Archive | November, 2013

The Purchaser and Conqueror of His Kingdom

November 30, 2013

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[This is part five of a deeper study of the article 7 Reasons Christ is King. To get better context and a link to the other parts, you can click there and read it first.]

He Purchased Our Sins

In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for $15 million. Alaska was purchased from Russian in 1867 for $7 million. Those purchases gave the U.S. government full administrative and legal authority over the land and people. They were now subject to the laws and tax requirements of a possession.

As Paul told the church at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 6:20) we were purchased for a price. What Christ bought was our obligation to follow him, honor him, and glorify him. The elders at Ephesus were charged with shepherding the church which was purchased with Christ’s blood. (Acts 20:28)

When we consider that the defection of Christians back to Judaism was the occasion for the Hebrew letter to have been written, the author is appealing to sense of ownership that God feels over his people. How similarly do you think God reacts to a failed purchase as we do when something we buy does not perform to our expectations?

He Sits at God’s Right Hand

With a quick look at history, we see rulers that maintain rule simply because they are able. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, The Roman Empire, The British Empire, The United States – The list is exhaustive.

Jesus slew Satan by his death taking away his power of death. (Hebrews 2:14) Being allowed to “sit at the right hand” of God is a picture of dignity, power and gracefulness. Christ is in charge of his kingdom right now. He will reign until “he has put his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

Until Christ hands the kingdom back over to God, (1 Corinthians 15:24) we are subjects of his kingdom. We are to respect and honor his Lordship until that day.

Daily Bible reading for November 30

Psalm 120
Job 3
Isaiah 24
John 20

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The Sustaining Force

November 29, 2013


[This is part four of a deeper study of the article 7 Reasons Christ is King. To get better context and a link to the other parts, you can click there and read it first.]

Anyone who has a complete working knowledge of something, who can sustain its operation, and make it respond to his every command has a right to be named ruler over it. Since Christ “Upholds all things by his word and power,” (Hebrews 1:3b) his kingship is authenticated by his ability to control all things.

Paul stated in Colossians 1:17 “in him all things hold together.” When we compare and contrast Hebrews 1:3 with Colossians 1:17 when have the two writers giving us a complete picture. Paul says continue because of him and the Hebrew writer says the universe responds to his pervasive word.

Jesus repeated over and over what is possible when he is involved. Let’s remember to think of him first no matter what we are planning.

(Matthew 19:26) But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

(Mark 9:23) And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

(Mark 10:27) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

(Luke 1:37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”

(Luke 18:27) But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Part 5: The Purchaser and Conqueror of His Kingdom

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God in the Flesh

November 28, 2013


[This is part three of a deeper study of the article 7 Reasons Christ is King. To get better context and a link to the other parts, you can click there and read it first.]

His Excellence of Character

The dignity of our Lord doesn’t depend on the fact that he created the world or even inherited it. He is the reflection of God. There was once time when there was no creation, but there has never been a time when God had no glory. It is that intangible essence of God that would have been hard to grasp if there had never been a Christ.

The Hebrews writer attempts to capture that essence through the words we have translated as radiance or effulgence. (Hebrews 1:3) The idea is that Christ shines forth like a brilliant light – certainly this is the inspiration of the many painters through time that rendered Jesus in the middle of light. The audience of the letter was sure to remember how Moses’ face shone after being in the presence of God. Those present at the transfiguration of Christ must have witnessed something similar.

The Image of God

The Son of God bore the exact image of his father. How much extra credit do we give the sons of famous men when they strongly favor their fathers? Something about the genetic similarities causes us to expect so much more from them. How much more then would that apply to image of God?

When the writer said that Christ was the “imprint of His nature,” he was communicating something along the lines of the die that strikes a coin or a branding iron making its owner’s exact mark. Christ said in John 14:9, “he that has seen me has seen the Father.” Paul said we were redeemed by the blood of the very image and first born of God. (Colossians 1:14-15)

Imagine God being available to look at. His hand is held out to hold ours. What if we could look into his eyes and see the love he has for us?

How would God feel if, after all that before us, we rejected him?

That is the emotion that the Hebrew writer was appealing to.

Part 4: The Sustaining Force

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The Creator of All Things

November 27, 2013


[This is part two of a deeper study of the article 7 Reasons Christ is King. To get better context and a link to the other parts, you can click there and read it first.]

Hebrews says that through Christ, God created the world. (Hebrews 1:2) This credential of Christ is a human right that has never been challenged in the history of man. Whatever one creates is his, by law, by courtesy, and common sense. That said, we can prove Christ as the creator very easily.

