Posts tagged ‘Hebrews’

May 8, 2014

843 Acres TBT: The Christian Family (Bavinck)

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 6 (txt | aud, 2:48 min)
Heb 13 (txt | aud, 3:13 min)

Hebrews 13:4

Let marriage be held in honor among all.

Herman Bavinck, The Christian Family (1908)

All good, enduring reformation begins with ourselves and takes its starting point in one’s own heart and life. If family life is indeed being threatened from all sides today, then there is nothing better for each person to be doing than immediately to begin reforming within one’s own circle … Reforming from within can be undertaken by each person at every moment, and be advanced without impediment …

Most changes currently being proposed to solve the sexual problem not only contradict Christian principles, but also come into conflict with the facts and demands of reality … They all suffer from the illusion that by means of external measures, by means of abolishing old laws or implementing new laws, they can change human nature or convert the wicked human heart. They all travel the route from outward to inward, thinking that a person, whom they view as a product of circumstances, will be gradually renewed in a different environment.

In comparing these modern attempts at reform to that reformation recommended and implemented by Christianity, we are filled with an ever-deepening amazement about the latter … Moses and the prophets, Christ and the apostles, have distinguished between reality that is safe and that which is sick … Everywhere and always it seeks the reformation of natural life, but only in such a way and by such means that nature is liberated from unrighteousness …

This explains why Scripture proceeds from the distinction between man and woman. This distinction was neither a human discovery or invention, nor a product of circumstances, nor the result of a slow and gradual evolution, but has existed from the very beginning, provided by nature itself and consequently called into existence by God, who placed it before our eyes as an undeniable fact … Culture can surely bring about some changes, but it can do so only within specific limits and on the foundation of nature itself. People and nations were very different from each other in various times and circumstances, but the man has always been a man and the woman has always been a woman. There is nothing mutable about this fact; we have only to accept it. It is not a work of the devil to be destroyed, but a work of the Father to be acknowledged.

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May 7, 2014

843 Acres: Living at the Expense of the Poor

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 5 (txt | aud, 5:21 min)
Heb 12 (txt | aud, 4:01 min)
Highlighted: Is 5:8

Contrast: “While 66 New Yorkers are billionaires and more than 389,000 are millionaires,” reports Marnie Nahel in The New York Times, “one-fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty line.” In raw numbers, that’s 1.68 million people. If those people lived in one city, that city would be the fifth largest in the nation—beating out places like Dallas, San Francisco, and Charlotte. “This contrast,” she continues, “would be remarkable for any setting, but given the close confines of the city—27,000 people packing each of its 305 square miles—it’s particularly glaring. The city’s 8.4 million residents exist shoulder to shoulder.” How can we live as lights in such close proximity with our neighbors?

Accrual: One recurring charge throughout Isaiah is that the leaders were being unfaithful to God’s covenant because they were pursuing wealth and status at the expense of the marginalized and the poor. [1] Wealth and power were being increasingly concentrated in the hands of the privileged minority at the expense of the poor. “The need for loans,” writes biblical scholar H.G.M. Williamson, “with the consequent perils of slavery, foreclosure, and ultimately debt slavery, were the means whereby this could be pursued legally but, in the opinion of the prophets, unjustly.” Here, in Isaiah 5, a “woe” is given to those who were exploiting the poor to accrue their own wealth: “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.” [2]

Lights: We are called to be different from our culture. “The exploitation of the poor for the advancement of the social elite [is] a breach of God’s covenant claims on his people to be his people,” writes the Theology of Work Project. As Isaiah prophesied, true kingship would come in the Messiah, who would “judge the poor and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” [3]

Prayer: Lord, This is a complicated topic—and one that may cause us to change our lives radically for your glory and the life of our city. Show us, therefore, where we might be joining “house to house” or adding “field to field” until “there is no more room” for the poor and marginalized. Make us generous people—in our pocketbooks, hearts, and souls—that we may shine as lights of the gospel of grace in our cities. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Isaiah 3:3-15 | [2] Isaiah 5:8 ESV | [3] Isaiah 11:4

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May 6, 2014

843 Acres Tweetables: Against No-Faith and Blind-Faith

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 3-4 (txt | aud, 4:42 min)
Heb 11 (txt | aud, 5:30 min)
Highlighted: Heb 11:1

Discerning Brokenness

The Hebrews joyfully accepted the seizing of their property since they knew that they had “a better possession and an abiding one.” 10:34

#NoFaith says, “I have to see that better and abiding possession before I can believe it.”

