Sunday, July 9, 2017

HEBREWS 13:23-25 

"Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty;
with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
Salute all them that have the rule over you,
and all the saints. 
They of Italy salute you.
Grace be with you all. Amen."

I am concluding Hebrews.  Wow.  I did it by the sweat of my brow, if someone can sweat while sitting in air conditioning with finger glued to a laptop.  Writing this blog is what gets me out of bed, to grab a cup of coffee and to do my devotions with.  I hope you have enjoyed coming along. 

Church of Santa Maria della  Salute


Salute is an Italian greeting which has become universal, probably from some latin root which I don't know.  Even Italian restaurants are named Salute, or cheers!  But this makes me believe Paul is the writer who is writing from Italy, thus writing from prison.  But Timothy is now set free, which means it is time for him to leave Paul.  How hard that must be to part ways, knowing they would not see each other until they were in glory.  But Paul knew Timothy would be his eyes and ears as he arrived to visit this group of displaced people, the Christian Hebrews and would be waiting for a letter sent back to him.  "It appears in Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, that he was with Paul during the greatest part of the time." (Adam Clarke) 

"Salute all those that have the rule over you, and the saints...They of Italy salute you.  The NASV translates it, "Greet,"  but I like the little Italian thrown in, Salute.  They of Italy "probably means the Jews who had embraced the Christian faith.  These salutations show that a brotherly feeling existed in every part of the Christian Church; even those who had not seen each other yet loved one another, and felt deeply interested for each other's welfare." (Adam Clarke)

"Greet...all the saints."  Saints, literally "holy ones," "But a Christian was then a saint, i.e. by profession (professing, confessing to be) a holy person; and most of the primitive Christians were actually such.  But in process of time the term as applied to all that bore the Christian name; as 'elect, holy people, sanctified, etc., were to the nation of Jews (non-Christian Jews), when both their piety and morality were at a very low ebb."  Adam Clarke

So Timothy and Paul had to part ways, as painful as it was since Paul seemed to have taken him as a son.  I enjoyed the "Pickles" cartoon in our paper today when the grandson asks,"Can we go somewhere fun today, Grampa?"  He answers, "Someone once said, 'No matter where you go, or what you do you live your entire life within the confines of your head.'  So it doesn't really matter where you go.  Just have fun inside your head.  Right now I'm on a tropical island and you're a monkey who's going to bring me a cold beverage."  Alrighty then, Paul would keep Timothy close to his heart whether he was still there or not.  He also expected if Timothy comes soon, "I will see you."  By letter, Paul hoped knowing Timothy would be his eyes and ears for him to treasure these things in his heart while sitting in a jail cell.  (If he was released 'on his own recognizant, he would be living someone handcuffed to a Roman soldier which might make it difficult to write.  Imagine writing the epistle of Hebrews while handcuffed to that soldier.)

Place of Paul's Arrest?

"Grace be with you all."  The southern translation is, "Grace be with y'all."  "May the Divine favour ever rest upon you and among you; and may you receive, from that source of all good, whatsoever is calculated to make you wise, holy, useful, and happy!  And may you be enabled to persevere in the truth to the end of your lives!  Amen.  May it be so!" (Adam Clarke)

Well, my friends, grace be with you.  I have finished the book of Hebrews precisely as we fly away to Virginia for ten days.  I will not be blogging during that time, although I will be posting pictures on facebook as we bury my husband's aunt and uncle in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery as well as when we visit historic sites, especially those of family history significance. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017


"But I urge you brethren,
bear with (listen to) this word of exhortation,
for I have written to you briefly."

 You Brethren...

He counted them as one of his people, his tribe.  They may have been part of the Diaspora, a displaced people.  The writer may be Paul in prison.  But whoever it was knew they were all in this facing persecution together.  It meant that they needed this exhortation like a shot in the arm.  Have you found these Scripture to come alive to strengthen you in your being?

The writer to this epistle thinks he wrote briefly.  Ha!  I know that every time I write my puny blog, I strive to keep it short.  Ha!  But he had a lot more good stuff to say, because, you know, it was God-breathed Scripture.  You can't get enough of that!  I will admit that this "brief" word of exhortation in the book of Hebrews was very difficult for me to go through, as beautiful as it was.  However, it has become almost shiver-worthy when it is in my heart and in my mind as I hear sermons or other Scripture spoken, which show how apropos and rich it is.  It is as Andrew Murray describes as "breathing the law of God and the Spirit of heaven into your heart, as your very life!"

