Friday, October 31, 2014

Remember Jesus

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound in chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: if we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Hot soup. Toast spread thick with butter (earth balance). 

What on earth does this have to do with remembering Jesus? Maybe it's nothing. But maybe it's everything. 

Remembering Jesus is about knowing who He is in every moment of every day. It's remembering that He's the Son of God, that He was made like us, that He have Himself for us, that He helps us, and that He is ever faithful, regardless of our faithlessness. 

It's giving thanks for daily bread. 

I recently read a beautiful book called A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester. 

It's about sustenance and provision and community and grace and remembering the One who always gives more grace. 

There are several dimensions to this book , but here is Chester on the one influencing me the most right now: 

What do we express when we say grace? 
- Our daily dependence on God as creatures and sinners. 
- Our dependence on others as we give thanks for those who grew, processed, bought and cooked our food. 
- The goodness of food, thereby transforming our food from fuel to a gift to be relished. 
- Our gratitude to God, thereby reorienting ourselves away from self and back to God. 
- Our gratitude for community as we ask God's blessing on our fellowship over the meal. 

In previous Novembers I've done different gratitude challenges. To help me remember Jesus, I'm going to say grace this month, before every meal. I didn't grow up doing this. It's not natural to me. It makes me uncomfortable when I'm asked the bless the meal at a gathering of Christians, large or small. I don't know what I'm doing. And I don't do it on my own. 

But this month, I'm going to try. I'm going to give thanks and remember Who gives all good things. With my family in Christ, by myself, I will, as Ann Voskamp says, "give thanks for all things, for He is all good" 

I'm going to remember Jesus, who makes His people one family. Who gives daily bread. Who forgives. Who gives more grace. Who is our advocate. Our redeemer. Our helper. Our friend. 

I'm going to remember Jesus, who saves sinners from death to life and makes all things work together for the good of those who love God. 

Thank you to everyone who followed along this month. I had a great time studying and writing and am glad I did the challenge. Who knows what next year might bring? I won't be blogging every day in November, but I'll check in and let you know how the grace challenge is going. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Remember Jesus, who helps those who are being tempted

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

Before we dig in, check it out! This is the end of Hebrews 2, which means this challenge is almost a wrap. 

Now, remember last week when we talked about Jesus being like us in that He was tempted? Here we are, looking at how Jesus helps us. Jesus knows what it is to be tempted. And He knows how to say no to sin every time. 

My pastor likes to say this: 

The Christian life is not about not sinning. It's not about white-knuckling it or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The Christian life is about Jesus, who saves sinners from death to life. 

Jesus is the center of our lives. Every time we give in to temptation, we have to turn from Jesus to that sin. But Jesus helps us by being ready to give more grace for our every need. 

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 

If you are in Jesus, you have everything you need to face temptation because you have Him. 

If you're feeling discouraged, remember that His greatest help to those who are weak and needy is that every past, present and future sin was taken care of 2,000 years ago on the cross. 

There is nothing more to be said than what Jesus proclaimed in His dying breaths: 

It is finished. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remember Jesus, who serves God

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17

As high priest, Jesus serves us and saves us and prays for us and helps us. But He is not subject to us. Rather, He submits Himself to the will of our Father in heaven. Before Jesus was arrested and taken to be crucified, He prayed. In John 17, we see Jesus talking to His Father on behalf of His brothers (the disciples, and us). The goal in this prayer is for God's glory to be seen. This is how Jesus served and continues to serve God. He is God, so it is His kingdom after which He labors.

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:1b-5

Jesus has done what Mark Cahill would say are the two ways in which men serve God: they make Him known, and they make Him look good. As Jesus is laying His life down, He humbly submits to a lowly death, knowing the glory it will bring.

I think we have this tendency to want to do things for God. We want, on some level, to serve Him. But I'm not sure we really know what that means.

Do people around you, people you do life with, do they know anything about the God you're claiming to serve? If they know whom you serve, do you make Him look good?

Now to be clear, Jesus will build His church and the new heavens and earth without your help. But Jesus gave His entire life to glorify His Father in heaven. Do you have the same goal?

Remember Jesus, who perfectly lives out the first principle of the Westminster Confession of Faith - to know God and glorify Him forever.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remember Jesus, who is our high priest

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17

Today, we don't have the same understanding of "priest" that the first readers of this letter had. If you want to go deeper with this subject, read through Leviticus and then read through Hebrews. It's one of my favorite studies to do in one long sitting. You could also break it up into several weeks. Sometimes I really like reading entire books of the Bible in a big sitting because you see the big picture. Regardless, if you read these two books in succession, you will be in awe of what Christ has accomplished as our high priest. For now, let's just take a little step back into the Levitical priesthood, to get the idea.

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleanness.  Leviticus 16:15-16

Once a year, it was the job of the high priest to offer sacrifices to God as atonement for sin. It happened every year, because people have always continued in sin.

Let's now look at the difference in having Jesus as high priest.

For the law appoints them in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect [complete] forever. Now, the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man...As it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. Hebrews 7:28-8:2, 8:6 

Jesus is our true and better high priest. His promise says you will be my people and I will be your God. This is what we have in Jesus.

Now, since He is a much better high priest, He is able to offer a much better and more permanent sacrifice.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:11-14 

As if my Hunger Games quote the other day weren't enough, I'm going to reference Harry Potter today. In the sixth book, Harry accompanies Professor Dumbledore on a mission to retrieve and destroy an object containing a piece of the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort's soul (horcrux). In order to get there, blood must be spilled. Harry offers his arm, but Dumbledore tells Harry his blood is too valuable. So is Jesus blood infinitely precious. It is worth more than that of all the goats and bulls in the world, and it needs only be poured out once. And that one time is sufficient for every sin of every saint forever and ever.

