One of the great metaphors in the New Testament is that of the door. It is used as an open door to God’s attention by constant knocking (prayers). ( Mt 7: 7-8) It is also used as an entrance to our heart at which Christ stands knocking and seeking an invitation to eat with us. ( Rev 3:20) David asks God to set a guard over the door of his lips so that he would not speak evil. At times Paul talks of a door of faith to the Gentiles as an opportunity for effective work. ( Acts 14:27) ( 1 Cor 16: 9) ( 2 Cor 2: 12)
The door to our heart could have several other doors in order to reach the very core of our being. Jesus wants us to open the kindness door so that we become more like him in our treatment of the weak and needy. It is right next to the compassion door which allows us to sympathize with the hurting situations of others. Down the hall is the inclusion door which allows the neglected and poor to enter freely. That would open the hospitality door to the same treatment for them as for our closest friends. ( Jam 2: 1-4)
The forgiveness door is usually stuck and hard to open but vital to Jesus’ continued journey. The final door is a double one called obedience and surrender. As we sit and eat with Christ, he will explain things about himself in the Scriptures as he did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. ( Lk 24: 13-32) If we have sincerely opened the doors mentioned above our heart will also burn within us. We will throw open the double door and take up our cross daily—not out of duty, but out of thankfulness, seeking to introduce the risen Christ to the doors of others.
Drive by any cemetery and you will see the familiar letters—RIP ( rest in peace) on the tombstones. Some people still use the expression, rest assured in their speech. There are at least 3 types of rest for us to consider—physical, mental and spiritual.
In today’s hectic pace physical rest has almost been replaced by vigorous exercises, races and other busy activities. Some people need a vacation from their vacation after “grabbing all the gusto they can get.” Our holidays seldom reflect the true purpose of refreshing quiet, calm, solitude and inactivity known as rest.
One would hope that Christians would follow God’s example after He created the Universe. “So on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” ( Ge 2:2) ( Heb 4:4) Since God is spirit, we assume that means mental rest. He gave his people a Sabbath in which to rest. ( Eze 20:12) He even commanded that the land was to have a year of rest. ( Lev 25:5) God told Moses “…My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest. ( Ex 33:14) After years of wilderness wandering and wars, Caleb and Joshua were given rest by the Lord. ( Jos 14: 15) God gave Solomon rest from adversaries and disasters so that he could build the temple. ( 1 Ki 5:4) Jesus told us that he would “give rest to all who are weary and burdened.” ( Mt 11:28) The Sabbath police of Jesus’ day
( the Scribes and Pharisees) would rescue an animal from a pit but rebuke Jesus from healing on the Sabbaath. ( Mt 12:11-12) God instituted the Sabbath as a gift for mankind not a punishment. ( Mk 2:27)
Since Jesus told us to take up our cross daily, we know there is physical and mental work to be done before we can expect eternal rest. In fact, God said the lazy sluggard, “ a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you… ( Pr 6: 10) He also said to those whose hearts were always going astray, “….They shall never enter my rest.”( Heb 3:10-11)
God promised through Jeremiah that “if you walk in good ways, you will find rest for your souls.” ( Jer 6:16) David prophesied the words of Jesus, “ My soul finds rest in God alone..” ( Ps 62:1) and that his, “body will also rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave.” ( Ps 16:9) Physical and mental exercise is a good thing, but to allow no time for Bible study and meditation because of video games and sports is missing the mark.
What do these people have in common? 1. Robin 2. Sancho Panza 3. Gary Kubiak 4. Chester 5. Klay Thompson.
