Putting God's Word into Practice…

Hebrews 10:1-19 ~ If God is Good….

If God is good, why would he let His own Son die?  Sometimes we question God like this about our own suffering; like He can’t possibly understand or mean to let us suffer, like He’s made a mistake somehow.  Suffering is never a mistake or a waste in the hands of God.  When He allows suffering, there is always a purpose.  When He watched His Son die on the cross, we were the purpose!  And Jesus, He didn’t get mad or question His Father.  In fact in Hebrews 12 it says of Jesus, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”

God’s goodness and love for you and me made it necessary for Jesus to be broken, beaten, and nailed to a cross.  God knows that we are all sinners, born that way–rebellious and selfish–separated from Him.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  Jesus shed His blood once for all people for all time.

God wrote His law on our hearts and minds; therefore, it is our hearts and minds where the law is broken.  Sin runs deep–our sinful actions and speech are an outflow of our sinful hearts and minds.  Nothing can cleanse the inner man except the blood of Christ.  His perfect sacrifice can purify our hearts and minds, sanctifying us–setting us apart as holy to God.

It was God’s will that Christ should die–His good, acceptable and perfect will.

“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”   And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.  Hebrews 10:17-18

Freedom, joy, forgiveness, and peace are ours only through the sacrifice of Jesus.

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Hebrews 9 ~ Eager Longing

I love spring cleaning!  Although throughout the year I try to maintain surface cleanliness, there is nothing like the clean feeling once a year from deep, thorough, every crack and crevice cleaning!  That is kind of how the old system of sacrifices were set up.  The priests offered daily sacrifices on behalf of the people, but one day a year, the priest prepared himself to go into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for all sin–especially unintentional ones.

Then along came Jesus!  He was a perfect–completely perfect in every way–priest who offered His own life once and for all as the perfect sacrifice to thoroughly clean away the sin of all mankind.  His death on the cross–the blood He shed–secured eternal redemption, purified us into our deepest conscience, forgave every sin, and provided us with an eternal inheritance!  Just like in an earthly will, the inheritance can only be passed on at death.  Jesus’ last will and testament was for us to inherit His righteousness upon His death.  His death brought us so many good things, and His life brings us even more!

If you were prosecuted for a crime and found guilty.  Then someone came along and took your punishment and paid your fines/fees.  Wouldn’t you want to know and see them?

If you were taken from your family and someone had to pay a ransom to your kidnappers to get you back, wouldn’t you anticipate when they came for you to take you safely home?

This chapter ends with this:  “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting FOR HIM.”

After all Jesus has done for me–the freedom and forgiveness He bought with His own blood–why would I long eagerly for anything/anyone else?  I need not long for the redemption of my mortal body; or long to be in a place where there is no sin, sadness and death; or yearn to see the loved ones who have gone on before me.  My eager longing should be to see the One who purchased my salvation face-to-face!

Lord, let all else melt away except the surpassing joy of seeing you someday–looking into your eyes, touching your nail-scarred hands, hearing your voice, and seeing you smile.

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Hebrews 8:8-13 ~ Better Promises!

So far in these last few sections of Scripture we have seen the phrases: better hope, better covenant, and better promises.  This is all because Jesus came and offered Himself as a better sacrifice–a perfect sacrifice!

As soon as sin entered the world, sacrifices became necessary.  Even in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned, God had to kill an animal (or 2) to make suitable coverings for their shame.  The result of sin is death, life is in the blood–therefore, shed blood is the only remission for sin (Leviticus 17:11).  God gave the law for His people to recognize sin.  God instituted priests to make atonement for their own sins and then on behalf of the people’s sins.  The shortcomings of man and priest (both fell away from God’s plan) pointed to the fact that imperfection could only be replaced by perfection.  [Enter scene: Jesus]

When Christ came and gave His life as the final perfect sacrifice everything changed!

  • Priests no longer needed to mediate between God and man.
  • Lambs no longer needed to be slaughtered to atone for sin.
  • The penalty for all sin had been paid by the blood of Jesus.
  • The presence of God could be freely and boldly experienced by all.
  • All people can know the Lord personally–He shows no favoritism.
  • His mercy triumphs over all our sin.
  • All of our sin is forgotten by God.

