Generations

Todays Readings: Matthew 1; Psalms 74

Generations. Life.  Family.

Last week, I had the fortune to celebrate my birthday and one of my main presents was a surprise visit from my younger brother Cameron. We have had the chance to talk, celebrate, eat, and fellowship this past week. It has given him a chance to interact with my kids and they have truly enjoyed each moment with him. He has had the chance to put the kids to bed, pick them up when they wake, take them to school and dance class, go swim class, and listen to them read their books. He has had a chance to experience my life and a part of our legacy.

As I read Matthew Chapter 1, I remember skimming through the first part and rushing to the birth of Christ.   I love the Christmas story, but God again has been teaching me as I grow how to slow down and listen to the parts that I have overlooked before. I have a renewed appreciation for the litany of names and linage of Christ.

Matthew 1: 1-18

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d]and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

At first I only see names and father of… , but now I see the people and the overall connection. These particular people are the direct influence of Christ. The prayers, songs, hymns, traditions that were the beginning of the Judaism faith were directly passed down through father to son. The initial sacraments and traditions and scriptures were directly passed to Christ. This is truly amazing for me to imagine. This is the essence of our beliefs. We have the bible inspired by the Holy Spirit, but Christ in human-form had a tactile and visceral experience.

Through this list of names and people, God is showing us that He has the ability to do great things with ordinary and extraordinary people; saints and sinners; good and evil people. Sometimes in our lives we question if God is purpose is being fulfilled through us, but we have to be confident that the Holy Spirit is using us for His Glory if we are willing to be used. From my grandmother I learned songs, hymns, and learned a passion for the Scriptures. By example, I sing, pray, and share the joy of the Scriptures with my children daily.

God, we pray that the influences that we have been given through family and experiences may be used for your Glory to be influences on the next generation, as they may know you better. Amen

Missing It

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 19, Psalm 67

“As he approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying “If you knew this day what would bring peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build and embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44 (HCSB)

 There is so much in this 19th Chapter of Luke, I can hardly hold it in. Reading the story of Zacchaeus repenting for his sins and hosting Jesus while others looked on with distain. Then on to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on that young donkey. My HCSB Study Bible explains that the distance between Jericho and Jerusalem is about 17 miles. The elevation change is 3,300 feet which means that the road was going up on average at a rate of almost 200 feet per mile. As he nears Jerusalem his disciples and followers spread their cloaks on the road as a way to honor their King. People were rejoicing and proclaiming His mighty works. I can only imagine the electricity in the air that day! I can imagine what it felt like to believe that your King has come and to be able to see him. Some texts say that the crowd was shouting Psalm 118:26:

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26)

This further solidifies the messianic expectation at that time. But when Jesus begins to approach Jerusalem he weeps. He weeps at the thought of rejection by the city of Jerusalem. It is true that the Jews enjoyed peace in this time under Roman rule until about 40 years after Jesus spoke the words in verse 44:

“…They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” Luke 19:44

 In A.D. 66 the Jews revolted against the Roman control, three years later Roman soldiers attacked Jerusalem and burned it to the ground in A.D. 70. Six hundred thousand Jews were killed during that siege. Many Jews did not open their eyes to see Christ as the Messiah or recognize His coming as God’s visitation and offer of salvation. After studying the gospel of Luke and the historic context I’m struck by how similar this ancient society is to our so called modern society. We too are arguing about who is really the messiah. We have modern pharisees asking us to rebuke one leader in favor of another. Jesus viewed the corruption of the temple as a reflection of the corruption of the nation. He knew that they were about to enter an even greater season of judgement. How can we learn from the fall of Jerusalem? Can we begin to connect the dots between ourselves and the ancient Christians? The leaders among their people included wealthy men in politics, commerce and law. They saw Jesus as a threat. He drove the merchants out of the temple and his teachings favored the poor. He attracted attention that wasn’t in line with their business goals.

I love the woven tapestry of Luke 19. It’s a collection of parables for us to consider and then compare to our own Christian life. Are we tax collectors? Are we merchants in the temple? Are we truly spreading our cloaks out for Jesus to walk upon or are we a Pharisee, rebuking the message of Christ. Are we just plain missing it…in other words are we actually missing the opportunity for a visit from God. Are we so close but not quite there in our total commitment to the Messiah? I know that I have work to do. My eyes are open and looking for encounters with Him this week. I hope yours are too.

