Hebrews 3-4 B

“But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.” 3:3-4

Out of all the richness of today’s chapters, these verses grabbed my attention:

Mostly, I liked the reminder that we need to give God the credit for the things we love. We are so quick to worship the wrong things! Maybe it’s a person, or a hobby, or a landscape. Maybe it’s something you made with your own hands. Directing our praise and thanksgiving to God helps us practice being humble and deepens our love for Him.

The author of Hebrews is redirecting the readers worship and awe of Moses, back to Jesus. I’ve done that before. Instead of noticing the Christ-like qualities in someone, and allowing it to deepen my love for the Lord, I get side-tracked by the person and fan the flame of my people-pleasing and performing.

The one who built everything is God.

What is something you just love. Do you prop it up and idolize it instead of God?

How can you redirect yourself on that?

-Carly

Hebrews 1-2 B

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” (2:10‬)

Jesus’ ability to relate to us is a major theme in this book. Unfortunately, a main feature of the human experience is suffering.

At even my young age, I feel my life is full-up on suffering, and I would like to side-step it as much as possible (can we say “avoid it like the plague” right now?).

I’m sure we all have our ways of self-preserving to avoid pain, but this is unfortunately the least Christ-like thing about us. He dove straight into our mess and suffered intensely. The implications of that will continue to unfold throughout the book of Hebrews.

What is your current “suffering”? What are you most afraid of?

I think everyone is pretty on edge right now, and I would strongly encourage everyone to not hide, medicate, or stress-eat the stockpile. Instead, bring theses worries to the LORD and discuss it with Him.

Spending a year in Italy by myself was confronting my greatest fear of isolation, alone with my thoughts! But what came out of that time was a deeper health in my soul. While everyone is in quarantine right now, press on to know the LORD and don’t be afraid to face your inner self, with Him.

Spend time quieting your mind to pray, and don’t forget that Jesus is at the right hand of the LORD, familiar with suffering, ready to intercede on our behalf.

-Bethany

Revelation 21-22 B

I remember panicking whenever they talked about Heaven in church. (Bethany touches on this in her post last time.) “We will get to worship God for the rest of eternity!” My mind would flicker back to the all-family worship services my church held quarterly. The ones that dragged on and on and were only survived by frequent bathroom trips, breath mints dug out of moms purse and tic tac toe games on the church bulletin. Please, this could not possibly be how we are spending eternity!

As I’ve continued to live my life following Christ, I’ve experienced lots of different kinds of worship and realized all the things I love about life are acts of worship. Eating a good meal. Listening to a really good story that points back to God’s goodness. Quality time with a companion. Snuggling a really excited puppy. Watching winter transition into spring. Seeing fog drag across the top of mountains. Serving other people because I love them. Receiving an act of service from someone because they love me. Harvesting vegetables out of the dirt. Watching my house plants twist towards the sunlight, no matter where I put them in the house. Being with God’s people. These all provide small moments of worship and leave my bones aching for an eternity of it all. Especially in the New Heavens, where pain, suffering, trauma, abandonment, abuse, neglect, theft, drought, anxiety, fear, scarcity, starvation, loneliness, panic, rejection, poverty, mourning and death will never exist.

We still have one more book left to read together, but the completion of Revelation feels like a good spot to reflect.

The Bible starts with creation and ends with the new creation. With lots of stories in between about Christ making things new in the meanwhile.

What book, chapter or verse really resonated with you? What did you learn about God?

What was something that left you really uncomfortable? What’s a question you have for Him? (And I encourage you to confront him with it! Don’t let that fester.)

Tomorrow we start Hebrews!

-Carly

Revelation 19-20 B

So much of these chapters are so heavily debated it can be hard to know what to say about them.

What will the millennial kingdom look like? Will Jesus be on a literal horse? What does it mean that he’s the “Word of God”?

Something that’s always stood out to me about this millennial reign (whenever or however it is), is how at the end of it, Satan has an easy time forming a coupe. Even under the best government system and leader in the world, mankind will be itching to rebel.

I see that in myself and it’s so annoying. We’ve seen in recent days how some people have responded to this pandemic with generosity and thoughtfulness, while others have definitely been selfish and self-preserving. It’s good to be honest with ourselves about our tendencies toward evil.

Bring all that to the LORD, today. Be washed, redeemed and inspired. Obedience to Him is life. We could all use some life right now.

-Bethany

Revelation 17-18 B

” ‘The fancy things you loved so much are gone,’ they cry. ‘All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.’ ” 18:14

“In a single moment, all the wealth of the city is gone.” 18:17

This description of Babylon’s wealth completely evaporating is humbling just to read. As part of a country that prides itself on material possession, status and security, I often lose sight of the only thing that truly lasts. God’s love for me and my love for him!

Fancy gadgets, luxuries, expensive wine and savings account can disappear in a heart beat. Then what are you left with?

What have you truly invested in? Is it a comfortable life, fluttering with Apple products and isolating hobbies? Or is it a deep faithfulness to the Lord? Can you have both?

-Carly

Revelation 15-16 B

These plagues are supposed to remind us of the exodus. Also, the hardened hearts (like Pharaoh’s) which don’t acknowledge God, even when He’s painfully obvious.

It’s a baffling and ballsy move, we humans regularly make, to defy God. Since the beginning, mankind took in their limited perspective and information and thought, “Mmmmm… I’ll be the judge of that.”

Playing the judge, or deciding whether or not to submit to Our Own Creator is the natural inclination making the least sense. We can admit we don’t see the full picture. We can acknowledge the limitations of our perspective or even sometimes own our bias, and still want to make the call. We want control.

Nothing like a global pandemic halting travel, crashing markets and closing public places to remind us of control. Reading about plagues right now packs a different punch. We’re at the mercy of God and each other. How’s that going to go? What do we have control over, besides ourselves and our own choice of reaction?

What sort of control issues do you struggle with? Does it give you peace or anxiety when you consider being at the mercy of God? Do you feel yourself getting stubborn like the folks in 16:9, or can you join this chorus?:

“Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.” (15:3-4‬)‬‬

-Bethany

Revelation 13-14 B

“This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.” 13:10

I know this verse isn’t intended to be cherry-picked, but it’s remarkable to me even out of context.

A life dedicated to Christ is not an easy one. It requires steadfastness, long-suffering, persecution, patience, or in other words, faithfulness.

I, like you, want answers to why God allows suffering. At all! Why must we endure persecution? Can’t he prevent it? This is where you flex the faithfulness.

Does reading Revelation introduce any fear or dread? What parts of it?

I feel humbled reading it, remembering that I can’t have control over my future, the future of the earth, mankind, etc. But that it’s safe and thought-out in God’s hands.

-Carly