Tag Archives: Gospel

The Mediator of the New Testament

Hebrews 9:15-17

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

I work a few days a week at the local True Value hardware store. And I love this job.  It is allowing me to get connected again with my community, as for the last 30 years I have ben a salesman on the road and have not been around the town much.  Our small town has little business, but the hardware store is doing well, and many people come through every day.  They stand and talk to each other about the days’ happenings, and I get to join in on the conversation when not busy taking care of customers.  Part of my job is giving my time to the customers to just visit.  We even have 50 cent coffee, and two picnic tables for people to enjoy it on. There are three different coffee groups every week day.  It’s so much fun!

Yesterday two guys were talking about a farmer who had recently passed away.  He had made the decision to sell off all his land after he passed, which was only about 80 acres, a very small plot by Iowa standards.  According to one of these guys, he did this to avoid the argument between the two sons of which got the better plot of land had the dad left them each 40 acres.  The story is that the sons fight over everything, and both think the other was favored among them in the father’s eyes.  What a terrible thing to have to think about before you die.

My mom recently passed away at age 97.  She was an amazing lady (I guess all of us would say that about our mothers!).  Her health finally gave way to her age, and she went gracefully.  She always had a keen mind, all the way to the end.  She would bring up things that we had talked about weeks, or even years ago, right up top the final months.  We talked three times a week by phone, as she lived out near my brother in Massachusetts.  She was always positive and always fun to talk to.  I miss those phone calls.  She had always wanted to leave a little something for my brother and I when she passed.  In fact, when she moved back to Massachusetts, she had to live in an assisted living facility.  My brother was heling her with her finances, and told her she had enough to last her 7 years in the assisted living before Mass care would have to kick in.   She said she wouldn’t last that long, and she lasted 5!

In her will she designated my brother to be executor of the estate.  He is a man of high integrity and would handle the financial end of it with grace.  One thing I never had to worry about was if he was being honest about the money she left.  He had enough on his own that he did not need to take any more than was his, as some would do.  I trusted him implicitly, and knew that if he said there was a certain amount of money left, it was the actual amount left.  As a result of this inheritance, I am in the middle of getting a project done to my house that my wife and I have been dreaming about for 5 years.  We took down a wall in the front of our house and are moving the kitchen in with the living area to make one large open-concept living space.  The project is moving rapidly, and we are so excited!

I have shared thee two tales of inheritance to because they are indicative of how an inheritance can be a blessing or a curse.  So many times, families fight and squabble over what is left behind by their loved ones, not even thinking about the fact of how sad that would make the one who died.  My wife’s sister-in-law passed away a few years back, and they are still upset about the way it all happened.  The executor seems to have misrepresented the funds left, and everyone is at odds with each other over it.  This I not unusual when someone passes.  Arguments over who got what, or that someone else was more favored and shouldn’t have received so much are rampant.  It often seems the will should have ben more specific about many things.

God’s will is very specific about so many things.  He has left us with over 8,000 promises of things that He will do for us.  Among these promises are:

            Forgiveness for all our sins

            Victory over our sinful nature

            The Holy Spirit, or Comforter, to come dwell with us and teach us

Resurrection from death

            Eternal Life in Heaven

            Healing for our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies

            Deliverance and protection from our enemies

Guidance and direction for our lives

Provision on a daily basis

Peace, Joy, Hope, Faith, and so much more.

These things and thousands more, are promises for our lives.  They are His will for our lives.  However, someone’s will does not come into force until the one who made the will dies.  I would not have the money left by my mom unless she had passed away.  As long as she lived, her things were hers, and nothing would change that.  She had to die for her will to be enacted.  That’s the way it works.

Jesus Christ came to die so that the will of God could be enforced for all of us.  His death made all the things, and so much more, possible for us to claim today.  The word translated mediator here is the Greek word mesos which is most often translated “In the midst.” It defines someone or something that stands in the middle of two things, like the sheep in the midst of wolves, or the tares in the midst of weeds, or the righteous in the midst of the wicked.  Jesus not only died to enact the will of the Father, but he also stands between us and the Father, making intercession for us (we will talk more about this later).  This is why we have to ask the Father in Jesus name!

