Archive for July 2008

“We do have such a high priest …”

July 31, 2008

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 meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 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. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

8:1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
(Hebrews 7:23 – 8:2; NIV. Please read Hebrews 7-8 … at least a couple of times.)

Great leaders … political or religious … can and do make history, but they all die. No matter how great their influence, they will all die. Even before death  – corruption, both private and public, can break their power and destroy their legacy. Not so with our Lord, King, and High Priest. He lives forever … and He is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens”.   

Jesus is not weak …  but He sympathize with our weaknesses.

Jesus will not die … but He tasted death like us, so that He could deliver us from death and the fear of death.

Jesus is not offering a sacrifice … but He offered Himself up for us – once and for all.

We needed such a high priest. We have such a high priest.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Think this through. What is Jesus doing right now? At this very minute? He is interceding for us. He “always lives to intercede“! So … today … everytime you look at your watch … remember that Jesus is praying for you. Every morning when you wake up … and every night when you lie down to sleep … Jesus is praying for you. While you drive … work … golf … fish … play with the kids … watch tv … shop … pay bills … mow the grass … take out the trash … clean-up the house … cook supper … wash dishes … make the bed … do the laundry … change the oil … etc. Jesus is praying for you.


“… confident of better things …”

July 30, 2008

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case-things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
(Hebrews 6:9-12; NIV. Please read Hebrews 5-6 … at least a couple of times.)

Someone has confidence in you … in spite of your struggles – weaknesses – immaturity. This “someone” just so happens to be the One True God – who cannot lie – and who will never forget “your work and the love you have shown Him”.

Of course, you will continue to please Him …

Of course, you will give the same diligence to serve Him …

Of course, you will inherit the promise …

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I have heard it … too many times … of someone “quitting the church”, because someone said or did this or that. No way! You can critique my lessons …  you can criticize my ways … you can question my sincerity … you can challenge my views … you can betray my confidences … you can seek to control my relationships … you can ignore me and even condemn me … BUT I AM NOT GOING TO GIVE UP ON THE LORD. He believes in me … He remembers the good … He keeps His promises!

“… sympathizes with our weaknesses …”

July 29, 2008

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16; NIV. Please read Hebrews 3:7 – 4:16 … at least a couple of times.)

Jesus was tempted … “in every way” … “just as we are”. (Remember Matthew 4?)

That is why He can “sympathize” with us … even “with our weaknesses”. He knows what desire feels like. He knows how hard it is to resist temptation. But thank God He resisted … He did not sin.

Therefore, when we are tempted and/or eventually sin, we do not have to hide in shame from Him (as Adam and Eve hid in the garden) … we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence“. Because the one sitting on the throne, “sympathizes with our weaknesses”. He also sits on a “throne of grace” – not condemnation. That is why we can draw near with “confidence” … with boldness … with the rights of a son or daughter.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I don’t know that this is the right way to say it … but this verse changed my life. At Abilene Christian (College) University … in the Spring of 1972, Dr. Neil Lightfoot taught me (and the other students in that class) that Jesus “understands”. I fell in love with Jesus that day … like never before. I hope the same happens to you.

“… spoken to us by His Son …”

July 28, 2008

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
(Hebrews 1:1-4; NIV. Please read Hebrews 1-3:6 … at least two or three times.)

“In the past God spoke…” We have read of those moments – those miracles of when God raised up a man speak His Word. We have seen the wonder and power of God as Moses confronts the Pharaoh on his throne … as he commands his flock to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” … as he thunders from the mountain the commandments of the Almighty. We have heard the words and will of God as Samuel raises the Ebenezer … as David sings the shepherd’s psalm … as Solomon shares the wisdom that comes from above … as Elijah confronts and confounds the prophets of Baal … as Isaiah promises that a virgin will give birth … as Jeremiah weeps for the fallen of Israel … as Ezekiel rebukes the selfish and sightless watchmen … as Daniel risks limb and life to honor the only true and living God … as Hosea dwells with his whoring  wife … as Joel announces the coming locust plague … as Amos hears the lion’s roar … as Obadiah exposes the violence of silence … as Jonah calls Ninevah to repentance … as Micah reminds the people to “act justly and love mercy” … as Nahum preaches the conclusion of Jonah’s sermon … as Habakkuk hides to watch the amazing work of God … as Zephaniah records the lullaby God sings to quiet His children … as Haggai urges the people, “if you build it, he will come” … as Zechariah declares the Lord’s sword will slay His “fellow” … Malachi promises that one will come …

That is how God spoke to us … but NOW … He speaks to us by His Son!

