Lining a Canoe Upstream

Analogies, Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Writing about the river's flow in our last post reminded me of the idea of "lining a canoe".  The basic principle is this:  when seeking to take your canoe upstream against the current, you tie a rope near the front of the canoe and, walking upstream along the shore, you provide the power by pulling the rope and the river's current keeps the boat from running into the bank.  When I googled "lining a canoe" to learn more, I found this explanation on The Alaska Hunting Forum: "I can tell you from personal experience that lining any boat upstream any appreciable distance comes down to one thing - HARD WORK.  There's just no easy way around it.  The truth is that you will be in, on, and around that river…
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Never Thirsty

Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Similar to the offer of rest for His children, Jesus gives us another incredible promise in the same vein.  "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst' " (Jn 6:35).  The word "never" is a powerful word.  I try not to use it very often.  The word "never" doesn't allow for loopholes.  Yet, in this passage, Jesus makes the incredible promise that "he who believes in Me shall never thirst."  What narrow corner has Jesus backed Himself into with this kind of promise; a promise with no loopholes? What Jesus has promised is that in your spirit, in the real you, He will so fill you up that you will never be…
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Entering the Believer’s Rest

Faith is ..., Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Last time we posed the question "How do we enter the believer's rest?"  How do we go from wilderness Christian to God's promised land experience in the here-and-now?  The author of the book of Hebrews gives us some insight. Starting first with the Old Testament example of those who refused God's promised rest.  "Today if you hear My voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw my works for forty years.  Therefore I was angry with this generation and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways;' and I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest' " (Heb 3:7-11).…
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The Believer’s Rest

Faith is ..., Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Another prominent theme in the book of Hebrews is the believer's rest.  Entering into God's rest is foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt and their eventual arrival in the promised land.  The three stages of their deliverance are symbols of the three stages of deliverance for New Testament believers. Stage one is the Israelites release from Pharaoh's grip during their exodus from Egypt.  This represents our initial salvation when Christ delivered us from Satan's grip by His sacrifice on the cross.  The Egyptian taskmasters of Pharaoh's day represent the flesh, our sin nature, that controlled you and I prior to our salvation.  Paul writes of his before-salvation experience, "For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice…
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Putting Faith into Practice

Faith is ..., Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
That the Christian life is lived "by faith" is a prominent message in the New Testament.  But how do we do it?  It is great to understand the theology and theory, but we all want to know, "How do we put it into practice?  What does living by faith look like?"  I can measure laws and law-breakers; I can measure rule-keeping and rule-breaking; I can measure a life lived by works.  But faith?  That's a little too nebulous; a little too out there in a world that we can't see, smell, or touch.  But it is exactly how God intends us to live.  So how do we bring faith to our every day experience? Think of your Christian experience as a big circle.  We start with a faith challenge.  Something…
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Faith and the Three Great Promises of God

Faith is ..., Hebrews, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
If you take a comprehensive read through the New Testament, you will find three great promises God makes to new covenant believers that are repeated over and over again.  And just like our old covenant ancestors, faith is a primary requirement to lay hold of and experience the power of these great promises. The first promise is the most familiar.  Believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life.  Jesus introduced this promise about a hundred different ways in the gospels.  One of the most succinct is, "He who believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life" (Jn 3:36).  Because we can't see the future, because people don't generally come back from the dead and share their experience, we don't know for sure what our after death experience will be. …
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A Better Promise (Hebrews 11)

Faith is ..., Hebrews, Thoughts
In Hebrews chapter 11, the author develops a critical similarity between the old covenant saints and new covenant believers; the absolute need to live by faith.  For the Old Testament believers, their faith was centered around the idea that something better was coming. "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain...By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death...By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, prepared an ark...By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out...not knowing where he was going...By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for a city…
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A Better Offering (Hebrews 10:1-16)

Hebrews, Thoughts
Coming now to Hebrews chapter 10, the author stops to summarize his main point:  The superiority of Jesus and the new covenant that He ushered in by His complete and sufficient sacrifice for our sins.  "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.  Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have consciousness of sins?  But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb 10:1-4).  The…
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A Better Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-28)

Hebrews, Thoughts
"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:11-12).  Christ's death, the spilling of His blood, was a better sacrifice.  Christ's blood not only obtained our "eternal redemption", but it also empowers our Christian walk as we see in these verses ahead. "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of…
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A Better Covenant (Hebrews 8:4-13)

Hebrews, Thoughts
"The priests who offer the gifts according to the Law serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; 'See,' He says, 'that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.'  But now Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second" (Heb 8:4-7).  The recurring theme of Hebrews continues.  Moses and the Old Testament priests and the Law were a foreshadow of what was to come.  Jesus is better, and…
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A Better Priest (Hebrews 7:21-8:2)

Hebrews, Thoughts
"But He with an oath through the One who said to Him, 'The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, You are a priest forever.'  So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant" (Heb 7:21-22).  As a priest forever, Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant than the one associated with the former priesthood. "The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers, because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:23-25).  Salvation through Jesus is complete because He is…
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A Better Hope (Hebrews 6:19 – 7:19)

Hebrews, Thoughts
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 6:19-20).  Jesus, as the bearer of the new covenant, appeared on the scene as a priest after the order of Melchizedek rather than the order of Levi - priests of the old covenant. "Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God...is without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually" (Heb 7:1,3).  Melchizedek, who first appeared on the scene in Genesis chapter 14, is a type…
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Something Better, Jesus!

Hebrews, Thoughts
If you live in the Houston area, you have no doubt heard the radio call letters KSBJ and their catch phrase "Something Better, Jesus".  In those three words, our radio friends have captured the essence of the New Testament book of Hebrews.  This book introduces us to the contrasts and comparisons between the Old and New Testaments, the Old and New Covenants, the Old and New Arrangement between God and man. The book was written to Jewish believers and would-be believers who were teetering on the edge of Christianity.  On the one hand, they had heard and were prepared to embrace the "new life in Christ" message of the gospel.  On the other hand, they still felt the tug of their former life; the comfortable routine of Judaism.  The author,…
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