“Heir of all things” – Hebrews 1: 2
Hebrews 1: 2-3 give us a wonderful seven fold description of Jesus. Let’s look at each of the phrases used about him in turn.
The first statement is that God has appointed Jesus as heir of all things. To be an heir implies ownership, belonging and a position of authority. These words can sound very dictatorial, but Jesus has already demonstrated the nature of his lordship. For him it was to take on human form, to live and work among us, and to face the humiliation of death at the hands of those over whom he had authority so that the full power of what he wanted to bring to those in his charge might be released through that death. In other words, he is not an owner surveying his possessions from afar, but one who has clearly demonstrated his total and utter commitment.
We are his, we belong to one who has demonstrated an utter sacrificial commitment and passion for us. He longs for us to come to him with the confidence that we know of his love and sacrifice, and will approach him with delight and an understanding of what we mean to him.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” – Philemon 25
This verse sums up both the tension and the wonder of the Christian faith. We are called to shine with the light of Jesus, to bring light to those around who are in darkness. We are called to be so transformed that the light shines into every part of us.
Yet we know that this is not something that we can achieve by our own effort and energy. The change happens within. This is what this verse is hinting at. It is not simply that we are meant to act in a graceful way, but more than that – the grace is to emanate from deep within us, that our very spirits may be touched by his grace.
Achieving this is probably best illustrated by the image of a brick in a bucket of water. To begin with only the outside of the brick will get wet, but the longer the brick is immersed then the water will seep through to the core.
Our calling is to abide in Christ. To seek a relationship with him, where we seek his presence and his companionship at all times. This may take a lifetime, but it can begin today. Begin by taking five minutes to let the name of Jesus be on your lips, come back to that consciousness throughout the day – already the water begins to go deeper.
“When the kindness and the love of God our Saviour appeared” – Titus 3: 4
The love of God can be such an enormous concept that it can be almost too large to move us – what does it really mean that God loves us? This verse from Titus puts it in such a beautiful way when it speaks of the kindness of God in Jesus.
The word kindness expresses something of the gentleness and tenderness of Jesus. It is a gentleness and tenderness that he expressed in his ministry on earth, especially to those who did not feel that they deserved it – it is a gentleness and tenderness that he longs to express to us.
As with so much of what God wants to give us, it begins with us making the choice to believe that he actually wants to express such goodness to us. Do we actually believe that?
If we choose to believe it, then watch out for his kindness throughout the day. We often do this best by having a time of review at the end of each day and looking back – what are the things, big and small, for which we can be thankful, acts of kindness from the God who loves us. It is likely that the more we give thanks, the more we will recognize.
“Be ready to do whatever is good” – Titus 3: 1
Three times in Titus 3 in verses 1, 8 & 14, Paul urges that a central calling upon us is to do good. How often do we feel that we have failed God because we do not match up to the grand callings that seem to be upon the lives of some people. We aren’t asked to do what we cannot do, we are asked to do good, to be on the lookout for acts of kindness that we can do for others. It can be any range of things – thanking people for the things they do for us – even if it is their job, encouraging people in their work, making contact with some of those we pass in the street. The very phrase ‘do-gooders’ has become something we heap on others almost as an insult – it is actually a calling, and one that every single person can fulfil.
We do not practice goodness so that we can find recognition, or that others will see that we are being good – indeed our very acts of goodness may be misunderstood or ignored by others, we do it as a reflection of the kindness of Jesus.
“God, who does not lie” (2) – Titus 1: 2
We have been looking at what happens when the truth of what God says conflicts with the way that we feel.
Another area in which we often feel this conflict is in the area of the presence of God. Jesus said that he would be with us always (Matthew 28:20), he said that he is in us (John 14: 20). Yet so often we feel abandoned, either because things are not going right, or we simply feel alone.
It comes down again to the area of practice – are we going to practice the truth of his presence, or practice the feelings of his absence? How can we do the former?
Too often what we do is we try and do is fumble about in the darkness, when the solution is to turn on the light! So in those moments of emptiness, rather than wallowing in what we do not feel, hold onto the truth of what God does say – he is there, so begin to speak his name with an attitude of worship. As we do that, actually what happens is that our hearts are opened to his presence, and the actual awareness of his presence grows.
“God, who does not lie” (1) – Titus 1: 2
This short statement actually can bring us up short. If God cannot lie, then everything he says must be true. The clash within us is often in the area of what God says and what we feel. We put enormous store, and probably give greater weight to our feelings than to what God has said, the consequence of that is that we make the implicit statement that God does lie.
Today let us look at one area where that battle between what he says and what we feel is often felt most keenly – that area of God’s love. The Bible says that God loves us, but we often do not feel that loves. So what do we do?
We need to train ourselves to rejoice in his love. John 3:16 states “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” It is a beautiful verse, and many people have found great comfort by replacing the word ‘world’ with their own name. God’s love is for us.
Practice is a powerful weapon. Every time we see an image of Jesus, let it serve as a reminder that he came as an expression of God’s love. God does not lie – he loves us with an unfathomable love. When our feelings contradict that, it is those feelings that are not proclaiming the truth.
“The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” – 2 Samuel 10: 12
Joab is about to go into battle against a large enemy, he draws up his battle plan and entrusts the outcome to God.
This situations we face, or the prayers that we pray may not be battle situations, but Joab’s confidence in the Lord is a wonderful example to us. It is not that hard situations in which we find ourselves are necessarily God’s plans for us – but when we take the situation to him in prayer, we deliberately open the door for him to act, and at that point a new confidence can arise within us. He will do what is good in his eyes.
It is worth reminding ourselves, that God’s vision is infinitely greater than ours – he holds all things in his hands, and of course he may not do what is good in our eyes, because our vision is usually tied in with the immediate situation, God’s is not. This is where faith really does need to be exercised, that seeming disappointments for us in prayer are only disappointments in our eyes and may not be for him.
He is the Lord, as we bring our situations to him, let us allow him to exercise his lordship according to his vision, and not ours.