Hebrews 12: 18 – 29

May 18, 2022

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

29 For our God is a consuming fire.

While I certainly appreciate the exhortation in the above verses, I never think of the bad things that will happen if I turn my back on Jesus. It is far greater, in my mind, to simply live in trust and joy in all that He has done for us – all the promises He has kept and will keep in time to come. I don’t need the whip to appreciate the carrot, so to speak

In Jesus are all the answers, all the promises, all that the Father gives us. Who could turn their back on joy unspeakable? Who walks away from the greatest love, the greatest friendship? There is more in Him than anything outside of Him – if there’s a full cup (Jesus) and an empty cup (the world), which one is going to be chosen?

I understand there are repercussions to not accepting Jesus but those things aren’t what drew me to Him; I can’t be bothered with them. What concerns me is finding ways to be pleasing in His sight, to walk my life as closely as I can to how He walked His life on earth. How do I amend my life so that when people look at me, it’s not me they see but Jesus reflected from my way of being. It’s tough task and requires constant work but I’ll take it.

Hebrews 12: 1 – 17

May 17, 2022

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Self examination. It is important in it’s medical aspects but vastly more important in it’s spiritual context. At least it seems so to me.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines chasten this way: chasten … b : to cause to be more humble or restrained : subdue. We humans have a habit of thinking we’re ‘all that and a bag of chips’ but how do we stack up against what and who Jesus calls us to be? That’s the measure that matters – billionaire or pauper, smart or dumb, old or young, are we walking in the footsteps of Jesus to the best of our ability? One wonders – which is where self examination comes in.

Years ago, there was a funny cartoon of a woman, shown in two places. Out and about during the day, looking lovely and perfectly coiffed with a perfect figure, clothing that fit just right. The other picture was the same woman at home – minus wig, false eyelashes, implants, false fingernails … you get the idea. What do we look like to God when we’re ‘at home’? Can we see Jesus in ourselves? Can anyone else see Him in us?

I’ll take the chastening. I’ll take anything that pleases God and be glad for it. Anything that draws me nearer to the ‘author and finisher of our faith’.

Hebrews 11: 32 – 40

May 15, 2022

32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Verse 40 sent me searching the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, as the wording is kind of confusing to modern-day people. The Study Bible states: “Not until Jesus opened the way to glory did the righteous of the Old Testament enter the inheritance they saw from a distance.” ‘Opened the way of glory’ of course refers to the rending of the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple that happened at the crucifixion of our Lord.

Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, heaven is open to all who believe in Him and on Him. A magnificent act that only God and Jesus could do. God wants us close to Him and Jesus is the door, the entrance way, to that closeness. Jesus is the fulfillment of that Godly desire. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises.

Joy

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Joy does come in the morning – another sunrise of God’s artistry in sky, the things and people around us that we love, the surety of His love. Joy does, indeed, come in the morning.

We’ve all had our sorrows and sadnesses, our disappointments with others that can’t compare with our disappointments in ourselves. The loneliness, the longing. It takes a certain maturity, I think, to realize that we are not lonely and longing for material people and things, but for a closeness to our Lord and Savior. He is ever near to us but we seem to spend so much time and effort pushing Him further and further away til we are alone in a dark valley filled with shadows and uncomfortable sounds. Three a.m., staring at the ceiling, wondering how we got to where we are from where we began. The answer is always, one step at a time. We either didn’t see them or chose to ignore them, those steps that took us away from where we most needed to be. Most wanted to be.

Come the morning – the sun breaks through the fading dark and we are given the gift of another day; a day in which there is nothing but possibilities – we can choose to make the very best of those possibilities or we can continue on that step path away from Him. We can amend our lives or we can continue in our old ways. We know in which direction lies joy.

One never knows …

From where inspiration will come. This morning is an example.

It is my habit, when I wake, to come to my computer room, turn on the computer, and then read Morning Prayer by it’s very bright light. When I’ve finished my prayers, I go to Face Book to check in on how my family is doing – where they are, where they’re going, what they’ve been up to.

This morning I noticed that it is the 22nd wedding anniversary of our Archbishop, Chandler Jones, and his lovely wife. He posted the message that was given at their wedding ceremony and it included these words: “So by blessing the marriage God says, “As long as you have the will to keep these promises, I will give you the grace and the help you need to do it.” “.

It struck me that all that we do is with God’s help, ‘as long as you have the will …’ . There is a type of marriage between God and His people; He gives us free will and in our free will to do and to be all that we are called to be, we are wedded in will. It is a joining together with God in His will and in our will. And He gives us the ‘grace and help’ (strength) to keep our promises to Him.

I am reminded of this:

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Rev 19:6-9)

In our baptismal and confirmation promises, we wed our will to God’s – freely given and freely returned.

Or …

I read the Penitential Office in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer this morning (pg. 60). It’s been way too long since my last reading of it. There was a time in my life when I read it weekly. And then I read it weakly. And then, somehow, I forgot about it altogether.

