Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful to all God’s house.

Hebrews 3: 1, 2

 

What does it mean, to consider Jesus? When something or someone is given consideration, they are looked at closely, regarded seriously, and valued for what or who they truly are. This is a part of what we are being asked to do here, and it seems to me that this is something that we don’t do nearly enough of in the normal course of life, either. I fear that I don’t take the time that I should to really look at Jesus, for this means that I am taking my eyes off of the many other things that attract or that draw them in. When I stop to reflect upon what I put time into and grant my attention to, there are many lesser objects that gain substantial amounts of both my time and my focused thought and emotional investment. How much of that personal capital could have been invested in knowing Christ better and in listening for His will and way of living to be imparted to me?

 

Moses is given here as an example of a person who was able to filter out the noise of his world and who thus kept his eyes upon the Lord when others turned disastrously away. Now Moses was far from a perfect person. He had his own times of doubt and certainly did not always lead well. Yet, he did remain true to the Lord’s calling for his life, and he was a faithful servant of the Lord’s will. He continued to step out in faith in front of the people that he was to lead, and Moses did continuously point them toward God and into the direction that He was taking them. This was true even hen that direction was hard and the end goal of a new home was not so easy to see. Jesus is like Moses in His faithfulness to God’s will and direction, and yet, Jesus is far greater than Moses in that He never doubted or faltered in His execution of the Lord’s desires for Him.

 

We are never directed by God to focus our attention or our worship upon Moses, for he is nothing more than an example of another human who followed God. Instead, we are directed to look upon Jesus and to worship Christ as our true Lord and the Savior of our souls. He is the one who takes us out of the wilderness of our sinful and lost states and brings us into the eternal presence of God in a state of redeemed holiness that reflects Christ’s own glory. This is the one person who has walked upon this earth who is worthy of this sort of deep and continuous consideration. Jesus is our example of absolute faithfulness to God, and He is also our true and courageous guide through the troubles, trials, and distractions of our days and into the glory of service to God and to His Kingdom. So, when I place priorities on my calendar for this day, let me choose to fill the page with, “Consider Jesus!”

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Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6: 12

 

Unfortunately, many people think that accepting Jesus means that all of the struggles and hardships of this life should come to an end. This sets people up for great disappointment, and it also creates a badly mistaken expectation for what it means to live as a follower of Christ in our world. They start expecting that Jesus will cure all of the ills of body and spirit and bring about happiness, peace, and even prosperity in the process of working His magic. This is not the reality that the early church experienced, and it is certainly not what any of those early leaders of the church expressed to us as what we should look forward to as a mark of faithfulness in our living out Christ’s direction for us. Paul’s use of the word fight here is a sign of exactly what he knew about the way that a life of submission to the Lord would look.

 

A life that is lived out in obedience to God is a life that is conducted in the center of a hostile field of contest. This is a place that more resembles the tortured earth of the front-line trenches that devoured the earth during World War I than it does our usual images of the idyllic and peaceful Eden of our hopes and dreams. Every day involves a struggle with forces of evil that are desperately attempting to demonstrate their control and dominance over all of Creation when they, in fact, have already been defeated by God in the person of Jesus and in the hour of His resurrection from the cross’ tomb. These are days when Jesus leads us into battle, and this fight is one that is being conducted for the souls of people and for the redemption of Creation.

 

When Paul speaks of this struggle, he also speaks in terms of making a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. This is a part of the means and the method that our Lord is calling upon us to use in accomplishing His purposes, and this idea of confession is much larger than the words that we speak. It involves the totality of the life that is lived out in view of the rest of the world and it also encompasses the most personal and private moments of our days. The confession of faith that Christ desires for His people to make includes such things as the attitudes that we hold toward our possessions, the way that we use our finances, caring for the weak and the oppressed, and the thoughts that we have about others. Confessing Christ is not going to be comfortable or easy, and it will inevitably lead us into a place of conflict with other people and with the systems and structures of our world. However, making a good and continuous confession of Christ in all aspects of life is the most powerful weapon that we have been given by Christ to use in engaging in the fight into which He leads us.

You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Deuteronomy 5: 32

 

There is an old popular usage expression “wandering eyes”. It almost never has anything to do with a person’s ability to direct the eyes by use of muscle control. It has everything to do with the orientation of the heart and the exercise of control over the mind. Although this expression mostly refers to men and to times when our interest in women heads off into the realm of sin, it can actually be applied to both men and women and it can relate to many situations and circumstances. Likewise, I am certain that Moses was not talking about political orientation in the text; yet, this concept applies completely to the way that we engage in our political systems and processes.

