Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lifted High

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by the snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers 21:8-9

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:14-16

The Israelites became impatient in the wilderness. They spoke against God and against Moses. They complained about everything from food to personal safety. They detested the Lord's provisions and Moses' leadership, and in doing this, the Lord sent venomous snakes among them, the snakes bit the people and many Israelites died. The Israelites repented of their sin and asked Moses to pray to the LORD asking Him to take the snakes away. Instead of taking the snakes out of the wilderness, the LORD, provided the Israelites with a means of escaping death. The means of escape, a bronze snake, lifted high on a pole and anyone who looks upon the snake will be saved from the deadly bite of the serpent.

The serpent's first hiss at humanity, "Did God really say, you shall not eat from any tree in the garden?" nay, "You will not surely die" and again " For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1,4,5. Subtle whispers, luring promises and partial truths caused Eve to take the first bite, and since the fall, it has been the serpent who was given the authority to bite the flesh of man and deliver the fatal bite of death. Before Adam and Eve's bite into the apple, the serpent had no authority to take life. But because of Adam and Eve's unbelief and rebellion against God, the serpent has been given this authority. Adam and Eve chose the serpent over God and in doing so the Spirit God breathed within them died and with this death, all men died and were born into sin. 1Corinthians 15:31

But just as God made provisions for Adam and Eve in the form of animal skins, where a sacrifice had to be performed, He provided a means of escape in the wilderness from the deadly bite of the viper.  He sent the vipers because of their grumbling and rebellion and yet lifted a bronze snake up on a pole to be the means of escape against the deadly bite of the serpent. This is a foreshadowing to the future Messiah which would be lifted up for the sins of many. Ultimately, God provides humanity with the gift of Jesus, the sacrifice of His Son. Jesus, the One who spoke creation into being, and through whom all things where made, humbled Himself and came down to dwell among men. He did what we could not do for ourselves. He perfectly obeyed the law and then was numbered a transgressor. He fulfilled the Law. He took our place. We received His righteousness, He received what we deserved, death and judgement.
Through one man, death came into the world but also through one man, resurrection from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:31
Sinless perfection lifted up on our behalf where He bore our sins. He was humiliated forsaken of men so that we may receive His righteousness and pardon. His righteous record imputed to us, and in His humiliation, we have been set free from the power of death. When you look upon Him, lifted up on your behalf, and believe upon Him, the One without sin, the bite of the serpent has no venom and death has been conquered. Jesus conquered the grave and His resurrection was the final first fruits offering to God, But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming.1 Corinthians 15:20-23. We will not all die but be raised, just as He was raised. Look upon Him, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Gaze upon His sacrifice and take hold of His provision. Trust in His declaration, "It is finished".  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift from God. Ephesians 2:8
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Friday, December 27, 2013

