“It is He that sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isa. 40:22).
The grasshopper can only see what’s in his immediate area. God has a 360°+ perspective. He’s at work around us always, even when we don’t recognize it. His perspective and way of doing things is so beyond the capacity of our own thinking (Isa. 40:21-31).
When God tested Abraham to offer up his only beloved son Isaac as a burnt offering, he did so as God directed. When Isaac asked about the lamb for the burnt offering, Abraham replied (in faith), “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). Abraham called the name of that place “Jehovah-Jireh”, which in Hebrew means “Jehovah will provide” (Gen. 22:1-14). See also: Gen. 22:15-18, Heb. 11:17-19.
Later in the Scriptures, in the book of Exodus (which in Greek means ‘the way out’), we read of the Israelites’ time in bondage under Egyptian rule. Their lives were hard as they toiled rigorously building the Egyptian’s storehouses and serving them in all manners of the field (Ex. 1:11-14). God was at work even though the Israelites couldn’t see it at the time. The enemy of the Israelites was raising up and preparing the very man who God would use to set them free (Ex. 2:1-10, 3:1-22, 6:6-8, Heb. 11:23-27). Through His servant Moses, the plagues, the institution of the Passover, and the parting of the Red sea, God displayed His great purpose, power and provision (Ex. 6:6-8). The Israelites sang and praised God for what He had done (Ex. 15:1-21). But it was short-lived as they began murmuring against Moses and his brother. They complained how they were stuck in the wilderness wishing that God had let them die in Egypt where at least they didn’t thirst or hunger (Ex. 15:23-24, 16:1-3). But the Lord provided for them again with water and bread from heaven (manna) every morning and quail every evening (Ex. 15:25, 27, 16:4, 8, 13-15).
We, like the Israelites, have been delivered from an enemy and no longer have to live in bondage to sin and the fear of death (Col. 1:13-14, Eph. 1:7, 2:1-3, 8-9, Hebrews 2:14-15). Yet many of us today, like the Israelites, grumble about our present circumstances or what we lack instead of what God has so graciously provided. We are hesitant to move in faith with our focus upward where God has provided all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14, 19-21, Eph. 1:3, 13-14, Col. 3:1-3). Believers today have access to Living Water (John 4:14), the Bread of Life (John 6:32-33, 35), and a protective spiritual wardrobe (Eph. 6:11-17). Everything that’s needed is found in Christ Jesus (Col. 2:10, 2 Cor. 12:9). Our praise and thanksgiving to God should not depend on the success of our plans but on God’s nature, enduring love, and faithfulness.
Please Pass the ‘P’s. Though not a traditional Thanksgiving dish, you’ll want to keep this recipe handy.
(A Prescription of Praise from the apostle Paul’s Perspective in Philippians chapter 4):
· PRAISE God Perpetually (v. 4).
· PRAY with PRAISE to God instead of being PLAGUED with PROBLEMS and you’ll find a PROTECTIVE PEACE from Him in Christ Jesus (v. 6-7).
· PONDER PERSISTENTLY the POSITIVE things that are: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (v. 8).
· Be PATIENT no matter your PROBLEMS and POSSESSIONS, for God has PROVIDED Christ to give you POWER to PRESS on (v. 11-13).
· God will PROVIDE all you need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (v. 19).
God is our Jehovah Jireh! PRAISE GOD for PROVIDING all you need to have PEACE in the midst of your life today and for His future PROMISE of a heavenly hope, PERPETUALLY with Him!
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: … Like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.” Ecclesiastes 9:11-12
Isn’t it funny how much of what goes on in the world is beyond our understanding and yet we think we can steer and control it? I’m learning that doing so is a great waste of time. There’s so much going on ‘behind the scenes’ in the spiritual realm that would blow our minds if we were privy to it all. God’s only allowed us small glimpses of it. See Job 1:6-12, 2 Kings 6:16-17, Dan. 9:21, 10:11-13, 20-21, Eph. 6:12, Jude 9, and Rev. 12:7.