Peace.

 

 

 

God the Spirit

Luke 12; Psalms 60

Rauch Elohim, Breath of Life, Spirit of Wisdom, Spirit of Grace, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Glory, Spirit without Measure, the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit are all manifestations of an infinite and awesome God.

This past year has been an enlightening and transformational year for me as a father, husband, and above all witness for God. I made an intentional commitment to learn more about who I am and how God can use me for His glory. Through this expedition of self-reflection I have read several books on how to realign myself with God and understand His purpose. One particular book that has had an impact on me is Forgotten God by Francis Chan. This book reawakens the mind and allows the reader to recognize the Holy Spirit presence in our lives. It actually changes the way I see the Holy Spirit, not as passive being, but a dynamic and powerful presence of God: God the Spirit. In reading Luke 12, I have a more deep appreciation and awe for the magnitude that God the Spirit works.

Luke 12:8-12

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

This chapter has many powerful messages and it is sometimes hard to discern what to focus on (according to the ESV Version): 1.) Jesus Speaks Against Hypocrisy, 2.) Have no Fear, 3.) Acknowledge Christ before Men, 4.) The Parable of the Fool, 5.) Do Not Be Anxious, 6.) You Must Be Ready, 7.) Not Peace, but Division, 8.) Interpreting the Time, and 9.) Settle with You Accuser.

Revisiting and reflecting on this chapter this week I have become aware of an important portion on the Word, which is hidden in verse 10-12. In this small space so much is revealed. Jesus is clarifying how the power is manifested in the Trinity. He states that as a human and advocate for us, that he is somewhat insignificant compared with the Holy Spirit. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. This for me is truly profound. The God in flesh is saying that the most severe sin that would not be forgiven is to speak against and deny the existence of the Essence of God, the Spirit of God.

With this new knowledge, I question myself and ask the question, “Have I blasphemed the Spirit? Have I not acknowledged the power of the essence of God?”

The Spirit of God has many names. The Spirit of God is present in the works of God. The Spirit of God is present in our lives. The first expression of the Spirit is Genesis 1:2: The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. This same Spirit that has been working since before the creation is manifested and working within each of us. When we recognize the presence of the Spirit and the power that He has in us, we are affirming that we are in connection with the Spirit.

My prayer is that as we continue to grow in our journey to know God the Father and God the Son, we be more sensitive to the presence of God the Spirit and allow Him to dynamic in our lives. Be Blessed.

 

 

 

The First Call

Luke 5; Psalm 53

Good Monday everyone. This is Lynden writing for Jillian. When I volunteered to write for my wife this week I knew that we were returning to the gospels and was excited to revisit these teachings. I have been blessed and fortunate to write blogs for Biblejournal.net since January. During this time I have notice that the Spirit redirects my attention on a couple of specific themes. The theme that the Holy Spirit is refocusing my attention on this week is: How God Calls us for a Particular Purpose.

Reading Luke chapter 5 many times throughout my life, I have overlooked the beginning of the chapter and went directly to the miracles and healing. In this chapter, Luke being a physician and one of the most “learned” apostles goes into deep detail as he describes how the miracles were performed. In this chapter, Jesus heals a man with Leprosy and a paralyzed man. At the end of the chapter, his eating practices are in question: by eating with tax collectors and not observing fasting rituals.

As we read the beginning of the chapter, we see some “small”, yet impactful messages unfold.

Luke 5:1-11

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

  • Jesus gets on a boat, without a person in the boat. This boat belongs to Simon, later to be known as Peter. Verse 1-3
  • Jesus asks Simon to pull his boat into the water to teach. Verse 3
  • Jesus gives us clear directions to abundance and how to attain this wealth. Verse 4-7
  • Jesus allows us to be vulnerable and still creates miracles in us, when we don’t feel that we are worthy of his love and acceptance. Verse 8-11

As I read through this passage the Holy Spirit echoes familiar teachings from John 21 after the resurrection.

