Friday, January 19, 2018
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
FIRST USE OF “LOVE”
The first mention of love in the Bible occurs in the passage concerning Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This is a foreshadowing or “type” of the heavenly Father’s sacrifice of His only begotten Son Jesus.
We are not told that Adam loved his wife or that Noah loved his children, although it could be argued that this unstated love was demonstrated. We are not even told that Sarah loved Abraham. It is fitting that the first mention of love in the Bible is a father’s love for his son. We begin to understand some basic concepts about love: 1) Abraham loved his son as a father should, 2) Obedience to God supersedes human love, 3) God loved Abraham and provided the ram to replace Isaac, 4) God loves humans enough to sacrifice His beloved Son, Jesus, 5) As God’s children we are to emulate His sacrificial love.
The first fruit of the Spirit is love. Loving as the Father has loved us. Self-sacrificing love for God and for people. This kind of love can only be cultivated in you if the Holy Spirit is flowing through you. Because Father God willingly offered His Son on the cross, those who believe are the beneficiaries of this tremendously selfless gift of love. Once we come to accept and embrace the love of God our Father, we are filled with His Holy Spirit who enables us to increasingly love others as Jesus first loved us.
Have you experienced the Father’s love? If you have, are you searching out ways to share this love God so graciously bestowed upon you with those within the sphere of your influence? Jesus freely gave His love. Freely give love to others.
Monday, January 15, 2018
By God’s Spirit, Zerubbabel!
Zerubbabel, Governor of Judah,
Undertook to rebuild God’s temple.
It lay in ruins and enemies lurked.
This task would not be simple.
Through the prophet Zechariah
The Lord’s encouragement came.
The temple would be rebuilt
Only by the power of His name.
It would not be Zerubbabel’s might,
Nor by his building prowess.
Guided by the Holy Spirit,
He would repair the mess.
A descendant of King David,
Zerubbabel could have been king;
But since Israel was ruled by Persia,
He was named a lesser thing.
However, his work foreshadowed
The time when Messiah will reign.
His descendant Jesus is the One
Who Israel’s throne will claim.
Friday, January 12, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
MORE IMPORTANT THAN MEALS
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. He fasted, and I think we can safely assume prayed, for forty days. Next, the Bible makes the completely obvious statement that after forty days of fasting, He was hungry. Therefore, Satan attacks Him at the point of His most pressing need—His extreme hunger. The rocks in the wilderness around the Jordan River look similar to the round loaves of bread the people of Israel used as a staple food. Therefore, Satan tempts Jesus to turn those rocks into the bread they resemble. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 as His reply. In fact, Jesus used scripture to combat every temptation the devil threw at Him. This reminds me of a statement made in Job 23:12, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (emphasis added). Do we view God’s word, the Bible, as more important than our daily bread, our basic sustenance? I’m not talking more important than dessert or eating at a nice restaurant. Is God’s word more important to us than eating enough to survive? Of course, God intends for us to be physically nourished, but He has provided what is necessary for spiritual nourishment as well. The Bible equips us for everything God wants us to do, but how many of us are malnourished when it comes to studying God’s word. Or do we read enough to barely survive but neglect to “hide it in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11)? When temptation hits, when the enemy attacks, does the Holy Spirit reach for His sword and find the sheath empty? The Spirit will bring to mind the scripture we have studied, meditated upon, and memorized when we need it. But if we have never filled our mind with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), we are presenting Him with an empty sheath where there should be a sword. The word of God needs to be inside us, internalized, ready for the Spirit’s use to encourage and exhort us. Dig in and feast on the Bible today!
