Friday, March 30, 2012

Be Lifted High

Pathways in Nazareth-1
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; they 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, this 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.
This takes me back to Genesis to 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 the fall, it has been the serpent that has been given the authority to bite the flesh of man and deliver the fatal bite of death. B
efore 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 to hide their nakedness, He provided a means of escape in the wilderness from the deadly bite of the viper. The viper He sent because of their grumbling and rebellion. But ultimately God provided humanity with the gift of Christ, the sacrifice of His Son. Christ, 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. 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 so that we might become holy 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. He conquered the grave at the cross and His resurrection ensures the believer's life for 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. Believe in and trust in what He has done for you, for you could not do it on your own. 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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Spirit of Prophecy

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. PSALM 22:1,13-18
The Psalm above was written by David moved by the Spirit of God. This Psalm is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament 15 times. Psalm 22 was written a thousand years before it's fulfillment. When pondering this fact, I am reminded of some verses in 2 Peter which state, For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 1 Peter 1:16,19-21
When Jesus approached Jerusalem on the donkey, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. Luke 41-44. The literal fulfillment of this prophecy happened in AD 70, 37 years after this prophesy was spoken. If only you had known this day, what would bring you peace but now it has been hidden from your eyes.
Christ, who is our peace, became sin for sinners. He was both fully God and fully man, so that His sacrifice rendered perfect and final. In the book of Hebrews, Paul gives us this sobering warning. How much more severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of GRACE. Hebrews 10: 29. And later on, Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. Hebrews 10:35. Our confidence is in Christ finished work on the cross. The only way we can come before the Father is through the Son. The only way we stand before the Father is because of Christ's work not our works. We insult the Spirit of Grace when we fail to believe that everything we need we already have in Christ. When we think His love for us is dependent on what we do. Grace is His descending one way love. We regard His blood as unclean when we doubt that His sacrifice was sufficient for our sins. We render His blood unclean when we reject the truth of Hebrews 10:17, And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. When we think, "Surely, He didn't mean all my sins." or again, "His death was enough to get me into the Kingdom but I must do more try harder to stay in the Kingdom." We not only insult the Spirit of grace but we render His sacrifice unclean, insufficient for salvation. When we focus on His work for us and not our works our hearts desire will be to love others as He has loved us. He will change us from the inside/out when we place our trust and peace in Him.
We throw away our confidence when we turn inward and focus on ourselves. The Law has now been written on our hearts and placed on our minds. We are fully aware of our inadequacies as what used to be external has now entered in and has become internal. We are fully aware of our inability to change our hearts. This struggle we try and cover up by placing more importance on our outward behavior. Our performance, our justification, our need to be right and in control. We throw away our confidence when we fail to believe that in Christ everything we need we already have so we don't need to go out and get anything. We submit ourselves again to a yoke of slavery, when we want to add to "it is finished." His perfection renders us perfect, His sacrifice, once and for all. For when God looks upon us, He sees His perfect Son within us. If you are in Christ, then Christ is in you. God will never cast you out for to cast you out would mean He would cast out His Son because His Son is now in you. I stand confident before the Father because of Christ's performance for me and His love working in me and through me.
Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart as when they provoked me. Hebrews 3:8
Are we failing to recognize the time of our visitation? We have the prophetic word made sure and yet are we still rebelling against His glorious presence? While we are in the favorable year of the Lord, we have the opportunity to surrender to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to be the Lord of our lives. For more on the favorable year of the Lord, see One Vision, Two Comings. He is calling us to turn from our self to Himself. He is calling us to trust in His sacrifice on our behalf and stop trying to reach Him through hollow and deceptive philosophies, through human effort, through the basic principles of this world. He wants us to surrender even the darkest areas of our heart to Him, allowing His light to penetrate through the dark regions of our unbelief and self sufficiency.
Jesus' spent His last hours of life in fellowship with His disciples and in prayer. He spent His last day speaking about the things to come and what would be the signs of His second coming. As we celebrate Christ's death and resurrection, may we reflect on His words, they did not recognizethe time of their visitation. He came down and dwelled among them. He became that which He created and not just to live a sinless life but to die a criminal's death. His provisions for you are perfect and His sacrifice final. He is the only one who can save us from our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He is our Passover Lamb who is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. Revelation 5:12

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One Vision, Two Comings

Things Hidden-1
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 1 Peter 1:16,19-21

The Holy Prophets of the Old Testament saw ONE vision concerning Christ's first and second comings. Scripture interprets Scripture and it's incredibly faith-building to see prophesies about Christ's first coming, some of which proclaimed 700 years before His birth and every stroke of the pen, fulfilled. As we wait with eager expectation, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. He is the One, whose name is The Word of God, who was, and is and is to come. He is the One, who spoke and it was, who knelt down and formed man out of the dust of the earth and yet for us and out of His abundant love for sinners, became that which He created.
The Lord Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand." Isaiah 14:24. In Isaiah's visions, He saw a Suffering Servant and a reigning King and the two were not separated. Let me explain, In the book of Isaiah, which was written 700 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesies about the coming of the Lord, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our GOD. Isaiah 61:1-2. As was the custom, Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth to speak in the synagogue. Jesus when speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth, opens up the scroll to Isaiah 61 and reads "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and all eyes of the synagogue were fixed on Him, Luke 4:18-21. Jesus then proclaims, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 4:21. Did you notice what Jesus did not proclaim to the people of Nazareth? He did not proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. The verse in Isaiah that Jesus read had one vision of two comings. Jesus, as coming to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and Jesus coming during the day of vengeance. After 400 years of silence, and as the nation was occupied by Roman rule, Christ the Messiah, comes to fulfill the prophesies of Suffering Servant, Lamb of God, Faithful Witness, and Firstborn among the dead.