John 21: 4- 8

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.

Reading and reflecting on these two passages together gives me hope that Jesus is always calling his children to him. He will always show up in the easiest manner that we can recognize him and his ways will never change. It is awesome to witness that his love and directions for us are consistent and gentle.   As I close, I have an additional realization, in the passage of John 21:8 “The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.” Even though the disciples were an entire football field (100 yards), they were still able to hear him and know his voice. No matter how far we are from Him, we are always able to hear him and follow him. Be Blessed this week.

 

 

 

Introduction to Jude

 

Psalms 46

Jude is an interesting person. He has been mentioned and referred to by many names throughout the Bible: St Jude, Judas Thaddaeus, Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, or Lebbaeus. He was one of the Twelve Apostles and the brother of James and Jesus.   He is mention in the New Testament twice: Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.

The epistle of Jude was written around 65 A.D. The epistle is short, but packed with complex themes and messages. For centuries many biblical scholars have tried to analyze the messages and relay them in a fashion that is easy to consume. From the NIV Life Application Study Bible it states that the main themes are: False Teachers and Apostasy.   These themes are both valid then and now: be aware of those not teaching in accordance with the scriptures and walking in the truth of Christ; and do not drift away from our commitment to Christ.

Jude is sending us a wake up call. He is reemphasizing the need to be alert and forever on our guard. In the busyness of our lives, we have everything on a particular schedule: take the children to school; walk the dog; shop for groceries; prepare meals; schedule this practice; pick up this book/clothing/project for the family. But do we take the intentional time to schedule quiet time, devotionals, small groups, serving others, and being with other Christ followers. It is during these times of busyness we allow our spirit to drift away from Christ (Apostasy) and then we have weakened our armor and are vulnerable to the attacks of false teachers.  We must recommit ourselves to these intentional times to stay aligned with Christ.

Jude tells that knowledge of all of the scriptures is good, but without the true relationship of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit we are not able to truly understand God’s purpose for us. I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to strengthen our relationship with Christ and give us the understanding and awareness to be vigilant and ready for the challenges and schemes that lie ahead.

In the midst of the events that have unfolded last week I want to close the post with this verse :

Psalms 46 : 10-11

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

Into the Light

Today’s Reading: 1 John 1

Today we begin our study of 1 John. As we fall in to the routines of fall, I find myself struggling a bit to find the rhythm of a new schedule. I’m teaching my children once again to be diligent with their school work, to do their best in after school activities and to go to bed on time. In a way, John is writing to the Christians in 70 A.D. about a similar season for recommitment. By the time John writes this letter, Christianity has been around for more than a generation. Despite surviving significant persecution, the primary challenge was declining commitment to the faith. The NIV study Bible commentary says this about 1 John: “Many believers were conforming to the worlds standards, failing to stand up for Christ, and compromising their faith. False teachers were plentiful, and were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from the Christian faith. John wrote this letter to put believers back on track, to show the difference between light and darkness.” This description of early Christians certainly echoes our modern lives. We are tested daily by societal values versus the values instilled in us by Jesus Christ. I like the idea of getting “back on track.” After all, isn’t that the miracle of God’s sacrifice of his only Son for us. We get to begin again, we get do overs, we are allowed to get it wrong as long as our heart is always working toward what is right. By confessing our sins to Him and coming in to the light increases our fellowship with Him. True confession also necessitates a commitment not to continue to sin. John says this about confession in verse 9:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1: 9-10

So, if God has forgiven our sins through sacrificing his Son, why do we need to confess? Through the process of re-commitment and admitting our sins to our Heavenly Father we can grow closer to him in three ways:

  • Agreeing with God that our sin is truly a sin and that we are willing to turn away from it
  • Ensuring that we don’t conceal our sins form him and consequently from ourselves
  • Recognizing our tendency to sin and relying on His power to overcome it

(adapted from NIV study Bible-Zondervan)

Through my study of His word today, I’m able to see that I go a long way to conceal my sin from myself and therefore my God. I’m bolstered by the idea of stepping into the light and recommitting myself to a clean slate. Lord, help us as your faithful servants to recommit to you. Help us to use this season of change to strengthen our relationships within our families and most importantly with you. We love you Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pear

 

Todays Reading: 1 Peter 4

Several weeks ago, Jillian and I embarked on a wellness journey together to renew our bodies, minds, spirit and relationship. The adventure that we are on focuses our energy to rethink how we eat and what we eat. I have had to take a few more doses of “will power” and dedication to stay committed. Some of my favorite foods are breads and grains to which this program is not ascribed. I have been eating a larger amount of the healthy foods: fruits and veggies. I have notice a positive change in my energy, focus, and endurance.

