Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday, January 31st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 4-6
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 8:1-6

1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

Jesus is the superior priest.  His priesthood is superior because it is of a different order, the order of Melchizedek, prophesied from the Psalms to replace the old Aaronic priesthood.

Jesus is a priest forever, instead of being bound by time.
Jesus' priesthood was confirmed by an oath from God, making it an eternal confirmation, instead the temporary priesthood of Aaron's line.
Jesus' priesthood was founded on His personal greatness, not based simply on racial heredity.
The priesthood of Christ cannot be interrupted by death, unlike the priesthood of Aaron (whose death was made very public by God in order to underscore that fact).
Jesus only needed to offer one sacrifice, instead of sacrifice after endless sacrifice.
Jesus did not need to first offer a sacrifice for His own sins, because He was sinless.  Unlike the Aaronic priests who first needed to atone for their own sin, before they could intercede for the people.
With the old priesthood there was always a veil separating man from the Holy of Holies.  But with Jesus, we gain full access to God.
Jesus' priesthood saves to the uttermost, totally and forever.
And even though He is superior in every way to any other priest who has ever lived, He is still compassionate towards us.
THAT is our high priest.  "We do have such a high priest".

And then the amazing words "who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven".  What's so amazing about that?  The priest never, ever sat down.  Because his work was never finished. The only seat in the temple was the Mercy Seat, which represented the throne of God, and it would have been utterly blasphemous to sit there!
Until Jesus.
He. sat. down.
A sacrifice so final, a work so finished, that He sat down.  And He didn't just sit down anywhere. He sat down at the right hand of God (the right hand being a symbol of power), on the throne of heaven.

As a side note, in the Sanhedrin, the scribe who wrote the acquittals sat on the right side, and the scribe that wrote the condemnations.  Cool, eh?!

And Revelation 3:21 says that not only does Jesus sit on that throne, but that we who put our faith in Jesus, will sit there too!  On the throne of God - us! That's amazing!

And that was just verse 1.

Very quick thoughts on v2-6...
But even though His redemptive work is complete (symbolized by His sitting down), His ministry to us is not.  He continues to intercede on our behalf, giving our gifts (of praise, dedication, etc) to God through Him.  And He serves in heaven, the real temple or sanctuary of God.  He has a better ministry, serving in the better temple as a better mediator of a better covenant, founded on better promises.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 8:7-9
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 7-9

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday, January 30th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 1-3
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 7:26-28

26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever

Jesus is separate from sinners.

He is holy.  He is blameless.  He is pure.  He is exalted above the heavens. He remained completely untouched by the evil He encountered while on earth.   And because of this, He did not need to first offer a sacrifice for His owns sins before He could atone for ours.  He had no sin of His own to atone for.

And He didn't need to repeat the sacrifice over and over again either.

He was a perfect priest.

He was a perfect sacrifice.

He was a perfect priest offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice.

In order to save us to the uttermost, completely and forever redeeming us and granting us full access to God. Forever.  Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focusHebrews 8:1-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 4-6

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday, January 29th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 48-50
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 7:23-25

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

No previous priest was ever a permanent one - inevitably they experienced death and another priest took their place.

But Jesus is our permanent High Priest.  He will never die.  He will never need replacing.  He always lives to intercede for us.  Always!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 7:26-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Exodus 1-3

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday, January 28 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 46-47
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 7:18-22

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

What stuck out for me was that "law [makes] nothing perfect". I think our society's laws change to reflect the issues and problems of society and as new ones are created, the old ones are cast aside. Laws that are made by man are not perfect, there are loopholes and ways to get around what the law says. The fact that the laws of society can change reflect that imperfection.

I love that God is unchanging. He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. He is perfect. Jesus was the plan from the start. Jesus was not a change in the plan, Jesus was the plan.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday, January 27th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 43-45.
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 7:11-17.

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The law demanded access to God, it demanded perfection, but the law couldn't provide it.  The Levitical priesthood was not enough.  Full relationship with God, complete communion with God, was not possible through the Levitical priesthood.  If perfection could be achieved, in other words, if full relationship and communion with God could be achieved, through the Aaronic priesthood, there would have been no need for another one, for a better one.

