Saturday, 31 January 2009

Total contentment

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." – Hebrews 13v5 

The world around us tells us that we need to go after whatever we can get, as much as we can get, and as quickly as we can get it. Like everything else it is easy to get totally caught up in that mindset. We start thinking that all this stuff around us really is important. We start thinking that if we don’t get it God is not being fair to us. We may even start thinking that we would be better off if we could just going after more stuff. We may start questioning why God does not let us have all this stuff. 

Then we are getting on dangerous ground. We are starting to think that maybe we know more than He does about what we need. We start getting our eyes off Him and on to our stuff instead. When we get to that point we are ready to really mess things up. 

That’s why Christ reminds us to live in contentment. This is not a motivation killing lethargy, but a contentment that knows that we do what we can and leave the rest to Him. We can’t get caught in the ‘gimme this gimme that’ mindset that destroys our service for Him.

 When it is all said and done we have all we need, because He promises that no matter what He will not forsake us – He will ‘oo may’ (never, ever, under any circumstances, no matter what) leave us. 

He is always there. He loves us. He is always good. In that we need to find our contentment.


Friday, 30 January 2009

Entertain strangers

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13v2

Hospitality is one of the character traits that God expects believers to posses and exercise. ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers…’ is the simple instruction.

God expects His children to treat everyone well and to open our hearts and homes to them. After all, we never really know who we are going to entertain. They could be anyone, and in this case they may even be angels. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about that, but I do know that God’s instruction to entertain strangers is a clear as it can be.

Don’t forget to entertain strangers – you never know who they might be!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Let brotherly love continue

Let brotherly love continue. – Hebrews 13v1

The word of God is amazing in its simplicity. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest.

What do we do when someone is a jerk? Let brotherly love continue. What do we do when we can’t seem to reconcile a difference? Let brotherly love continue. What do we do when feelings and animosity arise? Let brotherly love continue.

We try all kinds of reasoning, rationale, and excuses in these situations. We want to make it complicated, but the word of God takes away those barriers. In these situations the answer is simple – choose to let brotherly love continue.

Difficulties are going to arise. Things are going to go badly. We are going to face difficulties with other Christians. But we have a choice. We can let the flesh rule and react by its directions or we can do the right thing – let brotherly love continue no matter what.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Unshakeable service for an unshakeable kingdom

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. – Hebrews 12v28

It doesn’t take long when we look around to notice the shakeableness of everything around us. Things are changing faster than we could have imagined. Long lasting banking institutions are failing. US auto manufacturers are in serious trouble. The once almighty dollar is on a roller coaster ride and the pound is not longer as sound as a pound.

There is one thing in the life of the believer that we know is not shakeable. We have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken. Because our eternal kingdom cannot be shaken we have a motivation to, by the grace of God, serve Him in an acceptable manner with all reverence and godly fear.

Why is it that we seem to have more time for our shakeable kingdoms than the unshakeable ones?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Just men made perfect

to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, - Hebrews 12v23

What is this ‘general assembly and church of the firstborn registered in heaven?’ It is part of the list of things and people to which we have come at salvation. It is made up of just men made perfect.’

There is not a whole lot to say about this, but is a beautiful reminder of a coming event. As His children we have already been declared just by the blood of Christ, but one day our spirits will be made perfectly like Christ. Those ‘just men’ who have gone before us have been perfected and we will have the joy of seeing them again one day.

I am grateful that we have been made just by the blood of Christ. But I really am so tired of those wretched imperfections that affect me every day. One day I will join with those precious saints who have gone before in Christ-like perfection.

As sweet as fellowship is here today I cannot even imagine how precious it will be when we have all been made perfect. Imagine no more petty jealousies, no selfish disagreements, and no angry responses.

I’ve said it before – what a day that will be!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Registered in heaven

to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, - Hebrews 12v23

I love this picture. One day the general assembly and church of the firstborn, already registered in heaven, will finally meet together.

