Saturday, September 24, 2016

break our walls down...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

Tamara Peterson’s beautiful and intriguing work of art inspired me to do a word study of Hebrews 4:16 while worshipping with the Jesus Culture hymn, Spirit Break Out Spirit break out…break our walls down…Spirit break out…heaven come down… and the beautiful classic hymn, Before The Throne of God Above by Selah…Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea, A great high Priest whose Name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me...

Hebrews 4:16

NASB: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need

Amplified: Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Barclay: Let us then confidently approach his throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help as need demands.

KJV: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

NLT: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Phillips: Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.

Wuest: Let us be coming therefore with boldness to the throne of grace, in order that we may procure mercy and find grace for seasonable help.

Young's Literal: Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Therefore—Because He was the perfect Man who never stumbled, He is now the perfect High Priest through Whom we can enter into the presence of the Most Holy God.

Let us draw near—one of the most incredibly gracious invitations the world has ever received! Drawing near to the throne of grace is a reflection of our faith or trust that at His throne we will obtain all that we need to live for Him and serve Him.

Pastor Philip E. Hughes writes: “In the Levitical system that had prevailed up till the time of Christ's advent, only the high priest was permitted to approach into the sanctuary of God's presence, and then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, when he passed from sight into the holy of holies. The people, however, were excluded from the divine presence because of their sinfulness and prohibited from drawing near. But the atonement effected by Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross opened the way that had previously been closed. This was dramatically symbolized by the rending of the temple curtain from top to bottom at the time of the crucifixion, indicating that through an act of divine grace access into the holiest place was now available to all the people of God. The reality corresponding to this symbolic event is pressed home by our author here. Sinners are no longer commanded to keep their distance in fear and trembling, but, on the contrary, are now invited to draw near, and to do so with confidence.”

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon states: “It is clear from the connection of our text that the interposition of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to acceptable prayer. As prayer will not be truly prayer without the Spirit of God, so it will not be prevailing prayer without the Son of God. He, the Great High Priest, must go within the veil for us; no, through His crucified person the veil must be entirely taken away. For, until then, we are shut out from the living God. This glorious God-man Mediator continually presents before His Father His one great sacrifice for sin. There will never be a repetition of it, and it will never need to be offered again, “for by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy” (Hebrews 10:14), that is, those who are set apart unto Himself. This one sacrifice He perpetually pleads before the throne, and our prayers therefore ascend to God with the merit of Christ’s atoning blood giving them acceptance with His Father. So they must have power with God, for they come before Him signed, as it were, with the name of His well-beloved Son. He lays His hand upon each petition, and so leaves the print of the nails upon it, and therefore it must prevail with God.”

Draw near (proserchomai from prós = facing + erchomai = come) means to come facing toward. To approach, come near, visit, figuratively to worship, draw near, go near to. The present tense is an exhortation to continually drawing near to Him in prayer, worship, devotion of heart and life. Because of Christ’s finished work on the Cross and His present mediation as our High Priest, believers can boldly approach God’s presence! You may want to read that again and then ponder the incredible privilege believers have in the New Covenant!

Pastor J. Vernon McGee explains our bold access in plain terms: “We can speak freely to the Lord Jesus Christ. I can tell Him things that I cannot tell you. He understands me. He knows my weaknesses, and I might just as well tell Him. I have learned to be very frank with Him. He is God, and I come to Him in worship and with reverence. But I am free to speak, because He is also a man. He is God, but He is a man, and I can come to Him with great freedom. I can tell Him what is on my heart. I can open my heart to Him. I suspect, therefore, that all these very pious and flowery prayers we make are not impressive to Him—especially when we are attempting to cover up what is in our hearts and lives. I wonder if the Lord doesn't tune us out when we do not come to Him with freedom and open our hearts to Him.”

Confidence (parrhesia/parresia from pás = all + rhesis = speech, act of speaking) is literally all speech or speaking all things and thereby conveys the idea of freedom to say all. The basic idea in the word is freedom of speech, when the word flowed freely. It is that attitude of openness that stems from freedom and lack of fear means in essence the freedom to say all. Ultimately this quality of confidence is that which is energized by the indwelling Spirit, emboldening Spirit-filled believers to openly declare with great conviction all that He births within. Parrhesia is confidence that speaks up and thus is outspoken confidence. It is a deep confidence that shows itself in bold, candid speech, by one being ready and willing to make their convictions known in public without fear of repercussions.

