Monday, February 27, 2012

Thoughts about our world, reprinted from 2005

Thoughts about our world, reprinted from 2005




By Patrick Davis 2005

When I first became a Christian, others sometimes ridiculed my decision saying I was using religion as a crutch. I would rejoin that that was totally an incorrect analogy; Christianity is not a crutch. Rather it is the whole hospital, and not just a hospital, but the emergency wing of the hospital, and not just the emergency wing of the hospital, but the heart-attack room, with the patient’s heart having just quit, and the whole hospital staff working to revive even the faintest of heart beats. I am on that table now, receiving “urgent medical care” for my soul, and apart of the care of God in Christ, I shall surely come to complete and utter ruin. I could wish for the crutch analogy to be true, but it is about the biggest understandment of the need for grace that I know. I am a total wretch, a lost street urchin, a homeless soul bereft of food or clothing. There is no hope for me, until I met Christ.

And so, it is in that spirit that I wish to make the following statement. Jesus spent more of his time warning about hell and judgment than he did telling about the promises of heaven. In our day of “niceness” where no one is ever told anything distasteful, this statement must jar the ears like fingernails across the blackboard. Last month I concluded a class discussion in which someone in the class made the statement that she did not believe in a God who would judge someone evil; rather she believed in a God who saw good in people no matter who they were. The class was not religious and since I did not want to offend her, I suggested that she line up the words of Jesus. What do they actually say? I suggested that she might be surprised. Jesus spent many words warning of condemnation and coming judgment.

C.S. Lewis aptly points out that this choice is not one logically left open to us; in spite of that there are many people today who platonically state that Jesus was a good man. To say he is a good man ignores the content of his message which simply put was he that has seen me has seen the Father. Obviously we only have two choices left to us in the face of such a claim. One is that he was a delusional nut who, in evangelizing the world, committed the greatest crime against mankind ever conceived. He got the world to believe in a savior who wasn’t. The second choice is that he was who he claimed to be. The Son of God come to rescue a needy planet. He absolutely could not be the third choice, a good man.

So the record of what he said is vital to us. Was it a nice message? I submit that it mostly was a message warning of mortal judgment coming upon man except for those who heard his message and received his freely offered grace. What is the mortal judgment of which he warns?
First he tells us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He tells us that if we act unjustly towards others we will be handed over to the jailers to be tortured. He tells us in many parables that if we do not measure up to the standards of heaven, we will be cast out into the outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He says that those who do not measure up will go away to eternal punishment. Not trivial punishment, not temporary punishment, but eternal punishment, where as he says, the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Whoever does not believe, he declares will be condemned. And how condemned? He that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God. Whoever rejects the son will not see life.

And it is on this basis that I would offer that it is necessary for Christians to warn of the coming storm. Not only is the gospel defined aptly as one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread; it is sometimes the needed thing for the beggar to tell where not to get bread.
Whatever else we may know about Christianity, we are certain of this. Christ himself claimed to have exclusive truth and to be the only way to God. No one is allowed to come to God except through him. Again, I refer you back to the logic. Either Jesus was a demented and crazed man, or he was who he said he was. There is no third option.

So what can be said for those who reject this grace of God? Their judgment includes the eternal decision of God. And where are they put? They are put into the hell which causes eternal torment evidenced by weeping and gnashing of teeth. Are there special judgments for those who are specially wicked? Revelation 21:8 seems to indicate so for it spells out the sexually immoral, the vile and the murderers.

So what shall we say about those who terrorize our society today? Who believe that their bombs will explode them to instant heaven? If we are to believe the words of Jesus, their bombs will explode them into eternal judgment where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
What an awful waste of life! And what sort of judgment will fall on those men who teach these young men to blow themselves into Hell? I shudder at the coming judgment. Jonathan Edwards had it right: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

The Last Ten Days, part 2

I found my notes! I would like to add to a timeline each day and build a coherent structure that I think might stand the test of comparing Scriptures. Each day I would like also to add a bit about events and bolster the calendar events a bit.

