Reflections Week of 11/27/16

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Hebrews 10:19-39 (Tuesday 11/29)

In this passage the writer of Hebrews has just finished describing Jesus as the perfect sacrifice of the new covenant. Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus has made a “new and living way,” making it possible for each of us to draw near to God, and find fellowship with each other as His body. But this new-found relationship does not come without responsibility. Following this beautiful description of new life through Christ’ sacrifice comes a firm reminder—don’t choose sin.

Verses 26-31 raise the sobering point that those of us who have come to the knowledge of God’s truth are held to account. If we have experienced the blessings of the sacrifice of Christ, then we are held to great account when we choose sin over the new life offered us through Jesus Christ. Now I don’t know what kind of sin the writer of Hebrews had in mind in warning his audience, but as he continues, we see these Christians were familiar with suffering. In fact, the writer goes on to recount how these Christians experienced many hardships for the sake of their faith. So, considering Christ’s sacrifice, their past faithfulness to God, and possessing a unique understanding of their current temptations, the writer of Hebrews exhorts in verse thirty-five: “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been tempted to throw away my confidence a time or two. It seems that just when I’m reveling in God’s faithfulness in my life, I’m sidelined by sin. My tendency, after coming to God in repentance and seeking forgiveness, is assuming the whipped puppy postured. With my spiritual tail between my legs, I sulk, unsure if God still wants me, let alone can use me in His kingdom. These words from Hebrews come as a timely reminder. What I need is endurance. Endurance to resist with God’s Spirit the temptation to choose sin. Endurance to face the struggles of life, even potential suffering for the sake of my faith. Endurance to draw near to God in faith, not draw back in defeat.

For Reflection: Have you recently been sidelined by sin, suffering, or struggles? What in your life helps you endure and keep your confidence in Christ? Have you considered asking a friend to walk alongside you in your journey to endure?

Read Numbers 1:47-54 (Thursday 12/1)

As we dive into the book of Numbers, God asks Moses to take a census of the entire Israelite community, down to the clans. This is a lot of people to count. In fact, the descendants of Judah number over 74,000! But as each tribe and clan is accounted for and recorded, one tribe has a unique set of responsibilities, different from all the rest—the Levites. As we have already learned from the book of Exodus, the Levites were chosen by God to represent Israel before God as priests. In these verses, we see that the Levites were responsible for the entirety of the tabernacle. This was a serious responsibility, so serious that any “unauthorized” person to come near to the tabernacle would be put to death.

In reading this passage, a verse from 1 Peter came to mind. In this letter the Apostle Peter writes: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (HCSB 2:9). As believers, we are now a royal priesthood. But the question that now comes to my mind, is what is my tabernacle? What do I have the responsibility of keeping before God?

This question led me to another familiar passage in 1 Corinthians. In the past, God’s people worshipped Him in the tabernacle or temple. God’s presence dwelled in those physical structures, and it was the Levites responsibility to maintain and care for the place in which God’s presence dwelt. 1 Corinthians 6:19, adamantly points out the place God’s Spirit now dwells: “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?” This verse goes on to encourage believers to glorify God in their bodies.

Just as God gave the Levites the serious task of maintaining the physical structure in which His presence dwelt among the people of Israel, God charges us with the task of maintaining our bodies as sanctuaries of His presence. This thought challenges me, taking a seemingly tedious passage such as Numbers to a convicting level.  Am I caring for the sanctuary God Spirit has chosen to dwell in, my body? Through my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual choices, am I making a holy home for my Lord? Even Numbers holds challenging truth for our lives as twenty-first century believers.

For Reflection: Prayerfully consider 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 in light of the Numbers reading. How are you maintaining your sanctuary? What may need to change in your lifestyle to honor the Lord’s presence?

Reflections written by Emily Alexander

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