Friday, January 31, 2014

The Drawer is Stuck

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've figured it out.

All those times that I look at someone I know well and can't come up with a  name...those moments in conversations when the noun I'm looking for eludes me...basically any time I can't come up with a bit of something that I KNOW I's what happens...

The little neurons in my brain run to the file cabinet where that particular bit of info is stored and discover the drawer is stuck.   They can't get it open to give me the requested info in a timely fashion.

Oh, they usually do manage to get the drawer open eventually...sometimes minutes...sometimes hours...later and that random bit of info will suddenly pop into the forefront of my consciousness,  but at the moment I really need it - nothing.

So if I'm talking to you and suddenly get a blank look on my face and tell you, 'The drawer is stuck', you'll know that I really do know, but that data is just not accessible at that moment.

'Cause, you know, the drawer is stuck. ;-)

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Power of The Blood: Hebrews 9

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Well, I took a breath and checked out the answers to the Chapter 8 questions and, to my great relief, found that I was pretty much on the same page as Suzanne.  ;-).

So we move on into chapter 9...after looking at the contrast between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, now we look at the difference between the covenants each of those priesthoods mediated...the first being the shadow or forerunner of the second.  The author details what happened in the administration of the first covenant in the first 10 verses, and concludes

According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper - v. 9

Do you know what the first word in the next section is?


BUT when Christ appeared...

he entered once for all into the holy places, the greater and more perfect tent that is not made with hands and not of earthly creation,

he did not enter through the blood of animals, but through his own blood, securing eternal redemption.

if the blood of boats and bulls, and the sprinkling of the defiled person with ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God - vs. 13-14

The new covenant does what the old could purifies the conscience.

I'm tempted to just type out the rest of the chapter, because it is SO GOOD, but, you know, you can read it for yourself.  Note that the old, the copy, the shadow of what was to come laid the groundwork and established the truth: without blood, sin can not be cleansed.

I'm going to sit on that for just a minute.  I've read any number of writers who believe that God was so angry with mankind that he required blood to appease him for the error.

But the scripture repeatedly says things like 'Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than the fat of rams'  (1 Samuel 15:22)  and For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you will not despise.  (Ps. 51: 16-17).

We're not talking about appeasing God, we're talking about washing away sin.

Because sin cannot come into the presence of a holy God.  Not that God won't allow its nature, it cannot exist where He is.  That would be like darkness hanging out in a room full of light.  It can't happen.  Light banishes darkness just by virtue of their opposite natures.

So God made a way for sin to be cleansed, so that we could put on the righteousness of Christ and stand in God's presence.

And when you clean anything, you have to use the right solvent.

Back in the day before oxy-cleaners and shamwow rags, housewives had a list of stain removers, based on the stain.

A berry or fruit stain was removed by pouring boiling water on it.

A blood stain was removed by soaking in cold water.

Ink was removed...hopefully...with cheap hairspray.

And so on.

The solvent depended on the make up of the stain; and the sin stain was such that only blood could clean it.

Clean, un-sin-stained blood.

Which Jesus had, and freely offered so that people who receive it can be cleansed from the sin stain that would keep them from the presence of God.

The blood of animals could only temporarily cover sin; Jesus' blood had only to be offered once for everyone, for all time, forever.

Now the question is...what will we do with that offering?  Receive it?  Or reject it...and try to find something else that will work?  Or deny that the work needs doing? 

 (Be sure you read all the way to the end of Suzanne's post that I linked above; she has a challenge for her readers that is well worth considering)

Friday, January 24, 2014

School Dreams...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok, I've done 4 Bible-study catch up posts in a row; think I'm gonna catch my breath and talk about something else.

School dreams.

Not the 'oh, I have a dream of someday returning to school and becoming a ____' kinda dreams, I'm talking dreaming at night about being in school and forgetting to go to class or being unprepared for a test or, like the one I had last night, not remembering WHICH class I'm supposed to be at now or WHERE it is or even WHERE my locker is and, oh, I can't remember the can I get my books and notes and the things I need for the class I know I'm supposed to be at someplace???