But in Psalm 110 God declared that another priest would come, because the Levitical priesthood was not enough. And because it was not enough, this new priest could not be a Levitical priest from the order of Aaron, but rather a priest in the order of Melchizedek.  A Superior Priest - and Jesus, descended from Judah, was that Most High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek.

The old system was replaced with a new one.  There was no longer a need for the old system, the Aaronic priests and all the ceremonial laws that went with it.  (The moral laws still apply of course!)  They've been replaced by a new covenant, a new sacrifice, a new High Priest.  In order for us to achieve perfection, full communion with God, we need to come through Jesus.  Jesus is the door to God.  Jesus is the Way to relationship with God.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 7:18-22
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 46-47

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday, January 26 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 41-42.
Today's scripture focus is  Hebrews 7:1-10.

 1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Well, I don't know what to say.  I am thoroughly confused about this Melchizedek business.  There seem to be several different theories about who he was.  There are about 5 different spellings of the name, to boot.  Some believe this was a title, not a given name, and that it refers to Noah's son Shem.  Others believe that Melchizedek is a previous incarnation of Jesus.  Some think that he was an angel.  Still others believe it is referring to the King of Sodom by another title.  It's all very confusing and the commentaries are pretty daunting.  I certainly wasn't about to wade through it all in one afternoon.

There is a sermon by John MacArthur called Melchizedek: A Type of Christ that goes into detail of the hows and whys this reference to Melchizedek is included in the book of Hebrews.  The book is written to the Jews, right?  They have priests.  There are all kinds of rules about priesthood.

The priests had to be able to trace their genealogy back to Aaron, etc.  It was hereditary, and they were priests only to the Jews.  Now the Gospel is saying the Messiah is not ONLY for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well.  A Jewish priest cannot be a priest for the Gentiles.  So Jesus could not be a priest in the order of Levi or Aaron, or whatever the correct terminology is, because then salvation would still only be for the Jews.  There had to be another order, another "type" (as MacArthur puts it) for Jesus to belong to so that he could be the High Priest for ALL the people.

So Jehovah's not really the name of God. It's only that name which Israel came up with in an effort not to say Yahweh, and yet express who they wanted to express. So it's a combination word, Jehovah, and it deals strictly with Israel; and watch this. Aaron's priests were priests of Jehovah.

...but, watch this, it does not say that Melchizedek was the priest of Jehovah. It says he was the priest of what? The Most High God. Now, that is a universal name for God, El Elyon; and it reaches everywhere and everything in heaven and earth. It is the universal name of God that includes Jew and Gentile - far broader than the Jewish term Jehovah.
So whereas Aaron's priesthood related just to Israel, Melchizedek's was broader than that and related to all men. Now, when the Holy Spirit says Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, do you see the significance? The significance is this. Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but of the world; so it is very important to establish Melchizedek's priesthood as universal if you're going to say Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Pretty cool, huh?  There is a lot more information and detail in the sermon, if you'd like to read it for yourself.    Have a great day.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 7:11-17.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 43-45.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday, January 25th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 38-40
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:16-20

16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

God`s promises are trustworthy and never change because God is trustworthy and never changes.  He can never do something that will go against His character.  God is truth, therefore He cannot lie.  It is impossible.

Because God is truth, because God never changes and because God is completely trustworthy, we can trust in all His promises.  Our hope is completely secure when it is anchored in God.

Unlike the high priest who could only enter the Holy of Holies (the presence of God) for the briefest of times before escaping in fear for his very life, Jesus Christ, the perfect and greatest High Priest, not only entered into the presence of God, He sat down at His right hand (Hebrews 1:3).  He`s not going anywhere!  He is continually interceding on our behalf.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 7:1-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 41-42

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday, January 24th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 35-37
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:13-15

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Abraham waited 25 years from the time God first promised him a son until Isaac was finally born.  After 20 years (shoot, after 5 years!) I'd be pretty temped to think God forgot about His promise.

We need to stop thinking that God works on our timetable.