THE ONE EVENT
It’s part of human nature to be fixated on self. Ironically, it doesn’t matter how rich, famous, beautiful, fit, skilled, talented, or wise one is, the one event that happens to everyone (regardless of status) is DEATH (Eccl. 9:11-12). Man, like a bird caught in a snare, does not know when death will suddenly fall upon him (Eccl. 9:11-12). All the tiresome toils and passing pleasures of this life can be traced back to the nature and fall of man. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the consequences of it were life changing as man and woman no longer had access to the Tree of Life. Now bound in time—life subject to limitations—it advances toward the one event that brings them back to the dust that they came from (Gen. 2:7, 17, 3:19, Eccl. 12:7, 1 Cor. 15:47, Ps. 103:14).
GOD’S TIME IS NOT OUR TIME
All’s not fair in this life. Often the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. The question, “Why would a loving God permit evil and suffering in the world?” is a common one. God’s allowed men and women to have freewill, giving each to choose to follow what’s good or what’s evil. God’s already provided a remedy for sin and His mercy and longsuffering are beyond human comprehension (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8, Ps. 86:15, 2 Pet. 3:9). To us mere mortals, ensnared in a fallen world, it may seem like an eternity, but God’s timing is always perfect. His work goes beyond the scope and sphere of our work and His purpose dates back before time began, and continues on after it’s ended. We’re unable to ‘find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end’ (Eccl. 3:11, Rom. 11:33-36, Acts 1:7, Ps. 115:3, Isa. 40:28). So why do we think we can?
The endless cycle of human experience described in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a faint echo of the mighty purpose of the ages. Whatever God does, it will be forever. Not a thing can be added to it or taken from it (Eccl. 3:14). God works in the way He does ‘that men should fear before Him’ (Eccl. 3:14). This fear of the Lord (reverence) is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). It’s only the “beginning” as Job discovered (Job 42:5-6, James 5:11). King Solomon found that the conclusion of all his searching and testing was to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MEN NO LONGER FEAR GOD?
When men no longer fear God they sin without hesitation. The fear of consequences isn’t a deterrent when the fear (reverence) of God is gone. Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices (schemes) in a man’s heart, yet the counsel of the Lord shall stand.” Yet throughout the ages man has turned to the creature and not the Creator to seek counsel apart from God using everything from fortune tellers with crystal balls to tarot cards and horoscopes. Even turning to witches, enchanters, wizards—those who use spells, divination or consult with familiar (evil) spirits to seek the dead. These are of no real help and an abomination to the Lord (Rom. 1:25, Ps. 115:4-8, 146:3-4, Deut. 18:10-12, Lev. 19:26-31, 1 Tim. 4:1-3, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, Titus 1:10-16). This in the end led to King Saul’s demise (1 Chron. 10:13-14).
OBEDIENCE LEARNED THROUGH SUFFERING
Jesus’ death and resurrection has given the believer a hope and a purpose to wait patiently and endure this present evil age. If the dead won’t rise then the “Let’s eat, drink for tomorrow we die” mentality would suffice. But that’s not the case. The counsel of the Lord will stand and all works will be brought into judgement (Eccl. 12:14, Ps. 37:1-2, Heb. 10:23). Sin came through disobedience while righteousness comes through obedience (Rom. 5:12, 19). “Though He were a son, yet learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8, 12:2, 1 Pet. 2:21-24). Obedience is the cadence in which a believer must learn to walk in. One can’t bypass suffering in the chain of events that lead to hope (Rom. 5:3-4). Being conformed to Christ’s likeness happens as the believer has faith through trying times, while keeping their eye on the prize (Rom. 8:29, Phil. 3:14, 20-21, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, 2: Cor. 4:8-10, 16-18). Though we may not understand it, God disciplines because He desires for us to be partakers of His holiness. It’s not always pleasant going through it but afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:5-11, Gal. 6:8-9, 2 Tim. 2:11, 2 Cor. 4:17-18).
FAITH IS MEASURED IN STEPS
Our finite minds can only see in part. It’s not for the created to question the Creator. God justifies man/woman when they come to Christ and receive Him as Savior, knowing that it’s not based on any merit of their own. The believer becomes a new creation and learns to live and walk by faith, not by sight (Eph. 2:8-10, 2 Cor. 5:17, 7, Gal. 2:20). Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” God sees the whole staircase. He knows where it’s going. We need to trust and obey His direction and will in our lives. Even when we trip and fall, we need to get up and take the next step in faith, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began (Titus 1:2).