Nisan 8, Friday
John 12:1, Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

Mary Anoints Jesus:


John 12:3
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
(See also Mt. 26:6, Mk. 14:3)

Nisan 9, Saturday

Triumphal Entry:


Mt. 21:1-11
Luke 19:28-44

Jesus cleanses temple (second time):


Mt. 21:12-17

Jesus returns to Bethany for the night:


Mt. 21:17
And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

As I look at the schedule followed by Jesus here, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where He is anointed for His burial. He spends the night in Bethany, but heads for Jerusalem the next day. On his way to Jerusalem, He is spotted by the crowds, who begin to acclaim Him as the Christ, waving palm leaves, and watching Him enter the city. Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the temple, and then returns to Bethany for the night.

I am experimenting with different ways of presenting a table with all of this laid out, and will be working diligently on it. It is evident from study that these events were planned according to the foreknowledge of God, and that the Son gave Himself willingly on the cross. Jesus stressed that “no man takes it from me, I give it willingly.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Elijah, a man of like passions

Thoughts from sermon 2/26/12

It is hard to come up with a hero’s name that would be more substantive than Elijah. Just this week in my prayers, I have been praying about the drought that California is facing. As we have just set records in the least moisture deposited ever during the winter months, I have begun to pray for God to send us rain. Of course, when I think of drought and praying for rain, I think also of Elijah, that great man of God. And being spiritually minded, I found myself wondering if the drought is not a signal of God’s displeasure to California. Of course, there is nothing to validate that thesis one way or another, and many people have made themselves look foolish predicting the hand of God in discipline when it is suddenly withdrawn, perhaps by lots of rain.

So my prayer I adjusted upon considering this. If this is your will, dear God, please send us a great prophet like unto Elijah that we may know it is. If it is not, then Lord, please send us rain. This summer is apt to be hotter and drier than any we have known for a long time, and I would that you would not forget your people, many of whom are unemployed farm workers. We need water for food and provisions. Please see to our needs, according to your glory, Oh God.

Of course in that day, the King blamed Elijah for the plight of the nation, but God would not allow the blame to stay on Elijah, and the Spirit, through Elijah told the King that it was his own wickedness which caused the nation’s problems. There is certainly plenty of wickedness in our state that such a prophet, were he raised up, could point to.

The meat of the message was in the different prayers of Elijah. Why did God send fire from heaven with one prayer, and why did Elijah have to pray seven times for rain to come? We are not told why. Dave used it as an illustration of the times when we have to persevere in prayer, and I agree wholeheartedly that there are such times. Let me use the illustration of a 35 year prayer that I kept before the Lord.

In 1972, I was saved (May 5th) and found most of my family without Christ. I later found out that my mother had received Christ in Billy Graham’s first crusade (please do not try to tell me mass evangelism is a waste of time—it would be a waste of your time), and my closest brother had just recently come forward in his own church. At any rate, I held all of my family up to the Lord, praying that the wonderful liberty of freedom in Him that I had discovered might also be given to them. Three times I went to the Lord, and three times I waited in expectation for His answer. I knew my God—I knew He was a great God who answered prayer. The third time I prayed, the Spirit seemed to speak to my Spirit as I lifted each of my family before Him. With each member of my family I got assurance that God would indeed draw them to salvation, except for my father. “What about my dad?” I asked God. I focused, trying to listen, and it seemed as if it was going to be very hard for my dad, but, in the end, he too, would come to Christ.

In the years after 1972, I stood on those promises, being reminded when I would pray for my family, that this was already answered prayer, and I found God turning my petitions to praises as I praised Him for the salvation of each of my family. One by one my family was secured into the salvation of God, but my father seemed to be the unreturning prodigal son. In the nineties, while musing and praying for my father, who often seemed to have such a closed heart, and seldom the reverse, I received another prompting by the Spirit that not only would He do as He promised, but that my brother, the first to Christ would supplant me as the one to lead him to Christ.

I was praying while going to visit my parents, and I was surprised to see the very brother that God had seemed to impress on my mind, helping out at my parent’s home. I found myself gushing to him what had happened, and told him that God was going to use him to bring Dad to Christ. He seemed a bit taken aback, and I walked away, thinking I had probably blown it again, and that my brother probably thought I was crazy. I knew he would be right to think that, but I just could not quite get away from the feeling that it was a “God-thing”, and that God would bring it about.