Isaiah 53 The Suffering Servant
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 hid 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 of 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 iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He wasoppressed and He was afflicted yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment 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 was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with 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 Hi, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering. He will see His 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 the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors. NASB

Revelation, on the other hand, deals with Isaiah's prophesies of Messiah coming during the day of vengeance, when the favorable year of the Lord comes to a close and a new time is ushered in. The book of Revelation is the revealing of Jesus Christ, who is coming again in great glory and triumph, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is in essence, His Revelation at His Second Coming, the culmination of events that usher in His Eternal Kingdom and fulfill His eternal promises to all the called, chosen and faithful.

Isaiah 11: Righteous Reign of the Branch
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD, and He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also, righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also, the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the vipers den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. THEN IN THAT DAY, the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious. NASB
Things Revealed-1

Thursday, March 8, 2012

With Joyful Expectation

Jozy Walking Down Beach-1
This post was written December 2010 and re-posted March 9, 2011. Exactly one year ago today. I had to re-post it for as I sit here and contemplate all the events we see unfolding in our world I'm reminded that I'm a stranger and alien in a foreign land. As I see all the uncertainty and read the prophesies, I'm once again reminded He is coming again to take me to be with Him where He is and my heart aches for Him to come soon...

The word Revelation means, to unveil, to uncover, to reveal. Something or someone once hidden becoming more visible. The Book of Revelation is the revealing of Jesus Christ, who is coming again in great glory and triumph, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It's in essence, His revelation at His second coming, the culmination of events that usher in His Eternal Kingdom and fulfill His eternal promises to all the called, chosen and faithful.
It is my hope that as I try and describe the days and hours leading up to Jocelyn's birth that the Lord would stir an eager expectation within you.

We do not know the day or the hour of the Lord's return but we are to understand the times in which we live and eagerly anticipate His coming. As a mother eagerly awaits the impending birth of her child, with joyful expectation.
Joyful expectation is how I would describe the last few months of pregnancy with Jocelyn. Every kick and contraction brought with it a sense of eager expectation as I anticipated her arrival. I spent my days dreaming of holding her and the moment I would finally meet my little mystery in the making, wondering about her personality and who she would look like. I was in one sense, mourning as she would never again be so close to my heart but wanting her desperately to be in my arms. As the impending arrival approached, so did the reminders of her birth, as my body prepared for her delivery. The pain brought with it joyful expectation and excitement. I would soon behold my precious daughter and for the first time see her as she is, perfectly made. The frame which was once hidden will be made known. The moment of her revelation was at hand. It brought to mind, Jesus' words in Matthew 24, all these are the beginning of birth pains. 24:8 And later on in the chapter, No one knows about that day or hour. 24:36 Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 24:42.
This thought came to me during the last few weeks of pregnancy, "As I have eagerly awaited the impending birth of my precious Jocelyn, I should also be joyfully expecting and anticipating the Lord's return."
Revelation comes from the Greek word, Apocalypse, which means to uncover, it would apply to anything which had been covered up so as to be hidden from view, as by a veil of darkness or ignorance. It may also be applied to the disclosing or manifesting of anything which before was obscure or unknown. Barnes Biblical Commentary.
As the birth pains of Christ's arrival draws near my excitement and anticipation should increase. Just as it did with the pain of labor which brought forth joy and completion. As I see the day fast approaching I am...
Anticipating and preparing for Him to come back and take me to be with Him where He is. John: 14:3.
Eagerly awaiting the moment He wipes every tear from my eyes. Revelation 21:4.
Anticipating the moment where He is fully known and I shall behold His face. 1 Corinthians 13:12.
Eagerly anticipating the day where there is no more harm on God's holy mountain, for the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Isaiah 11:9.
Looking forward to the day where the groaning of creation is silenced for the Lord will liberate creation from it's bondage and the thorn will be removed from the glorious rose and the thistles will no longer accompany the flowers. Romans 8:18, Genesis 3:18.
Eagerly anticipating the day, when the sons of God are revealed, the redemption of my body and I will look on the outside the way I feel on the inside, as my body will be liberated from the bondage of decay. Romans 8:22.
The day when the King of Kings is revealed in all His glory and takes His rightful place as Lord over all creation. Revelation 19:16
Never again will an infant live but a few days or an old man who does not live out his years. Isaiah 65:20.
Eagerly awaiting for the "Beautiful Exchange" which was completed on the cross, to be fully realized and revealed, as He who was the suffering Servant comes back as King of Kings and His kingdom is established here on earth.

For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25.