Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Making Decisions By The Book: Lesson 3 Using Wisdom

Making Decisions By The Book: Lesson 3 Using Wisdom

Wisdom and Providence

According to Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, providence is "the hidden, patient, sovereign enactment of God’s overriding purpose beyond the will and choice of human agents."

It’s definition comes from the Latin, “Pro” means “before” and  “Video” means “to see” Providence means “to see before” This means that God sees before the event and plans accordingly.

The Doctrine of Providence. The Christian view affirms that God has not merely created the universe, together with all its properties and powers, and that he is preserving all that he has created, but that as a holy, benevolent, wise and omnipotent being, he also exercises sovereign control over it. This sovereign control is called providence.

Etymologically, the word “providence” means foreseeing. From this basic idea has developed the meaning of providing for the future. But in theology the word has received a more specialized meaning. In this field, “providence” means that continuous activity of God whereby he makes all the events of the physical, mental, and moral realms work out His purpose, and this purpose is nothing short of the original design of God in creation. To be sure, evil has entered the universe, but it is not allowed to thwart God’s original, benevolent, wise and holy purpose.

If we believe in an omniscient, omnipotent God then we believe in providence but be careful because judging providence as it relates to my particular circumstance is hard and usually unprofitable.

Job 38-42 God reproves Job and friends
Acts 28:4  Mistaken reading of signs
John 9:2-3 Mistaken theology based on signs
Deuteronomy 29:29 Secret things are God’s, revealed things are ours.

Wisdom and Circumstances and Events

From our limited viewpoint, some things may just happen by chance.  It is not chance from God’s view but we don’t have God’s view unless he tells us in scripture.

Ruth 2:3  Ruth in Boaz's field
1Kings 22:34 Ahab killed
Luke 10:31 the priest and the good Samaritan

Be very careful interpreting a circumstance without divine revelation. Circumstances define the context of the decision and must be judged by wisdom… not read as road signs to God's will for the individual.

Wisdom and Open Doors of Life and Service

Biblically speaking “open doors” are God given opportunities in our service and mission.

1 Cor 16:8-9 Open doors are opportunities not divine guidance.

Col 4:3 Pray for open doors as opportunities not as guidance.

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Paul passes up an open door.  He would not have done so if it were God's guidance.

Open doors then are God-given opportunities for service, not specific guidance from God requiring one to enter.

Wisdom and Fleeces

Judges 6:36-40 Gideon uses a fleece.
"Fleecing" as it is taught today, is determining God's will in a given situation by determining in advance a circumstantial sign by which God can indicate the right decision.
But Gideon's fleece wasn't a circumstantial sign, but a miraculous display of supernatural power.
It wasn't for guidance but for confidence and confirmation of guidance already given. It wasn't an example of faith but an expression of doubt and unbelief that Gideon needed to overcome before fighting the overwhelming Midianite army.
Fleecing to make a decision is foolish and wrong.

A Biblical Model

Romans 1:8-13 Notice Paul’s approach to doing God’s will.
Plan  Romans 1:13
Pray Romans 1:8-10
Petition Romans 1:10
Purposes Romans 1:11-15
 Commission  2 Corinthians 10:16
 Greece 1st   Romans 15:23
 Jerusalem   Romans 15:25
 Gift   Romans 15:26-27
 Rome, Spain Romans 15:24

Principles of Biblical Decision Making

In those areas where the Bible gives no definite command or principle the believer is free and responsible for choosing their own course of action. 
Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God.
In all decisions, the goal of the Christian is to make wise decisions based on the goal of “First and Best”
Providence is God’s business. Our business is the know what He has revealed in His Word and to do it.
Circumstances and open doors are to be considered in making decisions, but are not divine guidance.
Fleecing is a sign of weak faith and has nothing to do with determining God’s will.
To best serve God in your decisions you should plan, pray, petition, know your purposes and your priorities.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hebrews Christ Above All A Better Priesthood Chapter 7

Hebrews Christ Above All

A Better Priesthood

Text: Hebrews 7

Key Verse Hebrews 7:10 We draw nigh unto God



Christ Above All
1-2 A Better Revelation
3-4 A Better Rest
5 A Better High Priest
6 A Better Completion
7 A Better Priesthood

