Tag Archives: relationship

The Relationship

“And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. (Luke 22:22-24)

This passage, from the last Passover Jesus Christ kept with His disciples, illustrates that pride was a very real problem even for those who were named as a part of the foundation of the New Testament church of God. In Matt. 26:22 it says each one of the disciples asked Him, “Lord, is it I?” when Christ said that one of them would betray Him. But from this brief moment of introspection, they went right into a dispute about who would be greatest!

This desire for self exaltation is so strong among human beings that we consider the story of Johnathan and his self-less friendship with David – who he knew would replace his father as king – a highly unusual departure from basic human nature. Self-exaltation, in one form or another is a priority for nearly every one on the planet, especially every male.

But what about the two members of the Godhead? I’d like to take a brief look at their thoughts and their ways in regard to each other.

The Greatest

There are several places in the Old Testament where God admits that He is a jealous God, but are the Father and the Son ever jealous of one another? Do they ever argue about who is greatest? Do they care if human worshipers give one of Them more honor than the other?

You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

So there you have it in plain words spoken by “the Word,” the logos himself … “my Father is greater than I.” Just to re-enforce this point a little bit, let’s read John 5.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. …

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:19, 30)

Jesus, the Christ speaks of Himself as “the One sent” 48 times in the 4 gospels, and in John 4:34 He says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Doing what the Father wanted Him to do is what really sustained Him.  You see this same thing throughout the New Testament. Christ is always in the submissive role, and always yielding to the Father’s ways, and the Father’s thoughts and will. And we see in Hebrews 10 just how far the Son was willing to go with this submission.

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — in the volume of the book it is written of Me — to do Your will, O God.’ (Heb. 10:5-7)

So the Father, clearly is “the greatest.” There is no argument about that between Him and the Son, so … as “the greatest,” how does He conduct Himself towards the Son?

Lord and Christ

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matt. 28:18)

The Greek word translated “authority” is exousia (G1849), and it also means delegated influence, privilege, jurisdiction, liberty, and permission. Now, if all authority was given to Him, there had to be a giver … and who could that “giver” be but His Father? This can be viewed as a measure of the love and respect of the Father for His Son, who had ‘finished the work that He was given to do’ … a son with whom He was ‘well-pleased.’ But this greater God being didn’t stop there …as He spelled out in greater detail elsewhere in the New Testament.

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. … Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:32-33, 36)

John the baptist described Jesus as He who would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire” … but that’s not all, as verse 36 points out here in Acts. The title “Lord” is kurios (G2962) in the Greek, and it means owner, master, and ruler. “Christ” is from the word Christos (G5547), and it means, the anointed. So, the Father anointed Him to be the owner, master, and ruler of all mankind, who also has been given “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2).

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:15-23)

This is one of those sections of scripture that you have to read through real slow … thinking about the deep meaning of every word. I’ve probably done that a thousand times, and I still wonder if I’m getting it. Once again, we see something of great importance and gravity being given to Jesus, the Lord and Christ, by His Father who is … “greater” than He. Notice these gifts always include an increase of His responsibility over the welfare of humanity.

Brethren, these are just a few examples of how the “greater” God has exalted and honored the “One sent”, and, in fact has made Him to be the one indispensable link between us and Himself, and thus the goal of eternal life as well.

Hope of Eternity

In fact, there are 441 New Testament  scriptures that speak of Him in exactly those terms … as being the one in whom, through whom, by whom, and in the name of whom we have the hope of eternal life, and through whom we have our relationship with the Father, and all of this by the will and direction of God the Father, who is “the greatest.” I can think of no better area of the word of God to go to to summarize “The Relationship” than this one:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5-11)

Notice that it glorifies God the Father when we submit ourselves to His will by honoring and glorifying His son, and confess His ownership, His mastery of, and His rulership over us as our ‘kurios‘ in all of the offices and functions to which the Father has appointed Him.
When we do that, we are “letting the mind of Christ be in us.” We are submitting our thoughts and our ways to Gods thoughts and ways. And when we do that, we come closer and closer ourselves, to being invited by these two Beings to fully participate in “The Relationship”!

The Tapestry of Atonement: Strength in Weakness

Today we’re continuing to look at “The Tapestry of Atonement.” As with last week’s post, and the series on Pentecost earlier this year, what I’d like to do today is to use God’s Word to weave together threads of knowledge that will paint a more complete picture of the real meaning of the Day of Atonement for all of us.

Thread Three: Weakness

Back in Leviticus 23:27 and 32, we see the word “afflict.” It is translated from the Hebrew word anah (H6031) which is an action word that means to be afflicted, oppressed, abased, and humbled. Specifically, to chasten or weaken one’s self. The accepted, and Biblical, means of doing this is through fasting from food and water.