Sometimes it's high school...sometimes it's college and it's right before finals and I suddenly remember that I should've been going to class for the last 10 weeks...

I always wake up tense and frustrated.

And wondering if there's something I'm forgetting to do or overlooking.

I think this is pretty common; I know several of my friends have told me that they have dreams like that, too.
 I really hadn't taken vacation last year, working more than my part-time hours and then working at home, stashing comp time, trying to get stuff done for the data base transfer or get things running afterwards. The rest of life was kinda on hold.  But I had an extended Christmas break, using as much vacation time as I could before it went away on the 31st...and I had plans to work on stuff that had been postponed.

But we got sick.  For the entire break and then some. Nothing got caught up.  Nothing.

I'm wondering if the frustrating school dream is connected to the fact that I feel behind in everything.

Yesterday I spent some time on a volunteer job that was behind; I had a plan to tackle that in a couple of weeks, but because I was getting some pressure to get on top of it now I spent about 4 hours doing what I could to fix things up a bit.  Oh, it was appreciated, and I guess I'm glad to have the ball rolling there, but... well... I'm still behind on a lot.

And I'm having trouble figuring out which behind project needs attention most.

What class am I supposed to be at?  Where is it?

So...I know this sounds whiney, and it really isn't meant to.  Just trying to run down the source of the lost and confused and pressured feeling that expressed itself in a dream last night. I think it's interesting to see how real life percolates around and turns up in dreams.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hebrews 8 and a look back...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

For those that are joining us late, I'm participating in an online study of the book of Hebrews, which is being blogged by my former Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader, Suzanne Matthews.

I'm trying hard to catch up to Suzanne's posts; as of this moment I'm two weeks behind. ;-).

After the first chapter's study, when I read her commentary before really thoroughly considering the chapter myself, I decided I needed to follow the BSF practice of not reading outside material until after  1) answering the study questions and 2) discussing the questions in small groups and 3) listening to the teaching leader present an expository lecture on the passage and 4) reading the official BSF notes.  That way, we would not be falling back on what 'the pastor' or 'this author' had to say about the passage until after we had read and studied it out for ourselves, getting our own revelation rather than just pondering someone else's.

It's a pretty good way to do a disciplined study like that.

So, I started skimming Suzanne's posts quickly to see if there were questions I needed to answer or consider as I looked at the assignment, but I didn't read her comments in depth until after I'd written up my own thoughts because I wanted to dig into it myself first.  Sorta like doing the questions before hearing the lecture.

For her chapter 8 post, though, there are questions.  So instead of going into details on chapter 8, which is basically a continuation of the argument presented in chapter 7 about the superiority of Christ's priesthood, quoting a passage from Jeremiah 31 as support, I'm going to do my best to answer Suzanne's questions:

1) Hebrews 8 begins with, the point of what we are saying is this  
     By  now we should know the point of Hebrews. What would you say it is?

Jesus is the Priest, continually ministering on our behalf,of the New Covenant, which is superior in all ways to the previous covenant.

2) Why is Jesus our perfect High Priest?

He suffered as  a human, but remained sinless; therefore, He did not have to offer sacrifices on His own behalf; furthermore, he did not offer animal sacrifices but instead offered up himself; the perfect priest offering the perfect sacrifice.

3) Who made the New Covenant?
The Lord Himself, as stated in the passage quoted from Jeremiah in 8:8 - 12

4) What are the differences between the old Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant?

Lots, but I'll name a few:
Mosaic Covenant atoned for sin but did not wash it away; the New Covenant has the power to cleanse us from the sin stain itself;
Mosaic Covenant was administered by priests who were selected according to man's application of the Law; the New covenant is administered by a priest who was selected by God and declared a priest by God's own sworn oath
Mosaic Covenant was a shadow, a picture of that which is to come; the New Covenant is the thing itself
Mosaic Covenant was comprised of laws written on stone tablets; the New Covenant is written by the Spirit on the very hearts of those who receive it.
The Old Covenant was men reaching for God through obedience; the New Covenant is about God reaching for Men and Men responding with faith.

