Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sacrifice

 

The sacrifice of Christ Jesus the Lord.

A powerful quote from Hebrews 1

"He accomplished cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt" (Amplified Bible)

The Lord Jesus said:

"The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep......I lay down my life that I may take it up again.... this charge I have received from my Father"  John 10:11-18

The death of Jesus Christ was not unfortunate, martyrdom or just empathetic . It was determined by God for a distinct purpose.

The theme runs through all scripture, but for a moment I would like to consider the letter to the Hebrews, linked to the OT book of Leviticus.

Hebrews 1 – looking on the creation through God's eyes. The problem of offence and the stain of uncleanness must be attended to. This is not about how we feel nor is it altogether about our forgiveness (although that is involved). It is about God at work, recovering, redeeming, restoring, remitting, reinstating, rescuing ... His creation. This takes more than power. It required a sacrifice.

This is so important when we come to the sacrifices of Moses law. They are parables to indicate the devastation and costliness of sin. And the means by which God has restored the lost creation to Himself. The grand destination of 'God at work ' , is written in chapter twelve. " You have come to mount Zion, even the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to countless multitudes of angels in festal gathering, the church of the firstborn who are registered as citizens of heaven." 12:22

John the baptizer captured this transformation when he pointed to Jesus and said "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" – this implied the removal of sin and the total restoration of the divine purpose in His Son.

Hebrews chapter 4 – God rests because  of the sacrifice made

Hebrews 9-11      - God's promise will be fulfilled – He will return

Hebrews 13 – God holds secure all who trust in the Great shepherd.

 

Let me ponder the sacrifices of the Old Covenant for a moment – why bother? The shadows of the reality teach much about how God sees sin and the sacrifice of His Son.

Sin was very costly – forgiveness of sins was costly. When one sinned the sinner was to bring to the alter an animal of the highest quality ( without stain or defect). A trespass against someone else or a failure to do God's command necessitated someone or something pay the debt of offence against God. In the Old Covenant it was an innocent animal that died for the guilty.  In the New Covenant it is Jesus Christ who died for the guilty. He alone was Holy and without stain or defect!

The peace offering was also an innocent animal presented to celebrate peace with God. On this occasion, the offerer could eat and share the meat of the sacrifice. Thus fellowship with God and others was on the basis of the sacrifice.  Likewise in the New Testament, the togetherness of the believers is founded upon the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ ( see Ephesians).

The Gift or grain offering was flour mixed with oil and frankincense , presented  to  God as a sweet smelling savour. It was not for atonement of sins, but a gift of something grow in the earth, then milled and presented to God by fire. What is this about? This is God appreciating the life and death of Jesus, the only man who ultimately pleased God. Even in the torture and rejection of His sufferings, His character was not spoiled by sin or inappropriate reactions. His life was as a sweet aroma to God.

The burnt offering is the story of Hebrews 10. " we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time". Forgiveness of sins is good. Fellowship with others is great. Understanding and giving thanks for Jesus is worship. But now the burnt offering brings the unworthy one right into acceptance with God. The offerer brought the best of the herd, the leader, the progenitor, the strong one. This was presented to God and the priest was to keep and use the skin. What is the meaning ? -  our only acceptance with God , now or in eternity is as we are 'in Christ". God sees our works, He hears our prayers, He knows all about us, but it is only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lord from heaven, that we are accepted.

"God spared not His own Son, but gave HIM up for us all" (Romans 8:32)

"The Son of God loved me and gave HIMSELF for me"  (Galatians 2:20)

Note : in the New Testament, the atonement is usually connected with the title 'Christ' – the Messiah anointed for the purpose by God.

As quoted above, the burnt offering is linked to the title 'Son of God'.

The achievement of the sacrifice is not so much related to the extent of suffering, but to the value of the one who died. Please search out this truth in the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His apostles. The terminology of the Holy Spirit is very precise.

Our confidence is complete and we rest with God in the forever sacrifice because  the one who offered Himself without spot to God was:

Without sin

In Him was no root of sin

His life and character was not defiled by corruption around Him

His coming from heaven and commission to speak for was affirmed by God the Father

His deity as "Son of God" qualified Him to yield His life up for others.