Impending Birth

Because my comfort would prefer for me to be numb and avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become. C.S. Lewis Song - Brooke Fraser
We live in a culture that pursues the idol of comfort. Comfort at the expense of conformation. Conformation to the only one worth conforming to, Jesus.
We would rather conform to the world than conform to the image of our Savior.
Why is this? I believe conforming to Jesus will ultimately cost us our comfort. Comfort that we pursue and believe is right around the corner if only we had the right circumstances, children, house, husband, job, church, relationships, money, security, accomplishments. But even when we get the things that we've trusted in to bring us comfort we are left hollow, empty and confused.
We conform to the world and the ideas of this world so we can feel comfortable in the world, when in reality, the Lord has told us not to conform any longer to the things of this world but to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2. We are not to conform to the world because we are to be transformed to be more like Christ. How do we become more like Christ? We become more like Christ by the renewing of our minds in the Word of God. As we remain in Christ and focus on Him and what He has accomplished on our behalf, we are then changed from the inside out.When we are in the Word of God our spiritual eyes and ears will be opened and His glorious light will shine into the dark recesses of our heart and reveal within us the things He desires to change. This dear one will bring discomfort. We, as children of God, will have to slay the idol of comfort and press through with full assurance that He who began a good work within us will see it through to completion. Confessing the sin that resides in the dark recesses of our heart and allowing the God of all comfort to comfort us so that we too can comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received.
It is the idol of comfort that threatens the process of transformation. It is when we pursue the idol of comfort at the expense of God's transforming work we become threatened by the feeling of being uncomfortable. Instead of being comforted, by the God of all comfort, we retreat and run to avoid the cleansing process that must take place. We would rather feel nothing at all than to feel like captives in need of deliverance. We would rather feel competent than incompetent. We want to be told we can do it. We can rescue ourselves. We cling to our savior in our moments of suffering and as He reveals the idols that He desires to free us from. We release our hold on lesser things and hold firmly to the hope found in the gospel. But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and FREE  from ACCUSATION - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:22-23 We are to continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast and NOT MOVED away from the hope of the gospel. We proclaim Him, in our moments of weakness and allow Him to work within us for His glory and purposes.
If in fact, when we allow ourselves to feel and our eyes to be open it will bring an inconvenience to our comfort. It will bring an overwhelming desire and a sense of urgency to reach out to a dying, desolate and lost world. It will make us uncomfortable in this world and the sin that is prevalent. It will cause something within us to stir and will bring us to our knees in prayer for a vision for our life and desperately wanting Him to use us for His glory and purposes. It will bring us to a place where we long to see Him, eagerly anticipating His return, for our eyes will be fixed on things above and not on earthly things. We will become more aware of the eternal and less aware of the temporal. We will see the world as it is, totally depraved without God. We will see ourselves in this same way for conformation to our Savior will bring us to the end of ourselves.
Are you pursing comfort at any cost? Are you bowing down to the idol of comfort at the expense of God's transforming work within you? Are you comfortable or comforted?

Post written October 2009

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Abraham's Need For Assurance

Jewel with the Donkey-1
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield your very great reward." But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? " And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir." Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him,"So shall your offspring be." Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land and take possession of it" Genesis 12:1-8 NIV

For my power is made perfect in weakness...
Two things are promised in the verses above - a son from his own body and a land. God's absolute power displayed in weakness, Abram, was a stranger in a foreign land and the husband of a barren wife. The God of the universe chooses us despite our weakness and frailties and then exults Himself through our weakness. When we trust God to use us despite our weakness, He alone gets the glory. When we trust Him to do for us what we could never do for ourselves we are given redemption and righteousness. God credited Abraham's belief in the Lord as righteousness. The verses I quoted above and below are from the NIV Bible but the New American Standard Bible actually says that Abraham believed IN the LORD and He credited it to him as righteousness.
But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a pigeon. Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged them opposite each other; the birds however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. Genesis 15:8-11 NIV
It was his need for assurance that led to a covenant being cut on his behalf. What is a covenant? A covenant is a solemn-binding agreement made by passing between pieces of flesh. It's an everlasting agreement between two parties. It acknowledges God's sovereignty and his position as sovereign administrator of covenant. If the covenant is broken it means death. This practice was common during the old and new testament times. In fact, testament literally translated means covenant. The old covenant being the Old Testament and the new covenant being the New Testament. When the two parties passed between the pieces they did so in a figure eight pattern, pointing to the slain animals and then to God, saying if I break this covenant then do to me as I have done to these animals. It was an acknowledgement that God is a sovereign judge and witness to the union being made. Abraham after being declared righteous prepared the sacrifice by cutting a heifer, a ram and a goat in two. He then waited.....
We see from the text that it was either the night before or early morning when God took Abraham outside to show him the stars in the sky and told Abraham to prepare the sacrifice, we also see that as he waited, birds of prey came to descend upon and devour the sacrifice. But, as the sun was setting, Abraham fell into a deep sleep and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. And as he slept between the pieces of flesh, a smoking firepot and a blazing torch passed between the pieces of flesh on Abraham's behalf.
I wonder if the birds of prey that tried to descend upon the sacrifice were constant reminders of the fall of man. These birds that came to nick pick the sacred offering and devour all that is Holy. The birds reminded me of the doubt I experience as I wait on the Lord. These birds swoop in during the early morning hours and whisper...."do you really believe this stuff." The doubt that settles in on me as I once again focus on my failure to perform. I wonder if while Abraham was waiting for God to accept the sacrifice, he was anticipating the walk between the pieces of flesh, thinking he had a part to play in His salvation and the promises given to him. But then sleep overcame him and the Lord caused him to give way to his weakness.
I love God's declaration to Abraham as a greeting, I am your shield, your very great reward. It makes me think of the shield of faith found in Ephesians 6:16. He declares who He is to Abraham before Abraham believed in Him. I also love the intimacy between God and Abraham and Abraham's sorrowful words to his Maker, "but you have given me no children" Genesis 15:3
Two passed between the pieces on his behalf, a smoking firepot and a blazing torch and the animals which were cut in two surrounded Abraham as he slept. These animals represent our Savior. His flesh was torn in two and only through Him do we have access to the Father. It is only by the blood of Jesus that we have been declared righteous. Our justification is by faith alone, in Christ alone. It's trusting in the finished work of Christ and allowing Him to use us in our weakness. It's when we come to the end of ourselves that we find the One who paid it all and we rest between the sacrifice in His finished work.
Sundown in Masada-1

