Our Great High Priest – July 9, 2021

Believers ought to be the most joyful people in the world. We have a God who invites us to come into His presence and cast all our care on Him. This thought is captured by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 4:14-16: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.



Jesus came as our great High Priest. The role of the high priest is to mediate between God and man. Throughout the year, he was to lead in the worship and sacrifices as God’s people worshiped. Once a year he was to enter the Holiest place and offer the sacrifice of atonement for the people. As our great High Priest, Jesus did this once. He offered the perfect sacrifice so that no other sacrifice would ever be required. With this great sacrifice, He opened the way into the throne room of God for all of God’s people. As our great mediator, He invites us in. If we recognize this, we can stand firm in our faith even through life’s most difficult storms. We can hold to our confession of faith.

Even more amazing, Jesus, our great High Priest, endured the pain and suffering that we endure. He is able to sympathize with us in our struggles. He was tempted in every way that we are yet did not sin. Further, this perfect righteousness of Christ was placed on us through faith. This means that when we come to our great High Priest, He experientially understands what we face. He does not mock or ridicule us for our struggles. He does not question why we are not stronger. Instead, He interacts with us sympathetically. He engages our struggle with power. And He comforts us with His love.

If we believe this, then we will come boldly into God’s throne room with our anxiety and our care. We will not come timidly. We will not come as a last resort. Instead, as God’s children, we will come with absolute confidence that God will help because of our great High Priest. And we recognize the promise that we will gain mercy and grace to help in our time of need. The circumstances may not change, but our perspective and strength will change. We will find mercy. God will intervene on our behalf and keep the trial from destroying us. We will find grace. God will grant us the power to thrive in the trial and glorify Him in our response. So today in the midst of life’s struggles, remember you have a great High Priest.

Thankfulness for America – July 2, 2021

Each year at this time, we celebrate the founding of our great country. Any kind of travel around the world quickly reveals that this is indeed a great country. While it is not without its faults and problems, any honest assessment reveals that we have been truly blessed to live here today. So, we celebrate with enthusiasm.

I am thankful for the economy of this country. Capitalism has allowed creativity to thrive and advancements to proceed. The inventions which have made modern life comfortable were largely products of American ingenuity. Not because Americans are smarter, but because the system rewards ingenuity. I am thankful that even the poorest among us are rich by the standards of the world.

I am thankful for our political system. Yes, it seems broken at times. But it does allow the average citizen to participate and have a say. It protects the smallest states. The checks and balances are still working for the most part. And when we disagree with our politicians and express that disagreement, we are not afraid of being arrested. This is not normal in world history.

I am thankful for our religious liberties. The past 200 years are an aberration in world history. We can worship in freedom. While we recognize that this liberty is under assault, we have addressed that in other venues. For the purposes of this letter, I simply want to express gratitude for what we have. Sunday we will gather without fear of persecution. We are not worried that the police will close our doors. I am not worried that I will spend time in prison for what I say on Sunday. We must not take this for granted. And we cannot allow this liberty to make us passive in our worship of God.

I am thankful for those who have fought and died to protect these liberties. These liberties have been costly. Men and women have given their lives for us so that we could continue life as we know it. I want to conclude by saying thank you to them. To the men and women of Cambria who have served our country, thank you. You sacrificed for us. We can never repay that debt. As we celebrate this weekend, we do so because of what you have done for us. May God bless you for your sacrifice. And may God bless America!

Out of the Depths I Call to You – June 25, 2021

Sadness, grief, frustration, and struggle are faux pax in Christianity today. This ought not be the case, for these emotions are often the everyday struggle of believers. The happy-clappy religion of the modern church leaves no place for lamentation. As a result, when the storms of life arise, the faith of many crumbles into the sand on which has been built.

The Bible proposes another way. God feels the infirmities we face and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, in the midst of sadness, grief, frustration, and struggle, God invites us into His holy presence to find shelter. He does not promise that the circumstances will change. He does not promise wealth and ease. But He does promise grace to help in time of need. Many believers in the midst of intense struggle, find an anchor in Psalm 130:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! 2O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

The Psalmist does not paint a false picture of his situation. He is in the depths of despair. The world closed in around him and he had nowhere to turn. Except to turn to God. His confidence that God would help is rooted in salvation. If God counted our sin, no one would have any hope. We understand our weakness and sin. We recognize our unworthiness. But there is forgiveness with the Lord. And because there is forgiveness with the Lord, there is confidence in His help. God did not save you to forget you. God did not redeem you to lose you. God did not adopt you to desert you. Further, our hope is anchored in the promises of His Word. God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. God promised that He would supply for our needs.