God’s eternal plan was to bless us through the death of His Son.  Hi will could not be enacted without that, and sin would not be covered if blood was not spilled.  I am so thankful that Jesus came to this earth to give up all that He was and had to become a baby in a manger, live a human life, and die a horrible death so that I could be the beneficiary of God’s will.  He loved us that much, that he gave His all for all of us.  Hid will is now in force for all time, giving those precious promises to us each and every day.  We must let our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors know this good news. So many are living in the will of the enemy and have no idea what Jesus has done for them.  We must let them know!

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Do Not Come Up Short

Hebrews 4:1-3

 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Have you ever skipped out on a promise?  I’m sure I have.  Whether it was to my kids, or my wife, or a friend. There have been times that situations arose where I could not keep a promise.  Maybe it was to be at a ball game and a business appointment came up.  Maybe a bill didn’t get paid when I thought it would.  Maybe I lost track of my grocery list and forgot to pick something important up.  Whatever the excuse, it is a bad one when you don’t keep a promise.

Jesus does not break promises, and neither does God.  There’s an old chorus that says:

Every promise in the book is mine

Every chapter, every verse, every line

All the blessings of His love divine

Every promise in the book is mine

This is so true, from now until eternity.  Jesus said not one jot or tittle shall ever be gone from the word of God until all is fulfilled.  It is not all fulfilled yet.  There is a lot more of history still to be written, and a lot more of my life to live.  His word will always be true, and I can trust that he will fulfill His promises to me.  One Herbert Locklear said there are 7,147 promises in the Bible from God to man.  If I made that many promises I would surely break at least one of them.  But God always keeps His promises.

One thing he has promised us is that we will enter into His rest if we continue believing in Him and His word.  Belief also means that we follow it and live out the scripture in our lives.  Another is that we abide in Him and let His word abide in us.  We have hard the gospel!  We have heard how Jesus gave His life for us.  We have heard how he set me free.  We have heard that accepting His sacrifice and believing that God raised Him from the dead will save us.  We have all heard many things.  But hearing the scripture does not save us.  Hearing His word does not get us into heaven.  The devil hears it!  He is going nowhere but hell!

Once we hear the gospel, we must act on it.  We must confess our sins.  We must repent.  We must believe with out heart and confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord.  We cannot hear the gospel and think we are saved because of it.  There are millions who go about thinking they are saved because they have heard the word of Jesus.  They are very sadly mistaken.  We must repent, confess and believe with our heart and with our words.  Salvation is for those who bow before His throne, but for those who simply walk into the church and hear.

However, once we have heard, we must make sure we do not come up short.  The promises of God are all for us, but we have to keep our promise top Him as well.  He asks us to lice a holy life, to be perfect before Him, to repent when we have done wrong, to forgive our neighbor and treat them as ourselves.  He has asked us to preach the gospel, to be instant in and out of season, to study so that we can shoe ourselves approved. To transform by the renewing of our minds. He has asked us to preach the Gospel to all the world, to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, to put on the whole armor of God, to pray without ceasing, to rejoice in the Lord always.  This is not a one-way street where Jesus just keeps His promise to us.  He expects us to keep our promise to Him as will.  He expects us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

The writer says something interesting that illustrates this point, He says that the word must be mixed with faith in order for it to profit them at all.  Where is your faith?  Is your faith in your own ability to make a decision?  Is it in your employer to pay your bills?  Is it in the doctor to heal you?  Our faith must be in God and His word.  We must expect the promises to be kept.  When Moses was in the wilderness, he had to remind God a few times that this people, who were so sinful, were His people and that God should not destroy them.  Guess what!  He did not destroy them.  Moses reminded God of His word and God relented of what he was thinking of doing.  It’s not that God forgets.  It’s that God wants to know that we know His word.  He doesn’t mind if we bring His word to Him, and pray that word to Him.  In fact, He loves it when we pray the word to Him.  The fact that we are placing our faith in His word pleases God.  Ut shows Him that we are not about to fall short, but we are going to trust Him all the way. I have a strong desire to enter into His rest, and I’m sure you do to.  The key is to keep His word, to keep our promise to Him.  He keeps His promise.  Why should he expect any less form us?  I intend to keep my promise to God and not fall short.  How about you?