 

Well might we look  at those pierced hands and feet and declare with Thomas – " My Lord and my God"

Finally . Hebrews 13  surprises us with this statement " we have an alter from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.......  through HIM then let us continually offer up the sacrifice of praise to God , that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name."

We no longer need the alter, the sacrifices of the old covenant, for Jesus Christ the LORD from heaven has fulfilled His promise. He said He would "give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). So in the freedom and sanctification of the final sacrifice and the indwelling Holy Spirit, ' let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe.'(Hebrews 12)


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Friday, April 16, 2021

The Psalms - prayer book, song book

 

In my recent meditations in the Psalms, I discovered that the greatest danger in life for the songwriter, were not wild animals, (for David the shepherd faced many of these), the real dangers were people! David the songwriter faced lions and bears, but it was the cruel persecutors, the betrayers, the misunderstanding relatives, the jealous enemies that wanted to kill him – these were the repeated subject of his prayers.

So it is today- the danger is not wild animals, it is rather the addictive screens (designed by people to seduce), the self centred friend (manipulative instead of loyal), the God despising relative (who turns others away from God's way), the Lord Jesus denying religion (people promoting other doctrines) etc. These are the real dangers that we so often fail to see.

JRM

Friday, April 9, 2021

In times like these we need an anchor

 

Life has so many twists and turns. Our world has become very unpredictable and uncertain. Society is crumbling morally. Relationships are no longer secure. Health systems are failing. Without God , who can find hope in the future?

All  this makes the Bible so much more meaningful. I wonder how much you read it? – read it to find God, read it to find purpose and hope? Read it to know the right way in life?

The Bible has God's message for all situations.

God is so great, we can trust Him to carry through on His plans.

-         Plans for the nations to learn that they can't have peace without Him!

-         Plans to reveal Jesus, the once crucified Son of God

God is so relational that He chooses to love, to liberate, to lift those who feel their need of Him. His promises are sufficient to enable the believer to be an overcomer in this present evil world.

God is not defeated by the progress of evil. Rather, He is angry with the wicked every day. He is seeking the lost with great patience. He laughs at the haughty rebellion world leaders. He is giving up those who don't want to know Him, giving them up to the consequences of their own sin.

In the midst of this, God has a multitude of His own people, His own sheep that love  Him, live for Him and hope in Him. To them Jesus Christ is so precious, that the present troubles are the evidences of God at work.

Do you know Him as the Good Shepherd?

Seek Him today . Jesus said "Come to Me all you who labour and carry heavy burdens. I will give you rest."  Matthew 11

"The LORD is my shepherd I shall not want"  Psalm 23

Sunday, March 21, 2021

 


He healed the blind man
Walked on the waters
And He raised up
Jairius' daughter

He fed the hungry
Cleansed the leper
But we need Jesus now
More than ever

chorus
Jesus now more than ever
We are sailing in stormy weather
All His children should get together
For we need Jesus now more than ever

He touched the lame man
And he started walking
He touched the dumb man
And he started talking

He put their lives all
Back together
But we need Jesus now
More than ever

chorus
In the book of Revelation
Read about the Tribulation
We are heading in that direction
Only Jesus' blood can give protection


you can find this on youtube - interesting words

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Lord - Jesus - Christ

 

The names and titles of the Lord Jesus Christ - a cause for praise.

Jesus – His human name expressing His mission – The LORD saving His people from their sins.

Christ – The anointed one, promised in the Old Testament to save       the world by sacrifice and judgement.

Lord – The disciples always spoke to Him as Lord or Master

or Teacher- and so should we. "God has made this same Jesus     both Lord and Christ."

Son of God – He said " I came down from heaven"

The Father said ' This is my beloved Son" and so we  should worship Him.

Saviour – He didn't come to judge the world, but to save –"thank you Lord"

Redeemer _ He paid the price to set us free from Satan, sin and self

Reconciler – He offered Himself as a sacrifice to bring us back to God.

Advocate – each day He intercedes before God for us.

King – Born King of the Jews, now exalted at God's right hand, He is waiting for the day when He will be revealed as King of kings and Lord of lords. – 'even so come Lord Jesus.