Fasting for a full 24 hours – from sunset the day before to sunset the Day of Atonement – means no distractions. No meal preparation, no eating, no drinking. Adding the command to “rest,” there’s no work at all of any kind to distract us. We are commanded to observe the Day of Atonement this way under penalty of expulsion in verse 29 and destruction in verse 30. It is not with the idea of doing penance, but so we can give undivided attention to two things – reconciliation with God , and reconciliation with our fellow human beings because it pleases God. Voluntary fasting weakens us in the flesh to strengthen us in the spirit.

 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.(2 Cor. 12:7-9)

When God reveals marvelous truths to you, He usually gives you something to expose your humanity – to humble you and balance you out so you don’t get all swell-headed and full of pride. It doesn’t look like a blessing, but it really is, and Paul came to see that.

In these verses when Christ says “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” the word “strength” is the Greek word dunamis (G1411), which refers to God’s miracle-working power. Because of this assurance from Christ, Paul was actually able to say that he was able to “take pleasure in” enduring his weaknesses.

Another thing to notice here as we sort of pick apart this section of scripture is that “weakness” and “infirmity” are both the same Greek word, asthenia (G769). It means feebleness, malady, physical or moral frailty, disease, or infirmity. In the next chapter, Paul applies this word to the example of Jesus Christ.

since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Cor.13:3-5)

Christ was crucified in weakness, made alive again by the dunamis of God, and WE ALSO shall live WITH HIM by that same miracle-working power. Then verse 5 brings us brings us right back to the purpose of Atonement when it tells us to examine the state of our relationship with God.

There is a connection between our weakness and being made strong by God. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When we add to this the reminder in 1 Corinthians 1:26 that, “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” it indicates that the reverse of Philippians 4:13 is also true: I can do nothing without Christ.

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Heb. 11:32-34)

The people given as examples of what true faith looks like were made strong OUT OF WEAKNESS. Worldly men make every effort to make themselves stronger somehow – bigger, better, more muscular, politically powerful, attractive, socially connected, wealthy, academically, educationally enhanced – but there’s only one way to dunamis. God’s miracle-working power is not going to flow into a bunch of people who think they’re already “practically perfect in every way” (if I may borrow the phrase from Mary Poppins). According to scripture, God’s strength and power – His dunamis – doesn’t flow toward human strengths and advantages. It flows to weakness and infirmity.

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power (dunamis) went out from Him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)

I know that every one of us has some thorn in the flesh, some weight on our shoulders that we beseech God daily to remove from our lives. On the Day of Atonement, the weakness of fasting give us a unique opportunity for drawing near to God,  to “touch the hem of His garments,” in a way, just as the multitude did so many times. After a multitude of miracles where dunamis flowed out from Him into the weak and infirm, look what He said next:

Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

What made power flow out of Christ? Here, where He talks about the type of person who will be “blessed,” we get a partial picture. Let’s look at another specific healing where He answered this question Himself.

Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”

Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48)

In this account, power – dunamis – went out of Him like it was something He couldn’t even control. He tells the woman, “your faith has made you whole” to explain this phenomenon. So we see that it was FAITH in a weak, frail physical body that caused dunamis to flow out of Christ and into her. And this happened again and again during His earthly ministry. Won’t He do the same for those who reach out to Him now?

And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. (Mark 6:54-56)

Thread Four: High Priest

There’s one more thread I’d like to bring out regarding the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16 has a lot of information for keeping this day, and there are many threads we could look at, but I’m only going to focus on one here. I’m not going to go through the whole discourse about the two goats, and the other sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement, but in vs. 29

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses. (Lev. 16:29-34)

The word used here for the priest making atonement is kafar (H3722). It’s the root word for kippurim, which we looked at last week. Kafar means to cover, to placate or cancel, to appease, dis-annul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, or purge. This isn’t something the people could do for themselves. It was done FOR them BY the High Priest.

Though we can obey God and come before Him with a proper attitude for reconciliation, we aren’t the ones who “make” Atonement happen. That is provided by one person … the High Priest of God. In the Old Testament, the High Priest with all his ornate robes, vestments and clothing was a busy, busy man who had a very bloody job. All that work, and all of those thousands of animal sacrifices pointed to one thing: the need for the true High Priest.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Heb 9:11-15)

The Old Testament high priest had to enter the Holy of Holies once every year with the blood of an animal to atone for the sins of one nation. This great High Priest entered with His own blood ONE TIME, to atone for the sins of the whole world for ALL time.

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:10-22)
This great High Priest’s one sacrifice, and His one offering, created a way for all of us to enter the Holiest, to approach the very throne of God in heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit, in prayer in His name. Fasting on Atonement is like an open invitation to that High Priest to escort us there to the very presence of His Father. That’s what Atonement does for you and me, and it is an ongoing promise, pictured by this high holy day and relevant all year long.

