Are you listening?

Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 1:1-6, 14; 2:1-4 (day six)
“But in these last days He (God) has spoken to us in His Son. ..We (therefore) must pay more careful attention.”  (v. 1:2, 2:1)  Have you ever seen a small child (thinking that her Dad is not listening to her) take his face in her hands and hold it toward her?  In Hebrews 2, the Bible uses a similar picture.  The Greek word for pay attention means, literally, “to hold toward”.  In this case the responsibility is ours.  We are to “hold our face toward God”, not rushing away from a Quiet Time before we hear what the Spirit is saying.  Most spiritual weakness these days is a function of haste.  Insufficient time and attention is paid to God.  Do we wonder why His promises seem so far away?  At the transfiguration (Matthew 17), God the Father gives similar instruction.  “This is my beloved Son. . .  Listen to Him!”  Do you have His perspective/His wisdom?  Are you listening?

Powerful Words

Re: Verse reading – Hebrews 1:1-2:4 (day 5)
“He has spoken to us by His Son” (1:2). Words are powerful. His “I’m proud of you, son” anchored my heart against the tumult of difficulty and failure. Her “yes” to my marriage proposal hurled me into a whole new way of life. His “welcome home” opened a wide door of ministry in a new city. His “can I pray, Dad?” gave me a glimpse of the lifetime that is at stake in quiet moments we share as a family. Words are powerful. They shape identity, define relationships, propel progress and create hope. If words spoken between two human beings can carry this life-shaping power, how much more is contained in the Word of the Infinite, Mysterious Divine One? “We must therefore pay even more attention to what we have heard…” (2:1). “Even more attention” seems to be a bit of an understatement! If the Divine has indeed spoken, then we must pay the utmost attention to that Word.

Facing Life With Faith

Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 1:1-6,14; 2:1-4 (day four)
We begin a new study this week…the book of Hebrews.  Our theme for the quarter is “Facing Life With Faith.”  Hebrews is the place to find answers on how to do that.  Just the first four verses give you a hint of what is to come.  Look at the descriptive phrases about Jesus in these four verses:  God’s Son, Agent of Creation, Heir of all things, Radiance of His glory, Exact Representation of His nature, Powerful Word, Purified our sins, Seated at the Father’s right hand, Much better than the angels, More excellent name, and God’s present spokesman!  To acknowledge these attributes demands a response on our part to them.  How do we respond to Jesus?  That is the question every one of us must answer.  How we answer will have eternal consequences.  Eternal is a long time.  Who is Jesus?  Why did He come?  How am I to respond to Him? 


Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 1 and 2 (day three)
“But in these days he has spoken to us by his Son.”  A friend of mine puts it this way: Jesus Christ is the last word of God.  That is not to say, of course, that God communicates nothing more.  It is to say that there is no fuller expression of God than Jesus.  We pay close attention to last words that people utter.  We figure that if people have only a short time left to say anything, they won’t waste words, but say what really matters to them.  God is certainly not on his deathbed–though many have attempted to write his obituary–but his final word on his identity is his Son.  Do you want to know God?  Get to know Christ.  Go to the Bible.  Find Jesus.  You will see God

Pay Attention

Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 1:1-6,14; 2:1-4 (day two)
I love figuring things out.  It drives my wife crazy, because I expect everyone to think like I do.  It’s particularly challenging for her during movies when I lean over and offer my thoughts on the outcome.  (I’m a work in progress.)  The writer of Hebrews, however, thinks like me….at least in regards to our Faith journey.  The context clues of our Creator lie all around us.  We are all called to salvation and the Lord has provided such excellent witnesses for us; think of scripture, the wisdom of our godly elders, the Holy Spirit, and the marvel of creation.  Take a minute to get your head up, look around and pay attention.  The Lord has something to say to you today!

I don’t care!

Re: Verse reading–Hebrews 1:1-6,14; 2:1-4 (day one–New Study!)
Did you ever see the old movie “The Fugitive”?  Harrison Ford shouts, “I didn’t kill my wife!”  Tommy Lee Jones says, “I don’t care!”  The writer of Hebrews imagines a similar conversation going on between men and God.  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (v 2:3)  The word for neglect is ameleo.  Melo meant “to care, to be concerned.”  A/meleo meant “not to care”.  Most people don’t set out to deny God.  They usually have no conscious intent to offend His law or challenge His authority.  They just neglect the opportunities.  They just ignore the voice/call of God.  They keep their distance from God.  Dangerous mistake!  To whom much is given, much is required.  The GREAT salvation offered in Jesus Christ puts all of us under heavy responsibility and great danger.  How will we escape judgement if our answer to His amazing love is,  “I don’t care!”

Set menu

RE Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day seven)  “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?”  (v 12)  Have you been to one of those wok restaurants?  You decide the ingredients and they stir-fry it up for you?  Christianity is NOT like that.  Not even a little.  What we believe, what we teach is not subject to individual change or personal preference.  Jude calls it “the faith once delivered.”  Paul expresses the same idea.  “How is it,” he asks with disbelief, “that you have the brashness to call yourself a believer and yet deny the proclamation of the apostles and church?”  It is a bitter pill for moderns to swallow.  The message is fixed and for all time.  We are not free to omit the parts We don’t like.  “How FIRM a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word.”

Knowing Who not how

RE Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day six)  “Behold, I tell you a mystery;. . . we will all be changed. . . in the twinkling of an eye. . .the last trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable.”  (v 51-52)  Mystery is the Bible’s word for something we know via the revelation of God.  We know because He has promised, not because we can imagine it or figure out how it works.  Resurrection is one example.  Will we be young?  Will we look like ourselves?  Will our friends recognize us? (I believe the answer is “yes”.  When Moses returns in the transfiguration story, he is immediately recognized–see Matthew 18)  What we don’t want to do is limit our confidence in this promise simply because it is beyond our imagination or logic.  We trust the promise because we trust the Promiser.  “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

The facts of our faith

RE Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day five)  “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that he was raised on the third day.”  (v 3-4)  Good reminder.  Christianity is not, first, an organized church, nor a theology, nor a moral system.  It is first a set of facts.  A report that God has acted in the world in a particular way with a particular meaning.  1)Christ died.  For our sins.  He was a substitute.  “By His stripes we are healed”.  2)He was buried.  His death was real.  Not a swoon.  3)Christ was raised.  Part of God’s character and activity is supernatural, super-scientific, miraculous.  God is above the laws of nature because He created them.  4)All as scripture predicted.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.”  Christians believe/report these facts.  Faith in them gives LIFE.  Always has.


Re: Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (Day Five)
“I passed on to you as most important what I also received…” It was my parents and a 5th grade Sunday school teacher, a soccer coach and “Brother John,” not to mention pastors, friends and even books. I didn’t arrive at a living and active faith all by myself. My faith rests first on the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in me through the gospel and second on the countless followers of Jesus who “passed on” to me what they had “received.” It is a strong foundation on which to stand. Likewise, my ministry rests on the gospel and the churches that have trained and trusted me. I owe to them the “debt of love” that can never be repaid (Romans 13:8). It’s a humility required by the gospel to say, “I received” rather than “I built.” It’s a humility required of us as we remember that someone else sacrificed and served so that we could be here today. It’s a humility that drives us to ask, “Am I sacrificing and serving enough so that someone else can receive?” Thank you Seaside, South Oaks and FBC San Antonio for sacrificing and serving so that I could “receive.” I’m praying for you, Columbus Avenue, that God will “renew your strength” (Isaiah 40:31) as you faithfully carry the legacy of sacrifice and service you have received.