 

We humans are a wandering-eyed lot. We have a very hard time staying satisfied with where we are, with the path we are traveling along, and with the life that we are living. That isn’t all bad. In fact, I think that God has designed into us a certain amount of a restless spirit. It is this desire for something more that often prompts us to seek Christ. It is also a desire to bring Christ into more of our world that causes people to abandon comfort and safety in order to answer God’s call to service. So, there must be righteous wandering as well as the sinful form of the same.

 

I think that the context of Moses’ words is helpful. He was in the midst of a great journey. He was leading people in their answer to God’s calling for them. He was living out his own righteous mission. The spiritual risk that they encountered along the way came in many forms, but, whatever that form, it always involved turning away from the face of God and His proclaimed truth in order to pursue the world’s glittering image of security or pleasure. Here are a few facts about the journey that is this life. We all travel the road that lies before us. In Christ, He is the one who opens the map for our journey. God has established the truth of His holiness; so, He commands us to keep our eyes fixed upon and our hearts oriented toward Him. Christ’s glorious presence will lead His people through the land that is before us so that we can live well and prosper as we dwell in the center of God’s will.

By wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches.

Proverbs 24: 3, 4

 

God is very orderly in the manner that He approaches almost every aspect of creation, and He desires for us to operate in a like manner, too. So, our approach to gaining the sorts of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that we need to live successfully in our world is also quite orderly. There is a process to it all that comes to us straight from the mouth of the author of all that is worthwhile and valuable in the universe. All love, peace, justice, and righteousness come into existence out of the will of God, for He is the source of it all just as He is also the one who distributes it into the world that He devised. Without God’s authorship, nothing good and worthy exists, and under His authority, all that is beneficial in the character and the nature of people has been granted to us.

 

Thus, when it comes to constructing a world wherein justice and right doing are the foundation of our system of governance and management, the only true and valid source for developing a straight and true dwelling place is the Word of God. The singular authority for reading and interpreting those plans is their author, God Himself, as this task is usually undertaken by the Holy Spirit. So, as builders who desire to construct a lasting product that is beneficial to all in our world, we need to continually consult with the Lord as we also yield our own ideas about and approaches to the project at hand to His far superior direction. There are simply no short cuts to this process. Each of us is called by God to be builders who work to repair the broken and misaligned structures in our world and to build up sound and lasting ones in the place of those that are beyond redemption and repair.

 

As we continue to labor under the direction of God, He leads us into the process of finishing the work that He has called us to engage in. Constructing the foundation, walls, roof, and even the beautiful finishes is a great labor of love and worship to our Lord, but filling it all with the presence of His Spirit and with an outpouring of His nature and character is what finishes it all with the touch of the true Master Craftsman. This is accomplished as we take time to enter into a relationship with the Lord by engaging with His Word, in regular and routine prayer and meditation, by sharing the meaning of relationship with God with others, and in the fellowship of faith with others. The dwelling place of the Lord is adorned with the beautiful lives of people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ from the death to sin that was the destiny of our birth, and each of us who know Christ are tasked by Him with inviting others to come into the hospitality of God’s house and with sharing the truth of our salvation with all of our guests.

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

Matthew 20: 1

 

Jesus is doing something that He did frequently. He told stories that illustrated principles about life wherein the story had a framework that was readily identifiable to His audience; yet, the stories always carried within them a depth of meaning that was much greater than the simple facts that were being presented. Since the actual teaching point of the story is concealed or buried within the facts of the tale and requires the reader to think and to consider what the true implications might be, we refer to many of these stories as parables, for they use real life people and situations to teach about a broader life principle.

 

I think that this must be a way of communicating that God considers to be highly effective in connecting with people; for, the Old Testament is also filled with stories of how people lived, the way that God interacted with them, and the outcomes of those relationships. The entirety of the word of God is filled with stories that are intended to tell us about the people who are featured in them, and that are also given to us to guide us into an understanding of just who God is and of how He relates to people much like us. The Lord wants us to continually seek to know Him better, and He has provided us with a full, rich picture of His kingdom and of His ways of ruling it in His word. The Lord also has given us a guide and an interpreter for the mysteries of these stories in the Holy Spirit.

 

People who know God are already living inside of the Kingdom of Heaven; the Lord has provided us with the perfect, complete, and ultimate guidebook to living in this wondrous place in His word. The more time that we spend in searching out the hidden treasures and the extraordinary sights of our homeland, the more we will get to know our Father who rules over it. Today is a day that will be spent in the presence and in the company of the Lord, today we are living in His land, and today would be a great day to seek out one of those hidden treasures that His guidebook has ready to reveal to anyone who seeks after them.

