November 16, 2018
A BENEDICTION OF SANCTIFICATION
This prayer for our equipping and sanctification reveals God’s method for making us “pleasing to him.” It is none other than the power of Christ in us. We can pray this prayer too. Praying it for ourselves, we yield our wills to His, and acknowledge our dependence on Christ’s power. Praying it for others, we focus on Christ-at-work in others, rather than their shortcomings.
November 15, 2018
THE GOD OF THE OLD IS THE GOD OF THE NEW
The apostle quoted Moses, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24), clearly showing that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The image of God as a devouring ( KJV “consuming”) fire is one that seeks to reveal the strictness of his justice, the purity of his holiness and the passion of his love for us. We may boldly approach him through Christ, our Great High Priest, yet we do so reminded of how Moses approached the mountain of God with fear and trembling.
November 12, 2018
GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH
There is only one way to be right with God. And that is to receive the righteousness of God through faith. Noah’s faith was in contrast to the rest of the world, which thought they could earn God’s favor. Noah received God’s justification by grace as a gift through faith. Whereas the world sought to earn God’s favor through self-effort, earning sin’s wages, which is death. Noah did not have the full light of the gospel, yet he had sufficient light to trust not in the ark, but in the God who told him to build it. It was not Noah’s faith that saved him, but the object of his faith. Noah believed God.
Today, we live in the full light of the gospel, seeing that the righteousness of God has appeared. For the righteousness of God is a Person, not a philosophy, a Savior, not a standard, a Lamb, not a law. For the righteousness of God is Jesus Christ. His coming fulfilled Noah’s forward-looking faith, as well as our faith that looks back to the cross, so that God “might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
November 11, 2018
DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH
After a season of suffering we are tempted to timidity and cowardice. We fear persecution and pain, so we hide from the fight. We lose a battle, so we retreat from the war. Yet, the Word teaches us not to “throw away” our “confident trust,” which is the boldness of faith.
There is a metaphoric reference here that compares losing one’s boldness to a soldier who throws away his shield. It is said that certain Greek mothers, when they gave shields to their sons, would say, “Either bring this back, or be brought back upon it.” Thus urging their sons to be bold in battle and in protecting their family and tribe. The captains of armies often urged their soldiers to beat their swords against their shields and shout in preparation for an assault. Thus building up their own confidence, while striking fear in the enemy.
Faithful soldiers do not throw away their shields. Nor do faithful believers cast aside their boldness. Faithful believers persevere, remembering the great reward that the Captain of our faith brings with Him at His coming.
November 9, 2018
CHRIST’S SINGULARLY SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE
The Mosaic sacrificial system was a copy of the “greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven” (Heb. 9:11). It existed to prepare God’s people for the true Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). In the Mosaic system, regular and recurring sacrifices had to be made. But Christ’s sacrifice was singularly sufficient. He does not need to repeat it. For it radiates out into time past and time future to cover the sins of those who believed both before and after His appearing. Christ died “once for all time.” Indeed, from God’s perspective, the Lamb of God was slain “before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
Christ’s sacrifice marked the “end of the age” for Temple sacrifices. For the sacrifice of animals was always like an IOU written on a future payment, which was paid-in-full when Christ declared from the cross, “It is finished!”
November 8, 2018
THE TEMPLE FORESHADOWED THAT WHICH CHRIST FULFILLED
The two rooms of the Tabernacle were symbolic of the spiritual separation existing between God and man. Only priests could enter the first room called the Holy Place. And only the High Priest could enter the second room called the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). Yet, when Christ died on the cross, the curtain of separation was rent and the way to the Father was opened. Because of Jesus we may approach the throne of God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Jesus has opened the way for us, not by having us keep religious “regulations,” but by believing in Him and receiving Him in relationship as Lord and Savior.
The Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, ending its religious sacrifices and practices, in 70 A.D. It was always only a foreshadowing of that which Christ is the fulfillment. Christ has opened a new and living way to a right relationship with God.
November 4, 2018
ARE YOU BECOMING SPIRITUALLY DULL AND INDIFFERENT?
There are some of us who after hearing and believing the gospel become sluggish and slothful in loving others and living for Christ. How can this be since we are assured of inheriting God’s promises? Perhaps it is because we misunderstand our faith, thinking we can hold it passively, when instead, it must be acted upon. Since we have the promises of God in Christ, let us walk by faith, not becoming “weary in well-doing” (Gal. 6:9).
Are you becoming spiritually dull and indifferent? Your love for God and love for others has waned? Faith and endurance are the antidote. Fan into flame your spirit by faith. Endure hardship in your love for others. You have the promises of God. Live like it!
November 2, 2018
We are born with a kind of moral compass, an intuition for right and wrong, called a conscience. We have a desire for justice and accountability in this world. From our earliest memories, we have a desire for fairness. Yet, the world is not fair. And justice doesn’t reign. Unfortunately, our idea of justice tends to focus more on others, while we make endless excuses for ourselves. We hide our true character not only from others, but in a kind of self-delusion, we hide it from ourselves. But God sees it.
God sees us as we truly are. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was to attempt to cover their nakedness and hide from God. But God came looking. They could not hide from God and neither can we. He sees everything. We may fool others and even ourselves, but we cannot fool God. We are all accountable to God. And one day, every member of humanity will give an account, for things seen and things hidden (Rom. 14:12). Nothing will escape God’s notice.
What can we do? We can plea the blood of Jesus, our Great High Priest. For in Him we receive mercy and grace, so we are able to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God” (Heb. 4:16).
October 31, 2018
GOD MADE US FOR HIMSELF
God is both the cause and the object of all things. For all things were made by Him and for Him. This is the truth that moved Augustine of Hippo to write, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
It is our sin that has separated us from God, making our hearts restless. But God so loved us, that He sent Jesus to make a perfect sacrifice for our salvation. Redeeming those who believe in Him by His blood, so that we are now called children of God. So we hear Christ’s invitation anew, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
November 14, 2017
Don’t waste the pain. God cares more for your character than you comfort. His “chastening” may be painful, but it yields Christlikeness in you when you submit to its training. One day, you will look back on your life and see how God has disciplined you as His own child for your sanctification. He is conforming you to the image of Christ. Stop rebelling and start submitting. Pray as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”