As it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26b 


But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12

And though He sacrificed but once, it does not mean He is not always working for our good. Look at what Jesus does at the right hand of God:

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:23-25

Jesus died for us. Jesus lives for us. What a great high priest indeed.

I have only scratched the surface here. This is one of my favorite subjects in this series, and I would again encourage you to dig in more for yourself to see what else you can find. If you like sermons, my church went through Hebrews last year and you can find the archives here. If you're specifically looking for more on the new covenants and Christ as our priest, I recommend "This is the New Covenant" and "There is a Redeemer".

Finally, I have a song for us today. It's one of my favorites.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Remember Jesus, who is faithful

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17 

Jesus is faithful. Say that until you believe it. This post could be over right here. 

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. 
2 Timothy 2:13 

His faithfulness has nothing to do with our performance. We are His unfaithful wife. He is our doting husband. Jesus is not more there for your pastor than He is for you. Maybe this was the hardest, most messed up weekend in your Christian life. Jesus is still with you. He still loves you. He's claimed you as His own and He will never let you go. 

The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 2:22-23

Jesus is faithful. He will never leave or forsake you. Hold this. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Remember Jesus, who is merciful

I'm going to be spending the next several days breaking down the descriptions of Jesus in the second half of this verse. Today, I'll focus on mercy.

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17

Last year, I went to see Catching Fire. Maybe I take things too seriously, but when I think mercy, I always think of this quote from Katniss Everdeen,

"He could have killed me but instead he showed me mercy. That's a debt I'll never be able to repay" 

I just can't help but see Jesus in that. That is our story: deserving to die, and receiving life.

Mike Cosper recently wrote a book called The Stories We Tell in which he talks about how there is really only one story. The Story. Creation. Fall. Promise. Redemption. New Creation.

I think it's because when we mess up, we know it. Maybe we even hope for mercy from the one whom we've offended. But our sins are so bad that we were hopeless. We didn't deserve to be spared. We were No Mercy.

She conceived again and bore a daughter. The Lord said to him, "Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all." Hosea 1:6 

Reading Hosea makes me see the gravity of our condition. Spiritual adultery is a big deal, and it's at the core of who we were. We run. We pursue anyone but the God who made us. We love gifts and thank anyone but the Giver. We profane the sacred. And yet, what is God's response to us?

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord...And I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, 'You are My People;' and he shall say, 'You are my God'. Hosea 2:19-20, 23. 

Jesus is the on who gives mercy to no mercy. He is rich in mercy and loves us with a great love (Ephesians 2:4).

We deserve nothing and He gives everything. We do nothing to earn anything but condemnation, and yet mercy is ours.

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:5-9

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Remember Jesus, who was made like us in every way

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect Hebrews 2:17a 

Jesus, as I've said before, was like us. He knows what it is to be human. In our deepest pains and greatest temptations, Jesus can be with us, because He knows exactly what we face. He faced it too. Since I've already talked about mortality, I'd like to focus on Christ's temptations.

I know that Jesus did live in 21st century Americ. There weren't smartphones and fast food and credit cards and constant internet and all the other modern conveniences that conveniently pull us away from God and His design. But the roots of all those things are the same - they trace exactly what the Ten Commandments warn against. Idolatry. Blasphemy. Deceit. Pride. You get it. And Jesus conquered them.

How did He do it? How did He stand toe to toe with everything Satan had in His arsenal and win?

He had the Word of God.

The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone'". Luke 4:3-4 

Jesus hungered just as we do. And instead of serving Himself, He chose obedience and service to His Father.

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." And Jesus answered, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve'". Luke 4:5-8

Jesus willingly submitted Himself to His Father's will. He spoke with that authority, but laid aside His headship in a life of radical service.

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and 'on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone'". And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'". Luke 4:9-12 

Note that this is the second time the devil attacks Jesus' position as the Son of God. And yet, He is so firm in His identity that it means nothing to Him. Further, Jesus could ask God for anything, and He would have it. But He chose to be content with whatever His Father gave.

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. 
Luke 4:13 

Although this concludes the recorded temptations of Jesus, it gives us reason to believe that this was not the last time He was tempted. It would not be outlandish to assume He faced temptations throughout His whole life, just as we do. Satan pursues our hearts, too.

As C.S. Lewis writes in the Screwtape Letters -

An ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure is the formula...get the man's soul and give him nothing in return" 

But in all this, we have the same weapon against temptation that Jesus did: the very word of God.

I will be writing more about this in my Day 30 post on Jesus' help in our temptation. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, what have you used to combat temptation? What's been successful and what hasn't?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Remember Jesus, who helps us

For surely it is not the angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Hebrews 2:16

Jesus helped us infinitely by dying on the cross to make us right with God. But that wasn't the end of His help for us. He "ever lives to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). He promises, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). He is "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1), who "will not leave us as orphans" (John 14:18). 

I recently read Ordinary by Michael Horton, which is a little bit of a pushback on Radical by David Platt. Now, I loved Radical. I was seriously convicted by it. I love how many people have been challenged to support and/or pursue missions because of it. But what I got from Horton rounded things out. Because it's not about doing something big for God or being content in the every day; it's about accepting everything God has for you with open, empty hands. 

I think we have this tendency to believe Jesus helps the missionary in the Middle East and the underground pastor in China and the nonprofit worker in Kenya, but to distrust Him as our help for our day to day lives. They ask for His help because they need it and they're important. Would He really help me today, here?  