Fast forward to about a month before my Dad’s passing away in 2007, and I was trying again to talk to him about Christ. He asked me not to talk about it ever again with him, saying he had already made his mind up about it. I replied, “Dad, it is as you ask. I will never bring the subject up again. But for the last time, I will say you are wrong. You are wrong, Dad.” I could see conviction and guilt all over his face, but I kept my word to him, even though it was tortuous to see him dying without my being able to talk more to him.

But my brother had not made such a promise, and during the last week of my father’s life, led my dad to Christ. By that time, God had worked in his heart, and Dad was most eager to give his life, what remained of it, to Jesus Christ.

I have many fond memories of these years. At the time, being a new Christian, but, even as now, thirsting to read all that is in the universe (I exaggerate, but not by much—I love to read), I read about some fellow called Jonathon Edwards, and found out that Edwards had been used to bring a great awakening to America. As a young man, Edwards was said to have prayed for all of his descendants, that they might be vibrant Christian workers in His harvest. According to the article, 167 descendants had been traced from Edwards and all were either pastor’s (or pastor’s wives) or missionaries.

Hey, I said, I am a young man like Edwards. I, like Edwards passionately want to see Christ come to those around me. Like Edwards, I want my descendants to all be busy for the Lord. God is gracious, and I believe He heard my prayer that day. Today my two daughters are married, one to a missionary’s kid, and the other to a pastor’s kid, and as I watch them active in their respective churches, and eagerly raising their children to be Christian, I cannot but be overwhelmed by my awesome God.

So pray, pray through, when you at first do not get an answer. But pray always expecting an answer, for the God we serve is an awesome God full of love and mercy. I do believe that sometimes people repeat a prayer that they really want answered, but sometimes I see that they really do not expect an answer. I have to wonder at those times, if God had not already given an answer, and found them not listening. Part of the awesomeness of prayer is knowing that God hears us, and that, if He hears us, we will receive whatever we ask of Him. I wonder sometimes if people forget that promise from Scripture, and I see a vast difference between the great prayer warriors of my church, who know God hears, and listen hard for His response; and those who may have tried prayer once but found it did not work. Sometimes the response comes so loud as lightening from heaven that every eye can see, but sometimes the answer is a far off speck of a cloud on the distant horizon, and those answers we need to take by faith. We need to station ourselves on the ramparts, and see what answer God will give to our complaints. As watchmen working through the night we need to come again and again with our petitions, but always knowing that each prayer, each petition is as perfumed incense to our God, giving us every expectation of an answer from our Loving Father.

The Beginning of the Last Week

I am still looking for my 25 year old notes on this subject, and so far coming up empty. Nevertheless, I do have the internet to help, something not around 25 years ago. I would like to start by putting the last week in sort of perspective. It is the most written about week in history, and if I had to pick one point of history that changed the world, it would be this one.

But from the perspective of Jesus it was a bit different. I am totally sure that I can not explain the divine perspective here, as my frail mind is much too weak to even begin to comprehend His perspective. But it is evident that Jesus foreknew what He was going to go through, and indeed, He was so sure of the event that at times He speaks as if it had already taken place. I am not going to try to tell what Jesus was thinking; rather I will list some of the things He was saying that I might understand more of His perspective:

1) “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) In this passage, part of the Lord’s prayer, it should be evident that the cross was immediately ahead, and the work which the Father had sent the Son to accomplish was not yet done. How could Jesus pray that He completed all the work given to Him to do? The only answer that makes sense is that Jesus was taking divine perspective, and looking at the cross as if it were already finished. Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of the coming of the Son, and in the divine perspective, that which God decrees is already done, though the rest of us have to wait for time to unwind before we see the finished work. So when God declares, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” God is already seeing the cross as finished work, thousands of years before His incarnation.

2) “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone.” (John 16:31,32) Jesus knew that He would face the cross essentially alone, abandoned even by those who followed Him.

3) “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:27) Jesus, caught by the immediacy of the cross, looks to the Father, not that He might be saved, but rather that He might endure.