A More Excellent Name

Hebrews 1:1-4

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

What a great introduction the writer gives us to let us know that Jesus spoke to this world with power and authority.  No one is really sure who wrote this book.  I have read several commentaries, and saw the names of Barnabas, Luke, Paul and others mentioned as possible authors.  It really doesn’t matter who wrote it – it is a masterpiece!  The language used is unique to this book, as there are over 1,000 Greek words that are used exclusively in this book to the Hebrews.  It is said to be written to Jews who were in Rome, and possibly Jerusalem as well, who were considering leaving their faith in Jesus Christ and going back to the customs they were freed from.  This book goes to great lengths to explain to the reader that the purpose of Jesus coming was to do away with the old order and bring in God’s final approved will to all mankind.

I will tell you right up front that going through Hebrews is a daunting task, but one I need to go through. My own Bible study time has been miniscule lately, and I need to get into this book to renew my heart and mind to what Christ really did for me.  I need to take the time to slowly and meticulously ask God to reveal His words to me contained in this book, and bring me back to the love for His word that I have had in the past.  I have never spent a lot of time in Hebrews, but it is a book worthy of all of our time.  So, I will attempt to bring you fairly regular thoughts on what God is showing me, and what I have studied out, as I go through these pages.  I hope you will come along.

The writer starts out by reminding us that God has always taken time to speak to His people.  He walked and communed with Adam in the garden, spoke to Cain when he killed his brother, spoke to Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses – the list is endless.  He has always spoken to His people, and He still does today.  God has not changed.  The problem is that people are now speaking for God without hearing from Him.  How else can one explain churches that embrace homosexuality or abortion? How can one explain some of the false doctrine that is invading our churches today?  People say they hear from God but their words are the opposite of scripture.  God said His word will endure forever, so how can these people be hearing from God?  The writer also says that God used diverse manners to speak to the hearts of man.  He used a donkey, a rushing wind, a flood, storms and fig trees to teach people of his ways.  We cannot put God in a box.  He will speak to us in many ways and at various times to get our attention.  We must make sure we are tuned into His voice, because He said His sheep know His voice.

Then the writer turns to the fact that lately God has spoken to them by His Son.  What higher authority is there then the Son of the one who made all things and created all things.  He is the heir!  On other words, not only did he make all things, but He owns, and will own all things.  Too often we make God way to small.  We don’t take all our problems to Him and we expect so little out of Him.  Maybe you don’t do this, but I do.  I recently went through some financially hard times and through them all I decided to make decisions on my own instead of consulting Him.  How silly of me.  God talks about finances and money as much as anything in the Bible.  Why would He not want me to come to Him when making decisions about my financial status and investments?  Yet, I did not want to “bother” Him with my questions or uncertainties and instead made a big mess of things.  I sure hope I learned my lesson!

Jesus was the brightness of God’s glory, the image of His person and the upholder of all things, yet He died for me and for you.  He gave up His life to redeem us from our sins and then went to sit at the right hand of the Father for eternity.  He had all this going for Him, yet he put you and I first.  This is the heart of God.  Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.  Jesus paved the way for what we call the “Golden Rule.”  He showed us what it was like to live that out in the ultimate sense.  It’s not about just doing little things for someone, but doing the big things.  It’s not about what is best for me, but what is best for others.  It’s not about putting a smile on my face, but putting that smile on someone else’s face.  Them first!

Our world today has a me first mentality.  Everyone is out for their own good and not looking to help one another unless it helps them.  People don’t often think of the other person’s well-being.  It’s what’s in it for me that matters.  I was so blessed last week.  A young man came over and helped me clear my driveway out from 10” of snow.  Our plow broke down so I had the daunting task of clearing the snow out.  I put out a plea on Facebook and within 15 minutes had a reply.  He came with a shovel in his hand and we cleaned the drive together, him doing the bulk of the work.  While we were shoveling, someone came by with a snowblower and cleared my sidewalk and my neighbor’s driveway.  I have no idea who that person was.  They were indeed a blessing to us both and wanted nothing in return.  This is the Golden Rule in action.