Yet, these promises do not remove the reality of struggle and trial. So, we must wait for God to work. We must speak the promises of God’s truth to ourselves lest we falter. We continue to look up to the heavens for our help, knowing that He will sustain us and help us. We don’t deny our situation. We don’t pretend that it is better than it is. But, we do so with hope and strength. For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. You can listen to a great musical rendition of this Psalm: I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130) (Official Lyric Video) – Keith & Kristyn Getty – YouTube

The Head of the Church – June 18, 2021

Because all things find their source and sustenance in Christ, He is the authority over all things. This especially includes the church. Over the centuries, churches have fought and even split because individuals believed that they were the power in the church. Some were well meaning, others were vindictive. However, in each case, they failed to submit themselves to the true head of the Church. The church belongs to Christ.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18). The Church is Christ’s body. We have been chosen and fashioned into the image of Christ. For the world to see Christ, they must look to the church. Yet not only is the church Christ’s body, Christ is the head of his body. As we consider the operation of the head, we recognize that this means that life, instruction, guidance, and authority come from Christ.  

The ramifications of this concept are vast. First, this means that we cannot operate the body (the church) any way that we want. We must subject all operations to the will and desires of Christ. We are not free to change and tinker with worship. We are not free to make our corporate worship whatever we want it to be. As the head, Christ dictates what we do. Thankfully, He has revealed these desires in His Word. In His Word, we discover that we are commanded to sing the Word, read the Word, pray the Word, preach the Word, and picture the Word through the ordinances. Everything centers on the Word (written and Incarnate). Every decision we make must be founded in the Word. The question is not, “What do we think should happen?” But “What does God’s Word say on this subject?”

Second, this means that we must interact with one another as one body. We are not a collection of individuals gathered together, but members of one body. For the body to be healthy, we must function in unity with one another as we follow the commands of the Head. This means that you have a vital role to play for the health of the body.

Third, this means that in any conflict, we seek Christ overall. We submit to the commands of Christ in His Word. We seek to glorify God in the way that we resolve the conflict. Our desires don’t matter. Only the desires of Christ. So, we bath each situation in prayer and the Word. We interact with humility. We are swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. We think the best of one another. While we exhort one another, we do not do so as the judge, but as the brother and sister in Christ. We love one another.

Finally, it means that church is not about you. Today’s entertainment culture has made church about the emotional stimulation of the individual. We come to church and determine the success of the service based on the feelings it produced. The songs must be emotionally manipulative, the sermon must be short and uplifting, The pews must be soft, the air-conditioning must be on, and comfort is king. However, this is not the way that we learned Christ. Church is all about Him. There will be times that the singing and preaching do not uplift, but convict and cause unease. But, as we draw close to Christ, we begin to love the Word. As a result, we love Word centered singing, praying, preaching, and reading. The church is about Christ, not about you or me! He is the head, not you or me! And that is a good thing.

Your View of Christ is Too Small – June 11, 2021

To every Christian we could say, “Your view of Christ is too small!” As we walk through life, face the challenges, and absorb the sinful consequences of our world, it is easy to begin to believe in a God that operates in the spiritual realm only. But Christ reminds us of the real world working of God. Paul addresses this concept over and over in his epistle to the Colossians. In Colossians 1:15, We see clearly that, through Christ, God deals intimately with His creation. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Christ is God in the flesh. He is the cause of our redemption, the foremost and authority over all things.

When we think of Christ, we must think beyond our imaginations. Colossians 1:16 informs, For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  Through the verbal word, the Incarnate Word created all things. Nothing exists on this earth apart from the direct act of God. This includes all that would seek to be apart from God. World governments are subject to God’s rule and authority. This seems odd as we recognize most governments actively work against God. But we are reminded in Habakkuk 2 that God is actively using those governments opposed to Him for His own purposes. Daniel 2 informs us that God actively places governmental rulers into their positions. He is not passive! World governments are subject to Christ.

All things were created for Christ. This includes you and me. We often live life after our own devices. In the daily ebb and flow of life, we forget that all are subject to the rule and reign of Christ because he created us. Our interactions with others must reflect the rulership of Christ. Our management of finances must be subject to the rule of Christ. Our work must be subject to the rule of Christ. Even our eating and drinking must be subject to the rule of Christ (1 Cor 10:31). This means that everything we do is dominated by the Word of God. We allow Scripture to have the final say over everything, regardless of our emotions and opinions. Often our view of Christ is too small because we do not think of Him at all.

