If you’ve said ‘yes’ to Jesus in the gospel, then right now you are standing in God’s dwelling place, in the heavenly Jerusalem. This means being very intentional about living heavenly lives now. Every member’s spiritual health is the concern of every other member. Be proactive in both encouraging and challenging any ungodliness or spiritual drift detected in any of God’s people, before it infects the community. In all things, allow God to work in you what pleases him. For it’s for that that you’ve been saved.
Chapter 11 of Hebrews is about Christian perseverance, when God seems to delay – as he most commonly does (by our standards). Faith is the means by which Christians persevere, and it started with Abraham. If the faithful people of the Old Covenant could inspire faith in the Christ they never knew, how much more should our lives inspire others, knowing him who made God visible!
As the Easter season continues we return to the Letter to the Hebrews, as the letter itself now moves from extended teaching on the perfections of Christ’s priesthood, covenant and sacrifice, to practical application. Today — two exhortations and a final warning:
- Draw near to God with confidence and persistent hope.
- Be consistent in encouraging one another.
- Don’t be among those who shrink back through impatience, and fail to receive all that God has promised.
Easter Sunday, Yr A
If you’ve said ‘yes’ to the Bible’s claim that Jesus Christ not only died for sin but also rose from the grave, then that changes everything — including your life from today onwards. It means that your life is now bound up with Christ, and the only choice with integrity is to begin today living a new life shaped by Christ’s character and purposes.
By the standards of any human wisdom, celebrating the logically senseless and ignominious execution of one man is a fool’s errand. It’s backing a loser. But God’s wisdom says otherwise. God has consistently used what we call failure to achieve his saving purposes. And the Cross of Jesus was and is the climax of it all. Despite appearance and logic, it is the power of God.
Palm Sunday, Yr A
Whether our culture realises it or not, humility is a virtue in western culture generally and Australian culture in particular, because Jesus Christ went to the Cross and taught humility. Philippians 2:6-11 is almost certainly a very ancient Christian hymn which Paul has quoted and built a block of teaching around. Here are two focal points as on this Palm (or Passion) Sunday we contemplate some practical implications of Jesus’ decision to enter Jerusalem to die:
- Jesus’ humility changes the way we respond to one another in community;
- Jesus’ humility changes the way we respond to him as Lord.
Occasion: Funeral Thanksgiving service for Ben Reid, determined servant of Jesus.
Lent 5, Yr A
Psalm 130 is a penitential psalm, and hence appropriate to Lent. But it’s also a gospel-shaped psalm. It poses the weighty question of whether God keeps a record of our sins, and answers it with a litany of glorious news sinners – that with God there is forgiveness, a never-empty reservoir of love, and ample redemption. Finally it preaches Christ to our hearts with a promise that all the sins of God’s people will be redeemed.
Lent 4, Yr A
This much loved psalm personalises the faith of Israel. The Lord (Yahweh) is not only the shepherd of Israel, he is my shepherd. He is also my generous host. If the Lord is your shepherd, tell someone else about his goodness.
Here ends a long block of teaching (most of chapters 4-10) on Christ’s priesthood and atoning sacrifice. Several times we read the phrase “once for all”, applied to Christ’s sacrifice of himself to pay for all sin. Verse 18 is the final word: your forgiveness is complete and lasting through Christ; therefore no sacrifice will ever be needed again. We’ll return to Hebrews after Easter, considering the new life to be lived because of the Cross.