Made like His brethren

static1-squarespace-comHebrews 2:16-18 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Meditation on this chapter simply give one a greater love for the Lord. He could’ve been made like an angel. He could’ve come in great power. But it “behooved Him”, or, it “was incumbent on” Him to be made in the likeness of men. And because He did, He can relate with us, and us with Him. Here are a few observations:

  1. Because He was made in the likeness of men, He is all the more merciful. Jesus was always merciful. That’s why He came. But His living in the flesh and living among us as He did – feeling our pain and suffering our temptations – leaves a special impression on His heart. And having this, He is a merciful High Priest for us.
  2. Because of His human work, He makes reconciliation for the sins of the people. He is our redemption, our propitiation, and our reconciliation to the Father. I thank Him that He was willing to go through with it for us!
  3. Because He was tempted, He is able to succour (give assistance and support in hard times) us when we are tempted. He is not one that cannot be touched with our infirmities. He was tried, tempted, and tested. He knew what it was like to be weak. He knew what it was like to be hungry. He knew what it was like to suffer temptations of the flesh and of the spirit. Yet He was without sin. He was victorious over temptation and sin. And because He did, He is able to be our sustainer and refuge and ever present help in times of trial and temptation. And we can know that He knows exactly what it feels like.

I praise the Lord today that He knows me and what I go through, because He subjected Himself to the same. In times of trial or temptation, let us run to the Lord. He knows exactly how to “succour” us, and help us to come out victorious.

Thou hast… hated iniquity

original-sin-appleHebrews 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

This chapter is an amazing tribute to the Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom all things are, and through Whom exist. Here we see His majesty, and His exaltation. We see His Lordship, and His deity. We see His position as King, at the right hand of majesty.

Tucked in middle of the chapter is a verse that gives an important, unchanging attribute of Christ. It is a characteristic that made Him Who He was and is. It is a characteristic of which we would do well to learn. The verse says, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity…” And because of this, He has been anointed with oil of gladness. Because of this, the Father exalted Him higher. Because of this, He is far above “His fellows”.

In this day and age of tolerance, I’m afraid that many Christians have lost our holy hatred for sin. We are taught to “hate the sin, and love the sinner”, and we MUST. But we must not muddy the waters and soften our position or our disdain for sin. It is sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. It is sin that tears marriages apart. It is sin that leaves families and children broken and brokenhearted. It is sin that ruins preachers. It is sin that leads the young person astray. It is sin that leaves scars. It is sin that leaves regrets. It is sin that lifts one up before he falls.

In a day where sin is placed on a pedestal, on the prime-time screen, and lifted up all over the land, might we as God’s people not lose our holy hatred for sin. Might we not buy into the “tolerance” for sin that is pumped. I believe we cannot truly love the sinner without a proper hatred for the sin. If we will be like Christ, and conformed into His image, we’ll learn the proper balance of loving righteousness, and hating iniquity.

Godly Jealousy

jealousy_scrabble2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

I have counseled with two young men recently who told me “yes, I have a problem with jealousy.” I know people have differences of opinions here, but I have seen that a “problem” with jealousy can cause insecurity, anxiety, and lead to major problems in a marriage. When jealousy isn’t kept in check, imaginations (which we wrote about yesterday) begin to come to play, and then unnecessary conflicts result. We see that there is wrong kind of jealousy.

We also see that there is also a godly jealousy. The definition of jealousy is intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness – real or perceived.” The motive behind jealousy determines what kind of jealousy it is. In this passage, Paul’s jealousy is a godly one because it was driven by a fear of a rivalry, or lack of faithfulness, to God.

There are three areas godly jealousy might apply in my life. The first is in me individually. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want anything to take His rightful place as preeminent in my life. Might I examine and see if I have given reason for a “Godly” jealousy through things, people, or philosophies that have made their way into my life. Secondly, is in my family. Aside from the real possibility of putting my family on a pedestal where the Lord should be, might I examine and see if there is anything in the lives of my family that might or should cause a godly jealousy. And thirdly, there may be a godly jealousy in the lives of those we serve in ministry. This is where Paul was. Might we challenge, exhort, and admonish our people to keep the Lord in His rightful place – preeminent – without things (work, children, money, hobbies, things), taking His place. If we will be jealous, let it be with a godly jealousy, that we might present ourselves, our family, and our people as “chaste virgins” to Christ.

