December 13 Hebrews 9,10,11

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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Free to Enter God’s Presence | Tara Wiley

S~ Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary…Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:1, 24

O~ Hebrews 9 eloquently explains the amazing unfolding of God’s perfect redemption plan. The author reveals the mysteries of the old temple worship system being a type of physical foreshadowing of the more perfect and complete saving from sin that Christ would offer through his life, death, and resurrection. Before Christ, followers of God had to go through complex rituals to appear before God, and even then, only one high priest could dare to approach God, and only once per year.

Because of Christ, we are free from having to follow these complex regulations to be able to appear before God. Christ appears before Him on our behalf, his shed blood covering all of our sin! His sacrifice allows us to approach God with confidence that we are righteous before Him.

A~ Reading through Hebrews 9 and 10 reminds me just how free I am in Christ. It is such a monumental privilege to be able to approach the most holy, most high God of the universe with confidence and assurance of my position before Him. Christ made that happen for me.

Right now, my husband is in the middle of an enormously difficult circumstance at work. He has to mediate between high-ranking officials, defending and negotiating the ramifications of one person’s behavior. The meetings are lasting hours upon hours, for days and days. For some of the people involved, the stakes are very high. There is no sense of assurance of the outcome.

This is how it used to be, and for many, still is, when it comes to approaching God. There’s a sense that a person has to get everything straight before coming into God’s presence, to be all cleaned up, to follow a set of regulations, to have a strong personal defense. Part of that comes from the very real gut-level understanding that even someone far from God knows: God is perfect, and in our human condition, completely unapproachable. But Jesus changes that. He enters into that meeting place, perfect and pure before God, and doesn’t just secure His own position, but secures ours through His perfect sacrifice, when we accept that provision in faith.

So now, “We have confidence…to draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” (Heb 10:19,22) And we can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Heb 4:16)

P~ Lord, I am so grateful that I do not have to fearfully follow a set of complex regulations with the hope that perhaps one priest could occasionally enter into Your presence on my behalf. I don’t have to send someone to defend me in a meeting room full of accusers; I don’t even have to defend myself. Your blood, Jesus, is my perfect defense. To be invited to boldly approach You with confidence whenever my heart cries out to You – that is an awesome privilege that I must not take for granted. Thank You for this amazing gift. Thank You, Jesus, for covering the guilt of my sin. Thank You, God, for inviting me to draw near. Your nearness is to me my good (Ps 73:28), and I am daily desperate for Your presence. Thank You, Lord, for granting it so freely through Your Spirit. Thank You.

Life is Precious | Robin Laney

S~ By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God. Hebrews 11:7 (MSG)

O~ The faith chapter, filled with ordinary people who had great faith and were used by God in extraordinary ways. I can’t begin to imagine what Noah must have thought hearing the instruction to build a gigantic boat in the desert and load up his family with two of every kind of animal. What must his neighbors have thought? Even though it seemed like a crazy thing to do he did and he and his family were saved. I don’t know if Noah was so obedient that he simply did what God asked of him or if he kicked into protection mode. Maybe it was a bit of both.

A~ This verse got me thinking, today, about what I would do to protect my family from danger. Of course, I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately anyways with the recent shootings and talk of gun control. Many of our family members and friends have guns in their homes. We have never felt compelled to own a gun but we have been thinking about it more. I have heard that if one isn’t prepared to shoot someone then one shouldn’t own a gun. I am uncertain I could do it. People say that I would probably go into self-defense mode if necessary and maybe they are right. What I think about most is not the act of shooting another human being but about the consequences. The thought of taking a life makes me feel sick, especially an unsaved one. I wonder about the effect on my heart and my relationship with God, as well. I know that God would be faithful to forgive me but it doesn’t make the process on my end any easier. I took a life, once, through abortion, and it took me 20 years to get to a healthy place.

This verse talks about how Noah’s faith and obedience drew a sharp line between good and evil and that he grew closer to God. The difference, for me, in me protecting my family and him protecting his is that God told him to do it and his actions did not break any commandments. What’s the right thing? I don’t know. Maybe a stun gun? Maybe nothing but prayer and the knowledge that to be absent in the body is to be present with Christ. As far as my family goes, maybe it’s a matter of being more diligent about discipling our children, making sure they are following Jesus faithfully. I’m rambling now. Thanks for listening. I welcome any wisdom on this matter. 🙂

P~ Father, would You clear this in my mind? I want to be sure in my heart about what You want for me and my family. Of course, I pray for our safety but I know that this world is not a safe place. Help me to be at peace with whatever You show me.

