Friday, November 04, 2016

Consider Jesus!

Consider Jesus! 

Talk about courageous! At Easter a few years ago, a well-known Italian journalist who was a Muslim was baptized by the Pope at the Vatican. He publicly abandoned Islam and embraced Jesus in an international way. His extended family may not have been thrilled with this dramatic crossover. It is not hard to imagine the threats and attacks he might face. Bowing to Jesus means bowing out of other faith commitments. He is a rightfully jealous Lover. 
For some disciples - like many in India, Egypt and China - a "yes" to Jesus means serious persecution, economic hardship, ostracism and maybe even death. Christians are still suffering and dying for being faithful to Jesus. First century Jews who bravely and obediently submitted to Jesus as their Messiah knew such trials. Confessing Jesus as Lord meant one might get to go to heaven a lot sooner than they had planned. 
They had a powerful temptation to turn back to Judaism and away from Jesus to end their pain. Who wants to have to choose between life, one's livelihood and loved ones and the Lord? Thus the book of Hebrews was written; to encourage and bolster embattled believers. 
Their hope? Their help? Their need and ours? To "consider Jesus" - look afresh at the One who also suffered. He stayed faithful, He knows. Look to Jesus. Learn of Him, lean on Him. He is a faithful, merciful and powerful helper to those hurting for His sake. 
Hear Hebrews 2: 
"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 
"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. 
"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him..." (Hebrews 2:14, 15, 17-18; 3; 1, 2 ~ ESV). 
Let's pick out a few encouraging reminders from that packed passage for when we are tempted to turn back, to compromise our commitment to Christ. 
First of all: your walk with God may provoke the Devil, but fear not, he has been de-clawed, neutered. Jesus shared skin - became human - so He could share in our sufferings and thus skin the serpent, end his claims and control over us (vs. 14). We are now able to resist the tempter as we stand firm in the faith. We draw near to God so He can draw near to us and the devil will flee (1 Peter 5, James 4; Eph. 6). Our sympathetic Savior - who is in us - is greater than the one that is in the world (1 John 4:4; 1 Cor. 10:13). 
Consider this: since Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest was faithful to God unto death, He can set free those enslaved by fear of death. If the worst someone can do to you because your faith in Jesus is send you to heaven - where is the threat in that? 
The process of dying doesn't thrill me. But, in Jesus, death itself is nothing to fear. Where is your sting, death (1 Corin. 15)? Jesus has the keys of Death (Revelation 1:18). It is in His control. Make me a slave with a fear of death? Not any more, I consider Jesus. 
Saint Patrick wrote some 1500 years ago: "Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere." I think this missionary to Ireland was considering Jesus! 
Matthew Henry, an English pastor of the late 1600's commented: "Here the wonderful love of God appeared, that, when Christ knew what he must suffer in our nature, and how he must die in it, yet he readily took it upon him. And this atonement made way for his people's deliverance from Satan's bondage, and for the pardon of their sins through faith...Let those who dread death, and strive to get the better of their terrors, no longer attempt to out-brave or to stifle them, no longer grow careless or wicked through despair. Let them not expect help from the world, or human devices; but let them seek pardon, peace, grace, and a lively hope of heaven, by faith in Him who died and rose again, that thus they may rise above the fear of death." 
To help us be faithful in our faith-race (ala Heb. 12:1, 2), two key opponents have been dealt with: the Devil and Death. Both lost their power to dispirit or defeat us. Jesus, our brother and priest, hammered the Devil and dealt death a deathblow. To stay faithful like Jesus was - and is - look again at Him. He displayed and defined fidelity to the Father. He now emboldens and empowers faltering and fearful followers. Consider Him, all ye scared and suffering saints! 
When trials, tiredness or timidity tempt you to give up, consider Jesus. He was faithful in His sufferings to bring us into His family: steady to the Father, staying the course. We must stay true. And we can as we consider Him! Consider Jesus! 

Friday, April 08, 2016

Need Encouraging? Want Hope? Behold Our God!

Need Encouraging? Want Hope? Behold Our God!

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
    double for all her sins….

