Friday, October 30, 2009

This scares me...

Hebrews 10:26-31
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

This scares me.
No deep thoughts today, just a lot of confession.

Holy Father -
I sin willfully. I have counted common the blood of Christ and His covenant. I've grown comfortable with with thought of a gracious God and ignored Your justice, holiness and wrath toward sin. Forgive me God. Fill me with a holy fear and give me a right view of You. Let my heart break before I sin, not after. I want to be wrecked by the thought of disobedience, and not just the guilt of it. Let me now be counted with Your adversaries but fully embrace You, the living God. Forgive me and strengthen me to obey.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Perfect forgiveness

Hebrews 9:14 (CEV)
But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That's why his blood is much more powerful and makes our consciences clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death.

The sacrifice of Christ Himself purifies not only our sinful flesh, but also the soul and even the conscience. His blood does not simply cover over our sins as did the blood of bulls and lambs. His blood penetrates our sinful flesh and purifies us completely. We don't have to wonder if or worry that the sacrifice would be sufficient or that the ceremony would be sanctified. Because our eternal, perfect High Priest has not only performed the ceremony but also become the sacrifice, we can know for certain that we are forgiven. I don't have to fret over the letter of the law, unidentified sin or meeting some pious standard. I can live in a confidence that comes by faith because it is His work completely, not my own - even in part. I am clean by the perfect blood of Jesus and can enter into His heavenly tabernacle, His presence, without worry in service before the Living God.

Father - set me free from wonder, worry, doubt and personal effort. I know these truths but at times my faith is weak. Strengthen my faith so that it is only and always only in You. Cleanse my guilty conscience daily that I may enter your presence with confidence and boldly serve You. Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No excuse, all access pass to God

Hebrews 8:10-12
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

Here are four marks of the fulfillment of God's new covenant with His people in His restored kingdom. First, by the Holy Spirit, God's Word is written on our hearts rather than on stone tablets as the Ten Commandments. Second, we are granted a direct relationship with God and are no longer required to go through a human priesthood in order to connect with Him. Third, we no longer need Pharisees, Sadducees and prophets to interpret and teach God's Word for His Holy Spirit dwells within us and illuminates Christ, reminding us of His teaching (John 14:26). Finally, there is no need for a sacrificial system or tradition because the Lamb of God has paid a perfect and eternal sacrifice for sin; past, present and future. All of the tools and traditions once required to connect with God have been replaced by a direct, personal and powerful relationship with God Himself through Jesus Christ. There is now no excuse for not connecting with Him; He has removed every barrier. There is no guilt, shame, ignorance or impurity that can keep me from my Creator.

Father - draw me close to You daily and remind me of this access. Forgive and remove my guilt, shame and timidity and let me come boldly before Your throne. I want to know You more. Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Perfect High Priest

Hebrews 7:24-27
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike 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.

Because Jesus is human, He can stand in our place and intercede for us.
Because Jesus is sinless, He is able to pay for the sins of others.
Because Jesus is eternally God, He is able to pay an eternal price for all the sins, of every human, for all of time.

When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no once comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6) He was revealing this exact ministry as our great and perfect High Priest.

Jesus - help me to appreciate more Your role and ministry as my perfect High Priest. May I come to You more in prayer, with tithes and offerings and in confession that I might find grace and mercy in my time of need. Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

sin, guilt & maturity

Hebrews 6:1
"Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God"

While the doctrines of God and forgiveness, and the practices of confession and repentance are important and foundational, we must go beyond them. we must strive for full obedience, conforming to the image of Christ - living in the hope of salvation and not the guilt of our sin (6:19). Through a mature understanding of Christ's complete work on the cross and genuinely avoiding sin - we can live in this hope, free from a guilty conscience from which Christ has set us free(Heb. 10:22). But if our sin is repetitive or we are paralyzed by guilt, we will never reach the fullness of salvation's blessing in this life.

Father - help me leave behind my sin and guilt and pursue perfection and maturity in You. Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jesus' Humanity

Hebrews 5:8-9
"though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him"

Jesus, the Son of God, "learned obedience?" He was "perfected?" How can an omniscient and perfect God learn and be made perfect? I think we often take lightly the humanity of Jesus. He however did not (Phil. 2:5-8). He did not take advantage of His deity in order to make easier His humanity. Instead, He fully identified with us in every way - yet was without sin (Heb. 4:12-14). By His suffering and very human struggles, He is able to identify with our weaknesses and is worthy to become our High Priest, representing humanity and bearing our concerns before the Father. By His faithful obedience and endurance in this life, Jesus became the perfect example that we must follow. By His faithful obedience and endurance, He became the perfect and worthy substitute for humanity. Were He not to have suffered or struggled, He could not have accurately or adequately stood in our place or taken our penalty. He has endured to much... for me.

