On My Heart Devotional
graciously gives us everything we need for life and godliness.
our spiritual journey we rely on Jesus Christ from the beginning to the
very end. Everything comes from God. Christian
is simply following Jesus and receiving from Him.
the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many
times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us
His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made
universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the
representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful
word. And after He made purification for sins, He sat down at
right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became much
superior to the
angels as the name he inherited is superior to theirs.
God speaks to
us! He spoke through the prophets many
times. This is different. Now God speaks by His
Son, Jesus Christ. With the arrival of Jesus, God speaks in the
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This
is really remarkable. Jesus is the heir of all things, He
everything that exits, He shines forth God's glory and
universe. He made purification for sins; in Him we
forgiveness. He is the exact representation of God.
When we look at
Jesus we are looking at God. He is now sitting at the right
God the Father, the highest position of honor, glory and power.
another. And He has come. The Word, God Himself,
became flesh; the greatest miracle ever.
God speaks and
it is wonderful.
Graduations, Class Reunions and
about the Son He says "Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You
loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has
set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the
of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will
perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will
roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you
remain the same, and your years will never end." Hebrews
graduation time! This past weekend my son, Michael, graduated from
Colorado Christian University. It was a fun weekend of celebration,
introductions, goodbyes and new beginnings. Another thing
happened this past week, I started getting emails about my high school
class reunion this coming summer. There have been other reunions, but
this one quickly snuck up on me. I wasn't expecting our 40 year class
reunion to come so soon. Forty years sounds like a long time. Am I
really old enough to have graduated from high school forty years ago?
It only seems like a couple of years since our 20 year reunion. I used
to think that people over thirty were old. Now seventy or eighty
doesn't seem old at all. I still think of myself as a young man. (When
I'm not looking in a mirror.)
slips away from us.
The years fly by quickly. We live as prisoners stuck in time. The years
of our life are consumed too quickly. We grow old. We wear out. We die.
Christ is someone else entirely. He is outside of time. Like God, the
He is eternal. He is always the same. He doesn't wear out. His years
will never end. Jesus is not bound by time. He created it. He entered
into time so that we could enter eternity. In Christ, there is eternal
life. In Christ we are outside the passage of time and much much more.
Jesus, Angels and Pastors
which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I
make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? Are not all angels
ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Hebrews 1:13-14 (NIV)
was Ascension Day,
the day the church celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ. (I'm a
week late writing about it.) This was one of the most amazing events
ever. Jesus Christ left the place of His humiliation and
(earth) to enter glory. He went from being despised and rejected to
being enthroned as King of the universe. He is King of Kings and Lord
of Lords. He possesses all authority in heaven and earth. He reigns
with power. This verse is quotes Palm 110:1, a messianic Psalm which
says "The Lord says to
my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool
for your feet.'"
The supremacy of Christ prophesied in Psalm 110 has been fulfilled.
Christ is far above the angels. He is Lord and God, seated enthroned on
The word angel
means messenger. Pastors of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are
actually referred to as angels - God's messengers. In my experience
angel is an appropriate term for a pastor. Most pastors that I know (or
have known) sacrificially serve and care for people in ways far outside
their job description - in my mind they are "angels". (I can already
hear comments about fallen angels coming. But I've been
blessed and served by many pastors.) In this verse
in most cases in the Bible angels are powerful spiritual beings created
by God. They worship and serve God as God directs them. And they were
created to serve us. This is one of the many ways God cares for us.
Usually I am not even aware of their ministry. They delight in serving
God and us.
Jesus rules, he
is seated on His heavenly throne. Christ is superior to any angel.
the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same
family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will
declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I
will sing your praises." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And
again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given to him."