 

Therefor we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Hebrews 2: 1

 

Let’s face it, we do not like to be told to pay attention. The internal response to such an admonition is to say, “I am listening! I heard every word that you said!” Yet, our actions often make a lie of those assertions, for we do not actually do what we were instructed to do. All of this is human nature, and it is something that most of us encounter on a rather regular basis from both sides of the interchange. When the subject in question is salvation, and the person being discussed is Jesus Christ, the issue becomes much more serious. That is what the author of Hebrews is discussing here. Jesus is the singular one who is superior to any and to all angels, and His way to relationship with God is superior to any other way that might have been set out prior to His coming to dwell among us and His death and victorious rising up in defeat of Satan.

 

In the days when Hebrews was written, there were people who were teaching numerous ways to get into a relationship with God. This is still the case today. There are prophets and seers in our world who claim to be inspired by angels and by other forms of divine revelation so that the way to god that they espouse is claimed to be the only true and effective one to follow. Yet, none of these angels, prophets, or teachers of human-devised wisdom can attest to the fact that they were placed here by the direct hand of God, that they lived among us, were taken and tried and still found blameless by humanity, were put to death and buried, and then were alive walking among us and ascending into Heaven. This well-attested to narrative is the singular one that demonstrates the presence of God in a man and that presents this same man as the One who can take each of us out of the state of eternal death that is our birthright and place us before God Himself as Jesus proclaims us to be holy and righteous. Thus, we are found and adjudged to be fully acceptable to God and granted an eternal home with Jesus in Heaven.

 

Yet, when we listen carefully to God’s Word of truth and life, we are also granted far more than just the wonderful and magnificent hope of eternity. We are also taken into a new life in this world and a new purpose for the days that we have to spend dwelling here. Christ has overcome all of Satan’s hold on life and on this world. Although brokenness is still present with us and evil remains to work its chaos and havoc among us, they no longer have ultimate power or control. When we accept Christ and submit to Him as Lord and Savior, we are also rejecting the ways of evil in our world. We are seeking to engage with life as people who love rather than hate, who show mercy instead of exerting power, who seek justice for all as opposed to using law as a tool for gain. In Christ, we can be motivated to a new economy of grace in all that we think, say, and do, for as we are new beings in Christ, we can strive to make the peace and the joy of Heaven the reality of our world here and now. This will never be an easy endeavor as there will always be opposition to such thoughts and actions. However, Christ also was subjected to rejection, conflict, and opposition. As He went before us then and does go before us now, He will lead us into His victory over the forces of evil in this world.

Look, I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!

Daniel 3: 25

 

This is the moment of revelation when the truth of God’s might, protection, and total involvement with His people became starkly apparent to King Nebuchadnezzar. He sees the three young men that he had ordered to be tied up in ropes of power and oppression and then thrown into the furnace of utter despair and destruction, and their survival and their freedom was now visible to him. He also sees that where the king had ordered three men to be thrown into his fire of destruction and death, there were now four men walking about freely in its inferno. For they are not alone, and it was God who had revealed Himself standing there with the three men.

 

We all encounter fires and times when the heat gets awfully intense; sometimes the flames get stoked to the point where the heat reaches an intensity so great that it feels like we will be totally consumed by it. The walls of the furnace seem to close in on us and form a trap where there is no way out and that causes the heat to become magnified in its intensity. It gets hard to hold onto hope, and the smoke of fear and concern clouds vision. In these times it is completely natural for anxiety to become a rope that keeps getting pulled tighter until breathing becomes a challenge. Yet, Christ is always in the midst of the fire, the brightest flame in it all aspects of life is the glory of the Lord, and the wind of His Spirit will clear the smoke from our eyes. Then, His hands of love reach out to untie the ropes that are binding us.

 

Facing a fire is frightening, but being tossed into one is terror defined; yet, when we open our eyes and look around with a heart that is not so much seeking a way out as one that is open to the words of wisdom and peace that the Lord wants us to hear, freedom can be found. God wants us to see that He is there with us in all of these times. Christ has walked through every torturous event and condition that we could ever face, and He walks with us through all of ours. God has provided us with resources to call upon in these desperate days. His Word is the absolute source of wisdom, comfort, and guidance in the midst of the fire and during those days that follow when we are recovering from the damage that the flames may have caused to our bodies and minds. We can also turn to the fellowship of believers and lean into its collective strength, counsel, and encouragement, and the Spirit of Christ goes with us for every step of these journeys of faith. In Christ, we are free in the midst of the trial, we are given protection during its hard times, and we are assured that the Lord’s victory over sin and death is also ours to claim and to experience.