we like it or not!  It's a connection as deep as union with each other in the Triune God!  Just as in a human family, the primary connection a child has is with the parents (and thus with each other), so too in the family of God.  Listen to how Jesus prayed the night before He died:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that THEY also may be IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23

As I've been meditating on my union with Christ and my brothers and sisters, I've revisited what are called the One another verses.  Maybe you would like to join me in revisiting them, or perhaps visiting them for the first time.  Then if you care to, pray with me:

Father, empower me through the indwelling Christ, Your Perfect Son, to love my brothers and sisters.  Love them through me.  Understand them through me.  Care about their spiritual, emotional, physical welfare through me, O God.  In Christ's Loving Name.  Amen!

John 13:14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:35 " By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

Acts 7:26 " On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?'

Acts 15:39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 6:7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

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For an example of how NOT to "consider one another,"  read this post by Frank Viola on Rick Warren's tragic loss of his son to suicide.  It left me speechless! Beyond Evangelical

Class Notes:  THE HINGE

Homework: Read Hebrews 11 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 200-201 Read chapter 8,  Hoping…

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Hebrews 8-10, Ray Stedman -- scroll down to read his treatment of the 4th warning...very good!

Resurrection Dance...Let it Flow!

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to teach through a difficult passage of Scripture in my weekly ladies Bible study.  I had asked the Lord to give me an easy time during the week while I was studying.  Well, from my limited human perspective, just the opposite happened.  Whatever could go "wrong," did just that! So by the end of the week, I was ready to "go over the edge!"  That's when the precious Spirit of God said to my heart,  "Abandon yourself to the lesson, and just let it flow!"  So I did, and it did, by the grace of God!

A few days later, my daughter posted the following on facebook after her zumba class at the gym:

I'm so stiff. In dance at University of Dayton I remember the instructor saying that true dancing came after learning the steps and just letting it flow. I don't think I've ever been able to do that in dance or life.

What would happen, dear friends, if we would abandon ourselves to the Risen, Indwelling Christ and just let Him flow?  What would our dance be like?  What would our life be like?  If New Covenant living means, "God does it, therefore we do it," then our life could be God dances, so we dance!

May it ever be so, O our glorious Jesus...Dancer Par Excellence!

*Click to view video

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KX2-J6uS-o']

We have often asserted and we affirm it yet again That no fact in History is better attested than the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead It must not be denied by any who are willing to pay the slightest respect to the testimony to their fellow men. That Jesus, who died upon the cross and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethia, did literally rise again from the dead.

This is a celebration We’re calling out to every nation to spread the word that Jesus is alive. We’re people of His Kingdom His resurrection is our Freedom For every heart, every tongue and every tribe. Woah, We will dance with the One That shines brighter than the sun Woah, We lift our eyes up and rise up. He will rise up! He’s alive He’s alive inside us We will rise up. We claim the victory, He won on Calvary Celebrate the King of Glory So rise up, People of the Lord rise up. We’re filled with Holy Fire Lifting His name is our desire and this we know His Spirit is in this place. Let nothing stand between us, We carry the love that has redeemed us. He is life abundantly given to us in grace. Woah, We will dance with the One That shines brighter than the sun. Woah, lift our eyes up and rise up. He will rise up! He’s alive He’s alive inside us We will rise up. We claim the victory, He won on Calvary Celebrate the King of Glory So rise up, People of the Lord rise up. Woah, We will dance with the One That shines brighter than the sun. Woah, lift our eyes up and rise up. He will rise up! He’s alive He’s alive inside us We will rise up. We claim the victory, He won on Calvary Celebrate the King of Glory So rise up, People of the Lord rise up. He will rise up ! He’s alive, he’s alive inside us. And we will rise up. We claim the victory, He won on Calvary Celebrate the King of Glory So rise up, People of the Lord rise up. People of the Lord rise up !

This Easter may you put all your eggs in one basket -- all your joys and fears, sadness and tears, in the one and only risen Lord.  Happy Easter! Beth Loyd Filson 2013

It is God’s will that I should cast On Him my care each day; He also bids me not to cast My confidence away.

