Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Faithfulness Of Jesus

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
who was faithful to Him who appointed Him,
as Moses also was faithful in all His house.

When I started this blog, I felt as if I was buried alive. Because of my health, I was unable to do much of anything. Fast-forward a few years and because of the spiritual exercise involved in blogging I reached a place where I was digging out of the pit. All of a sudden, my friend in “the valley” began slipping away and handed his life over to me completely. Now I was more buried than before.

I grew up on a farm, and I remember being amazed by the process of growth in small plants. Have you ever watched a delicate leaf (seed/shoot) dig its way up through hard soil? That struggle is what makes it a strong and resilient crop.

I cannot imagine going through life without the faithfulness of Christ to hold me. As I yield myself to His instruction, He is consistently trustworthy and loyal to me and to His promises. And I find myself more resilient than ever.

We go into a little Old Testament history in this lesson that will help us better understand the next. The following excerpt titled “Christ and Moses” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

Moses and Aaron together represented God in Israel; the one as apostle or messenger, the other as high priest. In the person of Jesus the two offices are united. As High Priest He is merciful as Aaron; as Apostle of our profession He is faithful as Moses. Moses was the great apostle or messenger of God, the Old Testament type of Christ as prophet. He had access to God, and brought the word of God to the people.

Christ is the great Apostle or Prophet of the New Covenant. He ever spoke of Himself as the one whom the Father had sent; in Him, the Son, God speaks to us. As Apostle He is God's Representative with us, making God known to us; as High Priest, our Representative with God, bringing us into His presence.

As High Priest He stands linked to us by His mercy and compassion, as He now, having died for us, helps us in our temptation and weakness; as Apostle He pleads for God with us, and proves Himself entirely faithful to Him. We need to consider Christ Jesus, not only as a High Priest in His mercy, but as the Apostle of our profession who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also was Moses in all his house.

Faithfulness is trustworthiness. As we see Jesus faithful to Him who appointed Him, our faith and trust will rise into perfect and joyful assurance that He will indeed most faithfully fulfill all God's promises in us, that in us too He will be faithful as a Son over His own house. Nothing gives such strength to faith as resting on the faithfulness of Jesus. The glory of Jesus is the glory of Christianity; is the strength and glory of the Christian life.


Selah.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Heavenly Life

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,”

I wrestled with whether to move on to the next chapter in our study, or spend yet another week considering Jesus. Considering Jesus won. This is always a safe place to default when the “race” we are running gets to be too much for us. Through worship, we keep “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) He will be faithful to carry us. (More on this later.)

Last week we began to explore the roles that Jesus plays in our real and present lives as our Apostle and High Priest. Next week we will take a closer look at how Jesus’ life compares to these figures in the Old Testament. I cannot help but think that God is trying to show us something special here, something with eternal value. Something I do not want to miss.

For these reasons, we will continue to take this segment slowly. The following excerpt begins with a review from last time and is titled “Consider Jesus,” in Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

Christians, at Pentecost, were people who by the new birth entered into the heavenly kingdom or state of life. And the kingdom entered into them. And they were partakers of a heavenly calling, because the spirit and the life and the power of heaven was within them.

It is to such men the invitation comes. Holy brethren! Partakers of the heavenly calling! Consider Jesus! If you would know what it is to be holy and to live holy, consider Jesus who makes holy! If you would know the privileges and powers that belong to you as partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus! He is God, the King of heaven! He is Man who has ascended to heaven as your Priest and Savior, has opened it for you, and can communicate its life and blessedness. Oh, consider Jesus! Set your heart on Him; He will make you holy and heavenly.

There is more than one of my readers who mourns that he knows so little what it is to live a holy and a heavenly life. Listen, God's word speaks to you—Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling! Consider Jesus! This is your weakness: you have looked at yourself and your own strength; you have not studied Jesus! This will be your cure: each day, each hour, consider Jesus, and in Him you will find all the holiness and the heavenliness you need.

In the latter part of the Epistle all the glory of Jesus as He entered heaven, and opened it for us, as He became a minister of the heavenly sanctuary, and leads us to dwell in the Father's presence, will be opened to us. But let us even now, from the commencement, hold fast the truth that the knowledge of Jesus seated in heaven is the power of the heavenly calling and the heavenly life.

Do not think that you know all that can be told about Jesus. Believe that there are wonders of heavenly joy to be revealed to you if you know Him better: His divine nearness and oneness with you, His ever-present indwelling to succor and lead you, His power to bring you into the Holiest of All, into the Father's presence and love, and to keep you there, will be revealed.

Selah.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Holiness Of God

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,”

Only Andrew Murray can turn scripture into a poetic story. In case you do not know, the “Holiest of All” in the Old Testament is the innermost court of the tabernacle and the temple where the High Priest met alone with God once every year.

He would go into the closet and stand before God. He stood in the presence of God based on a blood sprinkled mercy seat. It is one of my very favorite subjects in the Bible and the reason I was drawn to this study.

