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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

HEBREWS
1:8-9



"But of the Son He says,
'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.'
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness (iniquity);
Therefore God, Your God, anointed You
with the oil of gladness above Your companions."
(Psalm 45:17)



"Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever."

"It is in both worlds;
and extends over all time;
and will exist through all endless duration...
Matthew 28:18,
"My throne...I shall have the same glory--
sovereign, unlimited power and authority,
which I had with the Father before the world began.
'But unto the sonne he sayeth,
God, thi seate endureth for ever and ever:
the cepter of thi kyngdome is a right cepter.'"
(Adam Clarke)




This is an echo of Isaiah 61's prophecy,
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting..."


The Son is anointed
with the oil of gladness
His throne is eternal.
He holds the righteous scepter.



David was brought from the sheepfolds and anointed instead of his companions,
his more handsome, more esteemed, stronger, older brothers.
God's Son has been anointed above all prophets, above Moses, above Abraham, above David.

"Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despised the shame,
and has set down at the right hand of the Father."
(Hebrews 12:2)


Loving righteousness and hating iniquity is because
"He is infinitely pure and holy."
(John Wesley)
"In spite of iniquity, which He hates, there is joy.
Instead of bad news, there is good news.
Instead of brokenheartedness, there is healing.
Instead of slavery and prison chains, there is freedom.
Instead of mourning, there is comfort.
Instead of ashes of grief, there is a garland.
Instead of fainting, there is a mantle of praise.




My son tells me that as the result of the last election was made known,
the high school parking lot was full of honking, flag waving and cheering by
"rednecks," who are quite comfortable in our little community.


Joy.
Sometimes I forget this. 
Do you? 
It's time to put back on that garland of joy
because He is our King!
He has been anointed.
He is enthroned!
He holds His scepter,
He has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high!







Monday, January 30, 2017

HEBREWS
1:4-6


"...having become as much better than the angels,
as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
For to which of the angels did He ever say,
'You are My Son,'
Today I have begotten You'?
And again,
'I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a
Son to Me'?
And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says,
'And let all the angels of God worship Him.'"


This is a peek into the tender heart of the fatherhood of God.
First, He has given His Son His name, a name more excellent than the angels.
These angels spend every flutter of their wings in the adoration of God.
But here, He makes it clear, there is nothing to compare to His Son.


Those of us who have been around awhile remember the mini-series, "Roots."  Its most pivotal image is when the father in Africa holds his son up and names him "Kunta Kinte."  Even the Lion King stole this scene in a sense to show the father-son bonding moment.  This moment in Scripture
is greater in that God goes back to that unique, one of a kind, divine moment of the immaculate inception, "Today I have begotten You."  What this means is that God is affirming here that life begins at inception.  God loved His Son before the first cell-splitting formation in the womb.  He called this fetus, His. 


You are mine.

"You are My Son...
I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me."

Oh, how every heart that has every beat longs for this to be said over them.  This is the arrow through the valentine of every love story.  This is the kiss on the cherub lips of every loving parent to their newborn.  If this does not happen, love is lacking, the heart breaks and crumbles just a little more, sometimes shattering completely.  Because God said this to His Son, it opens the way for Him to say this over us. 

This is a glimpse inside the nursery when God sees His Son.  However, when God first beholds His Son, He sees Him already in His mysterious pre-existence when He was beside Him in Creation in that inexplicable relationship in the Trinity.  Then He not only looks back at His inception, He not only sees Him lying in a crude manger, but He sees Him from that day forward, every pain, every hurt, every nail pounded into His hands and feet on the cross.  He sees ahead Jesus words as He suffered there, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  This was the worst moment of all His suffering, the desertion of His Father's love.  This was for us.  This was the opening of the door for all the Father's, all the Son's love for us was revealed.  That was what it would mean to be the Son to the Father.  It is beyond human love.  It is divine. 




Yet, we see what God was about, "as by His resurrection from the dead He was declared --manifestly proved, to be the Son of God with power...by His resurrection,  His innocence was demonstrated." (Adam Clarke)



Remember that Hebrews is a letter written to converted Jews.  They know their Old Testament.  They know II Samuel 7:14, shows us that the seed which God promised to David, and who was to sit upon His throne, and whose throne should be established for ever, was not Solomon, but Jesus Christ." (Adam Clarke)


"Let all the angels of God worship Him."