But I have to wonder if we don't ask Jesus for help in the ordinary because we don't think we need it, or, perhaps worse, we don't actually want it. 

What if Jesus helped you serve the homeless in your city or neighborhood? 

What if Jesus helped you apologize? 

What if Jesus helped you be kind and understanding and gracious to your boss/coworker/spouse/roommate? 

What if Jesus helped you overcome sloth/lust/pride/greed/idolatry? 

What if Jesus helped you find real peace and true rest in Him? 

Jesus is indeed the help to all who call on His name. No matter who or where you are, Jesus will be helping you become more like Him, 

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:27 

You are part of the church, and the church is not about you. It's about Jesus, and the enormous help He extends to each one of us. 

God is my shepherd 
And I am his little lamb 

He feeds me
He guides me 
He looks after me
I have everything I need 

Inside, my heart is very quiet, 
As quiet as lying still in soft green grass
In a meadow
By a little stream 

Even when I walk through 
The dark, scary, lonely places
I won't be afraid 
Because my Shepherd knows where I am 

He is here with me
He keeps me safe 
He rescues me 

He makes me strong 
And brave 

He is getting wonderful things ready for me
Especially for me. 
Everything I ever dreamed of! 

He fills my heart to full of happiness
I can't hold it all inside. 

Wherever I go I know 
God's Never Stopping
Never Giving Up 
Always and Forever 
Will go, too. 

Psalm 23 - Jesus Storybook Bible 

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me; just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15. 

Remember Jesus, who sets us free from slavery

and deliver all those who through fear of death we subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2:15

Jesus has set you free. If you remember one thing today, let it be that. You have no fears, no worries, no sadness, no pains, that Jesus is not working through to overcome. Satan has no claim on you, because he has no claim on Jesus, and Jesus calls you His.

I have several favorite passages on this subject, so let's go for it.

First, on slavery -

For we ourselves were once foolish disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. Titus 3:3

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

That's who we were. But look at who we are -

But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5 

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18. (For more on slavery/freedom, please read Romans 6 in its entirety). 

And look who did it -

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. Luke 4:18. Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1

And why -

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 

I think the thing that really gets me about all this, is that this was the plan from the beginning, for us to enjoy God and for His name to be known and lifted high -

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die Psalm 102:18-20 

God is faithful. He keeps covenant throughout the generations. Praise the Lord, for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever!

Jesus sets us free because we put ourselves in captivity. We like our collection of hurts and the ways of this world far more than we enjoy God. Jesus sets us free from our slavery by giving us everything in Him and changing our hearts from what we once knew to what we know now in Him.

You move in the unseen 
You set the captives free
As I stand and sing 
You're breaking the chains off me 

Bones, by Hillsong. Verse 3. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Remember Jesus, who died to destroy the devil and his power of death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the on who as the power of death, that is, the devil  Hebrews 2:14

Remember, God actually created the world without death. It wasn't part of Eden. There was only life, abundant life. Until the serpent. And the fruit. And the first parents.

The perfect world was fractured, and Satan himself became the fallen prince. Fallen from heaven (Isaiah 14), prince of the fallen world (Ephesians 2). And we saw the first murder (Genesis 4; Cain kills Abel). But it wasn't the last, and it certainly wasn't the last heard, dead heart. In fact, even as Messiah walked the earth, stony hearts blinded Pharisees and skeptics alike.

But Jesus claimed those hearts. He died for them. And when Jesus says you're alive, you're as alive as you could possibly be. On earth, He raised the physically dead to life, and in heaven, He continues to resurrect those suffering from deadness of the heart.

Satan, on the other hand, hates you and wants you to die.
But Jesus loves you and died so you could live.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John10:10 

If Jesus can give the dead life again, then the one with the power of death must not be so powerful after all.

I think the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism will close us out nicely for today.

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1 but belong—body and soul, in life and in death2—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20
2 Rom. 14:7-9
3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14
4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2
5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11
6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5
7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18
8 Rom. 8:28
9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14
10 Rom. 8:1-17

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Remember Jesus, who shared in flesh and blood

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things. Hebrews 2:14a 

Jesus was like us. He walked with us. He ate with us. He had friends and He had family. He mourned. He celebrated. He taught. He learned. He also walked in the ways of mortality. He walked to way of the cross.

People die. We mourn, and perhaps we celebrate as our loved ones go on to be with Jesus. The cross was terribly painful. And people were distraught. Everything that death encompassed, Jesus and those close to Him experienced it.

Everything you've ever felt, Jesus knows it. He knows your pain - emotional and physical alike and now He walks with you through it all.

It's a short post today - I'm just going to share with you the lyrics to What a Friend we have in Jesus, because He is a friend who truly knows what we're going through, and has the power to help us in the midst of it.

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Remember Jesus, who is not ashamed to call us brothers

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call us brothers* Hebrews 2:12 

Jesus is a great uniter. He makes us like Him so we can be with Him. He is the friend of sinners. His entire ministry was devoted to serving people who were shamed in their culture. I'd like to look at two examples today.

John chapter 4 highlights the well-known woman at the well.

There was a Samarian woman at the well in the middle of the day, an atypical thing to do. She was avoiding the crowds of people ready to condemn and judge her. Jesus, a Jew, asks her for a drink. Jesus didn't just talk to Samarians - they were bad! And this was Jesus. What was He doing talking to her? The woman was surprised, and even more so when Jesus tells her He has living water but nothing with which to draw. The woman asks for that eternal life, and Jesus tells her to go call her husband. He knows her. He knows she has had five husbands, and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. She is amazed and begins to see Jesus as the Messiah. She goes off to tell everyone that the Christ has come, proclaiming,

"Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did" John 4:28a 

You see, when Jesus offered this woman eternal life, it wasn't a mistake. He knew the depth of her sin. But He also knew the depth of His power to save.