May the poem, “The Weaver”, by holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, inspire you to see with eyes of faith:
“My life is but a weaving
between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves steadily.
Oft’ times He weaves sorrow;
and I in foolish pride
forget He sees the upper
and I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
will God unroll the canvas
and reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the weaver’s skillful hand
as the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
who leave the choice to Him.”
Disinformation may be the most powerful form of deception.
By Laura Kestly
Cacophony of voices
dictating one’s choices
Itching ears fall for gurus
indulge selfish egos
Lies spun and believed
bought and sold
God’s voice reigns supremely
spoke the world into being
It is powerful,
pure, tried and true
Hearing ears bring forth true faith
believing what God says
discerning the truth
and His will.
BEHIND ALL THE VOICES TODAY ARE JUST 2 SOURCES.
One is good. One is evil. One brings forth life. One brings forth death. To be able to discern between the two one must know the character and attributes behind the voices— for they speak out of what they are.
The voice that tempts the flesh is not from God (James 1:13-15, 1 Jn. 2:16). Contrarily, God provides a way for one to escape temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). God provided a way for Adam and Eve as well. It’s not only important to hear God’s voice, but to also obey it. God told the first couple that they could freely eat of any tree in the garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did they would surely die (Gen. 2:17).
Sadly they were ensnared in Satan’s web of deceit and ate of what God warned them not to. Their disobedience to His Word brought sin and death into the world (Rom. 5:12, 6:23). Here’s how Eve was beguiled (Gen. 3:13, 2 Cor. 11:3, 1 Tim. 2:14):
1) The first lie (Genesis 3:1) involved QUESTIONING God’s Word, “Did God actually say…”
2) The second lie (Genesis 3:4) was in CONTRADICTING God’s Word (Gen. 2:17), “You will not surely die”.
This lie has become the foundation of Spiritism and man’s traditional belief regarding death.
3) The third lie (Genesis 3:5) was in DELUDING Eve to believe, “…you will be like God”.
This claim led to Satan’s own downfall (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Now contrast this with Jesus Christ’s responses to the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.
To each temptation, Jesus used God’s WRITTEN WORD of truth to counteract Satan’s lies (Matt. 4:1-11):
“It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3);
“It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” (Deut. 6:16);
“…For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Deut. 6:13).
Is it any wonder then that the good Word of God is under such attack by the evil one in the world today?
The Bible is like no other book. No other book can make the great claim of its divine nature, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (literally God-breathed) (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
The same voice Who spoke the world into being and upholds all things by the word of His power would condescend to communicate with humankind at all is quite amazing (Ps. 33:6,9, Gen. 1, Heb. 1:1-3, 11:3, Jer. 10:12). Unlike man’s predictions, the prophecies of Scripture have never been wrong. Not one has failed and never will. Even archaeologic discoveries demonstrate that fact (not fantasy) supports the Old Testament narratives.
Since the Truth of God is spiritually discerned, in order to hear God’s voice, it must be approached with humility, reverence and a believing faith. (Rom. 10:17, Heb. 11:6, 1 Cor. 2:13-14). God’s Word is a living weapon sharper than any two-edged sword. It’s for the mature believer whose powers of discernment have been trained by constant practice, enabling them to distinguish good (the Spirit) from evil (the flesh) (Eph. 6:17, Heb. 4:12, 5:14, John 3:6).
The definition of deceit is concealment, or distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading.
Satan continues to use the same tactics of taking God’s Word and twisting it just so, by omitting words or adding them to pervert God’s truth and His original intent. We must know God’s Word for ourselves and not just receive it second hand (Acts 17:11). It must be rightly divided and not taken out of context. One must not read into it what’s not there (2 Tim. 2:15, Rom. 15:4).
One can only stand against the lies and wiles of the enemy in God’s strength and armor (Eph. 6:10-11). “For although we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Be careful what your ears take in today. Discern the source behind what you hear.
Does what I hear line up with God’s truth, attributes, and ways that are brought in love and promote the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)? Or
Does what I hear come from the enemy that entices the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) ultimately bringing fear, confusion, and despair?
