Sacrifices – Hebrews 10:11-14

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Hebrews 10:11-14

Reading through the beginning of this chapter, I wonder if there was a certain comfort in the consistent demonstration of sacrifice of bulls and goats under the old covenant. Because in a sense, it gave people a way to actively work for their forgiveness. When guilt from previously confessed sin plagued someone, they could offer another sacrifice. Because doesn’t guilt from past sin sometimes compel us to try to do the same thing? Even if we’ve repented and asked for forgiveness before, the reminder of who we were can get stuck on repeat in our minds and cause us to feel like more is required of us to truly be forgiven.

But in Christ, no more sacrifices are needed. “Where there is forgiveness of [sin and lawless deeds], there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18). Forgiveness is already ours when we confess our sins to the Lord and trust in Christ. No other offering is needed and no other sacrifices could be sufficient. If Jesus wasn’t enough, we have no hope.

But He was. He is.

The sufficiency of Christ, of His work on the cross, is declared with His words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His sacrifice was enough. We don’t have to keep trying to make up for our wrongs. We choose to trust His work, His salvation, His forgiveness. Our God made salvation entirely dependent on Him so He would get the glory.

And that is wonderful news for us. Because in this sacrifice, the only sacrifice needed, the only one that could be enough to cover us, we are able to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22).

Hold fast to the confession of your hope, believer. He who promised is faithful. To save, to forgive, to cleanse from all unrighteousness, and to see you safely home to dwell in His glorious, joy-filled presence forever (John 3:16-17; 1 John 1:9; 2 Timothy 4:18; Deuteronomy 33:27a).

“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the LORD:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,’

then he adds,
‘I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.’”
Hebrews 10:15-17

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Our Better Hope – Hebrews 7:18-19

“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside
because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect);
but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”

Hebrews 7:18-19

I draw near to God not because of my righteousness, not by good works or proving myself to Him – but through Christ. Jesus is the better hope through which I draw near.

He has done what the Law cannot do (Romans 8:3).

The Law made nothing perfect.

Christ does.

He makes us perfect and complete. He makes us holy. He clothes us with pure garments. One of my favorite Old Testament passages clearly conveys this role of Jesus, silencing our accuser and covering us with His righteousness:

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to [Joshua] he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’”
Zechariah 3:1-5

Our iniquity has been taken away. And while our purification is a process, to be completed when we are presented before the throne of our Lord, even now we can draw near to our holy God through Christ. For His righteousness has been conveyed to us. When we confess our sins before Him, God is not wrathful – He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, because we take refuge in the cross of Christ that took on God’s wrath for us (1 John 1:9). In this, He is also faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Reaching out His healing hand to wash us whiter than snow. Cleansed to our very core. Transformed into the likeness of Christ.

The Father Himself loves us (John 16:27). He desired our reconciliation, that we could come into His presence. Our sin made that impossible, but He made a way.

Through Jesus Christ.

Through the horror, the agony, the shame of the cross (Colossians 1:20). Through the glory of His victorious resurrection, disarming the authorities and silencing our accusers forever (Colossians 2:15).

This is our better hope: Jesus silences our accusers, takes our iniquity away, and cleanses us in righteous power. The burden of our salvation is not on our shoulders; it was laid on His. And He accomplished it all. In this new, living hope we stand. Taking refuge in Christ, we now walk in His light, for we have been changed and brought out of darkness.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Hebrews 8:10). It is relational, for He will be our God. It is transformation to the depths of who we are. Mending our brokenness, cleansing our sin, filling us with His light through His Spirit of peace, and writing His laws on our hearts, that we might see His love poured out for us and walk in the freedom of His righteousness.

Winning the Land – Joshua 17:16

“The people of Joseph said, ‘The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-Shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.’”
Joshua 17:16

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:5-7

After all they had seen the Lord do, the many battles won against stronger and more numerous armies, the great miracles performed including the parting of the Jordan at flood stage, the people in Joshua 17 still looked through the lens of defeat and felt fear in the presence of strong enemies. Their focus was on the chariots of iron rather than on the all-surpassing might of their God and His promise that none would stand against them, that they would take the land. His promise that He would be with them.

