Archive for October, 2012

Different but the same (Hebrews 11:20-40)

October 31, 2012

“Since God has provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40

How is it possible for people to be different but at the same time the same?  The answer to this question is both amazing and simple. The fact is God created every man in his own image (same), but we are unique in our DNA (different).  We are all born as sinners (same) with specific talents and gifting’s (different) for our lives.

We see this is our More For Christ readings, Hebrews 11:20-40.  The names of those who were faithful are many. Each name represents a time, place, and unique function in the work of the Kingdom.  But at the same time they each are the same in that they are in need of God’s work in their lives. Lets consider one illustration (Moses, Vs: 23-30).

1.  Moses was born in bondage, Vs: 23-26

Moses time was of great bondage as his people were in Egypt as slaves (Exodus 1-2).  Moses was chosen by God for a great purpose.  For this to happen he had to be delivered for this great purpose.  God delivered him and led him to the choice of following him instead of the passing pleasures of this world.

Moses was born to lead others out of bondage, Vs: 27-30

Under Moses leadership Israel left Egypt.  Under Moses leadership Israel observed the Passover.  Under Moses leadership Israel crossed the Red Sea.  Under Moses leadership Israel came to the edge of the Promised land.

Oh how unique Moses ministry really was.  But still yet Moses was the same as you and I. He was a sinner who could not enter the Promised land without a deliverer.  This deliverer  is Jesus Christ.  Check out Hebrews 3:3 “Jesus Christ, greater than Moses.”

Jesus came to this earth (which is in bondage to sin).  Jesus came to deliver this earth (His death, burial, and resurrection guaranteed our deliverance). 

This day celebrate who God has uniquely made you to be.  At the same time commit yourself to loving and serving Jesus even more for how He has delivered you to walk in freedom to use your gifts for His glory.

Faith In Who (Hebrews 11:8-20)

October 30, 2012

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged them from afar.” Hebrews 11:13

Hebrews 11 reminds us of not only the outcome of faith but of the object of our faith.  Throughout this letter the author has continued to present Jesus Christ as superior to everything of the Old Law.  Now He turns our attention to the very object of our faith.

He does this through different illustrations.  Before us is the illustration of one of the Patriarchs of our faith, “Abraham.”  Here is a suggested outline:

1.  We see Abraham’s faith in God, Vs: 8-10

Here is a man who was rich in his own land.  God calls him to leave and go to a place where he has never been before.  This man (Obeys) for one reason, “He has faith in God.”  He truly believed in the promise of God.  This was a man who knew God because God had awakened him to much of who He was.

2.  We see Sarah’s faith in God, Vs: 11-12

Here we discover Abraham’s wife and her strong faith in the promises of God.  Certainly we know she and Abraham were not perfect in their faith (Galatians 4:23-31), but their faith was placed in the perfect one.  This perfect one performed what He had promised.

At this point we discover the real hope of their faith was in their desire to serve and see God!  They were not following for what they would receive here.  They were following the God they loved who was leading them ever onward and ever upward to the place where their object will be complete.

This very day you might be in the place where you are seeking to discover the future direction of your life?  If so, I challenge you to cease to strive for discovery of the future before you discover the greatness of the one who has the future in his hand.  Our faith must be in Jesus Christ and His greatness.  Once we see His greatness we now seek to hear His voice.  It is His voice we need to hear.  This is what Abraham did and this is how Abraham was considered a man of faith.  Now is your time and my time to walk by faith.

No Forgiveness (Hebrews 9:8-22)

October 26, 2012

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  Hebrews 9:22

The shock was more than she could bear.  After all of these years, the truth of what she had done now crushed her more than she could have imagined.  Standing before her was the 19-year-old daughter she had tried to abort 19 years earlier.  Standing before her daughter, she wept and cried out for forgiveness.  The greater shock came as this 19-year-old follower of Christ said, “Mom, I forgive you!”

Brothers and sisters, “Because of Christ, forgiveness can be a reality.”  But at the same time, “Without Christ, forgiveness is impossible.”  Personally, I don’t even want to think about how tragic my life would be if forgiveness were impossible.

In our More For Christ readings we discover the glorious result of our Great High Priest’s work on our behalf.  Jesus Christ came as the Mediator of a New Covenant (9:15).  In Him we experience forgiveness full and free.  Consider what the author contends here:

1.  The Old Covenant could not perfect the conscience of the worshipper.

The Old Covenant was imposed until the time of redemption (Vs: 10).  Daily there needed to be sacrifices of goats and bulls (Vs: 12) so that men could worship. But at best man’s sins were covered. So there needed to be someway for sins to be removed!

