Hebrews also teaches us that Jesus is a better covenant. In the old covenant, sacrificial blood was required to be spilled to satisfy His wrath, in order to commune with sinful people. Animal sacrifices were annually required to atone for sin prior to Jesus’ death. Then, the body of Christ became the ultimate offering. He was the Lamb of God who took away our sin, beginning a new covenant of grace.
Jesus is better. Because of this, the author of Hebrews implored the early church to draw near to God with confidence. The high priest entered the most holy place in fear and trepidation, with bells on and a rope tied to his ankle, so that if he saw God or was not presented perfectly, and died because of it, he could be dragged out. We, on the other hand, do not have to fear God’s presence because God’s wrath has been satisfied in the sacrificial blood of Jesus. We can hold fast to the confidence we have in Jesus, to the new and better covenant.
Even so, I tend to hold on more tightly to the things of this world than to God and his promises. I often miss the gifts of peace and hope that his new covenant offers. I fear God’s plan because it may threaten my own comfort. I tell God I trust him and want his glory with my words while my heart holds fast to my own desires. The truth is, I’m no different than my daughter at Christmas— excited and preoccupied by these things... and all the while missing the real gift.
What are you holding more closely than the promises of God?
God is saying to us today, ”I am better.”
We can be assured that God’s glory is ultimately for our good. As believers, we can endure because Christ endured. If we confess and surrender these lesser gifts and idols of our hearts, we become free to live in the peace and hope that Jesus offers us through his death.
May we lay down our ambitions and trust the assurance we have in Christ: this world is not our home - Jesus is better.
I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt the same kind of grief. They had spent three years doing life with Jesus, and ministering with Him… now He laid in a grave. They mourned his death, their hopes for the promised kingdom dashed. Jesus was supposed to conquer death— now he was given over to it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Three days later, Mary and the disciples were slow to believe they were in Jesus’ presence. They were slow to believe that he lived again; slow to turn their mourning to rejoicing.
Upon seeing Mary and the disciples, Jesus does not admonish them or ask them, “Why are you crying?” Instead, He says, “Peace be with you!” Friends, we are not called to stifle our cries of pain and suffering. Death and sickness still hurt. Jesus knew he would raise his friend Lazarus, yet he still wept over him. Jesus knew that his own death was part of God’s plan, and yet he asked for another way. Jesus knew his death was not the end and that he would rise, yet He felt forsaken.
The disciples found peace and joy in their grieving because Jesus was alive— he conquered death as He said He would. We can weep over this world and the tragedies that come with it, and still have hope because of this same truth. We can bring our hurt and sorrow to an empathetic savior who has endured suffering. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope in the midst of our pain. We can have peace even in the darkest of places.
Are you sitting in darkness? Do you find yourself wondering why God has forsaken you? Is your soul shouting, “It isn’t supposed to be this way!”?
Peace be with you, friend.
He has overcome. He has conquered the grave and is bringing light to the dark.
My baby left me and entered into the arms of Jesus. This truth has made me more aware of the reality of heaven. Though I mourn, it is not without hope. Jesus lives. I will worship at his feet, and I will see my baby again.
Life may not look the way it is supposed to right now, but friend, we have not been forsaken. We are not alone in our grief. Good news and hope and peace are waiting for us. Jesus endured pain and death, to take away our own. He has overcome.
I was scared for her life and, to be honest, for my own. Even in that moment I remember thinking, perhaps I was brought into this position for such a time as this.
Esther was encouraged by this same notion. As a young, secretly-Jewish queen of an anti-Semitic Kingdom, she found herself in a position none of us would ever want to be in.
Her cousin Mordecai overheard a plan being carried out by the King’s right-hand man (Hamaan), to annihilate the Jewish people. He approaches Esther with a dangerous 3-part request:
Esther had a lot to lose: the King’s favor, her position as queen, and her very life. Mordecai both comforts and challenges her with these words, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Every piece of creation moves as God commands it. Mordecai acknowledges this when he says “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place…” God was going to rescue his people regardless of Esther’s obedience. The fulfillment of God’s plan to deliver His people was not dependent on her; however, God had given her the opportunity.