How often do I lose focus on my God? On who He is, on His power and His promises?

How often do I get fearful and intimidated at the size of the challenge, self-perceived weakness, and seeming impossibilities?

In those moments, I forget that it isn’t about me.

All of it is about the Lord.

His purposes which He will accomplish. (Isaiah 46:9-11)

His calling on my life that He will equip me for. (Psalm 18:32-34; Hebrews 13:20-21)

His leading as my Shepherd that will be clear and perfectly timed. (Psalm 23:3; Psalm 31:3; John 10:27)

His glory, as all will see His faithfulness and His might because He accomplished it all.

Our God knows our weaknesses and He is greater than them all. His power, His sovereignty, His grace – it is all mightier than our weaknesses. Perhaps that sounds silly or obvious. But it is vital for us to realize. Because it means our weaknesses will not mess up His purposes or His plans for us. They aren’t unknown to Him. He already knows it all.

Even with our weaknesses, the Lord will accomplish His purposes. As we seek Him, He will lead us faithfully, not because we’re great listeners or we do everything right, but for His sake. For His sake, He leads and guides His people.

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Psalm 147:10-11

It isn’t strength and strategy and impressive qualities God wants from us. What we bring to the table isn’t what wins the day and meets challenges. He desires our trust. That we will confidently hope in Him, love Him, and perceive Him in wonder and humble, reverent fear. Lived out in joyful obedience because we are in close relationship with the God of heaven, the God of hope, the mighty God who is love, who has saved us at great personal cost and brought us in as His children.

“For not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.”
Psalm 44:3

It is not my strength that wins the land. It is the Lord, because He delights in me. Because I am His, and He knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). He will not forget me (Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 49:15-16).

He will not forget and He will never fail, because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). And if God Himself, the Most High, the Creator of all things, is for us, who could ever be against us (Romans 8:31)? For He works all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). His purpose, which He will fulfill. He will complete His work (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6). And nothing – nothing – can separate us from the love of this almighty, all-powerful God who fights for us and wins the land, because His faithfulness toward us in Christ reaches to the sky, and it will never end (Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 36:5; Jeremiah 32:40-41).

That None May Fall Away – Hebrews 3:12-13

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart,
leading you to fall away from the living God.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’
that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Hebrews 3:12-13

There is weight to these verses. Highlighting our responsibility as followers of Christ and as fellow believers in the family of God.

Our first responsibility is to guard our own heart. To guard it from the evil that is unbelief. Because that is where sin starts, is it not? We begin to question truth and its relevance to our current situation. We question God and His activity in our lives. Questions can be good from a standpoint of us seeking God, seeking truth, wrestling with difficult things and drawing near to Him in the process. But when those questions instead put up barriers, when we go to places outside of Scripture or godly counsel in our search of answers, that is when we become vulnerable.

In Ephesians 6:16, the apostle Paul writes of faith as our shield. The shield with which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let us not miss the great importance of keeping that shield in place. Because our enemy is powerful and extremely deceptive. So we must be on guard, always holding up our shield of faith and seeking to strengthen it all the more as we study the Word of God and intentionally press in to know Him more. Because our faith is our shield, and His Word is the sword with which we resist the devil and cause him to flee. He flees from us when we stand firm in the strength of the Lord. When we hold fast to our faith and speak truth with confidence in who our God is.

So we take care. We watch ourselves. We strengthen our faith and hold fast to His Word. We are intentional in this, because our enemy is powerful and able to deceive us. Let us not think ourselves invulnerable to sin; the devil will take advantage of our pride and we will falter.

The other responsibility in these verses is to our fellow believers. These beloved of God, these for whom Christ died. Even if we are not immediate family by the world’s terms, we are bound by blood – the blood shed on the cross for us, the blood that covers our sin and washes us white as snow. Oh, may our love for each other abound. May it be pure. And may it spur us to encourage one another, that none of us will become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, that none will entertain unbelief and fall away from the Lord.

This matters. The state of one another’s heart must matter to us. Because when we love each other as Christ loves us, we will not neglect the well-being of one another. And so the writer of Hebrews calls believers to exhort each other every day. Meaning this is a relationship. This is continual. This is mutual responsibility to walk alongside and build each other up in the faith.