He is faithful.
He will fulfill His promises to us.
In His time, not ours.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 6:16-20
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 38-40

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, January 23rd

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 32-34
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:9-12

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

MacArthur's sermon on this passage was helpful to me once again.

The writer of Hebrews wrote this letter to a whole group - some of which were true believers, and some of which were not.  But we are not able to judge the heart.  The wheat and the tares grow together and only God knows for sure which ones are wheat.  So, the writer speaks to everyone, knowing that some are believers and some are not, but not knowing which is which.

And by this point the true believers are probably getting a bit nervous, thinking he's preaching to them.  And so now in v9 & 10 he says directly to the true believers - don't worry.  God knows that you are a true follower of Christ and He will not forget you.  Your work of love is the fruit of your belief.  You have faith, hope and love.

And then in v 11 & 12 he goes back to the unbelievers and challenges them to look at these true believers, to follow them, to mimic them, to pattern their lives after them.

Are we, as Christians, living our lives in such a way that the Holy Spirit could say that about us?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 6:13-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 35-37

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday, January 22nd

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 30-31
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:7-8

7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

According to MacArthur these verses illustrate the interpretation of the previous verses.

He's saying, "All those who hear the Gospel are like the earth, and the rain falls. The Gospel message comes. In the context of the Gospels, the seed is planted. The Word is heard; but sometimes it brings forth herbs, fit for them by whom it is tilled." In other words, good for use. Oh, and that is blessing from God. But other times, under the same message, same Gospel, same preachers, some bring forth...in verse 8..."thorns and briars, and are rejected, and they're near to cursing. Their end is to be burned." You see God's grace falls, but some men bring forth fruit. Others bring forth thorns.

May we bring forth fruit!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 6:9-12
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 32-34

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday, January 21st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 27-29
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:4-6

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

The book of Hebrews is a contrast between Christianity and Judaism.  It's an encouragement to those who have become Christians that they made the right choice.  It's a call to those standing at the edge, those who know all the information, but haven't yet made the commitment.  And it's giving information to those who have never heard it before.

According to MacArthur, this is how we need to view the entire book of Hebrews.  Always asking ourselves what is it that the writer is saying about the superiority of Christianity over Judaism.  He is not contrasting a new, baby Christian with a mature Christian.  He is contrasting an unsaved Jew in Judaism with a redeemed Jew in the new covenant.  The emphasis is the superiority of the new covenant over the old, the new mediator or great high priest, over the old, that Jesus is better than angels, that Jesus is better than Moses, better than Joshua, better than Aaron, better than Melchizedek, better than everyone.

In fact, MacArthur would disagree with our interpretations of our passages over the last few days.

Some have said that this is talking to Christians, and he's saying to Christians, "You shouldn't be immature Christians. You should be grownup Christians." That's a good principle. That's terrific principle. That's a Biblical principle. I don't think that's what being taught in Hebrews chapter 5. I think he's talking here to Jews who are intellectually convinced, but still hanging onto Judaism and, incidentally, folks, Judaism is the ABCs of the new covenant, is it not? And he is saying to them, "Come on to maturity in the new covenant." Now, I'm gonna try to defend that thesis, because it is a little foreign to most interpretations; but I think it's consistent. So we say then that the question is not a question of whether one's a baby Christian or a mature Christian. The issue is...is an evangelistic appeal. Come on to Christ. Come all the way. Many of these readers have professed to believe, but they're still hanging onto the patterns of Judaism. They wouldn't let go. They weren't saved, and they're in great danger, chapter 6 verse 4, of falling back and then finding it impossible to be renewed to salvation again. So when we're talking about maturity here, we're talking about the maturity of accepting Christ, you see, and coming into all the full-grown truths of the new covenant....

Now, lemme give you an overview of the passage very quickly. In 5:11 through 6:3, the Holy Spirit says, "Grow up from the...the ABCs of Judaism, and come all the way to maturity. Leave the milk of the Old Testament. Come to the solid food of the new covenant. Come to Christ. Leave Judaism." That's exactly what he's saying. Then in 6:4, he says, "If you don't, you're in serious danger of coming all the way up, hearing all of the truth, then falling away, and being lost forever." Because, my friends, if a man hears all the truth of Jesus Christ, considers it carefully, and walks away, he's hopeless. What else can God do once he's known the truth?

