Tag Archives: Hebrews

Prayer and the Throne of Grace

throne room

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  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 4:14-16

Picture the throne room in Heaven.  It is filled with God’s glory, power, and radiant majesty,  a holy place from which Jesus rules over the entire universe while He sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).  Here are three things about this throne:

It is a throne of grace.   In the midst of this throne room filled with God’s majesty and power, Jesus bids us to boldly come and present our requests to Him.  This is amazing, so amazing that I can’t even wrap my mind around it.  When we need help,  Jesus, the king of the universe,  is waiting for us to come so He can give us His mercy and grace.  In fact, in Isaiah 30:18 it says, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.”  NIV  He longs for us to come to Him in prayer.  

Conversely, when we turn to someone or something else instead of to God, He rebukes us.  In 2 Chronicles 16, King Asa asked for help from the king of Syria instead of going to God for assistance.  God sent Hanani the prophet to Asa to tell him that God helped Asa in the past, so why didn’t he ask God instead of going to the king of Syria.  Hanani then said, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.  You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

It is a throne of intercession.  Jesus can identify with our weaknesses, He knows our weaknesses and He is praying for them.  Hebrews 7:25 declares, “Consequently Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Jesus is not only ruling and reigning, but He is praying for us day and night.   Also, Hebrews 2:18 reads, “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  When you are confronted with your weaknesses, or are tempted to sin–call out to Jesus!  He will help you.

It is a throne of well-timed help.  According to John Piper, in his devotional “His Timing is Perfect,” Hebrews 4:16 is more literally translated, “that we may find grace for a well-timed help.”  God’s grace will not come too early or too late.

What good news to rest on as we bring our needs, our dreams, and our failures to the throne of grace in prayer!  


The Two-Edged Sword

Image result for two edged sword picture

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

I have talked a lot about the power of the Word and the necessity of being in it, so I just want to testify of what the Bible has done in my life.  As I have also previously mentioned, I became a Christian through two ladies who came and taught Vacation Bible School in my little farm community.  They taught the Word of God apologetically, persistently, and clearly.  I sat on the edge of my seat as I listened to them each summer.  They came from hours away, so this was the only time I heard teaching like this.  They quoted verses as they taught and in conversation, they sang songs with verses in them, and they simply stood on the truths of the Bible.

Through these two dear ladies, Miss Evelyn and Miss LaRue, the two-edged Word sword did its work in my life.  I learned that you don’t need a lot of props, you just need the Bible.  Through their encouragement I memorized hundreds of verses.  It is what changed my life, and I saw it change other people’s lives in the same way.  

When I went away to college, I joined Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, a campus Christian group.  Through them I was taught how to study the Bible inductively and many other things that took this love for the Bible and the passionate belief that we must base our lives on it, eat, drink and sleep with it.  I have kept Bible study journals for almost 40 years now.

I worked my summers throughout college and beyond in camping ministries.  In each of these places, I saw God use me in other kids’ lives as I taught the Bible and told them the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to pay the price for our sins and to purchase salvation for us.  I prayed with hundreds of kids to find this Jesus in their lives, just like Evelyn and LaRue did for me.

Since then, I continue with the same conviction.  I know if I teach with the Bible in my hand, God works.  I don’t get carried away with emotional or funny stories, just this living and active sword of the Spirit that changes lives.  In 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 it says that we are not to resort to manipulation or clever schemes, watering it down or panhandling it for profit.

God moved my audience from children to an evangelistic ministry in our County jail.  For over 17 years I have had the privilege of being the first person, in many cases, to introduce these dear women to Jesus and to the Bible.  The living and active word of God is doing its work in their lives.  Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “it will not return to Me empty but will accomplish that which I purpose.”


The Cure to Drifting

Fix on Jesus

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.  Hebrews 3:1 NIV

Last time we looked at five things that contribute to drifting spiritually.  There are many more ways, knowing that the world, the flesh and the devil all work against our spiritual growth.   Since I listed five things that contribute to drifting, I’ll answer with five ways to combat the drift:

  1. Fix our thoughts, hearts and eyes on Jesus.  I love that word, “fix.”   There are several verses with the words fix and set.  Picture yourself being stuck to Jesus like glue.  You’re fixed to Him.  Colossians 3:1-3 tell us to set our minds and hearts on things above, and Hebrews 12:2 also tells us (NIV wording again) to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” It takes an intentional mindset to keep looking at Jesus in the Word, in our worship and in prayer.  Tell yourself to get your eyes and thoughts off of yourself, off of others and to fix them on Jesus.
  2. The Holy Spirit.  The good news is that we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to overcome those things that pull us down and cause us to drift.  Galatians 5:16 announces, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  
  3. Fellowship with like minded believers.  In 2 Timothy 2:22 we are told to “flee youthful passions, to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  That means you purposely place yourself around people who are fixed on Jesus.  If you can’t find any to hang around, then read their blogs, their books, listen to their sermons or worship songs.  
  4. Learn to worship.  Good worship music draws our thoughts and hearts to Jesus.  Don’t listen to garbage music that doesn’t do so.  Worship just doesn’t have to include singing or listening to music.  Include the Psalms in your diet.  Memorize and meditate on them.  True worship changes our affections, drawing them away from the things of the world to heavenly things.
  5. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.  That means reading, studying, meditating on  and memorizing the Bible.  For me, the closest link to drifting spiritually is when I get too busy, distracted or undisciplined to be in the Word.  It means I am living my life in my own strength, in the flesh, and I am dead meat when I do that.  The verse from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is so true: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.”  