None of these promises is contingent on our behavior.  God said, “I will,” four times in verses 10-12, not “If you…, I will.”  When God makes an unconditional promise, you can be sure that it will be fulfilled.  The better sacrifice, better covenant, better promises, better hope seal us in righteousness forever!

Only because of Jesus, is it possible for us to know God and have our sins forgiven.  

Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice–for dying on the cross for my sins.  Thank you for having victory and power over sin and death.  Thank you that because You are alive, I have new life!  Eternal life!  Thank you for making me clean and blameless.  Thank you not only for forgiving my sins, but forgetting them too.  They are grievous and many.  Thank you for your promises and for giving me hope!  You are too good!  All honor, glory, power, might, wisdom, wealth, and blessing be unto Your name!

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No Juice! (A Lesson in Hypocrisy)

I read somewhere that juice had little nutritional value and was primarily filled with teeth-rotting sugar.  From that point on I removed all traces of juice from my home and future grocery lists.  My kids would never drink juice again!  From now on they could have a piece of fruit and water…

To wash down their Marshmallow Cocoa Crunch cereal!

When we forget that our righteousness comes from Christ alone, I think we find ourselves in this scenario far too often.  I don’t watch “those” movies, but I….  I don’t drink that, but I…  I don’t eat that, but I…  I would never say that, but I….  Being a follower of Christ, is not the same thing as being a follower of rules.  Saying we follow Christ, and then following other people or things is hypocrisy, and we are all guilty on some levels.  Only Christ’s righteousness can cover our sin of self-righteousness.  Oh, how desperately we need Him!

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Hebrews 8:1-7 Copies and Shadows

I’m hoping that this blog that will lay some framework for chapters to come.  One of the most fascinating studies I’ve done about the tabernacle (temple) was by Kay Arthur/Bob and Diane Vereen called Living a Life of True Worship.  I recommend it if you want to know more and see how this personally applies to us today!

They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. (Hebrews 8:5) The author was referring to the ministry of priests, blood sacrifices, and the traveling tabernacle constructed under the supervision of Moses. When I think of copies and shadows, I think of photo copies and shadow puppets.  They are pretty direct images, but not the real thing.  They may have some impurities, imperfections and hints of darkness.  However, they do point us to an original that is perfectly pure and holy–in this case Christ and Heaven!


  • To enter the tabernacle, there was only one gate.  In John 10:9 and 14:6 Jesus says that He is the gate and the only way to the Father.
  • The next furnishing was the bronze alter where sin was atoned for by the blood of a sacrificial lamb.  It is impossible to draw near to God with sin in our lives.  John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
  • The bronze wash basin comes next.  It is a sign of clean hands–sanctificiation.  In Psalm 24 we are told that only those with clean hands and a pure heart can enter the presence of God.  In Ephesians 5:25-26, it says that Jesus washes us with the water of the Word to present us in splendor as holy, pure and blameless.
  • Next the priest would travel through the door into the Holy Place.  John 10:2 says that the one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  Jesus is the Great Shepherd, and He is also the door.  All things are accomplished by and through Him.
  • Inside the Holy Place are three furnishing.  The first is the Table of Shewbread–or the Bread of the Presence.  Bread has to be continually offered on this table.  In John 6:35, 48-51, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life.
  • The second furnishing is the golden lampstand-or Menorah–which had to be perpetually burning.  It was the only source of light in the tabernacle.  In John 1:9 and John 8:12 we learn that Jesus is the Light of the World, and in Revelation 22:5 we see that there will be no need for the sun because Jesus will be our perpetual Light!
  • The final furnishing in the Holy Place was the alter of incense which also must constantly burn.  When we look at the true, original tabernacle in Heaven in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, we see that this incense is actually the prayers of the saints that rise before the throne of God–where Jesus is always making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
  • A veil separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place where the glorious presence of God dwells.  It offered protection from the holiness of God to the earthly priests who ministered there. In Hebrews 10:19-20 we will learn that the veil represents the flesh of Jesus.  Matthew 27:51 tells us that when Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished!” and breathed His final breath, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom almost as if heavenly hands ripped it open, saying that the way to the Father was open to all who would draw near through the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • The only furnishing in the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant covered by the Mercy Seat.  Once a year a priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement on behalf of the people, but when Jesus died, His blood offered atonement for humanity once and for all.  Therefore we can boldly and confidently draw near to the presence of God by the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

If you were to take a marker, you could draw two lines through the furnishings of the earthly tabernacle and it would make a perfect cross!

