Church Windows 031

“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”   – Hebrews 2:11

I don’t know about anyone else, but this is a precious promise to me.

The perfect God of the universe, in the form of Jesus Christ, came to earth and died a brutal death so that I could be made holy (sanctified) in God’s sight.

And now, seated in Heaven, He is not only willing to extend grace and forgiveness to me, not only willing to declare “holy” one that is furthest from holiness. But on top of all of that, He is completely unashamed to call me His brother!

This is especially precious to someone like me, whose mistakes have brought shame and brokenness into some of his relationships – one who has experienced both blood relatives and spiritual brothers and sisters turning away in shame.

Those who have been there know all too well the pain of carrying the guilt of bad choices, the agony of realizing there’s nothing we can do to undo them, and the torment of knowing that loved ones are literally (and rightfully) ashamed of him.

There’s a song called ‘Your Beloved’ by Brent Helming, the chorus of which says:

‘Cause I’m Your beloved,
Your creation,
And You love me as I am.
You’ve called me, chosen
For Your kingdom.
Unashamed to call me Your own-
I’m Your beloved.

Unashamed to call me your own!

As I let those lyrics sink in recently, that one phrase hit me like a freight train. Then, just days ago, I came across Hebrews 2:11, and I was knocked to the ground again by the very same train!

That the God of the universe would be unashamed to be associated with me is astonishing.

You see, here’s what really makes this amazing: Jesus doesn’t love me because He has to. He doesn’t love me because He feels obligated to stand by a promise or commitment (actually, His commitment was made because He loved me, not the other way around). He doesn’t love me because someone might think differently of Him if He didn’t. And He certainly doesn’t love me because I deserve it.

He loves me because He loves – it’s what He is, and what He does (1 John 4:8, John 15:9).

And out of that love, because I have entered into a relationship with Him, He is unashamed to call me His brother!

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I urge you to make that move right now. He loves you, just as you are. No matter how ugly, or how undeserving, or how ‘far gone’ you think you are…He loves you and wants a relationship with you. And He will be unashamed to call you His brother or sister.

If you do have a relationship, take a moment today and bask in the knowledge that He is unashamed to call you part of His family. It’s definitely a truth worth meditating on!

Freedom to Stay the Course

Universal Signs 131

Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you.

He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed. He has never bidden you defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood (about yourself) which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation. If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.

Keep at your work. Let your aim be steady as a star. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men. But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”

This quote is from an anonymous writer. I found it years ago in John MacArthur’s Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically (Thomas Nelson Press, 2005, p. 14).

These words have been on the wall above my desk since I discovered them. I have looked at them often. I have prayed over them. I have read them aloud, and hand-copied them in my journal as an exercise to internalize them. I have pleaded with God to help me live by them when doing so seemed impossible.

Though the quote was found in a book on pastoring, it is certainly not limited to pastors. It can be applied to every person who is trying to follow God’s call.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all in ministry in some capacity (see Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, and Ephesians 4:11-16). And if we are pursuing that ministry, we are going to meet opposition.

Opposition can arise from where we might expect it, or from where we don’t expect it at all. Though we must be careful not to dismiss true loving correction, when it is pure antagonism and slander we should rest in the One who holds us securely in the palm of His hand (John 10:28-29).

Opposition can be based on truth or lies (or a mixture of both).

If it is truth concerning something from the past, claim God’s promise that you are redeemed (Colossians 2:13-14) and a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). If truth about something current, then own it, break the cycle, and seek accountability and help. In either case, don’t allow hateful or condemning words to drive you to despair. God is not surprised by your brokenness… He knew about it before the world began, and He loves you anyway. You can move forward.

If it’s based on lies, know that even the Lord Himself faced lying accusations and was assigned false motives. Let Him be your defender. He’s capable, willing, and always on the job (“For He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” – Hebrews 13:5b).

Overall, remember this: God is able to complete what He set out to do through you. Man will not derail what God has established (Isaiah 55:11, Philippians 1:6). This gives us freedom to stay the course.

So take heart. Trust Him. Stick to your work even when the fight seems hopeless. It will definitely be worth it in the end.

He promised.