01-10-16 The Lettuce Patch: Let Us Draw Near...

Welcome to honest-to-goodness winter.  It’s cold, it’s snowy, and I’m elated.  I had lunch with someone who just got back from Florida, so I know that not everyone is as elated as I am, but I personally still like a little winter in my wintertime, nonetheless.

In more serious matters, please keep Harry McClure (and his wife Janet) in your prayers as he continues to bounce back slowly from his stroke last week.  He’s already improved at least a bit, but the next couple of weeks of physical rehabilitation will decide a great deal, so please keep praying for a positive, constructive attitude for both of them, for endurance as he goes through the rigors of rehab, and for the opportunity for both of them to be a solid witness to friends, family, and the hospital staff about how to react to difficult situations in ways that consistently reflect Christ’s grace.

You could also be praying for Ben and Jane Hardin.  Jane’s chronic arthritis has made it very difficult for her to move around, and Ben has been struggling with a nasty case of shingles since November!  Speaking from experience, I know that shingles can be very much not fun, so please keep them both in your prayers

And please join us if you can next Sunday for our annual Sanctity of Human Life Sunday commemoration.  We’ll be dedicating Jasmine Uhler, as well as hosting new Women’s Pregnancy Center Director Julie Philyaw as our guest speaker.  We’d love to have you here, if you can make it.

In our message this week, we began a new series (and yes, it’s going to be interrupted by Sanctity of Human Life Sunday next week -- I realize that), looking at “The Lettuce Patch” of Hebrews 10. 

See, in the four verses of Hebrews 10:22-25, the writer gives us five “let us” commands in rapid succession -- and any time that a Biblical writer concludes a section with a clump of repeated, “We all need to do X” commands, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

So the first “lettuce” command says, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” but the sentence it’s nestled in begins with a big “Therefore,” which means that there’s a context to it.  The chapter begins with an argument that everything that’s come before -- the Law, the sacrifices, the priests, etc. -- were all pointing God’s people to Christ finally coming to be with them (and ultimately, to us having a personal relationship with God).  But no one could keep all of the Law, and none of the sacrifices could take away sin, and none of the priests understood everything about everyone like Jesus did.  Unlike everyone and everything who came before Him, Jesus made a perfect sacrifice of Himself and made each of us perfect (complete) with one action once on the cross -- and is working within each of us to make us holy more and more every day. 

Therefore, since Christ has literally died to bring us into His presence as His beloved family, let’s not diminish that sacrifice by either keeping our lives at a comfortable distance from God or coming close to Him flippantly.  Instead, we’re called (commanded, really) to accept His sacrifice on our behalf, let His blood cleanse and change us, draw close to Him with openness and honesty in a sincere relationship with God, and actively live like the members of the family that He died to adopt us into. 

(Full disclosure -- this is not the first “Lettuce Patch” in Hebrews.  There’s another on in chapter 4... that has exactly the same focus...)

So when you accepted Christ as your Saviour, you took the name “Christian” as your family name, and you became responsible for living up to that family name that you’ve been given.  But since we have been given that name, when God looks at you, that’s what He chooses to see -- not the sin, not the screw-ups, but the forgiveness and adoption that He bought for us.

How does that change the way that you plan to live out the next 24 hours...?