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe writes: “When you are free to speak, then there is no fear and you have confidence. A believer can come with boldness (same word as "confidence") to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) with openness and freedom and not be afraid. We have this boldness because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should not cast away our confidence, no matter what the circumstances might be. We should not have confidence in ourselves, because we are too prone to fail; but we should have confidence in Jesus Christ who never fails.”

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest says: “Parrhesia is "freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech, free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance… free and bold speaking; speaking out every word. Its dominant idea is boldness, confidence, as opposed to fear, ambiguity, or reserve.”

Boldness—fearlessness in the face of danger, with daring or courage.

Confidence—means a state of mind or a manner marked by easy coolness and freedom from uncertainty, diffidence, or embarrassment…you can always be sure of God's loving welcome.

Theologian Adam Clarke writes: “Parrhesia modifying draw near means to do so "with freedom, confidence, liberty of speech, in opposition to the fear and trembling of the Jewish high priest. Here, nothing is to be feared, provided the heart be right with God, truly sincere, and trusting alone in the sacrificial blood. Parrhesia originally meant frankness, freedom in speaking or fearless candor but came to denote boldness, confidence or openness in action. Stresses faith in oneself and one’s powers without any suggestion of conceit or arrogance. Parrhesia originally referred to a manner of speaking that neither concealed nor omitted anything, and thus conveyed the meanings of frankness, plainness, or openness.

Throne of grace—To the lost sinner, God's throne is a throne of judgment, but to the believer, it is a throne of grace, to which he or she can come for help with all our burdens and needs.

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon
writes: “We have a Friend at court; our Bridegroom is on the throne. He who reigns in heaven loves us better than we love ourselves. Come, then, why should we hesitate, why should we delay our approach to His throne of mercy? What is it that we want at this moment? Let us ask for it. If it is a time of need, then we see clearly from this verse that it is a time when we are permitted and encouraged to pray. In prayer we come, not only to our Father’s feet, but we come also to the throne of the Great Monarch of the universe. The mercy seat is a throne, and we must not forget this. He is the most Holy of all kings.”

Throne (thronos) is a relatively large and elaborate seat upon which ruler sits on official occasions. Figuratively throne speaks of authority and power, while grace conveys the idea of sympathy and understanding, and our great High Priest Jesus Christ is the perfect embodiment of these traits. Jesus Christ fully God and fully Man, but a Man of infinite power on one hand and a Man with complete and utter sympathy toward mere men.

Grace (charis) is God's unmerited favor and is also His supernatural enablement and empowerment for initial salvation and for daily sanctification. Grace can transform any and every trial into triumph and every sorrow into joy. Grace always precedes and leads to peace.

Mercy (eleos) is the outward manifestation of pity, a compassion for one suffering which is so great that it moves the compassionate one to help. Mercy refers to the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need on the part of those who receive it and sufficient resources to meet the need on the part of those who show it.

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes: “Eleos is God’s kindness and goodwill toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them. Grace meets man’s need in respect to his guilt and lost condition; mercy, with reference to his suffering as a result of that sin. One needs to distinguish between grace and mercy. Grace is shown to the undeserving, while mercy is compassion to the miserable. Grace is God’s solution to man’s sin. Mercy is God’s solution to man’s misery. Grace covers the sin, while mercy removes the pain. Grace forgives, while mercy restores. Grace gives us what we don’t deserve while mercy withholds what we do deserve.”

Find grace—Grace is there for the need but we must avail ourselves of His grace. We need mercy for the forgiveness of our sins and grace with which to meet and overcome our trials. He gives us the grace we need to face testing and temptation.

