Hebrews 4:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 4:15  

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 

Let us begin by putting this verse in the positive instead of the negative.   I do not think this will violate this verse but will perhaps bring more clarity.   “For we do have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, since He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’   This book of Hebrews was written specifically to possibly two camps of Jews in my opinion.  First of all it was written to a Jew that was on the fence concerning Jesus Christ being THE Messiah (Priest, King, and Prophet) as foretold in the Old Testament writings.  They were fully Jewish in the sense that they obeyed and followed the Law of Moses but would not cross over into faith in Jesus the Christ.  The second possible group of Jews reading this could have been Jews that did embrace and believe that Jesus was the Messiah (Priest, King, and Prophet) but due to extreme persecution perhaps, they wanted to revert backwards to outwardly embrace the religion of Judaism and its governing laws and requirements so as to escape persecution and/or death.  

Today, in this age of Grace, the meaning of this verse has great significance, assurance, and promise for both Jew and Gentile.  The role of the High Priest functioned in the tabernacle or Temple as the go-between of a Holy God and a sinful people.  Aaron, the older brother of Moses, was the first High Priest to have this role in serving God in the tabernacle (Exodus 28, 29).  Therefore beginning with Aaron as the High Priest he would enter the Holiest of Holies on the Day of Atonement once a year and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood on the Mercy Seat and the peoples’ sins would be covered for another year.  And every year following this would take place.  But Jesus was not a descendant of Levi nor a descendant of Aaron’s priesthood.  Jesus was the great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the priest of the God Most High (Genesis 14:18) who represented all of mankind.  And by Jesus’ own sacrificial blood shed on the Cross was atonement made for all mankind and He entered not the earthly tabernacle but the Heavenly tabernacle and presence of God as the great High Priest and the only go-between for God and Man.   After His resurrection, Jesus the Son of God passed through the heavens as the great High Priest and is sitting at the Right hand of the Father (Heb 4:14). 

Jesus being fully God and fully man (“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…” Col 2:9), is therefore able to sympathize with our weaknesses.   The word ‘sympathize’ in the Greek means to ‘have sympathy, compassion, and pity for someone – to share the feelings and understand the sentiments of what a person is going through’.    Wow!  May that alone bring you comfort in your understanding of how Jesus personally views you and the struggles you face each day in this fallen world.  To further the point, Jesus as the great High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses.  With ‘our’ weaknesses.  We all have them.  We are all in the same boat when it comes to having weaknesses.   No matter how lovely or holy someone you know appears to be, underneath the surface they struggle just like you do.   This word ‘weaknesses’ is a Greek word that is much broader than our understanding of being weak, as opposed to strong. It is the ‘incapacity or sickness or disease within, that prevents us from doing what we desire’.  Romans 16:9a says, “I speak in human terms because of the ‘weakness’ (the incapacity to do what is right) of your flesh’.   This same Greek word is also translated as ‘infirmities’ twelve times, primarily speaking of the physical weakness, sickness, disease, and incapacity we might have.   John 5:5 says “Now a certain man who was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years…”  Jesus told this man with this physical infirmity to ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’   Paul writes in II Cor 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities…..for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Take pleasure in our infirmities?   Wait a second.   This must be a misprint.  No, it is not.   Paul understood the reality of Jesus as the great High Priest who is sitting at the Right hand of the Father at this very moment (Heb 8:1).  Paul understood that Jesus does accurately sympathize with our weaknesses and infirmities as human beings and our daily struggles of temptation because Jesus Himself lived on this earth with a complete human nature just like yours, yet without that human nature being diseased by sin.  In every way, Jesus’ humanity correlates to our own experiences.    YOU are not alone.  As a believer, be reminded of this amazing truth of our Lord and Savior.  HE is the great High Priest sitting next to God the Father.  He knows and understands everything you go though. Because of His compassion, mercy, and grace, you can tap into His grace to help in time of need.     What a glorious High Priest and Savior we have!

