12.31.2017

My heart's desire for 2018 - and always.

As I reflect back on this year, it is clear that 2017 found me deeply convicted to increase my time in, and my love for, God's Word. I thought about it, I wrote about it, and I talked about it. As I look forward to a new year, however, I don't want to spend 2018 doing those same things. No more thinking, no more talking - just DOING.
Reading Scripture.
Meditating on Scripture.
Memorizing Scripture.
Obeying Scripture.
And LIVING Scripture.


Some time ago, I listened to a sermon in which the pastor gave a beautiful description of David.
"Now here is a believer, here is a psalmist who from the very depths of his heart is pouring out his love for the law of God. He observes it, he keeps it, he obeys it, he longs for it, he delights in it, he loves it, he weeps over those who do not know it and do not obey it and treat it with scorn."
As I listened to his words I thought, "That is who I want to be."
A woman who ...
loves God's Word
observes it
keeps it
obeys it
longs for it
and delights in it.

The first command for every believer is to, "Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength."
If I love God, I will love His Word.
If I love His Word, I will know His Word.
If I know His Word, and what He requires of me, I will obey.
If I obey His commands, I will live a life of righteousness.
If I live righteously, I will draw others to Him.
If my life draws others to the God who saves, the God who heals, the God who redeems ...
it is a life worth living.

Lord, make me fall in love with Your Word as if it were for the first time. Consume me with a desire to read it, learn it, understand it, and LIVE it. Let me see its beauty, its power, and its ability to change a life from the inside out. Do not let me begin my day, or end my night until I hold Your precious Word in my hands and soak up the truths found within. Let the cry of David's heart be my own. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!

12.30.2017

Happy 50th Birthday to you - DENNIS!



50 reasons we LOVE - APPRECIATE - RESPECT - ENJOY Dennis Eastman!
{List created joyfully by Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah, Ellie, and Michelle}

Dennis is ...
50. Loyal
49. Kind
48. Loving
47. Comical and entertaining
46. A strong leader
45. A terrific father
44. A faithful husband
43. A wonderful example of a Christian
42. Helpful
41. Ambitious
40. An excellent teacher and trainer of teachers
39. Active
38. Adventurous
37. A defender of the orphan and the widow
36. Affectionate
35. A man of integrity
34. Godly
33. Strong
32. He protects and defends our family
31. He hugs and kisses us
30. He tells us he loves us
29. Thoughtful
28. Hyper and fun
27. He works hard to provide for his family
26. He sacrifices his own wants and needs for his family
25. He takes us on bike rides
24. Creative
23. Wise, and shares his wisdom with us through conversation and letters
22. Passionate
21. Hardworking
20. Bold
19. Enthusiastic
18. He tells fantastic stories
17. He welcomes people into our home
16. Diligent
15. Humble
14. He tucks us in at night and prays with us
13. He counsels and encourages young men
12. He is willing to listen to and accept instruction and correction
11. Quick to repent
10. A servant
9. Compassionate
8. He has a passion for serving the neglected and ignored
7. He plays football, basketball, and baseball with us
6. He takes us on dates to spend time with us
5. Gracious
4. Forgiving
3. Willing to overlook an offense
2. He assumes the best and gives people the benefit of the doubt
1. He chooses to love us, day after day - and he loves us well.








Happy Birthday, Dennis!
❤We LOVE YOU!❤

12.28.2017

My week. And it's not over yet!


