BOOK OF HEBREWS – FAITH IS ENDURANCE

Endurance
We must endure to make it to the end (Image source: QuotesPictures)  

 

We live in a turbulent problematic world and this is not news. We sometimes wish to go back to the past, in the belief that the past was better. As children we were often protected from seeing the problems of the world, so we overlook the fact that people, including our parents, have always faced tough times.

Almost 2000 years ago, Jewish Christians faced hard times, some were killed for their faith. So, they had good reasons to return to Judaism. Yes, they would have escaped hard times for being Christians, but another type of challenge will be waiting. Whoever we are, whatever we believe and worship, life will test us.

The book of Hebrews tells the Jewish Christians that Jesus is the promised savior. Jesus is greater than angels, Moses, the priests, and the Temple sacrifices; so they should not lose faith. Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG) says: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”

Christian faith calls us to believe that a new world, ruled by Jesus, is coming. There will be justice, love, healing, and joy. The ancestors like Abel, Abraham, Moses, believed this message even when they were dying and the new world had not come. They believed what they could not see, and died in hope. This belief, this faith in Jesus, is the Christian foundation for hope, and strength, to endure life.

Lord, help us to understand Christian faith and hope; strengthen our faith and hope, so we can endure the challenges of life, Amen!  

 

BOOK OF HEBREWS – DON’T LOSE HOPE!

Fiath to Hope
Don’t lose hope – keep the faith! (Image source: exploreGod.com)

 

In the year 64 AD, Emperor Nero of Rome, secretly set the city on fire, and blamed the disaster on Christians. Nero wanted to rebuild Rome; to overcome opposition to his plan, he set fire to it. This happened about 30 years after the death of Jesus; counting back from 2019, this would have happened 1955 years ago.

Christians at that time suffered greatly; they were beaten often; lost their jobs, businesses, and houses; were locked up in jail and later killed for being followers of Jesus. Young women became widows, children became orphans. It was a difficult time, some lost hope and denied Jesus so that their suffering could end.

The book of Hebrews was written first to Jewish Christians, who were suffering greatly, and were thinking of going back to Judaism. That is why in Chapters 1 to 10, the author shows them how Jesus is greater than (1) Angels (2) Moses (3) the Melchizedek Priesthood (4) the Levi Priesthood and (5) the Temple sacrifices.

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) says: “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”     

Hebrews encourages us not to give up hope in Jesus during tough times. Can we truly say we have faith, if our faith is not tested? Every Christian will pass through periods in life, when we are expected to show patient endurance.

Lord, teach us how to hold on when our faith is tested, Amen!

 

Book of Hebrews – the end of History!

Empty Tomb
Empty Tomb, Symbol of a New Beginning (Image source: www.geeksundergrace.com)

 

In 1992, an American, Francis Fukuyama, published ‘The End of History and the Last Man‘. In it, he teaches that in the war of ideas, American democracy defeated Russian communism; and since there is no better idea of government than American democracy, we have reached the end of the development of political ideas.

Many political experts agreed with Fukuyama, many others disagreed, but the book made him very famous. Interestingly, the teaching that there is an end to history did not begin with Fukuyama, it is found in the pages of the Bible. Simply explained, Jesus is the end of history – in this case, the end of Bible history.

The book of Hebrews 1:1-2 (Good News Translation) says“In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end.”

Bible history starts with humans choosing to live independently from God, and consequently leading to a world of suffering and death. Bible history shows the plan of reconciliation and healing God put in place, and ends with Jesus as the result of this plan. Jesus is the first born, new seed, prototype, of the new humanity.

Jesus came, showed what this new humanity can do, in terms of power to heal the world, including power over death. There is nothing more to do, other than to set up a factory to create more of this new humanity, the Church is that factory.

O Lord, teach us so we can understand this message from the book of Hebrews, about Jesus as the end of Bible history, Amen!

THE BIBLE – TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Scam
Is the Bible too good to be true? (Image source: BibleSenders.org)

 

Experience teaches us not to trust anyone, until we have gotten to know them better.  We carefully test the things we hear people say because people can be deceptive, manipulative, and evil. So, it is no surprise that we bring this doubting attitude to the Bible as we read its stories, words of counsel, and promises.

