Consider Jesus

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,  Hebrews 3:1  (ESV, bold mine)

Today the two names of Jesus we will focus on are Apostle and High Priest.  But, before we do, let us consider the word consider that is in our text for today. 

The word consider (katanoeo in hebrew) means literally to put the mind down on something and so to observe or consider carefully and attentively.  The idea is to think about something very carefully consider closely which denotes the action of one’s mind comprehending certain facts about a thing so as to give one the proper and decisive thought about the thing considered.  (preceptaustin.org)  In Hebrews 3:1, the focus is on the action of the mind comprehending certain facts about Jesus.

In this passage, the word consider is a command.  It calls for them to “Do this now!  Don’t delay!  The need is urgent!”  We are so distracted by other things in life, we need to turn our gaze to Jesus and consider Him.

Today lets focus and think upon Jesus being the Apostle and High Priest.  What does it mean that He is the Apostle?  

This is the only time that Jesus is called an Apostle.  We are used to thinking of Paul or James as the apostle.  The word apostle means “one sent as a messenger.”  When applied to the twelve apostles, it means that they were chosen by Jesus and sent into the world in His name and bringing His message.  When applied to Jesus, it means that He was sent from the Father to be the Savior of the world.

Jesus is also our High Priest. The office of priest was an important one in the Old Testament.  In many OT readings we see that the priest mediated between the people and God.  Most importantly, it was the high priest who entered into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.  Only the high priest could enter and, before doing so, he was required to make a sacrifice for himself.  When he did this the high priest was cleansed and could then go on to offer the cleansing sacrifices for the people.  

Rather than a yearly (or daily) atonement as in the OT, Jesus’ sacrifice is once and for all.  Jesus, like the high priests of the OT, stands in the gap between us and God.  He made the necessary sacrifice for us.  Those who have put their faith in Jesus have been made righteous by Him and are now able to enter into God’s presence.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.                               2 Corinthians 5:21

The most important thing for us to consider is that since Jesus is our High Priest, we can approach God with confidence.  

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.                                             Hebrews 4:15 & 16

We no longer need to go through earthly mediators.  Jesus has broken the barrier, made the sacrifice, established a new covenant, and reestablished our relationship with God.  Because of our High Priest, we are free to come to God.

Today, let us consider Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest.  When life gets rough and problems seem to have no solution, we need to put our gaze on Jesus and keep it there.

Anointed One

In the Bible, Christ has many names; Master, Teacher, Lord, Son of God, and Emmanuel to name a few. Looking at Acts 4:27 today, we see another: the Anointed One. Anointing is a physical act with a deeply spiritual meaning, where oil or some sort of perfume is poured one someone’s head or applied to some object to mark it as particularly holy, or set aside for some notably divine purpose. Typically, in biblical times, it was done to kings as part of a coronation ceremony, or by homeowners to guests as a sign of welcome and thankfulness. To be anointed is to be given the favor of God, and an act of recognizing a deep spiritual connection with the Lord.

  We know that in Jesus’s time on earth, God made clear he was symbolically anointed, set forth as the most holy King, a true leader and ruler of God’s people. Jesus himself recognizes the duties put forth before Him by God and the importance of anointment in demonstrating this, especially in the story of His anointing told in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12, where he says “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.” Or as Luke described in Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” But this term, used throughout the Bible, seems to frequently be used as well to describe those who follow Christ. A few examples.

Psalm 23:5 – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Psalm 45:7 – “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Psalm 105:15 – “he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, ‘Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!’”

Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

1 John 2:20 – “You have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”

The central theme around referring to the body of believers as “the anointed” is that through our faith in God and our spiritual death and rebirth provided from grace through baptism, we have been truly made and marked holy. The Lord has set us apart from the world, using the hope and faith in what is unseen to demonstrate God’s blessings dwelling within us. God has welcomed us into his kingdom and honored us as guests in His house, representative of the symbolic hospitality of anointment.