The Tapestry of Atonement: Our Reconciliation

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was observed on this past Saturday. Though this holy day has passed for this year, there are still lessons we as Christians can learn from that day. Earlier this year, I wrote a series of blog posts titled “The Tapestry of Pentecost,” which was basically a description of the many “threads of truth” that God has woven together into His Holy Word that produce a wonderful and meaningful picture of that particular Day in the great plan of God. I’d like to do the same thing with Atonement today, and in a post next week as well.

As is our custom when discussing the holy days, let’s begin in Leviticus 23.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”(Lev. 23:26-32)

Thread one: Return to God

The Hebrew word for “day” is yom (H3117) and “atonement” is kippurim, (H3725). Thus, the Jews call this day Yom Kippur. Kippurim is a masculine plural noun, referring to the act of reconciliation. Webster’s defines “reconciliation” this way: “The process of making consistent or compatible.” To reconcile is a process by which two people are caused to become friendly or peaceable again. It also means to compose, or settle a quarrel; to bring into agreement or harmony, make compatible or consistent, and to restore.

So, Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement – is first and foremost a day of reconciliation and restoration to peace, friendship, and harmony FROM a state of enmity, or estrangement. The overall principle behind the need for Atonement can be seen in Romans 7 and 8, as Paul describes his own nature (and the nature of all mankind), and where that nature took him. Knowing as we do the history of Paul as it is described in the book of Acts, and his conversion from Saul, the fire-breathing, hate-filled Pharisee into Paul the Apostle, no one could argue that Paul was not a completely “converted man.” And yet, in Romans 7, Paul says this about himself, more than 20 years after his conversion in Acts 9 …

 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Rom. 7:14-25)

These words, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” are where the process of Atonement really begins. It is the realization that we need someone outside of ourselves, someone bigger, more powerful, and more competent, – an ever-present “big brother” – to intercede and to cover for us. Someone to pay the ransom price for our lives and wash away all our failures.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom. 8:1-8)

Our natural minds are at odds with God, and we have need of Atonement – a reconciliation with the mind of God.

Thread Two: Focus on What’s Important

Let’s hearken back to Leviticus 23 and pick up another thread. The first thing that comes through to me is how important this day is to the Godhead. If you just compare the amount of Biblical space here devoted to the Feast of Trumpets (3 verses) to the space devoted to Atonement (7 verses,) and look at the warnings in verses 29 and 30, the message is clear. This Day is intended to be taken seriously!

For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. (Lev. 23:29-30)

It is of the utmost importance that we don’t let our busy, and very blessed, lives overshadow the Day of Atonement. This is what we talked about last week, when discussing The Days of Awe that fall between The Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.

When God brought Israel into the promised land in Deuteronomy 8:7-14, He warned them against letting the good things in their lives distract them from what was really important – a relationship with Him. We are as richly blessed as they were, and fasting on the Day of Atonement can seem like an inconvenience compared to all the good things we usually have. We might even get irritated at having to stop for this solemn day before taking off to celebrate the next holy day, the Feast of Tabernacles. But it seems very important to God that we approach the Day of Atonement with due respect, and set it aside for nothing but its intended purpose.

Leading up to the Days of Atonement, it is Jewish tradition to pause for self-reflection, repentance, and penitence for sins committed during the previous year. The Days of Awe are used to apologize to family and friends for any offenses committed against them, and to forgive any and all transgressions. This year, I decided to adopt that approach, because in the past, I’ve tended to overlook the Day of Atonement during the harried days preceding Tabernacles. And it has helped my focus on Atonement tremendously.

Next post, we’ll take a look at why God wants us to fast on the day of Atonement, and what spiritual effect fasting is supposed to have on us.

How Do Our Hands Handle The Word of Life?

My last post was based on 1 John 1:1, and I think we’ll start there again. It’s really amazing that you can look at the same scripture with a slightly different mindset, and open up a whole new avenue of understanding.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1)

Brethren, how do my hands and your hands handle the Word of life? What is our relationship with this Word? How do we respond to it?

Responses To The Word

Last week we talked about the Jews in Acts 13:46-48 who chose to reject God’s word as it was offered to them through Paul and Barnabas. These verses say they rejected God’s word, casting it from them, just as they did with Jesus Christ, and in doing so they judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life.”

Human beings have many ways of handling “the word of life,” and casting it aside and rejecting it is one of them. Another way people handle the word of life is to keep it at arm’s length. They believe in God, and may have 3 or 4 Bibles full of God’s written word in their homes, but they don’t read more than a few key verses, and they’re not comfortable with a personal relationship with God.