If we could overcome our doubts and fears, we will easily see amazing truths in the Bible, and their healing power for our body, soul, and spirit. Take Matthew 12:18-21 (The Message Bible), a prophecy explaining Jesus mission, which says:

“Look well at my handpicked servant; I love him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”

These are beautiful and wonderful words, kind and loving, full of hope for all people. Imagine what it will be like to live under such a leader and ruler, who rules with love, gentleness, compassion, truth, and fairness to all – this is paradise!

Experience from human society, will make us read this with doubt; we might even be thinking – this is too good to be true, it is a scam. However, experience also teaches us to give everyone a chance to prove themselves trustworthy or untrustworthy. What if this Jesus is not a fraud, but you shut him out of your life?

God of heaven, you created us to test all things and learn through evidence; give every person evidence that Jesus is real; dear God, speak into our hearts, convince us through your Holy Spirit, Amen!

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE…

Tongue
Tame the tongue (Image source: ThousandThoughts)

 

What kind of person do I want to be? When I was a child, I wanted friends so we could play. At high school I was very concerned with what the girls thought about me. At my first job, I focused on making a good impression on my boss. At each point, I have deliberately taking steps to achieve my ‘person-I-want-to-be’ ambition.

Today, I work at a university, with colleagues and students from around the world, with different personality types, maturity, and life goals. I am challenged more than ever before, on the question what kind of person do I want to be? One helpful answer that applies to everyone – is about the way we use our tongue.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (God’s Word Translation) says: A person’s speaking ability provides for his stomach. His talking provides him a living. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words.  

Am I the sort of person whose tongue gives life? Is my tongue so sharp that it cuts, or so pointed that it stings, or perhaps so deceptive that it ignites fires everywhere? What kind of a person am I at home, at work, to my neighbors? How well am I a master of my tongue given that it can open or close doors of opportunity?

Lord God, please teach and discipline me, to use my tongue to give life not death; to use my tongue to open doors not shut them; to use my tongue to become an inspiring person, Amen!

THE ELISHA MIRACLES

Elisha
Miracles are a higher reality (Image source: welcomechurch.co.uk)

 

Recently, I organized a tree planting event with University students. In a preparatory meeting I strongly emphasized to the students the need to post pictures and messages about the event on social media. A student asked why I was so insistent, I answered that for youths today, if an event is not on social media, it is not important.

Similarly, physical scientists say if we cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste a thing, then that thing is not real. Like youths today who judge importance by number of followers and likes on social media, physical scientists see reality strictly by whether our five senses can detect and measure the impact of a thing.

The Bible teaches another view; it is great to have followers and likes but the follower that counts is YAHWEH. More importantly, the Bible teaches about a higher reality, call it super-reality, or hyper-reality, or beyond-the-physical-reality. The book of 2 Kings, Chapter 6, is one of many Bible passages about this higher reality.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha the Prophet makes a solid metal axhead to float; and when a well armed battalion of soldiers came to capture him, scaring his servant to death, Elisha responded with a prayer in 2 Kings 6:17 (NIV): “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Elisha prayed for his servant, so he could see a higher reality – the servant saw an Angel army, larger than the battalion of soldiers sent to capture Elisha. Read up this interesting passage to see what happened to the human soldiers. Yes, the world is tough, but Christians can call on God’s Angel army for help.

El Elyon, God Most High, God of Angel armies, it is a precarious and dangerous world out there, rescue us from all dangers, Amen! 

DIVINE HELP IN PRECARIOUS TIMES

Precarity
Life has become more unpredictable (Image source: under30ceo.com)

Few weeks ago, the world was shocked by the Church bombings in Sri Lanka; a week ago, the BBC had a story revealing the horrors suffered by migrants traveling over the Sahara Desert to get to Europe; in the news yesterday, is a story of how an angry worker in America, shot and killed 12 of his colleagues.

The world has become precarious for so many people; precarity is a condition where a person is living with insecurity, uncertainty about what next or where next in life, and therefore lacking material needs and emotional well being.

Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, were in a precarious situation in Matthew 2:13 (NIV)When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

King Herod was out to kill the baby Jesus after the visit from the wise men. The poor family were warned by an angel, and had to migrate to Egypt to be safe. Life was hard, but having a visible angelic guide to warn of danger, and to later encourage a return back to Israel, was of great help to Joseph and Mary.

Precarity describes the condition that many are facing today. Like Joseph and Mary, we are in need of divine help in these times of high concerns over insecurity, food, shelter, stable jobs, money, relationships, and health.

I pray that we experience abounding grace, divine help with practical solutions, to the many problems threatening our survival, Amen!