The Psalmist tells us that man was made a little lower than the angels, But Jesus is higher than the angels.  We are not now, nor ever will be, on an even keel with Him.  We may be able to do miraculous things by the power of His name, but we will never be equal with Him.  We may hear from God and speak prophecies and words of wisdom like He did, but we will never be equal with Him.  Paul tells us that one day, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord.  Until that day, we would do good to remember that any power or authority I have comes from Him and He can take it away as quickly as I can say it.  He has obtained that more excellent name from now to eternity, and no one will take it away.  Let us walk in the power and authority of His name, for we can do all things only through and by Him!  And let us exalt His name every chance we get!  If God has exalted it, how much more should we!

The Blessed Hope

Titus 2:13-15

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

The gospel message in it’s true form is outline in these three verses.  It is unfortunate that in many churches this message is no longer preached.  What hope do we have if we do not live out these simple verses?  Let’s break it down and see what wealth there is here.

The blessed hope of His appearing.  Jesus is coming again, and most of us believe it will be soon.  The world is spinning out of control sin is every increasing, wars and rumors of wars are all around us, the weather is crazy, pandemics are ravaging all ages.  Can we be far from His return?  The answer is yes – and no.  We do not know.  All that continue to say He may come tomorrow are correct, and those who say he may not come for another 1,000 years are also correct.  We do not know, we never will.  We can look at the signs of the times, and we should, but man will never truly know when He is coming.  I am sure that Paul thought just as strongly that he would return very shortly when he wrote these words almost 2,000 years ago.  We are still here!

I am glad man does not know when Jesus will come.  I am glad we think of His return as imminent.  But I am not always in a ready position, are you?  Is sin far from your life, or are their secret sins you still embrace?  If I truly think He is coming any moment, sin will be far from me.  I would be a fool to be practicing or involved in known sin if I anticipated His return today.  I could be caught before I repented, and end up here on this earth.  Lord help me! Help me to leave sin behind and draw ever closer to you.  Help me to live in this blessed hope that we have – that you will return any moment.  Help me to always keep that in mind as I go through my day, as I meet the stranger on the street, as I walk through the grocery store and as I sit quietly in my study early in the morning. Help me be ever mindful that you are always watching and waiting for me to draw near to your side. Make my hope come alive!

He gave himself for me.  No one took His life.  It may look like that on paper, but he was not forced to the cross.  He even said He could call a legion of angels if He wanted to.  But He chose to die.  He knew when he was sent to this earth that he would die a violent death.  The prophecies of the Old Testament told Him that He would be beaten, bruised and scarred (Isaiah 53), that His bones would be out of join and He would thirst (Psalm 22).  He knew His garments would be gambled for and that he would be mocked and scorned (Psalm 22).  He knew the scriptures better than we do even before He came.  Yet He came anyway, to give His life for me and for you.  Why am I so afraid to give my life back to Him?  Why do I hold back from telling others of this blessed hope when he was so willing to go to an ugly, painful cross for me?  I will never face the pain and suffering He faced.  I will never know the hurt of my best friends turning their backs on me and denying they even know me.  All these things are probably not in my future, so why do I not tell everyone of this news, of this sacrifice – of His love for them.  

Help me be bold, Lord, for your kingdom.  Jesus had the boldness to stand and face His adversaries even to the death.  I am afraid to witness in the grocery store.  Do I really believe what it says here?  Do I really believe that He is coming soon?  Is my hope really alive if I am not telling people they need a Savior?  Telling people that Jesus died for them, to give them this hope?  I sometimes feel like a coward!  He has done all this for me, yet I keep silent when given plenty of opportunity to share His story.  I should be shouting from my rooftop and instead I cower in my basement.  My prayer in 2022 is that my witness will be bolder, my words more convincing and my testimony stronger.  I pray that my life will be a light for others to walk toward and find the true Light.  I pray souls will be saved and delivered by the things I say, do, and write.  This should be the common result of my labors.

He redeemed me from iniquity.  He took my sins away and keeps taking them away.  His grace is beyond measure, and His mercy never ends.  I am in constant awe that he loves me, and that he forgives me, even when I blatantly sin.  How can an Almighty God love the likes of me? He is all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful   Very move I make is in His line of sight.  Psalm 139 explains it well.  He knows every thought, every word and every deed.  He always knows where I am and what I am doing.  I often live my life in total disbelief of this verse.  I do things and say things that I know he would not approve of, and I know He sees my every step.  I abandon my faith and walk in iniquity, and he still redeemed me from those iniquities, those transgressions, those sins.