The Greek word translated here as “exhort” means to invite, to beseech, to beg, to admonish, to comfort, to console, to encourage. So many applications as we are to walk together through life faithfully. Our calling is not to just look for others to fall and then point it out. No, we’re supposed to already be beside them on the way, bringing comfort in hardship and pain, offering encouragement through difficult roads. So we are able to see the deception from the first and can encourage them in faith. So we can implore them to continue steadfastly, to keep hoping in the Lord, to resist the devil and not allow him an inch. So we have the relationship in place and the right to speak truth in love to them, firmly if hardness of heart makes it necessary (but still out of love – not frustration or pride), desiring to restore them to fellowship with Christ and other believers.

Our love for each other is what sets us apart from the world. This is how they will know we are Christ’s. And this is how they will come to believe in Him. Through our love for one another. Love that watches out for one another with humility and grace. Love that builds relationships. Love that comforts and encourages. Love that recognizes dangers and warns against them. Love that is patient and kind toward one another. Love that rejoices and weeps with each other. Love that sacrifices and pours out compassion. Love that serves and gives generously and honors. Love that blesses persecutors and forgives countless times, keeping no record of wrongs. Always believing, hoping, and persevering. Love that holds fast to faith in our God, because that faith is not only our shield – it is our victory (1 John 5:4-5).

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:1-2

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:12-17

To Know His Compassion – Genesis 29:31-35

“When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb…And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.’ She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.’ And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘This time I will praise the LORD.’ Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.”
Genesis 29:31-35

This morning I am reflecting on the compassion of the Lord. His compassion to see us where we are, to respond and draw near to our cries, to graciously and lovingly give us what we need – what we truly need, though it may not be exactly what we wanted.

Leah’s situation was heartbreaking. Bound in marriage to a man who did not want her in the first place. A man who had been promised her sister, who had devoted seven years of his life to work for Rachel’s hand, and who was tricked into marrying Leah first. Verse 30 says “he loved Rachel more than Leah,” but verse 31 strikes deeper: the Lord saw that Leah was hated.

And He had compassion on her.

The Lord, the God who created the heavens and the earth, the Almighty who reigns over all and holds all things in His hands, saw her in her grief. He heard her cries. And He responded with marvelous, very personal grace.

Looking through the narrative, we gain a glimpse of God’s true desire for Leah as He poured out compassion on her. With the first three sons, Leah sought her husband’s love and attachment. She longed for him to see her, to care for her. But this was not the Lord’s ultimate aim. We see that with the next child. Judah was born, and Leah declared, “This time I will praise the LORD.” With this, she stopped bearing children for a time.

In wisdom and compassion, the Lord gently led Leah to the place He knew she would find true peace, love, and belonging. He led her to Himself. Gaining her husband’s favor would not fill the empty, broken places inside of her, and the Lord knew that. So He lovingly drew her closer, step by step as she walked that difficult road. He was faithful. Faithful to hear her, faithful to respond, and faithful to bring her all the way to His side.

It is a beautiful picture of the Lord’s desire for us. He longs to bring us to a place of praise, because that is where our cups are filled to overflowing and our broken hearts are mended. That is where we are strengthened to know the depth and greatness of His love for us. That is where we are captivated in wonder at who He is. As we behold His glory, our souls experience the indescribable fullness of worshiping the One for whom we were created.

He designed us to be satisfied only when we are filled with all the fullness of God. And so He leads us each step of the way to get us to that place. That we will find true peace, love, and belonging in Him. In personal fellowship with the God of heaven who has brought us near through Christ and has called us His beloved children. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1a).

This faithfulness is not something earned. It is God’s promise to all those who trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, all those who have taken refuge in the cross and chosen to follow Him. We respond to His glorious grace, and His goodness and mercy pursue us all of our days as He completes His work to heal our brokenness, make us like Him, and bring us safely home.

In every season, believer, know He will be faithful. He sees you. He hears you. And He responds with compassion, wisdom, and kindness to provide what you need and to draw you ever-closer to Himself.