Picture on the Top: Our friend in Nazareth Village - Nazareth, Israel
Picture Below: Sundown in Masada, Israel

Post above written January 2011

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Indifferent Housewife

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

This is what the LORD Almighty says, "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealously for her."  Zechariah 8:2

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 2 Corinthians 11:2

I've struggled many times to write this post. It has been so difficult to get this concept out of head and onto paper. This post is in no way related to my indifference toward my earthly husband but even more insidious this illustration came out of a season of indifference toward my heavenly Bridegroom. This season of unbelief came upon me suddenly in 2010. It was revealed to me after asking Jesus to show me my heart attitude and motivation behind my service to Him.What He revealed to me was two fold. One, I served Him to gain His approval not because I already had His approval. I truly believed that my service to Him gave me bargaining rights (I wouldn't have admitted this out loud but my heart attitude and actions proved  this was what I truly believed). Secondly, I was indifferent toward His purposes and plans. Let me pause right here and say that behind every sin is the sin of unbelief.  The byproduct of unbelief is indifference. Indifference is a vicious enemy of the gospel and God's work within us. Indifference is an attitude of apathy toward God and His purposes and if left unchecked always leads to apostasy, a turning away from Christ and a toleration of counterfeit gods.

Unbelief can also lead us to believe the lie that God is indifferent toward us and our sin. This is heresy! God is not slow in keeping his promise but is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 and His patience means salvation. 2 Peter 3:15. His abundant, all consuming love for us, sent His only begotten Son to the cross where every sin ever committed was placed upon Him. God is far from being indifferent toward us and our sin.

The illustration God gave me regarding my service to him was an indifferent housewife who spends her days serving the needs of her husband while he is away at work. She spends the day, cleaning the house, ironing his clothes, making their bed, getting everything in the home perfectly ready and intentionally catered for her husband's comfort right down to a folded paper and a tidy corner chair with his favorite drink waiting for him when he arrives. She cooks a hot delicious meal for him every night but never sits down to eat with him and enjoy him. Everything she does is motivated by her desire to be thought of as the perfect wife by her husband and her friends. She never does these things out of a true desire to serve her husband but she does these things so she doesn't have to feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with him and be intimate with him. She would rather serve him then be with him. She uses her service to him as a bargaining  right to do as she pleases when he comes home.

Sound familiar? There are two sides to this indifference. There is also the housewife that does all these things because she's afraid that if she doesn't perform for her husband then he will leave her for another.

I truly believe there are many indifferent housewives in the church today. The housewives that are indifferent toward God and the housewives that believe that God is indifferent to them.

But this is what I know to be true about Jesus, He is faithful to not leave us where we are but daily comes to us to restore us to Himself. He rescues us and places within us a love that consumes us as we grow in the knowledge of Him through the healing waters of His Word. As we fix our eyes on His performance for us, His love for us and his desire to shelter and protect us, His love will transform us from the inside out.  It is His grace toward us that allows us to see ourselves with accuracy. It is His grace that reveals the things within us that He desires to change. It is His grace that continues to free us from our idolatry and the sin of indifference. I live between the now and the not yet. I have been ransomed from death by the precious blood of the Lamb that was poured out for a grievous sinner like me. The punishment that brought me peace was placed upon Him and by His stripes, I've been healed. Nothing can separate me from the love of God found in Christ Jesus. I set my hope fully on the grace to be given to me when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Jesus came to do for me what I could never do for myself. It is by His grace that we have been saved not by our works so that no man can boast. It is His grace that fuels our love and obedience for Him and for others, for if we really understood how much God loves us and what He has accomplished for us, we would be set free from our idolatry. We would be free to serve God and others out of the abundance we ourselves have already been given. The Holy Spirit is the worker of every good thing within us. Jesus doesn't just care about what we do but why we do what we do.