Do not be deceived with misinformation. Be ready to counteract it with, “But God says…”
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand; measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” –Isaiah 40:12-
Design is the purposeful arrangement of parts. It’s the ordering of individual components to accomplish a purpose or achieve some end. Everything that exists has its origin in God. Its form and order rest upon God’s precise and complex design. From mathematics to music, to the laws of nature, etc.—all reveals God’s divine handiwork, which is the undergirding of every aspect of the created order. One only has to examine and consider (carefully as to learn from) what’s in natural creation to realize that an intelligent designer, a divine deity, a being with eternal power is behind it (Gen. 1-2, Jn. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:20, Col. 1:16-18, Heb. 1:3).
Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most widely recognized and influential scientists of all time, suggested that the stability of the planetary system depended not only upon the regular action of universal gravitation, but also on the very precise initial positioning of the planets and comets in relation to the sun, concluding “…this most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” He also challenged, asking, “How came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art, and for what ends were their several parts? Was the eye contrived without skill in optics, and the ear without knowledge of sounds? …And these things being rightly dispatched, does it not appear from phenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, intelligent, omnipresent? …”
Intelligent design is an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins that challenge strictly materialistic views of evolution. It’s not based on the Bible or deducted from religious authority. It’s an empirical way of observing nature and what’s known about the cause and effect structure of the world along with the patterns that generally indicate intelligent causes (In a sense what Romans 1:19-20, & Ps. 19 in the Bible, says). Even many atheistic scientists admit that there’s evidence of intelligent design in the DNA molecule. When digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule was discovered by scientists, they concluded that the information-bearing properties of DNA provided strong evidence of a prior but unspecified designing intelligence. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates even noted that, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”
As technological devices have advanced, the molecular foundation of life is getting exponentially more complex. As it does, the case for intelligent design, as well as the God of the Bible and His written word, are only further substantiated.
A good friend of mine, Ken (who’s no longer gracing this earth) had a wonderful way of seeing things and often wrote down many of his observations. Here is one of my favorites: (I can almost hear him reading it with his expressive voice, pauses and inflections):
“Nerves, muscles, glands, eyes, ears, arms, legs, nose, mouth, hair, nails, skin, bones, brain.
In themselves are nothing.
They have no life, no purpose, no meaning without the blood that feeds them.
And even with blood, without the heart that sends the blood to each, all die and rot away.
But even with the heart, what does it beat for and does it have a brain to tell it when to beat?
Did we tell ourselves when to be born?
Did we have anything to do with our being alive?
Who told us when to cry?
We burst forth with the announcement:
“I’m here. I’m alive. I’m a resident—unique, unlike any other that ever lived.”
It is truly an awesome thing in which I played no part.
Only a fool would think differently.
If you are a fool, explain it all to me”
The human body is truly unique, and the only living being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:7, 18-25, Ps. 139:13-16, Isa. 45:12, Eph. 2:10). Sadly, due to the fall, not all runs as smoothly as God originally intended. Especially when man/woman pervert God’s original design by not ‘using as directed’, resulting in the crazy, chaotic examples we see in our world today. So it’s important to view and observe our world through a spiritual lens, realizing that the God who spoke the world into being and created things in such a way that are beyond our comprehension can be trusted in all things (Isaiah 42:5, 45:12, 51:12-13, Job 38-41).
When we renew our mind with the knowledge of Him who spoke the world into existence and sustains it with the power of His word, we can consider the lilies and know that He cares for us even more than we can grasp (Col. 3:10, Eph. 3:19, Matt. 6:28-30, 10:29-31). “Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these things…” -Isaiah 40:26-
“I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.” -Ps. 9:1- Laura
I remember as a young girl practicing scales on the piano. It wasn’t my favorite part of playing. I wanted to play the songs right away, but in order to play the songs well, practicing the scales and doing the drills were necessary. It was the same when I played basketball in high school. Our team had to work on the drills and practice the plays so we’d have more success in game situations. Really any activity from golf to painting, cooking to sewing, or even training a puppy the basics of ‘sit’, ‘stay’, etc. requires patience, perseverance and practice to prepare for success down the road.
When life is looked upon as a giant practice field where opportunities of discipline and training exist in preparation for the resurrection life that is to come, even disappointments, hardships and irritating situations will become purposeful.