O Lord, keep me from wandering and drifting.  Daily pull me back to Your heart.  Draw and fix my thoughts on Jesus.  Fill me with Your power to walk in the Spirit and to stick to Jesus like glue.

 


Don’t be a Drifter

drifting

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1  

Most people don’t go from living  a normal life of working a job, going to church and paying their bills to suddenly going out and robbing a bank.  The path is usually a slow fade, as the Casting Crowns song aptly says: “It’s a slow fade when black and white are turned to gray, and thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid,  when you give yourself away.  People never crumble in a day. It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade.”

To not drift away from the things we know with that slow fade that leads to trouble, takes diligent attention.  There are at least 5 things I can think of that cause us to drift:

  1. Busyness.  Everyone is just busy these days, even retired people.  But the things that we are busy with aren’t always the most important things.  Sadly, the most important things get pushed to the back shelf until a crisis hits, or something that jolts us into more clear thinking.  Ephesians 5:15-16 reminds us to “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”
  2. The cares and riches and pleasures of life, as described in the parable of the sower from Luke 8:14.   They were the thorns that choked out one of the soils, causing the seed  to be unfruitful.   In 2 Timothy 3, Paul said in the last days people would be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”  Do the cares, riches and pleasures of life cause you to drift from your devotion to God?
  3. Distractions.  They can be really good things that distract us, like time with family, much needed sleep, or chores.  But usually the things that keep us from having a daily time of connecting with God are less noble–like a “must watch” TV show, fiddling on the Internet, or not being self disciplined enough to have a set quiet time.
  4. Unattended  sins.  In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, Paul urged Timothy to “keep fighting the good fight, holding faith and a good conscience.  By rejecting this, some have made a shipwreck of their faith.”  In other words, if you don’t keep a clear conscience it can shipwreck your faith.  Unconfessed sins, or living a sloppy faith life with delayed obedience, partial obedience, or just plain disobedience can make you distant and disconnected from the Savior.
  5. Lack of concentrated effort.  If you love something, you spend time and money on it.  If you have a desire to get good at something that you like, you work on it and put sweat equity into it.  Matthew 6:21 says it: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Perhaps drifting is a sign of where your heart is and it’s time for a gut check if this is where you are at.  Many people have “yes, but’s” when it comes to moving ahead in their faith walk, but they don’t have those same big but’s when it comes to doing something they really love.  They plow through the obstacles.

Next time we will look at how not to drift.  We don’t want to stop on the negative things before we get to what may help us to not drift.  May God, the One “who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure,” be at work in you to keep you from drifting.


Jesus is a Very Big Deal

Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.  After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Hebrews 1:3

The writer of Hebrews starts off with a magnificent declaration of five things about who Jesus is.  They are central to our faith, and why Jesus is a big deal:

  1. He is the radiance of the glory of God.  Jesus is full of God’s glory, and He was even when He was a human on the earth.  The apostle John told about it in John 1:14, We beheld His glory, full of grace and truth.  If you want to know God’s glory, look at Jesus.  Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and absorb His miracle power.  In John 2:11, after Jesus turned the water into wine, John recorded, This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.  And His disciples believed in Him.  
  2. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature.  Jesus is God.  John 1:18 tells us, No one has ever seen God; the only God (Jesus) who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.  If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  As Colossians 1:15 also declares, He is the image of the invisible God.  
  3. He upholds the universe by the word of His power.  I love Philippians 3:21, Who, by the power that enables Jesus to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.  And Colossians 1:17 says, In Him (Jesus) all things hold together.   Jesus holds the universe together, He holds you and me together, and He holds all of the political and climate events together.  It is not in man’s power to do this, only Jesus’.  When I watch the news and start to feel afraid and unsettled, it is this concept that comes to mind.
  4. He made purification for our sins.  We are all infected with a lethal disease that causes spiritual death–it’s sin.  No one is immune to this disease, as all have sinned, from Romans 3:23.  Our problem isn’t poverty, or pollution, or evil institutions–it’s sin.  Only Jesus could pay the price for our sin, and He did.  Hebrews 10:11-12 states, Every priest…offers repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.  The root of purification is “pure.”  We have been made pure by Jesus’ blood.
  5. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Jesus is not the little baby in a manger, nor is He the bearded guy in the pictures with a kid on His lap.  He is now glorified, ruling and reigning on a throne, sitting next to His Father God, “the Majesty.”  He lived a perfect life, completed the job He came to do by dying on the cross and triumphantly rising again, and then was given the victor’s crown.  Jesus is executing judgment and righteousness from the throne with all power and authority and will one day come in great glory.  Check out the description that John gave after He encountered the risen and exalted Lord in Revelation 1:12-17.  This is Jesus!

 

I commend King Jesus to you that you might trust in Him,  love Him and worship Him.