As our brother, Jesus knows us best. He's been with us since before we were born, and He's not ashamed to call us family. Because He died the death we deserve for everything wrong thing we've ever done and every right thing we did for the wrong reason, He can present us to our Father and gladly associate with us.

Let's look at another place where Jesus associates with the unworthy. For background, let's check in with Leviticus 13. These are the prescribed standards for lepers, and the people of Jesus' time would have known and lived by them.

The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, 'unclean, unclean'. He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.
Leviticus 13:45-46

In Matthew 8, we meet such a leper. He knew he was unclean. His society had told him he was unworthy. He was ostracized. Untouched. Forgotten.

And what did Jesus do?

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord if you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:2-3 

I can't imagine the joy that leper felt just having someone near him, listening to him. And the Messiah no less. The Holy One incarnate. Christ in His holiness walked the earth in humility, preaching salvation and healing the sick. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Jesus is not bound by human standards. If a sinner comes to Him, earnestly seeking healing that brings eternal life, He will not step back in disgrace. He always gives more grace. He calls us His brothers.

*As I discussed earlier in this series, brothers does indeed include females. Since in Christ there is no male or female (Galatians 3:28), the term is used as a legal standing. We have full rights as God's [adopted] children.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Remember Jesus, who sanctifies

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have on source. Hebrews 2:11a

This is an important subject. Jesus is not a catch-all. Your salvation is not an excuse to sin. If you think that because Jesus paid the price for your sins, you now get to continue to rebel against Him and live in your sin, I think you need to check your heart on this. Jesus doesn't love you so that you can keep enjoying your sin. He saves you to life. Abundant life. He saves you to the pursuit of holiness. He saved you to being made like Him. He saves you to Himself.

Max Lucado wrote, "God loves you enough to accept you right where you are, and too much to leave you there" God knows how the world and human life work best. All of His statutes are for our good, to help us glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Sometimes I think it's helpful to look at the big picture, the end from the beginning. In heaven, we will join the other redeemed saints in singing praises to Jesus 24/7 forever. Forever and ever. Right now, would you enjoy that, honestly? What else would you want to do? Would you want to have family game night or go to movies or work out or cook or...? The list goes on and on. We still love other things with the affections that belong to Jesus. The goal of sanctification is to help us love Jesus.

Sanctification is hard. It's messy. It hurts. We don't want to let go of our things. We like trying to love the world. But Jesus came in order to make us His brother! We will be like Him! That's what He's trying to accomplish.

he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10b-11

Sanctification does not always seem fun or enjoyable, but take hear that it is Christ who works in you for your good and His glory.

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

I have a song for you today,

And also a (non-31days) blog post a friend shared this week.

Let these be our cries to Jesus our sanctifier today.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Remember Jesus, who was made complete through suffering

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10 

The ESV (English Standard Version - Extra Spiritual to some ) is my preferred Bible translation. However, on some verses, like this one, I clearly see that it is not an infallible translation. The word that is rendered "perfect" here, also has the meaning of "complete, full or whole", which is a better fit in this context.

If Jesus had to be made perfect, spotless, without blemish, it means He failed to meet the requirements for sacrificial offerings. If His sacrifice was insufficient, there is no atonement for sin, no salvation for sinners.

What I, and the Bible teachers I've sat under believe, is that Jesus was made complete. Now, understand, Jesus is the only man who ever lived to know what it means to be fully human on this earth. So when I say complete, I don't mean that His lacked anything. When I say complete, I mean that His witness for us has been made complete.

Suffering doesn't evoke a sense of wholeness, does it? Usually, it's more of a ripping apart or falling to pieces. And that's exactly it. Since Jesus suffered, we can be assured that He understands our (much smaller) sufferings in this life. He is not a God who has no concept of our pain, trials or temptations; rather He truly knows and empathizes with us.

RC Sproul puts it like this -
Why do bad things happen to good people? It happened once, and He volunteered" 

I am not trying to minimize the very real problems of suffering, pain and evil in our world, but I am trying to gain some perspective. There is no person anywhere near Christ's goodness. There is no suffering that can touch the badness of becoming sin, taking on the full wrath of God and dying on a cross.

How does it make you feel to know that Jesus can understand your every trial and temptation?Remember that Jesus walks with you, on a path He's already traveled, because He, too, has suffered.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thankful for the church

Remembering Jesus this month has helped me be more thankful for what He's done for His people on a human to human relational level.

I babysit for a young family. Married 7 (8?) years. A daughter, almost 6, a son, 4, and another daughter almost 2 1/2. They are members of my church, but they also take classes at the gym. So I know them well.

They asked me several months back if I'd ever babysit for date nights. Since then, I've been a regular in their home and have gotten to know them. I have LOVED seeing their kids grow and change, and they are an awesome example of how to prioritize your marriage and family. But beyond that, they're not just another family who pays me to hang out with their kids, and I'm not just another babysitter. We spend intentional time talking, sharing prayer requests, taking interest in each other, and encouraging each other from the Word.

I love that even though we're a decade apart and in completely different seasons, we have everything in common because we have Jesus in common.

So I'm thankful.

PS I already have my November gratitude challenge lined up and I can hardly wait to share it! Here's a hint: grace.

Remember Jesus, the founder of our salvation

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation [perfect through suffering]. Hebrews 2:10, brackets because I'll talk about that tomorrow. 