Picture Above: A tree outside the Garden Tomb.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Passovers

I know this post is lengthy. I wanted to give the background of the Jewish celebration of Passover since we are approaching the culmination of this Feast of the Lord. I hope you will take the time to read this post and see the significance of Jesus as our Passover Lamb. I haven't re-read it so excuse the errors. 

This is a re-post written April 2011. Jesus, the Bread of Life, was without sin and became sin for sinners. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated after Passover and it was the feast celebrated where God commanded the children of Israel to eat only pure unleavened bread (made without yeast). Jesus often referred to Himself as the Bread of Life. Leaven or yeast represented sin. The parables of Jesus and the warnings given by Jesus often referred to this symbolism, and so Jesus, the pure unleavened bread, took on our sin or leaven and rendered us pure. Not only was Jesus our Passover Lamb who was worthy to be slain, He was also the Bread of Life, pure and undefiled by sin.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, I have the authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. Jesus words found in John 10:17-18

A Tale of Two Passovers
The Israelites were about to be set free from the heavy yoke of slavery. For 400 years Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, oppressed them. Exodus opens up with the king's order to throw all the baby boys into the Nile river. This he used as a form of genocide. Moses spared from death and rescued by the Princess was pulled from a basket in the Nile River. He was raised in the household of Pharaoh. He was God's chosen servant to set the people free and lead them out of Egypt. God sent 10 plagues to Egypt. With each plague, Pharaoh's heart was hardened.
1445BC, Egypt

Stephen's account of Moses documented in Acts 7
There arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh's dauther took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered His mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together and he tried to reconcile them in peace saying, ' Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?' But the one who was injuring this neighbor pushed him away, saying ' Who made you ruler and judge over us? You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?' At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
After fourty years had passed, an angel of the LORD appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 'I am the GOD of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob.' Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the LORD said to him, 'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. I have certainly see the oppression of my people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt. Acts 7:17-34

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, ' It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'At Midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt. Exodus 12:21-28,29. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.
Passover is the annual remembrance of this divine deliverance. It was also a celebration commemorating the passing over of the angel of death. The blood on the door kept the destroyer from entering the home of the Israelites, sparing their firstborn. The Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorated the Israelites sudden departure and was to last 7 days.
What was Israel's response to the deliverance? " This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ' Who made you ruler and a judge' is it the one whom God sent to be both ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for 40 years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ' God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.' This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received the living oracles to pass on to you. Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. Acts 7:35-39.

AD33, Jerusalem During the feast of Unleavened Bread
The Triumphal Entry, When the crowd heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, they took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel. Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, Fear not, Daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt. John 12:12-15.
The statement above is a fulfillment to the prophesy found in Zechariah, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9
When He approached Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it. Luke 20:41. Jesus spent his final week teaching in Jerusalem. The final four days became known as His inspection period.
Then came Preparation Day, the day before the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus tells his disciples to go and prepare the Passover Feast. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table . And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves, for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:7,13-21.
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives and then to the Garden of Gethsemane, which literally means "oil press", Matthew 26:30,36. When he arrived at the place, He said to them, " Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, " Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest. Luke 22:40-48,54
Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward and said, " This man stated, ' I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.' The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do you not answer What is it that these men are testifying against you?" But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, " I adjure You by the Living God, to tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of the God." Jesus said to him, " You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of Heaven." Then the high priest tore his robes and said, " he has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!" Then they spat on His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the the one who hit you?"

Isaiah 53 The Suffering Servant, written sometime between 739-686BC
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; he has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the inequity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgement He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgressions of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave assigned with wicked me, yet He was a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; BY His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with transgressor; yet He Himself bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

Prophesy Revealed in Revelation, written by John sometime between 81-96AD
I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."Revelation 7:9-12

Friday, March 15, 2013

How Have You Loved Us?

