Jesus, the Model Intercessor

LonRobert Murray M'Cheyne, a Scottish minister from the early 1800’s, said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.  Yet distance makes no difference; He is praying for me.”

The Bible says this about Jesus: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)

What you believe about Jesus’ prayers of intercession for you is really important to understand, because in finding out what Jesus is saying to His Father about us gives us insight into God’s plan and purpose for us.  And that is, I believe, the objective of prayer: to align my will with the will of God.

In John 17 we can read the greatest prayer ever prayed, which is Jesus’ prayer for you, me, and all believers.  In verse 11 Jesus prayed, “Now I am leaving the world, and leaving them behind, and coming to You.  Holy Father, keep them in Your own care – all those You have given me – so that they will be united just as we are, with none missing.”  (TLB)  Jesus prayed for our preservation.  God wants us to be strong spiritually!  God wants us to cross the finish line with flying colors!

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Ebe's Guidance Was Good, But God's Is Better

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5 ESV

It’s time for me to give an update on the Lorton household.  Most of you know that my mother has moved in with Pat and me.  It was sometime back in April, after we knew that my brother Len would be at St. Louis University Hospital for the long haul, receiving his regimen of chemotherapy that may go on for several more months.  His form of leukemia is a tough one to beat and the side effects are difficult, too.  He’s been hospitalized now for nearly five months, going back to the illness that led to his diagnosis.

Len and Mom shared an apartment in Macomb, Illinois.  We convinced her that it would be better for her to live with us rather than by herself.  More convincing was the fact that we can get her to St. Louis a lot more often from Kentucky than we could if she stayed in her apartment.  So, Len is in a strange place as he battles cancer.  Mom is in a strange place as she is living under someone else’s roof for the first time in her nearly 92 years of living.  And Pat and I are in a strange place as we all are trying to figure out a new normal on the fly.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28-29

Grateful people live with an attitude of gratitude.  Do you have a grateful heart?  If you do, you can be infectious to others.  When was the last time you said ‘thank you’ to someone and showed your appreciation for them?  A month ago we were reminded to show gratitude for all that God and others have done for us and how much they mean to us.  Are you still showing gratitude, or have the Memorial Day sales lasted longer than your gratitude?

The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…”

God loves a grateful heart.  Gratitude shows humility and it allows us to recognize that God is the One who provides everything I need to be where I am and have what I’ve got.

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".....Bring A Friend to Christ"

We love to hear the stories in the news about ordinary people stepping up to save the lives of others.  Out of an hour of negative stuff going on in the world, it’s usually in the last 60 seconds before signing off that a story might be told about a person in peril being saved by some bystander who “just had to step up and do something to help.”  And a life is saved.  It makes me wonder about other similar opportunities where it may have been me who didn’t even take time to notice a person in some kind of peril – human indifference or possibly just being too busy to stop and help.  Sadly, that happens more than we know.  And the ones who are dying may be people we see every day.  We have our Bibles, and some of us even read them daily.  We know how our Bibles describe people who are without Christ:

Oh Bother

“Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”  Hebrews 12:3

I’ve always been amazed at how easy it would have been for Jesus to say, “You know what?  No one here appreciates me.  I’ve changed my mind.  I’m not going to die for these people.  They just don’t deserve it.”

After all, consider what Jesus had to face.  His own disciples in effect abandoned Him.  Judas, His friend, betrayed Him.  Peter, His staunchest supporter denied he even knew Jesus (three times).  Then He was severely beaten – fists to the face, beard ripped out, thorns pressed into His head, back ripped open with whips, jeered at, laughed at, spit on…and then nailed to a cross.

Regardless of how on-again-off-again we are in our relationships, let me remind you that it was Jesus’ love for you that kept Him going.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “because of the joy awaiting Him, Christ endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”  What kind of joy awaited Him?  It was you.  It was me.  It was us.  Jesus did it all for us.  He knew there was no other way that we could be made right with God.  Verse 2 also tells us that Jesus is “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”  Translated: God finishes what He starts.  He will complete the work in us.

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8

I am alive today because of God’s grace.  The sun came up this morning because of God’s grace.  The stars were out last night because of God’s grace.  The breath I’m taking in right now is because of God’s grace.  I am forgiven of the sins I have committed because of God’s grace.  I am forgiven of the sins I will commit because of God’s grace.  I open God’s Word today because God’s grace has given it to me.  I am able to pray, to have access to a conversation with the one and only God, because of God’s grace.  I hear the robins singing in the prayer garden outside my office on this chilly morning as a reminder of God’s grace.  The daffodils burst through a late snow a few weeks ago as a reminder of God’s grace.  There are a thousand natural and supernatural benefits we enjoy every day because of God’s grace.  Many, if not most, of these phenomena go unnoticed on a typical day.

What might happen if we noticed them more?  What if we were constantly aware of God’s grace?  We would be more thankful, more humble, more aware of what God is doing in the world, more aware of the needs of people around us, and more aware of the power of God’s Spirit available to us.  And, in turn, God’s grace would be pouring out of our lives.

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Stay Off the Pause Button

“You can only be young once, but you can always be immature.” – Dave Barry

What if we could just push the pause button on growth?  Would you choose to stay 16 forever?  How about 39?  Or would your pause button be at 60?  Aging is something we cannot stop.  But maturity – that is a different story.  We can keep living and behaving with the same understanding at 40 that we had at 14.  It would be awkward for anyone watching, but we can choose to do it.

With the coming of March we are into the season of Great Banquets – seven of them before the end of May to be exact (and that’s not counting YES and Chrysalis weekends).  A fresh season of Banquets always has me reflecting on the potential for spiritual maturity.  Over the past three decades I’ve seen adults young, old, and in between at every level of spiritual maturity.  I’ve come to realize the pause button I mentioned earlier is available in our spiritual lives, too.

Think back to when you became a believer.  You probably got into God’s Word and grew.  But, like many folks, you may have allowed things like career, marriage, and family to take up more of your days than you might have guessed possible.  And, like so many others, you pushed the pause button on your spiritual growth.

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