Grab and Go!

Answer this one question: Who is Jesus, really?

According to the author of the book of Hebrews, he is…

  1. God’s Son
  2. Our great high priest, who represents us before the Father
  3. Our ascended Lord, who from his powerful seat at God’s right hand rules the entire universe for the church’s benefit
  4. Our empathetic Savior, who understands us perfectly because he subjected himself to every temptation we face in our daily lives
  5. Our sinless Substitute, who offers his perfection so that we might claim it as our own righteousness, and be made acceptable in the eyes of a holy God

Since this is who Jesus is, we should let no person and no event diminish our faith in him. Our faith is rightly placed when it is placed on Jesus Christ. By faith, we should fiercely cling to Jesus — like a person being lowered over the edge of a cliff by Bear Grylls clings hold of the climbing rope.

Grab hold tightly. Have no plan to loosen your grip.

And then?

We go freely to God. We approach him with confidence, as a child approaches their loving parent or grandparent. We go to him with boldness. We’re not held back by guilt or shame. We’re not worried that we’re not enough. We don’t turn and run because we’re frightened by his holiness. And we’re not angry and frustrated because we can never seem to measure up.

Jesus has that all covered for us.

So, we go to God in full freedom and with absolute confidence. And we find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

Simple. Grab Jesus and go.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV).

Lord Jesus, help me by your Spirit’s power to grab hold tightly of you. And then, confident of your grace and mercy, guide me to go to the Father’s throne in prayer and make my requests with boldness and confidence.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, November 3, is Ezekiel 1:1 – 3:27, Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10 and Psalm 119:153-160.

Header image based on "Hebrews 4 16" by New Life Church Collingwood, CC By 2.0

Sorting Out Treasure from Trash

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” goes the old saying. But it’s equally true to say, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.”

We often treasure a good reputation, for instance. We want people to think highly of us. We want to be evaluated by our public persona, our outward acts of goodness, our abilities, our intellect, or our own righteousness.

As a former Pharisee, Paul certainly would have related to this self-actualized approach to life. In fact, such things had at one time been the apostle’s treasure.

But then Paul encountered Christ. He discovered how broken the Pharisee’s system of work-righteousness was, when compared to the grace and mercy of God. And he immediately recognized that he had to trash his old belief system and his former way of life.

Our true treasure is the righteousness of Christ — the righteousness that comes by faith. To toss our own righteousness in the dumpster and gain Christ is the only way to a restored relationship with God.

This is the very heart of the gospel, and the key to finding true peace. We can stop all the striving. We can forget about trying to bridge the gap sin creates by our own power or initiative. How ironic that our goodness gets in the way of our relationship with God just as easily as our sin does!

We have the joy of knowing that Jesus has already done it all. We can throw everything else out — our goodness as well as our sins — and simply focus on treasuring Jesus.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7-9, NIV).

Lord, give me the discernment and grant me the strength, so that my spiritual trash never gets in the way of my true treasure, Jesus!

Our Bible reading for Friday, October 2, is Jeremiah 4:10 – 5:31, Philippians 3:1 – 4:1 and Psalm 116:1-11.

Header image based on "Escaped Souls" by Kurt Bauschardt, CC By-SA 2.0

Tired of All the Rules?

Some people in Jesus’ day clearly thought that Jesus had come to abolish all the rules. For some, I’m sure, this was great. Because they were feeling horribly burdened by the rules.

I might empathize with this. In the 3rd century AD, the rabbi Simlai is said to have counted 613 various commandments that had been given to the Israelites by God. These covered various aspects of moral, ceremonial and civil law.

One can imagine that some thought it would be really, really nice to be done with knowing, tracking, and especially feeling responsible to obey that many laws.

But in his well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples and the onlookers gathered around them that he did not come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it.

I don’t know if you realize how big that statement is. It’s huge.

It’s Jesus saying there’s a whole different approach to lifting the burden of keeping all the rules. It’s Jesus saying, “I’ve come to do it for you.”

In other words, I’ll be your substitute. I’ll take care of it. I’ll obey all the laws, and you can simply take home the benefit and blessing of my obedience for you.

That’s really good news. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fare so well when it comes to keeping even 10 commandments.

I appreciate it when someone takes care of something I have no clue how to do myself. I absolutely love it when someone goes ahead and does a job I know I’m completely powerless to do.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17, NIV).

Thank you, Jesus, for coming not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Thank you for lifting the burden of obedience, and the load of guilt and shame that often comes with having to carry that burden all by ourselves. You carried it for me, and for that I praise and worship you as my Savior!

Our Bible reading for Monday, January 5, is Genesis 9:18 – 11:9, Matthew 4:23 – 5:20 and Psalm 4:1-8.

Header image based on "Torah" by Cate, CC by 2.0