Christianity 201

April 18, 2018

Isaiah 53 and the Revelation of God’s Love Revealed in Jesus

This is our second visit with Ronnie Dauber who is a Christian author who lives in Canada with her family. She has written several young adult novels and seven Inspirational books. Her article below — click to read it directly at source, with images — is an expository devotional. In some cases we update the translation choice of the writer, but with Isaiah 53, I think the ornate quality of the older edition enhances the scripture passage.

Isaiah 53: The Epitome of Love

1 Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

—He is revealed by the Spirit of God to those who hunger for God.

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

—Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, humble Jews who worked hard to provide for their family. They were not rich, not popular, and did not hold prominent government or religious positions.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

—Jesus was killed by men who hated God and who hated that Jesus proclaimed to know God. And today people still hate God and refuse to repent and accept the salvation of Jesus and the Holiness of God.

Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

—Jesus took all of our griefs and sorrows upon Himself on the cross. We know Him as our Savior, and God sees Him as the Son who gave His life for our sins.

But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed.

—Jesus took all of our sins, sickness and stresses upon Himself on the cross. We will no longer be judged because our sins were judged on the cross, and we no longer have to be sick because He also took that curse upon Himself at the cross.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

—We have all sinned and are all deserving of judgment, yet Jesus took our sins and offered His life as a sacrifice for our sins. And God accepted His sacrifice and pronounced the judgment for our sins upon His own Son so that we would be free.

He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

—Jesus was beaten, mocked, whipped and spat upon, yet He didn’t fight it or speak out against it. He knew He was the Lamb of God and He was willing to take upon Himself all of our sins. He suffered tremendously with physical pain, mental and spiritual depression, and evil oppression, and yet, He never once cursed the horror of the beatings or anyone. In fact, Jesus asked God to forgive them.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken.

—Jesus was captured and thrown into prison, and then He was judged, stripped, beaten, mocked, whipped and cursed, and then killed—and all because He loved us so much that He didn’t want a single person to be punished and die lost because of their sins.

And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.

—Jesus was perfect. He was sinless, and there was no sin or violence or deceit in Him, yet because of our sin that He took upon Himself, He was crucified between two criminals. And He would have been buried in a common grave, but instead, His body was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich politician who loved God.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt 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.

—Jesus chose to die for our sins because He loves us, and it pleased God because now those who accept the salvation of Jesus will live with Him forever, and with Jesus, who is now our King.

11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.

—Jesus suffered beyond all measure on that cross, and yet He wanted to do it for us so that we would never have to suffer the punishment for our sins. Jesus defeated sin and death when He took them down to Hell and then rose back to life again! And so now, all those who receive His salvation shall be saved! And God was pleased that Jesus had made a way for His children to now come Home.

12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

—Jesus was faithful and made a way that we can all be redeemed back to God, and God has made Jesus King over the earth. And all of us who believe in Jesus will be saved from our sins and will share the blessings of God, both here on earth and throughout eternity. Jesus died on the cross for everyone, yet, only some will accept it and be saved.

The enemy is deceiving many so that they not only can’t see the truth but don’t want to see the truth. The glitter of this world, and the ease of wealth, and the lust of the flesh are more important than the truth. Yet, one day they will know the truth and it will be too late for them. They will regret it with everything that’s in them because they will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and they will all know that Jesus IS the Messiah, the Lord of lords and King of kings that they refused to accept when they had the chance. And the Bible says there will be crying and gnashing of teeth because those who refused to accept Him on earth will be sentenced to eternity in Hell.

We can put lots of things off until tomorrow, but if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then do NOT put that off. It’s too late to choose once you die; the opportunity is now!

And when you know Jesus, then you’ll see the things of this world as the shallow deceptions that they are, and you will be alive in a freedom that you never thought was possible!

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.—Hebrews 9:27-28

 

August 18, 2017

Expecting a Minimal Response from God

I’ve mentioned before that the only devotional I actually subscribe to is Breakfast of Champions, from the ministry Great Big Life. The devotionals are now being credited to both Andy and Gina Elmes. Here’s one from about a week ago:

Are you expecting abundance from God, or just enough?

Do you know today, Champion, that your God is a God of abundance? And all of His plans and intentions toward you are always plans and intentions of abundance, not ‘just enough’.

Here are some verses to think on today; they all reveal to us God’s abundant intentions towards us for different areas of our lives.

1. The measurement of His saving grace (unmerited favour)

Romans 5:17 (NKJV)
For if by the one man’s offence death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Notice that it is abundance, not ‘just enough’. It’s when you understand this truth, and also that you have been made perfectly righteous through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, that you will reign in life as promised!

2. His provision in our lives – again, notice it does not say ‘just enough’!

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

  • All grace (not some)
  • All sufficiency (not some)
  • All things (not some)

3. The quality of new life He has for us in Christ.

John 10:10 (NKJV)
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (in abundance).

