Chosen for holiness

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

What am I here for?  What is this life all about?  The longer we live, the more we seek meaning in life, the more we may be caught asking these questions.  So did God create us with some intent?  Did He make each of us with our own purpose?  Yes and yes.

Even before time began, when all that existed was God, He thought of you.  The Creator chose you in Christ (that is, He chose you to belong to Him as His child) before He even made the earth where you would reside.  He made you to be uniquely you, with special talents and abilities – and purpose.

Our purpose on this earth is not to succeed financially and become rich, nor is it to make a name for ourselves and become famous (James 2:5).  God made us to be holy and blameless before Him (1 Thessalonians 4:7).  But how can we achieve this holiness?  We can’t be good enough to meet God’s standards.

The Lord planned all along that those He chose would be made holy “in Christ” (Colossians 1:22).  We are sanctified and redeemed by the Son of God, and He always intended it this way.  Those who are chosen in the Son of God become sons and heirs of God (Galatians 4:7).

Jesus is greater than Moses

Hebrews 3:3-6 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

If there was ever a man who had earned God’s favor it was Moses. The one chosen to lead God’s people out of slavery and into the Promised Land had many flaws, like you and I do, but altogether he lived a life devoted to the Lord. And yet still, the author of Hebrews wants us to know that even Moses doesn’t stand up in comparison to Jesus Christ.

There could have been lost of examples here. Jesus is greater than David, Abraham, or even John the Baptist, but the author of Hebrews had good reason to make a distinction using Moses. To this Jewish audience, Moses was the guy. He was the one that wrote much of the Old Testament, primarily the books that Jews consider most holy, the Torah. It was Moses who received the ten commandments straight from the hand of God. It was Moses who handed down the Law and it was Moses who led God’s people out of Egypt. He was kind of a big deal in the Jewish religion and many of these early Christians had once been Jews. They knew Moses. The author of Hebrews wanted to acquaint them with Jesus.

The point to take away here is that no one, regardless of their standing can even come close to Jesus. Moses gave God’s Law to the people, Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Moses plead with God not to destroy the people, Jesus gave His own life as a sacrifice so that we wouldn’t face destruction. Moses led God’s people out of slavery, Jesus came to truly set us free. If Moses did it, Jesus fulfilled it. He’s greater than Moses. And everyone else who has ever walked the earth.

Jesus is greater than angels

Hebrews 1:4-14 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the  foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; 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.” And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

The author of Hebrews goes out of his way to make the point that Jesus is greater than the angels. Why do you think that is? For the Jewish worshipers hearing this message, it was commonplace to hear of the works that angels do on behalf of God. They are His ministering spirits, His messengers. Before Jesus, the message of God to His people was entrusted to angels. In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God’s message was on display. God appeared in person instead of sending His message through His workers. Jesus isn’t God’s messenger. He’s God’s message.

The angels were sent to serve those who were to inherit salvation. Jesus is our salvation. Angels serve the King of Kings. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is no one else higher, no one else greater. Even the Father has not counted himself higher than the Son. He has elevated Him to the throne. He has made the name of Jesus the name above all names. It’s to Jesus that every knee will bow on heaven and on earth, not to angels. Even the angels will fall down before Him in worship and sing praises to Him.

We get caught up in a lot of religious things and that can include putting too much emphasis on angels. Angels are good. They’re God’s servants. But they’re not God and they’re not worthy of worship. Jesus though, Jesus is worthy of all worship. He’s the one to whom the angels answer.

He protects

The Father

Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Our loving heavenly Father watches over His flock and will not lose even one without knowing about it.  There’s nowhere that we can go where we’ll be outside His sight and His protection.  He can and does protect us.  We have nothing to fear.

The things of this world can be dangerous to anyone, but to a follower of Christ, some of them are downright disastrous outside the grace of God.  He keeps us from harm and allows nothing to prosper against us as we carry out His purposes.  If we’re on the path He sets us on, we’ll see plenty of opposition, but He’ll be the One who keeps us going, guarding us all the way.

He know our weaknesses and won’t allow us to face more temptation than we can bear.  In fact, when faced with temptation, God provides us a way out!  He gives us the avenue to get away from it, because He cares about our future.  He has things for us to do and He’ll provide a way for us to make it to the finish line.  He’s there for us, even when it sometimes seems He’s not.  He’s never off duty, He’s always watching over us, like a shepherd who cares about each and every one of his little sheep.

Jesus is greater

Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He 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

Have you ever read a really great book and just wished you could interact with the author? I mean, what’s better than actually being able to go right to the source with your thoughts, your questions, and to just really get great insight? What if you could do that for God’s Word?

The great news is that you can! The author of Hebrews tells us that just as God spoke to the prophets of old through direct messages, He spoke even more clearly in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is “the exact imprint” of God’s nature, meaning that anything God ever wanted us to know about himself He told us through Jesus. His character, His works, His words, all of Jesus’ life was a message. He was and is the Living Word of God.

What could be greater than getting to know God in the flesh? Nothing. This is made clear to us through Hebrews and in other books of the Bible like Colossians. There is nothing we need to know about God that we can’t discover through His Son, God with skin on. So if you really want to know God, study Jesus. Get to know Him in a real relationship. If you seek out the truth, God will reveal it to you.