If there is no Jesus, there is no salvation. God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), so Jesus was not a back up plan. God asks Jesus to live a sinless human life and die as a sacrificial Lamb, and Jesus willfully, humbly obeys. 

Now, it doesn't take a genius to see that Christians would not exist without Christ. Think about how different your life would be of Jesus didn't exist. You would have no faith, no foundation. I think of everything I have in Christ, and it is clear that His salvation is like nothing else. 

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 

Jesus is it. He is the only Savior. And His death and resurrection is the method ordained to demonstrate the riches of God's mercy, glory and grace. 

If Jesus is not the founder of our salvation, we have some problems: 

- preaching is in vain 
- faith is in vain 
- we misrepresent God 
- faith is futile 
- we are still in our sins 
(Taken from 1 Corinthians 15:12-19) 

But here is the promise we have in the resurrection - 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Thanks be to Jesus, who found sand secured our salvation! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remember Jesus, who brings many sons to glory

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory... Hebrews 2:10a

Jesus saves sinners from death to life. The Bible says that not all sinners will be saved. This passage is one of many examples where Scripture alludes to the fact that only some are saved. Now since all are dead, God is gracious in saving some. But that's not what I want to focus on today. I want to look at God's predestination of the sons He would save. 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, in order that he might become the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 

Jesus, as the founder of the universe, knew whom he would save from the beginning. Therefore, every person whom  He creates for salvation will enjoy eternal life with Him, no matter how badly we mess it up or how far we run from Him. He will chase us, because He has chosen us. 

I encourage you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 in its entirety, but here's a summary of His selection of us: 

- chosen before the foundations of the world
- to be holy and blameless
- to be adopted as sons 
- to the praise of his glorious grace 
- redemption through his blood 
- forgiveness of trespasses 
- riches of grace lavished upon us 
- making known his will 
- uniting all things in Christ 
- an inheritance 
- to the praise of his glory 
- sealed with the Holy Spirit 

This is what Christ has secured for his many brothers. He will present us to His Father for His glory, that people of every tribe, tongue and nation will sing His praise. 

I'll leave us with the words of another one of up favorite songs -

How deep the Father's love for us
How sat beyond all measure 
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure 

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away 
As wounds which mar the chosen one
Bring many sons to the glory 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remember Jesus, for whom and by whom all things exist

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist...Hebrews 2:10a

In this series, I'v already talked a bit about Christ's presence in creation. He has always been, and He has always been God. There is no created thing outside of His control because all things have been created by Him.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

Christ was at work in creation! He did not suddenly appear on earth as Mary and Joseph's baby boy; rather He has always been laboring for our good and His glory.

This brings me more to the why, the for Him. The first questions and answer of the Westminster Catechism reads:

Q: What is the chief end of man? 
A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever 

Creation, then, exists to glorify God!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

So, creation not only sings Christ's praise, but also makes Him known to us -

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 
Romans 1:19-20 

In Jesus, we have everything we need to know in order "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". He has not hidden Himself, but has in fact made Himself known to us in all things.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind, to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted period and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "In him we live and move and have our being"; as even some of your own poets have said, "for we are indeed his offspring" Acts 17:24-28

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remember Jesus, who tasted death for us

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9 

Here it is: Jesus died so we don't have to.

Romans 6:23 says

for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. 

I deserve to die. I have sinned against the Creator of the universe. I've rebelled against His plan for eternal communion with His people. But because He is so rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love, Jesus came and died the death I deserve so that I could be right with God and enjoy Him forever.

This is a big deal.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your string? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Jesus died in order to overthrow Satan's power over death. He won. He stands victorious, and so as He lives, we live.

And yet, greater things are still to come.

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14

Right now, if you are in Jesus, your mortal body will die and you will be taken up to heaven to sing Christ's praises forevermore. There is still pain, here, there is still sickness. But you have a hope beyond this life.

One day, when Christ brings forth the new heavens and new earth, death will be put away for good. No one will ever die again. All you will know is life, eternal life, in Christ Jesus your Lord. Because He died to give it to you.

Crown Him with Many Crowns
Verse 3:
Crown Him the Lord of life
Who triumphed o'er the grave
Who rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save

His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high
Who died, eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die

Monday, October 13, 2014

Remember Jesus, to whom all things are being put into subjection

You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Hebrews 2:7-8, quoting Psalm 8:5-6 

Now, this is a very similar thought to Jesus being the King even when it doesn't look like it. There's still more to be said, though.

We have here the tense. We see past tense here, although it is clear the event is still to come. This is called prophetic perfect. When God says He's going to do something, it's as good as done. There's no promise He makes that won't be fulflilled. God's yes is never no.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 

For God to break a promise, He would have to betray His own character, which He doesn't do, because He doesn't like and He doesn't change. Therefore, when God says He will, He never won't.

So it's coming. But when? We are desperate for Him and it seems to take so long sometimes -

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you  2 Peter 3:8-9a 

Everything will be subject to Jesus. Everyone will give Him an account of their lives. God is not slow; He simply operates on another plane of time we don't yet understand. Eternity.

I would also like to point out another thing about Jesus. Many people question Christ's authority as God because He was killed. To that, He says:

You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given to you from above. John 19:11a


For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. John 10:17-18 

Paul writes of this laying down here -

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cros. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

If all things were subject to Jesus, even as He died, how much more are all things being given to Him now that He lives over death?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Remember Jesus, who stays the same

And you laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remin: they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end. 
Hebrews 1:10-12 

Elsewhere, the writer to the Hebrews says it like this:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever(13:8). 