4. The giving of His Spirit, to transform us into all we are called to be.

Titus 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Good news: His ability matches His intentions. God is not just wanting to do abundantly for us in these areas of life and so many more, He is able too! He is the God who is able to and wants to do abundantly in your life, so start expecting abundance. Sadly, some of those damaging doctrines of religion made by men have left us all for too long expecting nothing or very little from God. It’s time to bring our thinking into alignment with His word and truth – God wants to do abundantly for you so make room in your life for it!

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

Stop expecting a bit, Champion, and start thanking Him for abundance!


Learn more about the UK ministry Great Big Life. Click this link to have it delivered to your inbox each weekday.

September 1, 2016

Worth Represents What Someone is Willing to Pay

NLT 2 Cor 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Today we return to the writing of pastor and author Greg Boyd are Re-Knew. Click the header below to read at source.

greg boydHow Much Are You Worth?

We know what something is worth to someone by what they are willing to pay for it. Consider, then, what our heavenly bridegroom was willing to pay to redeem us and make us his bride. Out of his love for us, the all-holy God was willing to do nothing less than to go to the extremity of becoming our sin (2 Cor 5:21) and becoming our God-forsaken curse (Gal 3:13). This means that God’s love for us led him to go to the extreme of somehow becoming his own antithesis. In other words, God revealed how much we are worth to him by somehow becoming anti-God!

God could not have gone further than he in fact did to free us from our bondage and make us his bride. And if the worth of something or someone to another is determined by what they are willing to pay to acquire it, then the fact that God was willing to pay the greatest price that could possible be paid can only mean that we have the greatest possible worth to God.

The unsurpassable price God paid for us means that we have unsurpassable worth to God. God could not possibly love us more than he actually does, and we could not matter more to God than we actually do.

This love lies at the core of God’s being. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), as we explored in this post. God loves us with the very same love that God eternally is. Calvary is what the love of the Trinity looks like when it encompasses us. Jesus reflects this truth when he prays that we would know that the Father loves us with the very same love he has for his own eternal Son (John 17:26).

In other words, God loves us with the same love he has for himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. When we receive this love, we are incorporated into Christ and therefore into the eternal triune community so that we receive and reflect the very same perfect love that unites God throughout eternity.

The God whose love led him to go to the infinite extreme of offering up his Son to become our sin and our God-forsakenness also gives us, as a result of this unsurpassable sacrifice, “all things” (Rom 8:22). It’s no wonder that Paul declared that God’s love for us in Christ “surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-19).

All of this is part of the magnificent revelation and promise of the cross. On the cross God reveals his perfect love for us and reveals our unsurpassable worth to him. And on the cross God promises to always love us like this and to always ascribe this worth to us.

Even more, the fact that God’s love for us is demonstrated “while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8) makes it clear that God’s love for us is completely based on God’s character, not ours. Even when we are in bondage to sin and are thinking, feeling, and/or acting like God’s enemies, we can trust that it remains as true as ever that we could not be loved more than we actually are, and could not matter more to God than we actually do. God’s perfect, unsurpassable, unwavering love for us is also unconditional.

—Adapted from Benefit of the Doubt, pages 240-242

October 2, 2012

Unwavering Belief

While rummaging through the archives at Thinking Out Loud, I discovered a lengthy post for  Halloween I reblogged from writer Carole McDonnell.  I decided to see what she has been up to lately, and discovered this piece about belief. I strongly encourage you to click through to read this at source; you might find other articles of interest. For those of you here for the first time, scripture verses at C201 appear in green because God’s word is life. (There’s a lot of green in this excellent Bible study!)

There are many verses in the Bible which encourage the faithful believer to trust in God’s willingness to answer prayer.

John tells us that “we know we have what we pray for because we keep His commandments.” (1 John 3:22.) If we’re keeping God’s commandments, and are praying for the glory of God, and feeding our faith by studying God’s character and Jesus’ Great Finished Work on the cross, we should trust that our prayers have been answered. After all, Jesus Himself told us that when we pray we must believe that we HAVE received and we WILL receive whatever we ask for.

We are told to pray with thanksgiving. This means we must pray and give thanks for what we will receive as if we have already received it, seeing that which is invisible. Jesus gave us a wonderful example of this when he prayed for Lazarus to be brought back to life. Even before Lazarus came from the tomb, Jesus ended His prayer with the words, “I thank you, Lord, that you have heard my prayer.”

We pray every day using the word “Amen” which can be translated to mean as Surely, truthfully, verily, this is a true statement, or it’s done. Jesus told us to approach the throne of grace with boldness and courage. Our prayers end boldly, but although the world “Amen” is a bold ending to a prayer, we don’t really rise from prayer believing that our prayer has been answered. We tend to think that either God hasn’t heard our prayer or that He will spend the next few days mulling over a decision or that He wants to drag out the answer for a while in order to teach us a lesson. This is doublemindedness. We are not believing what God has said. As the apostle James said, “this kind of double-minded attitude is not going to get anything from the Lord.” Why? Because our unbelief vies with our faith.