I could not help but spend another week considering all that Jesus is as our Apostle and High Priest. May Murray's insight change us all. The following excerpt titled “Consider Jesus” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

Holy brethren! The word holy had also been just used. He that sanctifieth, maketh holy, and they who are sanctified, made holy, are all of one. We saw how holiness is the common mark of Christ and His people: their bond of union, and the great object they both aim at.

One of the great mysteries the Epistle is to reveal to us is that our great High Priest has opened the way for us into the Most Holy Place or the Holiest of All. In Hebrew it is the Holiness of Holinesses. There we have boldness of access, there we are to have our dwelling encircled by the holiness of God.

We must know that we are holy in Christ; this will give us courage to enter into the Holiness of Holinesses, to have God's holiness take complete possession, and fill our whole being. It is Jesus who makes holy: it is we who are to be made holy: what more natural than that the thoughts should be coupled together: holy brethren, consider Jesus.

Holy brethren! Partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus! What is elsewhere spoken of as a holy calling is here named a heavenly calling. That does not only mean a calling from heaven, or a calling to the heaven, whence the call proceeds. No, there is much more in it.

Heaven is not only a place, but a state, a mode of existence, the life in which the presence of God is revealed and experienced in its unhindered power. And the heavenly calling is that in which the power of the heavenly life works to make our life heavenly.

When Jesus was upon earth the kingdom of heaven was nigh at hand; after He had ascended and received the kingdom from the Father, the kingdom of heaven came to this earth in power, through the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Christians, at Pentecost, were people who by the new birth entered into the heavenly kingdom or state of life. And the kingdom entered into them. And they were partakers of a heavenly calling, because the spirit and the life and the power of heaven was within them.

Selah.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Possession Of The Son

“Therefore, holy brothers and companions in a heavenly calling,
consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession;”

Recently, I read a story about a man by the name of Hudson Taylor. He was a master missionary. While he never wrote a book on missions or church planting, he did write a very small commentary on the Song of Solomon. The key to his success was that he loved his Lord, and he believed that you could only cultivate love in aloneness with the one you love.

A. W. Tozer was one of the few men who preached consistently on the need to be a worshiper of God, telling the church that worship was the missing jewel in her crown.

C. S. Lewis believed that God communicates His presence to men in the process of worship. And Oswald Chambers called worship “the great essential of fitness.” He went on to say, “If you have not been worshipping…, when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.”

Worship is a vital element of our freedom in Christ. I love the idea of worship being a jewel in our crown. The following excerpt titled “Consider Jesus” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

Consider Jesus! This is the central thought of the verse, and of the passage of which it is a part, as it is indeed of the whole Epistle. It is the one aim of the writer to persuade the Hebrews that, if they but knew aright the Lord Jesus as the faithful, compassionate, and almighty High Priest in heaven, they would find in Him all they needed for a life such as God would have them lead.

Their life would be in harmony with their faith, in harmony with the life of Him whom their faith would apprehend. The words might have been taken as the title of my book: Consider Jesus! It is indeed the keynote of the Epistle.

The word consider, from the root of the Latin word for Star, originally means to contemplate the stars. It suggests the idea of the astronomer, and the quiet, patient, persevering, concentrated gaze with which he seeks to discover all that can be possibly known of the stars which the object of his study are.

And Jesus, who is God, who became man, and perfected our human nature in His wonderful life of suffering and obedience, and now dwells in heaven to communicate to us its life and blessedness—oh, what reason there is for saying, consider Jesus.

Gaze upon Him, contemplate Him. For some increased knowledge of the stars what devotion, what enthusiasm, what sacrifices are often times witnessed. Oh, let the study and possession of the Son of God waken our devotion and our enthusiasm, that we may be able to tell men what beauty and what glory there is in Jesus.

Selah.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Living Faithful Helper

“For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].” 
Hebrews 2:18 Amplified Bible

I once heard that unless you can explain something simply you do not know it well enough. My goals for this blog include being able to explain salvation (or as Murray likes to say “so great a salvation”).

I have never mentioned before that I am dyslexic. It is very difficult for me to learn from books. I comprehend slowly, and retain little. Thankfully, scripture is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). I have found that the word of God transfers off the page and into our hearts regardless of whether we understand everything about it. However, to explain something to others requires deep understanding.

The Old Testament story linking Jesus’ sacrifice for us was never explained to me as a new Christian. And because of the dyslexia I did not know how to go about connecting the dots. When I set out on this journey to find freedom in Christ huge parts of the big picture were missing for me.

I believe that frequently the gospel presentation is incomplete. I cannot help but think that if I can find a way to explain it simply, maybe it will help other people experience a deeper salvation as well. And that is what leads to freedom in Christ.

I love how Andrew Murray digs deep to discuss every angle. I do want to point out that the word succor here means so much more than simply help. It also means relief, comfort, and even rescue.

The following excerpt is titled “A High Priest Able to Succor,” from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

This is the greatest and most blessed part of His work in bringing us to God, that, as the Leader in the path of suffering and perfection, He inspires us with His own dispositions, and, by the mighty operation of His Spirit within us, gives us His help in every time of need. The one thing we need is, to know and trust Him fully.