There’s also the atheist’s approach to handling the word of life. Some of them study the Bible with the intent of refuting its teachings and destroying the faith of those who do believe. You can also handle the word of life academically. Most colleges offer courses like “the Bible as literature” and just treat it as another textbook to be read to give one a “well-rounded education”.

Some study the word of life more seriously, but with a wrong attitude. Why did the Pharisees, Sadducee, lawyers and scribes that Jesus spoke with in the Gospel accounts study the scriptures? If you read through Matthew 23, it appears that there were a variety of motivations. These people used the word of life to control others and dominate their lives. Their studies of scripture made them appear righteous in the eyes of other men, and they used religion to gain status and wealth.

The Right Way to Handle the Word

There is another way our hands can handle the Word of life. We can embrace it fully, interact with its content, internalize its precepts, and allow the Word of life to transform our hearts, minds and spirits. This is the method of handling God’s word that David demonstrated in so many of his psalms.

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.

I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:97-105)

What David describes here is just a small taste of how he handled the Word of life. Acts 13:22 tells us that God described David as “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” We know from 1 Samuel 16:7 that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This observation was made in the context of God choosing David as king, so you could say there was a connection between God’s and David’s hearts.

We also need this kind of “heart connection” with God. Jesus Christ Himself addressed this when He was speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

There is this intangible element to the relationship between us and God that is spirit-to-spirit, and heart-to-heart. Let’s turn to one more scripture to re-enforce this wholehearted approach to properly “handling the word of life”

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chron.16:9)

God’s eyes are searching whole earth looking for this heart-to-heart connection. The word “loyal” here is translated from the Hebrew shalem (H8003). It means complete, whole, perfect, peaceable, quiet and – this is the definition that really caught my eye – “especially friendly.”

That really is what God is looking for in the way that each of us handle the word of life. He wants us to be friends with Him and have a close, personal relationship with Him and with His Word.

Best Friends Forever

We live today in a time where technology has literally transformed our lives. Daniel spoke of a time where knowledge would be greatly increased, and if ever a time fit that description, it would be the days that we are living in today.

In many ways, even our language has changed — words have taken on new meaning, and even new definitions in some cases. There’s a whole new method of communication that many of us older folks have a hard time understanding. Abbreviations are used in place of phrases in emails and texts today. We have “lol” instead of “laugh out loud,” and “ttfn” instead of “ta ta for now.” One such usage that has caught my attention is “bff,” for Best Friends Forever.

Now that’s a really nice concept, and I have no doubt it is well-intentioned in most cases, even if it is a bit shallow the way it is used today. But there is One who truly is the best friend you could ever hope to have, and what He proposes to do for you and I really is “forever.”

Friend of God

In James 2:23, Abraham has the wonderful privilege of being named as “the friend of God.” Abraham was also called “the father of the faithful” – a spiritual progenitor, if you will – a human forerunner and example of how we are to act toward, and relate to, the Godhead.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)

If we pause a moment to think about that, we have to admit that there is really no greater form of friendship than what God expressed towards us all in sending His Son to lay down His life for us. Brethren, it really is worth every effort, worth setting aside everything in and of this life and this world, to have this being as our true BFF.

The apostle Paul had a way of putting this into words in Philippians 3 that I couldn’t begin to articulate myself. Let’s read a few verses there:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-14)

I don’t know about all of you, but in my early years in the church, I really think I thought of the Godhead more in terms of Them being supreme overlords, or authority figures. The types of Beings who might swat you like a fly if you cross the line, and dare to disobey Their strict set of laws.

After many years of studying what these two beings are really like though, there has been a transition. I think that obedience to their laws of liberty is done with the full knowledge that They are what They are, and They do what They do, only out of complete love and concern for us all. So obedience comes not from FEAR of them, but from awe, respect and reverence FOR them.

My BFF

Based on my own experience in ‘the faith’ there is a scripture that pretty well wraps up in a nutshell what I’m trying to convey today.

For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet. 2:25)

Weren’t we ALL like that at some point in our lives? Just like dumb farm animals … going, and living our own way?

This scripture pictures Christ in His daily, active presence in each of our lives today, right now. The Greek word for “Shepherd” is poimen (G4166), and it means“A spiritual guide who watches over and provides for the welfare of His flock.”

The word translated “Overseer” is episkopos (G1985). This word pictures an ever-vigilant watcher or watchman … a guardian, who intimately knows each and every one of us, and our vulnerabilities as no human shepherd, overseer, or BFF could. We can deceive a human overseer, brethren, but this One can never be deceived. David devoted portions of several Psalms to the fact that the LORD knows the deepest secrets of our hearts, and we can trust Him to work within us to bring about the best possible end for all of us.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 139:1-10)

Now I don’t know about you, but that is certainly the kind of being that I want for my BFF.