Therein lies to encouragement in Acts 4:27, where the entire world seems to have banded together to rise against Jesus, “whom you anointed.” We see this same message in Psalm 2:2 – “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.” Since the fall of man, the world has despised and worked against those whom the Lord favors. This is epitomized in these verses where the Anointed One, the most consecrated of all, is turned against. It’s not hard to see; turn on the news or check social media and you’re likely to see an outpouring of slander and hatred against the faithful and against God’s word. But all these verses and all of God’s promises speak true: in anointing us and recognizing our faith, God has promised we will be safe from wickedness. He will make sure our cup overflows and we can continue to perform good works in His name, no matter what the weapons the world may raise against us. In Him and in His blessings, we are safe and secured. This definite truth is one we can always hold onto when the world turns against us – no matter what, when, or where, our Lord is with us.

Ancient of Days

When you hear the word wisdom, what image comes to mind? Is there a specific person you think of?

Today’s title or attribute of God we are focusing on is the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7:22 which reads, “until the Ancient of Days came, and judgement was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the Kingdom.” I must admit I wasn’t too familiar with this title for God and had to do a little more research, but Daniel uses this title 3 times in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, and Daniel 7:22.

The 7th chapter of Daniel is his prophetic vision showing God the Father ultimately rules over eternity and will accomplish this through the son of man (Daniel 7:13). This chapter is significant because Jesus uses the title of the son of man for himself more than any other name. The son of man approaches the Ancient of Days in verse 13 and the Ancient of Days is described in verse 9 as not only having clothing white as snow, but “the hair of his head like pure wool.” This gives us an image the Ancient of Days which seems to represent (not a literal picture though) God the Father as an older man with white hair. I also think of the references to God the Father as “Alpha and Omega” and “him who is and who was and who is to come” from Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8. These, verses along with entire chapter of Daniel 7, and God’s title of the Ancient of Days remind us the God is ruler over all and no matter what terrible things we see or experience in our lifetime, He will ultimately claim victory (Daniel 7:27). In this life, we can live with the peace of knowing we fight from victory…not for victory (Isiah 26:3).

At the beginning I posed the question about what image or person comes to mind when you think about the word wisdom. These days we all seem to know someone who has experienced dementia or Alzheimer’s in old age, and unfortunately, I think we now lump many of the elderly into a group that many would even call senile. However, if God the Father is described in the image of the Ancient of Days as an older person with white hair, let this be a reminder that much wisdom can be gained from the elderly who have learned and experienced far more than we have in our younger years. Near the end of 2018, I wrote a post called Angels We Have Heard in Brooklyn about 93 year old Thomas King who spoke so much wisdom and inspiration to us while on a mission trip at exactly right time. Sadly though, Thomas told us when his church recently recognized him for his years of membership, they would not even let him speak…although his wise words to us cut sharply like a knife to us. As we go forth today, let us not only remember God the Father’s sovereignty as the Ancient of days and learn from Him through the Word, but let us also remember as we interact with the elderly the words Job 12:12 which read, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” We can learn from them as well

Amen

 

 

Today’s reading is Rev 3:14

Maybe the world has always been this way, but it seems to me that “truth” is becoming more and more subjective the longer I live. More opinions, more cultural norms, and more tolerance all seem to be broadening what we accept as truth. In a relational situation, two people can live through the exact same circumstance and later describe it in opposite terms. People have different opinions and different past experiences that cause them to view situations differently. Where is truth? How does truth fit in these opposing scenarios?

I am not looking to tackle what is right and what is wrong in our society today in this post. I am thinking more about relational dynamics as I sit with this verse, relationships between friends, coworkers, fellow church-goers, spouses, parents and kids.  Conflicts and differences of opinion meet us daily. These conflicts can so easily cause frustration, anger, and division in relationships, when we won’t consider any thoughts but our own. When we are faced with a conflict and there isn’t a clear path forward in the Bible, or both parties can make a Biblical case for why their approach should be taken, relationships get messy and people can get hurt.  We are given help in looking at the name of God, Amen.

Rev 3:14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church of Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen-the faithful and true witness, the beginning and source of God’s new creation.” In Hebrew, God’s name of Amen is translated as “God of truth”, “certainty”, or just “truth”. In Is 65:16 the Bible says, “All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth.” So my question is, how do we get the God of truth into a sticky situation or a conflict with another person?

Some ideas:

1-God doesn’t very often instantly hand out answers and resolution in the middle of conflict. It seems to take time. If we don’t have to discuss the situation with Him, then our relationship with Him doesn’t grow. We don’t get to know Him better. We don’t experience His trustworthiness and we don’t get to see Him change us, or the other person, or maybe even the circumstances.

