Faith and Works (James 1-2)

What a coincidence. I actually wanted to do a study on James myself…it’s actually SO good. So many things to write about…

James raises interesting points in regards to faith without works being dead. While we know that our salvation comes by grace alone, we cannot earn it ourselves, we are still called into action with our faith. If you think about it, it is sort of the difference between believing in something and trusting in something. When we believe in something, we say it exists, but that is the extent of our “faith” if you will. Example: I believe that this chair exists, it is right there. However, trusting in something requires the next stage – we actually put that belief or faith into action. Example: I believe this chair exists, and it will hold me up. Now I will sit in this chair.

By pairing actions, or works, with our faith, we are moving past simply saying it is true into actively showing that it is true (note, works without faith would also be dead in this scenario). Therefore, we can take the things James talks about in chapter one and actually put them into practice, knowing that as we continue to put our faith into action we continue in the process of continual growth in Christ Jesus.

Yesterday and Today and Forever (Hebrews 13)

Well hello there, super encouraging chapter! One of my favourite parts of the letters in the New Testament is the parts where they talk about Christian living. It’s usually a lot of super short concepts all strung together, and to unpack it all takes a while. But in the end, we’re left with a lot of good lessons that we can apply to our lives.

I also really like when they tie in truths from the Old Testament and reapply them to our lives. It reminds me 1. that the OT still has so much in it that we can apply to our lives if we would take the time to really read it and look at what it says, and 2. God’s promises don’t have an expiry date. As the writer of Hebrews said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Therefore, the promises hold true. We can hold fast to them and know they will come into being. We can still read and be comforted by them. We can still ask for them today. And, of course, we can take the overly quoted passage here and the Psalm and rest.

“I will never leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, Deut 31:6, etc.)

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not hear;
what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)

Citizens of the Kingdom (Hebrews 11-12)

There are so many things to talk about from this passage, I’m not sure what to write about.

The part that stood out to me today was 11:24-25:

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.”

I know chapter 11 focuses on faith and how we receive things through said faith, but can we just stop and actually look at what Moses did here? I think it’s a beautiful picture of what it looks like to live contrary to what the rest of the world says. He chose to be mistreated as one God’s people instead of the good feelings of sin. Pain>Pleasure. He saw Christ worth more than all the treasures of a great and mighty nation.  He even defied said nation further and instead relied on the king of the invisible country (which, coincidentally, is mentioned in chapter 12).

How many times today do we face the choice to trust God and act as citizens of his kingdom or follow the “fleeting pleasures of sin”? And how many times do we actually pick the right answer? Our actions should be able to speak for us here. As citizens of the kingdom, our actions should set us apart. Knowing is one thing, doing is another. And it is only by faith and continually relying on God that we can succeed.

Into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9-10)

Hebrews is steadily becoming one of my favoured books of the Bible.

Today we learn more about the significance of Christ being the high priest for us. He overcomes the sacrifices that were necessary before. Instead of constantly sacrificing animals for our sins, we are covered by the blood of Christ. Now he can enter the earthly holy of holies and beyond, into the physical presence of God. And now we can draw near for the curtain has been torn. Knowing this, we can have assurance in our salvation, and we can continually remind each other of the good news. Continuing to persevere and push each other on as the second coming of Christ comes closer. Isn’t it neat how this ties into community? We can now band together and try to live the way we are called, ever aware of eternity at stake that defines our every moment.

Now that’s a pretty neat two chapters.

New Covenants (Hebrews 7-8)

Ok seriously I need to stop writing about what the next day’s readings are. Legit. Plus, there is my answer to who Melchizedek is, right there in chapter 7.

mm…I sense inklings of old and new covenant theology things here, but I don’t know much about the nitty gritties involving that, so we’ll just stick with observation and some basic interpretation for today.