Can you imagine that marvellous day? Today we are scattered all of the face of the earth. We are red, yellow, black and white. We are rich and poor, famous and unknown, educated and not. We live in megacities, cities, towns, villages, hamlets, and rural houses. We worship in different styles, we listen to different kinds of preaching, and we use different kinds of music. Despite all of this, every one of us who have accepted Christ as Saviour are a part of the great and marvellous general assembly and church of the firstborn. The membership roll is already registered in heaven, and one day the roll will be called and we will all be there.

I love to travel and meet other members of the church. I love when they come to Ireland and visit our church. I love the common bond in Christ that unites us and compels us to rejoice and fellowship together.

What a marvellous day it will be when we finally get to assemble together and worsip as one!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Nip it in the bud

looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; - Hebrews 12v15

There are several brilliant warnings in this section of Hebrews. One stick out to me this time through though, I think it sticks out because of the fervency of the warning and the reality of personal experience in my life and in the lives of others that I have known.

‘Look carefully…lest any root of bitterness which is springing up cause you trouble and defiles many.’ I like the King James wording which has ‘looking diligently…’ The Message paraphrase of the scriptures uses the illustration of a garden when it renders the section ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.’

The important thing to note is that bitterness needs to be nipped in the bud before it ever breaks the surface. Bitterness is a great enemy and a dangerous weed that if left alone will grow and fester like a cancer and ruin all with which it comes in contact.

Bitterness is an ugly and dangerous problem. It will ruin a life and it will ruin the lives of those around. What begins as anger or dislike quickly begins to fester and grow. I know what bitterness can do in my life, and I have seen far too many lives destroyed by it.

How do we do this? How do we nip bitterness in the bud? The answer is in the passage. We must look carefully. We must be diligent. We must watch like a careful gardener who knows the danger of weeds in his garden. It is an area where we cannot let down our guard.

Watch diligently – that little seed of bitterness that you see will cause great havoc if it is not dealt with.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Get it together!

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: - Hebrews 12v12-14

The word of God is so practical. The previous section was full of encouragement and the purpose of chastening. We are reminded that God loves us enough to keep us on the right track. You sense the words of a loving Father sitting His children down and sharing some secrets of why He parents the way He does.

In verse 12 the tone changes. You sense a track and field coach urging his team on. ‘Get those hands up from your side! Pick up those knees! Get moving! Stay on track so you don’t hurt yourself. If you stay on track you will be fine – now get it together.’

Then He reminds of us the great responsibility we have to others. ‘Follow peace with all men – but don’t forget holiness, because without holiness no man can see the Lord.’
God’s word is practical and it is balanced. We balance unity with holiness. There a temptation to sacrifice holiness on the altar of unity. There can also be a temptation to sacrifice unity on the altar of what we consider to be holiness. We can’t sacrifice either. We seek peace, not a fight. We seek unity, not division. But we must never forsake holiness, because that is how people are going to see the Lord.

Friday, 23 January 2009

No pain no gain

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12v11

God’s chastening is a fascinating study. Most of the time I have heard this passage preached on it was preached as a scare tactic kind of message. ‘Look here, if you mess up God is going to get you!’

As I read through this today I got a different impression. The section starts with ‘For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls,’ and ends with ‘Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’

This hardly sounds like a scary section of scripture. It is all about encouragement and blessing. It is all about training and instruction; it is all about God’s love that leads him to correct us as a part of our training.

So what do we do with it? If we are smart we learn from God’s chastening. Chastening does not always equal punishment. Chastening takes many forms, but at the end of the day it is always instructional in purpose. It is always the action of a loving, perfect God.

I have fallen far short in the training of my kids. Sometimes I have chastened out of anger and done more harm that good. Sometimes it has been nothing more than punishment. But God doesn’t do that – his chastening is always for our profit, that we may partake of His holiness.