Sunday
- Micah and Luke collapsed, sick, in the evening.
Monday
- We worked hard to eek out as many family moments as possible in between naps, coughing, and misery so we could enjoy Christmas together.
Tuesday
- Put the house back together and did a deep-clean after taking down Christmas decor.
- Luke's sickness increased by 100%.
Wednesday
- Dennis and Ellie left for northern California to visit all three of Dennis' families. (It was supposed to be a Father/Teen trip that the four of them had been looking forward to, but since Micah and Luke could not travel, it became a Father/Daughter trip. And Ellie was THRILLED!)
- Took Luke to the doctor because his skin was actually red from fever, he could not speak, and could barely walk on his own. The doc looked at him for one second and cried, "WHOA!" She gave me six hours to get his fever under control, and if it did not decrease, instructed me to take him to the ER.
- His fever lowered enough to be safe around 5 pm.
- Spent the next 20 hours waking him up every four to six hours to give him fever meds and check his temperature.
- Completed 10 loads of laundry. (Mattress pads/sheets/blankets/comforters x's 8 and all clothes that were worn by sick people the past two days.)
- Josiah and Isaiah dropped at 6 pm.
- The fire alarm in my bedroom decided to die at 2 am, screaming with great volume. Micah and I spent 30 minutes trying to fix it, with no success, and finally ripped it out of the ceiling.
Thursday
- Began the day with four loads of laundry. (May as well finish ALL of it while playing nurse, right? Final count: 14 loads)
- Caleb dropped at 9 am.
- Set phone alarm for all four boy's fever meds so I would not forget who needed what when.
- Market run.
- Shopped for new mattresses while everyone slept or watched movies. (all five boys need new ones)
- Micah was back to normal around 2 pm. Yay!
- Luke is functioning at 70%. Yes!
- Sat down at 5 pm with absolutely NO intention of getting up again until tomorrow morning.

So, there you go.
My post-Christmas week.
Now, tell me about YOURS! <grin>

12.27.2017

Live so as to be MISSED.

I finally turned the last page of this extraordinary man's biography. When I picked up the book, written by his closest friend, Andrew Bonar, I had no idea who Robert Murray M'Cheyne was, but now he is on my "favorites" list of amazing men of God.
What a life!
What a legacy!

Were I to write out all of the quotes and excerpts from his journal that deeply affected me, I would almost rewrite the entire biography. I will, however, share as many of his words as possible with the hope of encouraging someone else through the intimate passion for Christ this man possessed. And even better, induce others to read about him on their own. Once you know him, you will not forget him.
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■ Live so as to be missed. - I LOVE this!

■ After spending an evening too lightly, he writes, "My heart must break off from all these things. What right have I to steal and abuse my Master's time? 'Redeem it.' He is crying to me."

■ Clear conviction of sin is the only true origin of dependence on another's righteousness, and therefore (strange to say!) of the Christian's peace of mind and cheerfulness.

■ It has always been my aim, and it is my prayer, to have no plans with regard to myself, well assured as I am, that the place where the Saviour sees meet to place me must ever be the best place for me.

■ "Paul asked," says he, "'What wilt Thou have me to do?' and it was answered, 'I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name's sake.' Thus it may be with me. I have been too anxious to do great things. The lust of praise has ever been my besetting sin; and what more befitting school could be found for me than that of suffering alone, away from the eye and ear of man?"

■ Since Tuesday have been laid up with illness. Set by once more for a season to feel my unprofitableness and cure my pride. When shall this self-choosing temper be healed? "Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle," said I. "No, thou shalt lie in thy bed and suffer," said the Lord.
Today missed some fine opportunities to of speaking a word for Christ. The Lord saw I would have spoken as much for my own honor as His, and therefore shut my mouth. I see a man cannot be a faithful minister until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake - until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

To maintain a conscience void of offense, I am persuaded that I ought to confess my sins more. I think I ought to confess sin the moment I see it to be sin; whether I am in company, or in study, or even preaching, the ought to cast a glance of abhorrence at the sin. If I go on with the duty, leaving the sin unconfessed, I go on with a burdened conscience and add sin to sin.

■ I ought to study Christ as an Intercessor. He prayed most for Peter, who was to be most tempted. I am on his breastplate. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.

■ I am persuaded that I ought never to do anything without prayer, and, if possible, special, secret prayer.