2-It is better to wrestle with the God of truth, than another person. Do we want to find the truth or do we want to be right? If we bring our issue to God, we will get to truth. If we continue to argue with the other person we will get or cause more hurt and usually no real resolution takes place.

3-When we go to God, it humbles us. We have to admit that we are stuck and need help to get to true resolution. A humbled heart hears that it needs to change better than an angry one, you can trust me on this.

4-God’s opinion matters to me more than any person’s does. He is perfect, faithful, and a true witness to everything. I want my measuring stick to be His thoughts not mine or someone else’s. I have to go to Him to know His thoughts. I can’t trust my feelings or my mind. To know what He desires in each individual situation, I need to bring it to Him. Honestly, I don’t always finish praying with my answer in hand. Sometimes He lets me know later or even back in conversation with my problem person what He wants from me. The answers come at different times, but if I don’t go to Him with my questions, His answers are not usually known.

In the last few years, I have been more grateful for God’s ultimate truth than at any other time in my life. A less loving God might not be willing to enter into our lives and our messes to help us change. Praise God that He is unconditional, perfect, generous, rich and compassionate Love. Praise Him for being the God of truth and certainty.

Almighty

Almighty is the attribute that God gives to himself in Genesis 17:1.  It sets him apart.  He has absolute power.  He is omnipotent.  Absolutely nothing can stop him. He controls everything.

We have two options when it comes to hearing God as almighty.  We either accept it or reject it.  Accepting him as almighty means that we place him in a position of utmost esteem.  We worship the almighty by giving him authority over our thoughts and actions.  Alternatively, we can reject him.  Rejecting him says that we are something and he is not.  Rejection of God as almighty is characterized by our unwillingness to yield our thoughts and actions.

This is where I have a problem.  You see, I want to be something.  I always have.  What I endeavor to know better is that being something requires me to be nothing.  Only in my nothingness, can the Almighty breath into me the life of something.

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding ~ Job 32:8 (NIV)

All in All

All in All

It’s pretty astonishing to look back and see how God paves the way for life lessons to be used decades later.

In my teens, I had a close friend that recognized my mind would get distracted with worries of what others thought or said about me. She wouldn’t even entertain the discussion or thoughts I’d bring up, and I was always impressed with her boldness to tell me directly, “You need to stop worrying about what others may think”. I’d never had a friend come out and say it that pointedly to me – and I would be taken off guard and the conversation would halt. She later died of complications with diabetes, and I credit her with first recognizing and helping me work on this area in my life.

In my twenties, God used my boss to help me with this. And when it comes down to it, it’s really a pride issue. Most worries, wondering, or anxiety about what someone may think of us, can be traced back to pride. If you keep asking yourself “but why are you concerned about that” when it comes to these types of worries, it’s usually more about us and our pride, than anything else. My boss had an awesome way of asking me, “Is this an issue between you and God? Have you sinned against this person? If no, and they have an issue with you, let the Holy Spirit do his work. Don’t take other people’s problems personally.” What an encouragement! I’ve seen those memes that say “not everyone is going to like you… you’re not bacon”, which are funny, but there’s some truth to that. Not everyone IS going to like me. And guess what? That’s okay. That’s not my problem, and I’m not going to take it personally.

In my thirties I found myself in a scenario where I had thoughts of “oh great, they don’t know the full story and they’re going to think X, Y, or Z about me, my choices, etc”. And again, God put a church leader in my path to remind me that it’s not mine to worry about. “Pray that they never have to walk the road you are walking or make the decisions you are making.” The encouragement and act of prayer brought me  peace from worrying what others may perceive or feel about me in that moment.

And it’s pretty easy to get into that cycle, right? Wondering can quickly escalate to worrying about what others may perceive, judge, speculate about us. Understandably, as we are designed for community (common union). We are called to live peaceably among all, and not cause others to stumble. Where this gets tricky – is we are also created as different members and parts of one body, all with different purposes and experiences, uniquely designed to glorify God and further the kingdom. How boring (and unproductive) if we were all identical! Different humans are going to have different thoughts – and that’s how God designed it!