Christ: A Better Priesthood Hebrews 7:1-10

1 ¶  For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2  To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3  Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.4  Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.5  And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6  But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7  And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8  And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9  And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.10  For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

Melchizedek: A Type of Christ Greater than Aaron

Paul now returns to the subject of Christ’s priesthood that he introduced in Chapter 5, but then took time in chapter 6 to exhort the Hebrews to move passed the basics of the faith and prepare themselves to go on unto perfection, on to full maturity in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Now in chapter 7 he begins to instruct them of the better priesthood of God’s Son Jesus.
Melchizedek is only mentioned in Genesis 14:17-20 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Melchizedek appears at a critical time after a great victory by Abraham over the Kings who invaded Sodom and Gomorrah and kidnapped his nephew Lot. Abraham attacks them wins the victory and rescues his nephew.
After the battle Abraham is met by the King of Sodom who had been thoroughly defeated by Chedorlaomer.
The king of Sodom offers a deal to Abraham, a very tempting offer. “You take all the spoil, all the money and jewels even that which was taken from me, and I’ll just take the people back with me.”
This would ally Abraham with Sodom. At this critical time Melchizedek comes into the picture. He meets with Abraham refreshes him with bread and wine and while Abraham is considering the King of Sodom’s offer, Melchizedek is there as a reminder of who Abraham must truly be allied with, only to the God Most High, “El-elyon.” Which is the title given in Genesis 14.
In recognition to this truth Abraham gives a tenth to Melchizedek, showing Him to be superior to Abraham as a high priest of God. He says in Genesis 14:22 “I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.”
He then refuses the offer of the King of Sodom in Gen 14:23 “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.”
Back in Hebrews, Paul states this priest was a great man.  In verse 4 he says, Consider how great a man this was.
This man was greater than Abraham because he received the tithe from him. This means that he was greater than those who came from Abraham. It means the priesthood that Melchizedek held was a greater priesthood than that which would come from Abraham’s great grandson Levi, through who came Aaron and the Aaronic priesthood.
This is Paul’s point that Melchizedek was a type, a symbolic picture of Jesus Christ and what that type shows us is the superiority of Jesus as High Priest.
The Hebrew Christians were missing their rituals, the routine of the Temple, the pomp and circumstance of the Aaronic priesthood. Paul tells them that was nothing in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ as your High Priest today.
Jesus is pictured in Melchizedek in vs.3 “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of god; abideth a priest continually.”
The Genesis 14 record of Melchizedek points us to Jesus, a greater high priest. Shown because even Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, acknowledges him as greater by giving him tithes.

Looking to Christ Our High Priest

For us as Christians the concept of a conflicted view of the priesthood seems almost laughable. We are not concerned with the Aaronic priesthood and really not with the Melchizedek priesthood either. Priests just don’t come into the picture for us. And that actually is a problem. You see, we still need a high priest.
We as NT Christians seem to forget that even though we are saved we still need an intercessor. We still need a great high priest.
It is not enough to have our sins cleansed in the past. We need a priest who every day is continual before the most High God, El-elyon, and offers a sacrifice that appeases his righteousness that is offended by our daily sinfulness.
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
May we never neglect, may we never forget that it is Jesus, our high priest after the order of Melchizedek, that day by day, moment by moment keeps us from the wrath of God. He ever lives to make intercession for us. 

Illustration: A Living Advocate

In the middle ages there was a custom to bring peace between two warring nations. The King of one nation often the stronger to prove that he would not attack his weaker neighbor would give to that nation his son. The son would live with people, become one of the people until he reached a certain age and then he would return to his father’s home. Now he would act as an intercessor for the people that raised him for his friends and adopted family. His becoming one of them and now returning home would prevent his father from attacking that nation.
This is very much what Christ did and what he still does today. God the father sent him to live among us and now that he has ascended back to his father, he acts on our behalf. He intercedes for us before His father.
Transition: Paul begins this chapter with a better priesthood and now in verse 11 he moves on to a better hope.