One verse kept ringing in my head this morning.  It was from II Corinthians 1:20...

"For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes;
therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us."
Yes and amen in Him.  That should be our response to hearing God's word.
That is what happens to a totally surrendered heart. 
It does not chaff or question or struggle against
God's exhortations to us through Scripture.
First of all we need to believe the Bible,
that all God's Word is true.
(II Samuel 7:28)
"Your word is truth."
(John 17:17)
So listen up!

The dictionary definition of exhortation is,

"to urge, advise, or warn earnestly."

"The word he used means both admonition or reproof and encouragement."
(Andrew Murray)

"Suffer the word of exhortation"

Jesus used to often say, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  It obviously was a favorite phrase as found in Matthew 11:15; Mark 13:9, 38; Mark 4, 9,23, 7:16; Luke 8:8, 14;35 repeatedly.

Take heed!
"bear with this exhortation"
It is interesting that this earnest plea is at the end rather than at the beginning.  Probably because it is in an epistle, a letter which could be read repeatedly.  This is true of all Scripture.  It is all meant to be read over and over again because there is always something new found therein.  Of course!  All Scripture is God-breathed, which means that God is having a constant conversation with His readers.  So, do not close your ears as Scripture warns! 

Andrew Murray writes, "its tone has been one of faithful reproof, with a view to convict of sin, to awaken to a sense of danger, to urge to repentance.  At the same time, everything has been done to quicken faith and hope, and to urge to steadfastness by pointing to the strong encouragement to be found in the word of God and the power of Christ."

So, heads up buttercup!  Drop your socks and listen up!

Friday, July 7, 2017

HEBREWS 13:20, 21

"Now may the God of peace...
equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in you that working in us
that which is pleasing in His sight,
through  Jesus Christ,
to whom be the glory forever and ever.

We were tired of grocery store fruit, probably imported from out of the country, so we finally stopped by a fruit seller to buy cherries, one of those moments we actually had cash on us to make the purchase.  We missed cherry season.  What!  We settled for unripe peaches.  The fruit we wanted did not last, and we were displeased.

Who would turn that offer down, an offer to equip you in every good thing?  We are all sent out there to work since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, by the sweat of our brow.  But as God's Church,  the result of what we do when He equips us is to enjoy "the fruit that remains."

"You did not choose Me
but I chose you,
and appointed you that you
would go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit would remain."
(John 15:16)

This is my husband's life verse for ministry, the fruit that remains. Living in orchard country, we know when the fruit is endangered by weather or pests.   It is not as easy as it seems to produce fruit.  We also often see whole orchards with trees dug up, roots pointing up to the heavens, a sad sight. As much as we enjoy seeing the flowering fruit trees, the growing fruit, it is all for one purpose, to produce a harvest, a fruit that remains which is ripe and luscious.

So in my imagination when reading this verse, I imagine God handing out hoes to the workers, maybe later ladders and baskets to pick the fruit or workers hoeing the rows then bending over to gather the crop.  But God is offering to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight.   When His
Spirit is given to live in us, to work in us, it is an invitation back to the Garden in that we can walk with God in fellowship.  What is pleasing in His sight, not hiding in the bushes covering ourselves with fig leaves. 

The KJV says, "Make you perfect in every good work."  Adam Clarke says the word means "Put you completely in joint."  My great-grandfather had terrible epilepsy that threw his shoulder out of joint so often that the muscles would no longer hold it where it should be.  After many prayers of God's saints, he was healed of his epilepsy.  An out of joint shoulder joint, or any other, is extremely painful.  It happened to our son twice in sports.  It happened to the lady on the other side of the curtain in the E.R.  We listened while the team of doctor and nurses did the physical procedure to put the joint back in place.  There was immediate relief.  We want to be completely in joint with God's will.  Being out of joint from His will is painful.

Then the commentator says, "'To whom be glory forever.' Him be the honour of His own work  ascribed through tie and eternity."  The glory is just the radiance of all He does and is.