#BlindFaith says, “I do not need to see anything—not even the truth that can be known—in order to believe it.”

Imagining Redemption

Against #NoFaith, we say, “We don’t need to see – for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb11

Against #BlindFaith, we say, “We want to know what can be known about that better possession – to read your Word and root our faith.”

With eyes of faith grounded in his truth and promises, we see our better and abiding possession so that we may sacrifice “joyfully”.

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for creating a better and abiding possession for us in Christ and in the age to come.

Yet we #confess that our faith is weak – we often cling to #NoFaith (doubting you) or #BlindFaith (living apart from knowing your Word).

#ThankYou for forgiving our frail hearts and for increasingly giving us eyes of faith to see what cannot be seen.

Commend us to you through our faith in Christ. Give us true faith that risks and sacrifices for your glory and our joy. #supplication

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May 5, 2014

843 Acres: Already Perfect, but Being Sanctified

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 2 (txt | aud, 3:11 min)
Heb 10 (txt | aud, 5:07 min)
Highlighted: Heb 10:14

Perseverance: As we saw last week, the letter of Hebrews was written to a people who had been Christians for several years and were struggling to endure. [1] Not only did they face external problems (persecution), they faced internal ones, too (sin). What good was their salvation if it did not rescue them from these trials?

Process: Hebrews says, “For by a single offering, he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” [2]. Did you notice that? We are both perfect and being made perfect at the same time—that is, we are both justified and being sanctified at the same time. And this is done, Hebrews says, by Christ, not by us. It is the work of the Lord for us and in us.

Practical: This has practical implications in our everyday lives. The once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus liberates us to live in passionate—albeit imperfect—service to God in every square inch of our lives. When we are forgiven, our hearts increasingly desire to do his will and our minds increasingly receive the wisdom, vision, and ability to carry out that desire. As Hebrews says, “I will put my law on their hearts, and write them on their minds” [3].

Prayer: Lord, We do not need to do “religious” things in order to get right with you. Now that Christ has come and offered himself on our behalf, we can experience genuine forgiveness of sins through your grace. For when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me” [4]. Therefore, we trust in him, not in our own righteousness or works. As we rest in our having already been made perfect by his work, we pray that you would continue to work in us to make us perfect in our desires and our minds, as we seek to do your will in our everyday lives. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] http://theparkforum.org/2014/05/02/9767/ | [2] 10:14 | [3] Hebrews 10:16 ESV | [4] Hebrews 10:5 ESV

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May 2, 2014

843 Acres: Enduring When We Continue to Sin

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Song 7 (txt | aud, 1:58 min)
Heb 7 (txt | aud, 3:51 min)
Highlighted: Heb 7:25

Problem: Hebrews is a letter written to a group of Christians struggling to endure. After coming to faith several years ago, these Christians are beginning to realize that their confession of faith did not put an end to their troubles. Not only are they still being persecuted, they are also facing another problem—they are continuing to sin. Is there any hope?

Intercession: Priests in ancient Israel acted on behalf of the people by offering sacrifices and intercessory prayers. As the final high priest, Jesus offers prayers of intercession for his people: “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Like the Christians who received this letter, we continue to sin, too. Therefore, we need Jesus to “always” intercede for us in the presence of God. He is our hope.

Friends: “To use a workplace metaphor,” comments the Theology of Work Project, “imagine the fear a young engineer might feel when he is called to meet the chief of the state highway department. What will he possibly say to her? Recognizing that the project he is working on is running late and over budget makes him more afraid. But then he learns that his supervisor, a beloved mentor, will also be at the meeting. And it turns out she is great friends with the chief of the highway department from their days back at university. ‘Don’t worry,’ the mentor assures the engineer, ‘I’ll take care of things.’ Won’t the young engineer have much greater confidence to approach the chief in the presence of her friend?”

Prayer: Lord, We confess that our works do not commend us to you—for we are always “running late and over budget”. Do not forgive us on the basis of our righteousness or goodness, but on the basis of Jesus, who always lives to make intercession for us. May our confessions be a sweet aroma to you—for his words about us are words of love before your throne. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, May 3: Song 8 (txt | aud, 2:22 min) & Heb 8 (txt | aud, 2:09 min)
Sunday, May 4: Is 1 (txt | aud, 4:48 min) & Heb 9 (txt | aud, 4:20 min)

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