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

Romans 15:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 15:1  

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” – Romans 15:1 

In Romans 14, Paul speaks of how we are not to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Romans 14:1-4.  And also not to cause our brother or sister to stumble.  “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Romans 14:13.  These two ideas are very important so that we do not cause spiritual problems for our fellow Christians.

Now, moving on to chapter 15, we read our focus verse, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” Romans 15:1.  In the two passages above from chapter 14,  Paul is clearly saying we should accept our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ and not pass judgement on them regarding their ways just because we may not agree with them.  We should help them understand what the Word says, but to be careful not to condemn them regarding differences.  On the contrary, our focus verse says we are help them in their weaknesses, and not just focus on our own ways.  I have seen too many incidents where Christians who are new to the faith have been countered strongly in their beliefs, to the point where they felt ridiculed.  And many times they were not necessarily wrong, they just did not agree with what the other was saying. 

Paul is stating here that we are to exhort our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”  Romans 15:2.  Especially those who are new to the faith, or not as trained in the ways of God.  Yes, we are to show them where changes need to be made and not leave them in their errors.  However, it is to be done with kindness and love.  And we should not do these things to gratify what we desire.  We must work for the benefit and happiness of others.  Paul in his letter to the Church in Philippi put it this way. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4.  We are not only to labor for our benefit  alone but also, and I would say especially, for the benefit of others.  Our job is to exhort each other in the faith, looking at how we can help others in their walk in a loving way, and to encourage them in times of trials and troubles. 

At the end of this section Paul tells us, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Romans 15:7.  We are to accept our brothers and sisters just as Christ accepted us regardless of who and what we were.  And not only accept them, but love them, helping them in their weaknesses by strengthening them in their faith.  We are to lift them up when they are down and help them learn of this Christian walk where they may lack understanding.  And in all things in love and patience.  Is it wrong for us to please ourselves?  Not really.  But it was not the way of Christ.  And if we are to be like Christ, then we must look to the betterment of others before ourselves.  It is what He did for us on the cross.  

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Corinthians 12:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Corinthians 12:10  

“Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul in this verse is speaking regarding weakness which should not be an excuse for not doing the Lord’s work.  He starts off by speaking of a vision the Lord gave him.  “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— as caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.”  2 Corinthians 12:1-5.  Paul here is referring to himself without actually saying it was him.  He is not willing to boast regarding this vision, however, He will boast in regard to his weaknesses. 

Paul was not one to boast on himself, and it would have been easy for him to do it based upon the vision God gave him regarding paradise, a place not now seen by man for it is not on this earth.  Therefore, because of the incredible vision God allowed him to see,  He also gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to afflict and torment him.  The reason was, as stated in the last words in verse seven, “to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7b. Because of the words here ‘thorn in the flesh’  defining this affliction, it denotes something that is very painful physically.

Now Paul prayed that God would remove this pain and the ultimate source, Satan.  “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8.  However, Christ essentially said no.  “And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9a.  What Christ here was saying was that He would not allow him to collapse under the weight of these afflictions, nor will the enemy prevail against him.  However, the next line is even more powerful, ‘for power is perfected in weaknesses.’  It refers to the power of Christ, and this idea runs contrary to how the world sees things.  They see it as the stronger I am, the more I can accomplish.  However, what Paul says is that the weaker I am, the more Christ’s power can accomplish and be seen through me.  This takes away any reason to boast in ourselves, but in God who is working through us.

So, because of this Paul ends this section with our focus verse.  “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10.  He is quite content in his weaknesses.  He is content in all the insults, as well as with any distresses, persecutions, and difficulties that he has, for he does not want to boast in himself regarding what is accomplished, for he recognizes that it is Christ working through him to fulfill His will.  He understands completely that it is God doing the work.  “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.

God has a calling for each one of us, therefore we must ask God to reveal to us what that is and submit to that calling.  And whatever it is, we must rely on God to work through us to fulfill that calling and not try, through our own power and strength, to make it happen.  And if we find anything that weakens us to where we do not believe we can fulfill it, we should just trust in God and rely on His strength, just as Paul did. And when we are doing His will, we can then thank God for using us as He did, to will and to do His good pleasure.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.