4) “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:28,29) Jesus plainly and frequently tells of the coming cross, that those who will hear, will believe.

There are many more passages that show Jesus foreknew exactly what was to happen, and as I approach the study of the last week, I want to do so with the stipulation that God foreknew all of the events of this last week, and each act that Jesus performed in this last and very busy week, was specifically arranged to bring glory to both the Father and the Son. If I am to understand the crucifixion aright, it needs to be understood as that which used the ill will of many leaders, coupled with the diabolical intentions of Satan himself, to bring about the utter and completely satisfactory death on the cross. In every way, Jesus gave Himself to the cross, and no man or angel took it from Him. And yet, each who opposed the Christ is responsible for their rejection, and will be held accountable. I think it is a beautiful picture of the meshing of the free will of man with the immutable design of a sovereign God. I may say I believe it, but I freely admit I do not understand it. Such things are too wonderful for me!

My Redeemer

1. I will sing of my Redeemer
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

2. I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

3. I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I'll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin and death and hell.

4. I will sing of my Redeemer
And His heav'nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

Chorus:
Sing, O sing of my Redeemer,
With His blood He purchased me;
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt and made me free.

Lyrics: Philip Paul Bliss

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three Days and Three Nights

Good Friday is a myth long held in church tradition, and a cursory study of history will teach that it is so. But it is not what the Scripture plainly teaches. Jesus over and again said that He would spend three days in the belly of the earth. Once He even declares, “As Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Even if one assumes that Jesus had just arisen when Mary discovered the empty tomb, if Christ was buried Friday night, interred Saturday day and rose at the end of Saturday night, that is only two nights and one day.

I have always looked at the words of Jesus, and reckoned the question of whether the Creator of the universe could count or not. If one assumes He can count and knows the literal meaning of 3 days and 3 nights, then the Friday myth must be wrong. For this reason I posted the blog about the ten Sabbaths of God. Any student of Sabbath study soon finds out that there were always two holy days adjacent to each other, the 14th of the first month being the Passover, and the 15th of the first month being the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a feast of a week, with the first and last day being high holy Sabbaths. The Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed on the 13th of the first month, shortly before twilight(at twilight begins the 14th, Passover), just at the very time our Lord was dying on the cross. It was necessary for Joseph and Nicodemus to move fast in burying the body, needing to get it done before 6 P.M., for the Jewish days started with evening and then morning.

Once you know that the two Sabbaths occur together, a Friday crucifixion becomes impossible since we have to have 48 hours of Sabbath minimum. This means that the earliest time in which Jesus could have been crucified would have been Thursday. But I reject Thursday for the same reason, I do think my Lord knows how to count, and wanted that full 72 hours in the grave to show the world beyond any doubt that He had died, and then arose. So the speculation on my part goes along these lines: what if three Sabbath days had occurred together? The first would be the Passover, the second the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the third day, the regular Saturday. Thus I think the best job of harmonizing the last week puts the crucifixion on a Wednesday, with the body of Christ being interred in a hurry so that the Jews would not touch a dead body on the high Sabbath, the Passover, which began at 6 P.M. Wednesday evening.

I am going to try to present a coherent calendar of the last week over the next few weeks. There is great difficulty in putting all the Scriptures together in a coherent fashion, but I do think the very least problems arise when I fix His burial to begin at 6 Wednesday evening. I also hope to show a calendar of the great events of that week, the most written about week in all of history.

Before I do that, though, I would like to state for the record that there are many, if not most, Christians who have not thought through the inconsistencies in a Friday crucifixion that I clearly hope to show. Their Christianity is in no way being questioned here; rather it seems to me that God will judge us on the basis of our believing that He sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins, not on the day of the week on which His Son was buried. However, I would challenge the reader to check the Scripture (as a good Berean would do) to see whether these things might be so. It is my heart-felt thesis that the Bible clearly presents Friday as an impossibility, and another day must be searched for that will fit with what must have actually happened. This is not a new doctrine and many of the early church fathers did hold to a Wednesday burial.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev'ry weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
Take it to the Lord in prayer:
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee;
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Lyrics: Joseph Medlicott Scriven

Friday, February 24, 2012

John 21 18 to 25

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Key Observation:
Jesus foretells the manner of Peter’s death.

