Thursday, November 15, 2018

when blood cries out

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 12:14-29. Paul tells us that Jesus's blood speaks forgiveness in the same kind of way that Abel's blood cried out for vengeance. It's interesting how the Bible speaks of blood crying out. Of blood speaking. .Of blood being life. Of course we know that our lives are impossible without it. That the very oxygen our brains need to live is carried to the brain through our blood. Jesus's blood cries out forgive them, for they know not what they do. Abel's blood cries out for justice.

What does your blood ask for?

God, thanks for teaching us the mystical nature of blood.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

too good for this world

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 11:32-12:13. Paul tells us that those who were martyred were "too good for this world."

That sounds like it's saying this world is bad. But it isn't. The Bible makes it clear in Genesis (and John) that God made the world good. Stuff is good. He likes it. He made it. So when Paul says that followers of Jesus are too good for the world, he's not saying the world is bad.

He's saying that we're designed for something more. He's saying that, as good as this world is, we're destined for something better. He's saying that this world gives us great and wonderful things - beautiful sights and gorgeous sounds and delicious tastes and wonderful fragrances. But we're not here for these things alone. We're here for far more. We are here for what's next.

God, thanks for giving us such a wonderful world. And for calling us out of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

when you've seen what God can do

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 11:17-31. Paul tells us that Abraham was thinking that God would simply raise Isaac from the dead if He let him go ahead and sacrifice him on the mountain. And that's very interesting, considering that's exactly what God DID do when the situation was reversed: when God sent HIS son to be sacrificed. He did exactly what Abraham predicted and raised Jesus from the dead.

But what's also interesting is that when Jesus came to Mary and Martha's house, and Lazarus was already dead, they both said to Him, "If You had been here, he would not have died." They had seen what He could do. They knew how important life was to Him, and how much He loved His friends.

When you've spent time with God, you learn to expect things from Him, based on Who He is. If He asks you to sacrifice your son, you expect Him to not only be willing but ABLE to simply bring him back to life. If your brother is dying, and it takes Jesus awhile to get to you, you know that He could have saved him... and WOULD have... if He'd gotten there sooner.

And yet.

He still surprises us. Even though we come to expect Him to care, to love, and to be able to do anything... we simply can't predict what He'll do because He is always operating on a whole different level than we are. We can't guess His next move, because it's never A or B. It's something above A and B and includes both but isn't either one.

God, thank You for being a God that we can trust... but that we can't predict.

Monday, November 12, 2018

prepared for us

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 11:1-16, in a passage where Paul tells us about faith. It's a beautiful selection, and gives us a great deal of good teaching about what faith is and how important it is to our relationship with God. Without faith, Paul declares, it is impossible to please God.

And then he goes on to say that the children of Israel look forward to an inheritance that many of them never experienced in their lifetimes. But that God delighted in that faith and in our faith, too, because He DOES have a heavenly homeland prepared for them and for us. God is a never ending source of creativity and love. He has carefully prepared a wonderful destination for all of us. He delights in delighting us. When we look at all of the amazing things He's made in THIS life, on THIS planet, we get a tiny glimpse of the wonders that await us in the next life, when we finally become the perfect, sin-free people He made us to be, and can enjoy and appreciate what He's done for us.

What a day that will be.

God, thank You for giving us something so wonderful to look forward to, that even having faith doesn't enable us to fully appreciate it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

enduring patiently

Today we read from Hebrews 10:18-39 in the One Year Bible. Paul tells us that at this point in our faith, we must learn to patiently endure.

That's timely advice today. We have to remind ourselves that this was written almost 2000 years ago. Because it applies to our lives so directly in 2018. There is so much in the world today to patiently endure, isn't there? Fires and political unrest and mass shootings and hostility in an ever polarized country. Attacks on our faith on a daily basis around the world. More martyrs in this century than in the previous centuries combined.

But we set our sights on the One who calls us to follow Him. We realize that we WILL suffer. That it will be necessary to have patience and to endure what comes. Having that mindset makes enduring less difficult. It gives us a sense of control.

God, thank You for calling us to patiently endure. Help us to fix our minds on You so that we can do so.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

something else God can't do

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 10:1-17. Paul says that God has made perfect those He is continuing to make holy. And that only makes sense if you remember that He's outside of space and time.

But he goes on to say that Jesus "will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds." In other passages, He says that He casts our sins into the sea of forgetfulness. He chooses to forget our sins, once He has forgiven them. And so the other thing that "God can't do" is remember our sins once they've been forgiven.

It's interesting to note that God's perception of reality is the most accurate of all the perceptions. So if He forgets our sins, it is arguable that they cease to exist.

In any case, it's reassuring to know that He is ready and waiting to forgive our sins when we confess them. And that He will not remember them again once that forgiveness takes place.

God, thank You for forgiving our sins so permanently.

Friday, November 9, 2018


Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Hebrews 9:11-28. Paul tells us that here, where the Tabernacle and everything are just shadows of the real things in heaven, we only needed the blood of animals for the remission of our sins. But that in heaven, where things are more real (completely real), Jesus offered a better sacrifice: Himself.

That's strange to think, isn't it? We tend to think of heaven as being all whispy, with angels and clouds and a vague sense of timelessness - it seems far less real than the grit and grime and sweat that we see in our daily lives. THIS seems real. We believe that heaven is real, too, but it seems less SOLID than the reality we see everyday.

In fact, the reverse is true. This world we live in is real. The pain and suffering we experience here is real, it's not an illusion or a dream or a computer simulation. But it's LESS real than the eternal heaven that we have to look forward to. THAT reality will make THIS reality seem like a bad dream. And the joy we experience there will make the pain we felt here seem like nothing.

God, thanks for giving us a home to look forward to that is even MORE real than the world we live in now.