When Jesus stands with Moses and Elijah … the Father says, “Listen to Him!” (Remember Matthew 17?)

This book – this series of sermons – Hebrews, is written to people of Jewish heritage. They will remember bedtime stories and synagogue sermons of the great words and deeds of the Prophets … especially of the father of their nation – the Lawgiver – Moses.

But Jesus is greater than angels (who mediated the Law to Moses) … greater than Moses (who was a servant – not the Son) … greater than Aaron (who was a high priest by Law until he died – not the high priest by promise forever).

Jesus is greater … and offers a better rest … a better priesthood … a better covenant … a better sacrifice … a better kingdom.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: It was this book … these words … that turned my heart “on” to the Lord. Do not miss the message among the Old Testament references and Jewish reasoning … “fix your thoughts on Jesus”. If you do not understand anything else (and I think you will understand most if not all) … “fix your thoughts on Jesus”. If you have a difficult time remembering the names or the events behind the names … “fix your thoughts on Jesus”. If you get nothing else from these readings (and you will) … “fix your thought on Jesus” – a good way to start … a great place to finish.

“All authority …”

July 27, 2008

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20; NIV. Please read Matthew 28 … at least a couple of times.)

He proved it. On that Sunday morning – resurrection Sunday – He proved it, once and for all … that He has “all authority in heaven and on earth”.

He wants His disciple to know it. They have seen His power of over biscuits and fish … over storms and miseries … over diseases and demons. Now they have seen His authority over life and death.

He wants them to respect it … He wants them to trust it … for He is about to ask them to do what no one would do or could do … unless they believed that they “had” to and that He would be with them.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I spent too long waiting for my heart to ache for lost people – like I believe Jesus’ heart ached for them. I spent too long condemning my cold and hard heart, because I did not “weep for the lost” like I know Jesus did … and like I heard that truly spiritual men did. It dawned on me one day … reading Matthew 28:18, that I should not be “waiting” to feel something before I obeyed the Lord’s commission. He did not command me to “feel”. He commanded me to teach. My feelings are NOT the authority of my mission – He is. So … I began to teach, not because I felt like it … or because I was so moved with compassion that I could not keep from it … I taught – sought to make disciples – because my Master told me to do so … wherever I go.

“My God, my God …”

July 26, 2008

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.   36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi,  lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Matthew 27:32-46; NIV. Please read Matthew 26-27 … at least a couple of times.)

I have neither the intellect nor the interest to argue the theological or prophetic aspects of this wondrous horrid moment, but I do know this:

Jesus asks His Father “why have you forsaken me?” Something divine was happening … something horrible for Him … something wonderful for me.

Jesus understands … when my own heart asks the same. His cry comes from one who knew no sin, but my cry comes from one who knows sin too well.  

Jesus suffers this … all of this … for me. He was guiltless … but treated as if He was guilty. I was guilty … but treated as if I am guiltless. He was condemned to die … I was pardoned from death.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: In this moment – we should stand in awe at the wages of sin and the free gift of God. I … for one … should stand here silent – ashamed but grateful. I am …

“… you did for me …”

July 25, 2008

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:31-40; NIV. Please read Matthew 24-25 … a couple of times at least.)

This hungry person – must have no way to get bread … unless someone gives him something to eat.

This thirsty person – must have no way to get water … unless someone gives him something to drink.

This stranger – must have no place to go or stay … unless someone invites him in.

This naked person – must have no way to get clothes … unless someone gives him something to wear.

This sick person – must have no one to treat him … unless someone takes care of him.     

This prisoner – must have no one to come … unless someone visits him.

These people NEED someone to care … to give … to help. But they will be needy … and might become demanding or dependent. There may be a variety of reasons not to “do” for them … but if we do not give them something to eat or drink – something to wear – take them in or go see them .. we neglect our Master.

But when we offer the meal – the shirt – the visit … we express our love and devotion to our Master, and that pleases Him.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I want hungry to have food and thirsty people to have something to drink. I want strangers to feel welcome, and poor folks to have clothes to wear. I want sick people and prisoners to have someone care for them. But wanting it is not enough. If I really want it … I must will it be so – must work to make it so. I want the Lord to be pleased …