Devotion:
Again, I do not see a rebuke in the words of Jesus here. Instead, I think that what I see is sort of a backwards compliment. Peter has been reticent to lift himself up, and is deeply humbled. The Lord tells Peter that Peter will indeed be like unto his Lord, following him with a similar crucifixion. Though the message is stunning, it is also comforting in the sense that the Lord is saying that Peter will be like Him. He will be spending his life to “feed my sheep.”

Now, is it not just like Peter to ask Jesus about John, wanting to know whether John was going to die a violent death? Jesus remarks that it is none of his business. I take great comfort in Peter’s question because it shows that his basic personality is still there. My Lord does not want so much to change what I am, as to change whom I am looking at. Peter was now looking to his Lord, and shirking any idea of boasting. It is ludicrous that some have sought to elevate Peter to the office of pope, as he was still a man of like nature, full of error, and needful of grace. While he was later to be found leading many in Jerusalem, Paul himself (Galatians) had to reprove Peter yet again for not walking in the grace to which he was called. When I read Luther’s treatment of Galatians, I find it humorous that Galatians is one of Luther’s favorite books, since Paul here is pictured rebuking the first pope. No wonder Luther, who rebuked his own pope constantly, found it to be his favorite book! Tradition, of course, teaches that Peter requested to be crucified upside down, as he thought himself unfit to be like his Lord, even in this act.

I do wish we had not been so bent historically on following the traditions of men. The book of Second Thessalonians teaches us to hold fast to the traditions that were handed down to us, not at all meaning that we should follow traditions that had not even been developed yet. I wish in this respect that all men were like I am—if I cannot find it in my Bible I am exceedingly skeptical about the worthiness of whatever tradition or doctrine that might be taught. In my opinion, the best of what the Reformers offered us was a renewed emphasis on what is actually there, rather than what is invented in the minds of men, no matter how excellent their motives may be. It was no small feat of courage and wisdom to provide the Bible in the common language as did both Tyndale and Luther.

John closes a bit uncertainly with my Lord asking the question of John, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” I believe that to be done deliberately because there are some things that we are not meant to know, but rather we are asked to have faith in Him who saved us. If all the things that Jesus ever did were written down there would be no end to books, and I suppose there would be no end to knowledge either, since we are studying the infinite God when we study Jesus. In 1 Corinthians, Paul teaches us that “then we shall know even as we also are known.” For me that is sufficient. Is it for you?

Christ Arose

1. Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior!
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!

2. Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!

3. Death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!

Chorus:
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever With His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Lyrics: Robert Wadsworth Lowry

Thursday, February 23, 2012

John 21 8 to 17

8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Key Observation:
This, the third time Jesus has appeared to his disciples, Jesus commands Peter to feed his sheep. (McGee: “There are eleven appearances before His ascension and three after His ascension. I think we can surmise from the text that there are others which were not described.”)

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104178-104179). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


Devotion:
This is one place where the original Greek language does make a significant difference in understanding this passage. The reason for the difficulty is found in the Greek words for love, consistently translated by “love” in English. Agapa and phileo are the two words which Jesus and Peter are bantering back and forth. The proper translation of each of them is “love” as rendered in the King James Version, but it fails totally to catch the nuance of what is going on here.

I do not think I can say it as well as McGee: “There is another Greek word—it is phileo, and it means “friendship.” It has to do with the affections and the emotions in human relations at its very best usage. We get our word philanthropic from it, and philadelphia comes from it—Philadelphia, the city of “brotherly love.” And that is a word that is used in Scripture. But there is yet another word for love. It is agapao. Agapao is actually the highest and noblest word for love. Dr. Vincent in his Word Studies calls it a word of dignity. It is also a divine word, in that it is a word used to speak of the love of God. The Lord Jesus Christ, in His choice of language, passed over the words eros and phileo and used the word agapao when He was speaking to Simon Peter. He said, “Do you, Simon Peter, love me with all your heart?””