And, finally, in verse 9, he turns to Christians and says, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you and things which accompany salvation." And, at that point, he turns to Christians and lays on them the need to grow spiritually and to make sure they, too, don't fall back into old patterns. So the passage, then, is directed primarily as a warning to the unsaved. Now, someone is bound to ask me, "Do you think that the passage has anything to do with Christians?" Well, in an indirect sense, very definitely. If spiritual ignorance and fooling around with the ABCs is a serious problem for an unsaved person, how much more serious would it be for a Christian? How much more tragic for a Christian who never really grows up to fully understand the new covenant. But the direct issue is to the unsaved. Each warning in Hebrews is directed to the intellectually convinced who are on the edge of decision, but haven't yet responded to Christ. So we believe it to be a warning to them. (emphasis mine)

Sorry this got a little long, but I found that fascinating.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 6:7-8
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 30-31

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday, January 20th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 25-26.
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 6:1-3.

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

The basics of Christianity are essential for every Christian to understand. The importance of faith, that you cannot be saved by works, the meaning of baptism and spiritual gifts, and the facts about the resurrection and eternal life - are all basic teachings.  But we need to move beyond (not away) from those basic teachings and continue to learn and mature in the faith.

These particular Christians needed to move beyond the basics that they already knew from the OT, in order to understand Christ as the perfect high priest and the complete fulfillment to OT prophecies.

There is never room for stagnation in the Christian walk.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 6:4-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 27-29

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday, January 19 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 22-24.
Today's scripture focus is  Hebrews 5:11-14.

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Ouch.  Slow to learn.  Spiritual infants.  Sound familiar to anyone else?  I think, or hope, I've been moving from milk to solid food over the last couple of years.  I had a decent spiritual education during the first 18 years of my life, but for the following... oh, I won't say how many... not so great.  But in this case, I think slow to learn can also mean quick to forget, instead of just not knowing.  Or going over the same ground again and again and not moving forward and building on that foundation.  What do you think?

From Matthew Henry's commentary:  To be unskilful, denotes want of experience in the things of the gospel. Christian experience is a spiritual sense, taste, or relish of the goodness, sweetness, and excellence of the truths of the gospel. And no tongue can express the satisfaction which the soul receives, from a sense of Divine goodness, grace, and love to it in Christ.  (emphasis mine)

Can you imagine eating nothing but baby food your entire life and never moving on to taste a whole strawberry, or a crunchy Granny Smith apple, or whatever your other favourite foods are that babies don't eat?  You'd miss out on a lot.  I don't want to miss out on the mature, good, sweet and excellent truths of the gospel.  I want to continue to learn.  Anyone else?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 6:1-3.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 25-26.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 18th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 19-21
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 5:7-10

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:7-10

According to the first portion of chapter 5, the high priest had to be appointed by God, be human, be humanly sympathetic and offer sacrifices for men.  The Hebrews writer was showing the Jews that Jesus was the ultimate High Priest and that He fulfilled all these criteria.  In V6 we see evidence of God appointing Jesus as High Priest.  Jesus had to be incarnated in order to fulfill the human requirement.  And in our passage today we see that due to the suffering He experienced as a man, He is fully able to be sympathetic. Yet He was also perfect, which makes Him the only possible sacrifice for our sins.  He is both the Priest and the Sacrifice at the same time!

He learned obedience - this is not saying that He needed to conquer disobedience.  Rather it proves His humanity and that He experienced human suffering in the fullest. And it proves His righteousness and therefore worthiness as the perfect sacrifice.

All so that He could become our High Priest - so He could be the mediator between us and God - forever!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 5:11-14
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Genesis 22-24

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday, January 17th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 16-18
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 5:4-6

No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 5:4-6

Quoting Psalm 2:7 and 110:4, the writer shows us that God Himself appointed Jesus to be His Son as well as Priest.  Melchizedek was both King of Salem and priest of the Most High God during the time of Abraham.  Psalm 2 recognized the Son as King and Messiah as well.  Jesus is our ultimate King-Priest, called and appointed by God.

