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Thought for the Week
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" (Hebrews 12:14-16 NKJ)
God is holy. He loves to do what is right. He loves to show love and to bless people. He not only loves to do right, He also wants us to do right so that we can enjoy the blessings of doing right. He is more than a "right-doer," however. He is holy. He wants every obstacle to doing right removed from His people so they can do what is right. He knows that we are tempted because we have been born with a sinful nature. Children do not have to be taught to do wrong. Rather they need to be disciplined when they do wrong so they learn the rightful rewards of wrongdoing. In this way, by learning the painful results from wrongdoing, they might be encouraged to stop doing wrong and do what is right.
God has more for His people than just a legalistic system that encourages doing right and discourages wrongdoing. The legalistic system that our society operates in cannot change the heart. Our society hopes that the rewards offered by doing right will be received and will outweigh the punishments of wrongdoing, enabling men to do right. However, these systems cannot change the heart or the inner desires of people. God is righteous. He does what is right because He loves to do what is right. This is the kind of heart--of inner attitudes--that people need. This is what God has and provides through Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus, God can take out of us the desires to do wrong. Our sinful flesh, our sinful attitudes, can be placed on Jesus. God did this when Jesus went to the cross; God laid on Him the sinful desires, the old sinful nature of all people. Jesus became our sin offering; He took our sin upon Himself and was punished for it. He overcame our sinful desires when they were placed on Him. His desire to do what was right, empowered by the Holy Spirit, overcame our sinful desires that were empowered by Satan. He defeated the ways and the powers of sin. Now He lives to impart His victorious nature into us and to send the Holy Spirit into us, empowering the nature of God in us, so that we can live above the sinful ways of our flesh.
The above passage encourages us to diligently seek these ways. We are to seek the grace of God provided for us so that we too, like Jesus, can walk in holiness and know the peace God has for us and for all people. These ways are diametrically opposed to the ways of the world and the ways of our flesh. Yet, through Christ in us, and the power of the Holy Spirit empowering us, we can and will overcome. Without this way of living, we become bitter and resentful, bemoaning our "difficulties" with words like, "O woe is me," and, "I have it so hard." Jesus understands our needs, our weaknesses, and the injustices of life under the rulers of the darkness of this world. He overcame these ways and these spirits through His living in the will and power of God through the cross, and now He reigns to bring about the justice and righteousness of God. Let us pursue peace and holiness through Him.
Father, we rejoice that You are right and righteous. We rejoice that You are able to impart Your love of righteousness into us, and to remove our sinful desires from us. Help us to pursue peace and holiness in Christ and through Christ. Amen.
A Thought for the Week
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:14-16 NKJ).
We all have the desire to grow, to mature, to advance. Some people seek to advance in knowledge, or in material possessions, or in popularity, or in favor with dignitaries. Godís universe is continually increasing. More galaxies and planetary systems are being discovered annually. God has given us a desire for increase. He wants us to seek to increase in knowledge of Him and His kingdom and His ways. Here in Hebrews the Holy Spirit is encouraging us to pursue peace and holiness. He is telling us to look for and live in the grace of God--Godís empowerment for us--so that we can live in His holiness and His peace. God has promised to provide the ability, the desire and the power to do this. Paul says, "Öwork out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13 NKJ). God had promised this to Abraham. Zechariah recounts at the birth of His son John, "The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life" (Luke 1:73-75 NKJ). God will provide grace for us to walk in holiness and in peace. This is the promise of the New Covenant, fulfilled in Christ.
God warns us here that if we do not live to pursue peace and holiness, relying on His grace to do so, we can become a fornicator or a profane person like Esau, who sold his birthright--his right to inherit a double portion of Isaacís goods--for a morsel of food. If we do not pursue holiness and peace, we become prey for Satan, who would lead us to use his means for advancement or success. If we make worldly success our aim and fail to pursue peace and holiness, we are open prey to falling into using the ways of the world for reaching success. We become people-pleasers or gain-seekers, focusing on the material gain to be had, rather than on the character and revelation of God, through which all can be obtained. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33 NKJ). Our focus must be on advancing the kingdom and rule of God, using His principles, relying on Him to impart His righteousness into us so we can walk in His guidelines and His revelation. Without this emphasis and focus, we are easily swayed by the gods of this world to use their means for advancement and success. We focus on making money rather than on serving others. We focus on what people think of us, rather than on showing the love and destiny God has for them. Let us receive and live in His grace to pursue peace and holiness.
Father, we confess You are holy and righteous. Help us to receive grace from You through the life and power of Jesus in us, so we might pursue peace and holiness with all men. Amen.
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