Perusing the prayers, I wondered about the devotional I’m working on. Praise is absolutely a joy to the soul but repentance … that’s a whole other order of magnitude. Envision the scale one sees in pictures of the ‘the scales of justice’ – two platforms balanced against each other. What get weighs will go on one platform or the other; in situations of comparison, weight will be added to both sides until considerations are complete and one is finished adding to both sides. The heavier, or lower-hanging of the two platforms, is the more important of the issues being considered. I wonder if we put Praise on one platform and Repentance on the other platform, which one would be the heavier? Which is more important?

It’s a matter of acknowledging all that God is and has done and is doing and will do and acknowledging our scant merit to receive what is and has and will be given. Should repentance equal the weight of praise so the scale balances; or should the repentance side sag significantly lower? I suspect that each of us must make that decision. I’m not quite certain how I would answer this question for myself. I see the importance of each but are they equally important? I’m not so sure. I know that I am a fallen and broken person but is that more important than praising God for all that He’s given to me?

I’m not sure of the answer. What do you think?

Praise

I’m working on a devotional to be used on a weekly basis. Because we should not ‘lean unto our own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5), I’m having my priest give it a look to make sure it’s in good order.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was my resource for the devotional and I spent quite a bit of time in the Psalms. Doing this research and compiling made me aware of something that never occurred to me before – the manner in which ‘praise’ has changed. In the Psalms, of course, the praise psalms include all that God had done for Israel or Abraham and his seed or whomever – which is important, of course, but tends to be very ‘corporate’; “of or shared by a whole group and not just of a single member” (Cambridge English Dictionary). The same can be said of the Psalms of Thanksgiving – again, important but corporate.

Today, we think of praise as just thanking God for Who and what He is. We just want to tell Him how awesome He is, how important He is in our lives and that He is a constant friend. How He in the three Person Godhead is above and beyond and unique and wholly worthy to be praised. Just because He is.

The purpose of the devotional is that very simple, very personal praise that our hearts sing when we consider ‘all the worlds thy hands have made’. We know and understand what He has done since the Creation and revisit all that He has done whenever we read our Bibles. But we, the created, sometimes just want to reach out to Him from our singularity.

Perhaps I should have gone to the hymnal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc0QVWzCv9k

Life

When one retires, one becomes adjusted to a slower, more deliberate, way of living. Most things that have to be done are within a week or two, which gives us time to plan, prepare, research, and organize. Not a bad way to live, actually.

And then. Life. Life has its own life, if you understand my meaning. Life becomes an overlay and now my life has to fit into Life’s life and therein lies the rub. Or pinch. My lovely, calm, clear desk is now littered with ‘important papers’ that I must tend to – right now! Life has no time, or patience, with me planning, preparing, researching, and organizing. All of a sudden, like a new recruit in the military, I must drop and give ‘im 20 sit ups. I’ve got the ‘dropping’ down pat – it’s the 20 I find difficult to manage.

What causes one to shake one’s head is, everything has to be done right now. Immediately! But one must also understand that nothing needing tended to will be resolved immediately. Perish the thought. But my response must be immediate. Why is that? Because Life has its own life and that’s the way Life moves. Why do you think we went from writing and mailing letters to telegrams, to fax machines, to emails, to instant message? Because – Life.

The very first thing I do in the morning is Morning Prayer. It takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on whether I have one or both eyes open (I read my prayers each day because the memory isn’t quite what it used to be). And during that time of praising, thanking, worshiping God – Life is in my phone (going to message); Life is in the kitchen wondering what’s taking me so long to prepare its breakfast; the contents of the inbox in my computer is growing exponentially every two seconds … (sigh) you get the idea.

Mea culpa. I could promise you I’ll never miss another day here on the blog. But I’d be lying to you. Not because I’m a liar by nature but … Life. I can account for me but I can’t account for Life.

Hebrews 11: 17 – 31

May 7, 2022

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Always choose God; always choose Jesus. Life and more abundant. Truth that makes us free. A love and a peace which passes all understanding. Promises made and promises kept for all time and time to come. A place of rest. A home beyond what can be imagined. All we have to do is simply reach for Him and He will take our hand, support us, teach us, and love us. Always choose Jesus.

Hebrews 11: 1 – 16

May 6, 2022

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something. 2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. (Oxford Languages Dictionary)

Many years ago, my sister-in-law, may she rest in peace, gave me an Amplified Bible. I think it’s a great resource for seekers as it is very elemental and spells things out for someone who may not quite understand the Bible otherwise. I guess she thought I was one of those people or perhaps she had been one herself – in any event, I love this Amplified for the terrific Concordance it has in the back. If you are unfamiliar with a Concordance, it is an alphabetical listing of important words (in this case …) found in the Bible along with a citation of the book, chapter, and verse where the word can be found. Just for fun, I opened the concordance to the word ‘faith’ – from Deuteronomy to the Book of Revelation, there are 162 citations; these citations don’t include the ones for the words ‘faithful’ (56), ‘faithfulness’ (22) or ‘faithless’ (7).

Of course, it doesn’t take counting Bible references to the word ‘faith’ to understand how important that word is to the Christian religion. This verse says it all: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We also have this: 2Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight“. Jesus assures us – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” We are that ‘they’ – we are well over two thousand years away from when Jesus walked with us on earth and yet we believe. We have faith (complete trust or confidence) and because we do, we are blessed. We are many times blessed.

A daily walk with Jesus