WEEK THREE, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY
DAY TWO THEME: GROWING IN COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 10:19-25 (CEB)
“Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, and we have a great high priest over God’s house. Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us , since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. ”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: In Jewish tradition of the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was set apart by a curtain and once a year the elected high priest would go inside on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, to offer sacrifices and incense on behalf of the sins of the people so that they might receive forgiveness as a people. At all other times, the Holy of Holies was the seating place of God and not to be entered into at all by anyone.
Upon the death of Jesus on the cross, that curtain was torn apart showing that the sacrifice had been complete and there was no longer seperation between God and His people. Jesus’ death opened a direct communication between God and his people that no longer had to be handled by the High Priests. Through Emanuel, God is with us personally all the time – no longer set apart for certain holy days and certain holy people. With this privilege, we are to walk confidently with our God, confessing our hope and motivating each other through love and good works. Our bodies have become the temple of God – our hearts are now the Holy of Holies and Jesus is our great High Priest. The sacrificial system is no longer necessary as we live lives of sacrifice through obedience and prayer. We are not to isolate ourselves like the temple would have been, but be involved with one another in corporate worship and prayer.
In this personal relationship with our God, it is important that followers of Christ meet together regularly to embrace this unity and motivate and encourage each other in our joint and personal ministries – sounds like the Church to me! Through our individual giftedness and combined resources and efforts, we are able to do amazing things, therefore multiplying the Kingdom of God! Each of us individually is a part of the whole of Jesus’ complete work on Earth…”thy Kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven!” As we enter into God’s love and heart, sprinkled clean and washed pure, we become a vital part of the realization of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer. We, me, each of us has our part to do! Our roles may vary from time to time…. sometimes we will be the one in need, and other times we will be the one meeting the need as God graces us and gifts us for each moment. And all along the way we have “beautiful others” to share this journey with – lifting each other up and supporting one another. Each of us are a strong and vital portion of the Body of Christ – continuing His work through the Holy Spirit!
It is important in this particular time in history to remember that the Church is not the building, it is the people. During the Covid “crisis” it has been very different worshipping in our living room through a screen – we miss all the personal touches of gathering together. But we have had wonderful and inspirational and creative worship experiences and are grateful for technology that allows such worship to continue.
However, though “corporate” worship has become a different experience, it is exciting to acknowledge that the work of the Church has not changed – all kinds of missions and ministries have continued without a blink and the needs of others are being met, and hope is being disbursed and prayer never ceases! When it is smart and safe to resume corporate worship, we will be there! But until then, we continue to support our church as stated in our vows taken at membership – “through our prayers, our presence (although virtually for now), our gifts, our service, and our witness”! The Church is God’s idea for His Kingdom as we see illustrated and instructed in this Hebrews scripture, and it continues through His people as we listen to his heart and carry forth His good work.
God is not reactive, God’s work is always going on. Our part is to be ready and listening and in an attitude of ongoing prayer that allows us to be the vessel we are called to be in the moment, no matter if it makes any sense to us or not. Praise be to God as he empowers us and uses us for His Kingdom’s sake. We are blessed to be a blessing each and every day of our lives as we serve our risen Savior and God the Father through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God! Amen.