the immortal covenant

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” [Hebrews 10:16 NIV]

I suggest that this is the covenant that has always been in effect. Every other covenant is but a shadow of this one. All others are an outward refection of this inner reality. God has always been in the business of inner laws. Always been in the business of inner transformation and not external compliance.

Yet throughout history humans have placed a focus on the things that one can see with their eyes. Wanting covenants and laws that govern external behaviors but are impotent to change hearts and minds. Such is the temporal covenant. The one envisioned with earthly imaginations.

Yet since the beginning there has always been an immortal covenant at play. One that is spiritual in nature. Invisible to the eye but powerful to affect the nations. Such was the focus of the sermon on the mount. Following God has never been about external covenants but about inner renewal.

Teach us Lord to hear the voice of your immortal covenant deep within us.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

really bad religious math

when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire ... with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased ... I have come to do your will, my God.” [Hebrews 10:5-7 NIV]

So often religious activities are not the ones that please God. Doing things 'for' God is not the same as the Lord doing things through us. In a sense it is all about hidden motives. Things done out of religious obligation wreak of bad motives. Yet the works of the heart seem very different.

Jesus came into the world not to become a leader who would teach us to do religious things. His command to 'do this in remembrance of me' was not an injunction to begin a new form of religious sacrifice. The 'this' he spoke of was sharing a meal together and not a religious sacrament.

So why is it that we humans seem intent on doing religious things that are not really a part of God's will? Could it be that such activities help us to live 10% of our life as religious and 90% as secular? Is it really all about wanting our will for the 90%? Perhaps it is just really bad religious math?

Help us Lord to live 100% of our lives for you and the things that you desire.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

transactional forgiveness

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [Hebrews 10:4 NIV]

I think that it is not unusual for humans to make forgiveness a transaction. We do not want it to be free. We want to do something to earn it. The whole Jewish sacrificial system is built around this idea of offering sacrifices to be forgiven. Some even see the cross in this light.

In contrast to this concept, a bruised and beaten Messiah cries out from the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” This intercession destroyed the whole idea of transactional forgiveness. In a few words God the Son showed us what it means to forgive.

In its purist sense forgiveness is a gift that we give each other. We do it with no expectations. With open hands and hearts we choose to embrace the one forgiven as if they had not sinned against us. There is no act more divine. Nothing greater that shows our love for God and each other.

Lord. Help me to forgive. Help me to release the past and walk in forgiveness.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

religious shadows

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. [Hebrews 10:1 NLT]

Shadows are two dimensional in nature. They give us an idea about what we are looking at but not a complete picture. And, depending on the position of the light source, shadows can misrepresent the image that is projected. Such is some of the imagery in the scriptures.

Scriptural passages are sometimes skewed by cultural shadows that falsely envision God as a wrathful and avenging warrior. The ministry and teachings of Jesus shone a bright light on such shadows. In Christ we understand that we no longer need to rely on shadowy images of God.

In writing to the Colossians Paul tells us that Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. And earlier in this letter the writer tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. In reading these verses we understand that we no longer need to rely on shadowy depictions of God.

Help us Lord to reject shadowy images of you and embrace the reality of Christ.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

spiritual and physical rebirth

He will come again, not to deal with our sins,
but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. [Hebrews 9:28 NLT]

Salvation is a two phased process. It begins with a spiritual birth - eternal life begins this side of heaven. Salvation is then consummated with a physical rebirth when we die. The spiritual part of us takes on a resurrected body that will never die ... never get sick ... never feel pain.

Hope is born when we are spiritually born and is realized at our physical rebirth. One who has not been born again cannot grasp that reality? For such a one this physical existence is all that there is. There is no hope for anything better. Yet hope reigns for those who eagerly wait for him.

Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus! Thank you for the Blessed Hope that we share Lord.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

dead vs living sacrifices

Indeed, according to the Law ... sins are forgiven only if blood is poured out. ... Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. [Hebrews 9:22,28 GNT]

In a spiritual sense, I find these to be odd verses. They surface a few questions:
  • Were the death of sacrificed animals required for God to forgive sin?
  • Was it necessary for Jesus to die in order for God to forgive?
  • Did Jesus die because of our sinful actions or to forgive those same sins?
When the writer of Hebrews compares Jesus death to that of sacrificial animals he does with a certain paradigm in mind. To the Jews God had to be appeased before he could forgive sins. The temple system embraced such sacrifices. Yet is that a really valid concept and image of God?

I suggest that the sacrifices that God requires are living ones. Paul says as much in his letter to the Romans. In a very real sense Jesus birth and ministry were such a sacrifices. His death on the cross was a living sacrifice. Dead sacrifices cost us very little while living ones cost us much.

Afresh dear Lord, I offer myself to your service.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

no food poisoning in heaven

These gifts and sacrifices deal only with regulations for the body—food and drink and various kinds of ritual cleansings necessary until the time comes to make things truly right. [Hebrews 9:10 VOICE]

Humanity has learned much about sickness, diet and environment since the times of Moses. Diseases like trichinosis and salmonella arise when meat is not properly prepared. In that respect health codes have always been needed to protect the consumer of such foods.

These regulations will be needed as long as our food is of this earth. Yet we err if we believe that these rules, like the forbidding of eating pork products, have anything to do spirituality. Despite what Moses wrote, one can eat bacon or pork ribs and not suffer spiritually.

That said, I believe that there will be a time when food will not make us sick. There will be no food poisoning in heaven. Things physical and spiritual will be made right. Love will rule that day and every tear will be dried. The former things will have passed away and the new will come.

Blessed be you Lord Jesus Christ. You are working everything for our good.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.