So how do we keep our focus, first and foremost, on our relationship with the Lord? What are some practical ways to center God as our ALL in ALL, and not let relationships in this world come before him? How do you recenter when you feel out of balance?

Recently I felt prompted to apologize for a comment I made to someone. Even after I did, it still bothered me. After I spent time reflecting and praying about it, I figured out that I was more concerned about what the person may think of me after I made the comment, than I was about what God thought of it all. That may partly be because I can rely on the fact that God knows my heart and God knew what I meant by the comment. There’s grace there. But this situation caused me to examine other areas where I may have been more concerned with what others perceived, than I was about sinning against the Lord.

He’s so faithful to continue His work in us! I’m sure my forties will find me using some of these same life lessons about letting go of other people’s opinions and focusing on God’s.

Decisions become easier when your will to glorify God outweighs your will to please others.

I loved these passages that reflect the vastness of God. He’s more than we could ever comprehend or need. Relationships on this earth may fail, but God doesn’t fail. He came for each of us and has a plan for all. He really is our all in all.

He came for all and lives in all of us. (Col 3:11)

He is the source of all (1 Cor 8:6)

He supplies all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

He originated all (Romans 11:36)

He is all our hope (Psalm 62:5)

He is over all and through all (Eph 4:6)

 

Advocate

Eighteen months ago we moved into a new home that didn’t have a microwave. This small and relatively inexpensive appliance is something we’ve historically found convenience in using on a daily basis: Warm chips and cheese are a family favorite, re-heating coffee is so easy, and we love warming up vegetables for a quick and healthy snack.

Initially we said we’d buy a microwave but we held off thinking maybe we didn’t need one right away. Over time, the microwave topic manifested into conversation about wants and needs and became a great lesson for us. There were similar wants/needs in the home that we also put on hold because we really started to question our motives and mindset.

In short, living without this convenience has helped shape our thoughts from “want” to “letting go”. As a family from a developed nation, we’re accustomed to so many things that we either think we deserve or often take for granted.

I wrote the following as I thought about wants/needs, being grateful for what we have, our attitude, eternity and the cross with Jesus as our advocate (today’s theme).

Earthly things. When will the wanting cease?
Blessings. Rescue. Mercy. Answered prayers. Am I grateful?
Flowers blooming, works of art abound. People starving. Ignorance is bliss.
Daily battles, eternity at stake.
Separation is deserved, but one name brings mercy and grace.
Jesus, our advocate.

Today’s verses:

Even now my witness is in heaven;
    my advocate is on high. (Job 16:19)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

God Is Abounding In Love

Moses said, “please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

When I imagine the glory of God, I have grand and terrible thoughts.  Not in a bad way.  In an overwhelming way.  Moses sets me up for it.  When he asks God to see his glory (Exodus 33:18), God gives a frightening response.  God says, “here, stand in the cleft of this rock so that you are protected and don’t look at my face, because if you see it, you will die” (Exodus 33:19-20).  God’s response conjures up images of wrath, danger, and imminent destruction.  But that is not at all what happens.  God appears in the quiet stillness of a morning on a misty mountain top.  There is peace in the air, not a roaring hurricane.  God shares his abundant love and faithfulness with Moses. It’s who he is.

I submitted a similar question to God, “what does it look like to be in your presence.”  He provided an amazing answer, right under my feet.   

Every morning, I sit in the same spot.  I have a recliner that is the perfect place to drink my coffee and begin my daily reading.  This happens at 5:00 AM, every day.  Most mornings, my son would enter my room sleepy-eyed and dragging his blanket.  Quietly and carefully, he chooses a spot directly in front of my chair, lying down and quickly falling to sleep.  The first couple of times that he did this, I would wake him up, asking “if he wouldn’t be more comfortable on the couch?”  It is, after all, about five feet away.  His response was always simple and always the same, “No, I’m good.”  While he lies there my heart and mind ponder his little body and his spunky personality.  Swelling with pride, I consider how perfect he is.  Truly, I wouldn’t change anything about him.  I consider what he will be like when he grows up, the places he will go and the man he will become.  Of course, some of that is up to me.  The love that I provide him and the discipline that I encourage will help shape him into that man.  I pray for him, asking God to bless him, protect him and challenge him.  I pray for me.  That I might be a good example and, above all, share with him the love of the Father that I know in a meaningful and effective way. 

