16 November 2014

A FRIEND IN HIGH PLACES




Heb 4:14-26

We have all used the expression, "Been there, done that!" When we say, "Been there, done that," we can usually relate to what a person is going through! I came across an example of this though my studying this week. A story about a boy who had lost an arm in a terrible accident. The story says “He had become bitter and depressed. “He withdrew into a shell and refused to see the people who came to try to cheer him up.  But he experienced an abrupt change of heart when he was visited by another Christian who suffered from a similar handicap [this reminded me of my buddy Darrell].  The sight of that one-armed man coming into his room gave the youngster new hope. He felt he had found someone who could really identify with him and his feelings. His outlook immediately improved." It was if that one armed man was saying to that boy, "Been there, done that!" Another story I came across was about a man named Booth Tucker, who was conducting evangelistic meetings in the great Salvation Army Citadel in Chicago. “One night, after he had preached on the sympathy of Jesus, a man came forward and asked Mr. Tucker how he could talk about a loving, understanding, sympathetic God. 'If your wife had just died, like mine had,' the man said, 'and your babies were crying for their mother who would never come back, you wouldn't be saying what you're saying.' "A few days later Mr. Tucker's wife was killed in a train wreck. Her body was brought to Chicago and carried to the Citadel for the funeral. After the service the grieving preacher looked down into the silent face of his wife and then turned to those who were attending. “The other day when  I was here, he said, a man told me that, if my wife had just died and my children were crying for their mother, I would not able to say that Christ was understanding and sympathetic, or that He was sufficient for every need. If that man is here, I want to tell him that Christ is sufficient. My heart is broken, it is crushed, but it has a song, and Christ put it there. I want to tell that man that Jesus Christ speaks comfort to me today.” What’s amazing about this story is that the man was there, and he came and knelt beside the casket while Booth Tucker introduced him to Jesus Christ. Booth Tucker could say to that distraught husband, "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!" 

In the course of a life time you will face many problems, many hurts, many difficulties and many temptations. There are even going to be times when someone can relate to you and say, "Been there, done that!" Other times you will feel that nobody is relating to what you are facing and you feel all alone. I have a reminder for you this morning we have a friend in high places we can seek when we feel all alone. There is a person who always understands your problem, always feels your problem, can always relate, and can always say, "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!" He may have not faced the exact trial but he faced trials so similar that he can always relate. The person's name is The Lord Jesus Christ! Turn with me to Hebrew’s chapter 4 this morning as we look at this friend we have in high places. A friend we can turn to when we are faced with approaching storms of life. He is no ordinary friend! He is King Jesus and He is always there no matter what happens in our lives. WHY?

OUR FRIEND IS SEATED IN HEAVEN

See, this is no ordinary friend, according to the writer of Hebrews he is a “High Priest”. What I find interesting is that the author of Hebrews contrasts Jesus with the ministry of the Levitical High Priest in this portion of scripture. A priest according to Old Testament writings once a year passed from the sight of the people into the Holy of Holies bearing the blood of atonement? Once a year the High Priest representing all the people entered the Holy of Holies. Where he would sprinkle blood with his finger on the mercy seat to symbolically atone for the sins of the people. But even before this could be done, he would have to offer a sacrifice for his own sin. Then he would be able to enter, but would only stay long enough to sprinkle the atoning blood. Historically it is said “bells were sewn to the hem of his robe so people outside could hear him moving and thus know that God had not struck him dead.” And the Hebrew writer wants us to know who are High Priest  is as we face our next trial, temptation or decision in life. A High Priest who made it possible for us to approach God on our own though the Holy of Holies! How has Jesus made this possible? “who has passed through the Heavens” See the priest entrance into the Holy Holies was though portals or sections of the Tabernacle. The first portal was he bore the blood through the door into the “outer court”. The second portal he entered a door into the Holy Place. The third portal he entered through the veil of the Holy of Holies. Understand! The priest had to do this year after year

IN CONTRAST:

Jesus our great High Priest, after once only sacrifice for sin on the cross passed “though the heavens” First Jesus went through the first heaven “the atmosphere”. Second Jesus went through the second heaven “outer space”. Third Jesus went through in the third heaven “the most HOLY of places…the presence of God”. A place where He is seated, something that no priest had ever done. Why? The spotless, sinless, perfect Lamb of God once and for all appeased the Father’s wrath though His offering for sin…….Himself “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” Heb 7:26-27. This is our friend in High Places, so hold fast to your confession in Him, because God holds you in His sovereign arms.