Chastening never seems easy. Training is tough. No pain no gain. But, if we will take God’s chastening and accept the changes He wants us to make the result is worth it. Holiness, the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and the knowledge that we are learning the lessons to make us more like Him will make the chastening bearable.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Looking unto Jesus

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12v2

This is definitely a ‘looking unto Jesus day. There is some stuff going on that is forcing me to do just that. Not personally, but with some other circumstances. There is a situation that I can do nothing about, but feel like I should. It is a part of the race that God has set before. It is requiring the utmost in patience and endurance to deal with this because it is a time when I really must trust.

I can only do it by ‘looking unto Jesus. He, after all, is the Originator of my faith and He will be the Finisher of it as well. As such we read that He endured the cross and despised the shame. Today, as we saw recently, He is sitting at God’s right hand interceding for us.
The race we are running has ups and downs. We never know what is just around the bend. We have all kinds of obstacles to deal with and hurdles to jump. I cannot afford to get distracted by the obstacles no matter how real and how difficult they are. I do all I can do while running the race, but then keep my eyes on Him at the finish line

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, - Hebrews 12v1

So now that we know about the great testimony that these members of the Hall of Faith had what do we do about it? We know that it is better for us than it was for them. We know the end result of our faith in a way they never need. So how do we apply it.

Seeing that we have this great crowd of witnesses we are now called on to run our own race. We are called on to get rid of the baggage of sin and then run the race patiently and with endurance. These folks weren’t for sure what was at the finish line – we do. We know why we are running.

No if they could all endure what they did without knowing the end result, shouldn’t we be able to run knowing the result?

Two key thoughts.

It is a race. You don’t run a race encumbered by weights and extra stuff. If we are going to do well in the race we need to get rid of the sin that holds us back.

It is a marathon, not a sprint. We run it not in little bursts of energy, but with patience and endurance.

With the kind of testimony behind us, let us get rid of the baggage and endure in the race to which God has called us.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Something better for us

God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11v40

As amazing as the Hall of Faith it is even more amazing when we remember that these folks had not received the promise of the Messiah when they acted in faith. They knew He was coming, but they had not seen Him so never in their lives received the full promise that Messiah would bring.

But eventually their faith was perfected in Christ. Today we have it so much better than they do. We can look back to the finished work of Christ on the cross where they weren’t even sure what they were looking for.

How amazing that God had something better for us, even though we deserved nothing. Praise God for the opportunity to look back at the cross in faith instead of having to look forward to the unknown work of God.

And thank God for the faith of those who did look forward.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Of whom the world was not worthy

of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. – Hebrews 11v38

subdued kingdoms
worked righteousness
obtained promises
stopped the mouths of lions
quenched the violence of fire
escaped the edge of the sword
out of weakness were made strong
became valiant in battle
turned to flight the armies of the aliens
women received their dead raised to life again
were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment
were stoned
were sawn in two
were tempted
were slain with the sword
wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins
being destitute, afflicted, tormented
wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth

That’s quite a list, isn’t it? I was going to just mention how those who act in faith are a special bunch, but though it best that we just see the full list and meditate on just what faith accomplishes.

There is a lot we could say here, but I think one really nails it. Out of all that could be said God says of them that ‘the world was not worthy.’ These folks were well and truly too good for this world. The world did not deserve them.

Faith accomplishes much. It may or may not bring us to success in the eyes of the world. Through it we might subdue kingdoms or be sawn in two. Through it we may stop the mouths of lions or be slain by the sword. Either way it is our faith allowing God to work in our lives.

Either way, the world is not worthy of these folks of faith. May we live such a life fo faith that the world is not worthy of us as well.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Seeing Him who is invisible

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. – Hebrews 11v27

It was by faith that Moses left Egypt and headed out to lead his people. This had all kinds of ramifications. Pharaoh had one of the most powerful armies in the world. His trained warriors could easily have wiped out the people of Israel.