Help (boetheia is the noun derived from boetheo = to help from combination of boé = a cry, exclamation + theo = to run) draws an incredible word picture of one who upon hearing a cry for help, runs to give aid to assist. Boetheia describes the assistance offered to meet a need. The writer of Hebrews encourages saints writing "Let us therefore (term of conclusion) draw near with confidence (fearlessly, boldly) to the throne of grace, that we may (note he does not say so that we "might" but in fact that we will) receive mercy and may find grace to help (boetheia) in time of need."
The Amplified version describes this "help" as "appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it." Jehovah runs to our cry for help with His mercy to cover the things we should not have done, and His grace to empower us to do what we should do but do not have the power to do, both arriving in the nick of time.

In time of need (eukairos from eu = good, well + kairos = time, opportune time) means seasonable, timely, opportune, favorable, at the right time, well timed. It is that time which is well suited for something. In context it means He gives help when you need it or timely help.

This passage of Hebrews contains one of the most vital truths in the New Testament concerning Christ and those who believe in Him. It also contains one of the greatest promises and invitations in the Bible: come boldly to the throne of grace and receive mercy and grace in our time of need. Why? Not because we’re good or we deserve it but because Jesus is in His place at the right hand of the Father and is our great High Priest. That’s why we have constant access to God’s grace; that’s why we can take all our needs and problems to Him in prayer—because He is right now at God’s throne beckoning us to come for the grace and mercy He is so ready to give! He isn’t oblivious to the reality of our humanness; in fact, He understands our weaknesses. There is help when we most need it, mercy and strength when we’re weak, sufficient grace for anything we will ever face—if only we will come to the throne of our gracious God, ask, and receive. Come to Him today!

Lord Jesus, thank You for facing the same temptations and problems we do and for fully understanding our weaknesses. Thank You for pouring out your life on the cross, for rising again and reigning at the right hand of the Father. Your throne is a place of grace for Your children, where we can receive Your mercy and help when we most need it. Spirit break out, break our walls down…in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Look up – Meditate on Hebrews 4:16. Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – Meditate on Hebrews 4:16. Pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: “Because God is ______________, I will ______________.”

Look out – Meditate on Hebrews 4:16. Pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.  

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Friday, September 16, 2016

the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit...

artwork by Tamara Peterson
This incredible artwork by Tamara Peterson inspired me to do a word study of 2 Peter 1:10 while worshipping with Darlene Zschech to the beautiful hymn, The Potter's Hand You gently call me into Your presence, guiding me by Your Holy Spirit, Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life through Your eyes, I'm captured by Your holy calling, Set me apart, I know You're drawing me to Yourself, Lead me Lord I pray…Take me, Mold me, Use me, Fill me, I give my life to the Potter's hand, Call me, Guide me, Lead me, Walk beside me, I give my life to the Potter's hand...

2 Peter 1:10

NASB: Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

Amplified: Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall.

Barclay: So, brothers, be the more eager to confirm your calling and your choice. For, if you do practice these virtues, you will never slip.

GWT: Therefore, brothers and sisters, use more effort to make God's calling and choosing of you secure. If you keep doing this, you will never fall away.

So, dear friends, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away.

Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you. If you go along the lines I have indicated above, there is no reason why you should stumble

Wherefore, brethren, exert yourselves the more, and bend every effort to make for yourselves your divine call [into salvation] and your divine selection [for salvation] things that have been confirmed, for doing these things, you will never stumble.

Calling (klesis from kaleo = to call.  "Klesis" refers to the divine call by which Christians are introduced into the privileges of the gospel. God’s invitation (klesis) to man to accept the benefits of His salvation is what this calling is all about, particularly in the gospels. It is God’s first act in the application of redemption according to His eternal purpose (Romans 8:28). Klesis can also refer to a call unto Christian service or ministry. That the calling is to more than a Christian profession is clear from the experiences which Paul associates with it. No one can be a chosen one unless he is a called one. The initiative always comes from God. Klesis is an urgent invitation to someone to accept responsibilities for a particular task, implying a new relationship to the one who does the calling; the station in life or social role which one has. Klesis, a calling, always used in the New Testament of that calling the origin, nature, and destiny of which are heavenly (the idea of invitation being implied); it is used especially of God's invitation to man to accept the benefits of salvation.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes: "By the word "calling" in Scripture, we understand two things—one, the general call, which in the preaching of the gospel is given to every creature under heaven; the second call (that which is here intended) is the special call—which we call the effectual call, whereby God secretly, in the use of means, by the irresistible power of his Holy Spirit, calls out of mankind a certain number, whom he himself hath before elected, calling them from their sins to become righteous, from their death in trespasses and sins to become living spiritual men, and from their worldly pursuits to become the lovers of Jesus Christ."