God places desires on our hearts and moves us into positions that will bring Him glory. He gives us the freedom to choose whether we will be a part of a greater story. Obedience will cost us our comfort, our desires, and, sometimes, our own lives. God doesn’t promise a pain-free life, but He promises us His presence.
God’s plan for my daughter, and the great glory he will bring through her life and diagnosis, is not dependent on me. Even so, He graciously and lovingly equipped me to play an integral role. It is going to hurt. It will not be easy. But I know I do not want to miss it.
Whether we are struck by tragedy, challenged by adversity, or find ourselves in a place we never expected to be, may we see God’s hand at work in our lives, consider our purpose, and respond in obedience, trusting that God will be faithful to complete His good work in us.
It’s easy to shake my head at stories like this, but my surprise reveals a disconnect from my own sin.
The truth is none of us are exempt from sinful nature: not my sweet little girl, not even “a man after God’s own heart,” and certainly not me.
Minimizing my brokenness also minimizes my need for a savior. When am I unaware of the depths of my sinfulness, I am not singing psalms of praise and gratitude like David. I am not arming myself against both “respectable” and blatant sins. I assume this happened to David as well, and then he saw Bathsheba.
David was sinful all the days of his life. Sin dwells within us and, because of this, we are prone to wander away from the gospel. We pretend and tell ourselves we aren’t that bad, or we perform and try to earn God’s favor. Through this pretending and performance, we see that the root of all our more visible sins is not believing the gospel.
Our wandering hearts require frequent preaching of biblical truths and rehearsal of the gospel; to consistently recognize and repent of our brokenness and experience the vast holiness and redemption of God.
When the gospel is functioning correctly in our lives, our awareness of our sin grows; therefore, our awareness of God’s holiness grows as well. This is not in an unhealthy, shame-inducing sense, but in a way that recognizes our real need. As a result, our appreciation for Jesus’ death on the cross grows, too.
David committed gasping, jaw-dropping sins. Do you know who wasn’t surprised by David’s sin? God. He isn’t surprised by our sin either. (Not even when we stuff an entire bag of gummy bears in our mouth after He tells us not to.)
Even when our view of sin skews our view of God, He does not change, nor does His love. Search your heart and confess your sin today. As our memory verse tells us this week, God is faithful and just to forgive. Take a moment to reflect on your need for a Savior, then thank Him for His sacrifice.
In Genesis 42, ten brothers stood before a man they had conspired to kill. A man born of the same father, and raised in the same home. A man they threw into a pit. A man they sold for twenty pieces of silver.
They had covered his robe in animal’s blood and told their father that he was dead. They carried that sin within them, in the quiet of their minds, hidden. Then they were convinced it was thatsin that was coming back to punish them.
We can hear it in their statement: “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” Genesis 42:21
Unrepentant sin breeds shame. Shame makes the world look different; it makes God look different. When faced with difficult times, we search to understand why, and our shame shouts our list of unrepentant trespasses. It tells us we deserve this.
In a time of devastation and desperation, when I needed and longed for the Lord’s comfort the most, I ran from it because of lies my own shame told me.
Shame kept the brothers from rejoicing at the revelation of their long-lost brother. They stood before Joseph in dismay, even though he begged them to “draw near.” Our shame does the same thing: it keeps us from the Forgiver. Instead of drawing near to God in our times of pain and uncertainty, we stand in dismay at His presence.
What Joseph’s brothers didn’t know yet, and what shame kept my heart from seeing, is Jesus. God allowed us to nail His son to a cross so that our own lives would be preserved. This sacrifice provides us the ability to enter into the Holy of Holies and commune directly with God despite our sinfulness.
Shame keeps us from seeing what God is doing in and through our lives, even through our sin. Shame keeps us from the communion God desires to have with us.
Today, search your heart and confess any unconfessed sin. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to confidently approach Christ and receive His forgiveness. Opening up about our sin leaves no foothold for shame. When Jesus says, “Come near, please…” we can respond with rejoicing, resting in His mercy and grace.
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