The Israelites had nothing, and there were six million of them. The slave owners were not about the just let their work crews walk off the job. The departure of this much free labour would have a devastating impact on Egypt’s economy. Everything visible was against their leaving.

But Moses had the ability to look at the invisible. He would endure it all as he looked at the Him who is invisible.

That’s what faith is all about, isn’t it; seeing the unseen and focusing on the invisible? Too many times our faith is based on what we see at the moment, not what we see in the ling run.

We may never face the challenges that Moses did, but that doesn’t make our challenges any less real. It doesn’t negate our fears.

Like Moses we have a way t endure and overcome our fear. We must learn to look at Him who is invisible and trust Him on our way.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Choosing rather to suffer

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. – Hebrews 11v24-26

We all face choices in life. For most of us Moses’ choice would have seemed easy. He could have been called ‘the son of Pharaoh’s daughter’ or he could have become a slave with the rest of his people.

“The son of Pharaoh’s daughter’ would have meant that he would probably be Pharaoh one day. At the very least he would have lived in opulence and splendour and had it made. He could have rationalised it with thoughts like, ‘look at the impact I could have in the palace.’

Instead he chose to pass up the pleasures of sin (interesting to note that the Bible refers to the ‘pleasures of sin’) for the reproach of Christ.

Why make a choice like that? Because he knew that the reproach for Christ was far better in the long run than all the riches of Egypt. Nothing could compare to doing what God wanted in the long run.

We need to ask ourselves what guides out choices. Do we make decisions based on the prestige and the ‘stuff’ or do we make decisions based on what God wants for us?

It is far, far better to do God’s will even if it means suffering and reproach here and now, for the eternal reward is the one that we need to be looking forward to.

Friday, 16 January 2009

God is not ashamed

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. – Hebrews 11v16

Have your children ever embarrassed you? We have six of them, and now three grandchildren. I have to admit that sometimes they have embarrassed us in public. I won’t relate any anecdotes here in case one of them reads this. But, at the end of the day, they are still our kids and we are not ashamed that they are ours. We are not ashamed to be their mom and dad.

That’s fine, but it is amazing when we read that a perfect, holy, righteous, just, and eternal God is not ashamed that His is our God. I am certain that we, especially me, have embarrassed our kids, so it is normal that there is a mutual feeling of not being ashamed. God is perfect, so there is not cause to be ashamed that He is my God. But it is astounding that He is not ashamed of me, even though I do stuff that would make any person embarrassed. That comes because His live is perfect and pure. He loves me in spite of who I am and He is not ashamed of me.

What is sad is that I am more likely to act like I am ashamed of Him. How often have you and I had a chance to speak boldly and proudly of our heavenly Father and missed the opportunity? Are we more ashamed of Him than He is of us?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

These all died in faith

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. – Hebrews 11v13

All of these examples in the Hebrews Hall of Faith had something special about their faith. They did not have faith because they saw the results of faith. They had faith without seeing the results of the promises. They all had similarities.

They received God’s promises
They saw the promises far off
They were assured of the promises
They embraced the promises
They realised and confessed that this world was not their home
They then died in that faith

This is what real faith is all about. Real faith is faith without seeing. Real faith is realising that we may not see the results. Real faith knows that we may die in faith rather than in sight.

God promises are true and sure. They will happen. But God is not stuck by my lifespan or my timetable. God will do things His way and in His prefect time. We need to be ready for the fact that we too may be called on to ‘die in faith’ never realising the sight of the things that are promised. This is world is not our home, we are just passing through. Our treasures are laid up in heaven, not here on earth.

Praise God for these examples of dying in faith.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

He went, not knowing

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11v8

I am always challenged by great examples of faith. If I am not careful I could get bogged down in the great faith chapter where God gives us example after example.

Here with Abraham we have an amazing example of pure faith. God told Abraham to go. He didn’t tell him where, just go. The amazing thing is that Abraham went!

