Ready and Engaged

20130214_184424Romans 12:3-8

Although Sunday is Valentine’s Day, this article is not about desiring marriage and committing to marry someone. Instead, it is about us, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, and the relationship of love that we ought to have with the Lord and each other. On Thursday of this week, Sharon and I were able to attend a public rehearsal of the Philadelphia Orchestra through the generosity of a brother in Christ. The conductor was Vladimir Jurowski, and the orchestra practiced Symphony No. 10 by Miaskovsky and Taras Bulba by Janacek. We enjoyed the performance very much, though it was only a rehearsal. The music was dynamic, stimulating, and pleasing.

As I watched the rehearsal, I noticed how intently involved the conductor and every member of the orchestra was in this run through. When they played, they played with emotion. They gave themselves to the music. Not everyone was playing at the same time, but even when they were waiting, they were emotionally involved in the music. Their eyes were on the conductor and each wave of his baton or hand, summoning louder or softer sound, guiding the tempo, and drawing forth the impact that he desired the music to have. They were not distracted. When they had opportunity, they would make notes on their copy of the score. They would ask questions of the conductor. Since this was a practice, the conductor would occasionally halt the orchestra, make a couple comments, and then start fresh. One time, someone made a glaring mistake, apparent to the conductor and everyone in the orchestra, I guess. The conductor stopped them, and the person said, “My bad.” And the conductor replied, “Yes, your bad.” But then they resumed the practice. The error was corrected, and they continued. All were working together to achieve a beautiful presentation.

This made me think of Christ’s people the church. He is the composer, the conductor, and the giver of each one’s abilities and gifts by the Holy Spirit. He is directing his church in a presentation of the gospel story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. He wants this “symphony” to show God’s surpassing brilliance and ultimate worth to the whole universe. He sends his Spirit to breathe upon us that we might be able to let our lights shine for the glory of the Father. Christ works in and through us to make this production succeed.

But he also works “with us”. Each one is responsible and significant. The cello players in the orchestra did not become disinterested and careless when the horns took the lead. A couple times the lead violinist was the brief centerpiece, but all others kept involved. Oh that the church was also ready and engaged. Yet how often individual members wander off to please themselves, forgetting their fellow members—and worse, Christ, the head of the body! How often we all fail. We are not ready to do our part or emotionally engaged in what is happening. We want rest and personal pleasure, instead of denying ourselves to follow the Lord (Mark 8:34). We’re not into the “song”, whether it is worship, reading the word, prayer, serving one another in love, or spreading the word. We need to admit, “My bad”, receive the Lord’s rebuke, and get involved in our heavenly calling afresh.

Listen my friends, the Lord knows who and what you are; he knows everything about you! Yet his grace to you and desire for you is always new. The Lord Jesus wants to work with each and every one of us for the glory of God. My plea is that we are all ready and engaged. Read our opening text from Romans and meditate upon it. Think about how you are in Christ and so part of the body, and your resultant obligations to the Lord and to your brothers and sisters. Consider how you have gifts that are needed by all and be intent in using them. Be ready and engaged.

Grace and peace, David

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The Triumph of God’s Plan

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Isaiah 42:9

God reminds people of what he had done already. Often we see this in the Scriptures, as in the Psalms of salvation history (Psalms 78, 105, 106, etc.) God retells his story, so that we can have confidence in him during our present trials. Since we are his people also, we can meditate on his mighty works and his purpose in them and live in our situations with a godly perspective. Whatever has happened to God’s people previously happened because of his prophetic word, precious promises, and solemn covenants.

Now, in this Servant Song, Yahweh leads them into the future, into what he will accomplish in and through his Son, who is his Servant. He tells them this before these things happen, so that they can recognize that this is the word of the Lord (Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:20-23; 46:9-10). God announces that new events will occur. These are the events of Christ and his new and better covenant that he has just declared (42:6-7). And so God’s people can expect greater things. This is what happened when Jesus Christ came, lived among people, taught us, died for sinners on the cross, was buried, was raised to life on the third day, ascended into heaven, and poured out the Holy Spirit on all who believe. The newness includes God’s ultimate triumph when he makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