As I am retraining my mind and body I started to consume large amounts of fruits and veggies as I had previous mentioned. As an example, one day I packed for lunch and snacks: 1 bag of chopped carrots, 1 bag of chopped celery, a bag of pistachios, a fit-packer container of chicken and sweet potatoes and a apple and a pear. I felt almost like the hungry caterpillar. Throughout the day I consumed about 90% of the lunch, except for the pear. An aside, I am constantly purchasing too unripen fruit and my wife always reminds me. So with that stated, the pear was a beautiful green pear and hard as a rock when it was purchased. While on this journey, I would bring lunches as the one previously detailed to work and forgot about the pear.

About a week went by and I remembered the pear. I searched the fridge for the pear and finally found it at the back of the office fridge. It was bumped and bruised and soft and something really not appetizing. Then I remembered a story from my mission days about a traveler who would have the luxury of having pear. I had to just try and see if this pear would be any good. I took a bite and the pear was awesome. It had to be given a little bit of misuse and handling and struggles and strife to really allow the fullness of the flavor and refreshment to be fulfilled. It was so tasty that I almost ate the core.

1 Peter 4:12-16

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Here we are told about the sufferings and pain that use Christians will face and what the rewards are. Its like this pear, when we are green and sparkling we are unripe and easy to watch and see. But the fullness of the manifestation of God is only seen when we have some bruises, some scars, some disappointments, some hard days, some crying nights, and some unrest. We have to have hope, because when we are at the lowest humbled level this is when God can and will do some amazing work in us and through us. We have to be vulnerable to allow the Spirit to make us bruised so that others can see the sweetness and awesomeness of God.

Take ways:

  • Journeys with my wife are always fun and exciting
  • The Spirit wants to work with you and make you ripe
  • The more bruises that you have, the more work God has prepared
  • As Paul states “ when I am weak, he is strong” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Be blessed this week.

The Word Incarnate

Good Morning! Today, I am excited to share a guest post from my friend Elizabeth Giger. I met Elizabeth at Eastview Christian Church through music ministry. A few weeks ago she shared a devotion that moved my heart and stirred my soul. She spoke a truth that I needed to hear that day!  When I asked her to write a guest post for Bible Journal, she graciously agreed.  I hope you enjoy her beautiful post and I pray you are moved by the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Reading: James 3

Our words have power.

It was so from the beginning.

The Word spoke and it was done. The Word breathed and life was bestowed.

We are created and we have His image and like our Father, our words make things happen.

Just as His words go out and do not return empty, we cannot throw heedless words to the wind. Just as all He speaks has deliberation and purpose, so should we have careful thought bolstering what we say. So should we speak with wisdom, with peace.

Too often we talk, we rant, we fill up the air with our words. And our words are not of grace.

When we who pray the Lord’s Prayer also write ugly in online spaces, when we who sing of God’s love also snip at our family at home, when we who praise His servant-love also speak short and proud to those who serve us,we pump poison into our world.

We forget that those on the receiving end of our arrows are just as beloved as we. When truth is forgotten, we who are called to reign and serve, to glorify and praise, we set the name of our King afire in the eyes of this world.

Words exist for a different purpose.

God’s Word created man. He created man and then God’s Word became a man. He put on flesh and dwelt among us.

The Word incarnate.
The Word came so that the incarnation can continue, so that our lives can become incarnate, the whole of life an incarnation of the Word.

The Word came to be wisdom and peace, and that is what we should speak into our world, with our mouths and with our lives, into this space we are given to influence.

So speak with wisdom and with peace rather than with poison and with fire.

Our harvest of righteousness is waiting.

