Archive for April, 2014

In The Days of The Flesh (Song of Solomon 5; Hebrews 5)

April 30, 2014

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his reverence.”  Hebrews 5:7

“You are in the flesh.”  This comment has often been used in our home when someone has conducted themselves in a sinful way.  More importantly, the scripture also designates our sinful life as in the flesh.

Question, “Have you been in the flesh lately?”

This question penetrated my heart as I opened God’s Word to Hebrews 5.  The context of this chapter is in the writer presenting Jesus Christ as our great High Priest.

The chapters first 10 verses are actually tied to 4:14-16.  We see a great contrast in these verses:

1.  We see man who is appointed as earthly High Priest, Vs: 1-4

These men are called by God to act on behalf of man.

These men are called by God to be gentle with men.

These men are called by God to offer sacrifices for their own sin.

2.  We see a man who is appointed as the eternal Hight Priest, Vs: 5-11

In these verses we see Jesus who was also called by God to act on behalf of men, but in a greater way!!

Think it through:

In the days of his flesh, He offered up prayers for our sins and He offered a payment for our sins.  His payment was accepted by God in that He raised Jesus from the dead.

In His flesh he did the following, “He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

As God, He was and is perfect.  As Man he became one of us.  As the God-man he died in our place and rose again to give us victory over the flesh, hell, and the grave!!!

Our response:

As followers of Christ we should be seeking to live not in the flesh, but with the mindset that our lives are being conformed to Christ.  John wrote these words in Revelation 1: 6, “And made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

We should be living as one who is walking in the Spirit with the mission of sharing the gospel with all men.

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Still To Come (Hebrews 4, Song of Solomon 4)

April 29, 2014

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.”  Hebrews 4:9-20

“I know you that you keep saying I will experience rest, but it sure does not seem like it now.”  These were the honest words that came from a person who was enduring a great trial of faith. These words came out as a flood breaking forth from a dam in response to my statement, “God will give you rest from this trial.”

Question, “Do you ever feel as if God’s rest is beyond your grasp or maybe beyond his ability?”  If so, you are in the company of some amazing people.  These amazing people are being addressed in the book of Hebrews.  The letter they have received is intended to point them to Jesus Christ who is the faithful high priest of their faith.

Here in chapter 4 we discover truth that is still to come.  Keep in mind the first 13 verses of this chapter are connected with chapter three.  The author is teaching and pleading with his readers to be careful (4:1) to by faith enter his rest.

In this chapter we see a timely reminder of the example of their forefathers who were offered rest, but did not benefit from the offer because they would not walk in faith (Vs:2) but chose to walk in disobedience.

Think it through:

1.  Practically, “there will never be any rest for those who walk in disobedience to God (Vs: 6-7)

2.  Theologically, “There remains a rest for those who walk in faith.”  Rev. 14:13 “They will cease from their labors…”

All who follow Christ will some day enter the eternal rest he has promised.

Our response:

1.  We must strive to walk in faith until we enter the eternal rest, Vs: 11-13

This striving speaks of spending time in God’s Word.  As we spend time in the Word we discover the areas of our life that are not at rest with God.  As we spend time striving in His Word we discover how to grow in our faith.

2.  We must stand in faith until we enter the eternal rest, Vs:14

We are called to never waver in our faith.  We are helped along the journey as we walk together with others in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 10:25

3.  We must seek His help until we enter the rest, Vs: 15-16

Yes, there will be days when we fail the Lord.  But in those failures we come before the God of rest and we know He will help us to overcome sin and to someday enter His rest.  This is His commitment to us, since before the foundation of the world, Vs: 3.

Consider Jesus (Hebrews 3, Song of Solomon 3)

April 28, 2014

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

The very statement, “consider Jesus,” brings rest to my mind and heart.  Each day is filled with activity and assignments that flood my life with both weight and weariness.  But there is something better…

Question, “Do you find yourself often weary from the day or maybe weary as you approach each day?”

Paul writing to Jewish believers in the first century, clearly understood their situation.  Notice to whom he pointed them to back in chapter 2, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  

Paul is pointing these believers (and you and I) to Jesus who is superior to the law, the rituals, and religion.  In chapter three we see two things:

1.  The joy of considering Christ:

As one considers Christ he or she discovers a God who was both faithful to his assignment and is superior to Moses who spoke of the day when Jesus would come, Deuteronomy 18:15, 19.

2.  The sadness of the consequences of those who do not follow Christ:

Israel (in the OT) failed to obey the voice of God.  She went astray in her heart and she became alienated in her heart.

How did this happen?  She allowed the deceitfulness of sin to harden her heart which led to her being unable to enter the rest of God.

Think it through:

Have you and I entered the rest God has for us?

The only way this can happen is if you and I have opened our heart to God through Jesus Christ.  Once we open our heart we must continue to place him first in our hearts every day.  The rest we experience is the rest in knowing that Jesus is in charge of our lives.

Our response:

Each day we must examine our hearts to make sure that nothing has taken the place of God in our hearts.  Each day we must spend time considering him in what he has done and who he is.  Each day we must place his agenda above our agenda.  In this we face each day knowing we are entering his rest!!!

