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Our Sympathetic High Priest

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknessess, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:14-16 (NKJV)

All through the Old Testament, God taught that His holiness demanded perfection in those who would draw near to Him. There was an exact ritual to follow for approaching God. Not just anybody could come into the Holy of Holies. Only a priest that was called of God, and only the way God prescribed. All the furnishings, every symbolic action, every ritual spoke of His holiness. All this was to lead us to our High Priest, Jesus, who is the mediator of a new covenant, and our sympathetic High Priest. Now because of His own life given for us and His blood shed for us once and for all, we have the privilege of coming before His throne of grace and mercy for all the grace we need in this walk with Him. We have His very presence within us now, and unbroken fellowship with Him. Just as the Jews dared not come any other way before Him, we dare not come before Him ever on our own merit, but only through that throne of grace and mercy through His blood. It is the only way to the Holy of Holies.

The Old Testament Priests could only offer sacrifices again and again for their own sins and others, but there was never a deliverance from sin and it's power through those sacrifices. Jesus became Himself our sacrifice for sin, once and for all and gave us a new covenant, One that He Himself is the mediator of. He knows what it is like to suffer when facing temptation and saying no to the flesh. He knows what it is like to stand alone when others fail you and when even your friends misunderstand you. He knows what it is like to give up your life, and whatever would make you happy in this world for the sake of your love for God. Yes, He is sympathetic with ALL our weaknesses. He knows what it is like to face persecution and be humiliated, stripped, beaten, and tortured on the cross. He was flesh and blood as we are yet without sin. He is able also to fulfill, now His covenant in you, by giving you His Spirit and enabling you also, in your time of temptation, to stand and not fall, to live for Him no matter what the cost, and to die to self and this world.

We realize all too well our shortcomings and weaknesses when we decide to live this Christian life and take God at His Word. We are convicted of our sin first and come to His cross to be forgiven. Then we are challenged with the realization that there needs to be a deeper work, that our sin nature is always present threatening to again pull us away from our Saviour and back into it's bondage. We try our best to deny it, to kill it, to stifle it, and we struggle to no avail. It's as Romans 7 describes "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." But when we understand the role of our faithful High Priest, we can begin to see the victory He has for us!

From "The Two Covenants" by Andrew Murray (also known as "Covenants and Blessings"), pp.89-91..."The New Covenant is meant to be the deliverance from the power of sin; a keen longing for this is the indispensable preparation for entering fully into the Covenant.

Now comes the second step. As the mind is directed to the literal meaning of the terms of the New Covenant, in its promises of cleansing from sin, and a heart filled with God's fear and God's law, and a power to keep God's commands and never to depart from Him; as the eye is fixed on Jesus the Surety of the Covenant, who will Himself make it all true; and as the voice is heard of witnesses who can declare how, after years of bondage, all this has been fulfilled in them--the longing begins to grow into a hope, and the inquiry is made, as to what is needed to enter this blessed life.

Then follows another step. The heart-searching question comes whether we are willing to give up every evil habit, all our own self-will, all that is of the spirit of the world, and surrender ourselves to be wholly and exclusively for Jesus. God cannot take so complete possession of a man, and bless him so wonderfully, and work in him so mightily, unless He has him very completely, yea, wholly for Himself. Happy the man who is ready for any sacrifice.

Now comes the last, the simplest, and yet often the most difficult step. And here it is we need to know Jesus as Mediator of the Covenant. As we hear of the life of holiness, and obedience, and victory over sin, which the Covenant promises, and hear that it will be to us according to our faith, so that if we claim it in faith it will surely be ours, the heart often fails for fear. I am willing, but have I the power to make, and what is more, to maintain this full surrender? Have I the power, the strong faith, so to grasp and hold this offered blessing, that it shall indeed be and continue mine? How such questons perplex the soul until it finds the answer to them in the one word: Jesus! It Is He who will bestow the power to make the surrender and to believe. This is as surely and as exclusively His work, as atonement and intercession are His alone. As sure as it was His to win and ascend the throne, it is His to prove His dominion in the individual soul. It is He, the Living One, who is in Divine power to work and maintain the life of communion and victory within us. He is the Mediator and Surety of the Covenant--He, the God-man, who has undertaken not only for all that God requires, but for all that we need too."

The process of sanctification can seem so long and hopeless if we try too hard to do it ourselves. We can stumble under the deception of morbid self introspection...always looking inward, thinking that somehow we can conquor this flesh of ours! But we find it only serves to make us more and more miserable and gives us no more victory over ourselves. In fact it is an act of our flesh itself, in trying to do what only God can. We are not even capable of truly SEEING the flesh and how it is manifesting itself in us without the Holy Spirit revealing it to us, and we won't see it by looking inward; but instead we will only see it by looking upward, and in His Word that "is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden fromHis sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Heb. 4:11-13 (NKJV)

When that flesh is exposed by His Light, we are to come boldly to His throne of grace and mercy and receive HIS grace, instead of struggling to overcome it. By looking inward we will not be full of Him, but full of ourselves. By looking Godward, we will be free of our own struggle, and receive His grace.