■ I am persuaded that nothing is thriving in my soul unless it is growing. "Grown in grace." "Lord, increase our faith." "Forgetting the things that are behind." ... I am persuaded that I ought to be inquiring at God and man what grace I want, and how I may become more like Christ ... I ought to strive for more purity, humility, meekness, patience under suffering, love. "Make me Christ-like in all things," should be my constant prayer. "Fill me with the Holy Spirit."

Thank You, Lord, for the life and legacy of this man who loved You well - every day if his life.

12.22.2017

Thought for the day ... Humility.

During this Christmas season, I have been thinking about the beauty of Christ's humility.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:4-11

His entire life, every moment of His ministry, was an act of obedience. He only spoke the words His Father told Him to speak. He did everything the Father commanded Him to do. Even when He wept in the garden before His death asking God if there could be another way, He surrendered His own will and left the garden in complete and submissive peace.

A proud man will not submit.
A proud man will not give up his own way to let someone else have his.
A proud man thinks of Self first, and others maybe.
A proud man says, "My way is BEST."

Jesus was humble.
Submissive.
Yielding.
Fully surrendered to another.
He submitted, yielded, and surrendered willingly, consistently, immediately, and with JOY.
And He left His example so we would do as He did.

May we, like Jesus, seek to do - always and only - the will of God.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 
John 6:38

The following is a fantastic excerpt on the character quality of humility by J. C. Ryle.
May it encourage you today!

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"Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11

Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces. To know our own sinfulness and weakness, and to feel our need of Christ - is the start of saving religion.
Humility is a grace which has always been a distinguishing feature in the character of the holiest saints in every age. Abraham and Moses and Job and David and Daniel and Paul - were all eminently humble men.
Above all, humility is a grace within the reach of every true Christian. All converted people should work to adorn the doctrine they profess, with humility. If they can do nothing else - they can strive to be humble.

Do you want to know the root and spring of humility?
One word describes it. The root of humility is right knowledge.
The person . . .
who really knows himself, and his own heart,
who knows God, and His infinite majesty and holiness,
who knows Christ, and the price at which he was redeemed
- that person will never be a proud person.

He will count himself, like Jacob, unworthy of the least of all God's mercies. He will say of himself, like Job, "I am vile!" He will cry, like Paul, "I am the chief of sinners." He will consider others better than himself. Philippians 2:3

Ignorance, nothing but sheer ignorance - ignorance of self, of God, and of Christ - is the real secret of pride. From that miserable self-ignorance, may we daily pray to be delivered.
The wise person knows himself - and will find nothing within to make him proud.

- J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858

12.20.2017

Scripture and laughter. A winning combination!

Due to a rather disheartening start to the week, it was encouraging to look back and recognize God's hand in preparing me for it.
For the past two weeks, I have felt an insatiable desire for His Word. My days were structured around the one hour I could claim as my own to read Scripture, meditate on the truths found within, and pray.
The hours were sweet, encouraging and profitable.
He kept pressing me to read through Romans and brought me back to long-familiar passages that jumped off the page and were fitting for what I needed at the moment. Scripture is always applicable to the need of the moment, of course, but there are times when the verses are so specific to the situation I am walking through it seems as though God's finger is pounding on the page as if to say, "This verse! Read this one! It is exactly what you need."
I love when He works like that! Specific. Appropriate. Personal.

While I was not at all surprised that the Lord used Scripture to encourage me and realign my focus, I was surprised when He used something so simple to add to the work already done.
A comic strip!
I have always enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes after being introduced to the dynamic duo in college, but never has it occurred to me to turn to them in times of frustration or sadness.
Yesterday, however, the comic book happened to be stationed right next to me on the couch while I was reading the Bible. After closing the Bible, I picked up Calvin and Hobbes and started flipping through the pages in a haphazard kind of way until the color strips caught my eye, and I started reading. And then I started smiling. And then - I laughed. And it felt GREAT.
The Word of God soothed my ruffled soul.
The comic strip renewed my joy.
As I rose to attend to the needs of the household, I tossed the book back onto the couch and caught sight of the two covers next to each other.
One, the chronicles of the one and only true God and His dealings with man.
The other, the chronicles of a precocious, obnoxious, self-focused though charming six-year-old fictional cartoon character.
The contrast was stark.
Yet both were used by an amazing God to restore peace and joy to a heart - that needed both.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. Proverbs 15:13

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32:11

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13

12.18.2017

God's Word is beautiful - and forever!


