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Tuesday
February 19th, 2019

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

Last week I went to speak to our local college president. He’s approachable, and gracious, but still I had to wait for a break in his busy schedule to ask my one question. Had I gone to the leader of a larger institution, it would have been more difficult. Or an appointment with the President of the United States might have been unlikely - though I’m a citizen of his country – and gaining access to the leader of another nation is highly improbable. 

We recently attended a conference on prayer, which I approached with some trepidation but ended up learning a great deal about interacting with God.  The subject led back to a letter to the church at Ephesus, which has been a theme for several months. Paul wrote, “remember that you were … separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth [citizenship] of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). 

A study of God in philosophy or theology reveals One who is entirely infinite. He has the divine attributes of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. When God identified himself to Moses, he just said, “‘I am’” (Exodus 3:14). God temporarily remedied our sin and separation problem through a covenant in the Old Testament. The Jews back then needed an intercessor or priest as a go-between. Jesus came in the fullness of time and brought God near to every person, so that a close relationship with the Creator is now possible. 

The second chapter of Ephesians reveals at least three things Jesus’ coming brought. The first is reconciliation. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near [reconciled] by the blood of Christ” (verse 13). If there are any issues between us and another person, or between us and God, confession is an important way to begin bridging the gap. 

Second, Jesus brings peace. “For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…” (verse 14). Jesus became the great High Priest, the mediator, the day the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51 and Mark 15:38). Peter further expanded the role to include each believer. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). 

Finally, he opened access to the God of the universe. “And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have our access in one Spirit” (verse 17). Jewish people were “those who were near” and Gentiles included the rest of us, “you who were far away”. Now anyone from either group can pray anytime, anyplace, in any way we understand, and God listens and responds. 

The Book of Hebrews explains the Old Covenant in chapters 7-9, a system of ceremonial, civil and moral rules introduced by Moses in the Law. Moral laws such as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) are applicable still today. Nations continue to write civil laws, ordinances which are meant to lead to a harmonious society. 

Ceremonial laws under the covenant we now understand as pointing toward Jesus. They’re a shadow of Christ, and once he arrived on earth, the Old Covenant was fulfilled. One example would be the Passover celebrated by Jesus and his disciples during the Passion Week. They prepared a meal, but there was no lamb. Yet when Jesus the Lamb was slain on the cross shortly after, it was no longer necessary to observe the ceremonial feast. Anyone who follows Christ can enter immediately into his presence. 

Each person approaches God differently – in other words, we each pray differently. We may be hesitant to avoid contact with God because we’re embarrassed, have doubts, feel distant, lack faith, or we’re not disciplined in our approach. None of that matters, as long as we begin speaking to Him. When we slow down, leave behind frenzied activity, and begin to savor his presence, God will teach us to pray. 

In the next week or two we’ll talk more about prayer, free unlimited access to the God who created us. 

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