November 11th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian-Nov18Hebrews 4:14-15

We have a friend in a very high place. It’s good to have a friend in high places who can speak up for us, and help us when we go through personal difficulties. Things which are impossible for us to achieve are made possible with a friend in a high place.

The Hebrews obstinately ignored God in the wilderness. Many never entered God’s rest. Yet God’s rest still stands today – rest from labour, but ultimately rest from judgement – eternal rest, to enter, through the sacrifice of our high priest, Jesus Christ.

A great high priest: we have many needs which many do not know about. We have one who helps us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). What’s been offered to us is the offer of help. Lots of us think we don’t need help. Far too many try to cope alone. We all need help. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re fine.

There’s a specific need addressed here – the matter of belief and unbelief. This is where we need most help. It’s important for us to focus on the need of all needs, the matter of belief. All else is a distraction. Belief changes everything. Do you believe in the creator God? If you do, it changes everything. Do you believe that you can do nothing on your own? Do you believe that God sent His Son Jesus into this world as the revelation of who God is? If you do, it changes everything. Do you believe Jesus is almighty God, sinless and pure, who died at the hands of sinners? It changes everything. If you believe you should be the happiest of all because Jesus died for sinners. He chose that path. It was planned. Our God is alive, He has risen from the grace, His name is victory. It changes everything.

What gets in the way of belief? Our circumstances, career, hurt and pains that won’t go away, being fearful of the future. All of this gets in the way. Faith puts God between us and our challenges. We have a great and victorious high priest. Focus on Him, not on your circumstances.

Why is He great?
He is the priest who passed through the heavens, not an earthly temple. He blasted into space and time and is now sat down next to God in heaven. He passed through the heavens.

He has made the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb without blemish. Who would dare say no to Jesus? Heaven’s justice, the finest court from where all other courts get their ideas from.

He is filled with the fullness of God.

He is great because He is the Son of God. He is your help in time of need. His priestly work on earth was finished. In the Old Testament, animals were slaughtered; the sins of the people were laid on animals day by day, non-stop sacrifices, the priests sacrificing daily. Animal sacrifice could never be enough. Jesus sacrificed His own life, once and for all. It was finished, then Jesus could sit down next to the Father because it was finished. Do you believe in this great High Priest? Are you trusting in Him?

He is a sympathetic high priest. Our Saviour’s coming to earth means He knows what it’s like to be fallen. He knows. As Jesus returned to heaven His humanity is not diminished at all. He has experienced our weaknesses. He knows. It is important we know He is great but also that we know He is sympathetic. He was tempted. Life is a test. Jesus was tested. In order for Jesus to qualify as our Redeemer He had to be tested. He passed the test! He trusted His heavenly Father. Our High Priest is our friend who knows how hard it is for us. We need to ask for the help of the one who can help.

Our Sanctuary: our King is the polar opposite of all earthy kings. If ever there was a king we should fear it is this holy king. His requirement for our life is perfection. How can we approach Him? As sinners we should be afraid. But Jesus made the perfect priestly sacrifice for us.

The devil and his minions are fantastic videographers, capturing our words and thoughts. They love to capture footage of our sin. The devil hounds us at times, he glories in causing heartache, he is a giant over past events. We are often living in the past. Did you know Jesus takes this video footage and erases it? Everything is bank. We are sons of God. The devil has nothing against us. We can come boldly into the throne of God and claim the crown. He has done it all. You must come boldly; your guilt will hold you back from coming into His presence.

Sometimes we need more grace when facing trials. You need to know you can find help in time of need. Your greatest need is to believe in the cross, that God loves you, that God has a place for you. We’re called to come to the throne of grace. Your friend in the highest place is there waiting for you. Some Christians are surrounded by trouble. Lift up your eyes to heaven – that’s where your help will come from. Our great high priest is in heaven interceding for us. He won’t let you down. Keep looking up.

October 7th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist -Oct18Hebrews 4:11-13

After the writer has been speaking about the fullness of God’s rest, here is an urgent plea to strive – don’t throw away the offer of God’s rest. We are to be diligent to enter God’s rest otherwise we are following the example of the disobedience and obstinacy of the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness because of their rebellion.

Now the focus is on the Word you must believe. We must now allow that Word to fall on deaf ears. The aim of this plea is to enter into God’s rest. It’s the goal of our lives. Our God is the end of the journey. To enter this rest we must believe in Jesus, we must trust in Him. To believe in God, to know what He is saying, you need to hear and read His Word. We need to be diligent. The message is given, we must believe it. Here, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, is the voice of God.

The Bible is active, living.