Art credits: Holy Night by Antonio da Correggio; Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Jan Vermeer; all other photos copyright by Made Sacred 2017

Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth Giger who writes weekly on her blog, Made Sacred  (madesacred.com).

Christ: The Ultimate Sacrifice

 

Today’s Reading: Hebrew 10, Psalms 18

God works in an amazing plan and strategy, as with Michael and his blog on Hebrews 5, I have had an epiphany as I write my journal. The Holy Spirit is reaffirming scriptures and messages to me on daily basis and today is no exception. I have been preparing for this week’s post since last Monday and had a particular focal point, but it was changed today with the sermon that was given, Christ the ultimate sacrifice.

In the sermon, the pastor illustrates the original Passover that the Israelites experienced.   He explained in detail the actual act of how each family had to choose the Pascal lamb on a certain day. Then after choosing the lamb, the family then takes the lamb home and keeps it inside for four days. Next, the lamb is slaughtered in a particular fashion to keep the blood and also to keep the body intact. Following this the family then roast the lamb whole and the entire body is presented to the family to eat.

This detailed explanation allowed me to peer a little deeper into the setup that that God was preparing the people for the ultimate sacrifice. God choose the perfect Lamb for the sacrifice. Then He allowed the Lamb to be with the people and become part of the family for a short amount of time. Then the Lamb is sacrificed whole to take on ALL of the sins of the World and make a perfect sacrifice.

Take some time to read Hebrews 10 and Exodus 12, and you can sense the awesomeness of God’s Plan. He has setup the redemption of the people, given them signs and ways to remember the Sacrifice centuries before, and He has a plan to complete the journey. God’s plan is above anything we can imagine or conceive.

Hebrews 10: 4-7

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

 

Heavenly Father, you have plans before we are even brought about on this earth. Your plans are to allow Your Glory to be seen and witnessed to all. Allow us to be instruments in your plan.

Harden Not Your Heart

Today’s Reading: Hebrews Chapter 3

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” Hebrews 3:7-8

 It’s not often that a verse from the bible resonates with me from my childhood. I was raised Catholic for the first thirty-one years of my life.  I was deeply rooted in that faith tradition. The foundation of my faith was built on tradition and ritual.  My religious education was not particularly focused on scripture.  The way that I learned scripture was through song. Now, as I mature in my Christian identity I get really excited when I recognize God’s words from the sacred songs I learned so long ago. It’s a way for me to reconcile the tenants of my Catholic Christian identity to my new more biblically based Christian identity. When I read through today’s scripture Hebrews 3, I immediately heard the melody of a song by David Haas sung so frequently during mass called, “If Today You Hear His Voice.”

I know now that this passage refers to the Israelites that had hardened their hearts toward God while in the desert. By resisting God’s will we become convinced that God cannot deliver on his promises. Despite the fact that we hear His voice leading us on a daily basis we often refuse to listen. As we dig in our heels and our stubborn nature takes over, we cannot turn to God for help. For the Hebrew Christians, their faith was deeply rooted in the rituals, commandments and the prophets they knew. The message of Jesus conquering sin, fulfilling the Law and providing eternal life was surprisingly hard for them to accept. The NIV Study Bible says this about the second generation Hebrew Christians,

“Although they had sought the Messiah for centuries, they were entrenched in thinking and worshiping in traditional forms. Following Jesus seemed to repudiate their marvelous heritage and Scriptures. Those who did accept Jesus as the Messiah often found themselves slipping back into familiar rout9ines, trying to live a hybrid faith.” (Zondervan NIV p. 2059)

Hybrid faith.  Did you get that? The Hebrew Christians were trying to customize or personalize their faith into a hybrid that more or less worked for them. Yep…I do that. How often do I hear his voice and harden my heart? Do I pick and choose the aspects of his word that work for me and my moral compass and leave other less popular doctrines behind? What we learn from Hebrews 3 today is that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation. He is superior to our prophets and our priests. If today we hear his voice, we must open our hearts. The message may not feel comfortable.  It may not feel modern and we can count on the fact that it will challenge. God invites us to give ourselves completely to Christ and in return we will come to share in Christ.