The New Covenant that Changes Everything
Text: Hebrews 10:15-25
613. Jewish tradition teaches that there are 613 commandments in the laws of Moses. Could you even imagine keeping straight 613 commandments? Most people I’ve met don’t even know all 10 Commandments. How could you keep straight 613? There were laws about cleanliness, laws about family, laws about civil justice, laws about worship and festivals and sacrifices. 613 laws to obey.
These laws served as a sort of hedge for the people of Israel. They set them apart as being “different” than all the other people of the world. They were cleaner. They were more pure. They were more sanctified in their living. They were more dedicated to their God. Thus, God told them that if they obeyed he would be their God and they would be his people. If they obeyed, that is.
When they didn’t obey, that’s what the system of sacrifices was for. If you committed this sin, then this sacrifice was required. And if you committed that sin, then that sacrifice was required. The message was loud and clear: God is holy. If there is sin, there must be death and bloodshed to pay for it. Read the rest of this entry
Christmas Wonder and Awe
Text: Hebrews 1:1-9
Do you still have that awe and wonder at Christmas? That’s what we are all looking for. We want that awe, that wonder, that feeling of utter joy at Christmas. You know the feeling. It’s when your child (or spouse) suddenly appears, having returned from military deployment. It’s that look on your kids’ faces when they see the coolest gift ever. It’s those quiet moments on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when the whole family is bundled up in jammies and blankets and simply enjoys quality family time and reprieve from the bustle of busy life.
In Hollywood they call it “Christmas magic.” A lot of money has been made off the concept of Christmas magic. Whether it’s snow finally hitting in Vermont for Bing Crosby in White Christmas, or Jimmy Stewart finding happiness in It’s a Wonderful Life, or Ebenezer Scrooge learning to be generous, or a brand new bee bee gun in A Christmas Story, or a young boy riding The Polar Express to Santa’s workshop—we love to watch every minute of a story with “Christmas magic.” Why? Because we relate to this. We love to be filled with awe and wonder at Christmas. Read the rest of this entry
8th Sunday after Pentecost
Follow Christ and Live By Faith
Text: Hebrews 11:24-26
Are you a value shopper? I’m sure you are. The U.S. economy, and perhaps even the Flagler County economy, are both plateauing a bit after rising for a while. Yet how much America recovers remains to be seen. The cost of gas is still skyrocketing. The cost of cheese in Florida is ridiculous. If I weren’t from Wisconsin I would almost think twice about how necessary it is. In these uncertain times then, it’s important to be a value shopper.
Clip your coupons. Go to stores like Walmart or Best Buy that honor coupons from other stores. Shop the best deals. Get the “But 1, Get 1” deals at Winn Dixie. Buy in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco. Wait for the Black Friday super discount deals.
These days we are trained to find great value buys. These are the deals where it will never cost that low again. These are the deals when Mr. Loberger walks into Besty Buy to buy a TV, finds all school supplies on sale, and buys literally every school supply in the store—$3,000 worth of supplies for $300 (true story). That’s value!
There’s another use of the word value in our culture though. That’s when something is valuable. It might be small. It might be expensive. But that doesn’t matter if it’s valuable. The personally autographed photo my dad got from Mickey Mantle when my aunt was in the hospital at the same time is priceless and valuable. The copy of the red pew hymnal my family has signed by my grandfather who was on the hymnal production committee is priceless and valuable for a different reason. My wedding ring is modestly pricey, yet still priceless and valuable. The look on the kids’ faces when they found out we were going to Disney World a few weeks ago cost nothing but was priceless and valuable.
Almost everything we have we discuss in terms of value. We have Zillow and other web sites or appraisers to value our homes. Kelly Blue Book tells us how much our car is worth. The Antique Road Show on PBS tells us how much the ancient garbage in our garage is worth. The dollars flying out of our wallet tell us how much our spouse or our children are worth. We love things that are either a bargain value or things that are valuable. Read the rest of this entry
God Fulfilled His New Covenant Promise
Text: Hebrews 10:15-25
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands . . . I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people . . . But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant . . . I will bring on you sudden terror . . . I will set my face against you . . . I will punish you for your sins.”
It couldn’t be more simple than that. God established a very clear covenant with his people. A covenant is a contract agreement between two parties. This was the simple covenant God established with his people at Mt. Sinai: If you obey me and my commands, I will bless you and be with you. If you do not obey, I will turn from you and punish you for your sins.
God didn’t use hidden codes or secret passwords or confusing words. He laid out the covenant ground rules in clear and easy to understand language. You would think that they would have listened and kept the simple terms to this covenant. After all, with such great promises of blessing from God, why wouldn’t they want to keep the covenant?
We tend to think that way often. We tell our children not to play with the fine china and not to sass back and not to fight with each other. Why wouldn’t they want to listen? Don’t they want special privileges and treats from their parents? Do they really want to spend the whole day in their rooms with no friends, no toys, and no electronics?
We think the same way in our school. We tell students to be on time, to wear their uniforms to school, to do their homework, to be respectful to each other and to teachers. Wouldn’t they want to listen? Don’t they want good grades on tests and report cards? Don’t they want special privileges and extra recess time? Do they really want tardies, detentions, suspensions, or expulsion?
The covenant contract seemed to be so simple and easy. But the evil sinful nature knows better and wants otherwise. And Satan knows better and wants otherwise. Read the rest of this entry