Sunday, July 31, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (ESV).

Hold Fast (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. 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. 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.

Life is difficult, at times, and for some of us more than others. We face temptations and/or persecutions. We get discouraged or disheartened. We get hurt by others. We feel lonely, unappreciated and/or rejected. We experience difficulties and hardships, and we lack understanding as to why all these things are happening to us and/or what we are supposed to do about them. People we love betray us and forsake us. People misunderstand us and judge us falsely. Those who don’t like us may even willfully try to destroy us and our reputations, or they may try to trip us up so that they can discredit us and our ministry.

So, why do all these types of things happen to us? And, how are we supposed to respond to such difficulties as these? We read in the Bible, God’s Holy Word:

God “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Heb. 12:3-11). “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (See: 1 Co. 11:27-31). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer… Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Co. 1:6, 9). “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).

And, we read: “… so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thess. 3:3-4). “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Ro. 5:3-5).

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:12-14). And, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 1:6-7

So, sometimes we are disciplined by God because we fail ourselves to examine our own hearts, and to repent of any known sins, and sometimes it is so he may make us holy and mold us into the image of Christ. We also go through difficulties and trials to mature us in our faith, to teach us perseverance, and to develop within us steadfastness; to train us to rely on God and not on ourselves, and so that we may learn to be compassionate and to comfort others with the comfort we received from God in our suffering. So, when we go through these trials we need to listen to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, we need to learn what it is he is trying to teach us, and we need to allow him to change in our hearts what needs to be changed. He knows our weaknesses, he sympathizes with us, and he is there to help us through our times of trial if we will let him. Trust now in his sovereignty.

Appointed by God (5:1-6)

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

In Old Testament times, and before Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, the people of God had human priests who served as mediators between the people and God, and who made sacrifices for sins, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. Yet, when Jesus died on the cross, the veil that stood between us and the Holy of Holies was torn in two, thus opening the way for all of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ to go directly to God. Through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, he became not only our sacrificial Lamb whose blood was shed for our sins, but he was also the high priest who made the sacrifice for our sins. Now he is our only high priest, i.e. he is our only mediator between us and God the Father. And, now we are “to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

Learned Obedience (5:7-10)

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus Christ, when he walked the face of this earth, was fully God yet fully man. He suffered like we suffer and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. And, yet, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and God heard his prayers because of his reverence. When it was time for Jesus to go to the cross, he cried out to the Father and he asked him, if it was God’s will that this cup of suffering, which he was about to undergo, could pass from him, that it would be so. And, yet, he submitted to the Father’s will, for he wanted the Father’s will to be done. And, having accomplished and completed, through his suffering, the purpose for which God had sent him to the earth, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. He died on the cross. Even though he knew no sin, he became sin for us so that when he died our sins died with him.

That just blows me away, i.e. it astounds me that Jesus, God the Son, should have to learn obedience, and that he should have to go through suffering in order that he might become the source of our eternal salvation, but that was the Father’s plan for him. And, it is the Father’s plan for us that we go through suffering so that we learn obedience, and so we submit to the Father’s will for our lives, and in order that we might complete the assignments God has given to us, i.e. that we might fulfill the purposes for which we were created by God. It was the Father’s will that Jesus be crucified on a cross in death to sin, and be resurrected back to life so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). The Father did not rescue Jesus from death, because that was for our salvation. We also must die to sin and walk in the Spirit if we want to have eternal life with God.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.