We come before Your throne of grace and mercy today, our dear Saviour, seeing that You alone are our High Priest. You alone can mediate for us and do the work in us. We ask for that grace now, today for all our need so that You may be glorified in us and through our lives.


WHAT'S IN YOUR BUCKET?

"You can only spill from your bucket that which it contains."

Those were the words I heard in a sermon many years ago, that had a strong influence on me. I wrote the words down in my Bible so I would always remember the lesson the Lord was showing me. Yet it took me years to understand the message.

If a bucket is full of water, the more water you put into it, the more it just spills out all around it. It just keeps overflowing.

We can compare our spirit to a bucket. What's in your bucket? What do others see spilling out of it? What is it that you pour into your bucket?

Some try to pour truth out of a bucket of lies and hypocrisy. Some try to give love from their buckets full of self-love and pride. Some try to give peace out of a bucket full of turmoil and anxiety. Some try to give living water out of a bucket full of dry weeds.

How can we minister the life of God to others if it isn't coming from the overflow of the Spirit in our lives? We can only give out that which we are filled with. If we aren't filled with His Spirit, what comes out of our spirit will only be that which it contains....our flesh, and not HIS Spirit and life.

In order for our buckets to be full of the right thing, we need to first empty it of what is there. If your bucket is full of sin, there is no room for it to be filled with righteousness. If it is full of selfishness, pride, unforgiveness, there is no room for His love. If it's full of turmoil and striving, there is no room for His peace. If it is full of false teachings and philosophies of the world or the devil, contrary to God's Word, there is no room for true spiritual wisdom and understanding, and discernment.

Some Christians make the mistake of thinking just because they have received God's forgiveness for sin and become His child, that they don't have to be careful after that, what they put in their bucket. They end up filling up their bucket with all kinds of things, thinking God will just automatically fill them, even if they are filled with the world or self. But this gift God gave us needs to be carefully nurtured and fed, and our bucket needs to be emptied of our self life and the world continually. We need always be careful what we take in and what we give ourselves to.

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Heb.2:1

If our bucket is full of the wrong things there is only one thing we can do. We have to pour it out. Pour you self out to God. Pour out your sin, your strife, your worldliness, your own way, before His throne of grace and mercy, entering by His precious blood. Let your self-life, your wanting to have the power in your own life, your desire for self-gratification, your pride, pour out before Him in absolute surrender.

Then.........LET IT GO.

As you do, in faith that He is able to do as He says and take that surrender, you will be able to receive in it's place His life, His righteousness, His love, all He is. Let Him fill you, and BE YOUR LIFE. He is not there only to help, but to be. He is there in you filling your bucket. He is your life.

But first, you need to see that you cannot hold on to the things in your bucket!! You may think you can have both...half full of your way and half full of Jesus. If you want what flows out of your bucket into the lives of those around you to be pure, there is no other way but to be completely empty of your self-life, and let it be exchanged with His life. you cannot just add a little of His to what you have. You must give up all to receive all. Then it will be from the overflow of the Spirit that others will be able to drink also and be filled.

As we come to desire more of Him in this walk, and desire to bear fruit for Him, we need to see that it is of nothing that we have in ourselves that we can do one single service for God. It has to be all Him doing it through us.

Gal. 2:20.."I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

"The Christian life is not a 'changed life': but God offers us an 'exchanged life', a 'substituted life,' and Christ is our substitute within. 'I live, and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.' This life is not something which we ourselves have to produce. It is Christ's own life reproduced in us." Andrew Murray

Give up what you have in your bucket, for what He has! Give up the "filthy rags" of your own works for His righteousness. Let His life fill you full, and spill out all around you wherever you go. Give your vessel to the Lord. Let Him make you His vessel of honor for His glory to be poured out on a thirsty and dying world.

Dear Lord, we have our buckets full of all the wrong things before we realize it as we go on busy with our lives. We find ourselves unable to give anything of value to those in our lives around us, and in our families. We find ourselves giving out all the wrong things. Instead of loving them we end up giving angry words. Instead of giving we find ourselves wanting more. Please take these buckets of our hearts and empty them, Lord, and cleanse and fill them with the pure, holy, living water of Your Spirit, and make us fit vessels which will spill out overflowing on those around us.


YOUR ADVERSITY - GOD'S OPPORTUNITY

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!" Isa. 31:1

What is your resource for help in your time of adversity? Do you run to God? Or do you run to the world for help? Or worse yet...do you rely on yourself?