Every week Dennis brings me "Monday Flowers," and my favorite place to put them is next to my Bible because the visual reminds me of one of my favorite verses: The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

While I was enjoying these beautiful pieces of creation this afternoon, they recalled to mind a fabulous quote by John Newton about the beauty of Scripture.

May his words encourage you to search the Scriptures deeper and more often!

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"From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Set a high value upon the Word of God. All that is necessary to make you wise to salvation is there - and there alone.

In this precious Book, you may find . . .
a direction for every doubt,
a solution of every difficulty, and
a promise suited to every circumstance you can be in.
There you may be informed of your disease caused by sin - and the remedy provided by grace.

In the Scriptures, you may be instructed to know . . .
yourselves,
Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
the wonders of redeeming love,
the glories of the Redeemer's person,
the happiness of the redeemed people,
the power of faith, and
the beauty of holiness.
All are here fully and clearly represented.

Nothing is lacking in the Scriptures to make . . .
life useful and comfortable,
death safe and desirable, and
to bring down something of Heaven upon earth.

But this true wisdom can be found nowhere else. If you wander from the Scriptures, in pursuit either of present peace, or future hope - then your search will surely end in disappointment.

This is the fountain of living waters! If you forsake it, and give the preference to broken cisterns of your own devising - then they will fail you when you most need them.

Rejoice, therefore, that such a treasure is put into your hand - but rejoice with trembling.
Remember this is not all you need - unless God likewise gives you a heart to use the Scriptures aright - then your privilege will only aggravate your guilt and misery.

~ John Newton

12.11.2017

Monday Morning Encouragement!

After waking up with all of the aches and pains of a severe head cold after spending a wonderful night laughing with my older boys and friends at a comedy concert, I needed to read this!
The cold has taken out four Eastmans, so there are only four to go should the Lord not spare the rest.
My plan was not to begin the week with illness, but the Lord can redeem the hours and use them for good!
It seems He keeps providing opportunities for me to choose between joy and despair, and this writing by Susanna Spurgeon was just what I needed to push me over to the side of JOY.
Thank You, Lord! May my actions and words show evidence of my choice. 

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"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"Jeremiah 32:26-27


Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet" - but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you. It is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened - that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today. Whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down - you, yes,you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be - but I do know that whatever its nature - cruel, or bitter, or hopeless - it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you - as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
poor circumstances,
difficult duties,
grievous pains,
sore struggles,
bitter disappointments,
harsh words,
sinful thoughts,
a hard heart of your own,
a hard heart in others.
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions - and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!" - then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage - there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah's faith . . .
sees no obstacles,
stumbles at no hindrances,
faints under no burden,
shrinks from no responsibilities
- because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend - do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it - or He can guide you around it - or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

~ Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898

12.07.2017

To my foster and adoptive sisters ...