But oh, I am so foolish That when taken unawares, I cast away my confidence And carry all my cares. T. Baird*

Hebrews 8-10: Mercy Came Running!

MERCY!  Ah, what a lovely word.  Mercy speaks of compassion, love, tenderness, "thinking the best," overlooking faults and failings...and we could go on.  Those of us who have mercy-showers in our lives are blessed beyond measure! How reflective is mercy of our merciful, loving Creator.  Even throughout the Old Testament, we read of God's tender mercies and loving-kindness toward the children of men.

But there was a "not so little thing" called God's Justice, that is, His holiness and righteousness, that hindered the full expression of His mercy and love to us sinful creatures.  That's where our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes in...His Person and His work released us from the just wrath of God against sin so Mercy could come flooding forth upon us.

No where do we see the what's and wherefore's of the mercy of our God better spelled out than in Hebrews, chapters 8 through 10.  There we see the provision God made over generations to show mercy to a stiff-necked people (a.k.a. you & me).

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens… Hebrews 8:1 NASB

As Ray Stedman has so clearly said:

On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took a cup of wine, passed it to his disciples and said: "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:27-28). With those words and that symbolic action, he borrowed the phrase used by Moses when he took the blood of an animal, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words" (Ex 24:8). The contrast was deliberate. Moses used the blood of an animal; Jesus used wine as a symbol of his own blood. Moses spoke of the covenant of the law; Jesus alluded to the new covenant of grace. Moses spoke of God's words which provided for the partial covering of sins so God could remain with his people; Jesus promised the actual remission of sins so God could live within his people forever. It is that excellent new covenant which chapters 8-10 of Hebrews...expounds.

Because of Who He is, Son of God and Man (Hebrews 1-7), what He has done carries infinite weight!  Let's look at what His work entailed according to these chapters in Hebrews:

I.  He is the Mediator of a  New Covenant (8:6-13; 9;17-22), “based on better promises.”

Compared to the Old Covenant (Law), The New Covenant is immeasurably more glorious!  No longer is it, "I do it; therefore God does it."  This was at the heart of the Law ("If you obey, I will bless you and be your God.").  Rather now in the New Covenant, it's all about, "God does it: therefore, I do it."

Isn't that the way, Jesus lived His life on earth?

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. John 5:19 ESV

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. John 8:28

For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. John 12:49

The New Covenant then is all about God and what He has done through the finished work of His Son.  And it's also about what He is now doing in His world, in and through His people.

But the problem is that the Old Covenant proved that we humans are not reliable vehicles of the divine life and ways.  So how can the change take place from the "I do it, so God blesses me" mentality to "God does it, and I'm His instrument?"  That's the beauty of the New Covenant provisions and promises.  Take a look at those amazing truths stated in our passage (Hebrews 8:6-13):

  1. The Law written on the heart (Heb 8:10; 10:10).  No longer are God's ways (the Law) written on tablets of stone (2Cor 3), but now they are written on human hearts.  And even that heart of ours has been changed.  Look at an important cross reference: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  Ezek 36:26-27 ESV Not only is the Law written on a new heart, but the Holy Spirit is united with our spirit.  He causes us to walk in God's ways...isn't that incredible?!  So now there is the truth united with desire and power!
  2. Intimacy with the Living God (Heb 8:10-11).  Jesus said that the heart of His zoe, eternal life, is that we know God! And this is eternal life [zoe], that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  John 17:3 Since we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, the resident Teacher, we know God! The Apostle John referred to this glorious truth in his first epistle: But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know... But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.   1John 2:20-27
  3. Complete Forgiveness of Sins (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).   And this is primary.  Until sin was permanently dealt with, God's justice and holiness "prevented Him" from uniting with His people.  But now the way is open...Why?  Because...

II.  He is the Minister in the  True Tabernacle (8:2-6; 9:1-14, 23-28). ...Jesus entered the True Tabernacle...the Holy of Holies of the throne room of heaven.   And what did He do there?

