Day 310

It’s Who You Know

Wisdom Psalm 119:170–171,175–176
New Testament Hebrews 7:18–27
Old Testament Ezekiel 11:1,5,19,20b

Introduction

During the American Civil War, as a result of a family tragedy, a soldier was granted permission to seek a hearing from the President. He wanted to request exemption from military service. However, when he arrived at the White House, he was refused entry and sent away. He went and sat in a nearby park.

A young boy came across him and remarked how unhappy he looked. The soldier found himself telling the young boy everything. Eventually the boy said, ‘Come with me.’ He led the dejected soldier back to the White House. They went around the back, none of the guards stopped them. Even the generals and high-ranking government officials stood to attention and let them pass through.

The soldier was amazed. Finally, they came to the presidential office. Without knocking, the young boy opened the door and walked straight in. Abraham Lincoln, standing there, turned from his conversation with the Secretary of State and said, ‘What can I do for you, Tad?’

Tad said, ‘Dad, this soldier needs to talk to you.’

In this possibly fictional story, the soldier had access to the President ‘through the son’. According to the New Testament, in an even more amazing way, in truth, you, certainly, have access to Godthrough the son’ – Jesus.

Many people pray, but not all prayer is Christian. Christian prayer is distinctive – it is Trinitarian. St Paul writes, ‘Through him [Jesus] we have access to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:18).

This is why prayer is such an immense privilege. You are able to speak to God, the creator of the universe, as your Father. You come to him through Jesus, the man who is God, our Lord, brother and friend. Your prayers are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who lives within your heart.

Wisdom

Psalm 119:170–171,175–176

170 May my supplication come before you;
  deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
  for you teach me your decrees.

175 Let me live that I may praise you,
  and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
  Seek your servant,
  for I have not forgotten your commands.

Commentary

Access… to the Father

When I first encountered Jesus, I was taught a model for prayer using the mnemonic ‘A.C.T.S.’: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (see also BiOY Day 61). Each of these is represented in this passage.

The psalmist’s prayer is addressed to God. Jesus teaches us to address God as our Father. As Psalm 119 draws to a close, the psalmist prays a variety of prayers, which include ‘A.C.T.S.’:

A |Adoration
||Praise God for who he is and what he has done.
||‘Let me live that I may praise You’ (v.175, AMP).

C |Confession
||Ask God’s forgiveness for anything that you have done wrong.
||‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep’ (v.176, AMP).

T |Thanksgiving
||Thank God for health, family, friends and so on.
||‘My lips shall pour forth praise (with thanksgiving and renewed trust)’ ||(v.171, AMP).

S |Supplication
||Pray for yourself, for your friends and for others.
||‘May my supplication come before you’ (v.170).

Prayer

A – Lord God my Father, I adore you. I love you Lord. I praise you that I have access to you, the Creator of the universe.
C – I confess my sins to you and ask for your forgiveness…
T – Thank you so much for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for so many wonderful answers to prayer. Thank you for…
S – Lord, I pray today for…

New Testament

Hebrews 7:18–27

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

 “The Lord has sworn
  and will not change his mind:
  ‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Commentary

Access… through Jesus

Jesus ‘brings us right into the presence of God’ (v.19, MSG). Access to the Father is made possible through Jesus. You can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). Jesus is the great high priest who makes it possible for you to ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).

Jesus is the Son, ‘who has been made perfect for ever’ (v.28). He provides you with a ‘better’ hope (v.19). The word ‘better’ appears numerous times in the book of Hebrews. The writer is constantly contrasting; not something bad with something good, but something good with something ‘perfect’ and therefore far ‘better’.

Jesus’ priesthood is based on a superior promise. The writer quotes Psalm 110:4 to show how Jesus’ priesthood was established through a promise of God. Unlike the temporary former priests, Jesus’ priesthood was confirmed by God’s promise (Hebrews 7:20–21). Jesus perfectly meets all your needs (v.26).

  1. Jesus has defeated death for you

    It is ‘by the sheer force of resurrection life – he lives!’ (v.16, MSG). Unlike the former priests, Jesus lives for ever, and his priesthood is permanent (vv.23–24).