To be able to walk worthy as a believer is called to, one must first be familiar with God’s instructions. The only way to do this is to prioritize reading and studying the Bible each day and then prayerfully putting what it says into practice.
As in mastering an instrument, one must be able to recognize the notes before you can play it. Or in basketball, memorizing the plays before you can run them—so it is with the Christian walk. How can one practice what God has instructed if they haven’t read what He’s written for them in His Word?
To have any success in knowing God’s Word and practicing it effectively, it takes more than scanning through some verses here and there. It requires diligence, work, and careful care—dividing the word of truth in a way that’s approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:16). The payoff will be a mind that’s renewed, as well as the ability to discern God’s good, acceptable and perfect will(Romans 12:2, Col. 3:10, 2 Tim. 3:16, Heb. 11:6, Jer. 29:13, Gal. 5:22-23).
‘Practice’ isn’t based on outward works displayed to impress others with false humility. It deals with the inner man. The Proverbs are full of wisdom re: the heart of the inner man (Prov. 2:2, 4:23-27, 14:30, Prov. 23:7, 12…). The apostle Paul, in his prayer for the Ephesian believers, asked God for them to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. A strong inner man/woman has their senses trained to discern both good and evil (Eph. 3:16, Heb. 5:14).
How we respond when we’re tired, stressed, or don’t get our way matters. Do we display impatience, snap at others, raise our voices, complain, gossip, etc.? All areas that incite our fleshly nature to act out in these ways are opportunities ‘to put into practice’ God’s ways, displaying the fruit of the Spirit instead (1 John 2:16-17, Gal. 5:16, 19-26).
It’s not always easy and I fall short too often, but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning (2 Cor. 12:9, Lam. 3:22-23). We all struggle in different areas of the flesh that we need extra ‘practice’ in. Some of mine are in the ‘verbal’ realm. Whether it’s dominating a conversation or trying to debate with those with differing ideas, opinions or beliefs than my own, I am convicted (sometimes afterwards) of God’s words of truth: “…be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19); “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3); “Don’t be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart say anything hastily before God…Therefore let your words be few…a fool’s voice is known by his many words” (Eccl. 5:2-3); or lastly “…a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). These exercises, even as I fail at them, remind me that it’s back to the ‘practice field’ awaiting another opportunity to hopefully ‘nail it’ next time, while accepting God’s chastisement in humility as He corrects in love. Although it may not seem pleasant at the time, afterward it’ll yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness when we allow ourselves to be trained by it (Heb. 12:5-11, Gal. 5:22-23).
The key for success on the playing field is to become aware of our areas of weakness that need to be crucified and replaced by the Lord Jesus Christ, which makes no room for the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21, 24, 1 John 2:16-17, Rom. 13:14). This is crucial as well as taking more care to pray up when a situation arises that one may be more inclined to be tempted to sin in (Phil. 4:6). Don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail—if at first you don’t succeed, ‘try, try again’. You can be confident that He Which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
So put forth your time exercising and practicing toward the things that will make a difference on ‘game day’ (1 Tim. 4:7-8, 2 Cor. 4:16-18).
•Even though He had connections He didn’t use them to gain special advantage or privilege to become socially mobile or to impress the ruling class, but chose to make Himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:5-7).
•His first bed was a manger and His earthly family ordinary (Luke 2:12, Matt. 13:54-57).
•His own people did not receive Him (John 1:10-11, 5:43).
•His ministry was heralded in by a scruff, wild man who wore animal skins. (Mark 1:6, John 1:29-34).
•His disciples weren’t gathered from the most prestigious schools or curated from those who had the best resumes, but from the shores of Galilee, where there were fishermen (Matt. 4:18-22).
•He was basically homeless as He traveled about (Matt. 8:20).
•He didn’t allow polls, ’fake news’, ‘what was trending’, or man’s opinions to affect the mission He was set out to accomplish. He didn’t give in to false praise, worldly temptations and taunting snares meant to entrap Him (John 2:24-25, 9:16, 10:20, Luke 4:1-12, 23, 11:53-54, 16:15).
•He made his triumphant entry, not on a noble steed, but on a donkey—a mark of lowliness (John 12:13-15, Matt. 21:1-22—prophesied in Zech. 9:9).