III.  He Himself is the Offering of a Perfect Sacrifice (10:1-18).

He offered HIMSELF!  He was the perfect, eternal sacrifice because of His perfect, indestructible life (Hebrews 7). He presented His perfect blood so that He could perfect for all time, those who are in the process of being sanctified while on this earth (10:10,14) It's a finished work that is a done deal forever.  It is totally true, perfectly and forever int the eternal realm.

But you may ask, "Why am I not experiencing this now?"  The answer is all about faith.  Just as we enter the New Covenant by faith in the finished work of the eternal Son of God, we also live by faith every day of our lives in this temporal realm (Col 2:6-7).  As we run our lap in the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1-4), we fix our eyes on the indwelling Christ.  We surrender to His indwelling, resurrection zoe Life.  Then we experience the glory of the New Covenant:  "God does it; therefore we do it!"  If we begin to live according to our own, even morally "good" way," we go back to OC living, expecting something of God in response to our "good works" (like a reward) or in addition to our "good works" (like help to do what I'VE determined to do).  Then we're back to, "We do it ; therefore God does it."

So let me ask you a question.  What would change for you if you took the risk to abandon yourself to the New Covenant, Indwelling, Risen Christ...ceasing from your own labors, self-effort, good works...and live in His Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:9-11)?

Freedom!  Joy!  Fruitfulness!  Rest!

Listen to how two brothers from the past describe this glorious life:

...The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you . . .” (Colossians 1:27). It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification— imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace...Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ to me. It is the gift of His patience, love, holiness, faith, purity, and godliness that is exhibited in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy— it is drawing from Jesus the very holiness that was exhibited in Him, and that He now exhibits in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is something altogether different. The perfection of everything is in Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfect qualities of Jesus are at my disposal. Consequently, I slowly but surely begin to live a life of inexpressible order, soundness, and holiness— “. . . kept by the power of God . . .” (1 Peter 1:5).    (Oswald Chambers)

If today I am patient, it is not I but He who lives in me who is patient. If today I love, it is not because I try my best to love, for the power of love is not in me.  But it is because there is One who loves in me. If today I forgive, it is not due to my generosity or effort or ability.  It is instead purely due to the One who lives in me and always forgives.  He is my forgiveness. If today I am humble, this does not happen because I remind myself how proud I am and that therefore I need to be humbled.  My humility does not come through suppressing my needs and then determining to be humble.  It is the Person (the Lamb) in me who is humble.  Since He is my humility, I therefore am humble.   (Watchman Nee)

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I love the imagery of this song.  Can't you just visualize our Father God "bursting forth" when Jesus cried from the Cross "Tetelestai/It is finished!/the sin debt, paid in full!" and breathed His last?  Usually we think of us finally being able to come into the throne room of God (Heb 4:16).  But here we see it from the opposite direction -- God "chomping at the bit" (I hope that's not irreverent) to get at us with His loving-kindness and tender mercy.  When the veil was rent, God came flooding out to the world of men.  Oh, embrace Him by faith today!

Mercy Came Running Phillips, Craig, & Dean

Once there was a holy place Evidence of God's embrace And I can almost see mercy's face Pressed against the veil Looking down with longing eyes Mercy must have realized That once His blood was sacrificed Freedom would prevail And as the sky grew dark And the earth began to shake With justice no longer in the way

Chorus: Mercy came running Like a prisoner set free Past all my failures to the point of my need When the sin that I carried Was all I could see And when I could not reach mercy Mercy came running to me Once there was a broken heart Way to human from the start And all the years left it torn apart Hopeless and afraid Walls I never meant to build Left this prisoner unfulfilled Freedom called but even still It seemed so far away I was bound by the chains From the wages of my sin Just when I felt like giving in

Repeat chorus

Sometimes I still feel so far So far from where I really should be He gently calls to my heart Just to remind me

Repeat chorus

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpodVp6LH8s[/youtube]

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Homework: Read Hebrews 10:19-39 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 199-200 Read chapter 7,  Hoping…

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Hebrews 8-10, Ray Stedman

Oswald Chambers, "Sanctification"