"So much higher was He, when in His lowest estate, than the highest angel!"
(John Wesley)


So we are back to the angels, who are to adore Him, to worship Him.
This brings back the image of that angel hoard that hovered over the babe in the manger,
over 'the holy thing begotten,'
the very embodiment of love itself.


Perhaps the flutter in the heart when love is conceived,
whether human or divine,
are not butterflies,
but the flutter of angel wings.






Sunday, January 29, 2017

HEBREWS
1:3-7, 13-14

ANGELS


Books are written about these verses. 
I feel like I should say,
"I believe in angels,
I do!  I do!"


"...when He made purification of sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
having become as much better than the angels,
as he has inherited a more excellent name than they.
For to which of the angels did He ever say,
'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You'?
And again, 'I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me'?
And when He again brings the first born into the world,
He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.'
And of the angels He says,
'Who makes His angels winds,
And His ministers a flame of fire...'
 (verses 3-7)
But 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 render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation."
(verses 13-14)



No matter how much is written about angels, volumes, it still can fit on the top of a pin compared to what is plain as a hand in front of your face kind of understanding on the other side of the curtain that separates our world and the next.  One last breath here, then all will be revealed as we breathe the next breath in heaven.  And yet, they are able to move from one world to the next.  The Holy Spirit permeates our hearts here below, but somehow, in someway, the angels are "ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those will inherit salvation.  Oh foolish ones who dare to fight with these angels because they are His winds and a flame of fire!  I've heard of missionaries who have seen them surrounding them in dangerous situations when threatened by attack.


Children have these guardian angels who behold the face of God: so don't you dare mess with them, oh you evil ones!  But as we become adults, we too have ministering spirits.  Don't you need one badly sometimes?  I know I do.
 

In fact, in rare cases, people have seen these angels.  One of my Sunday School boys with crippling rheumatoid  arthritis woke one night to see "the good angel chasing the bad angel away" The next day he walked out free of pain, healed.    I've told the story before of how my sister-in-law as a four year old found herself falling off a ship which was taking her and her mother and siblings to meet their father stationed in Japan.  She saw the huge shining man who caught her and put her back onboard.  Her twin sister saw her falling from the railing where she lost her hand-hold while swinging.  That's what guardian angels do, guard, keeping little ones safe until it is their time to be called away to heaven.  You can't help but think even then, an angel carries them to where a parent cannot go.  Every infant, even every unborn child, every stillborn, every aborted baby has a guardian angel who is there until it is time to transport the one under their care to the Father.



Somehow I think that when we are ministered to by angels, it is to free our hearts to say, "Holy, holy, holy," or to break forth in our hearts to sing with great joy, "Glory to God in the highest!"
These are the angel songs.  Everything else will be swept away as they minister and release our spirits to sing.  It is like as children when we caught a butterfly, some of the butterfly dust came off on our fingers before we released it back to fly away.  We darest not pin it to a board.  That is not the purpose of butterflies.  They are made to fly as we rub the dust left behind on our thumb, a touch of otherness.  Angels help our hearts to soar.


However, first and foremost in this passage, it is meant to separate the reign of the Son from that of the angels.  We do not worship angels.  Next time we will look at how great is the One who sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  But now we see the purpose of the angels is to worship Him.  That's what we are to be about as well.  That, I believe, is what a ministering spirit is about, to help us, to free us to worship Him.  They are also described as the wind and ministers of flames of fire, shades of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.  So let's put this all back in the nutshell:

1.  His Son is greater.  That's who He is.
2.  Angels are to worship.  That's who they are.
3.  They are wind, flaming fire, ministering spirits sent to render us service.  That's their job. 


That's who we are on the receiving end in need of help.  They are sent.  Why?  Because we have an Advocate who sits on the right hand of the Most high in order to ever make intercession for us.  He left us the Comforter, a Helper so that we need never feel alone.  The Holy Spirit fills us with God's Spirit, but He is part of the Godhead, the Trinity.  Angels are different in their tasks to minister.  I believe it is sometimes, as Daniel saw, to fight in the heavenlies for us against the enemy of our soul.  There is an ongoing battle in the unseen world.  They are sent from above, but are strengthened in their fight by our prayers.  If you've ever felt oppression, pray, and help is instantly on its way to fight for you.