God’s announcement of these new events is intended to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ before us in our thoughts and ideas. God wants us to have a radical change of mind about the Lord Christ and to trust in him for the light and liberation of salvation. He wants us to have Christ as the center point of our relationship with him, instead of spiritual experiences, performance of rituals, activity in church programs, or obedience to commands. Christ is our covenant. For this reason the Father asserts his glory, the glory of the One who chose and sent the Servant, that we might have a higher view of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you among those who have repented and believed? How does this glorify God? He is greatly praised in the salvation of his chosen people (Ephesians 1:3-14). God is also glorified when his people live in conformity with his plan rather than human opinions. Is Christ your functional covenant in the way you relate to God? Strangely, too many seem to prefer to relate to God through rituals or rules or some other supposed path of spirituality. The Lord Jesus is our great high priest and mediator (Hebrews 4:14; 9:15) and he is our covenant, and so the Father wants us to draw near to him through his Son (Ephesians 2:18). Don’t miss God’s way, because you’re too involved with what other people tell you.

Grace and peace, David

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God Proclaims His Majesty

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Isaiah 42:8

The name of God is God’s declaration of who and what he is. Here, God’s name asserts his solitariness and supremacy. He is Yahweh, the I AM. No one is like him (Isaiah 40:25); he does whatever he wants to (Psalm 115:3; 135:1-6; Ephesians 1:11), which is always what is wise and right. God’s name should transform our questions in the perplexities of life. For example, “the I AM has placed me in this circumstance to learn the surpassing resources of who he is. I feel utter weakness, but he is strength. I feel despair, but he is refreshing hope. I have no answers, but he is wisdom. Lord, in my instability, I will rely on the certainty of who you are.”

While it is true that the patriarchs knew God by the name Yahweh (Genesis 18:32; 28:13), it was not until the time of the Exodus that God revealed or demonstrated the meaning of the name Yahweh to his people (Exodus 6:2-8). The Lord reveals himself more fully in the events of salvation, whether in the old covenant shadows or the fulfillment of the Messiah and his new covenant. By this name (I AM) God reveals himself as the Covenant Lord and Redeemer of his chosen people. He makes himself known as our light and our salvation (Psalm 27:1; cf. Exodus 15:2).

The Lord does not share his glory with anyone. God is independent of everything else. He is Creator, while everything outside of him is created and dependent. God’s great question to Job is enough to silence everyone (Job 38:4). God lets us know his absolute independence in a number of ways; for example, he is independent in his thoughts (Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:33-34), in his will (Romans 9:19; Ephesians 1:5; Revelation 4:11), and in his counsel (Psalm 33:11). Listen to the words of A. W. Pink. “Such a One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none. Such a God cannot be found out by searching; He can only be known, only as He is revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word” (The Attributes of God, p. 4).

God clearly states that he will not share his glory as God with anyone else. He is far above all that people wrongly imagine to be gods (Jeremiah 10:2-10). In this Servant Song, Yahweh exalts his Son with equal glory to himself. What the Father does, the Son does (John 5:19b). In this way, this reinforces a high evaluation of Christ, the Servant of the Lord. The “bread”, to use our illustration again, enhances the flavor and value of the “rest of the sandwich”. Today, let the glory of the Messiah flavor your way of life.

Grace and peace, David

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For the Glory of God

DSCN0790Isaiah 42:5, 8-9

“We need to see first and foremost that God is God—that he is perfect and complete in himself, that he is overflowingly happy in the eternal fellowship of the Trinity, and that he does not need us to complete his fullness and is not deficient without us. Rather, we are deficient without him; the all-sufficient glory of God, freely given in fellowship through his sacrificed Son, is the stream of living water that we have thirsted for all our lives” (Piper, The Pleasures of God, pp. 18-19, his emphasis). Obviously, what Dr. Piper writes—and more importantly, what the Bible teaches, is completely at odds with the so-called wisdom of mankind and all its ideas, attitudes, words, and actions. Yet only in the glorious God can defeated, debauched, and dying people find real hope. The truth revealed in these verses serves to exalt God’s Servant as Matchless Redeemer, and so this brings more glory to God. This is the best thing that can happen to people, because when we know the glory of God in Christ, then we can enjoy eternal life and all the overflow of his glory to us.

In our previous articles on this passage, we saw that verses 5-9 of Isaiah 42 are a unit, put together something like a sandwich. And we have already considered the innards of the sandwich, the great Servant of the Lord and what he does. But the outside, the “bread” of the sandwich is just as important and provides us with a clear view of the glory or value or shining brilliance of the Lord God.