Nothing is greater than Jesus. If we spent a lifetime learning about Him, we would still never discover the depths of His being.

Spiritual Disciplines – Solitude

Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone

In our busy world, one of the easiest disciplines to disregard is solitude.  We can become so busy or so immersed in this life that it’s actually uncomfortable to be alone in a quiet place.  We may feel like we’re wasting time or that there’s something else we should be doing.

We must not forego silent communion with God.  It’s in this time that we really hear from Him in our souls.  God admonishes us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and in this quiet He speaks.

Quiet time with God is not the time to plan out the day’s events or necessarily the time to reflect on past events.  It’s a time to speak to God, but minimally.  When we get alone with the Lord to spend time with Him, it’s mostly a time to listen.

We can hear from Him in a number of ways.  The Lord speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, He can speak to us through the Holy Spirit, or through a still, small voice, just to name a few methods.

The important thing is that we are listening and receptive.  He is knocking on our door, ready to come in and communicate, if we will just take time to let Him in.

He commissions

The Father

Matthew 9:38  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

We’re not only called by God, but we’re sent by Him as well.  He calls us to be what He wants us to be and He sends us to do what He would have done.  God can do anything He wants in this world because He is all-powerful, but He chooses to use people to carry out His purposes in most cases.  We have the privilege of bearing the commission of the Lord.

When considering what it means to be commissioned, it’s important that we realize it’s more than just being sent.  The word commission carries with it the authorization of the sender, and even the granting of power to perform the duties one is commissioned to do.  Our Lord does not just send us, He empowers us to accomplish every act and every goal. One who is commissioned acts on behalf of the one who sent them.

The one who sends us is the Most High God, the creator and sustainer of all things.  He holds the universe in balance and He is more than capable of giving us what we need to succeed.  If we make ourselves available to do what He calls us to do, He will send us and equip us for the task.  He will look after us.

Spiritual Disciplines – Sabbath

Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

We are commanded to set aside a day of Sabbath (Exodus 20:8) and yet this is one of the most forgotten or ignored acts in the lives of believers.  To many, grinding to a halt once a week seems impractical, maybe even impossible.  But God told us to do it, and even did it Himself to set the example.

Sabbath was made for us (Mark 2:27 and parallels).  We need to rest, both our minds and our bodies.  It doesn’t need to be legalistic.  Not everyone is capable of taking Sabbath on the same day of the week.  We need not follow the Mosaic Law on Sabbath, just to devote a day to rest and to God.  Sabbath is not about rules, it’s about taking the time to stop and listen to God (Psalm 46:10).

Sabbath is a gift to us. Not only do we get to recharge, but we get to regain perspective, hear from God, and reset our agenda.  Sabbath is the reset button we’re all looking for.  A time to re-prioritize, recuperate, and restart.

He calls

The Father

1 Corinthians 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We like to make much of what we do for God and what we’ve done to change since becoming Christians, but we leave out how much of the work was done by God himself.  Much of what we take credit for was initiated by Him and we merely carried out what He called us to do.  Let’s step aside for the moment and consider His calling.

God calls us into fellowship with himself through Jesus.  He wants us to be His.  He’s a loving Father who adores us and would have us all follow Him in love.  He calls us into good works.  He wants to see us do something with our faith, not just believe but show our love for Him by serving others and serving Him.  We’re His vessels here on earth to do His will, but it requires us letting Him have control of the wheel.

He calls us to repentance.  God wants us to seek after Him with a sorrow for the things we’ve done to keep us from Him.  We can’t serve sin and God, so when it comes down to it, He’s calling us to genuinely give up the sin and follow Him.  He calls us to holiness.  We can’t be perfect, but we can be in a right relationship with God through Christ.  Holiness and righteousness are His in which to cloak us and we receive them when we follow Him.  He calls each of us to ministry.  Not all of us will leave our careers and become pastors and preachers, but we all have a ministry in which God can use us to expand His kingdom and bring glory unto himself.

He’s calling even now.  There’s something tugging on your heart that you know you ought to do.  You read something in God’s Word that the Holy Spirit emphasized in your heart.  You are being called and your response does not mean that you are doing anything on your own.  Your answer to the call is out of obedience.

Spiritual Disciplines – Bible Study

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

While it is true that pastors receive a word from the Lord and speak it to the people, it is equally true that they are human and therefore capable of error.  The best way to grow spiritually after hearing a message is to check it against the scriptures. Though man is errant, God’s Word is not.

Each follower of Christ must, absolutely must, spend time reading and studying the Bible individually. Church services, Sunday school, and Bible study are all great to attend, but they are intended as a corporate experience among the believers.  Private study of God’s Word coupled with prayer will yield personal results.

It is not enough to say that you believe everything the Bible says if you do not know what it says.  We must learn the context of the original writing to fully understand how a verse speaks to us today.  Many misinformed or uninformed Christians wander about with no foundational knowledge of the Bible’s principles.  False doctrines come about when well-meaning Christians interpret scriptures to support an agenda.

Personal time with the Lord, reading His Word is an essential part of a Christ disciple’s life.  God’s Word ought always to be on our hearts and on our tongues.  The Bible is a disciple’s playbook and we must learn from it in order to live according to God’s wonderful plan.  How amazing that our heavenly Father speaks to us though this text!  How can we  not study it everyday?