Confident and Perservering in Truth | Michelle Myers

S~ So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV)

O~ This walk with You isn’t for wimps.  It is hard.  It isn’t often understood by people, especially, worldly people.  Heck, I sometimes have a hard time understanding it. It is not linear at all.  Things blow up in my face, and in the end, I realize that You meant for that to happen, because there was a spiritual lesson in it for me.  My new Bible contains essays, reflections, etc. about different passages.  One talks about Moses’ choice to leave the comfort of Egyptian life and Pharaoh’s palace, to be mistreated and live among the Hebrew people, who by comparison, “were nothing more than a dung heap on the outskirts of town.”  The author then goes on to ask, “What would it take to make me choose what’s best rather than what’s easiest?”  Then she goes on to say, “Such a decision would have to come from a sense of direction—from my faith.”  I have never thought of it that way.  I have just done what I thought was right in my heart.  I wish I could say, that each and every time I did it immediately, but it has often taken some wresting with You, and this unbearable, unsettled feeling.  When things are harder than I would like, it is easy to get confused and lose confidence in what I really know.   I sometimes question if what I did was best, even though I know it was.  There has been instance after instance, where You have shown me that had I not made the choices that I made, things would have turned out a lot worse.

A~ So, we are back in counseling.  I don’t like it.  It is uncomfortable for me, because of unsuccessful and damaging past experiences.  Yet, I am committed to standing my ground and doing it differently this time.  The last session did not go so well, as I felt that my husband and I were back to the same round and round communication patterns.  After a day of frustration, we sat down and talked about what different is going to look like inside the counselor’s office and outside in our daily lives.  We had to face the fact that we are not the same people we once were.  His processing skills, emotional capacity, etc. have all been impacted by his addiction.  I no longer have the trust and security in him that I once did, nor can I handle all the stuff that I used to.  The impact on his addiction on me, goes deeper than losing our house, the financial mess, etc.  So, as I usually just am quiet and sit in a state of confusion, when I am not understood in counseling, You want me to stand on the truths that You have given me, be confident, and persevere.

Truth: I am not the only spouse of a sex addict that has trouble finding a therapist that understands.  Covenant Eyes has an entire article, with comments from many women talking about how hard it has been to find a good counselor that specializes in this form of addiction and understands the trauma the spouse suffers.

Truth: In spite of studies showing that 70% of wives of sex addicts meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), most sex addiction counselors are still working from the co-addict model.

—The co-addict model says a person who is married to a sex addict is sick, out of control, addicted to their spouse, and implies she is partially to blame for his behavior, simply because she chose to marry a sex addict, even though the vast majority of the time she did not even know he was an addict.  In fact, sex addicts go to great and extreme lengths to hide their addictions, or even deny them; because pornography and masturbation, are seen as something, “everyone does”.   Unlike an alcoholic or drug addict, where eventually you will pick up on the physical cues of “being under the influence”, for many, it is the change in their spouse’s character, family engagement, sexual interest in their partner, etc. that are the first signs someone has of something not being right.  These can easily be explained away by stress at work, just not feeling well, etc. Sex addiction is not the first place the mind jumps to in regards to observing these changes.

Truth: I was a healthy, functioning adult that worked full time with difficult kids, managed a house, and two little children.  These are not the characteristics of someone who is sick or out of control.

Truth: After college graduation, we went our separate ways, to pursue our careers. I was two states away when he proposed to me.  We have both had times when we have failed each other as partners, and we have both had to pick up and move on with ourselves and our girls, without the participation or engagement of the other. These are not the characteristics of someone who is addicted to another person.

Truth: My husband is responsible for his own choices.  He was engaging in this behavior, since he was in his early teens.  It wasn’t until his late 30’s, and he tried to quit, that he realized he had a problem.  He went to great lengths to hide his addiction and his misuse of funds.  When I started to suspect something wasn’t right, beyond his usual answer of, “It is just stuff that I need to figure out.” or “Work is just stressful.” I didn’t turn a blind eye.  I started searching for clues, evidence, etc. of what was really going on.

Truth: Symptoms of PTSD have been shown to mimic symptoms of co-addiction, but still most therapists are sticking to this outdated model which is doing great harm to partners.

You have laid out the truth for me, and part of me doing counseling different this time, is to use my voice, not lose it.  Don’t take the labels from anyone, and put them on, wear them around, like some defeated, messed up creature.  I love my husband.  I know he hurts, and this is not what he wanted for himself or our family.  However, it is his choices that lead us here and his choices that lead us back to counseling.  Even if this most recent choice was not out of malice or even directly related to his addiction, but a result of poor processing and seeing the big picture.  You have shown me, that all I can do is MY part, and that is to be confident and persevere.

P~ Thank you God for YOUR truths.  Help me remember them as we go through this counseling experience again.  Help me remember the truths of what our marriage is like today, which is still a lot better than it was before I left.  Please help us stay calm, rational, and compassionate as we try and work through these bumps, and show us the “different” You have in mind for us. Please help me “patiently endure all things”.  I like linear, but that is not how You work, nor is it how I grow.

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Posted on December 13, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks to both of you. I am so glad that my story can help other people. My husband and I are both works in progress in regards to our new life circumstances, but there is hope. This last week was a good one. We discovered some new ways of doing “different” and that helped up partner together and more easily endure the regular hiccups that life throws at us.

  2. Oh Michelle, This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you for being transparent and letting the Holy Spirit speak through you.

  3. Michelle, Thank you that in a world where marriage is easily tossed aside you are willing to be committed in spite of such huge obstacles. I pray God will bless you and your husband for your choice to work on your marriage. May He be your strength.

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