That Jesus is constant is not a truth to be taken for granted. Having a God who is not fickle, who always keeps covenant, who always pursues, who never leaves nor forsake, this is what keeps rebel hearts coming back. This is what makes the dead come alive and helps us walk in a manner worthy of the good news to which we have been called.

Perhaps you remember this parable that Jesus told us -

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Jesus is the rock on which we build our secure, everlasting foundation. We can chase a lot of things, but if they're not of Him, they're temporary, and even as we consume them, they are actually consuming us.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

If we pursue things that aren't from Jesus, we will be disappointed. Things of this world fade and change - from material goods to values and reputations. But if we pursue Jesus, we are putting our hope in that which is constant and eternal. He will never fail us because He never changes, expect perhaps in our own eyes. The longer we love Him, the more lovelier He is to us. We can hope for the day when we will see Him as He is, and has always been.

I will leave us with a few hymns today that speak of this constancy. These songs were written over a hundred years ago, and because Jesus doesn't change, their words of praise are still just as true today.
I typed out the first verse, and if you click on it, it will take you to the full song.

It is Well
When peace like a river, attendeth my way 
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul 

Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name 

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

How Firm a Foundation
How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word
What more can He say than to you He hath said 
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

Saturday, October 11, 2014

11 Days of Blogging

I haven't blogged every day like this since I was doing life in Senegal. Then, every moment was a new experience. Ordinary things were made extraordinary, and I had a lot about which to think and talk all the time.

During this challenge, I think it's appropriate that I'm reading Ordinary by Michael Horton, a book on how God uses ordinary means of grace in our lives to communicate His extraordinary presence in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've been going back to basics: Who is Jesus? Why does it matter? It's been refreshing me to simply remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

Beyond the spiritual practice, I'm also enjoying the discipline of daily writing. Although I'm a lifelong journaler, often my entries contain few of my own words, or they are jotted down without much structure or thought. By writing a blog post, even if only a handful of people read it, I am forced to write for people who don't just know what I'm thinking. I have to actually communicate it in a way that will make sense to them (aka you).

Of course, I don't think I can blog every day forever; however, I do think it would be good to aim for 3-4 times a week. Let's see how I feel once the challenge is complete :)

Until then, it's just another Saturday night reading puritan theology and the history of ballet as I wait for gymnastics to be on. Business as usual.

Remember Jesus, who has loved righteousness

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness Hebrews 1:9a, quoting Psalm 45:7 

Jesus, who is like God and is God, is holy. His righteousness is pure. His right standing with God becomes our right standing with God. We were too vile to come near a holy God, so Christ gave us His clean slate, because no blemish is too small - God requires perfection, because He is perfectly righteous.

Isaiah gives this as a description of a righteous man -

He who walk righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil; he will dwell on the heights, his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty, they will see a land that stretches afar. Isaiah 33:15-17

This is what Jesus loves. It's an obedience to God's statutes and a right seeing of the King.

Often, our love for righteousness becomes legalism, or self-righteouness. In reality, righteousness is a full leaning on Him who is our righteousness and serving Him, because He has set us free from the law of sin and death. Christ's love for righteousness is a love for His Father and those He has been given.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. John 14:21

And following the good news that we will be loved by our Saviour and our Father because of Christ's perfect obedience, is the fact that we are being made into that righteousness that He loves so well.

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 

Thank You, Jesus, for so dearly loving righteousness for us!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Remember Jesus, whose throne is forever and ever

But of the Son, he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever..." Hebrews 1:8a (quoting Psalm 45:6) 

Today, I could list dozens of verses that show that Jesus reigns forever. I wouldn't have to write a single original word because the Bible is very clear on the subject: Jesus is the king of everything, forever and always.

Now, Jesus doesn't always look the like the king. Read or watch the news for ten minutes and you'll see that. Then you think about persecuted Christians all around the world and add in tragedy for the saints in your own life, and it's easy to wonder how Christ is showing Himself to be king.

But remember, we live in a fallen world. God made it good, we broke it, and Jesus is fixing it, putting everything back the way it's supposed to be.

My pastor preached spiritual warfare from John 14 on Sunday. John writes that the ruler of this world is coming (verse 30). Satan and his demons believe they can still win, even though they recognize Jesus as the one who is to crush the snake (see Genesis 1-3). To this Jesus says, "He has no claim on me".

Here's an illustration Pastor Andrew used: If Satan is a dragon, Jesus has already cut off his head by dying on the cross to save sinners from death to life and make us right with God. Al that's left is the tail, whipping around in our world. When Jesus returns, the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and the fullness of His kingdom will be our reality.

Until then, we must remember that Christ is already on the throne. He is at work in all things, for our good and His glory. This is what keeps us singing the song of Moses, and looking forward to the song of the Lamb. This is our hope.

For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

Selections from the song of Moses
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my Father's God, and I will exalt him...Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wondrous?...You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode...You will bring them in and plant them in your mountain, the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary O Lord, which your hands have established. The Lord will reign forever and ever. Exodus 15:2, 11, 13, 17-18 

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your holy name? For you alone are holy, all nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. Revelation 15:3-4

A few songs to help us remember who the King is.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Remember Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high  Hebrews 1:3

In my Bible, there are three words here that I can hardly read because of how they've been thickly underlined and circled: he sat down.

I read those words and it helps me remember: Jesus saved me from my sin, and then He sat down. There is nothing more that I can do than to believe in him and be saved.

Take a pause to remember this moment -

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished" and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Matthew 19:30 

Jesus declared that the atonement was finished. There was nothing left that we could do, and thus we have Jesus who sat down. His death is sufficient to bring many sons to glory.