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:1, 2, 28-31 - ESV)

            Thankful the LORD restores and renews rebels, like us,


Be Comforted by our Great God
Behold, Our God Renews and Restores Rebels - Isaiah 40

                How does God treat those whom He has chastened? Does He give us any hope of getting out of His doghouse; even serial idolaters, spiritual adulterers?  Isaiah 40 more than answers that. This first chapter of Isaiah’s third section is a peak among peaks; Everest!  Written to restored-rebels, it is a hurricane blast of hope, comfort, and encouragement. The Lord – who has every right to be done with His erring people – gloriously keeps His word; He forgives and renews them. Unlike idols, Our mighty Creator, judge of all the earth, revives those who trust in Him. Take comfort in and from Him.  

Be Encouraged by our Gracious God!  (40:1, 2 & 28-31)
  • God calls:  be tenderly comforted (cf. Matt. 11:28; 23:27)
  • Receive His peace, pardon, restoration  (Rom. 5:1-11; 8:1)
  • Hear the Calls, the Voices of His Comfort  (vs. 3, 6, 9)

Ø  His Glory Will be Revealed; again (vs. 3-5;  cf. John ---6)
  • Get ready, The King is coming – back - in glory! (Ezk. 43)
  • Jesus! His birth and return (Matt. 3:1-8; John 1:23; Rev. 20-22)

Ø  His Good Word Will be Accomplished (vs. 6-8)
  • Our lives, glory is fading, temporal, in His hands (1 Pet. 1:24, 25)
  • His Word, His will is eternal, will be accomplished (cf. Is. 55)

Ø  His Greatness is Unequaled (vs. 9-31;  cf. 43)
  • Here is our God! The powerful, sovereign LORD (vs. 9, 10)
  • He is a tender Shepherd; sensitive (cf. Ps. 23; Jer. 31; Ezk. 34)
  • Who has…?  He is unequalled in: (vs. 12-20; Job 38-41)
                “Size”, power, ability
                Wisdom, knowledge  (cf. Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16)
                Rule, weightiness, glory  (Is. 43)
  • Don’t you know…? He is incomparable! (21-26)
  • “He doesn’t care?” He gives strength and hope (vs. 27-31)

  Be encouraged by, comforted in Him!  Who is like Him? (Ex. 20:1-7)
  Receive His chastening AND restoring; out of the doghouse!  (Heb. 12:4-11)
  Does Isaiah 40 sound like your view of God; His grace, greatness...?
  Wait on Him; have eager, confidence in Him  (29-31; Ps. 37:1-9)
  Trust in Him & trade your tiredness for His empowering (vs. 31; Ps. 9:10)
  Jesus makes the same offer!  See Matthew 11:28; 23:27;  John 15:1-7

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Worship the Lord’s Exalted Servant - Easter in Isaiah

“He is Risen.”
“He is Risen Indeed!”
        Easter Greetings in the Name of the Lord’s Servant, Jesus. His resurrection is the foundation of our faith. If Christ is still dead, we are still in our sins, and are to be pitied for false hope. But Christ has been raised (1 Cor. 15). Jesus’ victory over death, His vindication in humiliation was written about 100’s of years beforehand. One of many examples is the majestic Isaiah 52:13-15.
10 “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.   (Is. 52:10-12 - NIV)

        Worshiping and celebrating the Risen Servant with you,

Worship the Lord’s Exalted Servant
He Suffered for Us, Yet Is Alive Again – Isaiah 53:10-12
        It would take a work of God for the glory of Easter to surpass gory Good Friday. Who has ever been as mistreated as Jesus was that day? But that is the good news of the gospel. Jesus was not only slain for us – the Righteous for the unrighteous – He was raised, vindicated. He is now to be celebrated, worshiped.
        That is the message of Isaiah’s fourth “Servant Song” (52:13-53:12). In this miraculous prophetic passage, Jesus, the Lord’s Servant, is shown as both despised and exalted, dead yet alive again. He can offer us new life, a future resurrection.  Is He your King?