And, looking ahead to Chapter 9:

5) Where were the priests' sacrifices made?
The priests made their sacrifices in the earthly tabernacle, which had been built according to the pattern shown to Moses on the Mountain of God

6) Where were Jesus' sacrifices made?
Jesus brought His sacrifice to the heavenly tabernacle, the one that was the  model for the copy made on earth, the one that was set up by the Lord and not men (8:2)

At least, that's how I read the questions...this is always risky, because I may find I misread something and put a wrong answer out for all the world to see...

I'll try to do chapter 9 tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hebrews 7 - The Significance of Melchizedek

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(See Suzanne's post on Hebrews 7)
Oh, the beauty of a logical argument!  That little part of me that loves to see precept built upon precept just wants to stand on a chair and applaud the logic in Hebrews 7.

For, after declaring for the second time that Jesus is a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, the author now sets about to explain just exactly what that means.

First, he tells us a bit about Melchizedek...

He emphasizes that Abraham recognized the holiness of Melchizedek and gave him a tithe of everything.  That's important for a point he's going to make later.

He points out that 'Melchizedek' means 'King of Righteousness' and that 'King of Salem' translates to 'King of Peace'...both titles for Jesus.

We have no record of Melchizedek's parents or beginning and no end. 

A picture of the Priesthood of beginning and no end.

Now the author launches into the meat of his argument...that the Priesthood of Melchizedek is superior in every way to the Levitical priesthood, with the corollary that the covenant that is administered by the priesthood of Melchizedek is therefore superior in every way to the covenant administered by the Levitical priesthood, as Melchizedek preceded Levi, and Levi, in the person of his ancestor Abraham, paid tribute to and was blessed by Melchizedek, as a subject pays tribute to an overlord.

The Levites, the author points out, had to offer sacrifices continually for both themselves and the people.  Jesus, our High Priest of the order of Melchizedek, had no need to offer sacrifice for himself but offered himself as the one and only, complete and final sacrifice on behalf of the people and now lives forever to intercede on our behalf.

Finally, after quoting from Ps. 110 to establish that God had sworn with an oath that the Son would be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,  he states

For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. - 7:28

A better hope (v. 18); a better covenant (v.22), permanent (v. 25). 

Let me leave you with the glorious declaration of  7:25, as it is rendered in the Amplified...

Therefore, He is able also to save to the uttermost -- completely, perfectly, finally and for all time and eternity -- those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

That's My King!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hebrews Chapter 6...The Heart of the Matter

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

I will be straight up honest with you.  Hebrews chapter six contains one of the most difficult passages to process in the New Testament.  There are some pretty awesome promises at the end of the chapter, but there is a gorilla in the living room that we must address first.

Of course, I'm talking about verses 4 - 6:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted in the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Suzanne's discussion of Chapter 6 lists four possible interpretations of that passage, and I would star the same one.

Let me explain why...

The author of Hebrews actually gave a clue to this argument back in chapter 2, verse 3:

how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

And another in 3:12:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Note that the author is addressing BROTHERS, that is, folks who are active in the body of believers, clearly indicating that it is possible to be among those who believe and yet not be a true believer; having an evil, unbelieving heart...and the end of harboring an evil, unbelieving heart is to fall away, to reject what one has seemed to embrace.

Two verses in Psalms both state The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."...and I wrote a post about a year ago pointing out the difference between saying with one's mouth  and saying in one's heart. 

And, if one really and truly renounces faith in God after experiencing the fellowship of those who believe, after attending Bible studies and being an eye witness of God's work in those around him...what is left for him?  Where will he go to find forgiveness and redemption?  Having rejected the sacrifice of the Son of God Himself, what hope has this person of ever finding a superior truth or more sure way?

There is none.

And the Bible is clear that there is a point of no return, a place of such hardened rebellion that God's Spirit will withdraw and allow the person to continue on the chosen path.  As C.S. Lewis said, 'All who chose death receive it.'