For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit  1 Peter 3:18 

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. Romans 6:10 

Here we see that it's not just His sitting that matters to us, but where He sits. Jesus lives. He is with the Father, together from the beginning. As we read yesterday in Hebrews 9, Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Although there is no need for continued atonement for sin, He is still working for our good and His glory form His communion with the Father in heaven -

In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and take you to myself. John 14:3 

Let us remember that we have been saved, and that we are yet to be saved fully. Jesus took His place in heaven as atonement concluded and sanctification began.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remember Jesus, who made purification for sins

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High 
Hebrews 1:3b

For us, these words aren't nearly as jarring as they were to the Hebrews. Modern Jews recently celebrated Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Early Christians were all too familiar with this day - the high priest would atone for the sins of all the people by entering into God's presence through ritual and sacrifice. It happened once a year, every year. Jesus, on the other hand, made purification for sins once, and the one time stands for all of time.

Let's take a look at the progressions.

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. Leviticus 16:15-16 

As priest, Aaron gave a bloody sacrifice for the sins of the people. And yet, there was a foreshadow of something better -

He will again have compassion on us, he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 

Micah prophesied that God would take our sin and cast it into nothingness, it would be completely removed from our sight.

Hebrews 9 is worth reading in its entirety, as a beautiful telling of Christ's fulfillment of foreshadows, but I have a few selections here.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for al into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12 

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24 

Jesus has already died for your sin. You are good to go. There is now no condemnation and nothing in all creation and can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You are right with God - thanks be to God who gives the victory in Christ Jesus!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Remember Jesus, who upholds the universe by the word of His power

he upholds the universe by the word of his power  from Hebrews 1:3 

I told Elizabeth last night that I keep getting more excited about each day's prompt. I'm also glad I mapped out the series ahead of time because otherwise I think I could have gotten pretty random.

When it comes to remembering Jesus as the upholder of the universe, I find there is plenty of precedence for this statement. In the beginning, God spoke the world into being. He spoke through Moses to lead His people out of slavery, and gave them the commandments. He spoke to His servant Job as He permitted his trials. He told Hosea to love an adulterous woman as He loves the children of Israel. He told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the gospel of repentance. He sent an angel to tell Mary she would give birth to His Son. He spoke at Christ's baptism, declaring for the world that Jesus is His Son. Jesus calmed a storm, made a blind man see, healed the lame, and raised Lazarus from the dead.

There are more examples, of course, but the point is that God's word is powerful. But even as we acknowledge the power in God's word, it's hard to remember that Jesus is the King of everything, working for us right now, and that His kingdom is one that cannot be shaken -

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe Hebrews 12:28 

What Jesus has provided, none can take away -

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 

When it doesn't look like Jesus is the King, let us remember that Jesus is at work, right now, and that His word is enough to make all darkness tremble at His feet.

So what does that mean for you and for me, today? Jesus "always lives to make intercession for" us (Hebrews 7:25). Not only does Jesus uphold the universe, dear Christian, but if you are in Jesus, He upholds you by His word. No matter what trial or temptation you find yourself in, Jesus is holding you steady.

Remember Jesus, who keeps you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Remember Jesus, the exact imprint of God's nature

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Hebrews 1:3a 

Reading this, my breath is taken away. I feel as though I'm treading on holy ground here. Hesus, the exact imprint of God's nature, walked on the same earth as us. He looked like us, but had God's integrity, holiness, kindness, patience and love. He was God with us.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us). Matthew 1:23, quoting Isaiah 7:14. 

It is impossible to know God without knowing Jesus. Not only is Christ the Son of God, He is God Himself in the mystery of the trinity, His word says He is like God in every way. His union with His Father is inseparable, unbreakable and perfect.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him" John 14:6-7 

If you know Jesus, you know God, because Jesus is God's Son who is the imprint of God's nature and God Himself. He is the incarnation of our God in heaven.

Of the many attributes of God, there is one standing out today when it comes to remembering Jesus:

it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). 

If it's impossible for God to lie, this means Jesus is also not a liar. He is the truth and there is no falsehood in Him. C.S. Lewis famously said that [Jesus is not just a great (moral) teacher. You can call Him a liar, a lunatic or Lord]. Since we know Jesus is God and therefore cannot lie, He's not a liar. He did make some outrageous claims, so He was either crazy or He was God. I believe the Bible gives us plenty of reason to affirm Jesus as Lord, including today's description from Hebrews.

If God is not a liar, Jesus is not a liar. Jesus is the truth and there is no falsehood in Him. Every promise He made will be fulfilled. Christian, take comfort in this! Everything Jesus ever said is completely true because He is the exact imprint of God's nature. When He says He will, He never won't. When He says yes, the answer is never no.

What attribute of God stands out to you as you remember that Jesus is the exact imprint of God's nature?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Remember Jesus, the radiance of the glory of God

He is the radiance of the glory of God Hebrews 1:3a

I'm so glad I'm taking this "remember Jesus" thing at a snail's pace. The radiance of the glory of God is overwhelming to think about. Jesus came from glory. He is a heavenly being, so unlike us. ButHe was made to be very like us, for the purpose of revealing the divine glory.

In Exodus 34, Moses talks with God, and when he returns to relay the message, the people can't look at him because of the radiance on his face, so he veils himself. If God's glory did that to Moses after a few moments in His presence, can we even imagine what Jesus was like as that radiance personified?

John writes of the radiance of Christ in this way -

In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5. 

In His fullness, Jesus is light. This light is life from God, and it simply cannot be taken away by darkness. Jesus will win every single time. He is the glory of God made manifest to us, drawing u in to what we previously could not see or understand.