Imaginations, Knowledge, Thoughts

2-corinthians-10-5-jpg2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Someone once said “the battle always has been, and always will be, for the mind.” This passage reminds us of this battle with three words: imaginations, knowledge, and thoughts. These all have to do with what’s going on in my mind(/heart). This is why it’s so vitally important that we guard (keep) our eye gate, our ears, and our heart from being infiltrated by the imaginations, knowledge, and thoughts that the enemy would like to have indwell us. For, if we do not guard against these, they can easily become strongholds.

I praise the Lord that the weapons with which we fight this battle are not carnal. It’s not a battle I must win alone. If the enemy is sowing thoughts (which he will), or if I’ve allowed a thought or imagination to become a stronghold (which may happen), I have spiritual weapons with which I can engage and be victorious over the enemy, and bring his thoughts and mind games into captivity. Thank the Lord for the Word of God, prayer, and Jesus Christ, which help us to wage war and win the battle for the mind. Might we ask this morning, what thoughts, knowledge, or imaginations do I need to cast down today? And as they come, let us cast them down.

Your Zeal

zealous12 Corinthians 9:2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

The simple thought from today’s reading is this: what is my zeal provoking others to do? I guess I could take it a step further: Do I have zeal to begin with? Is it evident to those around me? Paul told the Corinthians that the zeal that they a year earlier, to meet the needs of others, had provoked many others to get involved, and themselves to make a difference.

Zealous people are contagious. We’ve all seen and been around them. They rub off on people. Here at the college we’ve given our students an opportunity to help sponsor some national students through Bible college this semester. Yesterday, one of our students came in with a beaming smile, from ear to ear. One of our staff said, “you’re mighty happy today.” The student showed us a receipt and said with excitement, “I just gave to help sponsor my national college student. That’ll make anyone happy!” That did something for me!

What is our zeal causing others to do or be? Might we be zealous for the Lord and His work. Our zeal will provoke others. Might we get fired up ourselves, and then provoke others to love and to good works (Heb 10:24).

Just Do It.

d851efb8400966899b2a8035b37f356a2 Corinthians 8:10-11 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

We all know the Nike motto: “Just Do It“. This is what Paul was asking the Corinthians to do. A year earlier, they had found out of the poverty and need of another church. They had gotten together, and expressed an eagerness and willingness to give. In fact, their zeal had already encouraged other churches to give. But it’s a year later, and they haven’t yet given. They’re “sitting on their hands”. And Paul says “my advice is this. Stop talking, and start doing.”

I’m guilty of this in my life. There’s a book I know I should read on marriage, and it’s been on my Kindle, untouched – Just do it. There’s that couple who has a crazy schedule, but needs to go through our discipleship material. And I’ve meant to ask them if a weekend or evening time will work – Just do it. There’s a need that I know needs met, and I can meet it if I stretch myself a little bit – Just do it. There’s a child with a heart problem, and it’s evident that they need time and prayer and prodding, we might just want to do it. There’s someone we can tell is hurting, or maybe someone that is going a little wayward, and it’s going to take our time and mental and emotional energy to pull them back into the fold, so we’ve put off. It’s worth it to Just do it. Maybe there’s someone I know I need to forgive, or ask to be forgiven. I’ve had the intention to do it, but have put it off. Just do it. There are people in our class that need fellowship, and a once a month house fellowship would be great for them. It’s been a year of putting it off… – Just do it! There’s a ministry opportunity where I can make a difference, or a soul that I know I should have witnessed to, or something the Lord has brought to my mind that I have the desire to do, and the means with which to do it -I might want to just do it.

Someone said that at the end of our lives, we’ll most likely regret the things we didn’t do more than the things that we did do. If there’s something that the Lord has worked in our heart about, and it’s something good, and we know we ought to be a part of meeting the need or making the difference, might we be done with putting it off, and just do it.