"Don't let the tyranny of self-reliance or self-sufficiency rob you of a miracle from God." (Chuck Missler)

We're all human. We want to run from adversity. We don't welcome it in our lives. We would like to live as peaceful a life as possible without any adversity, or sickness, or struggles of any kind, as much as is possible.

But adversity comes to all of us at one time or another. As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to look at adversity a little differently than the world does. We also need to look at our source of help much differently than the world does. Too often we tend to look at adversity in the same way, not realizing the strength and the purpose of our God and Saviour.

"Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharoah, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation." Isa. 30:1-3

Judah was threatened by Assyria, an enemy much greater than they. They had every reason to be afraid, except that they should have known the Lord. They should have trusted that He was greater than any enemy. They should have turned to Him, but instead they turned to Egypt for help.

There is always a reason for every adversity that comes into our life. From the greatest to the smallest. Nothing that happens in the life of a believer is by coincidence or out of God's plan to conform us to the image of His Son. Rom. 8:28 tells us that.

The greatest joy we have is to discover that truth and trust in it with all our heart. The greatest opportunity of life is to know and walk in HIS plan...our plan is so insignificant compared to His eternal plan for us. Let's not miss HIS plan by pursuing our own, and moping over our failed or lost plans, struggling to fulfill them. Our joy in life is God alone inspite of whatever our circumstances may be. All the ways we can find happiness could be taken away from us, one by one, and we could be helpless to change them. But true joy is knowing that nothing happens in our life, before it passes through His nail scarred hands...and knowing that, that we can have real joy in trusting His plan and not our own. God has already provided a perfect destiny for us that we can never comprehend on this side of eternity! Even our adversities fit into those plans.

When adversity comes, it is not yours to deal with. You don't own it! It is HIS and HIS ALONE! He bought you with His precious blood and you are no longer your own. Neither are your adversities your's any longer. They are for the purpose of God showing Himself strong in them and being glorified.

Sometimes He waits for us to finish struggling with them, fretting over them, wearing ourselves out in grief and anguish trying to change them, turning to this counselor and that, trying this and that, listening to this philosophy of the world and that....until finally....FINALLY....we turn to Him...as if He were our last resort.

"For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'" Isa. 30:15

"Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; (I just love that! He waits for us to turn to Him!), and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left." Isa. 30:18-21

Oh how God loves us!! And oh how He wants to show Himself strong on our behalf!! Sometimes we have to see adversity in order to see His power in our lives. Sometimes the adversity comes when life has gone so well, and we are so happy, yet we have forgotten our Lord and become so self-reliant and confident. During the time of adversity we come to know Him and trust Him more strongly than ever before...at least we can...if we will turn to Him. This is when we become rooted and established...strengthened in Him as never before, realizing our helplessness and the futility of our own plans for happiness in this life, and the vanity of the world and all it's glamour. We may find that He alone becomes our life....yes! That is what He hopes you will find...and that is life indeed, that will never ever pass away from you or be lost or taken, or fail you. NEVER!! It is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Are you cast down, broken, weary, and hopeless?

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." 1 Peter 5:8, 10

And He will...perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you, if you welcome adversity as God's opportunity when it comes. Don't cower under it, as is our natural instinct, but in faith rise up and smile at it, as our God is greater, and already planned ahead what He would do in this adversity in your life. He knows what He wants to do with your sickness. He knows what He wants to do with your grief. He knows what He wants to do with your poverty. he knows what He wants to do with your lonliness. He knows what He wants to do with every single thing you can fathom will come against you in this life. He already has it in His plan long before it happened. It did not take Him by surprise or catch Him off guard. He is your God. Allow Him to be God of this adversity, whatever it may be.

Yes, you may have to live under it for a long time. You may have to accept some kinds of adversity for the rest of your life. You may have to give up your life. But your joy is in His life that will come out of it...not in anything else....not even in relief from it...but in Him alone.

This is hard to comprehend until He does indeed little by little become your very life. Once you taste of that you will want nothing else and cherish that alone.

Ask God today to show Himself strong in your life, regardless of what your circumstances are. Give Him every adversity as an offering, for His opportunity to show His Glory, His love, His life in you and to you.

Dear Abba, it is You alone that can give us all the joy and fulfillment in this life. We want to be done searching for it in any other way, but in You. Bring us to Your cross today, dear Lord, and show us it's power to render powerless this self-life within us that would rob us of Your life. Show us Yourself now in the midst of our impossible circumstances, that You are God on our behalf and will work mightily for Your children. We turn from the help this world would offer us and the happiness and security it tries to give, and we repent of looking for it anywhere but in You alone. We trust You alone to fulfill it, by Your Spirit, as You have promised all Your dearly loved children.