Choosing (ekloge from eklegomai [eklego] in turn from ek = out + lego = select, choose, eklegomai meaning to choose or select for oneself, but not necessarily implying rejection of what is not chosen. In the passive sense ekloge refers to God's selection for a purpose or task. In other words it represents a special choice.

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states: "In God's foreknowledge and purpose, there is no insecurity, no uncertainty; but in our vision and apprehension of them as they exist in and for us, much, until they are pointed out. The exhortation is that the believer should make sure of the fact that he is saved by seeing to it that the Christian graces superabound in his life. There is no idea here of making sure that we retain our salvation but that we possess salvation."

Pastor J. Vernon McGee writes: "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”—he means, of course, more sure. In other words, the security of the believer is objective; it is something that cannot be disturbed. However, your assurance can certainly be disturbed by the life you live. If your life is not lived in sincerity and truth, you are bound to lie on your bed at night and wonder if you really have been born again. While it is true that Christ has done everything necessary to save you and keep you saved, your Christian life to be meaningful is something that you have to work at. I have been married for a long time, and I never have to lie awake at night and wonder whether or not I am married; but to make my marriage meaningful, I have to work at it, and I have been working at it for a long, long time. Likewise in your Christian life, “make your calling and election more sure.” That is, let it become subjective in your own heart—to know that you are a child of God. “For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” I have talked with many Christians who have gotten into sin. It is very interesting to me that I have never yet talked to one who had the assurance of his salvation before he got into sin. You see, the person who lacks assurance lacks a solid foundation under him."

David W. Folsom, author of the book Assets Unknown, estimates that there are over one trillion dollars worth of unclaimed property in the United States held in federal and state accounts, waiting to be claimed by the rightful owners. These assets include stocks and bonds, unclaimed pension and insurance benefits, and uncashed dividend checks. This staggering figure illustrates the “high cost of forgetting what you own.” As Christians we are “co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17); we can’t afford to lose sight of what God is holding in store for us."

Do you know people who have walked away from God’s calling on their lives? If you look only at outward appearances, you may be tempted to give up on them. But don’t write them off spiritually or distance yourself from them. Pray for them. Ask God to fill you with His love for them and to give you spiritual eyes that see them from His perspective. Believe that God is able to renew their hearts and save them. Ask the Holy Spirit to draw them back, and anticipate the day when they will turn away from disobedience and return to the arms of their Father. It is easy for all of us to have faulty ideas about God. If we base our view of God on the media’s opinions or on what liberal professors say about Him, we will have an incorrect picture. If our opinions about God are the result of pain left over from childhood or from our experience with an unloving or absent earthly father, we may see Him through a dark filter and not accept His love for us. But God revealed Himself in His Son. And His Word is His love letter to us, calling us to come home to His heart. Jesus declared who God is and showed God’s heart to us so that we would be drawn to Him and could know Him. His life, miracles, teaching, death, and resurrection have given a glorious revelation of the Father. Through His Word we can see the Father accurately in His splendor, love, grace, and light.

To what life has God called you? Preaching or teaching God’s Word? Caring for young children? Serving God in the business world or taking the gospel to a foreign land? Whatever our calling, our best intentions and good deeds will accomplish nothing of eternal value apart from the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit. It’s when we die to our own abilities and surrender our work to God that He infuses our feeble efforts with His power. When we seek the Lord humbly in prayer, admit our inadequacy, and ask for His grace and sufficiency, He will divinely enable us to fulfill our calling. He and He alone can make us worthy of the life to which He has called us.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for revealing Yourself in Your Son Jesus. Wipe off the lens of my heart that I might see You accurately and love You more each day. Thank You for Your Word, which reveals Your love and Your calling for my life. Thank you for Jesus, who has made it possible for me to have clear vision with which to see You, Father. Thank You
 that my effectiveness in Your calling doesn’t depend on my abilities. In Your grace, impart Your irresistible Holy Spirit power to me so that I may live the life to which You have called me. Make me a vessel of Your glory so that those who see my works will look past me and be drawn to You. Thank You for always calling me to draw near to You. That is my desire, so I look to You to work within me Your irresistible Holy Spirit power and energy to rise morning by morning to meet with You. In Jesus' precious name I pray, amen.
Look up – Meditate on 2 Peter 1:10. Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – Meditate on 2 Peter 1:10. Pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: “Because God is ______________, I will ______________.”

