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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May 1, 2014

843 Acres TBT: Longings After God

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Song 6 (txt | aud, 1:46 min)
Heb 6 (txt | aud, 2:37 min)

Song of Songs 6:1-3 

Others: Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?

She: My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.

Longings After God from The Valley of Vision

My Dear Lord,

I can but tell thee that thou knowest I long for nothing but thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like thee as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its Creator!

Lord, give me more of thy likeness; Enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; Engage me to live more for thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to thee, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its Beloved.

Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring thee, always humble and resigned to thy will, more fixed on thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and suffering.

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April 30, 2014

843 Acres: Redeeming our Commute

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Song 5 (txt | aud, 2:38 min)
Heb 5 (txt | aud, 1:41 min)
Highlighted: Heb 5:8-9

Commuting: There are certain unwritten rules about taking the subway—do not talk to anyone, avoid eye contact, keep to yourself, do not touch anyone. It’s no wonder, then, why “commuting is associated with fewer positive emotions than any other common daily activity”—after all, we’re told to be alone when we’re smack dab in the middle of community. Can commuting be redeemed?

Guide: Jesus learned obedience—not because he disobeyed, but because he needed to experience suffering and temptation first-hand to qualify as our sympathetic high priest. [1] He needed to suffer in order to be made “perfect” for the job. As Hebrews says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” [2] His learning, however, took place in an incarnate life, not a classroom. Jesus did not come as an anthropologist to learn about us in a detached way. He came into the fabric of our everyday lives, in the commonness of our humanity. [3]

Choice: Commuting is part of our ordinary, daily lives. When we commute, however, we get to choose whether we will see people or see through them. Recently, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton reported in the New York Times Magazine on a study showing that those who talked with strangers had a more positive commuting experience than those who sat in solitude. They concluded,  “Rather than fall back on our erroneous belief in the pleasures of solitude, we could reach out to other people. At least, when we walk down the street, we can refuse to accept a world where people look at one another as though through air. When we talk to strangers, we stand to gain much more than the ‘me time’ we might lose.”

Prayer: Lord, In becoming incarnate, Jesus broke down the wall of solitude between us and you. He saw into us, not through us—becoming our high priest and sympathizing with us in our weaknesses. Although we often fear engaging with strangers, may we not fall back on the erroneous belief in the pleasures of solitude. May we smile at others, reaching out to them as you have reached out to us. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] The full meaning of “perfect” is not only “flawless,” but also “complete”. | [2] Hebrews 5:8-9 ESV | [3] Theology of Work. “Hebrews.”

April 29, 2014

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: Work and Rest

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Song 4 (txt | aud, 2:27 min)
Heb 4 (txt | aud, 2:16 min)
Highlighted: Heb 4:9,11

Discerning Brokenness

As we saw yesterday, we are like the Israelites – prone to wander and be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. goo.gl/6kWnl9

We hear the word, but “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful.” #busy goo.gl/hWvoAh

When we rest, we experience our unsettling humanity. The hilarious, irreverent, philosopher-of-the-people @louisck explains: goo.gl/CLulhO

Imagining Redemption

God calls us to work and to rest: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”

Our weekly rest points to our heavenly one: “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God … Let us therefore strive to enter.” #Heb4

Our rest reminds us that our labor is not an endless cycle of drudgery leading nowhere but a purposeful activity marked by worship and rest.

Praying ACTS 

Lord, We #adore you that our work is not in vain and that you have given us the Sabbath as a signpost of your faithful work for us.

Yet we #confess that life in the present world involved difficult work. As Hebrews teaches, it is an arduous journey with joys and sorrows.

#Thank you for setting aside a weekly routine – six days of work and one day of rest – as an exercise in spiritual awareness.

When work is frustrating, remind us of brokenness and restoration. When it goes well, remind us of your work through us. #supplication

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April 28, 2014

843 Acres: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It | 843 acres

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Song 3 (txt | aud, 1:40 )
Heb 3 (txt | aud, 2:10)

Exodus: When God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, they were full of celebration. With one voice, they sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously … The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” [1]Three days later, however, they complained about the way He gave them food and water. They said that they would rather be slaves again than depend on Him. Then, a few weeks later, they worshipped handmade idols, saying, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [2] How did they fall away from the Lord so quickly?

Caution: Looking back on these events, the Psalmist warned, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” [3]Hundreds of years later, the writer of Hebrews quoted the Psalmist and expanded the message: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called, ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence to the end.” [4]

Gospel: The Hebrews were slaves to Egypt; we are slaves to sin. They were released by the plague of the firstborn son; we are released by the death of the firstborn son of God. On the cross, the work of God is on display far greater than during the Exodus. How much more, then, must we cling to belief!

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, like the Hebrews, we can turn quickly from celebration to sin. Yet we do not have the strength to endure in faith. Therefore, we beg you to increase our faith. As we look to the cross, help us to remember your work and to exhort one another daily so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we admit that we are prone to wander. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Exodus 15:1, 2 ESV | [2] Exodus 32:4 ESV | [3] Psalm 95:7-11 ESV | [4] Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV

November 18, 2013

843 Acres: Gospel-Driven Hospitality

by Bethany

843 Acres: Gospel-Driven Hospitality
M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 11-12 (text | audio, 5:53 min)
Heb 13 (text | audio, 3:13 min)
Highlighted: Heb 13:2

Hospitality: In the ancient world, hospitality was a matter of protection and survival for weary travelers. Today, however, hospitality in the West is mainly associated with etiquette and entertainment. Yet even that description misses the mark. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer writes, “You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” [1]

Community: Hebrews reads, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” [2] “Hospitality,” says Tim Keller, “is an attitude of the heart that seeks to turn strangers into guests and friends, especially people that the world excludes.” Hospitality has been given to us by God to build community. It is not given to us for our own personal happiness or pleasure. Just as Jesus did not treat his body or his possessions as his own but gave them up for us, so we are called to be conduits of his hospitality to strangers a.k.a. “potential friends.”

Ideas: We may think that we do not have enough money to entertain, but God delights in using common things for his glory. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no less common than bread and wine before God transforms them into a communion supper. We may think that we do not have enough space to entertain, but God has given us many ways of showing hospitality: asking neighbors into your home, inviting colleagues to church, hosting a dinner at a restaurant, hosting a community group at your home, volunteering with the diaconate, serving with a mercy ministry, ushering at church, “passing the peace” in the service. Who knows but that we may entertain angels unawares.

Prayer: Lord, Your hospitality is different than the hospitality of the world because it welcomes the people that the world excludes. Show us how to show hospitality to the widows, the orphans, the homeless, the needy, and those who will never repay us. Let us practice gospel transformed hospitality with PG&Js in our small homes, knowing that it is you, not our work, that transforms a group of individuals meeting together into a community in fellowship in you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Danny Meyer. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. | [2] Hebrews 13:2 ESV

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