Hebrews 2:11-13 (NIV)
a Christian (and Christian worker) many times I have been ashamed to be
associated with other believers. I cringe when certain statements made
Christian leaders make news headlines. There are scandals,
remarks and much more that I don't want to be associated
also are Christians who are very different from me. They have opinions
I don't agree with or habits that annoy me. I have
a difficult time
calling some people my "brothers" or "sisters" in Christ.
problem is that I want to look good. I don't want to be
ashamed. I want my family, neighbors and friends to think I am a great
guy. I want them to think that I am intelligent, sensitive, loving,
caring, generous, reasonable and good. I'm afraid that
Christians do or say will affect how people view me. I could say that I
want God to look good, that I want Jesus Christ to be glorified (and I
do). However, my real motives are not pure; it's my image I
truth is, I have a lot more in common with
people I'd rather not be associated with than I have in common with
God. Yet, Jesus is not ashamed to call us
sisters. I have
heard over and over since I was a child that Jesus loves us. I've heard
it so often that I take God's love for granted and don't understand the
full implications. We are so different and so far away from God that
only Christ's death could bridge the great abyss between us and
God. Jesus came as our Brother, He took on "flesh and blood",
became one of
us, suffered death for us. He is not ashamed of me. He is not ashamed
of us. This is amazing love.
God Shared Our Humanity
the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so
that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power over death -
that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in
slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels He helps,
but Abraham's descendants. For this reason He had to be made like His
brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and
faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make
atonement for the sins of the people. Because He himself suffered when
He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:14-18 (NIV)
I have been
thinking a lot about life and death lately.
Aunt Dorothy (my mother's younger sister) died early yesterday morning.
I admired her a lot. I liked being around her. She was joyful, loved
life, laughed a lot. All very remarkable considering the many
challenges she faced in life. Aunt Dorothy was widowed twice, once as a
very young mother. She lost a child. She raised another
ten children to
adulthood. She was compassionate and caring. Aunt Dorothy
always be taking care of someone. She cared deeply about her family,
friends, neighbors and her community. Somehow she found time to serve
on her town planning commission, the county unemployment commission and
for a while was a lobbyist taking local concerns she cared about to
state and national leaders. She died peacefully surrounded by those she
loved most, her children and grandchildren. I will miss her.
Christ shared in our humanity. He is fully God and fully man united in
one person. The Lord of the universe humbled Himself by taking on human
flesh. He experienced
joy, sorrow, grief and death. God
loved us so much that He was willing to suffer and die to defeat our
biggest enemy, death. He understands intimately what we are
experiencing - fear, grief, sorrow, suffering and temptation. There is
no sorrow, trial or temptation we will ever face that Christ does not
perfectly understand. In His mercy he made atonement for our sins by
offering and becoming the sacrifice Himself. He defeated sin and death.
He understands and is able to help.
Jesus, Moses and Me
holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on
Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to
the one who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's
house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as
the builder of a house has a greater honor than the house itself. For
every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what
would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's
house. And we are His house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope
of which we boast. Hebrews 3:1-6 (NIV)
I like to read.
I like good biographies. Especially biographies that
tell the stories of people I admire. Stories about my heroes. My
favorite parts of the Bible are the stories about people. For some
reason the people I identify myself with are the heroes. People like
Mary, Paul, Barnabas, Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, and Moses. I
don't identify with Judas, the Pharisees, Peter denying Christ,
Joseph's brothers or the thousands of complaining Israelites wandering
in the wilderness. I don't think of myself as the bad guy. I'm the good
guy, slightly flawed but still the hero. I don't usually even identify
myself with people in the crowds that Jesus taught and fed, or with
someone He healed. I imagine that if I was there I would have had a
lead role in the story. My name might have been mentioned in a positive
Moses was one of
the greatest leaders in
the Bible. He liberated an entire nation from slavery. He led them out
of Egypt. He overcame all kinds of opposition. Moses spoke to God as
one speaks to a friend. He gave the written law of God to his people.
No one was more respected than Moses. Yet, Jesus Christ is far superior
to Moses. Moses doesn't even come close to the Son of God. He doesn't
compare to Christ.