Look out – Meditate on 2 Peter 1:10. Pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.  

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Saturday, September 10, 2016

the blood of Jesus...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

Tamara Peterson’s captivating artwork inspired me as I listened to The Blood of Jesus by Wayne Watson, and I felt led to do a word study of Hebrews 9:12

NASB:  and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Amplified: He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us).

Barclay: and not by the blood of goats and bullocks but by his own blood, he entered once and for all into the Holy Place because he had secured for us an eternal redemption.

KJV: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

NLT: Once for all time he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever.

Phillips: It was not with goats' or calves' blood but with his own blood that he entered once and for all into the holy of holies, having won for us men eternal reconciliation with God.

Wuest: nor even through the intermediate instrumentality of the blood of goats and calves, but through that blood of His own, He entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having found and procured eternal redemption.

Young's Literal: neither through blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, did enter in once into the holy places, age-during redemption having obtained;

Pastor J. B. Phillips writes: “As a candle fades into total insignificance before the full blaze of the noonday sun, so the Old Testament priesthood fades into nothing before that of Christ. Who needs a candle when standing in the full blaze of day? As the majesty of the sun obliterates whatever majesty a candle might have had in the darkness of the night, so Christ's majesty obliterates that of the Levitical priesthood.”

Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states, “The blood offered was different. In the case of the Aaronic priests, it was the blood of goats and calves. In the case of Messiah, it was His own blood. The words His own are the translation of idios. Had the personal pronoun autos been used, the reference would be merely to the fact that it was by means of His blood that He entered the Holy of Holies. But the word idios speaks not merely of ownership, but of a personal, private, unique ownership. For instance, John in his Gospel (5:18) states the fact that the Jews tried to kill our Lord because He had said that God was His personal unique Father. Had John used autos, there would have been no justification for their accusation, for each one of these Jews claimed God as his Father. John used idios, reporting the Lord Jesus as saying that God was His private, unique Father. God was His Father in a different sense from that in which He might be the Father of others. Our Lord claimed unique Sonship, and, therefore, Deity. And these Jews recognized that fact. Now, the efficacy of our Lord's blood rested, not in the fact that it was human blood, but that it was human blood of a unique kind. It flowed in the veins of One who was as to His humanity, sinless, and as to His Person, Deity. And the combination of these two, sinless humanity, and Deity, made it unique, efficacious. It was the only sacrificial blood that could be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the heavenly Holy of Holies, the only blood which the High Court of Heaven would accept as atonement for human sin. It was this blood poured out on Calvary's Cross that gave Messiah access as High Priest into the Holy of Holies of heaven."

Through (dia)...speaks of the instrument by which something is affected. Notice that the Greek word is not sun or meta which would be "with." The Greek word states that He entered Heaven not with His own blood, but through (or by) His own blood. The preposition dia may be translated through, by reason of, or by virtue of. This would lead one to understand that Christ is now seated in Heaven as the High Priest by virtue of His sacrificial death and precious blood. On the Cross Jesus stated, "It is finished," ("paid in full") indicating that His blood was efficacious the moment it was shed, an interpretation that is also supported by the fact that veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Wuest concludes: "We are not to understand that our Lord took His blood into heaven. That precious blood was poured out on the Cross and dripped into the earth. But it was by virtue of that fact that He entered heaven, having accomplished salvation by the sacrifice of Himself. It was in that bloodless, glorified human body which is an eternal testimony that sin is paid for, that our blessed Lord entered heaven."

