Hebrews: The King’s Kid

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I  have often envisioned myself standing outside the doors of God’s throne room, my heart hammering in my chest, dressed, not in royal robes, but the filth of my sinfulness and my inadequate attempts to cover up with torn, tattered rags of homemade “righteousness.” I come with a heavy burden and a desperate need that is almost always the result of my own sin and foolishness. Do I dare push open that door and approach the holy and pure God of heaven and earth?

According to Hebrews 4:16, that is exactly what I am invited to do, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” When do I most need help? What is your greatest time of need? When we have failed God in our sin. How do we dare approach the throne of the Holy One at all, much less with confidence in our sinful state? Because of our great high priest, Jesus Christ. Remember that the work of the high priest is to intercede for sinful people before a holy God. The high priest approaches God with the blood of the sacrifice to cleanse the people. Jesus both presents the blood and provides it. The priest and the sacrificial lamb. Paul said, “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12). That confidence is not an arrogant swagger; it is trust in the faithfulness of Christ to accomplish what He promised – to make us acceptable to God. In Jesus – in His blood, and through Jesus – through His atoning work, you and I are able to come to God, not as sinners, but as His beloved children. Timothy Keller said: “The only person that dares wake up the king at 3:00 a.m. for a glass of water is his child. We have that kind of access.”

What do you need today, Beloved? Encouragement? Hope? Provision? Healing? Help? Forgiveness? Peace? Joy? Your broken heart mended?  Lift up your head and step into your Father’s presence. He will not only receive you but He will throw open His arms wide to you. That’s His promise. That’s your confidence. That’s your place as a child of God.

The God Who Loves to Give

“Please sir, I want some more.” Oliver Twist

In Dickins’ classic tale, Oliver warily approaches the master and makes his plea, and we see the cruel irony of a hungry orphan being rebuffed by the well-fed headmaster. Yet how often do we approach God with the same trepidation as Oliver Twist?  As if He is a harsh master who will refuse us even the humblest request?  Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Bible reveals God as a generous Father who loves to give good things to His children.

2 Peter 1:3 says He “has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”  Like our daily bread (Matthew 5:11), clothes on our back (Matthew 6:30), and “all these things” that are necessary for life (Matthew 6:33).  I’ve been the recipient of His practical generosity and kindness many, many times. 

Even more than our physical needs, Peter said our Father will give us everything we need for a godly life: chiefly His Word (John 17:8) and His Spirit (John 14:16).   God provides with a generous heart and an open hand.

I love John’s affirmation in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  The writer of Hebrews echoes the same thought: “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  That is an invitation we should jump at!

You do not have to come to your Heavenly Father with a sense of apprehension as if you are asking for more than God is willing to bestow.  He has so much he desires to give you—till your cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).  Don’t come crawling to Him with a little teacup in your hand. Come running to your Father with the biggest bucket you can find, and He will fill it till it spills over and you can’t contain it all.  He is a God who loves to give!

The King and I

for-a-moment-they-stood-looking-at-each-other-the-barefoot-beggar-girl-in-her-rags-and-the-king-in-his-jewelled-crown-king-cophetua-and-the-beggar-maid“Let us the approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

There have been several reports in the news lately of people scaling the fence or flying small aircraft into the restricted area of the White House in Washington D.C. sending security scrambling to apprehend the “visitor” and keep him from getting to the President of the United States. He is the most powerful person in the U.S., and one doesn’t just saunter across the White House lawn and step into the President’s kitchen for a cup of joe. Likewise the palace in London and the homes and offices of leaders around the world are equally secured.   For the everyday person with a problem, it is nearly impossible to go to the president or the king and ask for help, even if he or she is the only one who can offer aid. It seems the more powerful a person becomes, the less accessible they are to the ones who most need their help.

There is a great Old Testament account in the book of Esther that illustrates this point well. Esther was a Jewish girl living with her uncle in Susa, a province of Persia. The king of Susa had fallen in love with Esther and taken her to be his queen, but she hid her Jewish identity, as her people were not very popular in the region. In fact they were so disliked that one of the king’s aide’s decided all the Jews in Susa should be killed in a mass extermination. The king was not very bright and put his “stamp of approval” on this heinous plan. Esther’s uncle begged with her to go to the king and plead for the lives of her people. Esther’s reply is startling: Any person who approaches the king in his inner court will be put to death unless the king extends his scepter as a sign of acceptance. Even his wife.