  • In Colossians 1:16-17 we see that Paul fully understood Christ to be God. In these verses he says that Christ is the Creator of the universe, he was the sole end of his own work, he was prior to all creation, and he is the preserver of all things.
  • John 1:3 credits Christ with creation. Nothing is possible except through him.
  • Genesis 1:26 says that man was made in “our” image. There was an understanding of the existence of the Godhead even from the beginning.
  • John 17:5 records Jesus remembering the glory he felt with God before the beginning.

As Creator, his authority is absolute. Those who turn away from him, like those Hebrews the letter is written to, are turning away from the only one who offers salvation.

Part 3: God in the Flesh

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The Heir of All Things

November 26, 2013

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[This is part one of a deeper study of the article 7 Reasons Christ is King. To get better context, you can click there and read it first.]

The Hebrews writer begins the letter by establishing Christ as the King of kings. Seven reasons are listed verifying his authority,(Hebrews 1:2-3) not over just earthly things but of heaven, the universe – all things. These are listed from lowest to highest, starting with the idea of his being a son, and appointed as the heir.

Family fortunes have always passed through the bloodlines just like legal authority in world’s kingdoms. The only begotten son of God is therefore his rightful heir. The writer no doubt had these verses in mind as he labeled Christ the heir of all things:

  • Psalm 2: 8 – … I will make the nations your heritage …
  • Zechariah 9:9-10 – … And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.
  • Hebrews 1:5 – You are my Son, today I have begotten you (Points back to Psalm 2:7. Paul quotes it in Acts 13:33)
  • Hebrews 1:5 – I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (2 Samuel 7:14 – The seed that was promised to David was not Solomon but Jesus Christ)

Since the Jews have denied Christ’s Sonship from the beginning, these strong proofs from the old Law were meant to show them (even remind them) that the idea of a Son of God is not a new idea.

Part 2: The Creator of All Things

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The Credentials of Christ

November 25, 2013

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A Quick Note

The goal for this blog on a typical day is to write a little about what occurs to me during my daily reading. For the rest of the year however, I am going to concentrate on preparing for my Bible class on Hebrews that I am going to be teaching for the winter quarter. I will continue to record what I am reading each day, but the blog posts will not necessarily be related.

There is already a link to The Lists of Hebrews above which will serve as the landing page. It contains links to the articles that will serve as the base material for each class. It will remain fluid for the quarter so feel free to check back often.

The Credentials of Christ

Hebrews doesn’t contain much of an introduction in the traditional sense. We don’t know who wrote it, we just see that the writer begins immediately discussing what I call the “credentials of Christ.” The blog post 7 Reasons Christ is King contains the source material to begin the discussion. If we accept that Christ is all the things contained in Hebrews 1:1-4, then we can probably more easily make changes in our lives that conform to the commandments in the Bible.

If the Jews that converted to Christianity needed to be reminded of the reasons that Christ was the Messiah back then, we probably need it even more so today. How is it that today we have alternative plans of salvation, modes of worship, and even thoughts about the origin of all creation?

Because we forget that Christ’s way is the best way!

Daily Bible reading for November 25

Psalm 116
2 Kings 23:31-24:17
Isaiah 17-18
John 16:16-33

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When Jesus Returns

November 22, 2013

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Comparing John 14, Acts 1:11; 3:21; 2 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and others, we can get a sense of Christ’s return from heaven’s perspective.

Peter's Denial - 1660 - Rembrandt (1606–1669)

Peter’s Denial – 1660 – Rembrandt (1606–1669)

Things Christ will do when he returns:

  • He will raise the dead to life (John 5:24-29)
  • He will proceed with the judgment (John 5:24-29; Matthew 25:31-36)
  • He will destroy the wicked and reward the righteous (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
  • He will give the crown of life to the faithful (2 Timothy 4:7,8)
  • He will stop reigning, delivering up the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Things Christ will not do:

  • He will not offer himself a second time for the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:26-28)
  • He will not restore any phase of fleshly or national Israel (Race is nothing with God – Galatians 3:27)
  • He will not set up a kingdom (He’s already done that, the church is his kingdom)
  • He will not extend a second chance for unbelievers to repent (Hebrews 9:27)

Things Christ is doing at this moment:

  • He is reigning until all of his enemies have been put under foot (1 Corinthians 15:25f)
  • He is interceding for the redeemed (Hebrews 7:25)
  • He is administering all authority in heaven and upon earth (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • He is providentially overseeing the fortunes of his church on earth (Matthew 28:19,20)
  • He is preparing a home for the faithful (John 14:3)

Daily Bible reading for November 22

Psalm 113
2 Kings 21
Isaiah 11-12
John 14

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What Are We Without Him?