Let Us Cleanse Ourselves

lionesse-skincare-tips-for-men-cleansing2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This morning’s reading reminds me of the importance of examining and cleansing both our flesh and our spirit. It’s so easy for the world, the flesh, and the devil, and the “dirtiness” that comes with them, to creep into our lives. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been saved or serving – I need that cleansing.

I may not be around the world as much, or in a “dirty environment”. But I am flesh, and by the very nature of flesh, I need examination and cleansing. In my context, the majority of my work day is behind a computer screen, and/or teaching. These are not very dirty jobs. In fact, I could go an entire work day without seeing dirt. But one thing is certain – at the end of the day, I need a shower! Likewise, living in this “flesh”, daily, let us “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness”, both of the flesh (outwardly), and the spirit (our inward man).

Of course, as Paul reminds us at the end of the verse, this stems from a holy fear of the Lord! No matter where we are in our walk with the Lord, might we examine myself daily, and make sure that there is nothing in my life between me and my Lord.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

 judgement-seat-new-dimension2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

John Gill said “This is a reason why the saints are so diligent and laborious, so earnest and intent upon it, to be accepted of the Lord, because they must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
One of the most sobering and motivating thoughts on this side of eternity is that one day, everyone of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ – the Judge of all the earth – and will give an account of our lives to Him (Rom 14:12). It is it His seat that our stewardship, our works, and our very motives for doing them will be made manifest (1 Cor 4:2-5).

scalespicturejpgAs a ministry leader and father, this reality holds so much more weight as I realize that I will also give account for the stewardship of my life, family, and ministry as well (Heb 13:17). But there’s something else. I also realize that, within my realm of leadership, I am helping to prepare for the judgment seats of others.

I love my wife. I have thought much recently about my wife’s time of standing before the Lord. I hope to God that I will have loved, helped, co-labored, encouraged, and enabled her to live her life in such a way that she will rejoice when she stands before that seat. Then there are my children. I’d give my life for them in this world. But I must think of their time in the next. They, too, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account to Him of their lives. I must strive to train, nurture, admonish, challenge, and encourage them to live their lives so that when they stand before Him, there are not regrets.

My dad often said, “my job as a pastor is to help my people to have a better judgment seat.” I believe if we really read and meditated and comprehended even a fraction of what that day will be like, we will – we must – live differently. But further than that, I believe we will do all we can to challenge all those in our world of influence to live their lives so that when they give an account to Christ, they, too, can do it with joy, and not with regret.

 

Things Which Are Not Seen

sea-of-clouds.jpg2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It is easy to get caught up living our lives for the things that are seen, because we’re human and it surrounds us. However, these things are temporal. They will not last. One day, they will burn. In our reading, Paul exhorts us to “look at” the things that cannot be seen – through faith and spiritual eyes and vision. For, those are the things that last. Those are the things that are eternal. When we do this, we will live differently. When we do this, we’ll be able to put up with a lot more (as in verse 17). When we do this, our eyes are taken off of ourselves, and begin to focus on the things that matter – God and people.

Might we lives our lives for the things that are not seen. Might we set our affection above. Might we live for eternity.

There is liberty

3079b520c062d6652954f6ca96a04db52 Corinthians 3:16-18 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This morning I thank the Lord that at salvation, when the Holy Spirit came in, He brought a freedom from the bondage of sin and death. Before salvation, I couldn’t but help it. I was “under” a life of sin and death. But when Christ came in, two things happened:

First, I was made free from sin and the law, and free to serve the Lord in the liberty of my conscience. The word liberty means: The state of being free from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views; a right, or privilege, especially a statutory one; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. I was made free and at liberty to serve the Lord without the letter and condemnation of the law hovering over me.

Secondly, I was made free to be changed into the image of Christ. We must understand that the “veil” of the law and that bondage was put away so the we could see the glory and image of Jesus. It’s not so we can just walk after the dictates of our heart. We have been made free from the blindness that the law brought, so that we could see clearly, and be “changed into the same image from glory to glory”. Simply put, we can now see and know the life of Christ (the “glory”, the Gospel), and therefore ought to live a life like Christ.

This morning, I’m thankful that we’re free in Christ. And I’m further thankful that through the Spirit, I’m free to see His glory and “choose” to live my life in service to Him, seeking to become more and more like Him each day of my life.