The truth is I
am one who needs to be
rescued. My thinking is messed up. I succumb to self-deception. I am
not like Moses. (Not even close.) I wouldn't have
had a leading role. I am more like one of the unnamed complaining
Israelites reluctantly following Moses, a helpless person in the crowd
in need of healing, a self-righteous Pharisee, one of Joseph's brothers
or Judas. That's why the story of Jesus is so wonderful. Jesus
underwent the crucifixion I deserve. God rescues us, redeems us and we
get to share in
the heavenly calling.
God Provides Encouragement
to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that
turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as
long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be
hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:
very grateful for the encouragement that God constantly
don't think much about it, I take it for granted. I've been going to
church and Sunday school every week since I was a child. Every week
when I attend a worship service I pray, meditate, listen to God's Word
read, confess sin, sing praises and remember the life, death, and
resurrection of Christ as a part of the service. Every week I am
reminded of the gospel and my need for Christ. I look around and see
others worshiping, just like me. No matter what has happened during the
rest of the week, God graciously provides me with what I need to keep
my heart from becoming hard. When I'm spiritually "dry" I
listen to God's Word, confess and think about God's goodness.
encouraged in my walk with God. I find myself praying
in church when it
seems impossible to pray. I find myself confessing sin and repenting
when I wasn't planning on it. I might not have picked up my Bible all
week, but my heart is softened when I hear God's Word read. I'm
reminded of Christ's death and exprience His grace in the
Supper. I see others around me and I know that I am not alone.
Every good gift
comes from God. The church is God's gracious gift to us.
the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged
sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and
marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in
all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and
laid bare before the eyes of whom we must give account. 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. 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. 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: 12-16 (NIV)
mother used to say "I have eyes in the back of my head." I believed it!
As a child it seemed like I couldn't get away with anything. I had no
idea how my parents knew, but they did.
of God's Word judges the thoughts and attitudes of our heart. It even
shows us sin we are unaware of. God knows us far better than we know
ourselves. Nothing is hidden from God. He sees everything.
innermost thoughts and motives are open before the all-seeing eyes of
The author of
Hebrews never loses sight of Jesus
Christ and the gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, has gone through the
heavens and is our Advocate in the throne room of God. Jesus was fully
human. He was tempted in every way, just like us - yet without sin. He
understands. He is able to sympathize with our weakness.
no one would dare come close to a holy and righteous God. But because
of Christ, we can approach God's throne with joy and confidence. We
will find grace and mercy in God's presence.
Able to Understand
high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent
them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going
astray, since he himself is subject to weaknesses. This is why he has
to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the
people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God,
just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory
of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my son; today
I have become your Father." And he says in another place, "You are a
priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 5:1-6
was really hurting. Spending an afternoon talking with a friend about a
very difficult and painful experience made all the difference. It was
emotionally healing. He understood. He had been through an almost
identical experience. He let me talk and didn't say much at
didn't get advice, I didn't need advice. What I got was
listened, cared and understood. Something changed after that, I was
finally able to forgive and begin to move on simply because
Jesus Christ is
supremely qualified to be a high
priest. Jesus was appointed not as a temporary high priest, but as a
permanent - eternal - high priest. The sacrifice He offered was
Himself. Unlike other priests, Jesus did not need to offer sacrifices
for His own sin. He is perfectly able to understand and gently minister
to us because of the suffering he experienced.
God Does Hear
the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions
with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and
he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son,
he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he
became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was
designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5: 7-10 (NIV)
Have you ever
prayed and received an answer to your prayers that doesn't seem like an
answer at all? I have. So did Jesus.
prayed fervently with tears to be saved out of death and he was heard.
