Friday, April 27, 2018

Hebrews, part 2, Jesus, the Ultimate High Priest

Photo by Virpeen Syp on Unsplash

Look at Hebrews 3:1-6:

1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. 3Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

 I put “house” in bold because it’s important that we remember that we are His house.
Now look at Hebrews 4:14-16:

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus is the great high priest. I think this links back to 2nd Chronicles in an interesting way. Remember that in Chronicles the kingdom was divided into the northern region of Israel (10 tribes) and the southern kingdom of Judah (2 tribes). The priests and Levites left the northern region because of the idolatry. Where there were parallel accounts in Chronicles to historical events recorded in Kings, Chronicles always had many more references to the priests and Levites. Here, in Hebrews, we have the ultimate priest. Read Hebrews 5:1-10:

1Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
 4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
   "You are my Son;
      today I have become your Father." 6And he says in another place,
   "You are a priest forever,
      in the order of Melchizedek."
 7During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

An important part to clarify is in verse 9. The translation here says “once made perfect,” which sounds like He wasn’t always perfect. The original Greek meaning, however, is “having been made perfect,” implying that Jesus was made perfect originally. Jesus was sinless and perfect.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hebrews, part 1, Stay Strong in the Faith that Jesus is God

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Hebrews was written by . . . well, we don’t know, though some believe that Paul is the author. Martin Luther thought it was Apollos, Tertulian thought it was Barnabas, others thought it might have been Priscilla or Philip.

There seems to be a double intent in this book: first to confirm Jewish Christians by showing that the Jewish age had ended by the fulfillment of the Law through Christ and, second, that there is an urgency to be strong in the faith and not lapse back into Judaism or fall short in faith in Jesus.

First let’s read Hebrews 1: 1-5:

 1In the past God spoke

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Last Book in THE TIME BENDER series Released Today



THE TIME ENDER is the exciting and unexpected conclusion to The Time Bender series.

Selina Langston is confused about recurring feelings for the wrong guy/alien. She’s pretty sure Alex is her soulmate and Coreg should not be trusted at all. But Marcum … well, when he returns to Klaqin and rescues her she begins to see him in a different light.

Since her secret power can pull her and everyone around her into a slow measured existence, she has plenty of time to figure it all out. But she’s not the only one with special powers. Plus there’s a galactic war going on … treachery and treaties … killing and carnage … battles and betrothals. Specifically her betrothal. Marcum has been through an incredible transformation since arriving on Gleezhe, but is he destined to be her betrothed?

And there’s someone … or something … that can stop time in a way that could mean the end of everything.

Friday, April 13, 2018

It's My Birthday! Lucky Me. I was Born on Friday the 13th

I am not superstitious. Never have been. Never will be.

Here are some birthday facts about me:

In high school I was a synchronized swimmer and in my senior year I won the soloist's spot.

I love to play games and devote hours to board games, video games, card games ... you name it.

I started writing novels in 2002 and have over 20 books published to date.

Fear of falling into the ocean kept me from going on a cruise, but a few years ago my husband and I took a train trip that included a cruise in the middle and I loved it. Now we've been on 6 and are booked on more in 2019 and 2020.

I have a thing for grammar. Love it. Love words. Love editing. But I hate it when people misuse apostrophes.

That is all.
Anyone wishing to send me a birthday gift be advised that all I want is one more book review on Amazon. So if you are so inclined ... hint, hint ... leave a review.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Philemon, A Short but Captivating Book in the New Testament

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Hebrew letter mem represents water. The pictograph was drawn as a wavy line depicting waves of water. When the mem is the last letter of a word it is written more squarish like calm water. There are many words starting with this letter that have to do with water like bath (miqveh), fountain or spring, source or origin (maqor or ma’ayin), rain (matar), the flood of Noah (mabul) and baptized or immersed (mutbal). Other keywords that start with mem are king, kingdom and bowels (yes, I know, sounds gross – many translations use the word heart instead).

Paul opens his letter to Philemon by identifying himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” He uses the same phrase in his letter to the Ephesians where he adds “for the sake of the Gentiles.” I like that he reveals the “prisoner” status as he was, at that time, writing from prison. I think he is stating that although he is incarcerated he knows that this is the best place for him to be of service to Christ.

He writes to Philemon (and Apphia, Archippus and the church that meets in their home) and uses a greeting in verse 3 of “grace” and “peace.”  In the original Greek the word here for “grace” has the connotations of that which causes joy, pleasure and gratification. “Peace” means quietness and rest.

Our mem word “bowels” comes into play three times throughout this letter where your translation may use “heart” (verses 7, 12 and 20). Three times is a high occurrence considering how short this epistle is.

Paul appeals to Philemon for mercy on behalf of Philemon’s escaped slave, Onesimus. Onesimus has made himself useful to Paul in prison and, as a matter of fact, the name actually means “useful.” Paul is going against Old Testament tradition and is sending Onesimus back. In Deuteronomy 23: 15, 16 there is a law which says:

 15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. 16 Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him.
Of course, Paul can break this law as he is no longer bound to the law, but set free through faith in Jesus. Paul sends him back with this letter that contains subtle suggestions to influence Philemon. Read verses 13 through 18 with that in mind: 13I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
 17So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

Boy, Paul is really steering things in a certain direction, isn’t he? We know he didn’t always write his own letters and it was probably Tertius (see Romans 16:22) who was writing this for him, except for verse 19 when he mentions that he is writing this part. This is undoubtedly to give more strength to his offer to pay Onesimus’s debts. This is a picture of Christ paying for our sins. Paul prods Philemon’s conscience two more times in verses 21 and 22:

21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
 22And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

This Onesimus may be the same person who, years later, became the Bishop of Ephesus, mentioned by Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in a letter to Ephesus.