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(Part 117)


January 29, 2015

Today’s readings:
Hebrews 10:19-25
Psalm 24:1-6
Mark 4:21-25

During these times, “you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:25b). This “day” speaks about the end times. This is the second coming of Christ and the time of judgment. And so we must prepare. How do we prepare?

First, we are to walk the path of holiness. We must have “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” (Heb 10:22b). Only in this way can we enter heaven. “Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand in his holy place? The clean of hand and pure of heart” (Ps 24:3-4a).

Second, having walked the path of holiness, we look forward with confidence to the end. We face each day with hope. We look to God’s promise of eternal reward. “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Heb 10:23). Indeed, we “will receive blessings from the Lord, and justice from (our) saving God.” (Ps 24:5). We will be blessed in life, and we will receive the ultimate blessing of heaven in the afterlife. This is justice in relation to God’s salvation. Justice is giving to the other what is his due. What is due to us, by God’s own design, is salvation, to live eternally with our Father in heaven. That is why Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. Having given us his very life, will Jesus withhold any good thing from us? Such is our hope.

Third, we look not only to our own spiritual well-being, but to that of others as well. We do not want anyone left behind, not making it to heaven. We are brothers’ keepers. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.” (Heb 10:24). Many are unaware, many are lost, many are asleep. Those of us who know Christ and are living Christ should share Christ. We are to witness to Jesus and to let his light shine forth in and through us. “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?” (Mk 4:21).

Fourth, for those of us in covenant community, as the way for the above three to happen, we must be faithful to our covenant. “We should not stay away from our assembly, as in the custom of some, but encourage one another” (Heb 10:25a). We must attend our households, the prayer assemblies, the teaching nights, the conferences, and all other important activities of the community. These are designed not to take away our valuable time, but to give us valuable inputs in our continuing walk in holiness. The time and effort we expend is an investment in our own spiritual well-being, as well as that of our families. And God works through us in order to encourage our brethren, just as we ourselves are encouraged by them.

Now such spiritual good works are blessings not just for others but more especially for ourselves. To the extent that we manifest God’s love to others, that is the same measure by which we will continue to experience God’s outpouring of grace. “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.” (Mk 4:24b). When we give we receive. When we forgive we are forgiven. When we bless others, we too are blessed. God is never outdone in generosity. “To the one who has, more will be given” (Mk 4:25a).

But the converse is also true: “from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mk 4:25b). God starts us all off in the same way­being given the gift of salvation, and being given the grace to live spiritual lives and do good works. If we do not make use of these gifts, for the good of others, then we will lose them. Even our salvation and entry into heaven will be threatened. Thus we actually have no choice. Our eternity hangs in the balance.

The day draws near.

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