Isaiah 53: Redemption in one chapter

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53, NKJV)

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For coming, thank You

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He sat on the colt,
and rode on its back in to Jerusalem,
on a road covered with a mixture of palms and clothing,
the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,”
ringing in His ears and
echoing through the streets.

But He Who knows the hearts of all men
knew that many of those shouting praise,
would a few days later,
shout, “Crucify Him,”
and ask for a murderer and an insurrectionist to be released instead of Him.
He knew.

He knew. 
And He knows that my praise too can be inconsistent,
rapidly changing into whining and complaining,
fueled by doubt and unbelief.
Calling Him, Lord, in one breath.
Having a tantrum with the next.

He knows.
And still He loves
unwaveringly.
Works in me patiently.
Changing me.
Drawing me.
Empowering me to do what pleases Him.

So, for His faithfulness,
His abounding grace,
His mercy,
His incomprehensible love,
and because He is forever worthy,
I whisper, “Halleluia. Thank You, for coming, Lord.”
”Thank for choosing to suffer and die.
And for making it possible for me to know You as Savior,
and to know God as Father. Thank You.”
 
 

Every Step

every step

From the moment of His birth, every step Jesus took brought Him closer to Golgotha and the Cross,  where He would willingly pay the incomprehensible cost to redeem you, me, the world. Every step. The trip to Jerusalem at age 12, where, after searching for Him for three days, Mary and Joseph “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions,” astonishing all who heard Him (Luke 2:41-47, NKJV). To the Jordan River to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17). Into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-11).

Every step. By the Sea of Galilee on numerous occasions such as when He called the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). Up on a mountain where He taught his disciples many things, including what we know as “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12). In Capernaum, where He spoke the word that healed the centurion’s servant and drove the fever from the body of Peter’s mother-in-law with a touch (Matthew 8:5-15).

Every step. To the country of the Gergesenes, where He set two demon-possessed men free (Matthew 8:28-34). To the house of Jairus where He raised his daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41-56).

Every step. Through Samaria and to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water and met the Messiah, the Living Water (John 4). To the tomb of Lazarus where He demonstrated that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44). Every step.

And every step you and I take moves us closer to the purpose for which God created us, or away from it. Every step. Every choice, every decision matters. May we heed more than ever the instruction in Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP):

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

And with the assurance that He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9) may we pray like David, the psalmist and king,

“Establish my footsteps in [the way of] Your word;
Do not let any human weakness have power over me [causing me to be separated from You]” (Psalm 119:133, AMP).

P.S.

I want to invite you to join me and thousands of others across the nation and in other countries to use your feet to make a difference, by participating in World Vision’s Global 6K for clean water, on May 6, 2017. Please watch the video below and click here for additional information. Thank you.

Made right

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Today I am mulling over the incredible truths in Romans 5:1-17. Let us read the New Living Translation of these verses together.

5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

There truly is no explaining or understanding the love of God for us. There is also no earning His love. There is no doing enough to make Him love us more or not doing enough that will make Him love us less. He loves us unconditionally and perfectly. He chose to love us and demonstrated His “great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (verse 8).

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

No more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). That guilt and shame that haunts? Baseless. Total forgiveness is ours because of Christ Jesus, as is the grace to turn from sin.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

And if that was not enough to praise God unceasingly for, we also have peace with God, and stand, “in a place of undeserved privilege” (verse 2).  These blessings enable us to know there is purpose to our trials and challenges.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ. 

Thank You, Father. Thank You. Give us a fresh and true revelation of this truth so that we never again read, hear, sing, or speak of what You did for us without a sense of wonder, worship, and profound gratitude.  

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Embrace

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community for our weekly writing challenge. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Embrace.”

I imagine he left with a jaunt in his step

Well dressed body

Well shod feet

Perhaps with a servant or two

Maybe on a camel or whatever animals

The financially well endowed rode

I imagine he left without looking back

Feeling mighty

Feeling Free

But now he was returning

Penniless

Likely gaunt

Filthy

Ragged clothing

Bare, dirty, calloused feet

Smelling awful

Looking nothing like the arrogant younger son

who had demanded “his” share of the estate

and departed  

But his father who had been looking for him

Recognized him, even at a far distance

And ran to him

And embraced him

Filthy body and all

And kissed him

And welcomed him home

But my Father did more than that for me, for us

The Word became flesh

Left heaven’s glory

Walked among us

Showed us the Father

And then stretched His arms wide to die for us

The ultimate, eternal embrace

His Exclusive Claim

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As I mentioned in a recent post, I saw the movie, “The Shack,” two Sundays ago. I continue to reflect on this fictional story and have talked with several persons about it. As sometimes happens, a fresh insight came as I was telling one of my sisters about the movie and my experience of seeing it. What I noted was that the main character, “Mack,” encountered Jesus first and His words were an invitation.

I thought of John 14:6, which constitutes a part of Jesus’ response to Thomas’s question, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5, AMP). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” (John 14:6, AMP).

This exclusive claim of Jesus has been the source of offense for many. In the article,  “Is Jesus the Only Way?” the author, Paul Rutherford, identifies Jesus’ exclusive claim that He is the only Way to God as “the most offensive aspect of Christianity today.” He identifies the following objections to Jesus’ exclusive claim: “Tolerance;” “Absolutes Don’t Exist;” and, “Pluralism.” Rutherford also provides the Scriptural basis for believing that Jesus is the only Way to God.  (I encourage you to invest the time necessary to read the article.  I recognize the need in myself to further develop the discipline of diving deeper into the tenets of my faith, to know why I believe what I believe. Perhaps you see this as a need we have in common). 

I think of Jesus’ exclusive claim and how being offended by His claim can result in one overlooking the amazing and incomprehensible fact that God loves us enough to provide any way back to Him, more so this Way. This Way, which required the Word to become flesh  and suffer beyond human imagining to redeem us.

Also, I recall His loving invitations and will close this post with two of them and His promise to those who come to Him. I pray that if you have not accepted His invitations, you will this Lenten season. And if you have, pause to give Him thanks.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.  For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, AMP)

 Now on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out [in a loud voice], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water. (John 7:37-39, AMP)

“All that My Father gives Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, never reject anyone who follows Me].(John 6:3, AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempted? Our High Priest Knows

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After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”

Then Jesus was led by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, …” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written …”  (Matthew 3:16-4:11, AMP)

As described in the Scripture passage above, after Jesus was baptized by John, had the Spirit descend as a dove and light on Him, and received God’s audible approval, He was led by the Spirit. He was led, not to a mountain top, into the temple, or before the spiritual or political rulers of the era. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was tempted during a time when His physical strength was likely depleted after 40 days and nights of fasting. He was tempted and met every temptation with the written Word.

He was tempted and, although only three temptations are mentioned in Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 4:15 makes it clear that Jesus was tempted “in every respect as we are.” We have a High Priest, this verse tells us, who is able to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations. He sympathizes and understands our weaknesses and temptations because, as the Amplified Bible translation of Hebrews 4:15 states, our High Priest is “One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.”

In addition, Jesus, “… although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]” (Philippians 2:5-7, AMP). He did all this for you. He did all this for me. He did all this for us. And assures us of this truth,

“No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]” (1 Corinthians 10:13, AMP).

It is easy to recognize the desire to do something we know is wrong, as a temptation; however, a temptation, is also a strong desire or urge, the Merriam-Webster dictionary informs us, to do something that is unwise. Whatever form a temptation takes, we can be sure that our compassionate Father, who has declared us to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), has provided a way out. Also, He works in us, giving us both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13, NLT). Thank You, Lord.