God identifies himself as the Sovereign Creator (Isaiah 42:5). We hear three couplets in which God describes his creative acts. First, the Lord God talks about his creation of the heavens. In Biblical thought, God’s creation of the vast, spectacular heavens reveals his majesty in a special way (cf. Psalm 19:1-6). Anyone in their right mind who looks at the sun, moon, and stars, and ponders their immensity and the great display of light connected with them begins to wonder. A sense of awe strikes them. And when we think from a Biblical perspective that the Almighty God made them all, we are humbled and stirred to worship. Also when we think of heaven, we think of the place that speaks of God’s throne (Matthew 5:34), of his absolute rule over everything (Daniel 4:25-26). God’s throne was made by God alone. His sovereignty flows from his most excellent being.

Second, God talks about his creation of the earth. He made the earth; in poetic language, he spread it out, like he was unrolling a map. Picture it, as God spread it out. “Hmm, let’s put a large inland sea in the midst of three continents, and while we’re at it, let’s have two large continents cut off from the others by two mighty oceans. Now, where should we draw the rivers? And mountains, hills, and valleys can also show our glory!” God also made what comes out of the earth, like vegetation and animals. To use our picture again: “And we need to make fertile places from which people can get food and build their civilizations. And let’s give them animals and their environment to rule over wisely; then they can reflect our glory in the way they live. When they are wise, caring rulers of creation, they will show our surpassing glory.”

The Sovereign God talks about his creation of people. God created people, too. He made mankind, men and women, to bear his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). This is what gives every person value and significance. This also means that we must respect everyone (James 3:9-10). This is why every word we speak must be spoken in order to build others up (Ephesians 4:29).

Someone might object, “But there is so much that is wrong with that person’s attitudes, words, and actions!” I answer, “Perhaps that is true, but we’re talking about how you must please the Lord. You please him by building others up by your words. And if you can’t think about how you can do that while you disagree with them, then clearly you ought not to get in conversations with them until you learn how to talk godly and wisely.” God gives life and breath to all people. Therefore, all are dependent on him! And it should generate a great deal of holy reverence when we realize that the God to whom we must all give account has such total control over our lives.

All this is not isolated truth; we should admire it, learn it and submit to it. Here, God tells us this in order that we might exalt God’s Servant, who is our covenant and liberator. The Sovereign Creator’s power was displayed in his Son. We are wise to submit to him by living for his glory.

Grace and peace, David

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Christ Our Covenant (Part 3)

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Isaiah 42:7

God tells his purpose for his Servant’s mission. The Father sent his Son to give sight to the blind. One of the great needs of mankind is to be healed of spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; cf. John 9:35-41). When Jesus gave sight to the blind (Mark 10:46-52; John 9:1-5), it was evidence that he was the Messiah and able to give both physical and spiritual sight (Isaiah 35:4-6; Luke 7:18-23).

The Messiah came to give liberty to those in bondage. People live in spiritual bondage, unaware of the chains of darkness that bind them (John 8:34; 2 Tm 2:26). Jesus fulfilled the prophecy and set people free (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1). All this was accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:17-21; 7:18-23; Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 3:17). We become part of God’s purpose to set people free (Ac 13:47; 26:18).

We must think seriously about spiritual bondage. Many people are enslaved by various things:

  • Some are in bondage to pleasure. Their life is a constant pursuit of the next high, whether from food, sex, alcohol, the sights and sounds of casinos, bars, or video games, etc.
  • Some are in bondage to the need to feel in control. What can they do to make it seem that life will go their way? Some become obsessive-compulsive, others pour their lives into politics (that is not why everyone is in politics, but it is why some are), others must watch the news endlessly, thinking that by knowing what some talking head says, they have a little better grip on their lives, etc.
  • Some are in bondage to the past. They look upon it as the time when they were happy, so they desperately try to create the illusion that the past is still present and will be their future. Those were the glory days, and they constantly hug their trophies or keepsakes. Others are in bondage to the past in another way. There is some “big sin” they committed or that was committed against them. They feel that God can never forgive them, or that they are morally filthy, because someone abused them for their evil pleasure. Everyday their past haunts them. They do not rejoice in the Lord.
  • Some are in bondage to fear. Oh, their fears might not be as extreme as the fears of some, but their lives are ruled by the desire to feel safe. Some build shelters and hoard food and water to feel safe. (I wonder if they have a tank to protect their stuff.) Some build shelters of various kinds around their children, supposing that if they can keep their children within their sphere of protection, all will always be well. Some have been hurt and never want to be hurt again, so they build walls around their hearts. Some seek protection from God, because they have never trusted him. They try to buy God off by rituals, going to church, reading their Bibles, praying, spiritual disciplines, and/or doing good works.