Christ: A Better Hope (The Antitype) Hebrews 7:11-21

11 ¶  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13  For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18  For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20  And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21  (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

Christ Accomplished What The Law Could Not

Paul points out that the Levitical priesthood was incomplete and imperfect but in Jesus the perfection was found.
Jesus arose not from the priestly tribe of Levi but the tribe of Judah, not from the Aaronic priesthood but after the order of Mel.
The author of Hebrews then quotes from Psalm 110:1-4 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
This is a Messianic prophecy of the coming of Jesus and it is the only other place in the OT where Mel is mentioned.
Paul is trying to make the Hebrews Christians see their need for going on to the meat instead of returning to the milk of God’s plan for them. He is telling them look at the depth, the awesomeness of God’s plan for you fulfilled not in the dead rituals of the OT priesthood but upon a living relationship with Jesus through the greater NT priesthood.
Look at vs. 19 here is the heart of the book of Hebrews and the heart of our message this morning, “ for the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God.
The law, the OT temple, the rituals of the Aaronic priesthood could not bring in completeness, could not go on to perfection, but a better hope did!
That better hope is Jesus Christ and it is through him and him only that the Hebrews could draw nigh to God.
They might find comfort in their rituals but it was only in Christ that they could be drawn closer to God, Himself. The rituals were imperfect, lacking an end, missing their purpose until Jesus come and brought with Him a better hope, a more assured hope of draw near to God.

Christ or Our Comforts?

It’s comfortable to retreat to the familiar. It feels safe and warm to find the old reliable things that we’ve always found but when it comes to our relationship with God those things will  leaves us as incomplete as they did the Hebrews.
We need to hear again what Paul said to the Hebrews last week in
Hebrews 6:1  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
He echoes the same principle in Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Illustration: Comfortable Shirts

I have several shirts in my closet that I really like. They are broken in, they are comfortable and whenever I work in the yard or the garden or exercise I go to my  closet and I pull out one of those shirts. Some of them are 5 or more years old. They’re just at the point where I really like them. Yet there is a danger. My wife sees the danger. It called holes. They start as little tiny pinhole you can barely see and then they grow with each wearing until there may be more hole than shirt in certain area. Now in my mind I think that as long as I keep my arm down no one will see that there is a small Grand Canyon growing under my arm pit. Its okay. I’m comfortable. Then one day I go to my closet and I look for that shirt and its not there. LeeOra tells me she hasn’t seen it and I have no reason not to trust her and blame it on the same mystery that claims my missing socks but still I miss my old, comfortable shirt.
We are often like that in our Christianity, we get comfortable in our traditions, our routines, our songs, our fellow church members and then before we know it we are in a deep rut and God has to throw some things away to get us to face new challenges and get go on to perfection.  
Can I say this? Its time to quit searching for your comfortable shirt and come out of the closet. Just make sure it your Christian comfort zone closet that we are talking about here and not some other kind.
“Come out of the closet and face the challenges with the better hope of Jesus Christ, who draws us nearer every day to God.”
Transition: Now I bet when people ask you what the preacher’s sermon was on, you’re going to say, “He told us to come out of the closet.”  On second thought, I want to take back that whole illustration. Just forget it.
Transition: Now let’s go back to verse 22 and A better promise.

Christ: A Better Promise Hebrews 7:22-28

22  By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23  And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24  But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26  For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27  Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28  For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Jesus made the guarantor of a better Testament

Review: We have seen in vss. 1-10 That Paul points to Christ and tells us He is a better high priest, forever after the order of Melchizedek. Then in vss. 11-21 he reminds us that Christ is the better hope, a hope that draws us near to God. Now finally let’s look at vss. 22-28 and Christ a better promise.
Paul begins by reminding them of the overwhelming evidence of  the greatness of Christ.
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. Jesus was made the guarantor of a better promise, a better covenant.
The New Testament, the new Covenant is better because the OT priest could not continue past death but Jesus continues forever.  He has an unchangeable priesthood.
This word for unchangeable is a powerful one in the Greek it is aparabatos and it means inviolable, unchangeable not able to passed on to a successor.
 The word is derived from the OT Hebrew word for Abaddon, the place of destruction, sometimes used for Hell and here the word is negated, it can never be destroyed.
Hell could not have them or us it has been negated by the power of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Because this is true Jesus is able then to save those who come unto God through Him to the uttermost seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
 This is what the Hebrews needed to understand. Jesus is the guarantor of a better promise. They will never be lost, so they will never need to go searching for something new or to return to the rituals of Judaism because Christ’s office, His priesthood, can never be superseded. He lives forever as the Great High Priest to make intercession for them.