2.  The New Covenant perfected the conscience of the worshipper.

Christ came and shed his own blood for the removal of our sins.  He obtained eternal redemption. In Christ we who could not be forgiven are now forgiven forever more.

Oh the joy of the this truth, “Forgiveness is full and free in Christ.”

Question, “Have you experienced this in your life?”  If so, your life will reflect the following, “Purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”  Now that you have experienced forgiveness, you seek to walk in a forgiven path.  Your desire is to worship in holiness before God.  You live your life to please the one who paid such a great debt so that we could be forgiven.

I could never love him, praise him, or serve him enough to show him how much I am thankful for what he has done for me.  But I live my life in this pursuit.   “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wonderful things,” Psalm 72:18.

Something Better Has Come (Hebrews 8:7-9:7)

October 25, 2012

I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Hebrews 8:10b

Each year product manufacturing companies are faced with the same dilemma, “People always want something better than last year.”  Consider this fact, “Each year, car manufactures spend billions of dollars on research to discover how to improve on products that have already been improved.”  Such companies proudly say, “We are doing this for our customers.”  This is in part true, but the other part is this, “They are doing it because consumers are always looking for something better.”

This morning we are still in the book of Hebrews and our writer is still giving hope to persecuted believers.  Our writer is still teaching us of the superiority of Christ to everything in the Law.  Yesterday we looked at the superiority of Christ over earthly priests.  Today we see His superiority over the Old Covenant itself!

I.  In Christ we are able to do what we could not do under the Old Covenant, 8:8-13

Under the Old Covenant Israel had laws.  These laws were to keep them in check.  But these laws could never change them.  They always were having to offer sacrifice for sins.  However in Christ (New Covenant) they were able to keep the law because they had been redeemed from the law and were now living in grace with a new heart that want’s to obey the law.  This is accomplished with the power of the Holy Spirit that resides within us.

II.  In Christ we have access to the throne of God, 9:1-7

Under the Old Covenant Israel had a temple and in that temple we see that every design was intended to help Israel see her need for a New Covenant.  She could not enter behind the veil into the Holy Place.  In Christ we have access to God.  In Christ we have peace with God, relationship with God, and an eternal place with God.

Brothers and sisters, “This is the best.  There is no need for improvement.”  Something better has come.

Question, “Do you sometimes long for something better?”  In these moments we must realize there are two things at work:

1.  Our old nature is at work drawing us into the trap of nothingness.

2.  We are failing to discover more and more of God.  His Word is not being read faithfully.

This day, I challenge you to realize, “Something better has come.”  Get into his word and you will discover a life time of joy and excitement as you discover new things about our Lord every day.  (His mercies are new every morning). You will never be able to improve on Jesus.

A Permanent Office (Hebrews 7:20-8:6)

October 24, 2012

“But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”  Hebrews 7:24

A well-meaning lady once said to her pastor, “Why should I follow your direction?  You will be gone in 4 years.”  Wow, the depth of this ladies question and comment can be felt across this great culture of church in the 21st century.

Yes, it is true we live in an age where pastors and church members move about searching for the perfect church and the perfect atmosphere to do church.  Question, “Is there something wrong with this scene?”  I think the answer is yes!

When we look at the New Testament church we discover a unity that is totally amazing.  Yes, the early church did move about, but for different reasons than today.  The early church moved about because of their call to both evangelize the world and to escape the persecution in the world.

Consider the church being addressed in the book of Hebrews. They were on the move being persecuted for their faith.  This book encourages them to look to their leader, “Jesus Christ who is their Faithful High Priest.”

Here in chapter 7 we see an amazing truth:  “Jesus office is permanent.”  The implications of this are truly amazing:

1.  He is able to save completely all who come to him in every generation, 7:20-25

Our Great High Priest continues forever.  We do not need to look for another.  He is constantly interceding for the church before the throne of God.  Romans 8:34

2.  His one time sacrifice is sufficient for all of our sin, 7:26-29

Our Great Hight Priest is both sinless in his humanity and sufficient in his payment for our sins.  His sacrifice is so much greater than any earthly sacrifice.

The point of all of this (8:1-6) is simply, “Our Hight Priest is seated at the right hand of God the Father.”  He is our Leader and He is our provider of everything.  His office is permanent.

So we conclude, “He never changes churches and He never changes where he lives.” Every generation must look to Christ as the chief shepherd of the church (I Peter 5:1-4).  Because of this, we can follow the under-shepherds of the church because we know they are to follow the chief shepherd.  In all of this we gain confidence to love the church because of her pastor (Jesus Christ).

And Indestructible Life (Hebrews 7:1-19)

October 23, 2012

Who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.” 7:16

“And indestructible life.”  This description sounds like a scene from a Marvel comic or from the movie, “The Avengers.”  However, we know, Marvel comic characters are simply figments of people’s imaginations.  But in our More For Christ readings we discover this description is a fact of a person’s true identity.