Only by Jesus can we be made holy, be reconciled to the Father, and draw near to Him.  Christ’s priestly ministry is much more excellent–He is a better mediator and holds a better promise, a better covenant, and a better hope.

All of history pointed to Jesus.  Every promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus.  Redemption and reconciliation are the very heart of God!  He wants us to draw near.  He made a way for us to draw near.  We can draw near to Him with confidence because of Jesus Christ.  He is the only way, truth and life!

The word tabernacle actually means, “to dwell.”  It is a word picture of God’s glory being in the midst of His people.  The first tabernacle was constructed during the wilderness experience with the Israelites.  Then John 1:14 says of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we have seen his GLORY, GLORY as the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.”  The true tabernacle is in heaven where Jesus is now. In the meantime on earth, 1 Corinthians 3:16, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 say that we as followers of Jesus Christ are the temple of the Holy Spirit–the place where He dwells and shows His glory!

How is my life showing the power and glory of God to the world?  Is there anything that is casting a shadow on His glory in my life?

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True Woman | True Woman 14: It’s a Go! (Plus a Ticket Giveaway)

True Woman | True Woman ’14: It’s a Go! (Plus a Ticket Giveaway)

I first attended this event in 2008, and besides my salvation, marriage, and motherhood-it gave me the most real, lasting change in my heart and character.  In 2010, our church sent 15 women, and each came back visibly different.  In 2012, nearly 30 women from our church made the time to attend and each one was blessed!  Please get your sisters together and go to Indianapolis in Oct. 2014!  You won’t regret it or experience any other women’s conference like it!

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Hebrews 7 ~ The Word is Living and Active

I’ve been studying this chapter for 3 days trying to make it personal and pouring over the phrases that have stood out to me the most.  

This chapter starts out with a more thorough reference to the King and High Priest of Salem, Melchizedek, who is compared to Jesus.  Melchizedek means Righteousness, and Salem means peace.  In Genesis, Melchizedek bursts onto the scene for a short while and then we don’t hear anymore about him.  He not only was king, but also a priest on behalf of his people–receiving tithes, giving blessings, and offering sacrifices on behalf of sinners.  He was a foreshadowing of a greater King of Righteousness and Peace and a Great High Priest of all people for all time who would burst onto the scene on earth, live a short life, make Himself a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and be raised to life everlasting! 

The trouble with earthly priests is that they can never obtain perfection for others or attain perfection themselves.  They could only get people so close to God.  We needed a new priest and a better hope of drawing near to God.  Former priests (and current priests) die because they are human and enslaved by the curse of sin, which is death.  Jesus is a priest forever because He took our sin and died for it, yet He lives–conquering sin and death forever.

The Word is Living!  Jesus alone saves completely.  His death allows us to draw near to God through Him.  We can boldly go before the throne of God to find mercy, grace and help (Hebrews 4:16).  He lives so we can be near to the Father.  He doesn’t just live–verse 16 says He has the “power of an indestructible life;” verse 24 says He “continues forever;” and verse 25 says He “always lives.” Therefore, we are always welcome before God!  We are saved completely and eternally.

The Word is Active!  I can remember being in Gatlinburg one time and seeing a T-shirt shop–well maybe 100 T-shirt shops–but one in particular.  The front window was filled with T-shirts that said, “I live for…” baseball, cheerleading, fishing, bowling, etc…  If Jesus had a t-shirt like that it would say, “I live for intercession!”  Interceding for His followers before His Father is constantly on His mind and mouth.  Jesus prays for us!  And the Bible promises that whatever He asks His Father, His Father gives Him.  And we can trust that whatever Jesus asks the Father on our behalf is what is perfect and right and good for us!

Random thoughts:  

  • The word “better” is in this chapter two times and both are linked to Jesus (better hope, better covenant).  Everything about Jesus is better than what we are offered on earth.  Who doesn’t want “better?” Why do we settle for less?
  • “Draw near to God” is mentioned two times as well.  In both cases, we are the ones who desire to draw near to God. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  Jesus is the only way to draw near to God.  If we try to draw near to God through any other means, we will never find Him.
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Hebrews 6:9-12 ~ Earnestness

As I was shutting my Bible yesterday, the phrase in verse 12, “so that you may not be sluggish,” caught my eye.  So I wanted to commit my study time today to the context of the word-sluggish–since this is the only place that it is found in the whole Bible.