Dear sisters,
This afternoon I spent two hours in a foster care facility.
I knew what I was walking into, I knew why I was there, and yet the moment my foot crossed the
threshold of the building, my eyes filled with tears. I held it together, for it was not the time or place to fall apart, and I wanted to absorb every detail I saw and heard so I wouldn't forget.
And for the first time - I got it.
What you do. Who you serve. Why you do it.
Why you say “yes" even when it is too much, when you are overwhelmed, and when you have nothing left to give. I witnessed the same attitude of selflessness and compassion in the staff and counselors who serve these children and teens. They are honest about the hard work and the struggles, but they choose to go back day after day. Because they love the kids.
Just as you choose to love your children day after day. Especially the broken ones.
The home inspections. The court dates. The visitations. The therapy appointments. You do ALL of it because it needs to be done, it must be done in order to rescue these kids. And you do it well.
Thank you for your example of obedience.
Thank you for your faithfulness.
Thank you for your passion.
I returned home from the foster care facility, walked straight into my bedroom, closed my door - and wept.
There is just too much brokenness. Too many children without a home. Without safety. Without love.
And each one of you is standing in the gap, fighting for these children - by choice.
Thank you.
I will never forget what I saw, what I heard, or the emotions I felt as I walked through every room of the facility and met the children and teens in each of the group homes. And the whole time - I thought of you.
I once said there is nothing I have to offer you since I am not a part of the foster/adoptive world, and you responded, "You may not know the details of the system, but you do have something to offer us, Michelle - yourself." I believed you. I knew what you meant. But today - I understood. I don't know how to file paperwork with social services, prepare kids for a visit with birth parents, or decode court language, but there are things I do know.
I know I respect you.
Appreciate you.
Value you.
Love you.
While the Lord has not placed a foster baby, child, or teen in the Eastman home <yet>, He has given me YOU. Women who choose not only to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves," but women who allow me to walk beside them, and call me "friend." You don't need me to tell you how to foster or adopt; you need me to encourage you, pray for you, cheer for you, and remind you on the most discouraging days that you are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus every single time you serve these children.
Though I will never forget what I experienced today, I do not need to tour a foster care facility to see the Gospel in action. I need only look - at you.
With deep affection and a heart of gratitude, Michelle

12.05.2017

Suffering like Jesus.

For the past eleven weeks, I have been sitting under fantastic biblical instruction through a godly man Dennis and I greatly admire. The topic? Suffering. Why we suffer. How we suffer. How we are to respond to suffering. And most importantly, the model Jesus gave us through His own personal suffering.
This class has been an incredible blessing - a time of deep introspection - and a reminder that while God does not take us away from suffering, He faithfully takes us through it.
Sunday's class hit me in a tender spot, and while I left limping a bit, I was encouraged and strengthed by the words of this brother in Christ, and the truths and promises of God.
I pray these notes will encourage others the same way they encouraged me.

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Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

No matter how stuck you feel - you are not alone!
The Lord is THERE!
He will never leave you or forsake you - and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:36-38
Jesus INVITES us into His suffering.
He invites us into an intimate relationship.
He did not have to take Peter and James and John with Him to the garden, but He did. 
He knew Peter was going to deny Him and all of the disciples would scatter in a matter of hours, yet He chose to include them in His sorrow.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
His EXAMPLE.
Jesus did not try to "fix" His problems.
He did the only thing that makes a difference. He fell on His face and prayed.
We need to work on our problems less and pray more.

Personal application ➙ What is my first response to difficult situations?
It should be PRAYER!
Faithful, enduring, persistent prayer.

Jesus prayed the same thing three times. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
And heaven was silent.
Jesus did not ask to be released from God's plan, He asked if there was another way.
God said, "This IS My way."
And Jesus surrendered. With perfect peace.

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Stop the preoccupation with "self" - even in the midst of great suffering and sorrow - and SEEK GOD.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3
Stop putting hope in people, and things, and coping strategies and CRY OUT TO GOD.
He is huge and powerful and capable - and He INVITES US to ask Him for help.
An invitation from a holy God should not be ignored. 

Don't get stuck in your failures and inadequacies. Put ALL of your focus on Christ.
"I'm weak." "Yes. You are. Look to Jesus."
"I don't know enough." "No, you don't. Look to Jesus."
"I can't do much." "Do what you can. And look to Jesus."

"I fail, Lord." "I know. But I don't. Walk with Me."
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. 
For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:23-28