The Perfect Tabernacle

sky-690293_640.jpg25th Sunday after Pentecost | November 9, 2018

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17  •   Psalm 127    •  Hebrews 9:24-28  •  Mark 12:38-44

24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:24-28 New Living Translation (NLT)

Again the writer of Hebrews shows us how Jesus Christ is superior to the old way – the way that we know as the Old Testament.  Jesus is our great high priest.  The tabernacle that the Jewish people constructed here on earth was simply a foreshadowing of the thing to come.  In many ways you could say that the tabernacle was “seeing through the glass darkly” or looking a mirror and seeing a dim reflection.  The magnificent temple that is heaven, makes anything here on earth a pale reflection.

Christ entered the true tabernacle to cleanse us of our sins – and again – Christ did it once and for all time.  Christ is the perfect sacrifice and the tabernacle he entered in the heavens is the perfect tabernacle. There is no need to repeat the sacrifice over and over again.  He does not have to enter the Most Holy Place once a year because the atoning sacrifice is done when Christ died on the cross.  As the writer says, “he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own sacrifice.”

The writer continues, that when we die, we come to judgment, but when Christ died, it took away the sins of the people who trust in Him.  AND one day he is coming back – not to deal with our sins – because those are already dealt with – but to bring us full and complete salvation.  That day is coming and we need to be ready for it.  We need to have our hearts prepared.  Christ died and rose again so that we may have life and live it to the full.


By Your Eternal Spirit

24th Sunday after Pentecost | November 4, 2018


Ruth 1:1-18  •  Psalm 146  •  Hebrews 9:11-14  •  Mark 12:28-34

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 9:11-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

As we journey through Hebrews we are still on this thought of Jesus being our great high priest, and also that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.  Because of Jesus’ holy nature, he is the only one able to make this perfect sacrifice for our sin.  The author is reminding us that Jesus is greater than the earthly tabernacle and because Jesus came, died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, he has entered the perfect tabernacle – not stained by human hands – because it is not part of the created world.

Again we are reminded that Christ’s sacrifice was for everyone and for all time.  There is no longer a reason to sacrifice goats, sheep, and other animals because Christ’s sacrifice is for all people – for all time and the sacrifice lasts forever.  This old sacrifice could cleanse our human iniquities – our sin, but it had to be done over and over and over again.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post.  As soon as I read this scripture, I thought about Wesley’s Advent hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Because of Christ’s sacrifice and the power that raised Christ from the dead, which is the Holy Spirit, we can have new life – eternal life.  We can worship the ever-living God forever, if we trust in Him.

Wesley’s hymn reminds us how the Jewish people longed for the coming of a Savior.  We are reminded in another scripture, that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave, also lives in us – meaning that same eternal Spirit comes – and he wants to reign in our hearts if we let him.  Christ, who was God, humbled himself – through the power of the Holy Spirit – died and was raised by that same Spirit.  Let us worship Him as we are called to do.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Once and For All

cross-3254876_64023rd Sunday after Pentecost | October 28, 2018

Job 42:1-6, 10-17  •  Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)  •  Hebrews 7:23-28  •  Mark 10:46-52

23 There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. 28 The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.

Hebrews 7:23-28 New Living Translation (NLT)

What a great passage of encouragement.  Last week the writer of Hebrews was making the point that Jesus is our great high priest.  The author here goes on to say that no longer do we need multiple priests because Jesus lives forever. The reason the Hebrews needed so many priests was because of death and they couldn’t remain in office forever.  But Jesus is the great high priest – Jesus lives forever and Jesus is mighty to save through the shedding of blood.  Jesus is able – once and for all time to save.   It is awesome that God made Jesus to be our high priest.  He is the only one able to be our high priest.  Jesus is the sinless, Lamb of God.  Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus doesn’t have to shed the blood over and over again to atone for our sins. Atone means that Jesus’ blood makes us at one with God again.  Even better yet, Jesus is praying for us – Jesus is interceding for us – he is mediating for us.

The writer of Hebrews goes on to tell us that this great high priest is the only kind of priest we need – he is holy – he is blameless – he is unstained by sin.  He is set apart and now this great high priest sits in the place of highest honor.  No longer to we need offer sacrifices every day for our sins because Jesus transcended time and space.  Jesus died once for all people – for all time. He is the only one worthy to take away our sins because of his sinless sacrifice, he was able to wash away our sins.

Our Great High Priest

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
October 21, 2018


Job 38:1-7, (34-41) •  Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c  •  Hebrews 5:1-10  •  Mark 10:35-45

Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.

And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him,

“You are my Son.
    Today I have become your Father.”

And in another passage God said to him,

“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.10 And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

We continue our journey through Hebrews. This week’s reading is very similar to last week’s in that again it references Jesus as our great high priest.  The writer compares the high priest of the Israelites to our great high priest — who is Jesus.  In ancient times, the high priest had to be selected.  In much the same way, Jesus was selected by God to be our great high priest.  Jesus, the writer of Hebrews tells us, is appointed by God to represent the people.  Jesus is our representation to God. He was selected by God to represent us.  Much like the high priest of ancient days was subject to the ordinary, everyday weaknesses of our body, so was Jesus.  Remember that Jesus was God incarnate – or God in the flesh. Jesus’ body suffered the same weaknesses that we humans experience – and yet, as we learned last week, He was without sin.  That is why Jesus is the only one capable of being the sacrifice for our sins.

I find it interesting that the humility of Jesus is mentioned here.  Jesus did not appoint himself to the position – he was appointed by God.  Jesus was called by God, just as the high priest of the Hebrews were called by the people to represent the people.