Esther swallowed her fear and, dressed in her finest, she walked across the palace’s marble floors and stepped into the king’s line of vision as her heart hammered under her silk gown. Her life and the lives of her people hung on every breath she drew. Would it be death for Esther or would his love for his queen overrule the royal law and spare her life, and ultimately, the lives of the Jews in Susa? If you want to know how this ends, take a half-hour and read the short book of Esther. It’s an incredible story.

I’ve often envisioned myself standing outside the doors of God’s throne room, my heart hammering in my chest, not dressed in royal silk and robes, but in the torn, tattered clothes of the sinful woman I am. I come with a heavy burden, a desperate need that only the King of the universe can help me with, but I am so afraid of what His response to one such as me might be. My need is almost always the result of my own sin and foolishness and I have the bruised and bloodied knees to prove it. Do I dare push open that door and approach the holy and pure God of heaven and earth?

According to today’s key verse, that is exactly what I am invited to do, and that acceptance comes because of the blood of Jesus. I see myself clothes in dirty rags, but God sees me clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I see the mud of the world clinging to my hands, God sees the “clean hands and pure heart” of one who has been redeemed by His Son and cleansed from all my sin. I see myself as a stumbling, sinful woman, but He sees me as a beloved daughter, His princess. I came across a saying by Timothy Keller that expresses this thought beautifully: “The only person that dares wake up the king at 3:00 a.m. for a glass of water is his child. We have that kind of access.”

As children of God, we approach our heavenly Father, not with hesitation and fear, but “with confidence, and boldness,” knowing we will receive the help – the “mercy and grace” – we need. Such confidence is ours not by our own merit or goodness or the list of things we have done, but only through our faith in Jesus Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). If you are in Christ, you are not only welcomed in the presence of God, but you are wanted. God delights to have you come to Him. He is never annoyed with you, never wishes you would take your woes elsewhere, and never tires of hearing from you. You will never come to him at “a bad time.” He is always ready to receive you.

Dear friend, whatever you need is today, lift your head up and step into your Father’s presence, He will not only “hold out the scepter to you,” but He will throw open His arms wide to you. Your Father will gladly receive the one He loves.

Holy Father, I come to you because You are the one I need. You receive me because I am the one You love. Thank you for answering my prayers, even if it’s only for a glass of water at 3 o’clock in the morning. Amen.

Boldness and Awe

“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me Your glory.’” Exodus 33:18

 The way in which we see God influences our relationship with Him.  To some He is a combination of Grandpa and Santa Claus, out of touch with reality, but still sweet and giving.  To others He is “Big Brother” with a huge club, watching us for any opportunity to smack us for messing up.  A God who is benevolent, but powerless is no help to us in our time of need.  A God who is powerful and unfeeling breeds fear that drives us away from Him.  We would have no God if He were either of the two scenarios. It is vastly important to see God as He really is, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.

The truth is, God is both benevolent and powerful, which is why we can approach Him with our needs and know that He is both able and willing to help us.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come before the Throne of Grace with “parresia” which means boldness, confidence, frankness, openness of speech; bringing everything about the matter to God.  Paul says that “In [Christ] and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  This confidence stems from our trust in God – which literally means “to be persuaded or convinced,” terms that carry legal weight.  We can come before Him boldly because we are confident that He will receive us, we are convinced of His love for us, and we are persuaded that He can and will come to our aid.  We come before Him with boldness because He has opened the way for us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.

But in addition to boldness, we must also come before God with awe and reverence. Solomon, the great king of wisdom, said “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:2)  While we are welcome into God’s presence as His dearly loved children, we must never forget Who we have come before.  We are approaching the Lord who is Holy (Isaiah 6:3); Righteous (Psalm 119:137); and Sovereign (Daniel 4:25).  Hebrews 12:28-29 reminds us that we are to “be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Rather than seeing Him with terror, we should regard Him with holy reverence and thank Him for His love and mercy to us.

To see God only as harsh and uncaring is to turn Him into a mean-spirited ogre. To see God as Father, but not as holy is to make Him into a one-dimensional entity.  God is all loving, and He is all holy.  Not in perfect balance, but in perfect fullness.  Peter made a wonderful observation in 1 Peter 1:17 – “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”   Peter recognizes the love relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, and reminds us that He is also the Sovereign and Holy God Almighty who judges in righteousness.  He is our Father, and He is our Lord-overflowing compassion and overwhelming holiness.

He is the one who holds our lives in the palm of His hand.

Oh what a glorious place to be – cradled in the hands of One who is so mighty and awesome, and who loves us with an everlasting and consuming love.

Lord – Jesus called You “Holy Father” – the perfect Name for the One who is both awesome in holiness and perfect in love.  May my heart always belong to You.  Amen