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The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations; the mansions will be splendid again. 
Thanksgiving will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. 

 

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  • Jan31Fri

    Once and For All

    January 31, 2020

    I saw a great meme in my facebook feed this week.  It said “Religion: I messed up.  My Dad is going to kill me.  The Gospel: I messed up.  I need to call my Dad.

    I think it does a really good job of the sense of fear and trembling that most people of the OT had when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies.  I still think it’s the way a lot of people think about God today.  When I talk to some people about attending church, there attitude is “no thanks, I might get hit by lightning!”

    I’ve been meeting pretty regularly with Roger at the Manor and today we talked about “mitz-vah”  This is a good deed done from a sense of religious duty.  The goal is to of course complete as many mitz-vahs as possible in order to obtain a good standing before God.  There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with performing one, but here’s the big difference.  If it is being done to secure a better standing with God that we have completely missed the point of why Jesus died.  We could never be good enough to earn a right standing before Him.  Now I recognize that those who aren’t Messianic Jews don’t believe this. However it was good to have that moment with Roger to say, you know what, there is a different motivation for a person of the new covenant.  We serve God from an incredibly secure place where we know how much has been done for us.  It comes from a place of overflow, out of thankfulness!

    Hebrews 10 contrasts the Old Covenant vs the New Covenant and it’s where I’ve been reading and listening for the last few weeks.  The author makes a very clear contrast of how the old was so limited in its ability to create real change in a person and for that matter a sense of intimacy with God.

    A shadow isn’t a bad thing, it often tells you a lot about what is looming or what is ahead; however a shadow is not substance.  There was never a full sense of guilt being removed or the conscience becoming completely clean.  A shadow is like a really good photograph, but nothing can really capture the essence of being right in the moment of being there.

    The very repetition of the sacrifice displays its inherent weakness

    Verse 5-10 are prophetically spoken of in Psalm 40:6-8.  Jesus declared the insufficiency of the OT

    On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest could enter the Holy Place (Leviticus 16) but he had to ‘in essence’ strip right down to a simple linen tunic.  He was also barefoot as he entered into the most Holy Place.  Now there is nothing that is stated in the OT about a rope being attached to the ankle or leg of the priest; however according to the ancient Jewish practice, this was certainly done.  In the event that he said or did something wrong, it was generally believed that he would be struck dead for his offense and the only way that the servants could deal with this was to pull him out of the inner sanctum with a rope.  Furthermore, he was only allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies once a year to make an animal sacrifice for the sins of the Jewish people.

    Hebrews 10:5-10 are prophetically spoken of in Psalm 40:6-8.  Jesus declared the insufficiency of the old covenant.

    Now contrast that with the new and we also have a wonderful threefold revelation of God here.  It is the will of God v9; the work of Christ v12; and it is through the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

    Just as Jesus’ flesh was torn on the cross, so the veil in the temple was torn that day when Christ was crucified.  He opened up a new and living way.

    “This is the new covenant I will make
        with my people on that day, says the Lord:
    I will put my laws in their hearts,
        and I will write them on their minds.”

    God never wanted this relationship with Him to be static or just carved out in stone.  He didn’t just want His followers to know all the right answers; He wanted them to experience real life change. 

    He wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and the motivation to serve Him and follow Him to come from a place where we are overwhelmed by His goodness and His extravagant love for us.

    “I will never again remember
        their sins and lawless deeds.”

    He never wanted us to be stuck in this place where we are constantly reminded by our past failures and shortcomings. He longs for us to live in a place of total and complete forgiveness, the slate wiped clean.  He wants us to know that He is not going to drag up again and again or tell us something cruel like “your past behavior is an indicator of your future performance” NO, He wants us to believe that it really can be different, that there is real hope for real change and He is going to do it in us through the power of the Holy Spirit!

    19 And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death,Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go boldly  right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

    This understanding of coming into God’s presence is really so radical and so completely different in its approach from the old covenant.  This must have been such an overwhelming revelation for the people of God in the early church.  The idea of being bold, seriously, running into God’s presence, is really so foreign for most people, but this is what God longs for us to experience!  He wants us to never again doubt Him, doubt our forgiveness, doubt trusting Him.  For me the greatest experience of understanding this has been a revelation that I experienced almost ten years ago.  I’ve shared about it before, but it is the awareness that God wants us a two-way conversation with us.  He wants us to come and pour out our hearts and our needs, but He also wants us to slow down enough to come and listen.  He wants us to come, be still, fix our eyes on Jesus and hear what He is saying.  He speaks to us through His Word, through creation, through worshipful singing, dancing, but also through His still small voice.  He impresses people and truth on our heart and mind just like the new covenant that He is writing on our heart and mind.  Take time to ask Him, 

    “Father, what is it that You want me to know today?”

    He may also remind you of some mitz-vahs too, but they will be born out of a sense of love not duty!

    23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

    So, Rylan and I just returned from a week of vacation/missions trip to Cuba.  It was so wonderful to reconnect with Pastor Ridael, Manilito, Riveron, Jose and their families.  It was three years ago that I was part of a very special soccer camp that saw so many youth come to Jesus there.  This time it was a family reunion and we brought gifts but the most meaningful was a suitcase of running shoes that were donated to us.  A lot of children at best have worn out flip flops down there.  In the first poor community we visited, we found perfect fits for every child that we met along with Jose and his wife.  We then went to an orphanage and after each youth found a pair that fit them, everyone in the room clapped in joy.  It was such a beautiful moment. There was a perfect fit for every youth except one older boy with really wide feet, but Rylan brought some of his clothes and he had a great outfit for him.

    So, here’s my motivation for you to love and good works.  Everyone wants to escape winter here in Canada, right?  So, if you are one of the fortunate ones, take a humanitarian suitcase with you, figure out what is needed and don’t just stay on a resort.  Get a taxi and meet the people in the surrounding area and be amazed how God can use you!!

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