•He was likened as a worm and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the People (Psalm 22:6).
I guess one could say that Jesus Christ was a PR nightmare.
The only begotten Son of God humbled Himself, having no set agenda of His own, but obeyed only what His heavenly Father told Him to say and do, even to the point of death on a cross (John 5:30, 6:38-40, 8:28-29, 12:49, 14:10, 24, 17:8, 14, 19:30, Phil. 2:8). Some have said of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ” that it was excessive and went ‘over the top’—exaggerating Christ’s humiliation. The Scriptures say otherwise:
•“…His visage was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men…” (Isaiah 52:14)
Prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:
• (vs 3) Despised and rejected by men…a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
• (vs 5) Wounded for our transgressions—bruised for our iniquities—chastised for our peace
Matthew records its fulfillment, showing Christ was: seized (26:57), falsely accused (26:59-60), spit on, cuffed, slapped (vs 26:67), scourged, surrounded by a cohort of 600 men, while He was stripped & redressed in a scarlet robe with a crown of thorns on His head and a reed placed in His right hand while they ’bowed before’ and mocked Him, spit on and then beat Him on the head with the reed. After they were done mocking Him, they took off the robe & put His other clothes back on and led Him away to be crucified (27:26-35).
While all this was going on He said nothing (as prophesied in Isaiah 53):
• (v 7) Oppressed and afflicted (yet He opened not His mouth)——Led as a lamb to the slaughter —Christ the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 4:7, John 1:29, 1 Pet. 1:18-19, Rev. 5:9). His innocence was affirmed by 6 witnesses: (1) Judas (Matt. 27:4), (2) Pilate (Matt. 27:24), (3) Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19), (4) Herod (Luke 23:15), (5) the malefactor (Luke 23:41), (6) the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47).
The true, pure, unblemished Lamb of God remained silent and submitted to the Father’s will and ultimate purpose (Phil. 2:8). This all was part of God’s greater plan. It was necessary, not only that the Scriptures be fulfilled (John 19:28, Luke 24:6-7, 44, Matt. 26:53, 56), but of the long standing prophecy that God made in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed His Word, which allowed sin and death to enter the world (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:23, 5:12, 6:23). The 1st promise and prophecy of Genesis 3:15 foretold the temporary suffering of the Seed (Christ) and the complete destruction of Satan and his works (Heb. 2:14, 1 John 3:8). Until the promised Seed came and accomplished God’s will on the cross, the only way mankind could have peace with God was through the substitutionary sacrifice of a male, unblemished lamb who took their place to make atonement for their sins—for the life of flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 9:22, 26, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22-23, 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 3:24-25, 5:1, Eph. 2:13).
Re: Jesus’ burial, His enemies went to the governor, Pilate to make sure the tomb was sealed tightly and guarded so that Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t come in and steal His body and claim that He’d risen from the dead as Jesus proclaimed earlier in His ministry (John 2:19-22, Matt. 27:62-66, Luke 9:22).
The stone was rolled away and Christ Jesus had risen, just as He’d foretold His disciples and it wasn’t by any trickery, but by the omnipotent power of God. Only God’s almighty power could be worked in Christ to raise Him from the dead and then seat Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Matt. 16:21, 17:22-23, John 2:19-22, Eph. 1:20-21).
The bedrock of the Christian faith (and what sets it apart from other religions) is tied up with Christ Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. And there were many that were witnesses to it (1 Cor. 15:3-8). As Paul preached to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, ”And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Cor. 15:17-22).
Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but now crowned with glory and honor so that He, by the grace of God, would taste death for everyone. “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10).
Philippians 2:9-11 says this, “…God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-19).
God loves us so much that even when we were dead in trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ Jesus, and raised us up to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come He might display the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith. There is nothing that we can do to earn it on our own—it is the gift of God. It’s not related to our works so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).
“O Death, where is your sting?”
“O Grave, where is your victory?”
…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).
“For our citizenship is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)
“The waiting is the hardest part” —Tom Petty—
The waiting is the hardest part. Just ask our French bulldog pup, Walter—whether it’s for food, treats, to go outside, or to play… it’s not an easy thing. Waiting isn’t just hard for dogs; we humans also struggle with delayed gratification. It may be waiting for the light to turn green at an intersection, waiting for our turn in line at a store, or for us Wisconsinites, waiting for springtime to come after a cold, snowy winter.