Though we speak in this way, (regarding dull hearing, the immaturity of laying only a foundation, and also the ability to fall away from the Lord when one’s foundation is missing the Cornerstone of Jesus.) yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire EACH ONE OF YOU to show the SAME EARNESTNESS to have the full assurance of hope until the end, SO THAT YOU MAY NOT BE SLUGGISH, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:9-12

Sluggish: slow in moving, inactive, lacking energy or alertness, slow to make progress, lazy, idle, stagnant.

Sluggish is an interesting word to use in describing a Christian’s life.  Many times we are told in Scripture that life is a race–the opposite of sluggish.  At least three times we are told to stay alert–again the opposite of sluggish.  In the most recent verses in this letter, the author wrote that the Christian life is one of progress and maturity; building on a foundation–once again the opposite of sluggish.  And finally in verse 9-10, the conclusion is drawn that true salvation results in faith-motivated work and love-driven service–the opposite of sluggish.

Sluggishness in the Christian’s life is a sign of waning love for the name of the Lord.  When I read the word sluggish, I immediately think of a clogged drain.  What slows down, halts or backs up the flow of love, works, and service?  Here’s some I’ve recognized even today in my own heart.

  • selfishness
  • prideful/critical spirit
  • anxiety
  • bitterness
  • impatience
  • forgetful about my future hope
  • busy with my own agenda
  • unforgiving toward others

We see the opposite of being sluggish as earnestness in verse 11.  Earnestness can be defined as sincere and intense conviction, commitment, dedication, zeal, passion, wholeheartedness, and fervor.  Is that how I define my love for the Lord and my service to His people?  If not, then there is a clog in my pipe somewhere that needs to be dealt with.

Or to use the metaphor from earlier in chapter six, earnestness in love, works and service is the construction that happens on the foundation of salvation.  It is proof of understanding repentance, grace and forgiveness.  It is a sign of maturity.  Earnestness displays eternal hope and confidence in the gospel.  It is a heart that presses on in faith and patience.

Christians united in earnestness have great power to build something amazing!  I pray that we would pursue earnestness–wholehearted passion–in our love for the Lord and service to each other.  We have a hope and promises that can’t be shaken–that is the “General Contractor” for our earthly lives.

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Hebrews 6:11-20 ~ Anchor of Hope

Hebrews 6:10-20.  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of HOPE until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”  And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise (If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29) the unchangeable character of his purpose he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled (to God) for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the HOPE set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a HOPE that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Hope: confident expectation for a certain thing to happen

Promise: declaration or guarantee that a particular event will happen

One of the many blessings of knowing God’s full Word is seeing His promises fulfilled throughout thousands of years.  That gives us a confidence that what hasn’t yet been fulfilled will one day be fulfilled.  We can use the examples of others who received their promises from God to boost our hope.  Abraham was one such man.  For 25 years (from age 75-100) Abraham waited patiently–not perfectly–for God to give him a promised son who would be the start of descendants too numerous to count.  Abraham didn’t just have patience, he had faith! God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.  Righteousness covers all the mistakes he made along the wait.

Abraham’s life shows us the great, unchangeable character of God.  He is faithful to accomplish every purpose and plan in spite of our mistakes.  He keeps every promise in order to keep His Word.  He will never lie and He will never change.  All His Words are steadfast and sure.

God promised the world that if we would put our hope and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, that we would be saved; we would have victory over sin and death; and that we would spend eternity in His presence without shame.  We must run to God and hold fast to this hope and promise.  The author calls this promise and hope a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”

Anchor of the soul! What a beautiful picture!  I grew up around boats thanks to my uncles and can remember being fascinated by the anchor.  Anchors give a sense of joy, freedom, peace and confidence.  Anchors keep us from drifting off course.  They can be put down for a day of fishing (productivity), or an afternoon of swimming (pleasure); or a night of sleep (rest).  One hundred percent of our time can be categorized by either productivity, pleasure or rest.  Therefore, the anchor of our soul–hope–is necessary for every part of life.