Psalm 51 comes to mind.  This is David’s prayer after Nathan revealed his sin with Bathsheba.  He pleads for mercy.  He puts himself before God knowing he has sinned and begs for a new heart and a clean spirit to be renewed.  Even though David di so many things wrong, he is called a man after God’s own heart.  Why?  He certainly was far from perfect.  Yet David lived a life of repentance.  When he did do wrong, he fell on His knees before His maker and asked for forgiveness.  He repented and turned the other way.  That is the heart I must have.  Because God is ready to forgive me, and redeem me from my iniquities.  He is just waiting for me to ask.

He purified me and made me zealous for good works.  This is an ongoing event.  He continues to purify me, to bring the worst out of me and place His bast in me.  The fruit of the spirit are ever-growing in my life.  They drive me to good works so that the light will shine on other people’s lives, and they will glorify God.  I am not place don this earth to gain glory for myself. But to bring him glory.  Do I look for those opportunities to do good?  Am I truly zealous for good works?  Have I allowed God to purify me the way he wants me to be pure?  Jesus said I should be perfect, even as my father in heaven is perfect.  I have a long way to go.  It is my decision if I will be pure or not.  When will I decide to make His witness more important than my own whims and desires?  Lord, please take me where you want me to go.  Lead me in your path and help me to abandon my own.  Help me be all that you want me to be.

I need to refocus in this new year.  I need to live out this last verse.  I need to speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority.  This is what he wants me to do, not that man will despise me, but that they will be the loving God who has saved me and put His love within me.  2021 was not my year to do that, but 2022 can be.  Lord, I lay my life down on the altar of obedience today.  You have given me abilities to reach out to others.  Help me to utilize them to their fullest capacity this year. Help this be the year that I break the mold I have put myself in and allow your potters hands to mold me and shape me into the vessel you intended me to be. I am not afraid to walk in new places and do things that will bring you glory.  I desire to be a vessel of honor for you.  Lord, hear my prayer.

 

Can I Give Up?

Philippians 2:6

” Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

To fully understand verses 7 and 8, Paul first tells us that Jesus was equal to God.  This in itself would get the Jews al riled up, and we see many times in his journeys Paul is run out of town by the Jews, or is kicked out of the synagogue.  When this happened, Paul would then preach to thee Gentiles.  The thought that anyone was equal to God was blasphemy to the Jews.  Only the Messiah could make that claim, and they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

The problem is that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  He fulfilled every scripture from the Old Testament that pointed to the Messiah, among them Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, which both have specific things about Messiah that Jesus went through.  He even quoted from Psalm 22 on the cross when He cried out “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1, Matt 27:46).

Jesus Himself said He was equal to the Father on several occasions. John 10:30 He said “I and my Father are one”.  In John 5:18 it says that the scribes and Pharisees were angry with Him because He said God was His Father, and they thought that implied He was equal with God.  He said He always did what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19).

Jesus is seated in heaven, at the right hand of God (Mark 6:19).  He is the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8), He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29).  Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16).  His name is high above any other name (Phil 2:9).  There should be no doubt in our minds that Jesus was universal royalty, high above anything or anyone who ever lived or ever will live.

He was also the Word of God (John 1:14).  The Word that created all things (John 1:1-3).  The Word that pierces my soul and spirit (Heb 4:12).  The Word of God has all authority in heaven and earth. (Matt 28:18).

All of this is who Jesus is.  All of this is what He lived with throughout eternity, and will live with for the rest of time.  But for 33 years, He gave it all up.  Come back tomorrow and find out more about that.  My question to myself is -what am I willing to give up for Him?  How much can I put aside my pride and my place in society to follow Him.  He gave it all up for me!

 

Lord, help me to give my all to you. After all, you have given me everything I have – why am I so reluctant to give it away to serve you?  Why am I so reluctant talking to people about you and about their eternal destination?  Help me to look at your example and follow it.  You gave everything for me – Help me give everything for you.