November 21, 2013

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Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” – John 13:37

Last Supper - 1495 - Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

Last Supper – 1495 – Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

Just saying you are willing to do something isn’t quite the same as actually following through is it? Peter thought he was ready, but when the time came to own Jesus, he denied him three times. He would not understand until later what he was signing up for, and just how much he needed God’s involvement.

When the time comes to defend God – when it is time to confess Jesus in a difficult situation, no amount of good-will or sincerity will get us through it without God. Like the old hymn goes – without him I could do nothing.

Peter and the others soon had the advantage of becoming apostles in Acts 2. All except John eventually had to demonstrate the courage required to die for God. Where does that leave us? How do we tap into God’s power?

  • We spend time in prayer
  • We spend time with his word
  • We worship him
  • We teach others about him

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we have no idea how we will react the next time we have the opportunity to represent Christ. If we don’t want to deny him like Peter did, we should be getting prepared.

Daily Bible reading for November 21

Psalm 112
2 Kings 20
Isaiah 9:8-10:34
John 13

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How to Hear God Speak

November 20, 2013

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We have probably all noticed that people tend to hear only what they expect to hear. (Often it is only what they want to hear, but that is a post for another day.) God spoke in John 12:29 and some of the crowd only heard thunder, others heard his words.

God expects us to make an effort to hear him

God expects us to make an effort to hear him

There is no mention of it in the passage, but I suspect that the people that didn’t believe in Jesus (John 12:37) were the same ones that didn’t understand the words when God spoke. Jesus had been demonstrating his power for months, and still, many were satisfied with their unbelief. Based on Johns quote from Isaiah, (John 12:40) God will let an unbeliever continue like that, further hardening their heart. Why not? Just like the Pharisees:

  • They literalize spiritual messages
  • They close the Bible and their eyes without study
  • They scorn others that are diligent

Serving God is a lot of work. Not the least of which is keeping our heart open to his word.

Daily Bible reading for November 20

Psalm 111
2 Kings 19
Isaiah 9:1-7
John 12:20-50

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Consider the Source

November 19, 2013

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The opinion of the masses can change at a whim. In John 12, the crowd turns into an unbelieving throng rather than the joyful group that welcomed him into Jerusalem. This shows us that there is no safety in numbers – we each need to make our own decisions based on evidence, not what is popular.

"Give us Barabbas" Illustrations from volume 9 of The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer, published in 1910.

“Give us Barabbas”
Illustrations from volume 9 of The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer, published in 1910.

The Jews were eventually able to get the people to go along with them on the decision to free Barabbas and then crucifying Jesus. We repeat that event every time we follow the crowd into some false teaching …

or participate in socially acceptable sin …

or support some sinful cause disguised as “good” …

It doesn’t matter if it is what you heard at church, from friends or a news show, everything you hear needs to be checked out. Rather than blindly following, let’s get better at being properly informed –

especially where God’s word is concerned.

Daily Bible reading for November 19

Psalm 110
2 Kings 18
Isaiah 7-8
John 11:55-12:19

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Generous, Fair and Confident

November 15, 2013

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The Lord hates both these things:
dishonest weights and dishonest measures. – Proverbs 20:10 NCV

The Lord hates dishonest weights,
and dishonest scales do not please him. – Proverbs 20:23 NCV

Christians are supposed to operate under an assumption that the Lord will take care of us. That means we aren’t to worry about the basics of life (Matthew 6:25-34) and we are to be generous, fair and confident. Here is how it works:

… give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:38 ESV

Generous, fair and confident in the Lord. How does increasing any of these change your life?

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The Trappings of Sin

November 14, 2013

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My child, if sinners try to lead you into sin,
do not follow them.file1191276012482

They will say, “Come with us.” …

It is useless to spread out a net
right where the birds can see it.

But sinners will fall into their own traps;
they will only catch themselves!

All greedy people end up this way;
greed kills selfish people. – Proverbs 1:10-11a, 17-19 NCV

Contrast the birds’ ability to avoid an obvious trap with someone that enters willingly into sinful adventures – The easy score … The fast buck … “One upping” someone…

History is littered with the failure of those who thought they could avoid falling into their own trap. We see it all the time with our politicians and those who try to influence them.

So many think they are finding freedom by turning away from God’s word. No more obeying commands designed by the Creator in our best interest! No more subjections to God’s will! Just the “freedom” to do what I want!