Do you know that you are intimately known and loved by your Creator and Sustainer?
He is Not Here-1
I have four beautiful girls, ages ranging from 10-2. A couple of years ago, God gave me this illustration as I was pouring out my heart to Him and my inability to receive His unconditional love for me. He tenderly asked me, "What if Hollen, who is my oldest, questioned your love for her. What if she thought your love for her was dependent on her obedience to you? What if she believed her acceptance in the family was based on her ability to perform for you? What if, she thought you loved her less when she was disobeying you and more when she obeyed perfectly. What if she only obeyed you out of fear and not love? Wouldn't it break your heart to think that no matter what you did for her and how much you loved her, she still questioned your love and in turn rejected it? Daughter, receive my perfect love, knowing that although your love is imperfect, my love is perfect." You see, I obeyed God out of fear, not love, thinking that by my service and performance, I was loved. 

The book of Malachi opens up with God declaring to His people, “ I have loved you”, but His beloved’s response to His lavish declaration was, “How have you loved us?” The same people He chose as the recipients of His divine and perfect love doubted His love and refused to receive it. 
The same God who spoke to His beloved through the Prophets and promised redemption even before judgement, spoke restoration before exile. Throughout the Old Testament, God exhorts His people to return to Him. Malachi, being the last book of the Old Testament was written 400 years before Christ and shows us the condition of His beloved after they were brought back into the land and their worship restored in Jerusalem. Even after restoration and deliverance, His people still refused to believe and trust in God's love for them. In their failure to believe in God’s love for them they bowed down to many idols and walked in disobedience to God’s commands. 

All sin is rooted in unbelief. God has declared His love for sinners, for you and for me, by sending His Son, Jesus, in whom all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form. Colossians 1:19. We fail to believe in two ways, the first one is obvious, we try to secure for ourselves love, acceptance, validation and justification from the world. Most of the time, this involves us looking to the world to satisfy the cravings within us that only Christ can satisfy. The second way unbelief shows itself is by having a form of godliness but denying it's power- 2 Timothy 3: 5. Colossians 2:23 says that self-made religion, thinking we are saved by what we do, on the outside has the appearance of wisdom but in God's eyes are elementary principles of the world and have no value. Only Christ is of value. We are not better versions of ourselves, we are a new creation.

Colossians also tells us, He is the image of the invisible God and the Creator, Sustainer of all things. Colossians 1:15

John tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. John 1:14. The same God who created the universe wrapped HImself in the robe of humanity so that we could wear His robe of righteousness. He came and revealed to His people the love of the Father. He obeyed perfectly the Law because we couldn’t. God is infinitely Holy - Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:3, and without Christ’s performance for us, we stand condemned. Only when we see God in all His glory, will we begin to see ourselves in our total depravity. Christ not only died for our sins but was found to be without sin. The perfect, Holy undefiled Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. John 1:29
God made Him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that IN HIM we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Gospel is the glorious announcement that He created, He came, He did, He died, He rose. He performed and accomplished by His perfect life and death on the cross. The original Greek word for Gospel literally means, “Good News”. It was used when declaring victory. It is fundamentally about Christ not about us. It's about His perfect life, His scandalous death, His glorious resurrection, ascension and constant intercession to God on our behalf. 
The Gospel is the catalyst of inner change. It’s Christ’s love for us IN Christ that compels our daily obedience to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:14
Empty Tomb-1
Because, the Bible tells us that everything we need we already have in Christ, we don’t need to secure for ourselves anything because in Him, we already have everything we need. We are free. Free to serve one another, free to give and not take, free to love and not expect anything in return. You see, God doesn’t just care about what we do, He cares about why we do what we do. Are we serving Him fully assured of His love for us and out of the abundance that we have been given or are we serving Him thinking that by our service we are loved? If we are serving HIm, thinking that by our service we are loved then our works are dead and nothing but filthy rags in the eyes of God. Out of the abundance we have been given, we serve. It’s Christ’s love that compels us to serve Him. His love within us is the transforming power and the catalyst to change. Change that begins on the inside of us and then pours out from a new heart and transformed life. 