We live in a world where access to just about anything we need or desire is at our fingertips and can be brought to our doorsteps via on-line shopping. Even the simplest of tasks in our homes can be performed via a virtual assistant, but God is not “virtual”—He is spiritual and He is real (John 4:24).
Funny thing about God, even in our high-tech world today, we still have to wait on His timing and ways. God doesn’t operate with our ’prayers on demand’. We can’t just say, “God”, like “Siri” or “Alexa” and get a response (Isa. 55:8-9, 29:16). God does desire for us to continually bring our requests to Him in prayer regarding all things in our lives. We can have confidence that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and will answer us in His perfect time (Phil. 4:6, 1 John 5:14-15).
That brings us to the kind of waiting that pleases God—patient waiting. Patient waiting doesn’t tap toes, pace or fidget. Patient waiting doesn’t whine, worry or carry on in an angry rant. Patient waiting requires a demeanor of stillness. “Rest (be silent-wait or stand still) in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Ps. 37:7). Here’s how the rest of verse 7 and into verse 8 goes, “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.” Our prayer should be as the Psalmist, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day” (Ps. 25:4-5). The Lord Himself exemplifies all longsuffering (patient waiting), not wanting any to perish, but all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4). It’s in knowing and trusting in God’s Word that will encourage us to patiently wait as these verses suggest: Ps. 39:7, 62:5, 130:5-6; Rom. 8:25; Phil. 3:20.
There’s a lot to be learned in the wait —
•Sometimes we find out that what we desire is not within God’s will for our lives. Many times as He closes one door, another one (that we may have been unaware of) is opened.
•Sometimes we learn that we have to accept the things God’s allowed us to have control of and let go of what we don’t (that includes other people & the choices they make).
•For whatever reasons, God only knows, some things we even patiently wait for never come in this lifetime. But God is faithful to those who patiently endure (Heb. 6:15, Lam. 3:25, James 5:10-11).
Waiting on the Lord (rather than ceasing to strive in our own flesh) enables our strength to be renewed and our hearts to be strengthened (Isa. 40:31, Ps. 27:14).
So—“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14).
“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” —John Newton
Accepted in the Beloved— The unqualified sinner has become a qualified saint, accepted by God. This came about not through any merits of their own, but through the all-sufficient, atoning blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:12, 22, 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:6-7, 2:4-9, Col. 1:14, 2:13-14, Rom. 3:24-25, 6:23).
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, THAT WE MIGHT LIVE THROUGH HIM” (1 John 4:9). The ending of this verse is emphasized to point out that God has more in mind than eternal salvation. Eternal salvation is worked in & secured (a sealed deal) when one believes (Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30). As saints with a new position and citizenship on high, God has ordained works for the believer to work out and walk in the life they’re now living (Eph. 2:6, 10, Phil. 2:12-13, 3:20, 2 Tim. 1:9). This process is called sanctification with the end being, “to be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).
Will this mean sinless perfection in this life? No. If we, as believers, claim we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. If we claim we have not sinned, we make God a liar (1 John 1:5-10). It’s not by covering up our sin or imagining ourselves to become sinless that draws us near the presence of the Lord. It’s solely by the efficacy of the blood that cleanses that makes us “accepted in the Beloved. It’s only through God’s amazing grace that one is made qualified to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12). Apart from the risen Savior, all sanctification is of the flesh. Seeking to be made perfect according to the flesh means bondage (Gal. 3:2-3, 4:3-5, 9, 5:1-3, Rom. 8:7). This truth sets the believer free to stop trying to provide good moral character on their own, knowing it’s hopeless and just gets in the way of what God has willed and purposed for their life.