  • Am I anchored to the hope that I will be in the presence of God for eternity?
  • Are there any ways that I have pulled anchor and started to drift in my life?  Maybe by putting my hope in other things? Or becoming impatient?
  • Do God’s promises fill me with peace, confidence, joy and freedom?
  • Do I live the belief that God’s Word, His promises, His purposes and His character will always be fulfilled and are unchangeable?
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Hebrews 6:4-12 ~ True Salvation

I have been afraid studying this passage, but in the end it has given me much hope and a good reminder of my own story of faith!

The heading for Hebrews 5:11-6:12 says “Warning Against Apostasy.”  Honestly, I had to look the word up: it means abandoning beliefs.  So far we have been warned of letting our hearing become dull and never moving past the foundation of faith.  Both of these things lead to falling away from, or abandoning, beliefs.  To lay the groundwork, I’d like to suggest that beliefs are not the same as saving faith.  Belief is accepting something as true.  In James 2:19 it says (my paraphrase), “So you believe in God.  Good, even the demons believe in God, and shudder.”  Faith is complete trust and confidence in God.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” the writer of Hebrews states in 11:6.  Those who become dull and fall away from God, may have believed truth, but never moved to faith in God.

Hebrews 6:4-6.  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once  been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

True salvation can never be lost–but salvation must be tested to see if it is genuine.  Does my life prove that God is at work in me changing me and transforming me to look more like Him?  Am I really “saved” or playing “Christian?”  I asked myself these questions almost 14 years ago, and my answers were “no” and “playing.”  The list given in verses 4-5 give evidence to the foundation talked about in verses 1-2.  We can experience baptism, communion, presence and power of the Holy Spirit, church life and Bible studies; and not be truly saved.  If we experience everything about Christianity, but don’t have the cornerstone of repentance and faith in God even our foundation is worthless.  Lives that are lived without repentance are lived as if Jesus is still dead on the cross, not alive and active.  People like that tarnish the reputation of Jesus Christ and give Christians the name, “Hypocrite!”

If you have repented and turned to God once, it is impossible to need to be led there again and thus lay again the cornerstone of foundation.  There only needs to be one cornerstone! If one has tasted the blessing of the Christian life but never repented, they can still be led to repentance.

My parents started following the Lord when I was about two years old.  I was baptized at age five because of belief and fear of going to Hell.  I attended Christian elementary school and memorized great songs and whole chapters of the Bible.  I was baptized again when I was 11 for membership into a different church.  I served in the youth group, taught Sunday school and even started a student led Bible study in my public high school.  I believed truth about God, Jesus and salvation.  I started falling away from those beliefs in high school and by college had completely abandoned the lifestyle that I had learned.  After I got married, I began going back to church, started reading my Bible again and even teaching Sunday school.  Shortly after when my first son was four months old, I questioned my salvation like I stated earlier and came to the realization that I was never truly saved.  All the blocks were in place, except the Cornerstone!  On October 31, 1999, God led me to put my full confidence in Jesus Christ by faith, to repent of my sins and turn my life over to God.   Several weeks later I was baptized for the last time, and I didn’t just experience the peripheral blessings of the Holy Spirit, but I had His presence inside of me personally.  My ears were opened and I began to grow and change; life has never been the same!

Hebrews 6:7-8.  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”

One way that we can test the validity of our salvation is gaging how we respond to the teaching of God’s Word.  This reminds me of the parable of the soils and seeds in Matthew 13.  Poor heart soil will cause the Word of God to run off with no penetration resulting in dry, dull soil that is filled with rocks and thorns and thistles (trials, persecution, anxiety and deceitfulness of riches).  The Word of God is rendered worthless in the life of those whose hearing is dull!  Good soil of the heart drinks in the refreshing, life-giving rain of God’s Word.  Do we love to hear God’s Word?  Does it refresh us?  Does it bless us and make us useful?

Hebrews 6:10-12.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

We can also test our salvation by the “fruit” that is produced in our lives.  Faith that leads to action/works is alive (James 2:14-26)!  Love that is shown through serving others demonstrates that we have God inside of us (1 John 4:7-12)!  The hope and assurance of true salvation perseveres to the end–giving up and falling away are not even an option!

I pray that if this puts any doubts in your heart, that you will simply repent and turn to God, put your faith in Jesus Christ and let His life-giving Word rain on you causing you to grow, be blessed and have usefulness through love and good works.

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