From my MacArthur commentary...
the two titles [Son, Priest] are titles of subordination - the subordination not being in regard to essence or nature (cf. John 10:30, 14:9, 11), but in regard to the fulfillment of the program of redemption. Neither office diminished the eternal deity of Christ or the equality of the Trinity.  Both offices had a beginning.

We have made subordination mean inequality and yet it is not always so - certainly not in this case!  Reminds me of submission as well. Submission does not mean inequality either.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 5:7-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 19-21

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday, January 16th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 12-15
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 5:1-3

Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 5:1-3

The position of high priest in the Levitical system was by appointment only - you could not appoint yourself.  When the priests offered sacrifices for his own sins, it reminds him of his own sinful humanity and keeps him humble, in order to deal compassionately towards others, especially those who were spiritually weak, ignorant or wayward.

The more we recognize God's holiness, the more we will recognize our own sinfulness and unworthiness.  As we study and grow in our faith, we will likely sin less - however, our sin will distress us more because we recognize how much God detests sin of any kind.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 5:4-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 16-18

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday, January 15th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 40-42
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

There's a lot packed into these 3 verses but I want to focus on the middle one.

I think we are quick to discount many of the things that Jesus did as being possible because He was God.  Obviously it is true that He was and is God, but He was also fully human.  He set aside His God-ness, so to speak, when He was born, and He faced temptation as a human, just as we do.  Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and armed with the Word of God He had memorized as a man schooled in the Jewish synagogues, He faced temptation and yet was without sin.

We have that same power available to us!  We have the very Word of God to study, to meditate on, to memorize, to rely on, to sustain us.  And we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us.  And because of this, Jesus called us to be like Him.  To be like our Rabbi.  And when we are like Him, we show the world who He is.

May we be like our Rabbi.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 5:1-3
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 12-15

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday, January 14 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 38-39
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 4:12-13

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

What a great reminder that the Bible is God's living and active message to us. It is as applicable now as it was when it was first written. I found this great insight about the application of God's word when He speaks:

"Then God speaks into us. It's the difference between hearing and listening. God's word becomes alive when hearts and minds open to the Spirit of God. God's word speaks into them – and we find that words that were just words come alive. How many times have you had that situation where you've looked at a passage of scripture and what were familiar words sometimes come alive and you know God is speaking to you personally through them?"

Then "There is this wonderful picture of the word of God being a double edged sword. It's a sword that can cut two ways. When God speaks into our lives, we can experience two extremes – judgement and blessing. But the other advantage of the Roman two-edged sword was that it was heavy – it could easily chop and enemy in two – not for the faint-hearted. It's the same when God speaks into our lives – He can cut right to the chase – He can get into the deepest part of our beings. If we are prepared, He can get right down to the very things in our lives that are stumbling blocks to us: those secret and hidden things – our thoughts and our attitudes. If you think that sounds bad; that you don't want to be reminded of all those things in your life ... – then remember that it's a two-edged sword. The challenge that God brings as He speaks to us also has blessing attached to it. As God deals with the deep things in our lives, He brings blessing too."

Nothing is hidden from God. Our thoughts. Our actions. Our words. Our attitudes. Nothing. It's amazing that this is passage was on my day (....speaking of God's word being living and active, lol!...) because I am dealing with a situation with my Mom and Dad and this reminder about everything being uncovered and that I need to give an account for my life before God directs my thoughts to what God will ask of me about this situation. Now it is my job to not just hear it but to listen as well.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 4:14-16

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 40-42

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday, January 13th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 35-37.
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 4:6-11

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:6-11

After reading this passage and the study  notes from my Life Application Bible and MacArthur commentary, a few things jumped out at me.

First - simply the meaning of the passage....
God gave the Israelite the opportunity to enter the Promised Land, but they failed to receive this because of disobedience.

Even after they entered the Promised Land with Joshua, even in David's time (Psalm 95:7-11), God continued to offer spiritual rest.