How was Jesus prayer answered? In one sense the Father's answer was no,
Jesus would have to suffer a horrible death. In another sense the
answer was yes, Jesus would rise from the grave never to die again. He
was saved out of death and now sits enthroned as King of Kings at the
right hand of God. We now have the hope of eternal life because of His
death and resurrection. God's eternal purposes were accomplished
through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.
experience deep disappointment, pain or loss. A dream dies. We may be
close to despair. It seems like our prayers go unanswered. Fortunately,
Jesus Christ is a high priest who understands. He does hear our
prayers. Our Lord is a God who brings life even out of death.
An Anchor for the Soul
have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters
the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before
us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in
the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6: 19-20 (NIV)
It is Jesus in
whom we believe and trust. He went before
us. The anchor of a ship holds a vessel safe and secure even in a
dangerous storm with strong winds.
We have an anchor for our soul, Jesus Christ. The hope of our salvation
is absolutely safe and completely secure, being anchored in the
promises of God. Our hope is anchored in God Himself! We have a safe
refuge in the promise of God. By God's grace we can cling to the hope
of eternal salvation without wavering.
He Meets Our Need
he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has
sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'"
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better
covenant. Now there have been many priests, since death prevented them
from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a
permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who
come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure,
set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 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. For the law
appoints as high priest men who are weak; but the oath, which came
after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 7: 21-28 (NIV)
Christ is indeed the supreme high priest. His priesthood is permanent
and superior to everyone that preceded Him. And because it never ends
His is able to save completely all who come to God through Him! Jesus
is constantly interceding (praying) for us - bridging the gap that
exists between us and God the Father. The One who personally paid the
price for our sin pleads our case before His Father's throne of
judgment. He is devoted to insuring our eternal salvation. He begs for
the forgiveness we need but don't deserve. Jesus meets our greatest
The Point Is
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, and
who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord,
not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and
sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something
to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are
already men who offer gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a
sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why
Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it
that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the
mountain." But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs
as the covenant of which he is a mediator is superior to the old one,
and is founded on better promises. Hebrews 8:1-6 (NIV)
what's the point?" or "Would you please, get to the point!" I admit
that is a question (or statement) that comes into my mind frequently. I
might be in a conversation, listening to a speaker, in a meeting or
reading an article. I like it when things are clear and
rarely say it out loud, of course. I like to think of myself as a
The author of
Hebrews summarizes the main point
he has been trying to make. That is, Jesus' ministry is superior
because He sits at God the Father's right hand and serves in God's
actual tabernacle. Priests on earth serve in a tabernacle that is only
a copy of the real one in heaven. That ministry was valuable for
instruction because it provides us with a picture of the real
tabernacle. But Jesus ministry is superior because it is not a shadow
or a copy - it is reality! His ministry is what actually cleanses us
from sin and brings us into a right relationship with the living God.
this is reality, I need cleansing from sin.
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. No
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. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember
their sins no more." Hebrews 8:10-12 (NIV)
made them. I've kept promises. I've broken promises. I've disappointed
people. I've been disappointed when promises that were made to me
weren't kept. Sometimes there are good reasons why I can't keep a
promise. There are circumstances I can't control. Other times it's
entirely my fault. Whatever the reason, I've failed to keep my promise.
has made a covenant with His people. He puts His laws in our minds and
writes them on our hearts. He will be our God and we will be His
people. We will know the Lord. God will forgive us. These are amazing
promises. Promises God keeps.
God's grace and
mercy is central
to the gospel. For the sake of Christ, God forgives us and remembers
our sins no more. This is the promise of God.
Waiting for Him
as man is destined to die once, and after that face judgement, so
Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he
will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to
those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9: 27-28 (NIV)
Waiting. I don't
like waiting. However, trusting in Jesus and waiting for him
is definitely worth it.
is impossible to avoid, every human being dies. However, death is not
the end, after death judgment comes. Everyone must appear before the
judgment throne of Christ.