After several days of this, it finally dawned on me.  God had answered my prayer in the most profound way.  You see, Freddy was not coming into my room to sleep.  He was coming to be in my presence.  The couch, while available and far more comfortable was not nearly as secure and intimate as my feet.  This is how it feels to be in God’s presence.  Always.  He is abounding in love and faithfulness.

Exodus 34:5-7 (ESV) The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

He is able

Happy New Year!! I hope you rang in the new year with friends and family or enjoyed it in your PJ’s on the couch like myself! Regardless of how you celebrated, I pray that you are looking at the new year with hope and anticipation for all that God has in store for you. In this new year, the Bible Journal will be focusing on the titles or attributes of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today’s attribute of God is “able“.  Merriam Webster defines able as  “having sufficient power, skill, or resources to do something. Having the freedom or opportunity to do something. Having a quality or nature that makes something possible.”

God is ABLE!

  • He has “sufficient power, skill, and resources”! He is the creator of all things!
  • He has the “freedom or opportunity” to do anything! He is above all things
  • He has the “quality or nature that makes something (anything) possible”!

The proof lies within the pages of the written word of God, the Bible and in our daily lives. From Genesis to Revelation we read where God has been able to powerfully change lives. And today we see things happen before us that can only come from the hand of God. Even in the midst of tragedy he is able to make a difference. Do you believe he is able?

Matthew 8:2 “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can (are ABLE to) make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy”.

The leper believed that Jesus was able to heal him because he had heard the stories and saw the healing of others with his own eyes. The question was if Jesus was willing to heal him. He approached Jesus humbly knowing that the answer might be no,  yet he still made his request. I am humbled by this. When I am asking God for things in my life is it with the awe and wonder of the divine creator whose ways are not my ways? Is it with the belief that he is able but he might have plans beyond what I can imagine? Is it possible that my ailment  might ultimately bring myself and others closer to him?

Matthew 9:28 “When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘ Yes, Lord’ they replied”.

Again, the blind men were approaching Jesus for healing because they believed he was able but would only receive it if He was willing. They did not know if they would receive healing unless they asked. Their belief in his ability to heal directed their action to ask for healing.

I know healing does not always happen this side of heaven. The ultimate healing happens in eternity with our creator. He is able to save us because of Jesus crucifixion and sacrifice on the cross. Because of this sacrifice we can have a relationship with our creator and the hope of eternal life.

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Do you believe that God is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine in 2020?  Are you asking?

Shelly

 

 

 

Walking with Him

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Happy New Years Eve,

The other day I read One Day at a Time by Stephanie.  It really spoke to me at the current time and place in my life.  If you didn’t get the chance to read it I would encourage you to go back and read it again. Reflecting on the quote by Elisabeth Elliot which said,  “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”  This quote got me thinking how many years I have approached the New Year with a list a of new goals or plans for the upcoming year.  I reflect on this last year and leave myself we multiple if only… Still, as we enter into a New Year I was doing some reading and found the words by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

I know, encouraging right? Really, what I need to ask myself for the New Year is, what am I doing that is meaningful?  It reminds me that life can be meaningless when I don’t have God at the center of it.  That true satisfaction and joy only come through Him.  Many times I can do be doing things for me or/and make idols out of my wife, kids, job, sports, or earthly desires. Often I want things my way and in my timing. God shakes His head I’m sure wondering when will I let go?  My prayer is for a balance of love and grace while encouraging others and pointing everything back to Him.

Psalm 119: 133-134 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

I know we are broken and live in a broken world. But when I let God direct my footsteps and not seek my own satisfaction or desires, sin can take a back seat.

I recently read,  Christianity is lived on an incline, and if you’re not moving forward, your slipping backward.  What meaningless things are causing you to slip? What is causing me to slip?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your wisdom given to us through your living word. I pray as we enter into a New Year we will use your wisdom to help us in knowing what is meaningless or an idol that causes us to slip down that slope further from you. We pray for the wisdom to continue to take steps closer to you as we continue our journey of faith.  Help us to plants seeds and be the hands and feet to others pointing everything back to you.  God, we need you every day and as we enter into 2020 help us to trust and obey in your will for us on this earth so we can one day spend eternity with you in Heaven.  We love you. Amen