Pastor Steven Cole concludes: "The author is showing the complete supremacy and finality of the blood of Christ over the old system. Through His death, our guilt is atoned for once and for all, for all eternity! The penalty has been paid. There is nothing that we can add to what Christ did. Through Him we have direct access to God!”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes, “A small detachment of British troops, surprised by an overwhelm­ing enemy force, fell back under heavy fire. Their wounded lay in a perilous position, facing certain death. They all realized they had to come immediately under the protection of a Red Cross flag if they wanted to survive. All they had was a piece of white cloth, but no red paint. So they used the blood from their wounds to make a large cross on that white cloth. Their attackers respected that grim flag as it was held aloft, and the British wounded were brought to safety. In the same way, our enemy not only must respect the blood of Christ shed on Calvary's cross, he also is helpless against it. Christ's blood represents the sacrifice of One whose death removed the guilt and condemnation of our sin and broke its hold over us. It is absolute protection against the accusation of Satan and the defeating remembrances of past sins. No wonder we glory in the cross.”

He entered the Holy Place...Jesus entered the "better" Holy Place. In the Old Covenant the Holy Place was on earth, while the believer's Holy Place is now in heaven. The Old Covenant Holy Place was made with human hands, but the believer's is a "more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.”

Once for all...unlike the sacrifice of the high priest, who repeatedly entered the Most Holy Place with blood once a year, Jesus' sacrifice was complete and did not need to be repeated. The work of atonement is done and therefore, praise the Lord, it cannot be undone!

Having obtained...(heurisko gives us our English eureka from the exclamation attributed to Archimedes on discovering a method for determining the purity of gold) means that they attained a state previously not known. Heurisko or eureka expresses triumph on a discovery and what a "discovery"...eternal redemption!

Eternal...(aionios from aion) means perpetual eternal, everlasting, without beginning or end (as of God), that which is always, not mere duration is contemplated, but quality; a redemption answering in its quality to that age when all the conditions of time shall be no more...a redemption—not ritual, but profoundly ethical and spiritual.

Redemption...(lutrosis from lutroo = to release on receipt of a ransom; lutroo is derived from the root verb luo = to loosen that which is bound, freeing those in prison, release from prison, opening of what is closed, destroying of foundations, putting off of fetters) describes a ransoming, a liberation, or a deliverance.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes, “The Jewish high priests went once a year into the holy of holies. Each year as it came round demanded that they should go again. Their work was never done; but “Christ entered once,” and only once, “into the most holy place, obtaining eternal redemption.” I love that expression, “eternal redemption”—a redemption that really does redeem, and redeems forever and ever. If you are redeemed by it, you cannot be lost. If this redemption is yours, it is not for a time, or for a season, but it is “eternal redemption.” Oh, how you ought to rejoice in the one entrance within the veil by our great High Priest who has obtained eternal redemption for us! What if I say that the inner shrine has expanded itself and taken in the holy place, and now all places are holy where true hearts seek their God? Had our High Priest merely lifted the veil and passed in, we might have supposed that the veil fell back again. But since the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, there can be no need for a new entrance, for that which hinders is taken away. No veil now hangs between God and His chosen people; we may come boldly to the throne of grace. Blessed be the name of our Lord who has entered in “once!” Christ has entered into the true holy place—not into that which was curtained with a veil, which was but a type, and which was put away when the veil was rent from the top to the bottom as Jesus died. He has entered into the immediate presence of God, and He has entered there once for all, “obtaining eternal redemption. Do you "wrestle" with your eternal security experiencing fiery missiles like, "Am I saved forever? Can I lose my salvation?" If you are attacked by such thoughts, you would do well to meditate on the eternality of the Messiah's redemption. May your mind be continually renewed by the Spirit "as you learn more and more about Christ, Who created this new nature within you."