The death of
Christ settled the
issue of sin, judgment and salvation. Jesus Christ was offered as a
sacrifice to bear the sin and take the punishment of many. Christ will
appear a second time for the purpose of giving eternal salvation. I
cannot imagine what that will be like, but it will definitely be
wonderful. As children of the living God, we no longer need to fear
death and judgment.
let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see
the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV).
kept leaving church services discouraged. I liked the people, the music
and worship were great and the messages were good. We had moved
across the country and were new to the community. I
couldn't figure out why going to church was a burden. Maybe I just was
missing my friends and my home church. Then I realized that hearing the
gospel is what encourages me.
messages I was
listening to each week always ended with application. Every week I came
away with something I should do. It was all true. That was the
It was true. There are so many aspects of my life that need to improve
(actually they all need improvement). The list is overwhelming.
am encouraged when I hear about Jesus Christ and what He has done for
us. Jesus makes me right with God. I am forgiven because of
suffering and death of Christ. I cannot work my way into God's favor. I
have been given Christ's righteousness as a gift. God's grace and favor
has been lavished upon us and we do not deserve it.
reason every time I hear the gospel or a friend points me to the gospel
of God's grace I am encouraged to imperfectly love, care, give, serve
and pray and much much more.
Faith and Pleasing God
faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not
see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we
understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what
is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Able offered to
God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a
righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he
still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from
this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found,
because God had taken him away. For before he was taken he was
commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to
please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews
I was a young father my son (a toddler) said "Dad, watch me!", he
jumped and I applauded. I was very pleased. He saw I was pleased and
jumped again and I applauded again. I was pleased, he was my child. I
was delighted. I thought he was the most wonderful and talented child
in the world.
I used to think
that in order to please God I had
to have "great faith". The problem is I don't have great faith. I'm
someone who needs God's grace and mercy. I am a child of God who has to
depend completely on my heavenly Father. My trust is in a
great God and Savior. This is faith
(trust) that pleases God.
trust is in Christ who died for our sins and rose from the
has lavished His grace upon us. He has forgiven us and has given us
Christ's righteousness. We are children of God. We have the hope of
Enoch and Abel
pleased God because they were His children. Their trust was in Him.
since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us
throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with persevance the race marked out for us.
My sons all ran
track and cross country. I went to their track
meets for seven years. I love track meets. My favorite Olympic events
to watch are the track and field events. The noise from the cheering
crowd witnessing a race helps runners run their best.
running a race marked out for us by God. We have the shining example of
a vast number of witnesses that have gone before us. Everywhere we turn
we find their encouraging example. Like a crowd cheering at a race they
encourage us to keep running and finish strong. The author of Hebrews
mentions a few of them in chapter 11. Their stories assure us that God
is faithful. No one regrets persevering to the end of the race.
us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who
for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and
sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who
endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow
weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 2-3 (NIV)
Have you ever
wanted to "throw in the towel" and quit? I have. It is easy to "grow weary and lose heart".
Whenever that happens I know it is time to get a different perspective
on my situation.
I take time to look at Jesus and consider Christ I clearly see
loves us with an incredible love. Jesus willingly endured the cross to
pay the penalty for my sin. Jesus now sits in authority at the right
hand of the throne of God. He was victorious over death, a horrible
I also clearly
see myself as I fix my eyes on Jesus. My
sins are not minor violations that can be excused. When I look at Jesus
I must come face to face with the fact that I am guilty and deserve the
most drastic punishment possible, the death penalty. Jesus loves me and
provides what I desperately need, an abundant amount of grace and
Jesus endured, I think I'll keep running the race.
you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as
sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not
lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he
loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship
as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not
disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone
undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true
sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we
respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of
our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as
they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may
share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and
peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:
heard the saying "No pain, no gain." That saying comes to mind when I'm
thinking about skipping my morning run. I don't like pain. I don't like
suffering. It's easy when I am going through hardship to think that
God's love for me is a bit lacking.
proof that God cares for us. Hardship is proof that we are God's child!