Monday, January 8, 2018
John the Baptist raised Jesus up out of the water after His baptism, and Jesus prayed. As He prayed, the Holy Spirit of God came down in form of a dove. In scripture, doves were important in the sacrificial system of the Jews. They also could symbolize peace. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, meaning, “nothing missing, nothing broken.” Jesus was the Messiah, the One anointed by the Holy Spirit to bring shalom into the hearts of all who would trust in Him. As the Holy Spirit came upon Him, Jesus (John the Baptist, too) heard the Heavenly Father say, “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.” Jesus had submitted to baptism not because He needed to repent of sin since He was sinless, but to fulfill prophecy and to set an example of submission to God. God visibly and audibly showed His approval of Jesus’s baptism as the beginning of His earthly ministry. Jesus was fully man as well as fully God. As man, He humbly submitted Himself to the will of the Father in complete obedience (Philippians 2). That obedience would lead Him to the cross, to become the perfect sacrifice for my sin and yours. Have you trusted Him? Have you experienced the love can take all your brokenness and make you whole again? Have you experienced the peace, the shalom, of His Spirit dwelling within you? If not, surrender your life to Jesus today!
Friday, January 5, 2018
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Matthew 1:21 (AMP) She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 (AMPC) She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].
Matthew 1:21 (CJB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.”
When the angel appeared to Joseph to assure him that Mary had not been unfaithful and explain that her baby was God’s Son, he instructed Joseph to name the baby “Jesus.” One must understand that in their culture most firstborn boys were named after their father which mean Jesus would have logically been named Joseph. Why the name Jesus? The translations of Matthew 1:21 above reveal the answer. He was named according to His God-given purpose to be the Savior of all who would put their trust in Him. Jesus (Yeshua or Joshua) means “Adonai saves.” Who is Adonai? Adonai is a word used by the Hebrews for God and is usually translated into English as Lord. It derives from a word that can mean “master” or “sovereign.” Therefore, the name Jesus means “the sovereign Lord God saves.” God did not have to send Jesus in the form of a baby to grow into the perfect God-Man and die on the cross to provide redemption from our sin. In His sovereign grace, He chose to do so out of His love for His people. The name Jesus should be precious on our lips. Even His name, when properly understood, proclaims the Good News that through Him salvation is made available to those who believe. His name indicates a sovereign Lord who was willing, ready, and able to redeem His chosen ones from sin and death. May we be sure to reverence His name. May we never use it in vain, flippantly, or as a curse word. May we speak it tenderly in thanksgiving, and cry out in His name in times of trouble. May we remember that He is our Master and Sovereign who loves us with an everlasting love. As the Gaithers sing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, There’s just something about that name . . .”
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
MAKE WAY FOR THE KING OF KINGS
When a king would come to town,
Servants smoothed the roads down,
Removed all obstacles before the day
The king’s caravan came that way.
John the Baptist was sent to prepare
The path before Jesus with care,
But the pathway he made for this King
Was the hearts of people he’d bring
To a realization of their needs.
He would plant in them the seeds
Of repentance for remittance of sin,
Symbolically baptizing them.
When the King arrived on the scene,
John the Baptist His praises did sing,
“Behold the Lamb God!” he cried
Foreshadowing that this King would die
To bring salvation to who all who believe,
Who by God’s grace the Spirit receive.
Monday, January 1, 2018
We visualize Jesus as a baby wrapped up in strips of cloth lying in a feeding trough. We sadly see in our mind’s eye, our Lord Jesus dying on the cross. But how often do we contemplate His boyhood? I have always found it amazing that the God who created the universe chose to become an embryo inside a woman He had knit together. I find it equally intriguing to think of our Lord and Savior subjecting Himself to be obedient to mere human beings. Even before that, imagine the all-powerful God humbling Himself to the point of needing His mother to feed and change Him! Picture toddler Jesus being told to stay away from the fire. Did He already know He would be burned if He touched it? Imagine Jesus needing to learn the carpentry trade from Joseph. “Yo, Dad, I invented wood!” No, I’m sure He resisted the urge to be insolent. How aware was He that He was God’s Son? At what age did Mary and Joseph tell Him about the circumstances of His birth? The Bible does not tell us much about Jesus’s boyhood. Luke gives us this glimpse of Him being obedient and growing wiser and taller. What I do know is this—Jesus, our High Priest, experienced everything as a human. We cannot say He can’t understand what we are going through. I praise the Lord that He chose to need to grow up both physically and mentally because it gives me confidence that I can share my heart with Him, and He will understand. Psalm 103:14 “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Amazing! Jesus submitted Himself to the authority of Mary and Joseph—people created from dust! The next time I balk at humbling myself, I need to remember this!