Father - let me demonstrate this enduring faithfulness in the things I suffer as I follow You, the author and perfecter of my faith. Amen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hebrews 4:11
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

The rest offered us in Jesus Christ is so much greater than the rest offered to Israel in the Old Testament. Their Sabbath was a day and even Jubilee only a year (Leviticus 25) but the rest awarded those who know Jesus us eternal and perfect. we therefore must be diligent to enter that rest by genuine faith. The diligence spoken of here is not about works or effort but about enduring faith. We are to resist doubtful, callous, indifferent, apathetic, fruitless faith (which is no faith at all) by focusing on the written Word of God for instruction (Heb. 4:12) and the Word of God made flesh for inspiration (Heb. 4:14-15). When we focus on Jesus and His Word we find hope and grace and mercy to help us in our time of need to diligently enter that rest. If we lose sight of Jesus or turn our eyes away from His Word we, like the Israelites, will wander aimlessly and miss His rest.

Father - give me eyes for You and Your Word. Let me diligently focus on You and find the fullness of Your promised rest at the end of this life. Until then, may I work diligently to help others discover that same rest. Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

calling in step with one another

Hebrews 3:13
"but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

I think most people would wince a bit at the word choice here; to "exhort" one another daily. I bet that would be exasperating to be constantly exhorted, daily. But a closer look at the Greek word behind exhort reveals something very beautiful, comforting and encouraging. In fact, at times, the word is translated encourage or comfort. The actual Greek word is "parakaleo." It is a combination of two words, "para" which means along side or in step with, and "kaleo" which means to call. So the literal translation might read "call each other in step daily." It is also the exact word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14-16.

John 14:16
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:26
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

John 16:7
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

In other words, the writer of Hebrews is calling us to be a type of Holy Spirit in the one another's lives. We are to convict, convince, comfort, correct and convey God's message to one another - daily. We are called to call others in step with the Holy Spirit as we walk with Him.

How am I doing at coming along side of my friends and family and calling them to walk closer with Jesus? How am I doing at allowing others to call me closer? Do I let days go by without comforting or encouraging other believers? Do I let sin linger without conviction or confession? Do I let opportunities to convey the Word of God slip past in silence? If so, I am allowing sin to harden my heart and the heart of others. I am choosing to fall out of step with the Holy Spirit.

Father, may I always obey Your calling to Your side and obediently call others to fall in step with Your Holy Spirit. Let not my heart be hardened by sin but instead let me be the comforter that my brothers and sisters need. Let my heart be soft to the call of others and to the call of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Perfect through suffering

Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

The more I study Scripture, the more I am amazed, inspired by and drawn to the humanity of Jesus. By this, Christ identified with us, but by it we too may identify with Him. Beyond flesh and blood, we share with Christ in the human experience of suffering; living a life less than God intended for us, being fully exposed to the consequences of sin and a world distorted by it. My own suffering (as relatively light as it is) often produces in me compromise, selfishness and more sin. However Christ's suffering produced in Him (and consequently in humanity) perfection. Through suffering He earned the right to redeem us, He earned the right to be our captain, our leader and example in suffering, and He earned the glory of God as an earthly Son. As a man, He is the author, perfecter and champion of our salvation. This He has done in His humanity, not relying on His deity, not exploiting His divinity, so that I may follow Him (Phil. 2:5-8).

Jesus, help me keep my eyes on You that I too may be made perfect in my suffering. Give me the strength and discipline to endure and conform to Your image in me as I suffer - that You may be glorified. Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Incomparable God

Hebrews 1:3
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.

Jesus Christ is the exact image of God, the perfect reflection of His glory and the powerful personification of the Word of God, sustaining all things eternally from creation to completion. Jesus is not simply god-like or godly. Jesus is not just a temporary or earthly representation of deity. He is not just one of many sons of God. He is the only, eternal, perfect creator God in human flesh; fully and completely God and man. We use words like incarnation, trinity and hypostatic union to describe the amazing nature of Jesus Christ but all fall short. While there are analogies for nearly every other spiritual truth in Scripture, there is nothing even attempted or worthy to attempt to describe the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ.