But neither you nor I can identify that point in another's life. So long as a single spark of desire for God exists in a heart, that heart has not fully rejected God.  In fact, the author of Hebrews goes on to state

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things -- things that belong to salvation. 

Then he concludes his discussion by extolling God's promise to us as unbreakable, sure and steadfast, based not on our own works but on God's oath and promise and the action of Jesus.

A wicked, unbelieving heart will cause one to fall away; a heart full of faith and patience will inherit God's promise. It all comes down to what's in the heart.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hebrews 5 - Ouch

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm a whole lotta behind on the Hebrews Study, but since Suzanne kinda took a break for the holidays I'm not as far behind as I thought..#goodthing...

When we last parted with the study, we had just covered Hebrews 4, and our homework was to read chapter 5 in the New Living Translation.  Suzanne very kindly provided a link to Bible Gateway  Hebrews 5 NLT for those of us who don't have that translation on the shelf yet.  I don't, so I clicked my way over and read it...and one phrase pretty much stopped me cold.  It's verse 11, coming right after the glorious description of Jesus as the highest of high priests,  perfectly qualified, absolutely authorized, interceding on our behalf.

It's as if the author suddenly remembered who he was talking to.

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.  

Spiritually dull and don't seem to listen.

As someone who is involved in a job where training other folks is part and parcel of what I do, I get this.

I have spent hours documenting, step by step, with screenshots and explanatory text boxes with little arrows pointing to specific buttons to click, the process that we have used, reproduced the documentation and passed it around to everyone who needed it, only to find months later that nothing had been done as prescribed because, basically, no one wanted to take the time to read the manuals and follow the step-by-step.

I've just watched as that very thing happened to a colleague recently.  'I don't understand,' she lamented, 'I gave her all the step by step documentation that I made for that process.  Why didn't she do it that way?'

Insert emoticon of head banging against wall.

If someone has already made up their mind as to how something should happen, you can  wave the little screenshots with the arrows and textboxes all you want, but it isn't going to make a bit of difference.  Their mind is made up.  They know what they're going to do.  And it doesn't involve paying the least attention to the instructions.

They're going to do what makes sense to them.  Not what is efficient, or according to procedures or even right.  

How could it not be right if it's what makes sense?  

The complaint of a generation, right there.

Dull and not listening.

I get the author's frustration.  There is so much he wants to share, so many great truths to explore, but he can't do any of it because his audience is dull and not listening.  They've already made their minds up about so much of what God has to offer that they can't even hear what is really available to them. ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word... (verse 12) 

I'm right here with everyone else.  How often to I fall back on 'what makes sense' instead of what is plainly presented to me as instruction?  How many times have I circled 'round back to the beginning, to start learning the same lesson over again, because I just didn't want to give up what makes me comfortable to venture into the new, the better,  the stretching and growing zone of being sharpened into something no longer dull; to pay attention and heed instead of singing 'Lalalalalalala' so that I can pretend I'm not responsible for what I didn't hear?

Time to grow up.

If you want to go back in time to November (yeah, that's how far behind I am), Suzanne's challenging post on chapter 5 is here

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Praise for It

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Today I woke up with a little ditty in my head that is on repeat...
If you want joy you must praise for it
If you want joy you must praise for it
If you want joy you must praise for it
The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

I pondered that as I drove The Actor back to the ministry center for the start of his second semester internship.  I've thought about it as I cancelled some plans for tomorrow evening due to continued illness in the house.  I've thought about it as I contemplated all the festive decor that is now due to be dismantled in the return to normalcy that follows the holidays.


This is the season of praise.  Just because the day we commemorate the birth of Christ has passed we should not cease to honor His coming.  The calendar has changed, but He is the same. We are approaching Epiphany, commemorating the worship of the Magi...those foreigners who recognized the signs of His coming when His own scholars and scribes missed it.  And they worshiped, while the folks who ought to have been overjoyed scratched their heads and went back to their business.


Going into 2014, let me not be one who would shrug off any opportunity to praise and worship just to finish the business at hand...because praise brings His joy, which is my strength...