The Lord’s Servant will Succeed!  (52:13-15; cf. 53:10-12)
·         Like Palm Sunday, this “Servant Song” begins with exaltation
·         He will be Rightly Exalted though Appallingly Abused

The Lord’s Servant is Humiliated for Us (53:1-9; Rom. 5:1-11; 10:16)
·         We despised, rejected, disrespected Him (1-3; John 1:10-13)
·         He suffered, faced God’s wrath for our sins (4, 5; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24)
·         God’s sacrificial Lamb, slain for, by us sinners (6-8; Acts 8:32, 33)
·         He died with sinners, but was buried with the wealthy (9; Matt. 27:57-60)

Why Did God Treat His Servant So?  (vs. 10-12; Acts 2:23)
 For His Vindication.  Killed, He lives Again  (vs. 10)
…the Lord makes his life an offering for sin (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10)
he will see his offspring and prolong his days  (Ps. 22:30; Rom. 1:18; 6:9)
the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand  (52:13; Phil. 2:7-11)  

 For Our Justification. He is Satisfied to Save us (vs. 11; Rom. 5:18, 19)
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied (Heb. 12:1, 2)
my righteous servant will justify many… bear their iniquities (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:1-11)

 For His Exaltation: Now, Ultimately  (vs. 12; cf. 9:7; Rev. 20-22)
“a portion among the great… divide the spoils with the strong” (Is. 42:1; Rev. 5:8-10)
“he poured out his life… bore the sin… made intercession…  (Rom. 8:1)

  •  Easter is the Greatest “Success Story”; HIS!  (52:13, 53:10)
  •  Through His suffering and death, Jesus paid for our sins, conquered death & provides justification
  •  Jesus, the Lord’s Servant, is completely vindicated, satisfied, rightly glorified.
  •  Are you in submission to Him? Is your life given to Him? (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:17, 18)
“He is Risen.”
“He is Risen Indeed!”

Your attitude should . . .

Your attitude should . . . 

Humility is easy when you already feel inferior to others. 

But what about those times when 
- let's be honest -
you are superior, smarter, stronger, more mature...? 

Its not as easy to serve "underlings". 
Is it? 

See that theme played out here in Paul's letter from jail to a church:

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death
 even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8 ~ NIV ~

No one has ever stooped down as far as Jesus did. 
No One! 
God becomes a man - a servant 
- one willing to die as a condemned criminal for our sins.

He humbled Himself to serve others & honor God. 
He calls on us to do the same - humbly reach down. 

In reality, this is not usually very far down for us,
& probably more of a horizontal reach. 

So, what's your attitude? 

Haughty or humbly helping those in need?
Arrogant or assisting those around you? 

We do recall - do we not -
that we are certainly not better than Jesus, 
God's suffering Servant? 

 Kerry S. Doyal
Making disciples of Jesus
who love God & others
by living & sharing His truth

"Keep it up..."

"Keep  it  up..." 
Did you hear that when you were growing up?
I did. 
It may sound like an urge to press on, to persevere. 

Where I came from it was a warning, a threat.
  • It was a call to wisdom.
  • It was an indirect command to cease & desist 

"Keep it up  (this stupid behavior)...  &  I'll pound you,  give you a ticket, end this friendship..."

"Keep it up"
  came to mind when I read Proverbs 17:9 

Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (ESV) 

To be an insensitive repeat offender is to abuse the forgiveness spoken of in the first half of Prov. 17:9.
To carelessly push your luck,
okay, presume on grace,
can build barriers between the best of buds.
Certainly life and relationships call for forgiveness;
overlooking and covering up things that hurt. 
Love leads us to purposefully push aside offenses. 
Tragically, some people break relationships over the smallest of matters. 

Love requires repenting of pettiness, pickiness. (17:9a)
Love also requires laying aside things that offend as well  (17:9b). 
To seek to stop saying or doing things that are painful to others.
Want to ruin a friendship, marriage, partnership:
realize a relationship ruining behavior and "keep it up"
- persist in being selfish, insensitive. 
Such living ends or hinders multiple relationships. 

In Him who covers, atones for our sins
and calls us to lay aside folly,

Kerry - Pastor CCF 

As the NET Bible, a great free on-line Bible study tool has it:
17:9 The one who forgives an offense seeks  love,
but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.