Jesus - You alone are awesome. There is no one, nothing like You. You are above and beyond all human understanding and yet you have condescended to meet us and have made Yourself accessible and knowable by sinful people like me. Thank You seems so inadequate. Jesus, give me the strength and self-discipline to thank you with my life and obedience each day. Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I love my bride

Proverbs 31:1-31
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I've often said that I got married for all the wrong reasons to just the right girl. What a blessing it was to find that the fun, charming, intoxicating and beautiful girl I fell in love with over 16 years ago is also a hard worker, an amazing mother, a great cook, wise with money, resourceful, kind to those in need, tender to my needs and a wise teacher and guide to other moms and children.
Each day I am more impressed by, addicted to and grateful for the bride I have been given. I have been truly blessed beyond rubies and riches with a virtuous wife.

Father - thank you for Jocelyn my bride. Help me to become the husband she needs and deserves. Give me eyes to see her needs and desires and blind me from my own. Give me a heart that beats and breaks with hers. Give me a mind to understand who she is and those things that cannot be said. Strengthen me to care for her and make me more disciplined each day to sacrifice who I am for who she is becoming. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

the Proverbial Incarnation... if you will

Proverbs 30:4-5
Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?
Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

I don't think it would be a stretch of Scripture to suggest that this passage is a prophetic picture of the incarnation and the vary nature of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who has both descended and ascended from heaven, eternal and uncreated (Ephesians 4:7-10). He was there at creation, took part in the process and His Word holds all things together (Colossians 1:15-17 & Hebrews 1:3). He is the vary image of God and the Son of God wrapped in human flesh (John 1:14). I am particularly drawn to the term "Word" and its personification in the following line.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the flesh, has been revealed in so many ways; through creation, through the Word of God (the Holy Scriptures), the Wisdom of life (as revealed through Proverbs), through miracles and family relationships (He is the Son of God, the firstborn among brothers). When we come to understand the vast revelation of the Son and His unique relationship with us through the incarnation, then and only then will we stand secure in this life, able to trust fully in God who loved us enough to identify with us in this journey called life.

Thank You Jesus for taking on flesh, for descending and identifying with our weaknesses that we might identify with Your strength (Heb. 4:14-16). Thank You for revealing Yourself so clearly so that we might know You and trust You in this life. Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

obedience & endurance: the revelation of God in silence

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
but blessed is he who keeps the law.

When it becomes difficult to see God moving and working in the trials of life, when His direction and plan seem unclear at best, when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, people often abandon His ways and neglect their spiritual disciplines. These are not the times to get lazy or self-serving in our practices but a call to even greater discipline. God reveals Himself in the midst of trial when we faithfully endure hardship, identifying with His Son Jesus Christ through obedience and perseverance. This is not because God wills for us to suffer (though it is a part of His will), but because there is true blessing, joy, peace and contentment in participating in the divine nature of Christ by joining Him is His suffering.

Romans 8:17
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

2 Corinthians 1:5
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Philippians 3:10
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Revelation, blessing, joy, peace and contentment come through suffering by obedience and endurance when we join Christ in His suffering and identify with Him.

Father, grant me the discipline to endure and obey even when I don't see or understand Your will for my life. Teach me to be faithful and to identify Your presence and blessing in obedience. Let me know Your presence in trials and be content to have You with me there, even if I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let me be content to identify with Your Son Jesus Christ and to be a tool of revelation for others. Let me take Joy in this alone. Amen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

eyes for the poor

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

How often have I turned my eyes away from the poor and needy? I often refused to make eye contact (or any other contact) with the man at the end of the off-ramp, the bell ringer at the grocery store or even the emotionally needy person that comes to my church seeking compassion and comfort. I do this party because I don't want to give up what I've been given and party because I don't want to be confronted with or burdened by the weightier things of life.
But the natural and spiritual consequences of such hardness of heart are severe. Spiritually, God removes His hand of blessing and will not hear my cry or prayer when I am in need (prov. 28:9). Naturally, we miss the opportunities to join God in His work, to be conformed to His image, to develop His heart of mercy and to experience His provision. Consequently, we become numb and dull to the exact relationship that we have been created for; we become isolated and lonely.
But if we lock eyes with the poor we lock eyes with Christ himself and invite both natural and spiritual blessings into our lives.

Matthew 25:37-40
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When 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.'

Lord, soften my heart and turn my eyes to the needs of the poor. Teach me to see You and serve You every day. Amen.