Before You Go (Ecclesiastes 12, Philemon 1)

April 25, 2014

“…Because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourner go about the street,” Ecclesiastes 12:5

One of the wonderful things I get to experience as a pastor is those moments when I am able to help people with things that they need.  For example, when visiting with a senior adult I will often say, “Before I go can I help you with anything?”  I truly mean this.  And I am truly blessed when they share with me something that they need.

This morning Solomon is writing the conclusion to his book.  Solomon is speaking passionately about the quickness and shortness of life.  He begins the chapter with the following words, “Remember also your creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and the years draw near.”

Think it through:

1.  Life without God is like living in a house that is falling down, Vs: 1-8

Solomon has encountered many people who are at the end of life and their lives look like a house that is falling down.  He writes and says, “Before you go this way, follow Jesus.”

Question, “Does your life and my life resemble a house that is being built or a house that is falling down?”

2.  Life with God is a life filled with delight, Vs: 9-14

Solomon writes, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  

As we live for Christ we are assured of success!!!  This is what is means to build a spiritual house!

Our takeaway:

Jesus gave the same metaphor in Matthew 7:24-27.  He is the foundation on which we should live our lives.  When Christ is the foundation we will have no regrets as we leave this life.

Take time today and ask yourself if there are things you need to do if this were the day you would go to meet God.

Solomon closes his book in the following way, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  

Be Careful (Titus 3, Ecclesiastes 11)

April 24, 2014

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.  These things are profitable for people,” Titus 3:8

Last week John and I travelled to North Carolina to lead in a series of revival meetings.  One of the funny but serious things that always happens with Sherry is that when you talk with her, while away, is that she always ends the conversation with the following words, “I love you and please be careful.”  One night last year, John was in the bed talking with her and she closed the conversation as she always does.  After hanging up John began to laugh while saying, “do I need to be careful while I sleep?”

As Paul brings to a conclusion his letter to Titus we hear him saying, “I love you and please be careful.”  But he adds, “to devote yourself to good works.”  

Question: “How hard is it to devote oneself to good works?”  The answer, “It takes devotion.”

Think it through:

1.  The ground-rules

One must, “Be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

2.  The great-realty

We used to devote ourselves to evil works, but God saved us (Vs: 3-4)

3. The glorious response

We devote ourselves to being careful because we want to be profitable for the sake of the gospel. As we are careful in good works, God is glorified as the gospel is shining forth in our lives!

Our response:

Are there things in your life that you are not being careful about?  Maybe in your speech or maybe in your thought life?  Could it be that you need to create a budget so that you can be careful to use God’s money wisely?

Our response should be, “Lord,  I want to be careful with all of my life, so that you will be honored in all of my life!”

The Fool’s Problem (Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2)

April 23, 2014

“Through sloth roof sings in, and through indolence the house leaks.” Ecclesiastes 10:18

Growing up in an obsessive household had it advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages was in that we were always on time and we were always living a well-ordered life.  But on the flip-side there were seldom time for just fun things!

Here in Solomon’s writing we see a person who is the opposite of compulsive.  They are foolish in their approach to life.  Such people dig a hole and then fall in it.

Question, “When it comes to our spiritual lives, are we foolish or diligent?”

In Titus 2 we find the following words, “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works,” 2:14.

As I read these words I began to understand the difference between a foolish person and a diligent person:  “A diligent person understands they are to be a people for his own possession.”

Think it through:

1.  The grace of God has captured His own people, Titus 2:1-10

God has given grace to all kinds of people, “older, younger, men, women, boys, and girls.”

2.  The grace of God is changing His own people, Titus 2:11-15

God’s people develop a resistance to sin, Vs: 12

God’s people dedicate themselves to a righteous stand, Vs: 12b

God’s people desire to see the return of the Lord, Vs: 13-14

God’s people do not live a foolish life!  God’s people live a diligent life.

Our response:

Each day God is calling those who have been captured by grace to live a changed life that is still changing every day!!!  This must be seen and priority number one in our Christian life!

Enjoying Life (Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1)

April 22, 2014

“Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”  Ecc. 9:7

I am a people watcher!  Just last week I was sitting in a motel breakfast room watching people.  I noticed the different sizes and shapes of people.  I noticed how diverse these people were.  But one thing stood out above all other things was this, “Many of these people were clearly unhappy.”  Now some people might be saying, “Well, it was morning time.”  This could be true, but looking deeper it is clear that many people are miserable because of what is in their hearts.

Consider Solomon’s quest for happiness in the book of Ecclesiastes.  For 12 chapters we find Solomon attempting to have joy in the things of this world.  But in the end Solomon knew there was zero joy in this life alone.

But Solomon knew there was another option.  This option brings true joy to our lives.  This joy is the joy of a life lived for Jesus.  We see this clearly in Vs: 7-10

Think it through:

1.  Solomon lived to praise God:  “There was a merry heart because he knew all he had was a gift from God.”

2.  Solomon challenges us to be pure before God: “Let your garments be always be white.”  As we live with a pure life we are right with God and we reside in relationship with God.