Now match them up with these people: a. Matt Dillon b. Don Quijote c. John Elway d. Steph Curry e. Batman Answers: 1=e 2= b 3= c 4= a 5= d
What they have in common is that they were companions of more famous people or sidekicks, understudies, second bananas, etc. ( Our younger readers probably drew a blank on some of the names, but should do better in the next part) 1. Joshua 2. Peter 3. Silas 4. Elizabeth 5. Jonathan 6. Eve 7 Barak a.Paul b. Moses c. Jesus d. Adam e. David f. Deborah g. Mary Answers: 1=b 2 =c 3=a 4= g 5= e 6= d 7= f
These Biblical personalities, for better or worse, were the ones who were at the side of the more famous persons when they needed help the most. Sometimes the help was physical, and at other times emotional or maybe even comic relief. Eve started things out badly by having Adam’s rib but not his back. ( Ge 2:20-22) ( Ge 3:6) Barak could have been a great support for the prophetess Deborah but refused to go to battle without her. The honor of conquering the general of the cruel Canaanites thus fell to a woman named Jael. ( Jud 4: 9, 21)
Joshua was a faithful aide and disciple of Moses during most of the 40 years of wilderness wandering. He was allowed to lead in battles ( Ex 17:13) to accompany Moses up the holy mountain to receive the tablets of stone ( Ex 24: 13-14) and ultimately took the 12 tribes into the promised land. ( Nu 14: 26-34) Silas became Paul’s sidekick and suffered with him the many persecutions they endured for the gospel on their missionary journeys. ( Acts 16: 22-23) Jonathan, the rightful heir to King Saul, gave David moral support and protected him from death even though he understood that David not he would be the new king. ( 1 Sa 19: 4, 7) ( 1 Sa 20: 4, 16)
Elizabeth, an older relative of Mary, although she carried in her womb the greatest child ever born until the kingdom of heaven came, ( Mt 11:11) welcomed Mary into her home and called her blessed among women ( Lk 1:39-45) realizing she would become the mother of the Christ. Peter certainly wanted to be Jesus’ right-hand-man and protector even to the extreme of cutting off the ear of Malchus at Jesus’ arrest. ( Jn 18:10) He also in his zeal for Jesus’ reputation unwittingly became an enabler of Satan. ( Mt 16: 22-23) We know how much he grew spiritually by Pentecost and the 2 books of the New Testament that he later wrote.
We should never be so proud as to demand the highest position in the church or nothing. Being a humble sidekick is great in the eyes of God. ( Php 2:3) ( Tit 3:2) ( Jas 3:13) Often, as we have seen, sidekicks grew into mentors for others.
There are many types of thermometers; weather heat, body heat, food heat, etc, etc. They all need some form of calibration to measure that heat. A temperature of 98.6 would be considered ideal for the human body but would just not work for a ski area in December. Suppose there was a thermometer that measured the Christian walk. It would need words not numbers. At the bottom it might say, Attends worships services on Christmas and Easter only. In the middle could be the word, Lukewarm. Higher up the phrase, Loves God and his/her fellowman. But at the very top we see the word, PERFECT.
I found 18 definitions of perfect in Webster’s Dictionary. Many used excellent or complete as synonyms. Others called it entirely without flaws or defects. We understand that this is a term commonly attributed to God and not mankind. ( 2 Sa 22:31) ( Job 37:16) His will, His peace, His unity, His Law and many other traits are also called perfect. ( Rom 12:2) ( Is 26:3) ( Col 3:14) ( Ps 19: 7) Even the Apostle Paul reasoned that he could not reach perfection in this life. ( Php 3: 12) And yet Jesus commanded that we , “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ( Mt 5:48) In his letters Paul wanted the Church to be presented perfect in Christ. ( Col 1:28) Is this an unsolvable dilemma for Christians?
Much like righteousness, perfection is a declared characteristic when one is in Christ. ( Rom 6:3-6) ( Gal 3: 26-27) The righteous will live by faith. ( Rom 1:17) ( Gal 3:11) Through the obedience of one man ( Jesus) the many will be made (declared) righteous. ( Rom 5: 19) Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. ( Heb 10:14)
It appears, then, that as we take up our cross daily, we should also look at our holiness thermometer. Part of that is speech. ( Jas 3: 2) Another is love. ( 1 Jn 4: 18) ( 1 Cor 12: 31) “For the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men MADE PERFECT.” ( Heb 12:23) As we strive to please God we remember the help we have. Paul was told regarding his desire to rid himself of the thorn in the flesh—“my power is made PERFECT in weakness.” ( 2 Cor 12: 9) The Ephesians were told that their power would come through the indwelling Holy Spirit. ( Eph 3: 16)
Psalm 45:6-7 reads: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (ESV).
The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage as something spoken by the Father to the Son (Heb 1:8-9) The next two verses of the psalm inspired Henry Barraclough, at the age of 24, to write the hymn Ivory Palaces: “My Lord has garments so wondrous fine, And myrrh their texture fills; Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine With joy my being thrills. Out of the ivory palaces, Into a world of woe, Only His great eternal love Made my Savior go.”
On earth the foxes have dens and the birds have nest, but God had nowhere to lay his head. The Savior traded heaven’s ivory palaces for a world of woe so that we can upgrade from a tent to an ivory palace. And what an upgrade it is:
“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Cor 5:1-5).