Everything we do, we do for the praise and glory of another. Our lives should be about making Christ of first importance. Each of us find ourselves on different journeys and in different seasons of life. We serve and love the same God and yet each of our stories look different. Each of our journey’s are unique and Christ who is intimately acquainted with all our ways has prepared our path and hems us in. We are to walk in obedience to His word, trusting Him to guide us in our journey toward righteousness. We are in the process of becoming practically what we already are positionally. We live between the now and the not yet....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Unveiled: Week 10 Notes

 I pray that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10

I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly, I acted, and they came to pass. Isaiah 48:3

Read Revelation 10:1-4

  • In Revelation 10:1-4, How is this angel described? What is in his hand and where did he plant his feet? List the sequence of events found in these verses. What did the pearls of thunder proclaim (trick question)? 
  • Read verse 4 again. What was John told to do with the words spoken? Why do you think John was told to seal up what He had heard? Read Daniel 8:26. Daniel was also told to seal up the vision. Why?
Read Revelation 10:5-11.
  • What did the strong angel swear and to who did he swear? Why do you think, this angel recalled these particular attributes of Jesus? Who created the heavens and the earth and holds together all things? Colossians 1:16
  • As of yet, do we know anything about this 7th angel? What is going to be finished when this 7th angel sounds?
  • Re-read Revelation 10:8-11. What was John told to do? Compare Revelation 10:8-11 to Ezekiel 2:8-3:4. This is truly amazing! Please take the time to pray for God to pour out His wisdom and understanding  on these two passages of Scripture. 
  • What do you remember about Revelation Chapter 9?  Do you remember the one woe proclaimed? Look back over your notes for remembrance. According to Ezekiel 2:9-10, what was contained in the scroll? What was Ezekiel told to do after he ate the scroll? He was told to PROCLAIM. What was John told to do after eating the scroll? He was told to continue to prophesy concerning many peoples, nations, tongues and kings. For how long according to Revelation 10:7? Until the 7th angel sounds... 
  • What were the words John was to proclaim? The words of John or the words of God, written on the scroll? What words are we to proclaim, our words or the words of God?
Read Revelation 11:1-19 and Zachariah 2 and 4.
  • How long is 42 months? Who is going to trample the city? What was handed over to the Gentiles?
  • Who is God going to give His power to and for how long? How does verse 4 described these 2 witnesses? Compare this with what you learned in Zachariah chapter 4. 
  • What does Zachariah 4:6 tell us? I also what you to remember what we discussed in the beginning of this study. The nature of prophesy, is a near fulfillment and a far off fulfillment. The verses in Zachariah refer to the time of Zerubbabel, the first governor and priest of Jerusalem who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple in 536 BC after Cyrus sent a proclamation for the temple to be re-built. Cyrus was the servant referred to in Isaiah 45 and called by name about 150 years before the event took place. Zerubbabel returned with the first exiles after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon were completed. Zachariah was a prophet of Israel during the times of Zerubabbel from 520BC-489BC.
  • What will happen to those who try and harm them? What other powers have these two witnesses been given?
    • Just a little speculation, although we do not know the identity of the 2 witnesses. Several observations suggest they MIGHT be Moses and Elijah. 
      • 1. Like Moses, they strike the earth with plagues and like Elijah, they have the power to keep it from raining. 
      • 2. Jewish tradition expect both Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18) and Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6, John 1:21) to return in the future. BOth Moses and Elijah were present at the Transfiguration of Jesus, the preview of Jesus' 2nd coming. Elijah was taken into heaven and God buried Moses' body where it couldn't be found. 
      • The drought of the two witnesses is 3 1/2 years and this is the same amount of time as the drought brought on by Elijah. John MacArthur Commentary 2013
  • Read Revelation 11:7-10. What happens when their testimony is finished? Where do their bodies lay and for how long? How do the people respond to their death? What comes to your mind when studying these verses?
  • Read Revelation 11:11-14? These verses tell us what happens after the three days? Explain these events in your own words. What comes to mind when studying these verses? How do the people respond? What woe has passed? Remember this is the 2nd woe (the 6th Trumpet now complete).
The next set of notes will deal with the 2nd half of Revelation 11. The second half of the chapter deals with the blowing of the 7th trumpet. 

End your time thanking God for His continued revelation of Jesus Christ. This study is all about His revelation. May He continue to open our eyes to see and ears to hear as the Spirit enlightens our understanding of His powerful and might word. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:7