To know Him as High Priest who not only has opened a way to God for us to walk in, and not only in heaven prays for us, but who undertakes to keep us so in fellowship with Himself, and under the covering of His power, and in the experience of His full redemption, that temptation can never conquer us.

His divinity secures to us His unfailing and never ceasing presence. His humanity assures us of His sympathy and compassion. More ever-present and more mighty than the temptation, His unfailing love is always near to give the victory. He can and will do it.

Our High Priest is a living, faithful helper: let us trust Him. Salvation is not a thing He gives us apart from Himself. Full salvation is nothing but Jesus Himself, most compassionately and most faithfully watching over us in daily life, most really and fully giving and living His life in us.

The abiding, indwelling presence of Jesus, able to succor, is the true secret of the Christian life. Faith will lead us into the experience that Jesus is and does all that is said of Him.

Selah. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Union With Himself

“For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels,
but to help Abraham’s offspring.” Hebrews 2:16 HCSB

God has to provide all the right circumstances for me to be able to create a blog post. A few weeks ago, He clearly stopped providing. As hard as it was for me to relent, I knew I could trust Him. I was beyond swamped in caring for my friend in “the valley.” Thankfully, I have managed to bring order out of chaos.

I will only be blogging once a week until I can successfully manage my obligations as a helpmeet to my husband, keeper of two homes (including the caregiving of my friend), and my cancer therapy. I will continue to post on Wednesdays aiming for morning, but the timing is always in God’s hands.

I am excited to say that in the absence of writing I found the creative energy to resume the design of my new blog site. The designer I originally hired was not the right person for the job. Please join me in praying for a new designer so I can move on with the plans.

Andrew Murray had me quite confused over some of his material at the end of chapter two in Hebrews. It prompted me to resume studying under a teacher who has guided this same study repeatedly for many years. You can find his website here. He recommends reading the book of Hebrews daily (or at the very least weekly) while working through this study. He points out any errors in Murray’s teaching in his live audio sessions (many of them are online; the others are available by request).

I am thrilled to be engaging in this study once again. We find ourselves reviewing in this excerpt titled “A High Priest Able to Succor” from Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All:

In the first chapter we saw the writer quoting text after text from the Old Testament, in order that he might bring us to the full apprehension of the truth and the meaning of our Lord's divinity. In this chapter we see him in the same way, time after time, reiterate the fact of our Lord's humanity, lest we should not fully realize all that it means.

So it is here. He had just said, since the children were sharers of flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same. It is as if He feels the insufficiency of the words, and therefore once again repeats and confirms his statement: For verily not of angels doth He take hold, but He takes hold of the seed of Abraham. Man may have been made lower than the angels, but this honor have they not, that He took hold of them—He takes hold of the seed of Abraham.

And how doth He take hold? There is no way in which God can take hold of a creature other than by entering into him with His life and spirit, so imparting His own goodness and power, and bringing him into union with Himself. So did Jesus take hold of man. He entered into humanity and became one with it. And so he takes hold of individual souls by entering with each into personal union and fellowship.

Selah. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Divine Fellowship

Notice: Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am resigned to take a short time off. God willing, I will be back Wednesday, June 11th, 2014.

“For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.”

My friend in “the valley” kept nearly everything you could imagine. Books on subjects I never knew existed; military journals from Libya; thousands of photos of planes, trains, and various histories; and every piece of correspondence received as an adult. As I comb through his belongings and feel his life slipping away, I cannot find one single book that I gifted to him about Christ. From a man who saved everything he clearly rejected Him.

I have had many conversations with him regarding my concerns. Recently, I suggested he go to a Bible study in his new senior residence (unbeknownst to him the lovely home is run by Mennonites). He started ranting about why he did not think it was appropriate to have someone teach him what he or she “thought” about the Bible. And how every teacher on television, along with every preacher in a church taught something different.

I then said, “what if the only real way to God is Jesus, and the Bible is all about Jesus.” He then said he did not need someone peering over his shoulder to study it. To which I replied, “I bought you a Bible, how about you study it for yourself?” I convinced him how fascinating the history is (he was a history major). I am thrilled to say he accepted my challenge. After 20 years of suggestion, I could not be more thrilled to be his coach.

We had a very long hard day yesterday; therefore, our lesson today is brief. Andrew Murray titles the following excerpt “Jesus Calls Us Brethren” from the classic The Holiest of All:

The word Holy is one of the deepest in Scripture. It means a great deal more than separated or consecrated to God. The Triune God is the Thrice-Holy One: Holiness is the deepest mystery of His Being, the wondrous union of His righteousness and His love. To be holy is to be in fellowship with God, possessed of Him.

Therefore the Spirit specially bears the name of Holy, because He is the bearer to us of the love of God, and the maintenance of the divine fellowship is His special work. Jesus is the Holy One of God, who makes us holy in filling us with His Holy Spirit.

The difference between Jesus and us is great—the oneness is greater. He and we are of one, together partakers of God's life and God's holiness. Let us give abundant heed to so great salvation.

Selah.