This past Monday evening I had a fantastic pork chop dinner with Barb and our daughter Solveig. I love pork chops! This is a well-documented fact and in my opinion, pork chops are far superior to any dessert item you could put in front of me. A grilled pork chop is undoubtedly one of God’s greatest creations. Our dinner simply consisted of pork chops and a pile of roasted cauliflower with scapes in olive oil. If you don’t know what a scape is - look it up. The three of us sat down and visited over this culinary masterpiece.
Solveig and Barb tended to talk and interrupt me from my main task of eating but I did manage to fill my gut to the point of “that’s enough.” I was all set to pull away from the table when I noticed meat clearly left on the bones of both Barb and Solveig’s chops. They were nowhere near “finished” as far as I was concerned. How could you think of tossing them in the garbage when there is still work to be done? There was still a blessing for me that I needed to receive with thankfulness. Barb and Solveig need to grow in their understanding of God’s glory as it is revealed in pork chops – says me!
I tell you this silly little story to drive home the point that when our God says that something is complete He means there is nothing left. Jesus told us from the cross that “It is Finished” and He meant it. The book of Hebrews has numerous times declared “once and for all” so that we find confidence in God’s gifts of grace and mercy. We can rest in the fact that we don’t need to add anything to what Jesus has already done to be found at peace with our God in heaven. Because it is finished we can know that we have been made children of God. We are the rescued family members that Jesus came to bring home.
There is no further need for any offering or sacrifice on our part to be made ok before our God. All our failures, sins and messes have been taken care of. Our passage for Sunday clearly declares to us that nothing is left for us to do – Jesus wants each of us to know that Today…It is Finished.
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…. 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Hebrews 10
So, I will leave you with the silly little comparison. As much as I enjoyed the fact that Barb and Solveig left the pork chops unfinished for me to “fill in the cracks,” I am infinitely more thankful that regarding my problems and my debts to my God, Jesus finished all that was needed to make things right. There truly is nothing left for me to do. I just say thank you!
Filled with Grace, [That is even better than Pork Chops]
I don’t like to wait. Can you relate to that? Once I know where I want to go or what I want to eat or what I want regarding anything… - I want it to happen NOW! I don’t like when I hit all the red stoplights and I don’t like when there is a long line at the drive-thru. I want an immediate response and I want all my projects to move along quickly towards a perfect completion. It is pretty easy to see that if that is what I expect from life I will find myself disappointed quite often.
Even though I don’t care much for waiting, I have been able to adjust my outlook to this reality of life so that I don’t go crazy or become an ogre to be around. One thing I find a bit interesting about myself is that, although I hate waiting, I really enjoy anticipating. For nearly 25 years Barb has put up with my near obsession with forcing her into my “celebratory anticipation” of things that I am looking forward to happening.
Here is what I mean by “celebratory anticipation.” Barb and I will be having dinner together talking over the day’s activities for the kick-off of the school year and I will, out of the blue, bring up the need to get new flip flops for walking on the beach in February’s trip to Florida. Or…
I mention this distinction in my mind between regular “waiting” and “anticipating” because it helps us to consider the theme for this Sunday’s message: Today…We Wait. The actual text of Hebrews 9:27-28 reads as follows –
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
This generates some questions for us:
These are some of the thoughts that come to mind for me when I think of eagerly waiting to meet Jesus. I look forward to considering this topic with you on Sunday.
Anticipating Home while Enjoying Today,
In November and December of last year I had seven physical therapy [PT] appointments to deal with a problem I was having with my heel, ankle and Achilles tendon area of my left leg. During these appointments, I gave my medical history and my problem area history. I also had various treatments that ran from feeling really good to being extremely painful. Each session also included a new exercise or two that would strengthen or stretch specific areas or muscles groups. It was expensive and time consuming but I felt it was worth it. I needed help!
My therapist was very attentive, a good listener and knowledgeable. I had confidence that he was pointing me in the right direction and on the road to recovery. Then the Christmas season hit and my PT sessions were over. I love Christmas, but it does get a bit busy and it was easy for me to become delinquent regarding my assigned exercises. Then the deep winter came and I forgot exactly how to do the exercises the right way because my sheets with the explanations were in a bag I stopped using. Then came spring with all its new life as well as Holy Week and Confirmation to plan. It was easy to see that those PT things will just need to wait. Here I am in the beginning of July and the problem area feels pretty much like it did in October when I decided I needed help.
Guess what? The primary problem appears to be in my head more than my schedule or any seasons that come my way. I would simply rather do other things than take a break in my day to do what is needed for me to improve and heal! Do you ever find yourself doing other things than what you need? I believe a common struggle for humanity is our tendency to pursue a million different things other than the things we truly need. I had what I needed but…
Part of our text for this upcoming Sunday’s message tells us what we need. In Hebrews 7 we are told about the magnificence of Jesus as our once and for all great High Priest.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
Because Jesus is holy, blameless, pure and permanent, we have a place in God’s Family. Jesus lives forever and He represents us before God. He covers our sins with His perfect life. He pays for our sins with His perfect, sacrificial death. “In Jesus” – we have all we need for our lives today and all the tomorrows until we reach our end of days. It is a gift from Jesus and it is “able to save completely.” I just need to say thank you and “use” the good gifts of grace and mercy in my life. Don’t leave what you need someplace else like I did with my exercises. Don’t find yourself too busy with “seasons or stuff” so that you don’t fit in what you truly need.
With all I Need,
Pastor Nick Mundis