This is only as butterfly dust on my typing fingers offering you a smidge of what there is to be known about angels.  Believe me, there is so much more.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


HEBREWS 1:3


"...upholding all things by the word of His power,
when He had by Himself purged our sins,
sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high..."

Christ is not Atlas bent over with the world on his back.
He is sitting down on His throne spinning the world
like a basketball on his finger!

"Upholding all things by the word of His power."
"He spake, and all things were created;
He speaks, and all things are sustained."
(Adam Clarke)


"As having made an atonement for the sin of the world,
which was the most stupendous of all His works.
"'Twas great to speak a world from nought;
'Twas greater to redeem."
(Adam Clarke)




Adam Clarke goes on to say, there may be here some reference to the wilderness.
"1.  Moses...face shone, so that the Israelites could not behold it.  But Jesus
is infinitely greater than Moses, for He is the splendor of God's glory and,
2.  Moses found the government of the Israelites such a burden that he altogether
sank under it.  His words, Numbers 11:12, are very remarkable:
'Have I conceived all this people?  Have I begotten them,
that Thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom--
unto the land which Thou swearest unto their fathers?'
But Christ not only carried all the Israelites, and all mankind
but He upholds all things by the word of His power."




He continues, "The Israelites murmured against Moses and against God,
and provoked the heavy displeasure of the Most High and would have been consumed had not Aaron made an atonement for them...But Jesus not only makes an atonement for Israel,
but for the whole world; not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood:
hence it is said that He purged our sins by Himself, His own body and life being the victim."


"He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."

"The right hand is the place of the greatest eminence...the highest favourite, sits on his right."
(Adam Clarke)

John Wesley reminds us that "the priests stood while they ministered.  Sitting therefore denotes the consummation of His sacrifice."

In other words, it echoes Christ's words,
"It is finished."


"It is the cleansing of sin God insists on; in a desire so intense that He gave His Son to die for it...
When He effected the cleansing of sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
There He lives, opening up and keeping open the blessed access to God's presence and fellowship for us...That Christ as our Leader and Forerunner has rent asunder the veil, and in the  power of His blood has taken possession and secured access into the Holiest of All."
(Andrew Murray)


"To run and to walk the Law demands,
But gives us neither feet nor hands;
Better news the gospel brings,
It bids us fly and gives us wings!"
(John Bunyan)


Friday, January 27, 2017

HEBREWS 1:3


"And He is the radiance of His glory
and the exact representation of His nature,
and upholds all things by the word of His power.
When He had made purification of sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..."


Radiance.
Glory.
Exact representation.

Are there more beautiful words to describe Christ?  A seminary professor, Dr. Deasley preached on this once saying, "Jesus is the best picture God ever took."  When we look at Jesus, we see God.  Yet, His radiance of glory is so bright, we must shield our eyes.  It is like looking at someone standing before the sun, like sunbathing on the beach and someone walks up to talk with you.  They can be seen, but not fully due to the brightness.




"The person of the Son is the glory of the Father,
shining forth with a divine splendour...the true Shechinah."
(Matthew Henry)

"Who being the brightness of His glory,
and the express image of His person..."
(KJV)


"The resplendent outbeaming of the essential glory of God...the splendor of the sun, the splendor of eternal light and the unsullied mirror for the energy of God, and the image of His goodness."


"...'image' expounding brightness, and person or substance, glory...
that which is essential to Him as God..."
(Adam Clarke)


Andrew Murray uses the translation, "Who being the effulgence (outshining) of His glory,
and the very image of His substance..."  "Because as the Son, it is He alone in whom the unapproachable and utterly incomprehensible glory of God is made manifest, through whom as Mediator the uncreated God, the works of His hand, can come into contact and fellowship...The great work of God in heaven, the chief  thought and longing of His heart is, in His Son, to reach your heart and speak to you...O Thou who art Heir, Creator, Upholder of all, the brightness of the Father's glory, the express Image of His substance,--O my Lord Jesus, reveal the Father to me that I may know that God speaks to me." 