  2. Jesus is constantly praying for you

    Jesus continually intercedes for those who come to God through him: ‘He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with him and intervene for them’ (v.25b, AMP).

    Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813–1843) wrote: ‘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.’

  3. Jesus is uniquely able to represent you

    The priests had to offer sacrifices for their sin first, but Jesus was ‘completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself’ (v.26, MSG). He is the unique mediator who is fully God and fully human.

  4. Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice for your sins

    ‘Unlike the other high priests he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people’ (v.27). When Jesus offered himself on the cross, it was only necessary for this sacrifice to be offered once, since it was totally effective: ‘He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered him**self’ (v.27).

Jesus’ qualities of a superior life, a superior promise, a superior ‘offerer’ and a superior offering, all demonstrate that his priesthood is totally effective in providing you access to the Father. As a result of Jesus’ permanent and perfect priesthood, you can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). You can, ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).

Prayer

Father, thank you that I can draw near to you today through Jesus and that I can know that he is constantly praying for me.

Old Testament

Ezekiel 11:1,5,19,20b

11Then the Spirit lifted me up... 5 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says:.. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 ...They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Commentary

Access… by the Holy Spirit

As you pray, the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, helps you to pray. It is an extraordinary privilege to be living in this time when every Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them. Before the day of Pentecost (which we read about in Acts 2), the Holy Spirit only came on particular people at particular times for particular tasks.

Ezekiel was one of those particular people. Extraordinary visions of God were given to him by the Spirit who lifted him up. Twice in this passage he says, ‘Then the Spirit lifted me up...’ (11:1,24). It was ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ who ‘came upon’ him and ‘told’ him what ‘to say’: ‘This is what the Lord says...’ (v.5).

Ezekiel went on to prophesy that one day the Spirit of God would not only be in him, but will be in all the people: ‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh’ (v.19).

God has given every human being a conscience. However, if we rebel against our conscience too often we become hard-hearted. If, for example, we have been hurt by others, we can harden our hearts in an attempt to block further emotional pain.

It is almost impossible to change your heart simply through a decision of the will. But God promises to give you a ‘soft heart’ – ‘a heart of flesh’ (v.19). He does this by putting a new Spirit in you (this is the Holy Spirit, see Ezekiel 36:26–27). The Holy Spirit now lives in you. He changes your heart. He replaces a heart of stone with a heart of flesh.

The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into your heart (Romans 5:5). He heals your hurts and wounds and makes your heart tender. He gives you a ‘soft heart’ that is responsive to his gentle touch and filled with love and sensitivity to the needs of others.

These prophecies of Ezekiel were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter explains that the promises (including those in Ezekiel) have been fulfilled: ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear’ (Acts 2:33).

From that moment onwards, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus has the Holy Spirit living within them. This remains the same for all Christians today. He promises you an undivided heart, a new spirit and a heart of flesh. He says therefore, you will obey and you will be part of God’s people and he will be your God. It is by the same Holy Spirit that you have access to the Father through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18).

Prayer

Lord, give me an undivided heart. Help me today to be careful to follow your decrees and to keep your laws. Thank you that you help me to pray – to the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

Pippa adds

Psalm 119:173

‘May your hand be ready to help me.’

I have rather a lot to do today; I need God’s hand to help me.

Verse of the Day

Ezekiel 11:19

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Thought for the Day

‘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.’ – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Action for the Day

Use the A.C.T.S. mnemonic or another simple model for your prayers today. A – Lord God our Father, I praise you that... C – I confess my sins to you… I ask for your forgiveness… T – Thank you so much for… S – Lord, I pray today for…
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1960), p.179.

Abraham Lincoln story from Graham H. Twelftree, Your Point Being? (Monarch Books, 2003), p.97.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Bible in One Year

  • HOST'S INTRO
  • INTRODUCTION
  • WISDOM BIBLE
  • WISDOM COMMENTARY
  • NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • PIPPA ADDS
  • HOST'S OUTRO

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