3.  Solomon experiences the power of God:  “Let oil always be on your head.”  This speaks about the power of the Holy Spirit.

4.  Solomon teaches us to serve God with the partner of marriage.

5.  Solomon summons us to purpose before God, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your heart.”  

Our response:

Any one of these things could take a lot of time.  But separately they leave us still short of enjoying life.  We must follow each of these things every day because they will bring joy to our lives.  I am reminded of Paul’s direction to pastors in Titus 1: “Be disciplined in your walk with Christ.”

There can truly be joy in our lives when we live this way!!!

 

Calling out your enemies (II Timothy 4, Ecclesiastes 8)

April 21, 2014

“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm, the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”  II Tim. 4:14

Have you ever just wanted to get even with someone who has wronged you?  I was shamefully reminded of the times when I not only wanted to get even, but I had worked it all out in my mind and was ready  to carry out what was in my mind.  But then the Lord, reminded me of how He intends for me to walk through difficult times.

Before us are the last words written by Paul before his death.  We know that Paul has strong words of challenge to Timothy, “Preach the Word.” We also know that Paul has sweet words of challenge to Timothy, “Fulfill your ministry.”  

Paul turns his attention to the last moments of his life.  He reminds Timothy and all his readers that he himself has fulfilled his ministry, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  

In this moment we see Paul focusing on the last mile of his journey.  He is very reflective in looking back over his ministry.  Presently he is alone with the Lord facing the trial that will end his life.  He begins to mention different people who have affected his ministry.

This morning, one man stands out for me.  His name is Alexander. Back in I Timothy 1:20 we read these words, “Among who I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blasphemed.”  

Here is a person who has shipwrecked their faith (1:19) and now they are surely facing the mistreatment of the enemy.  Question, “What were the details of all of this?”  Answer, “We do not know.”  Paul chose to leave it all up to the Lord’s discretion as to how to deal with this man.  So Paul simply calls out his enemy and leaves it in the Lord’s hands.

This was a great reminder for my life this morning.  There are far too many important things we should be giving ourselves to.  Getting even is a sinful trap that leads to broken fellowship with God and a black-eye for God in the eyes of the world.

Think it through:

Do you face any enemies today?  If so, do not go beyond calling them out.

Take away:

Allow God to be God in every circumstance of your life!!!

You Committed to What? (Ecclesiastes 5, II Timothy 1)

April 18, 2014

“Be not rash with your mouth nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth?” Ecclesiastes 5:3

I can still remember when he told me what he had committed me to doing.  My son had told one of our church members that his dad could fix anything on a car.  So in this moment of great faith, he committed me to rebuilding a car engine.  While I was very thankful for my son’s faith, I was not thankful for being put in a position that I could not fulfill his promise.

Question, “Have you ever committed to more than you could produce?”  I am sure that most who read this blog have been there from time to time.

This morning I found myself confronted by Solomon with the importance of always keeping your word.

Think it through:

1.  Solomon teaches us to think before we commit.

2.  Solomon teaches us to totally commit to our commitments.

3.  Solomon teaches us that our commitments are before God.

Our response:

We must realize the seriousness of our commitments.  We are servants of the most high God.  All of our commitments have implications before God.  Each commitment must be thought through because much is hanging in the balance.  Each of us have 24 hours in a day to accomplish all our commitments.  So we must wisely consider because we have an enemy who wants us to accomplish his plan instead of God’s plan.

Solomon closes this section of his writing with this reminder, “But God is the one you must fear.”  

Father, I commit to following your will for my life.  May I be careful to not commit to thinks that are not your will for my life.

Imaging the wrong things (I Timothy 6; Ecclesiastes 4)

April 17, 2014

“And constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain,” I Timothy 6:5

He came to church with one goal in mind, “This will be good for my business.”  For years, he was connected with the brightest and the best, but in the end it cost him everything.  The fact is, this man never followed Jesus, he only wanted the earthly benefits of being connected with good people.  Sadly the goodness did not rub off.  He was caught in unethical practices and lost everything.

Question, “Are you and I really following Christ because we love him or are we imaging some other reason?”  Consider what Paul writes in Vs: 6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

The truth is, “Godliness in itself is the gain that brings contentment to your life.”  One man said this, “Jesus is more than enough!”  Paul goes on to write about the pitfalls that await those who fail to comprehend this truth, Vs: 7-10.

Think it through:

1.  Are we imaging we are followers of Christ or are we really followers of Christ?

2.  Are we imaging we are successful in Christ or are we really successful in Christ?

Our response:

Those who get beyond imagination find themselves engaged in two things:

1.  A life of staying away from the things of the flesh.

2.  A life of striving for the things of the faith.  These include, “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness and  a genuine desire to fight the good fight of faith.”  

When these things become a part of our daily lives we are no longer imaging faith we are engaged in faith.  Today, I want to do more than imagine what is right.  I want to know and do what is right for the glory of God!