Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 19 April 2017

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.   Hebrews 10, verses 11-14.

Do you feel like you’ve been made holy?

“HOLY” is a song on country radio now.   Florida Georgia Line sings it, and HOLY stands for “High On Loving You.”   You may or may not like country music; you may or may not like Florida Georgia Line (not my favorite).   But the song uses a word with which many country music fans might typically be familiar.   Holy.   Invoking a stereotype, it’s commonly accepted that country listeners have more exposure to gospel music and gospel themes than some other genres.   Thus, it seems reasonable to surmise that folks who listen to the song are familiar with the idea of holiness.  This particular ditty may be a young man’s paean to love (or something like it…that’s a Kenny Rogers song), but it made me think of the theme from verse 14.

You and I have been made holy.

My Concordia makes the point that this section of scripture contrasts sitting with the actions of Jewish priests, who stood in the tabernacle and the temple.  They never sat down while on duty.   They didn’t ‘rest’ in front of God.   Instead, they stood, walked, or performed all their duties while in the standing position.   Not so Jesus, who conducted His ministry as He did.   Then, after His ascension, “sat down at the right hand of God.”   That isn’t rhetoric or allegory:   it’s a point.

The point of it is that Jesus makes us holy.

The point of the verses is that Jesus was both divine and complete.  He completed His tasks because, in Him, life found full completion.   In and through Jesus, redemption and forgiveness are complete, and we have been made holy by Him.  No further sacrifice is necessary.   No further effort is required.   Where Jesus is, He is done.   Indeed, the Gospel of John says that some of Jesus’ last words were “it is finished.”  It is finished.   Everything that needed to be done was done.   He did everything necessary to make you holy.   Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God, lives and reigns today, resting but interceding with the Father through their Spirit on our behalf.   They do that because everything Jesus did was to make you holy.   Where Jesus is, He’s high on loving you.  Florida Georgia Line aint got nothing on that.

So I’ll admit that, sometimes, I don’t feel holy.   In fact, most of the time I don’t feel holy.   I can’t ‘feel’ it at all; I can’t seem to sense it.   I realize that this is a problem with me, not with God.   He’s already done His part and nothing more needs to happen.   It doesn’t matter whether I feel it or not:   God has still done everything that needed to be done to make me holy, to make me blameless in His sight.   Because I believe in Jesus, when God sees me, He doesn’t see my sins.   He sees me through the prism of His perfect Son.   What I don’t feel through emotion now is still reality in fact forever.   All I have to do is believe.  Yet I’ll admit:   sometimes this is a challenge.

It’s also moot.  Even when I don’t feel holy, Jesus looks at me as holy and bids me to turn from the temptations that lure me or the guilt that plagues me.   He reminds me that I’m loved perfectly, made clean perfectly, and that He sits and the right hand of His Father to tell him “consider our child and friend, Dave.   I’ve made him holy for You again.”   Florida Georgia Line can’t do that and it’s no less of a fact even when I don’t feel it.

For further reading:  Hebrews 5:1, Mark 16:19, Joshua 10:24, Hebrews 1:13, Ephesians 5:26, John 19:30.

My Lord, I praise You for making me holy.   For loving me so unconditionally, cleansing me from my sins, giving me the courage to live here again for You.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 3 October 2016

But there is a place where someone has testified:  “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor
and put everything under their feet.”  In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. Hebrews 2, verses 6-8.

Last Friday was my 50th birthday.   My family threw a not-so-surprise birthday party for me over the weekend and I was blessed to have some of my closest friends and family around me for a few hours to celebrate, share food and wine, and just enjoy each other’s company.  Many people have been wishing me “happy birthday” all weekend, and I’m grateful for them as well.

The best is yet to come.  Verse 8 here confirms that.

To tell you the truth, fifty years went by fast.   I suppose that makes me officially ‘old’ to even say that; next I’ll be saying “back in the day;” not hardly.   Anyway, it went by so quickly and I have only occasionally stopped to really noodle where I fit in the overall plan of what’s called “life.”  Whatever plan God has in my life He’s playing it out.   As that happens, I live it.   There’s too much going on, too much to see, too many good things to do to spend too much time navel-gazing and wondering what it all means.

Then I bounce up against verse 6 which reminds me that, in every generation, people do and should remind themselves that they are indeed part of God’s plan.   That while we’re part of the plan, we aren’t God.   That we’re so much lower than He is yet He continually lowers Himself to meet me where I am.   Physically God provides for everything I know and everything I have.   Spiritually He encourages me, chastises me, supports me, loves me.  Emotionally He comforts me and confronts me both.   Who am I that God should even think of me?   Who am I, Dave the fifty year old sinner, who has done some pretty rotten things, that the God of all time, space and dimension should even give me breath?   Who am I that You are mindful of me?

I’m His special creation.   That’s who I am.   That’s who you are.   That’s who He sees us to be.

God sees us as so special that He put us in this world that contains everything we could ever need to not just survive but thrive.  Love, salvation, thrill, imagination, creativity, ingenuity, logic, reason, justice, dreaming, desire, spirit, tenacity:   God gives us these things that bring meaning to the blessing of the life He begins in us.   Air, food, water, materials, sky, nature, invention, vocation:   God also gives us all tools that we need to build a life.  Jesus granted we, mankind, as the keepers and masters of His creation, entrusting us with the privilege of making the most that we can out of the place in which He made us.

In everything that God gives me, I get to see that He has blessed me.   Sure, some things don’t seem like blessings at the time.   Sickness, bills, problems, conflicts, even evil:   I don’t want these things any more than anyone else yet my life is affected by them.  Somehow, they’re a part of what God is doing here and I accept them even as I work to overcome them.  In this way, I get to see how He brings good out of the bad and how He turns everything for the good of those who love Him.  I get to see that, because He has been with me through my first fifty years, I know He will guide every second of these next fifty.   Only He knows what will fill each of those seconds; I get to find out as we build them.  Yet I know deep inside that He’ll use them for His good and that means they’ll be for my good as well.

This weekend, I read a meme that said (to the effect) “don’t spend time mourning what has happened.   Spend time preparing for what’s yet to come.”  That’s a good thought with which to begin this new half century.

For more reading:   Psalm 8

Lord Almighty, thank You for this life you’ve given me.   Thank You for blessing me with so much love, family, and plenty.