And even now, God is giving everyone the opportunity for spiritual rest and inviting everyone to enter the eternal promised land of heaven through Christ - we must trust in God's promise, believe, repent and place God on the throne of our hearts and lives.  We need to stop thinking we know a better way!  That we can work for it, that we can earn it, or that we don't need it, or at least that we don't need it yet - maybe tomorrow.  No!  Today!!  The invitation is combined with urgency and obedience - do not delay!

As Christians we can enjoy God's rest and peace on earth already (though it is imperfect and incomplete) as we look forward to entering His perfect rest and peace for eternity to come.

One point I appreciated from my study notes - often we work really hard the week before a vacation in order to tie up loose ends so we can relax. When we know rest is coming we put extra effort into our work. The same should be true of our Christian life here on earth.  We know our eternal rest is coming, so let's work hard for God here while we can!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 4:12-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 38-39

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday, January 12th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 32-34.
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 4:1-5.

1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
   “So I declared on oath in my anger,
   ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
   And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

To all of us busy, busy people, doesn't "enter my rest" sound fabulous?  I know for myself there are days where I just want a rest.  A break.  Because even when I'm not actually doing physical work, I'm planning, or mentally going over my to-do-tomorrow list, or to-do-next-week list.

I've started a while ago reserving Sundays for church and family, and since doing that, I find that I feel better about my whole week.  I still prepare meals and clean up after them on Sundays, and I am involved in children's activities at church, so it's not a day where I don't do any work, necessarily, but I generally don't plan or schedule anything for Sundays.  It makes Sunday, for me, more of a day to look forward to, and I find it refreshes me for the coming week.  How do you keep the Sabbath?

I like what Matthew Henry had to say on the above verses:
As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so he will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. It is evident, that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day, or that into which Joshua led the Jews. This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires. The rest, or sabbatism, which is the subject of the apostle's reasoning, and as to which he concludes that it remains to be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven. 

God really is good to us, isn't he?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 4:6-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Job 35-37.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday, January 11th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 29-31
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 3:16-19

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:16-19

The Israelites failed to enter the promised land because they didn't believe in God's protection and ability to help them conquer the giants of the land.  They sinned due to their unbelief.

What are you not believing God for today?
How I am sinning due to unbelief?

God has always been faithful and trustworthy.  He has never given us a reason for unbelief.  Don't rely on your own faulty, human knowledge and understanding. Rely on our God who knows everything and trust in His promises.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 4:1-5
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 32-34

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday, January 10th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 24-28
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 3:12-15

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:12-15

There's a few tips in here about remaining faithful.

One is to recognize sin's deceitfulness - it can be attractive, but it is destructive.

Another is to encourage each other.  Fellowship with other believers is vitally important for our own walk, and to encourage others in their walk.

And again, the urgency of "today".  It never pays to put off strengthening our spiritual lives.  There is no better moment to start then today, this very moment.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 3:16-19
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 29-31

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday, January 9th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 21-23
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 3:7-11

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” Hebrews 3:7-11

No matter how many miracles God performed, no matter how faithful He was, the Israelites hardened their hearts over and over again.  And so they missed out on the Promised Land.  If we resist God's will over and over again, we will eventually harden our hearts and miss out on the rest God wants for us - spiritual rest in this lifetime, and eternity to come.

One thing that stood out to me was "Today".  Today!  Recognize God's voice, resist the hardening of your heart - today!  Now is the time.  We do not know when Christ will return.  And we do not know at what point our continual bad choices will result in the hardening of our hearts.  Our opportunity to repent is now...today!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 3:12-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 24-28

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday, January 8th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 17-20
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 3:1-6

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. Hebrews 3:1-6

Moses was truly a great man.  He led the Israelites from Egyptian bondage to the edge of the Promised Land, he was given the law by God, he wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, he was a prophet, he was a prayer warrior who interceded on the people's behalf so God would not destroy them.

But Moses was still only a human servant.

Jesus is more than just human. He is also God himself.  And He is the One on whom our faith rests, giving us the courage and hope to live out our faith daily.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 3:7-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 21-23