In a day when we seem to want everything laid out for us, this is amazing. How many of us would be willing to go if God just said, ‘Load up and head out. You will know where you are going when you get there’?

Do any of us have Abraham like faith?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Without faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. – Hebrews 11v6

I watched part of a documentary last night about the theories of Richard Dawkins, who considers all religion as ‘the root of all evil.’ Christianity, of course, was the object of most of his derision, but I was intrigued by a couple of things.

Mr Dawkins had much more respect for Christians who held to the entire word of God that those who, as He put it, picked and chose what they liked and didn’t like. I found it comforting that even some one like this man saw the need total adherence to the Bible if one claimed to believe it.

At the end he talked about how it was better for people to do good just because it was good and not because they were afraid of some power who would harm them if they did not do good. Fair point, but Dawkins missed a key element that eve some Christians miss.

Doing good is not going to please God. Even Christians doing good is not going to please God.

Let me explain. We don’t read anywhere ‘without good works it is impossible to please God for He who comes to God must do good works and He is the rewarder of those who do good works.’

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the key factor here. Anyone who comes to God must of course believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Does this negate good works? Of course not, but good works are the result of faith and not the motivation. If we believer that God is and that He rewards those who seek Him we will strive to seek Him daily. Naturally, as a result of diligently seeking Him good works will be the by product. Works always accompany faith. If there is no works there is only a dead faith.

It is our faith that leads to works that pleases God, not the works in and of themselves.

Monday, 12 January 2009

He who is coming will come

 For yet a little while, and he is coming will come and will not tarry – Hebrews 10v37 

Here we sit. Almost 2000 years later and we wait for the fulfilment of Jesus’ words ‘I will receive you unto myself.’ John looked for that day when he wrote ‘Even so come Lord Jesus.’ St Patrick of Ireland wrote “I look for the soon advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ 

And yet, today is the 12th of January, 2009. If our reckoning is close Jesus left about 1,925 years ago. When I was first saved back in the 70s everyone was writing about the return of Christ and how world affairs proved it had to happen then. I have become weary of headline prophets who based their teaching on the newspapers instead of on the word of God. 

Despite all of this we have the irrefutable promises of God’ Word. ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself.’ “This same Jesus will return in like manner.’ And here in Hebrews ‘He who is coming will come.’ 

Hebrews says that it is a ‘little while.’ The truth is that it is a little while in God’s eyes and His eternal scheme. Any time period in a timeless eternity is a little while. The wonderful truth is that the One who said that He is coming is indeed coming back. That ‘little while’ may very well be wrapped up today!


Praise God that the one who is coming will indeed come. May my life reflect the assurance of His coming. 

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Not forsaking

...not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10v25

In many of the churches I have been associated with this was probably the oft quoted verse. At times it was used in an almost legalistic way to say that ‘no matter what else happens, every time the doors of this church are open you had better be here or you are walking in willful disobedience to the Lord.’

Now, I don’t believe for a moment that this is what God is saying to us. However the word of God is clear – it is imperative that God’s people assemble together. It is impossible to be an ‘unchurched Christian.’

Already, when this was written people had begun to neglect assembling together. It is so much easier to stay home and not worry about it. We all have busy lives and distractions; so far too often the assemblage of God’s people gets shunted into the background.

The truth is that everyone going to church has a job to do. It is not just the pastors, teacher, musicians, or any other position. We all have a responsibility to be exhorters, and more so as we watch our world degenerate and fall apart. We need encouragement and exhortation and the place we get that is in each other.

It is not about numbers or rules or anything like that. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to be there and to encourage and exhort others in the body.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Consider one another

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, - Hebrews 10v24

I have met a number of Christians though the years that seem to have lost the plot when it comes to the local assembly of believers. It seems to hold only a small place in people’s lives. If there is nothing else going on they might have time for other believers in the local assembly.