What kind of bondage are you in today? My friends, only the Lord Jesus Christ can set you free. This is the good news. Christ, the Son of God is able to set people free! Do you understand that Christ can be your new and better covenant with God? In Christ, you know the Lord, God becomes your God and Father, and forgives your sins (Hebrews 8:10-12). Has the Lord Jesus Christ given you spiritual sight? Do you see that he is your salvation? Has he set you free from sin and its partner, death? Today, you may have light, life and liberty in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn from the ways of darkness and death. Trust in Christ alone for salvation, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Grace and peace, David

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Christ Our Covenant (Part 2)

E67272F0-E623-42C4-92EC-1864B7C445DDGod explains his mission for his Servant (Isaiah 42:6b). The Father called his Servant to be a covenant for the people. A Biblical covenant that God makes is a solemn agreement between God and people to provide rescue for them and/or a relationship with them. The core of the covenant varies according to the covenant made. The core of the covenants made with Noah, Abraham, and David were God’s promises to each one. The first two had signs—something that testified to the reality of the covenant. The covenant with Noah had the sign of the rainbow and the one with Abraham had the sign of circumcision. The core of the law or old covenant was the law written on tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments. Its sign was the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18).

The core of the new or better covenant is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Note carefully that Christ is the covenant (cf. Isaiah 49:8) as well as its Messenger (Malachi 3:1) and Mediator (Hebrews 9:15). Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, himself is the fulfillment of all that comes before him, and so we read here that he himself is the covenant. “In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song, This Cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm…” (Getty and Townend). The sign or evidence that a person is in the new covenant is the reception of the Holy Spirit when he or she believes in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).

God also called his Son to be a light for the nations (Gentiles). Notice carefully that not only does Christ bring light (Ephesians 5:13-14), but that he himself is the light (John 8:12; 9:5), as he is the covenant. Some have balked at the idea that Christ is the covenant. But that should give them no more concern than the truth that Jesus is the light for the nations. “Light” is a figurative way of saying “salvation” (Isaiah 49:6b). Matthew points this out in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 4:16-17). Christ’s mission has a worldwide significance: “to the nations”. The people who are in covenant (“in Christ”) will include not only the believing Jews but believers from all nations (Ephesians 2:11-22; etc.) Read Jesus’ words (Luke 24:44-47).

Since Christ is our covenant and light, we have salvation in him. We have our relationship with God in him and through him. How can we be sure that we can draw near to God? Christ is our covenant relationship with God. How can we be certain of salvation? Christ is our light. If you are struggling about your relationship with God or with assurance of your salvation, refocus on Christ our covenant and light (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2).

Grace and peace, David

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Christ Our Covenant

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Isaiah 42:6-7

I really enjoy a good Reuben sandwich; in fact, I like to make them. But a good Reuben sandwich can be hard to find, because often the restaurant or diner cuts various corners that lower the quality of their Reuben. All parts of the sandwich are important, and having the right ingredients and putting them together the right way can dramatically increase the taste of the Reuben. For example, having delicious rye bread is essential. Skimp with the bread, and the sandwich is inferior. But the insides of the sandwich are just as important: quality corned beef, coleslaw, sauerkraut, and homemade Russian dressing. (To use factory made Russian dressing is probably the worst thing you can do to a Reuben sandwich!)

Our text is like a sandwich. The bread is found in verses Isaiah 42:5 and 42:8-9. And we could rightly have started with those verses. But today, I want to focus on the innards of the sandwich, verses six and seven. However, don’t think for a moment that the “bread” is nonessential.

First, God appointed his Servant for a mission (42:6a). God the Father has an active part in the plan of salvation. Though the Bible should be read in a Christ-focused manner, it is thoroughly Trinitarian. In various places in the Bible we see this truth. For example, in 42:1, we saw that the Father is the One who chose the Servant. In John 3:16 we are told that the Father gave his Son so that people who believe in Jesus might be saved. The Father presented his Son as a propitiation (Romans 3:25). And in many places we learn that the Father raised the Son from the dead after his finished sacrifice for sin (Ephesians 1:20; etc.)