The Proverb writer shows us the opposite is true. Freedom is found outside the trappings of sin. Those who are in Christ find the kind of freedom that lasts. (Galatians 5) For the ultimate example of avoiding temptation, read about Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11.

Daily Bible reading for November 14

Psalm 105
2 Kings 14:1-22
Isaiah 1
John 8

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Angry at the Truth

November 13, 2013

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By the time frame of John 7, the Jews are really starting to get angry with Jesus. Jesus is teaching with authority and they know he didn’t learn it from them.

Jesus ask them in John 7:19 why they seek to kill him when they are not even keeping the Law of Moses. This is a great question, and it is similar to one that we can ask fellow Christians right now.

Why do others get angry with us when we teach something right out of the Bible? Especially when what we read there is different from what they “think?” Jesus said in John 7:17 that if someone really wants to do God’s will, then he will know what that will is.

What are the reasons for not knowing God’s will?

  • I’m busy
  • I’m sick
  • I don’t understand it
  • It’s difficult
  • I’m always tired
  • I’m working
  • My parents didn’t believe that

Rather than investigate what God says, many allow themselves to be “taught.”  So many excuses are offered to avoid the bother of searching for themselves.

Anger is a natural reaction when one is told he is wrong. If we follow Jesus example, we still have to keep teaching all of God’s word, not just the parts that are convenient to others.

Daily Bible reading for November 13

Psalm 104
2 Kings 13
Malachi 3:13-4:6
John 7

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What Are They For So Many?

November 11, 2013

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As Jesus was preparing to feed the 5000, the disciples acted just like most people we know. They were convinced there was nothing they could do about the crowd and therefore didn’t do what they were told. (John 6:1-15) They resisted at every point:

Jesus feeding a crowd with 5 loaves of bread and two fish - Early 1600's - Bernardo Strozzi

Jesus feeding a crowd with 5 loaves of bread and two fish – Early 1600’s – Bernardo Strozzi

“There is not enough money”

“Send them away”

“What is five loaves to so many?”

One thing jumps out of the text for me: Nothing wonderful happened until the disciples quit making excuses and got to work organizing the people.

It is human nature to avoid difficulty. That fear is what keeps you from stepping into traffic. That fear is also what keeps you from doing great things.

In this event, we not only see Jesus performing an extraordinary miracle, but we see the Master Teacher at work, training the disciples for the difficult life ahead of them. Sometimes obedience still has to happen even when there is no clarity in the outcome.

Spreading the Gospel is a little like that for us isn’t it? Convincing the world that the Lord has the “bread of life” is difficult beyond our abilities.

But …

If we would only guide them to him …
be an example of faith …
and prepare them for the great things to come …

He will take care of the rest!

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. – 1 Corinthians 3:6

Daily Bible reading for November 11

Psalm 102
2 Kings 11
Malachi 2:10-17
John 6:1-21

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This is How the Gospel is Taught

November 8, 2013

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At first glance, it was not clear to me why the episode of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is included in the gospel. (John 4:1-42) Jesus was tired, hungry and thirsty from traveling. There are no miracles here. People gathered around him wherever he went. Nothing out of the ordinary, if you’re Jesus.

Then I looked at it from the standpoint of the gospel being for all people, in this case, Jew and Gentile. There is still more here than that, though. Looking still deeper, I see standalone instruction on how to bring someone to Christ. It is the ultimate demonstration that God is no respecter of persons.

Giacomo Franceschini - Gesù e la Samaritana al pozzo - 17th or 18th century

Giacomo Franceschini – Gesù e la Samaritana al pozzo – 17th or 18th century

The Samaritan woman embodies everything that Christ is not:

  • male vs. female
  • God vs. man
  • wisdom vs. ignorance
  • pure vs. immoral
  • Jew vs. Gentile

And yet … Jesus reveals to her who he is. Through his love and kindness he convinces her and those in her village that he is Christ. He didn’t even wait until an opportunity came to work it into the conversation. He just started teaching. We see her belief grow from his being a Jew that she is wary of, (John 4:9) to Sir, (John 4:11) to profit, (John 4:19) and finally the Christ. (John 4:29) This realization spread to the others and they desired him to stay with them. Jesus shows us how simple the gospel is. He shows us how so many already have a basic idea of who he is. We only need to lead them the rest of the way. When was the last time you mentioned Jesus in a conversation?

Daily Bible reading for November 8

Psalm 99 2 Kings 8 Zechariah 12-13 John 4:1-42

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