This verse and the one following stress the importance of ‘each other.’ Part of the reason God puts us in a local assembly is to think about each other and stir each other up to live and good works. Love and good works do not come naturally. They are really tough to stir up on your own. All by yourself you get discouraged and disheartened. Loneliness in the work is very difficult to handle.

We really do need each other. I need someone to stir me up. I need to stir others up. The easiest thing is to sit back and do nothing, but that is not God’s will.

Might we be dedicated to consider each other first, and in so doing provoke, incite, and stir each other up to love and good works. Without that encouragement we are liable to grow cold and indifferent.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Hold fast

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10v23

Stuff happens. It just does. We think we are moving forward and really getting our act together. We think things like, ‘Finally, something is going right.’ And then, blam, something else comes along to knock us off our stride.

This happens in our ministries and it happens in our own walk with the Lord. I wish I could count the numbers of times since we came to this country fourteen years ago that I have been ready to quit. This has been even more true since we moved out to Naas and been involved in planting a church. We think things are going well and moving on and then things start to go backwards.

The same thing happens in my own spiritual walk. I have months of progress and good fellowship with the Lord then something happens that sets me back again.

So what do we do? Quit? Give in? Roll over and die? Nope – God says that we are to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering. It’s that ‘without wavering’ that gets tough. We just keep on going and going and going and going. How though?

We have a pattern. “He who promised is faithful.’ No matter what Christ faced for me He stayed faithful. Through the trials and the mockery and the blows and the spit and the taunts and the scourging and the carrying the cross and the nails and the laboured breaths and the pain and the suffering and the death He stayed faithful.

When I look at it that way, how can I not hold fast? He never wavered though all of that. How can I waver at a few setbacks?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

He sat down

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, - Hebrews 10v11-12

I have always liked this picture. Every human priest stands everyday doing the same sacrifice over and over again. Even today in the Catholic Church all over the world priests will stand up several times and offer the same sacrifice of the Eucharist. For some the sacrifice is an ongoing work that needs repeated all the time.

I like the fact that Jesus, after he offered the sacrifice, sat down at God’s right hand. There He sits today making intercession for us. The work was done; it did not have to be repeated, so Jesus sat. It has a picture of finality and completion. (On a side note I think it is interesting that Stephen saw Jesus standing at the Father’s right hand. I wonder if He was standing to receive Stephen home?)

Anyway, I just like the picture of Jesus sitting down because the work was done. It’s not an ongoing task. It is finished!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

To do your will

Then I said, 'Behold, I have come in the volume of the book it is written of me to do your will O God.’ – Hebrews 10v7

To do your will, O God. That’s what it is really all about. It is obvious that this is the key thing from Jesus’ words in the garden when He said, ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, your will be done.’ Part of Jesus’ pattern prayer is ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’

The context here in Hebrews is sacrifices. The problem is that if we are not careful sacrifices, or any other work, become the focus instead of just doing God’s will. Even in the Old Testament we read things like – ‘To obey is better than sacrifice.’

At the end of the day the most important thing we do is to submit to God’s will and obey Him. Jesus set that pattern; it is a pattern we all should follow. There is no merit in doing anything if we are not submitting to His perfect will.

‘To do your will O God’ must be our hearts desire. We can’t cover it over by following our own will, and covering it over with any amount of good works.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

One thing is for certain

… He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many… - Hebrews 9v26-28

There is not a lot in life about which we can be certain. It would be nice, but just about everything we face we face with uncertainty. Until Jesus comes back again one thing is for sure though – we are going to die.

A few years ago Jocelyn Elders was the Surgeon General of the United States. She made a comment one time, I think the topic was smoking, that was very profound. She said with great insight, ‘We all have to die sometime…’ She was mocked by many for the apparently trite way she dealt with the dangers of smoking, but in reality she had a point – we are all going to die.

What makes it worse is what follows in this passage, ‘after after this the judgement. That causes quite a dilemma. Death and judgement are not pleasing thoughts. Any one who is honest with himself would have to admit that he does not relish the thought of being judged by God.