Yet not only is He the creator of all. He is also the sustainer of all. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). The statement that He is before all things indicates again His authority over them. He is first, foremost, and supreme. As the foremost, all things find their source and sustenance in Him. He holds it all together. This may be saying that all creation would physically break apart without Christ sustaining it as it will in the last days. It is certainly stating that nothing will work apart from Christ. He holds life together. When we seek to live life apart from Christ, it cannot work. Because Christ is the one who sustains.

What do you think of Christ? Is He simply someone you think about on Sunday? Or is He the ruler of your life? Are you content to live like the rest of the world? Or do you submit yourself to Christ through obedience to His Word? Your view of Christ is too small! Relationships, marriage, money, outdoor vehicles, houses, and prestige cannot and will not bring satisfaction and joy. Only a life completely submitted to and committed to Christ can satisfy. So, build your view of Christ! I might suggest starting with reading the Gospels.

Happy are the Persecuted – May 21, 2021

As we work through the beatitudes, the last one seems the most contradictory to human experience. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). The believer finds happiness and satisfaction in the middle of persecution. There are several important notes we must make to understand this properly.

First, we must understand what persecution is. Today in America we don’t necessarily understand the idea of persecution. We face being reviled and mocked for our faith. We face what one man described as “the persecution of the raised eyebrow.” But we have not faced imprisonment, torture, death, or loss for our faith. Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are facing this as we speak. We are not. But make no mistake. It appears that persecution is in our future. If not for us, then certainly for our children.

Second, this persecution is for our faith. Mask wearing, vaccine debates, stay at home orders, etc. are not what this text is speaking about. Christ is speaking about Christians being targeted for the sole reason that they are Christians and follow Christ. Christ stated that this persecution is on my account. The world hates Christ and the truth of the Gospel. The world will seek to snuff it out. This is the persecution of which Christ speaks.

Third, this persecution is unjust. They will utter all kinds of evil against you falsely. This persecution which leads to joy is only promised if it is unjust. Peter puts it this way, For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:20). Facing the consequences of disobedience to God’s Word is not persecution. Facing the consequences for being a jerk is not persecution. Facing unjust suffering because you are a believer is persecution.

Fourth, we can rejoice in this persecution when it does come because we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We are declaring God’s glory to the lost world. And our reward in heaven is great. History demonstrates that the gospel advances through persecution. While we don’t long for it, invite it, or look for it, we need not fear persecution. We can be happy as we suffer for the cause of Christ and reveal Him to be as good as He really is.

Happy Are the Peacemakers – May 7, 2021

Conflict seems to be the fare of the day. Turn on any tv news station and you are lambasted with conflict. If the news is not about some conflict taking place in the world, then the news personality is creating conflict with other viewpoints. Further, we all experience conflict on a regular basis: Social conflict, relational conflict, spiritual conflict, personal conflict. Sadly, in many cases Christians have led the charge in the conflict. The old saying goes that if you want to see a good fight, go to a church business meeting.

But Christ presents another way. He informs us that it is the peacemakers that are happy: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). The path to joy and satisfaction in life is to pursue peace. As a result, pursuing peace is a command from God twice stated in Scripture (Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11). Yet, this is easier said than done. We live in a society which promotes self and one’s own ideas. This leads to conflict when others do not promote me or agree with my ideas. Thus, it is important to understand that peace is intricately tied with righteousness. As I draw closer to God in righteousness, humility results and I value peace. My ideas and self take a back seat to God’s commands and agenda. This is why the Psalmist declared, “Righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10). To be true peacemakers, we must seek to walk in righteousness. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

However, this peace does not come at the expense of truth. Peacemaking does not mean that we avoid conflict at all costs. Righteousness cannot be realized without truth. When we fail to stand for truth, we fail in righteousness. Yet this stand for truth must be done in a gracious way, keeping the commands of God free from reproach (1 Timothy 6:14). We speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Christian, are you a person that loves peace or conflict? Some people are described as “great to have beside you in a battle but terrible to have beside you in peace” because they seem to thrive in conflict and seek it out. Instead, we are to seek peace and pursue it. For it is the peacemakers that are happy. 