Here, the idea is that the Father called his Son “in righteousness” or “for a righteous purpose”. God wants all people to know that his plan of salvation is right. Justice is satisfied and sinful people are justly forgiven and declared right with God when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us. In addition, since God’s purpose is righteous, it is also wise, good, and loving. This is important, because for anything to be wise, good, or loving, it must first be righteous. All God’s love alone could not have saved us apart from Christ’s propitiation on the cross (Rm 3:25-26).

God the Father guarantees his power to help his chosen Servant in his mission. When God says that he is holding your hand, he is letting you know that he is with you. In this way, the Father watched over the Son up to the cross. After the Son paid the full price for our redemption, the Father was there to receive his spirit (Luke 23:46). Three days later, the Father raised Jesus from the dead! So then, in the psalm of the cross (Psalm 22), we read great words of hope and trust from the Suffering Messiah by way of prophecy.

The Father promised to keep him. And so, after forty days of fierce temptation, the Father sent angels to serve his Servant (Mark 1:13). At Christ’s baptism (Mark 1:11) and transfiguration (Mark 9:7), God owned his Servant as his Son. At the conclusion of the public teaching ministry of Jesus, the Father spoke from heaven to affirm the message of his Son (John 12:27-28). After the resurrection, the Father had him sit at his right, the place of honor. He kept him all the way to glory.

The Father was actively involved in the saving work of his dearly loved Son. The God who made covenants with people is the one who called Christ to be a new and better covenant. He was directly involved in this event. And Jesus did all to glorify the Father (Jn 17:4). Are you honoring the Father for the way of salvation? To honor him, you must first believe or trust in Jesus Christ whom he sent (Jn 17:3). God the Father is close to his Son (John 1:1-2); the only way to get near the Father is through the Son he sent (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18). The way to nearness to God is through Jesus, the Servant of the Lord.

Grace and peace, David

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On Groundhog’s Day

A very happy Groundhog’s Day to you! And a Happy Birthday to my lovely daughter, Sarah Janelle! I was born near Punxsutawney, PA, and so Groundhog’s Day was always an event in our family, and when Sarah was born on February 2, it became more special. I must admit that our family never made the pilgrimage on Groundhog’s Day to “Punxy” as my grandparents usually called the town. But I did take Sharon and our children there one day, while we were on the way to visit my grandparents, who lived in good old Homer City. There are a lot of towns with different names in that area, including Coral, Black Lick, Commodore, Glen Campbell, which was not named after the singer, and my birthplace of Indiana. Many times when asked, “Where were you born?” I would answer, “In Indiana.” Before I could complete the phrase, they would ask, “What town in Indiana?” But I digress.

Today Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, and so according to legend, “Spring is just around the corner!” This is a rather safe prediction, since the vernal equinox is on March 20 this year. If he had seen it, six more weeks of winter would have been a confident prediction as well. You can do the math.

However, that is not my subject today, but rather it is this: What forecasts do you build your life upon? Most people obsess over weather forecasts and the over-hyped storm warnings that promise even a couple inches of snow or even rain. “Ladies and gentlemen, we might get up to an inch of rain today! For your own safety, please stay inside! This might signal the coming apocalypse!” Okay, I made up the last line, but I’ve heard the middle one too many times. Other people are into horoscopes, card and palm readings, and psychic predictions. Why do people love the forecasts, predictions and prophecies of so-called experts? Could it be we have a problem with fear of the future? What “future fear” are you struggling with this week?

There is a forecast that we ought to pay attention to. It is one of the oldest in human history, beginning with Enoch (Jude 14-15) and confirmed by Christ (Matthew 24:44) and his apostles (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:10-13). The Lord Jesus Christ is going to return. He will come to judge his enemies and to rescue his dearly loved people. Are you thinking about that certain future event? If we are wise, we will be ready for it, and living according to it. We do not have to fear it, if we know the King of kings and Lord of lords who is coming to take us to himself.

Grace and peace, David

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The result of the mission of the Servant of the Lord

DSCN0110Isaiah 42:3c, 4b

The Servant established justice. Jesus the Messiah acts in a big theater of operations: “on earth”. For nearly 1800 years, it looked like Jesus was only at work in western Asia, Europe, North America, and northern Africa for a time. Then suddenly, he started to shine his light in other places for about the next 200 years. Now, all around the world people from every tribe and language are coming to the Lord and Savior, Jesus. We live in great days of the progress of the mission. We need to abandon our local, provincial interests and praise the Lord for what he is doing in the world today. Certainly, the darkness is dark, but the true Light is shining and more and more people have received the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6). We should shake off the gloom and get involved in Jesus’ mission, as the early apostles did (Acts 5:41-42; 13:46-52).