I remind you that the book of Hebrews is written to present Jesus to us as our Great High Priest.  He is greater still than any earthly priest.  This is clearly seen in the writers thoughts in chapter 7.  Notice the following suggested outline:

1.  Jesus is greater than any earthly priest, Vs: 1-10

The writer mentions Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-2) who was both priest and king of Salem in the time of Abraham.  This one has been the source of much questioning as to who he was.  There are many who consider him to be a preincarnate appearance of Christ and there are those who consider him to be this historical king and priest.

The writers point is not that we debate who he is as much as we discover how he was greater than Abraham.  Abraham paid honor to him.  Jesus is greater still.

The writer mentions the Levitical priesthood.  Jesus came from the tribe of Judah which had no priest, but Jesus was a priest with an eternal priesthood.  He is greater still.

2.  Jesus gives us what not earthly priest could, eternal access to God, Vs: 11-19

Because of Christ continual priesthood you and I have permanent access to God.  His priesthood is indestructible.  When the Levitical priest died, his ministry was over and Israel would have to search for another priest to represent them before God.  When Christ was resurrected from the dead, man now had an indestructible priest.   His priesthood is forever.

This day, I chose to follow no earthly priest.  Be he either Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Catholic, or any other earthly priest, I will not follow.  I follow Christ who is greater still.  In Him we can draw near to God.

Brothers and sisters, rejoice in His life.  Yes, your life and my life could be tough today.  But we have the hope that we serve and indestructible God who is our hope.

“Awesome is God from his sanctuary, the God of Israel-he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.  Blessed be God!” Psalm 68:35

Sure Of Things Better (Hebrews 5:11-6:20)

October 22, 2012

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things-things that belong to salvation.”  Hebrews 6:9

“Yes,” it is true, “There are things that I am not sure about.”  For example, “I am not sure that either candidate for president will, if elected, keep all of their promises.” Example, “I am not sure if our economy will hold up against all the economic woes around the world.”  These and many other unsure things have left many people feeling unsure about the future of our nation.

However, there are things that I am sure of.  I am sure our God is sovereign.  He is in charge of the events of this world. I am sure our God will see His people safely home to heaven.

This mornings, More For Christ readings speaks of something that he is sure of.  “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.”  In Christ we have and assurance of a better life and eternity than those who are trusting in other things.

Consider the writer’s description of those who are not secure:

1.  The immaturity of some people’s faith, 5:11-6:3

Such people are unskilled in the Word.  They are people who fail to study God’s Word.  Their lives are characterized by and undisciplined life.  They are satisfied with being saved and have not desire to grow and know more of the one who saved them.  Such people are sluggish in their faith and need to grow.

2.  The imitation of some people’s faith, 6:4-12

There are some people who are really not followers of Christ.  They seem to be, but they are only imitators of the faith.  For example, They come and associate with the faithful.  They participate in the services. Such people  hear the Word preached and sense the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst.  But they have never surrendered their lives to Christ, so they eventually turn away.  Such people have no more opportunity.

But this should not be the case for you and I.  God is confident of something better for us.  We are those who become mature and we make it all the way because of our association with Christ.  He has saved us by grace and he is sanctifying us by grace.  6:3 “He permits this by grace.”  And He will see us through.

This day, you and I have no reason to fear.  We need to work with all of our might for the glory of the Lord.  He is great and greatly to be praised.  This great God has destined us for more than we can imagine on our own.  So get into His Word and discover who He is and what He is calling you to do with your life.

My Vote, “Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1-19)

October 19, 2012

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”  Hebrews 3:1

It’s coming down to the wire for many of us.  In just two weeks we will be faced with the challenge of voting (in America) for a new president.  This is a tough decision.

Recently a very sincere follower of Christ asked me the following, “Is what I am thinking correct?”  I asked, “What are you thinking?”  Here was their response, “Neither candidate represents Jesus, so I am thinking of not even voting.”  Hear me clearly, I am not endorsing any candidate in this blog!!!

My response to his question was as follows, “God has always chosen to do his work through men.  There are times, to our shock, when he has worked through ungodly men to accomplish his purposes.  For example, “Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and King Herod to name just a few.”  Our God is a sovereign Lord (Psalm 67) and we take heart in this fact.  My prayer is simply, “God, who do you want to use for your purposes?”

The fact is, “My vote is Jesus!”  He is in charge.

In Hebrews 3 we discover the writers great understanding into the greatness of Jesus.  He is the one who calls, comes, and calls us to heaven.  The believing Jews in the first century needed to be reminded of this.  Here is a suggested outline of the text:

1.  Jesus was faithful to the one who appointed him, Vs: 1-7

He was worthy of more honor than Israel’s greatest hero, “Moses.” Moses gave us the law and Jesus gave us grace.  Both were faithful to God.  But we follow Jesus who was greater than Moses.