Shepherd – The almighty always was caring for those who trusted Him. This is seen in the tender love of the Good Shepherd.

 

And much, much more:

Let us  receive Him

    "    Trust Him

       "   Serve Him

        "    Love Him

          "    Worship Him

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Faith that rejoices to do good

 

The writing of James is very uplifting

He begins with joy and ends with singing praise. In between is a commentary on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sermon on the mount was wisdom teaching and James calls on us to seek, ask and live by wisdom which is from above. Like that recorded in the Gospel by Luke, Jesus and James have a low opinion of riches. Both describe the snares that come with seeking to be rich or clinging to riches.

Faith is central to James's praise. Jesus was his half brother and as boys and younger men, James did not have a high opinion of Jesus.  But now after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, James calls Him the Lord of glory. But James's faith was much more than theological, to him, to believe, was to obey and follow. Jesus did good works, and so every one who genuinely believes in Him will do the same. James points to the care of orphans and widows and at the end of the letter, the faith that turns an unworthy sinner back to God.

The Lord Jesus spent much time on the mountain top praying. So James exhorts – "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you!"

The NLT has a beautiful rendering of Matthew 5:3

"God blesses those who realise their need of Him"

James restates it his way:

"When you bow down before the Lord, and admit your dependence on Him He will lift you up and give you honour."

May I encourage you to read this letter from James, read it right through highlighting to links to the teachings of the Master, the Lord of Glory.

 

John Mckee

PS You may notice that I seldom give references – Purposely I am trying to encourage you to read the whole letter and see these truths in context.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Heaven in Hebrews or Hebrews in heaven

 

I have recently finished reading the Bible book called 'Hebrews'. I was deeply impressed with the continued presentation of heaven as a place of reality, a place of reward, a place of rest, a place of rich relationships and so much more.

Most importantly, it is the place of His throne – the Lord Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high. His active functioning there is beautifully described. He is the Great High Priest for His people . He waits for the day when He will come again. What rejoicing it will be when the exalted Lord Jesus  rewards His faithful ones. He will lead the songs of eternal praise as the angels join the saints in praise to God eternal. What a glorious city it will be, composed of all the believers of all time, beginning to end.

In contrast to the glory and hope of heaven, stands the sober warnings to those who fall away, turn back or trample underfoot the Son of God. Our God is a consuming fire and to come under His fierce just judgement is terrifying. Yet this very judgement spells out the fullness and sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all. To rest in HIM by faith dispels all fear.  It is the joy of God to welcome to Heaven , to Himself, those who trust His Son.

This letter to the Hebrews concludes with this triumphant note:

"Jesus is the great Shepherd

by an everlasting covenant,

signed with His blood.

To Him be glory forever and ever.  Amen."    (Chapter 13)

I encourage you to read again this book of the Bible and shade in yellow the mentions of heaven.


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, January 2, 2021

A new year

 
Looking Ahead
The word of the Lord to my soul this morning was:
"Strangers and pilgrims in the earth"  Hebrews 11
Along with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in company with Samuel, David, Isaiah and Daniel,  we are pilgrims passing through to a better land with our eyes fixed on things above (Colossians 3), looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12). He has promised to bring us to the heavenly Jerusalem where thousands of angels join in joyful assembly. (Heb 12.22) Many will count it strange that we are not living for the profit and pleasure of the present. Indeed we are different if we take our instructions from an unseen, living God.   So much of our human culture has descended to less than animal behaviour. We with Abraham and Jesus, are to be  light and salt in a world destined for judgement.
So  chapter twelve  ends -  "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
 
In a world so brilliantly created by God, in a world so spoiled by man -  let us live for Christ. Let us look up waiting for Christ.  Let us yearn for the day when He will be revealed as King  of kings and Lord of Lords.
Hebrews 13  -  faith responds :  "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.....for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever"
 
2020 has many lesson to teach us, and for the world in general 2021 is uncertain. Let  the word of the Lord bring hope midst despair and the love of Christ enable us to reach out to others.

 

For some of the lessons of 2020 write to  johnmckee@internode.on.net