If we use the sowing and reaping metaphors that Jesus and the apostles used to show how the kingdom of God works, we can readily see that we have more faith in the physical act of sowing and reaping than we do in the spiritual act. In the case of a physical seed, we actually believe there is a seed with the power within itself to germinate. Yet, even though Isaiah, Jesus, Paul and others told us that the word of God is active and alive and has power within it to germinate and flower, we hardly believe.

The Bible says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And yet, unbelief is a wonderful theologian. If we aren’t careful, we –or a really intelligent minister– can convince ourselves that God will do the most heinous evil because he loves us. Some great religious writings can convince us that although Jesus came to heal those who were oppressed by the devil that somehow our particular oppression is not from the devil but from God.

St Paul tells us that “We are accepted in the Beloved.” Eph 1:6 This is the Greek word Charitoo which is translated as “full of grace” and “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28 when the angel spoke to Mary. It means freely bestowed overwhelming love. This means God loves us and has placed us in such a favored position that, like the loving Father He is, He wants to bless us more than we’re able to receive it. We’re adopted children who are His very special favorites. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has for us, that we should be called the Children of God.”

John states, “This is the confidence we have in God: that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.” I John 5:14. He writes earlier in the same chapter, “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world, even our faith.” Through Jesus’ name, and faith in that name, we are “more than conquerors.” And St Paul tells us that “God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

Yet in the face of all this overwhelming evidence of God’s love towards us, the ancient inability to trust God remains. From the day our first parents hearkened to Satan’s “Did God say?” to today’s modern taunts, we humans have found it difficult to believe that God means us well. We forget that He who freely gave us His life will also freely give us all things. Plain and simple, we love God but like unworthy friends we often believe what others say about our Dear Friend more often than what He says about Himself. If it’s through faith in God’s Love and Power that we conquer the world, how can we conquer our own Promised Land if we allow rumors of giants to make us feel like grasshoppers. (Numbers 13)

The Bible tells us, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And we know better than to come right out and say that God is a liar. But we work around that by making Him way more inscrutable than He really wants to be. This is not to say that we understand everything about God. We don’t. But the Bible has made His personality clear to us. He doesn’t have some hidden secret plan which prevents Him from answering our prayers. The Bible states that God does nothing without revealing His will to His people. (Amos 3:7)

We also make God unpredictable and flighty. Instead of saying that God’s promises and spiritual laws work all the time, we say that God does heavy micro-managing and sits on His throne deciding which spiritual law will work in every case. We say that whatsoever a man sows he will reap, yet we often think that in this particular case – our own problem– that particular spiritual law will not work. God’s word is sure. God does not change. His word abides forever and He honors His word. God is aware of all His children, but He does not micro-manage. Spiritual laws are as dependable as physical laws. Unfortunately, like many physical laws some spiritual laws need a faithful heart to set them in motion. The law of gravity, for instance, tends to work all the time…unless one understands how to override it. As powerful and universal as gravity is, it is routinely conquered by pilots and birds all over the world. Yet, although gravity has its weak moments, it’s not a good idea to defy it. Seeds will grow into plants if we continue to water them and so we know that we should not cast away our confidence when a physical plant seems to be weakening. We should not be weary with well-doing: God is not mocked. In due time, we will reap if we don’t faint. We depend on physical laws. This attitude should be the same when we rely on spiritual laws.

For instance, Jesus commands us not to worry and in Mark 7:14-15, He gives us some insight into spiritual law when he tells us that evils within the heart are what defile the body. As American Christians we half believe Jesus was right about this. After all, the medical world has taught us all about the dangers of being a type A personality. But do we believe what Jesus says simply because Jesus said it? For instance, do we believe that adulterous thoughts can also affect our health? Other spiritual laws or insights include: the law of giving and receiving, the power of the tongue to steer a life towards good or ill, the evil that comes upon those who hate Israel or Jewish people.

In Mark 9:23-24, when the father of the demon-possessed boy asked Jesus to help him, Jesus said, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” To which the distraught father replied, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” This, unfortunately, is the state most western Bible-believing Christians have found themselves in. We believe greatly, and we doubt greatly. At the exact same time. Let us search the Scriptures and learn to understand and love our God. John warns us that many antiChrists are out in the world and we should test every word we hear. And Jesus tells us that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. (Luke 6:39) But Jesus warns us to “take heed how we hear.” (Luke 8:18) Let us learn to love our Father. As Jesus said, He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father. (John 14:6-20) If we know the love of Jesus, we cannot help but trust Him with our lives.

We have a great and high calling with many doors of opportunity opened to us and there are many adversaries who – wittingly or unwittingly– have set out to steal the word of truth from us or to mingle it with worldly philosophers. Let us not be removed from the simplicity of the gospel. (Gal 1:6; Rom 6:19; 2 Co 11:3 ) Let us arise and dream great dreams, let us hold onto the promises of God. Let us do great exploits and not cast away our confidence. Let us arise and shine, because our light has come. Is 60:1

~Carole McDonnell