2.  Jesus finished what he was appointed to do, Vs: 8-19

In Christ, we can enter his rest.  Israel (OT) did not follow their appointment out of Egypt and they died in the wilderness.  Only those who follow Jesus will enter his rest.

Brothers and sisters, notice the two points above!  This is the only leader we can trust and place full confidence in.  Yes, there are two candidates for President.  Both are not Jesus!!  But by the way, neither are you and I.  So, our choice is clear, “We vote for the one that Jesus will use to accomplish his purposes.”

He Is The One (Hebrews 1:1-14)

October 17, 2012

“But in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, who he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”  Hebrews 1:2

Brothers and sisters there are seasons of life when it seems that one’s view of life can be difficult to maneuver through.  This was clear in my mind yesterday afternoon as I visited and older man in our church.  He will soon be 94.  His mind is sharp.  He was a Marine in WWII.  The Lord saved him when he was 8 years old.  As I sat on his couch, I was amazed at the wealth of Godly wisdom.  Out of all he said, here is what I took away, “Jesus is the one we must follow through all seasons of life.”

This morning we begin a study of the book of Hebrews.  The original recipients of this letter were Jews who were living in places of dispersion for their faith.  Most believe many were in Italy.  These Jewish believers were in danger of turning away from the faith and turning to unbelief.  The writer reminds them of who Jesus is and how that only in Jesus could they find rest and grace.

In chapter one we see Jesus as superior to everyone and everything.  Truly He is the one.  I challenge you to read this chapter and look for the following:

1.  Jesus is the last and best Word from God, Vs: 1-4

In times past God spoke through the prophets.  But now He is speaking through His Son.  Here the writer lists no less than seven truths about the best Word from God:  “heir of all things, creator of the world, radiance of God’s glory, exact imprint, controls the universe, offered payment for our sin, and sits on the throne.”  

Each of these truths emphasis even more the fact, “He is the one.”  Consider the parallel between Hebrews 1 and John 1:1-4.  He is the one!

2.  Jesus is superior to all of His creation, Vs: 5-14

Consider the following:  Angels were created, Jesus was the uncreated creator, Angels worship, Jesus is worshipped, Angles are ministers before the throne, Jesus is on the throne.  

He is clearly the one.  But the shock of all shocks is that God would call human beings to become joint heirs with His Son.  We are called to serve the One and then we are rewarded with status as one of His Sons.

Oh how I praise God in this season and every season of life.  May we all do the same.

The Christian Answer (Philemon)

October 16, 2012

“Confident of your obedience, I  write to you knowing that you will do even more than I say.”  Philemon 21

The choice was before him, “If he preferred charges, it would mean certain conviction and crushing judgment.”  All he had to do was to say, “I make the following charge against him.”  But to the shock of the judge and jury he said, “I make no charge against this man.”  Here was a guy who had been beaten by a neighbor, but in an amazing fashion, he held no grudge.  In this moment we ask, “What made the difference?”  The difference was Jesus and the love that Jesus had placed in the offended parties heart.

The fact is, “The Christian response” should always be love and forgiveness.  This is clearly illustrated in our More For Christ readings.  The Apostle Paul writes a personal letter to a Christian brother in Colossae.  His name is Philemon.  In this letter Paul teaches us about the proper Christian response to the circumstances of life.

1.  Paul addresses Philemon’s character Vs: 1-7

Philemon has opened his heart to the gospel and now he has opened his home for a church in the city of Colossae.  This man has also opened his hand to the community.  Paul is confident the word of the Lord will be forth.

2.  Paul addresses Philemon’s circumstance Vs: 8-16

Philemon had experienced the loss of  a slave by the name of Onesimus.  This slave had travelled to Rome.  He has encountered Paul and his preaching.  God opened his heart to the Gospel.  Now Paul is sending him back, “not as a slave but as a brother.”  Here is Philemon’s circumstance:  1.  Will he forgive the slave who wronged him?  2.  Will he forge a new brotherhood with the man who had been saved?  He is now to be considered a beloved brother.

3.  Addresses Philemon with confidence, Vs: 17-22

Paul believes Philemon will do more than he asks him to do.  Paul is even willing to pay for whatever this man has taken from Philemon.

In all of this we see the great picture of Christian love and forgiveness.  This is what Christ did for us and this is what we are to do for others.

Certainly I do not know your particular circumstances this morning.  But I feel compelled to ask, “What will be your answer to your circumstance?”  I have confidence that your Christian character will come through.    God be praised in your Christian answer today!!!