The power to live unto God (sanctified) comes through believing (without question) the glorious fullness of the redemptive work of Christ and the believer’s completeness in Him (Col. 2:10). It’s not trying, but actually viewing with eyes of faith and acting accordingly. The saved sinner looks back to the cross and sees Christ dying in their place and says, “I died there too.” The saint then looks up to the right hand of God where Christ sits and says, “I’ve been raised together with Him” and so leaves the doctrines, commandments, restrictions, false practices and ways of men behind, knowing that being under grace means freedom and perfection in Christ alone (Eph. 2:6, Col. 2:8-23). The believer’s position in Christ gives access to God, Whom they can come boldly, with confidence (Eph. 2:18, 3:12). As the believer’s new nature is fed on the Word of God, the old nature is starved and pushed out. As the walk is by faith, in the power of the ‘new man’ (which is designed in true holiness), the ‘old man’ (with its deeds) is shed off (Eph. 4:22-24, Col. 3:8-14, 2 Tim. 3:15-17).
To grow in godliness, the saint needs to hold on to ‘the Head’ (Christ) and continue to renew the mind with the truth of their new position, which is safely hid with Christ in God. This regenerated thinking will enable their focus to be placed on the things above where the saint’s eternal home & future lies (Col. 2:10, 16-3:4, 3:1-3, Rom. 12:1-2).
So saints, claim the victory that’s already yours in Christ! As you do, the deadly regulations of man will fall and leave you standing to walk by faith, not by sight, looking for that blessed hope (of which, by grace, you were meant to seek). Walk as worthy saints, serving one another in love as you fulfill God’s will and purpose (1 Cor. 15:57, 2 Cor. 5:7, 1 John 5:4, Col. 1:9-11, Eph. 4:1-2, 2 Tim. 2:15).
It’s been said that people can live for up to 70 days without food, 10 days without water, and 6 minutes without air. But they can’t live without hope.
In order to stay afloat through the changing ocean tides of life, one needs an anchor for the soul that’s both sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:19). That anchor for the Christian is hope.
The word hope defined by Noah Webster is: a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
Where or what one places his or her hope in can make all the difference. Is one’s hope placed in fallible, unpredictable man’s ways or in some realm of this fallen world? Or is one’s hope placed in (what the Scriptures testify to) an immutable (unchanging) God, Who doesn’t have in His nature to lie (Heb. 6:18, Tit. 1:2)?
David’s hope (or expectation) was from God, “My soul, wait silently for God alone; For my expectation is from Him…Trust in Him at all times…Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:5, 8, 10). David’s confident trust in the Lord is reflected also in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I’m afraid I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word, In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me…” Notice his use of “In God I have put my trust”.
Not surprisingly as America has distanced itself away from “in God we trust” as a nation and toward dependence on the ever-changing & unreliable ways of man, there’s been a rise in anxiety, depression, and related disorders resulting in a reliance on an array of prescription drugs (which sadly many times, in the long run only worsen things). Not trying to negate or minimize the truly devastating effects of life in a fallen world, and the legitimate need for some to be dependent on medication/s, but stress, hardships and troubles are a reality for all in this present life (albeit, some more than others). There’s a real need in society today for more encouragement toward its citizens to have a faith in a loving God, and our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, that transcends self. It’s only there that the believer will find an object of hope that’s glorious, eternal & will not disappoint (Titus 2:13, Rom. 5:5, Phil. 3:20).
FAITH IS THE NECESSARY LINK TO HAVING HOPE as it’s the outworking of trust in God and the proof of BELIEVING IN THINGS NOT SEEN. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrews 11:1); “…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what it sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Rom. 8:24-25).
Faith is the crucial channel that leads to hope as one is saved through it (Eph. 2:8), and without it one cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). Having faith may seem easy at first (especially when times are good and the living is easy). Sadly the moment when challenging circumstances arise, it’s in human nature to dwell on the seen trials rather than on an unseen God. Even the disciple Peter began to (literally) sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and was thus rebuked, “O you of little faith” (Matt. 14:24-33).
Those who have faith (as those in chapter 11 of Hebrews) are prime examples of the Romans 5:25 chain that connects tribulations (afflictions) to perseverance (patience) and perseverance to character (experience) which leads to hope. Their hope made it possible to endure hardships as they focused and relied on the invisible God and His promises (Heb. 11:27). We too, today need to look for our blessed hope, not here on earth, but where it’s laid up for us in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-4, Phil. 3:20-21, Titus 2:13).
Nothing worthwhile is easy, but one must suffer evil as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:4), especially in a world with its allures of instant fixes and gratification.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).