Jesus Our High Priest Saves Us To the Uttermost

Hebrews 7:25 is one of the most powerful verses of assurance found in the Bible. How can anyone doubt their eternal salvation with such a verse to sustain their faith?
He is able to save them to the uttermost, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them!
The word uttermost is panteles and it means completely, utterly.
The reason Paul says is that He ever lives to make intercession for us. The phrase is literally “He is ever living for the purpose of making intercession for them.”
Can you imagine one day standing before God and having to answer for your lack of faith about your salvation? How could you offer any excuse about your doubts when you see Jesus at the right hand of His Father and realize that since His ascension He has stood there pleading for us, interceding for us.
He ever lives to make intercession for us. Dear Lord, forgive us for our doubts, our faithlessness in You and your work of intercession.
Are you standing in your salvation today? Not based upon your church attendance or tithing or good Christian works but upon the reality of Jesus interceding for us?
Look at the last vss. of Hebrews 7: 26-28 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
The word of the oath, God’s vow that Jesus was forever after the order of Melchizedek a priest always holding a priesthood inviolable, unchanging forever, interceding for us.
That reality means knowing that God is for us, God is forgiving us, God will give us the power that is needed, the grace that is needed. Because Jesus stands for us right now, we have the power of El-elyon, The power of God the most High.

Illustration: The power of knowing God is on your side.

A dark cloud hung over the meeting being led the great leader of the abolitionists, Frederick Douglass, Everything was against his people. One political party had gone sworn to protect slavery. The other proposed not to abolish it, but only to restrict it. The Supreme Court had ruled in the Dred Scott decision, that men were not men if they were slaves, they were only property. As he went on with his despairing words, a great darkness seemed to settle down upon the audience. Everything, every influence, every event, was gathering, not for good, but for evil. It seemed as if they was no hope and no one to help. Just at the instant when the cloud was darkest over the audience, there slowly rose, in the front seat, an old woman who had escaped the chains of slavery and now worked to free others, she had chosen her own name once she was free and she called herself, "Sojourner Truth." Every eye fell upon her as she stood, she was even more famous for her speaking in churches and hall throughout the north than Fredrick Douglas was. He paused as she stood. Then reaching out toward him with her long, finger, she cried out, "Frederick, is God dead?" Then with that statement of faith, the cloud began to break, and faith, hope and patience returned with the restored faith in an ever-living God. - The GEM Encyclopedia of Illustrations, Rev. J.G. Vaughan, 1889, p. 11.


Our Need To Believe

How greatly we need to believe that Jesus is interceding for us every day, every moment for all eternity and that the power and forgiveness of Heaven is ours, right now, through that blessed intercession.
How greatly we need to realize that no matter how dark are our problems, Christ shines through the darkness. How we need to understand that no matter how weak we fell Jesus has strength to give. Oh, how we need to rejoice because no matter how much we fail and or how much we may sin, the Son of God ever lives to intercede for us.
And to believe that He is my guarantee for all that I do today and for all time and eternity.

Livingstone crosses the River. Lo! I Am With Thee

David Livingstone had spent sixteen years in Africa but had not faced such peril. The missionary was surrounded by hostile, angry natives and there was no other man to help. He was in danger of losing his life and was thinking of trying to sneak away to safety in the darkness of the that night. But something changed his mind and gave him peace and courage. He recorded it in his diary that January 14, 1856:
“Felt much turmoil of spirit in prospect of having all my plans for the welfare of this great region and this teeming population knocked on the head by savages tomorrow. But I read that Jesus said: “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” It is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor, so there’s an end to it! I will not cross furtively tonight as I intended. Should such a man as I flee? Nay, verily, I shall take observations for latitude and longitude tonight, though they may be the last. I feel quite calm now, thank God!