Happy are the Pure in Heart – April 30, 2021

As long as you love Jesus and go to church, does it matter how you live? We live in a day in which the vast majority of church attenders are satisfied to allow that to be the sum total of their religious life. Spiritual disciplines such as reading the Bible and prayer are seen as the things that the super spiritual do. The pursuit of life is not godliness, but pleasure. We believe that because we prayed a ditty, we are Christian. Yet in the middle of the list of blessed people, Jesus dropped a bomb on this thinking. He stated, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8).

To be pure in heart means to be completely separated from sin. No sin stains the life. The word pure means to be completely cleaned and spotless. We often use another word: holiness. To understand this, we must examine two important thoughts. First, when you come to Christ in salvation, confessing your sin and acknowledging Him as Lord, His righteousness is placed on you. We become righteous (holy). You are now positionally pure. Many stop here. But second, we must understand that true purity demonstrates itself in functional purity. In other words, true Christians act like Christians. They are concerned for purity in their life. Ephesians 5:6-15 informs us, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Those who are truly pure in heart have nothing to do with a sinful lifestyle. They seek with all their power to please God.

The result is that the pure in heart will see God. Their purity reveals their standing. They are truly children of God. They have full confidence in their standing because everything in their life confirms their righteousness through Christ. They know that the day is coming in which God will say to them, “Well done, enter into glory.” And for all eternity, they will see God face to face. Christian, take purity seriously. Live out your faith. If you don’t value holiness, you need to check whether you are even of the faith.

Happy are the Merciful – April 23, 2021

How do we respond when someone wrongs us, inconveniences us, or sins against us? Some hold to the old saying, “I don’t get mad, I just get even.” Others simmer until the final straw pushes them to explosion. Some begin to complain about the individual and slander them to others. Some demand their rights be honored. Some loudly and colorfully inform the individual of their crime. Few are inclined to show mercy.

Yet, we learn in the next Beatitude that it is the merciful that are happy, for they find mercy themselves. Christ stated, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matt. 5:7). The principle seems to be twofold. First, when you love to show mercy to others, others will show mercy to you. Second, when you show mercy to others, you demonstrate the mercy that God has and will show towards you. Whenever we come across people who are unhappy with life, it is inevitably true that they do not show mercy towards others. Instead, they stew in the bitterness of their “unjust” treatment. Further, it reveals that they do not truly understand the mercy of God.

We are reminded of the parable of the unforgiving servant. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:23-35). We have mercy on others because God has shown incredible mercy to us. And when we show mercy to others, we find true joy and contentment. Happy are the merciful.

Happy are Those Who Hunger for God – April 16, 2021

Your view of God dictates your view of life. This is also true in the area of one’s happiness and satisfaction. Ecclesiastes spends significant time revealing that the pursuit of the things of this world is vanity. Nothing this world has to offer can bring true happiness. Seeking happiness through the things of this world is like chasing the wind. That promotion at work, that relationship you desire, that new toy you want, that new car you crave cannot bring lasting happiness. Instead, Christ informs us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). When we hunger for God, we can find true happiness.

When Scripture speaks of hunger, it indicates a driving pursuit for something. What is the driving pursuit of your life? From the moment of birth, the driving pursuit of our life is to have our own lusts and desires fulfilled. We seek comfort and satisfaction. Yet, this world cannot truly offer this. This only comes from God. As you cannot get enough of the food you love, so you should pursue God.

We are also to thirst after righteousness. Years ago, I went on a hike in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and foolishly forgot to take a water bottle. It was not long before I began to get a little dryness in my throat. That dryness soon turned into a burn. And the burn soon turned into a longing. When I was finally able to get to water, I felt as though I could never drink enough. After what seemed like gallons of water, I was satisfied. So it ought to be with God. The believer ought to long for God and righteousness like the traveler in the desert. He becomes the sole focus of our thinking. He becomes the sole desire we long for.

We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. But what exactly is righteousness? One could simply define it as rightness with God. We come to rightness with God through salvation (or justification) in which we give our lives to God through faith and find forgiveness at the cross. We also find rightness with God through sanctification. Daily living our lives in a manner worthy of our salvation. We seek to have our lives reflect our justification.

When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are promised that we will be filled. Like the experience of leaving a buffet, we will find fullness from God. This is when we find true happiness and satisfaction. You will not find true happiness through the things of this world, but you will find true happiness through an urgent pursuit of God. Live for God and find true joy.