"He upholds all things by the word of His power."  "He keeps the world from dissolving.  By Him all things consist.  The weight of the whole creation is laid upon Christ: He supports the whole and al the parts.  When, upon the apostasy, the world was braking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking redemption, bound it up again, and established by it His almighty power and goodness." (Matthew Henry)


Aren't you glad that the upholding of the world is not on your shoulders.  Sometimes we forget while we get all riled up on fb or while watching the news: I know I do, but y'all know that already.  Protesting can be effective if decent and  peaceful, such as the Right to Life March this week.  Yet, all the signs are eventually thrown into the garbage heaps.  Climate change protestors are like Chicken Little running around saying the sky is falling.  Relax.  God is upholding it.  Yes, it will all be dissolved, but only at God's command. 


In fact, the worst has happened already. He willingly laid down His life. God's Son, His glory, His Shechinah brightness was crucified, "When He made purification of sins."  Matthew Henry says...


"From the glory of the person of Christ, he proceeds to mention in the glory of His grace; His condescension itself was truly glorious.  The suffering of Christ had this great honour in them, to be a full satisfaction for the sins of His people: by Himself He purged away our sins...He made atonement for sin.  By Himself, the glory of His person and nature, gave to His sufferings such merit as was sufficient reparation of honour to God, who had suffered an infinite injury and affront by they sins of men."



Just as when looking at the sun too long and we get spots before our eyes, so when looking at the brightness of His glory, we see our spots that need purification.  Next time, we'll look at when Christ sat down.  It sure beats hanging on a cross.



Buried in an avalanche of His love,
one snowflake at a time.



His glory is bright,
like crystal gleaming snow.
Who can stand before its cold?
Yet, His glory is so gentle,
it comes down one snowflake at a time
so that we may see its beauty
without becoming snow-blind.
His glory is so heavy
it can consume in an avalanche.





But,  here I stand with my tongue out
trying to catch one snowflake at a time,
consuming the glory of God,
in a cold, wet taste
of the Shechinah
spendor.
c.j.







Thursday, January 26, 2017

HEBREWS 1
verse 2


"In these last days has spoken to us in His Son
whom He appointed heir of all things,
through whom also He made the world."

His last word is His Son, heir & creator.
This is His last will and testament,
the will that spells out what God wants to leave to us.
But it also reveals who He is. 

"His Son...through whom also He made the world."
(verse 2)


"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through Him,
and apart from Him nothing came into being
that has come into being."
(John 1:1-3, NASV)
"Without Him nothing was made that was made."
(KJV)


"God has many heirs, for if sons, then heirs,
heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ."
But there is "none by whom He made the world,
none in whom He speaks,
and by whom He has delivered a complete revelation to mankind,
but Jesus the Christ...
The apostle begins with the lowest state in which Christ appeared:
1.  His being a Son, born  of a woman...
2.  an Heir of all things.
3.  He then describes Him as the Creator of all worlds."
(Adam Clarke)


One of the tools given in researching on Ancestry.com is the availability of reading the wills of our kinfolk of previous centuries. After reading many of these online, sadly besides diving up land, horses, cattle, silver spoons, and linens between the heirs, there too often is the leaving of their slaves, dividing them up amongst their descendants.  The only person God has left us with is His Son.  He gave Him to man, and look how we treated Him: He was despised and rejected; betrayed by His own, was whipped and spat upon; a crown of thorns was thrust upon His head to mock Him; He carried our heavy burden; was stripped and crucified where He bled and died.


As I began this life, it was easy at first when young to float lazily through it. Then it became increasingly rapid as more and more tributaries fed into the rushing stream.  Now it is almost in flood stage as it rushes by in a frothing torrent.  As I am swept along, sometimes I feel as if I am almost swamped, about to be drowned in its current. 



In other words, it is true that the older you get, the faster time flies.  Thus, there is a constant need to adjust our last will and testament.  Our previous guardians for our older children may sigh with relief that they were never called upon to finish raising our rowdy bunch since all but one has left the nest becoming adults.  

"The heir is a term relating to the creation which followed, 'By whom He also made the worlds.'  Therefore the Son was before all worlds.  His glory reaches from everlasting to everlasting, though God spake by Him to us only in these last days."  (Adam Clarke) So as we are called in to sit with our hands folded as the will is read, we have much to ponder.  We are God's heirs.  Our rich inheritance is not only to be enjoyed here, but in eternity.