Jesus offered up prayers, and petitions for His people.  Jesus was obedient to the Father and lived in submission to the Father.  Jesus was our example in this and he calls us to do the same.  Jesus was the only one capable to be our high priest.  It is Jesus who is the source of our salvation – if only we receive – if only we believe – if only we obey his commands.

star-wars-2908139_64021st Sunday after Pentecost | October 14, 2018

Job 23:1-9, 16-17  •  Psalm 22:1-15  •  Hebrews 4:12-16  •  Mark 10:17-31

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:12-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

As soon as I saw this morning’s passage, I looked up images of swords. I’ve mentioned before that I have been using Pixabay for my images. There were many different images of swords, but the one that intrigued me were those of lightsabers. As I thought about it, I wanted to use the green lightsaber because green is typically the color of the Jedi.

I think about light sabers and think about the passage above.  The light saber is a powerful weapon – even more powerful than your standard sword. It was made famous in the Star Wars saga.  Yet, when we compare the light saber to the Word of God, it still comes up lacking.

The Word of God — that is Jesus is the most powerful weapon – as the writer of Hebrews has been making an argument for – that is known to us.  The Word of God is sharper than any sword. It can expose our hearts.  Scary, isn’t it?

But as we move to the next paragraph, we find out that this same Word of God that can cut us open and expose all of our heart and soul – also became our great High Priest.  Even though he can cut open our hearts, Jesus understands the frailty of the human body.  Jesus was sacrificed for us. He gave himself up to make a way. The writer of Hebrews tell us that Jesus knows our weaknesses. Jesus faced everything we have and yet was without sin.  So Jesus stands as the perfect mediator between God and us.

For that reason the writer of Hebrews writes:

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  

I am thankful that the one to whom we are accountable, was also willing to be our great High Priest – to be our great sacrifice – and I am thankful for His mercy and grace!

Jesus, the Son of God

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20th Sunday after Pentecost

Job 1:1, 2:1-10 • Psalm 26  •  Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12  •  Mark 10:2-16

Hebrews 1:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

Hebrews 2:5-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. For in one place the Scriptures say,

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    or a son of man that you should care for him?
Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them authority over all things.”

Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority. What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone.God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. For he said to God,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
    I will praise you among your assembled people.”

During Lent this last year, our church did a series called, “Who Is Jesus?”  We looked at the various aspects of Jesus – first that He was 100% God, but He was also 100% human. During that series we outlined exactly why Jesus could be the Savior of the world.

The opening paragraph of the letter to the Hebrews, reminds us that “The Son (Jesus) radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.” This sentence reminds us that Jesus is God.  Jesus is God from the very beginning – He was with God at the creation – and he is the sustainer of the universe.  Everything is under the command of Jesus.  Yet this very same Jesus came to earth – He was incarnate in our human bodies – He humbled himself to the point of dying a slave’s death on the cross to die and cleanse us from our sins.  On the third day, he was raised to life through the power of the Holy Spirit and now sits on the right hand of God.

In the second part of the reading, we are reminded that Jesus by grace, Jesus tasted death so that he could bring many children to glory. Jesus is the only one possible to bring us to salvation.  Jesus also died to make us holy.  He made it possible that we could do exactly as God commanded when He said, “Be holy, as I am holy.”  Jesus is the only one who could make that possible.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are adopted into Christ’s family and we have the same Father.  “Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” How cool is it that the one who created and sustains the universe is willing to call us his brothers and sisters?  That is amazing grace and it shows how much he loves us.

Together Through Prayer


Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22  •  Psalm 124  •  James 5:13-20  •  Mark 9:38-50

James 5:13-20 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

We’ve come to the end of a very quick trip through the Epistle or letter of James.  This is one of my favorite letters in the Bible.  Perhaps because James continually reminds us that faith by itself is dead.  Faith always requires action. Through our actions, people should see that we belong to Jesus.  If they can’t, then something is wrong with our faith.

This section is even more powerful of late.  We have had several sick in our congregation and it was just over a week ago, we found one of our congregation was in bad shape.  It was this passage that I read to the family.  It is the power of the church working together through prayer. We really learn that we are not lone rangers in our faith and our actions.  Our faith and our action must be worked out in community.  John Wesley is oft quoted saying, “There is no holiness without social holiness.” I’m not discounting the fact that Christ has told us to take care of the least of these, but the deeper meaning to Wesley’s quote is that our holiness must be worked out in community.  That, in large part, is what James is getting at as we close out this letter.  James really shows us the power of corporate prayer.  As I think about the rest of the letter, James also reminds us of the power of the tongue.  John Wesley wrote, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.” Here we are reminded the power of corporate prayer and worship.  Are any of you?  Several times, James asks that question.  He doesn’t say are you…, but are any of you.  It is faith being worked out in community. Paul talks a great deal about the the body of Christ – that when one part suffers, the whole body suffers.  James encourages us to pray for those suffering hardships – to rejoice with those who are rejoicing – praying over and anointing the sick in the name of Jesus.

Our American Christianity is such a personal – rugged – individualistic faith.  As James says, earlier, brothers and sisters, this ought not be.  We are told to confess our sins to one another – This is not something we like to do…what will people think of me if I confess my sins?  But it is the confession of sins that brings physical and spiritual and emotional healing.

We need each other.  God has brought this so much to the forefront of my ministry over the past few years.  Just imagine the power of the church at corporate prayer.  What could we do for God by working together through the power of his Holy Spirit.  Let’s work out our faith together — in community – the way it was designed to be lived out.