OUR FRIEND FEELS YOUR PAIN

The bible says our High Priest our friend “sympathize with our weaknesses” Sympathize means “to share the experience of another”..…which gives the expression ”been there, done that”
Jesus the most sensitive man who ever lived and walked this earth feels for you and me. That’s a comforting truth as we face today and the next, isn’t it? No one truly understands like Jesus, when it comes to your pain, failures and sin. Isn’t that true in your life? I know it is for me! The God of the universe came in likeness of man to demonstrate His love for fallen sinners like us. And to top it off he shares in our weaknesses and faced the same trials you possibly face today. He experienced every kind of temptation you could invent or come up with. As the bible says “He was in all points tempted as we are”. Every kind of unpleasant, every kind of circumstance you face or about to face, he has also faced them. Jesus not only had all the feelings of:
  • Love
  • Concern
  • Disappointment
  • Grief
  • And Frustration that we have

Jesus knows the limitations to our human capability and we need to understand He faced each of these temptations to the maximum! John MacArthur said “there is a degree of temptation that we may never experience simply because, no matter what our spirituality, we will succumb before we reach it. But Jesus Christ had no such limitations. Since he was sinless He took the full extent of all Satan could throw at Him. He had no shock system or weakness limit, to turn off temptation at a certain point. Since he never succumbed, He experienced every temptation to the maximum. And he experienced it as a man, as a human being. In every way he was tempted as we are, and more.” Remember what Paul wrote? “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor 10:13. We will never be able fathom the depth of the temptation Jesus endured. Yet He withstood the depth, as well as the force, of these temptations…..He overcame them as the sinless One. This gives me great comfort! To know that whatever I face in this life he has faced it before me and has faced it head on to its full maximum capability. What I find also confronting about this is that earlier the Hebrew writer pens these words about our friend in high places. “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Heb 2:18
  • When you feel like committing adultery on your wife
  • When you feel like committing adultery on your husband
  • When you’re all alone, mouse in hand on the internet ready to search the web.
  • When you feel like gossiping about someone else.
  • When you feel like giving up your purity to find love.
  • When you feel like abusing a loved one physically or with words.
  • When you feel unloved and want things to come to an end.
  • When you feel nobody cares and God isn’t real.

Jesus knows the depths of your pains because he has also endured to their fullest before you. Do you want sympathy from this friend? If your answer is YES, Do not go anywhere elseIf your answer is NO, then keep listening.


OUR FRIEND HAS OPENED THE DOOR

Our friend has open help line 24 hours, 365 days a year. This High Priest who has fulfilled the requirement for sin once and for all, and has made His presence available to all who are call upon the name of the Lord. This is amazing! Something only a High Priest could do once a year with a rope around his waist and bells attached to robe. Jesus has made the Holy of Holies available “the veil was torn” to all His sanctified children at any time! No matter where you are. And the Hebrew writer says “come boldly to throne of grace”. Boldly or confidence means “to be free and open speech of citizens with one another.” What does that look like? We are to come to God without hesitation or tentativeness! Why? He has completed everything that is required to be in God’s presence. He has removed the requirement to enter His throne of grace. The place from which grace flows for saved sinners like you and me. And here is the promise! When we hold to our confession and have a boldness or confidence….we receive “mercy” for past failures and “grace” to meet our present and future needs. So we can say with Jesus’ brother James “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." James 4:6. The One who understands us perfectly will also provide for us perfectly and accordingly to His will. God’s throne of judgement is turned into a throne of grace for those who trust in Him! Most ancient rulers were unapproachable by the common people. Historically it says “some would not even allow their highest ranking officials to come before them without permission.”. But because of the finished work in Christ! We can approach the throne no matter how sinful and undeserving we are. We may approach God’s throne at any time for forgiveness, restoration, help and time of need. You and I, having this confidence that we will be received with mercy and grace! How can anyone reject or ignore such a friend? Jesus, not permits us to come before His throne for help, but pleads with us to come in confidence. Many of us sometimes feel……

“God doesn't want to hear about my problems”
“Who am I that he would even care”
“I don’t feel worthy enough to come to Him”
“I’m too ashamed of what I done”

Exactly, this is the reason he went to the cross for me and you! And he has not left us alone to fight this fight. He is calling us to approach Him because he is filled with grace and mercy and he wants to lavish this upon you. Please, don’t miss or take this truth lightly! His death gives you an open door into His presence not for a moment for as long as you need. “Trials reveal our weakness. Weakness reveals our need. Need moves us to pray. And prayer opens the door to God’s endless supply. ”Paul Washer
  • Are you a born-again Christian? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE.
  • Do you hurt? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE.
  • Do you have troubles? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE
  • Do you need strength? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE!
  • Are you tempted to sin? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE!
  • Are you worried? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE!
  • Have you failed God? COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE!

Andrew Bonar was ministering in a service at Northfield, Massachusetts. D.L. Moody, who was in charge said impulsively, "Dr. Bonar, these people would like to know how you live this victorious life about which you have been preaching. Tell us your experience…." With some hesitation Bonar quietly replied, "I do not like to speak about myself; but for 50 years I have had access to the Throne of Grace." So do we…….a friend in High Places.

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