“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,” – Hebrews 1:3
Where do you start the week? Is it with the checklist of tasks needing to be done (where I started)? Is it with time for quiet reflection savoring the last moments of weekend? Is it by hitting the snooze button more than once? Maybe a better place for all of us to start is this truth of who Jesus is.
God himself. The keeper of the universe. The earth spins on its axis, the planets orbit the sun and each star flickers only because Jesus keep them in place with his very word. Once he was the sacrifice to cover and deal with our sin he sat on the throne of heaven on his way to having all nations as his footstool ushering in his eternal reign over all things.
Who has power that could top this? No one and nothing. Not my enemies, colleagues, or partners. Not my family or friends. Not my boss. Not my schedule. Not my bank statement. Not my smartphone.
Christ above all. Reigning and saving you. It is better than bulletproof coffee. It is eternity.
Look up today. Know this Jesus and rejoice that the One who tells the sun to shine knows you and loves you.
Terrible news out of New Zealand last night and this morning. Gunmen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more as they had Friday prayers in Mosques there. It is sickening and white supremacy has no place in the hearts of those claiming Christ. Two tweets in response that sum it up well. From Daniel Balcombe and Russell Moore.
Elsewhere, as Jared C. Wilson’s newest book, The Gospel-Driven Church, released this week the usual self-sanctification tropes have been trotting out. In response to one typical misuse of Scripture Jared penned a piece asking if Hebrews 6 teaches us to move beyond the gospel.
It is worth a read and some significant thought over. I am convinced that is you read Hebrews 6 wrong you miss the whole point of the book of Hebrews. So give it some time, its worthwhile.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book by the way.
And to close the week why don’t we talk money! Dave Ramsey, the money and anti-debt guru who made it rich dolling out advice to mostly white evangelicals was taken to task, on social media anyway, for a tweet that said essentially, “if you want to be rich, do rich people stuff. If you want to be poor do poor people stuff.”
We get it, mostly.
It was a bad week to tell people to do rich people stuff. But beside that, what about the punchline or platitude approach to life? Is it helpful? As a Christian?
All of us could say a version of what Ramsey said in a way most people would agree with. If your bad habits got you into financial ruin, those bad habits won’t get you out.
The problem is, even with the best of intentions, Ramsey’s sentiments about wealth disparity is an a oversimplification bordering on cruelty. When someone spends years responding to life’s complications with platitudes and proverbs, they tend to think of these teachings as absolutes over time. Particularly when someone has climbed from a state of poverty to one of financial wellness, it’s simple to tell the narrative of the struggles and personal achievement that got us to where we are. By extension, it’s easy to render judgment on those who didn’t do the same.
Money is serious stuff and we don’t like to talk about it. As I am learning as I preach through a series called Awkward. The most engaged people have been is over what I will say when I get to generosity. So this article helps us think more about it.
I have often told people I am not a fan of Ramsey because his philosophy is more Randian (objectivism – which essentially means selfish) than Christian. But this is not the time to rehash that!
That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend. Tell people you love them and pray for New Zealand, pray for all of us.
I have a confession to make. I am not good at all at making myself better. I read all the books (cliff notes really) and blog posts on how to hack my life and get just that much better. I hear stories of “holy” people and I think to myself, “man I would love to be that good.” But then I spend ten minutes with myself and it is abundantly clear; I have a long way to go and I am awful at making myself better. I am just not that disciplined. I too easily forget who I am and what has been declared over me.
Then I read these words: “For he who sanctified and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11 ESV).
Did you see that? He who sanctifies and the one sanctified have one source. Jesus.
Jesus is the sanctifier and source of sanctification. It is his work in me. The author of Hebrews does not say that Jesus provides help to those working out sanctification. He says, Jesus accomplishes, Jesus is the sanctification. In giving up my feeble attempts to improve myself and yielding to the work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, I will be better.
Friends, it is okay to want to be better. Just don’t for one second think you can make yourself better. Know that in your union with Christ, at repentance and belief in him, he is the one, the source of your becoming more like him. He is sanctifying you. That is good news.
But there is more. Just as he sanctifies you, and because he sanctifies you, he is not ashamed of you. Let that sink in deep Christian.
JESUS IS NOT ASHAMED OF YOU. Ever. In him, he calls you brother. He calls you sister. And he is proud of it. No shame. No condemnation. Nothing of your own ability. All of him, he is the worker and the source. You are the one that is sanctified.
That sure sounds good to me, and I hope it does to you too.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
Do you ever feel guilty about your prayer life? None of us pray as we ought… or as we are permitted, because we get in the way of the gospel reality of our life in Jesus and our opportunity to pray with confidence and genuine love. There are reasons for this…
“The first reason we don’t pray is that we don’t really think we need to. Unless we are in an especially difficult trial, we are pretty satisfied in our self-sufficiency…We are confirmed in our self-sufficient blindness, convinced that we are doing okay. We don’t believe that we are as sinful and weak as God says we are. We feel pretty strong; we are making it. We function like unbelievers.”
“The second reason we have little fervor in prayer is that we are not really very comfortable in God’s presence. We suppose that he is sitting up in heaven wishing we would get our act together… Yes, we believe the gospel, but only to a certain extent. We concede that we’re sinful and flawed, but we are not really desperate. We acknowledge that he has loved and welcomed us, but we are not ravished by the fact.”
The solution to our prayerlessness and comfort in God’s presence? The gospel.
“Only the gospel will make you comfortable with the bridegroom. Only the gospel will warm your affections so that you will long for an opportunity to be near him, to rest your head on his breast, to feel the warmth of his nearness, to let him put his arm around your drooping shoulders and say, “I’m here. You’re mine. Soon these interposing years will end, and your faith will be sight. stay here by me for a while and let me give you my strength. See how I love you.”
“Let the gospel, and only the gospel, motivate you to pray.”
Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 29.