I love how through explaining Christ as the eternal and perfect high priest, we are able to see how our lives are different because of it. He constantly can intercede for us, and he can save anyone. In fact, he already has paid that price. And through this new order, there is a new covenant. And this new covenant remedies the faults in the old one. In this one we have the law written on our hearts (it says so) and we are God’s people and he is our God. That is actually one of my favourite phrases from OT. It just sounds so intimate whenever God says it to his people. It’s like a promise of eternal, deep, loving friendship. Sort of like a marriage contract: you will be mine and I will be yours, together we shall be one. Not saying we’re one with God, but the intimacy and seriousness of that saying always hits home for me. Plus, he is merciful towards us and forgets our sins. That is pretty beautiful, you have to admit.

Anchored (Hebrews 5-6)

So yesterday talking about the high priest thing sort of jumped the gun, but i will continue today.

I noted that I’ve read about the order of Melchizedek in Psalms, but I actually still didn’t know what it was…so I looked it up 😀 Apparently he was the dude in Genesis who blessed Abram after he rescues Lot (and by dude I mean high priest ..). Therefore, it makes sense that Jesus is from his “order” in that he has taken his place as high priest, but he will take it forever.

However, I think my favourite part comes in verse 19:

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain”

Because Jesus has fulfilled this high priestly role, we can have confidence in Jesus’ intercession for us, and through him our salvation. An anchor holds a boat in place despite currents and winds, just as our confidence in Jesus holds us in place despite the turmoils and storms of life. Now that is encouraging as I gear up for school.

Rest Through Christ (Hebrews 3-4)

Rest is a wonderful thing. And God has invited us to come and join his rest. However, it is because of Jesus that we are even able to do so. Jesus is greater than angels, as discussed yesterday, but he is also greater than Moses, as discussed today. And even though we turn away, just as the Israelites did from God during the time of Moses, we still have an opportunity to approach God. As the author puts it, we have a great high priest. Instead of the priests God set up, beginning with Aaron, we have Jesus. Jesus who knows what we are going through because he has experienced it.

And yet, do we keep this greatness to ourselves? Or do we continue to bring the good news to others that they too may enter this rest won for us by Christ Jesus. Not that we cause them to enter by any means, but that God may work through us to reach those whom he loves.

Jesus is Supreme (Hebrews 1-2)

I haven’t read Hebrews in a while, so I’m looking forward to this week.

Reading Hebrews 1 and most of 2, I can’t hep but be struck by the supremacy that is Christ’s. It’s interesting that angels are used as a comparison, but it makes sense for new believers who had previously only heard about God and angels through the OT/Jewish Canon. Even so, pulling out all the old scriptures showing how Jesus is esteemed above all other things and then moving on to show how he humbly went to be lower than the angels he was above is kind of cool.

AND it is through this action that we are able to be saved. It gives salvation that humble side. Remembering that an all powerful being sacrificed of himself for broken humans, not esteemed angels. If you really think about it, isn’t that something worth telling people about? Isn’t it worth praising? Isn’t that someone worth following, even if you get nothing in return?

The Game Plan (Philemon)

God’s plan for Onesimus and Philemon were not exactly what they had picked out for themselves. I don’t think it would have been in Onesiumus’ thought process to return, and I’m fairly confident it wasn’t in Philemon’s plan to accept him back with open arms. Also, they probably didn’t plan on being converted. Be that as it may, there was still a plan set out for them.

And you know what? It was a pretty good plan in the end. A little unconventional, but the results were pretty fantastic (I think, at least). So it reminds us that even when our life plan seems to make no sense, God is completely in control and he will make it beautiful in the end. It’s hard to trust, yes, but there is a beautiful story to tell on the other side.

Majors and Minors (Titus 3)

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” – Titus 3:8-9

Point being, focus on the things that matter, not the ones that don’t. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn about things that we disagree on and continue to learn more, but it isn’t the focus. The focus always has and always will be on the saving power and mercy of Christ. When we take this focus away, all things are in vain. We don’t have time to waste foolishly fighting over little things when eternity is at stake.