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:13-18

Jesus is the one who removes the veil from our faces that we may see Him as He is - Lord, Savior, Messiah, Priest, King, and so on. And when we see Jesus rightly, we see the radiance of the glory of God.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Remember Jesus, through whom God created the world

In remembering Jesus as God's Son, I talked about how Jesus was not created but eternnal. Jesus tells his crowd of followers, "before I Abraham was, I am" (John 8:56).

This is important. Jesus was present when God spoke the world into being. And not only was He present, He played as active role in the process.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" Genesis 1:26a

The plural pronoun here show the trinity in its entirety was at work in creation.

All things come into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 

Jesus is not just a cool dude or wise teacher. He created everything out of nothing. Only God does that and Jesus is God.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know him. John 1:10 

This verse is jarring to me. I wonder how it would feel to have he very beings you created and knit together openly reject you, as we have done to Jesus. Parents of rebellious children may get a taste of how Jesus the creator feels. Christ's heart for the world He stepped into is so vast and rich and full because He was there in the beginning. Through Him was the world and everything in it created.

It's easy for me to forget that Jesus was at work in creation. It's easy to look out at the mountains or a sunset and praise God as creator. But remember, Jesus was there. Every story whispers His name.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Remember Jesus, the heir of all things

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things...Hebrews 1:2a

Jesus as heir is a unique thing. Usually when we think about an inheritance, one person dies and another person is given what they left behind. But since God, the giver of the inheritance, is immortal and eternal, that's not what we're looking at here.

Rather, the Bible speaks of the establishment of God's kingdom, where those who love God and are called according to His purpose will be able to enjoy Him forever. When Jesus returns to make all of the sad things come untrue, He will be the ruler of the new heavens and the new earth.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of Old, from ancient of days. Micah 5:2 

Micah was only one of many messengers with the same end game: Messiah is coming! Messiah will reign! Further, Hebrews 12:28 assures us that the kingdom Jesus inherits cannot be shaken. And Revelation tells us just what this kingdom will be like -

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4). 

This is the kingdom Jesus inheirts. And remember what I said a few days ago about "sons" in the Bible being a legal term? Since we are sons of God, we are also heirs, and we too will inherit the kingdom over which Jesus will reign -

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we might also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you 1 Peter 1:3-4

Jesus will inherit the kingdom of God, and we will share in His inheritance, by His blood and His grace.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Remember Jesus, by whom God has spoken

Long ago, at many times in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Hebrews 1:1-2a

The entire Old Testament foreshadows the coming of the Messiah. Jesus has always been with God, and has always existed and is thus present on every page of the Bible. Jesus himself taught this - 

For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. John 5:46 

Before we had Jesus, we had promises. The promises told of a king who would serve and sacrifice and suffer in order to put everything back the way it's supposed to be. Isaiah 53 is a prime prophecy of King Jesus to come, and tells of one who was "despised and rejected by man" and "was pierced for our transgressions". Isaiah continues to say that "by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous" and that he "makes intercession for the transgressors". I encourage you to read the entire chapter, but even those excerpts scream Jesus. 

Because many years after the prophecy, something amazing happened. God himself did come. He looked like us. He walked among us. Jesus was God with us. He was despised and rejecte and he did die to bear our iniquities. He has risen as our king and make many righteous as he continuously intercedes for us. 

And God us still speaking to us by Jesus His Sion. One of my favorite hymns asks 

What more can He say than to you He hath said, 
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? 

If you are in Jesus, God speaks to you. You can know God. You can know His word. You can know His character. You can know His promises. 

For all the promises of God find their yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our amen to God for his glory. 1 Corinthians 1:20 

I'm going to post the true and better video again, just in case you missed it. Jesus is here, and he is the truth and the best.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Remember Jesus, the Son of God

Hebrews 1:2 refers to God's Son, Jesus. If Jesus is not the Son of God, the rest ofChristianity's  claims have no ground on which to stand. 

The trinity is a mysterious doctrine. Jesus is the Son of God. He was with God in the beginning. He is God. He serves and obeys His Father. 


As God, Jesus is not a created being. Before recorded history, Jesus enjoyed perfect communion with the Father and Spirit. Later, He left His place to be born of a virgin as a baby boy. As God, He knew the law and could obey it. As a man, He was tempted. As God, He was fully capable of showcasing His divinity at any time in any way. As a man, He did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). He died humbly, submissively and sacrificially as a man, but rose again, an immortal who has never not been alive. 

But why is it important for us to remember Jesus as God's Son? I found a few ideas in Romans 8 - 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brothers (v.29). 

Jesus is God's Son. We are being made like Him so that He will have many brothers and God can have many sons. And a word to the ladies - the term used in Paul's epistles for "son" was actually a legal term used in the adoption and inheritance laws of first-century Rome. When Paul uses it, it refers to the status of all Christians who have been adopted into God's family by the blood of Jesus. Men and women are now equal in God's eyes and will all enjoy the privileges, obligations and inheritance rights. What a glorious thought. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (v.31-31). 

This is God's grace. An indescribable gift. Unmerited favor. He gave up His only Son. There's nothing God withholds from His children if it's not for their good. 

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (v.34). 

No one can condemn us because God's Son died for us. And lives for us. And prays for us. And kind fathers delight to answer the requests of their children. And is God not the best Father of all? 

God is well pleased with Jesus His Son (Mark 1:11). If you are in Jesus, this means that God is well-pleased with you. Because Jesus died for our sins against His Father, God sees Jesus instead of us. He sees sons instead of sinners. 

Praise Jesus, by whom we have received this Spirit of adoption as sons! Because Jesus is the Son of God, and has claimed us as His own, we too, can cry out, "Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15). 

And thanks be to God, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).