But there is more to it than that. Jesus appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Because of the certainty of judgement Christ was offered up for the sins of many.

Death is coming. Judgement is coming. Thankfully Jesus has already provided a way out by sacrificing Himself to pay the penalty for sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus alone. Praise God for that gift. May 2009 be a year where we share that gift and offer to others so that they too may receive it and avoid the pending judgement.

Monday, 5 January 2009

With His own blood

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. - Hebrews 9v12

I guess this is the most amazing fact of all. Jesus, the Great High Priest and testator of the new covenant sealed it with His own precious blood.

The Old Testament priest’s job, though a bit messy, was easy enough. All he had to do was slaughter an animal for the sacrifice. Our High Priest had a different task – He had to be the one being slaughtered. He was the one whose blood would pay the price. When the Old Testament priest offered up his animal sacrifice it was to atone for his own sin along with the rest of the nation. Jesus’ sacrifice was not for His own sin, for He had no sin for which a price had to be paid.

With that precious blood He obtained eternal redemption for each one of us. He did it for you and for me, because He did not need it. It was a totally selfless act.

We hear this over and over again, but I hope we never get tired of the old, old story of Jesus shedding His own blood to obtain my eternal redemption.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

He ever lives to make intercession

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. – Hebrews 7v25

The Lord knows just when to give us what He wants from His word. I needed this reminder this morning. It is easy for people to let us down. It is easy for us to let us down. Sometimes it seems like there is no consistency anywhere.

But I thank God for the reminder this morning that there is at least one unchangeable consistency. Jesus, out great and marvellous High Priest, is able to carry us through all the way to the end. He does that because He is always alive making intercession for me.

What does that mean? It means that I can keep on keeping on because Jesus is in the presence of God constantly and always interceding for me. I thank the Lord that when I am at my lowest He is right there praying for me and carrying me through ‘to the uttermost.’

He lives to intercede for me.

Amazing and incomprehensible truth. Thank you Lord for that reminder this morning.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A better covenant

by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. – Hebrews 7v22

All through the Old Testament, under the ‘old covenant’ there was never a full assurance that everything was right. The priests were human, they were sinners, and they kept dying off. Nothing was permanent and nothing was really trustworthy in their minds.

That all changed with Jesus. With Jesus there is a perfect, unblemished, never ending High Priest of a whole new order. Because our High Priest is perfect and unblemished He offers us a hope and an assurance that the old covenant could not provide. Our perfect High Priest offers us a perfect hope that we are sealed once and for all.

What is the promise, surety, and guarantee of God’s new covenant with us? It is certainly not my own qualifications or my own works that make it sure. The covenant was sealed when I accepted His gift of salvation. Now Jesus and Jesus alone guarantees it.

Praise the Lord for my surety of the new and everlasting covenant!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Behind the veil

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6v19-20

It is amazing the little nuggets that are packed into the word of God. In the context of all that Jesus has done for us we have this little note that He ‘enters the Presence behind the veil…’ This of course refers to the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

In the Old Testament no one could enter into God presence except the High Priest and he only entered once a year. He did so to make what amounted to a temporary atonement for the sins of the people. Everyone else was excluded.

That is all different now. Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies as He tore down that middle wall of partition. He gave us access to the One behind the veil. He is the One eternal High Priest who ever intercedes for us.

Praise God that he gave us access to the One behind the veil!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

An anchor of the soul

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, - Hebrews 6v19

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

Thus begins the marvellous old hymn by Priscilla Owen. This dear saint captures so well the idea of Hebrews 6v19, in fact much better than I could ever hope. Let’s look at the rest of her words.

It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Saviour's hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.

It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the veil.

2009 looks like it may be a very tough year for so many people. The future is uncertain. The seas look rough and choppy. Without an anchor we could well be tossed about the violent storms ahead.

But we do have an anchor – steadfast and sure. May we each find that anchor and hold on to it in 2009.