Christ told Peter that he would build his church (Mt 16:18). This prophecy expresses that same certainty. His justice will be brought to earth, because God’s appointed goal is to make a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-2; 22:1-5) to share with his new creation people.

The Servant of the Lord established hope. The idea of the Hebrew word is “to wait” or “to hope”. The word can mean either. Here I think the second is better because of Matthew’s use of hope in his use of the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Isaiah (Matthew 12:21). The islands, the most remote places of the earth, will have hope or confident expectation. The eternal inheritance his people share in him provides them with a certain basis to expect much more than they could have in this world that is destined to pass away. Let us live as people with an eternal destiny ought to live. To be specific, this means that we will need to invest time in setting our thoughts on things above. Reread and meditate on Colossians 3:1-4. This requires us to meditate on what we have in Christ, including what we will surely have in heaven. We must strengthen your heart with these things!

The basis of this is the Servant’s instruction (torah). One of the great truths of the Gospels is that Jesus is the great Prophet or Teacher. His instruction becomes a crucial part of our hope, which restructures our world and life view. We now are to think of ourselves, our lives, and our share eternity with the living God in conformity with Christ’s instruction. Since he is the fulfillment of the old torah, his new torah, given through him and his apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit becomes our torah. He is God’s final revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2); he is the Word or Message. His instruction about God’s saving reign becomes the basis for our hope. He has revealed the Father (John 17:6-8). Believing his message is the way to life (John 5:24). To believe his instruction means the difference between eternal wisdom and eternal foolishness (Matthew 7:24-27). Don’t be foolish! Let’s build our lives on Christ and his instruction!

Grace and peace, David

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How the Servant of the Lord Served

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Isaiah 42:3c-4a

He served faithfully. The Hebrew word used here presents the idea of certainty and dependability. It is used of God’s nature (Exodus 34:6), God’s words (Psalm 119:142), and his rescue and protection of his people (Psalm 91:40). Here it points out that Jesus the Servant of the Lord is faithful to the mission that God the Father gave him. At the end of his earthly ministry he could say that he had completed the work that the Father had given him to do (John 17:4). He faithfully obeyed God by always doing what pleased him, and by being the perfect and final sacrifice for sin. In the same way, Christ will be faithful to his people (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

He endured in the work God gave him to do. He provided his strength for the neediness of the people. The words translated “grow weak” and be “discouraged” in verse four pick up words that are translated “bruised” and “smoldering” in verse three. Though the Servant would have to face the same pressures as his people, he triumphed where we fail. We can see this at various points in the Gospels. Jesus sleeps in the boat while his disciples are filled with fear (Mark 4:38). Jesus has compassion on the crowds when the disciples wanted to send them away (Mark 6:34, 36). Jesus cast out a demon when the disciples couldn’t (Mark 9:25-29). Jesus welcomed the children when the disciples wouldn’t (Mark 10:13-16). Jesus prayed while the disciples slept (Mark 14:32-41). And he conquered the devil and temptation while we often fail (Hebrews 4:15).

He persisted in the face of difficulties. One of the biggest failings all of us have is to become discouraged, depressed, and to quit or want to quit in the face of hardship and opposition. Jesus kept on when the people of his hometown tried to throw him down a cliff (Luke 4:29), when the Jewish religious leaders became critical (Luke 5:21-26), and when all the people of an area asked him to leave (Luke 8:37). Jesus would not quit when people laughed at him (Luke 8:53), when the Samaritans wouldn’t welcome him (Luke 9:53), and when Jerusalem rejected him as king (Luke 13:34). He persevered when only one man said thank you (Luke 17:17), when a prospective convert walked away (Luke 18:23), and when he saw his Father’s house turned into a den of robbers (Luke 19:46). Most of all he endured while he was mocked, beaten, spit on, scourged, crucified, and forsaken by all. Praise God, the Lord Jesus did not grow weak or become discouraged! His love and obedience were so great that he endured all to save us!

This is an excellent time to bow and to ask the victorious Jesus to save you. If you are saved, say “Thank you, Jesus!” We have a strong Savior who sticks with us and who will carry out his work in us (Philippians 1:6). Approach your life situation today with faith in him. Make Christ’s way of serving the Lord part of the way in which you look at your life. “Yes, this ____________ is happening to me, but the Lord Jesus is faithful, endures, and persists in his grace to me.”

Grace and peace, David

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