Our Focus – Joshua 8:30-35

“At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded…And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses…And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.”
Joshua 8:30-35

Israel had just won two major victories upon entering the promised land. (With a defeat in between due to sin that had to be rooted out – it was, and the Lord gave them victory once again.)

We see in these verses that just after the second victory, Joshua is careful to obey what had been commanded: to build an altar to the Lord and record the Law on stones. All Israel gathered, with the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, and Joshua read every word of the Law.

This refocuses the people after the victories. It brings attention where it should be: to their God who gave them these victories, to His commands, and to His promises and warnings.

How beneficial this pattern would be in our lives. That with every victory and every celebration, we “build an altar” to the Lord in thanks and continued devotion. We bring our focus to Him and His Word, praising His faithfulness and reconnecting with the commands that were issued from His heart that is kind and good, His heart that is love. Intentionally recalling whose we are and how He has called us to live, and that this is a beautiful reality worth rejoicing over because of who He is.

It is a guard against losing our way. Against getting so distracted by busyness and so caught up in details that we forget that all of this is really about Him. And that keeping Him and His desires as our center, keeping the gospel of Christ as our focus, really leads to the fullest and best life for us. That focus is what brings us deep, sustaining joy and unexplainable peace. In victory and apparent defeat (though our God is never defeated; He has purposes and sovereignty in all things). In happiness and sorrow. Our God is with us in all of it and His promises stand firm.

When we intentionally bring our focus to His Word it solidifies the foundation on which we stand. And sometimes we need that reminder more in the good times than in the bad – because it might be easier in the good times to allow those distractions and forget how much we still need God. To forget what our true aim is – to follow, obey, and glorify the Lord joyfully – and to forget what all of that looks like.

Today, wherever we are in our story, may we be intentional about focusing our attention on the Lord. To “build an altar” of thanks, devotion, and surrender. To meditate on His Word. On what He has done, what He has promised, and how He has commanded us to live. Abiding in Him, His love, and His Word. Because that is joy for us. That is life for us. And that is what connects us to the One who will lead us rightly and give us strength and hope throughout our days.

Enthroned Over the Flood – Psalm 29:10-11

“The LORD sits enthroned over the flood,
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!”

Psalm 29:10-11

The 29th psalm is my favorite. For several reasons. This morning I chose to read it simply because I wanted to; there was no initial thought to connect it with the hurricane approaching the East coast…but the application is there. Because our Lord sits enthroned over all things.

That does not mean, obviously, that natural disasters will not happen. Our sin broke the perfection of this world and that is part of the consequence. The vastness of its effects shows us just how destructive sin is. But our God still reigns. And so we hope in that reality. That the God who loves us greatly sits enthroned as king forever, enthroned over all the storms – literal and figurative – that come breaking into our lives.

Because He does love us greatly. Greatly enough to send His Son to die in our place, so we could be restored in relationship with the God for whom we were created, the God who makes us whole, and so we could one day experience forever the new heaven and new earth that sin has not touched. Where there will be no more crying or pain or sickness or disaster or death. All of those former things, all of the things we see or experience and think, “It should not be this way; this should not have happened” – all of that will pass away, and all will be made new.

If we are in Christ, that is what awaits us. That is where we are heading. This is only a shadow and it does not compare to His glorious reality.

While we are here, in this mortal life, in this broken world, we will experience difficulty. It might feel as if we have lost everything. But we cannot lose Him. We cannot lose our Lord. He is still enthroned and He is still pouring out love for us, pointing us to the cross as clear evidence of His great mercy and love, directing our attention away from these things that are so temporary so we can see the wondrous beauty and fullness of joy that is coming. Because even if we lose our lives here, if we have accepted Christ, we leave this life to be clothed with immortality, “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

We are greatly loved. And so the Lord will give strength to His people. All the strength we need for each day as we look to Him to fill us with Himself. And He will give us peace – His peace that passes all understanding. Peace that abides deeply with the knowledge that our God who is good, our God who is light and in Him is no darkness whatsoever, our God who is gracious and whose heart is kind, our God who is wise and understanding, our God who sees us: this God is the LORD, the King who is enthroned forever and who reigns over all things.