Even Jesus, God's son, was made "perfect
through suffering" (Hebrews 2:10) and because he "suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews
a good father, God loves and cares for us by disciplining and training
us. His love produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for
on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and
those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:1-2 (NIV)
is easy for me to be suspicious of people, especially strangers. In
36 years of ministry I have been stolen from, lied to, threatened and
advantage of by people I was trying to love and serve. These haven't
been just one or two isolated incidences. Loving people is not easy. It
is risky. It can hurt.
God cares deeply
about the oppressed,
refugees, widows, the lonely, the hungry, the poor, prisoners
who are mistreated. When I see people suffering it is encouraging to
know that God cares and loves those who are hurting.
surprised me many more times than I can remember. The amazing
thing about loving people is the joy it brings to me. Loving people
is worth the risk. God also cares
about and blesses those who entertain strangers and who care for those
who are hurting.
You Never Change!
Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
never change!" That statement got my attention. It definitely
compliment. Anne (my wife) wasn't pointing a positive quality of
consistency in me. A few years later one of my sons said, "Dad, you've
really changed." That was definitely a compliment.
changes. To say that Jesus never changes is a compliment that
celebrates His perfection and glory. He is perfect. Nothing can be
added to or subtracted from His perfect being. We will never find some
hidden defect in Jesus. He doesn't need to grow or improve. If Jesus
were to change He would be less than perfect. He would no longer be
God. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever.
As a human
being I am constantly changing. Some changes are for the better, some
changes are not. I am very imperfect. I do need to learn, grow and
improve. Fortunately, we have a God who never changes. We have an
unchanging God who constantly is at work in us.
Respect and Shame
so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy
through his blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing
the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring
we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:
like being respected. I like looking good. I want to be viewed as a
good person, as law abiding, responsible, a good citizen, a good
husband and a really
nice guy. I've done a pretty good job at looking respectable.
known as one of the good kids when I was in school. I was a fairly good
student. I vote. I rarely miss church. I don't have a criminal record.
My driving record is pretty good too. (I am embarrassed to admit over
the years I've gotten two speeding tickets and a couple of
The reality is I
don't deserve heaven. No
matter how good I am at keeping the law (and other rules) everything I
do and my every motive is deeply infected with sin.
Like a criminal,
Jesus Christ was taken outside the city, condemned and put to death.
His death brought us salvation.
Jesus willingly suffered shame and death for us. As a believer it is a
privilege to identify with Christ in his rejection, humiliation and
shame. We can do nothing to earn favor with God, we deserve
condemnation. Salvation is by grace alone. Christ alone is the source
of our salvation.
Our life on this
earth is short. Because of Jesus we can look forward to the eternal
city that is yet to come.
Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise
- the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good
and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 13: 15-16 (NIV)
suffered rejection, was condemned, beaten and crucified as a sacrifice
of sacrifice as involving significant pain, loss or giving up
something. Praising God through Jesus and serving are things that bring
me joy. They don't seem like sacrifices to me. But with such sacrifices God is
God of Peace
the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought
back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in
us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory
for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13: 20-21 (NIV)
like goodbyes. Goodbyes can be painful, sad and sometimes scary. Saying
goodbye means I will miss someone I care about or in the case of a move
or job change also enter a new phase of life with lots of unknowns.
Today I come to the end of the book of Hebrews and say goodbye to one
of my favorite books in the New Testament (for now). I have to decide
what to meditate on and write about next.
The book of
ends with this remarkable prayer. It is my favorite benediction to use
at the end of a worship service. Peace has been restored between us and
God because of the redemption of Christ. That peace between us and God
is the result of God bringing back to life Jesus, the great Shepherd of
His sheep. Christ the great Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep,
accomplished salvation and rose to life. We are loved and forgiven. God
continues His work in us through Jesus Christ giving us what we need.
In a world of
goodbyes and change we have an unchanging eternal God who gives us
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