PEACE AND CONTENTMENT

Is it really possible? Can a Christian really have a "peace that passes all understanding," and a "contentment in whatever state I'm in?" Seems so beyond reality. We grasp for it but don't see how in OUR circumstances that could be possible.

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:11-13 (NKJV)

How did Paul arrive at that state of contentment? We look at his life and see he was a man with much trial of his faith, and turmoil, and persecution. He was persecuted by false brethren, he was beaten, he had to go hungry at times, his life was threatened constantly. He was imprisoned, he had the burden of the churches and false teachings threatening to come in and undo all the work that he had done in bringing the true gospel to them. HOW COULD HE HAVE PEACE?? HOW COULD HE BE CONTENT??

You might say, "Paul was an apostle...a step above the rest of us. He had more of the Spirit than I could ever hope to attain." No..but the same Spirit that Paul had is in you and every believer in Christ. It is the same power "which worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come." Eph. 1:20-21 (NKJV) Paul had nothing that is not available to every believer.

So let's take a look at some of the things Paul did that brought him to that contentment and that peace that passes all understanding in the midst of his trials and sufferings.

One big clue is at the end of the first verse we read in Phil. 4:13..let me share it in the amplified.."I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]."

That kind of contentment and peace comes from Christ alone, not from anything else or anyone else in this world. We can never attain it apart from Jesus Christ Himself in us. Paul could say that because he had learned to make Christ his life. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20 (NKJV)

If our peace is in our circumstances going well, that peace will crash as soon as our circumstances change. If we look for a change of circumstances before we can know peace and contentment we will never find it. If we are always saying, "When I finally have my bills paid," or "if I only had a child of my own," or "when I finally raise my children and know they can take care of themselves well," or "when I finally find someone who loves me like I need to be loved" or "if I could only be free of this person, or this pain, or this trial," or when I finally.......whatever. Will you be content then? No...because then something else will rob your contentment, or you will always be worried of what will come to rob it.

Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

The same Jesus who overcame the world lived in Paul, and that same Jesus who overcame the world lives in you, if you believe (rely on, cling to, trust in) Him to be your Saviour. He is your Saviour all the way. Not just to save you for eternity from your sins, but to save you here and now daily from sin, the devil, the world, and all that would invade our soul and destroy it. He is your daily Saviour. He is your now Saviour. He is your Saviour to the uttermost.

Let's look at the attitudes Paul taught and lived in his own life that brought him that contentment, and that peace that passes understanding. It passes understanding because it is a peace that is regardless of the turmoil and adversities of our life, one that the natural man cannot possibly understand or attain.

Here are a few hints of Paul's way of looking at his circumstances. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Rom. 8:28 (NKJV)

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Rom. 8:31 (NKJV)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:35-38 (NKJV)

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Phil. 4:4 (NKJV)

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." Phil. 4:6-8 (NKJV)

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:17-18 (NKJV)

The common theme in all these verses? Keep your eyes on Jesus, your life, and trust Him completely with ALL of your circumstances....they are only temporary!

Ah...but we forget that when we are in the midst of the storm don't we? Instead of looking at Jesus we tend to see the storm and fear takes over our hearts and dread of what will happen to us overwhelms us. Just like the disciples in the boat during the storm.

" And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to [him], and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm." Matt. 8:24-26 (KJV)

Oh to realize we never needed to be fearful in the first place! He is always right there with us in charge of every circumstance right there during the storm already.

Paul, I believe learned that. He learned that Jesus was in charge of every single storm in his life. There was not a one he needed to be afraid of. And in the end, even death itself he knew he needn't fear. For him..."to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phil. 1:21

Where is your trust? Where is your life? Where is your joy and contentment? Sometimes the loss of those things that we have peace, joy, security, or contentment in, only shows us that our trust needs to be in Him alone. If it is anywhere else it will be shaken....not may be shaken...will be shaken in time. Nothing in this earth is guaranteed or permanent. If we find ourselves shaken and in turmoil and unable to find peace when hard times hit us, let's use it to again turn our eyes to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and set our eyes on the eternal and off from the temporal. Let's use it to remind us that Jesus Christ alone is our life. Let's use it to conquor one more time, something in our life that will no longer be able to have a hold on us, and something that we will no longer be dependant on for that contentment. Once it's gone...we have now only Christ to cling to, and He will not fail us.

Dear Lord Jesus, we invite You to be our life and peace, and contentment, and show us the way, moment by moment, in all our circumstances, to trust You to be that. Enable us to practice it daily and not to give in to unbelief and fear when our circumstances overwhelm us. We know this grace comes from You alone, and we haven't the power for it ourselves. We seek this from You, our Saviour, that the fullness of Your life may dwell in us and be glorified in and through us. May it be so, according to Your will and Your Word our precious Saviour.


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