When Jesus was crucified, He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all by shedding His own blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. When He died, the thick veil separating the people from the Most Holy Place was torn. Think of it! Because of Jesus, we have unlimited access to the Lord. We don’t have to wait for a once-a-year meeting with God. We don’t have to ask someone else to go to the Lord on our behalf. We can enter His throne room anytime night or day. Since Christ died on the cross, we no longer need to offer animal sacrifices because Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins! We forget that God offered His perfect Son, whom He loved and prized. Have you thanked Him for the sacrifice He gave for you? God the Father beckons us also to come to Him and to entrust our hopes and dreams, our possessions, our families, and our careers to His control. He calls us to commit every worry or burden to His care, and He graciously summons us, through the shed blood of His Son, to leave even our lives in His powerful hands. And He has provided prayer as our means of doing this. When we “let go and let God,” we will begin to experience His power transforming our lives more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus. He frees us from striving to fulfill the letter of the law and draws us into intimate communion with Him. This new covenant through our rebirth in Christ Jesus provides a brand new relationship so that everyone might know Him. When we realize that God takes the initiative to work within us by His Spirit what is pleasing to Him, we can rest from our futile attempt to live the Christian life in our own strength. This is such great news—it doesn’t depend on me! God has forgiven us, cleansed us through the blood of Jesus, and given us His Spirit, and He will complete His work in us as we trust in Him.

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving Yourself as an offering so that I could be free! As I receive the Father’s forgiveness through Your offering of Yourself, I will praise You and thank You for the freedom that forgiveness gives! I entrust my spirit, my very life, into Your hands this day. You are mighty beyond my ability to imagine, and You have made the way for me to do so…through the blood of Jesus. How I praise You for prayer, for through it I can let go and give over control of my life to You! With all my heart I thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the whole world. When Your blood was presented on the heavenly mercy seat and You offered up Your Spirit, the veil of the temple was forever rent, providing me access into the very presence of the Father. How I thank You. Lord, I come, I Your precious name I pray, amen.

Look up – Meditate on Hebrews 9:12. Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – Meditate on
Hebrews 9:12. Pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: “Because God is ______________, I will ______________.”

Look out – Meditate on Hebrews 9:12. Pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.  

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Friday, September 2, 2016

whatever is lovely...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

This spectacular piece of artwork by Tamara Peterson inspired me to do a word study of Philippians 4:8 while worshipping with our worship leader, Kristi Brown, to the beautiful new hymn, Ever BeFaithful You have been and faithful You will be, You pledge Yourself to me and it's why I sing, Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips…

Philippians 4:8:

NASB: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Amplified: For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

NLT: And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Phillips: Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.

Wuest: Finally, brethren, whatever things have the character of truth, whatever things are worthy of reverence, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are attractive, whatever excellence there is or fit object of praise, these things make the subject of careful reflection.

Young's Literal: As to the rest, brethren, as many things as are true, as many as are grave, as many as are righteous, as many as are pure, as many as are lovely, as many as are of good report, if any worthiness, and if any praise, these things think upon.

Finally (loipon) means literally “for the rest” or “for what remains” and in the present context means “as to what remains to be said.” As Paul draws to the conclusion of his letter, in this verse he deals with the greatest conflict that every believer encounters—the battle for the control of our minds.

Pastor William Barclay writes: “The human mind will always set itself on something and Paul wished to be quite sure that the Philippians would set their minds on the right things. This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it. His thoughts will be quite literally in a groove out of which he cannot jerk them. It is, therefore, of the first importance that a man should set his thoughts upon the fine things and here Paul makes a list of them.”

True (alethes) is that which conforms to reality. In the final analysis whatever God says on any given subject is true! The unchanging God and His unchanging holy Word is the final test for truth. You do not have to look very closely to find our Lord Jesus Christ in verse 8 for Jesus said He was "the Truth" and each of these traits is true of Him.

Honorable (semnos) means worthy of respect or entitled to honor. It is that which inspires reverence or awe. It describes those things which are worthy, venerable, august, noble. The idea pertains to whatever evokes special respect.

Right (dikaios) refers to that which conforms to the perfect standard of God's righteousness. We know from Romans that the "good works" that God requires (they are "right") do not come from our good intentions, but originate out of faith that obeys. Dikaios describes whatever is in perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards, as revealed in Scripture.

Pure (hagnos) is that which is free from defilement, stainless, that which will not contaminate, that which is "morally and inwardly" pure. The word refers to ceremonial purity, but also to the moral purity that is pictured by the ceremonial. It especially means keeping our bodies undefiled by abstaining from sexual sins.

Lovely (prosphile is a relationship word derived from pros = towards + philes = friend) refers to that conduct which is dear to someone. It is that conduct which is pleasing in its motive and actions towards others. Prosphile has the idea of that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider.