God’s Word is living (verse 12). He exists, He is the living God. Because He exists, His Word cannot be separated from Him, therefore His Word is living. In God’s hands, by the Spirit, it is living. It doesn’t need up-dating. It’s eternally relevant. Our job is to communicate its relevance to God’s people. In Isaiah 4 and 5 you can just see how pinpoint accurate it is to our generation. The grass grows, the flower fades but the Word of God lives forever. It imparts new life to dead sinners. Because of sin, because of mankind’s natural rebellion against one another, against God Himself, all of us enter this world dead in trespasses and sins. We’re so dead we can’t even recognise our Creator God. A dead sinner cannot bring himself or herself to life. God is pleased, by His Holy Spirit, to impart new life to dead sinners. Jesus died. Because He rose again by His own will, He brought us forth by the Way of Truth. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

New life for dead sinners:

God’s Word imparts renewed life to His saints – to renew, to revive and to sustain His people. His Word is perfect. His Word is active, it’s effectual, it does something. It changes things. It accomplishes what God intended to do. It is living. We need to seek God’s blessing, to pray that the Word of God will be active and change us.

God’s Word is sharp and piercing:

Psalm 19. We don’t know how to rationalise and distinguish our emotions. The sword of God opens us up. Once the ugly thoughts and rebellion are out in the open we need to humble our stubborn pride and let God’s Word work in us. God’s Word is so sharp it cuts deeply and precisely – not with the purpose of leaving us with scars; but to bring us to healing. Surgical incisions are made in a precise way. Sin a like a cancer growing inside us. Untreated, it will be fatal. Left too long it causes problems. Our sin must be killed. Many people criticize the Bible because it criticizes them. Pray, ‘Instil within our hearts a deep desire to hear your voice.’

The Word of God is revealing.

It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Anger – which men keep hidden but which God knows. Morally wrong thoughts. It’s not wrong to have a critical friend. God’s Word is able to act as a critic. The work doesn’t begin with our behaviour, it’s begins within us. God’s Word is precise and timely. Pray, ‘God speak to me what I need to hear today.’

God’s Word is powerful.

By His strength we can repent. God sees everything. We cannot hide from God. We stand naked and helpless on the inside with God. He has spoken of the rest offered to God’s people. You can enter God’s rest today. The Word of God exposes your sin. It’s hard. But we have a great High Priest, Jesus. He’s there, He’s completed His work on earth. He will help you. You must come and trust in Him and He will lead you into rest. Strive to enter that rest.

September 2nd 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlesmist-Aug 18Hebrews 4:1-13

What are you seeking, dreaming of? Thomas Moore had the concept of Utopia, a desire to explore the idea of a perfect society. Today, the dream still pervades. This is probably different for each one of us. Perhaps it’s memories of better times, happier days?

What is your greater Sabbath?
We are a restless people. On the seventh day God rested from His creation. Sabbath is the seventh day. God rested from all His work. What does that mean? He put His feet up because He had worked really hard? He had a snooze? Our God could have created a billion universes in one moment if He wanted. We are His interest – men and women. The Lord’s rest was not inactivity. The universe is held by His power. He’s been active ever since. God is intimately involved in creation and our lives. It’s good to rest. Creating men in the image of God was not the end of His work – His purposes were not fully achieved, there was more to be unveiled. The purpose of rest is to point us to the eternal rest. The Saviour was a shadow of the things to come, the reality is found in Christ (Colossians 2).

The promise of rest requires a response (verse 1). The promise of rest for Israel was more than entering the Promised Land. It’s a promise that still stands. Disobedience, grumbling, complaining – refers  to the knowledge God has of our hearts. God knows our heart. He knows if we are believing or unbelieving. He knows some could attend church just to prove a point, He knows if we are not going to listen. He knows some will open the Scriptures but will not listen. In the end God will expose it all.

In verse 2 we are given the reason for the Israelites’ unbelief. Even though the gospel was proclaimed, it was met with unbelief. They perished. The gospel invitation goes out though churches and ministries all the time – to receive rest in Jesus Christ. It is a command of the sovereign Lord, come to Him. Great things have been done. Jesus Christ has come, become man. His miracles proved His deity. All has been done for you to believe. Turn to Him today. Rescue has been demonstrated. Jesus really died and really rose again. He lives! Look to Him. Believe in Him.

Will you believe? The promise is there, the invitation stands. Have you repented, confessed your sins? The time for that response is now – today.

The nature of rest (verse 8). Jesus is compared with Joshua leading the Israelites into rest in the Promised Land. However, this is far inferior to the work of the Jesus. Jesus provides us with eternal rest for our soul. Psalm 95 is quoted again. God’s promised Israelites would come to a land of milk and honey, a land where they were free to worship God. Yet the people go through a time of turmoil because they were not trusting in Jesus but doing what they wanted. David wrote a warning in Psalm 95 as well as a promise – it is possible not to enter God’s rest. The Canaan rest is just a shadow of the promise to come.

The nature of the rest involves ceasing from your own work, trusting in the work that has been done. It is a rest in the Lord, He has done it all. Trust in Him. Rest in His goodness, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11.28). Ultimately, the promise is of eternal rest.

We are again and again encouraged. He will give us strength ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13). The life I live, I live by faith. Learn to function from a position of rest and truth, to avoid burnout. Utopian dreams will fail. Rather, listen to the word of God and obey. Be thankful for the Sabbath rest, remembering Jesus has done it all.