Pastor William Barclay writes: “Winsome is the best translation of all. The Greek is prosphile, and it might be paraphrased as that which calls forth love. There are those whose minds are so set on vengeance and punishment that they call forth bitterness and fear in others. There are those whose minds are so set on criticism and rebuke that they call forth resentment in others. The mind of the Christian is set on the lovely things—kindness, sympathy, forbearance—so he is a winsome person, whom to see is to love.”

Good repute (euphemos is from eu = well, good + pheme = rumor, fame) and refers to that which is well–spoken of, praiseworthy, laudable, highly regarded or well thought of. It is something or someone that deservedly enjoys a good reputation.

Excellence (arete) refers to any preeminence (moral, intellectual, military). Arete is a term denoting consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context. To the Greek philosophers, it meant “the fulfillment of a thing.” Arete came to mean quality of life which made someone or something stand out as excellent. In short, arete was a term denoting consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context. Exhibition of arete invites recognition, resulting in renown or glory.

Worthy of praise (epainos from epí = upon + aínos = praise) is literally "praise upon" and denotes commendation, praise, or approbation (an act of formally or officially approving). It means something which is worthy of being commended. The word can describe the act of expressing admiration or approval, praise, approval, recognition. In the present context epainos describes a thing that is praiseworthy or something that deserves to be praised. So when that thought comes into your mind ask "Is it praiseworthy?" Then reflect upon it.

Let…mind dwell (logizomai from lógos = reason, word, account) means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh. Logizomai refers to a process of careful study or reasoning which results in the arriving at a conclusion. Logizomai conveys the idea of calculating or estimating. The idea is to think about something in a detailed and logical manner. Logizomai was an accounting term and so one gets the picture of taking all of the truths Paul has listed regarding your thought life and putting them in the "calculator" of your human brain, thinking about them and coming to a conclusion, and most importantly, then letting that conclusion affect the way you live. The present tense and imperative mood commands a continuous action, a call to a spiritual discipline for the purpose of godliness for as a man or woman thinks in their heart so they are.

Pastor J. I. Packer says: “Logizomai, or meditation, is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God. Logizomai is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.”

Pastor Wayne Barber writes: “In Philippians 4:8 the whole verse hinges on the phrase dwell on these things. It literally means to ponder these things. The word is logizomai. It is in the present imperative. Always be pondering these things. It means to reason something out. To look at something and see what it is all about and how it came to be.  Godly living is just not the result of a good intention by a sincere believer.”

An old Native American Christian was explaining to a missionary that the battle inside of him was like a black dog fighting a white dog. “Which dog wins?” asked the missionary. “The one I feed the most,” he replied. In Philippians 4:8 the apostle Paul says, “Feed your mind on the pure truth of God’s Word.”

We were created to worship God. It is the reason for our existence both here on earth and throughout eternity. Sometimes our concept of worship is going to church one hour each week. But God desires continual fellowship with us and wants us to live a lifestyle characterized by worship—keeping our hearts and our thoughts fixed on Him. How is that possible? When we go about our day delighting in the things God delights in, finding our greatest satisfaction and joy in Him, honoring Him in all we do, and ascribing to the Lord the glory due His name—we are worshiping God. Whether our days are filled with changing diapers and washing dirty dishes, sitting at a computer, or teaching, we can experience worship as a lifestyle through our thought life. When we fulfill God’s call with joyful obedience and do our work to the glory of God, that is true worship. Outward expressions of worship such as kneeling, bowing, praying, and lifting hands may enhance our worship experience, but true worship emanates from our hearts. Let us respond joyfully to God’s call to worship. We will be blessed beyond measure as we walk all day long in the light of His presence!

Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is to worship You! Purify my heart and my thoughts so that I can learn to worship You continually. Help me to perform all of my duties today in joyful obedience to You so that even my work becomes authentic worship—keeping my heart and my thoughts fixed on You….Faithful You have been and faithful You will be, You pledge Yourself to me and it's why I sing, Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips…In Your Mighty Name we pray, amen.

Look up – Meditate on Philippians 4:8. Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – Meditate on Philippians 4:8. Pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: “Because God is ______________, I will ______________.”

Look out – Meditate on Philippians 4:8. Pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.  

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ



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