Peter, I remember, had the pride to tell his Lord that he would never deny Him. I think that bragging and being prideful was a problem that Peter often had. His bubble had been burst by his denials, his humility had stepped in, forever. Jesus started by asking Peter if he loved me “more than these”, indicating the other disciples. Peter the braggart would have had no problem answering I agapa you more than they do; Peter the humbled could not bring himself to say agapa, saying instead phileo.

Again, the Lord asks Peter if he agapas Him, but this time He leaves off “more than these”. Peter, still humbled, only answers that he phileos Him. The third time the Lord questions Peter, it is the Lord who changes the love to phileo, and Peter is very mortified because His Lord has dropped His word down, but, maintaining his humility, answers again with the phileo.

I think that this passage smells of rebuke to Peter, but I do also think that if one walks away thinking it was rebuke would miss the love behind the message. First of all, did not the Lord know Peter’s answer before asking? That is to say, I believe Jesus already knew Peter was humbled, almost to the point of destruction. His answer to Peter three times is also missed in English for each time He says “feed my sheep” He is saying slightly different things in the Greek. Peter is being pointed to act as a shepherd once more, and the Lord, rather than rebuking Peter, is rehabilitating him on a new basis, one founded on deep humility rather than pride. Remember that Peter was the one who insisted before all that he would never desert his Lord. I think the Lord is helping Peter get himself back together here, and the message should be looked at as one of tender love.

This passage is delightfully handled by McGee, and I commend it to anyone who wants further study, for he has divided and separated the passage out for easy understanding. It is a favorite of mine, and I shall delight in coming back to it many times, Lord willing.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104415-104421). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


O Happy Day!

1. O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice
And tell its raptures all abroad.

2. O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

3. 'Tis done, the great transaction's done
I am my Lord's and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

4. Now rest, my long-divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest,
Nor ever from my Lord depart,
With Him of ev'ry good possessed.

Chorus:
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray
And live rejoicing every day;
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!

Lyrics: Philip Doddridge

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

John 21 1 to 7

1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea

Key Observation:
John is the first to recognize the Lord.

Devotion:
I want to fish where the Lord tells me to! It seems to be a place of substantial reaping. It is impulsive Peter persuading the others to go fishing, but it is John who tells Peter that it is the Lord. Again I see the remarkable facility of John to discern what the truth of the matter really is. Did that facility come from John himself, or was it something from God? I suspect it may have been a combination of the two—but I do remember that John is the beloved, and as the beloved, perhaps knew more about Jesus than most of the others.

I find it delightful that Peter jumps in to swim towards his Lord. Would that we were all that hungry to walk with the Lord! Our older commentators looking at symbolism, as they were so prone to do, might well see much in Peter girding himself with a fisherman’s coat. A short time had passed since Peter had denied his Lord, and now I see him naked. Symbolically, could that mean that Peter was naked from his self-righteousness? Remember that I feel Peter actually denied the Lord six times, and whether he did or not, Peter had been filled with a self-righteousness-bubble that had since burst. Wasn’t he naked before his Lord? And now, is the Lord not preparing him to feed His sheep? Does not the Pentecost Feast and Peter’s sermon lay before him? I can well see that perhaps the Lord is foreshadowing His preparation of Peter.

Anymore speculation and I shall start sounding like one of the ancient fathers with their evident addiction to numerology. Did you know that almost every number used in the Bible had symbolic explanations by some of the ancients? At times I find such speculation bizarre, but at other places, I do have to wonder if there is not something to it.

At any rate, I think this is the last time we catch the disciples actually fishing for fish; soon they all become fishers of men. I remember having a very fruitful season in my life, where it was as if the Lord told me to cast my net on one side of the boat. The harvest was bountiful, as the Lord blessed both my wife and I with seeing many many people come to Christ. If He continues to tarry, my prayer is for revival, and a sending out of His Holy Spirit, that we may yet be blessed and see more come to Christ.

Come, Thou Almighty King

1. Come Thou Almighty King,
Help us Thy name to sing,
Help us to praise:
Father, all-glorious,
O'er all victorious,
Come and reign over us,
Ancient of Days.

2. Come, Thou Incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword,
Our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless,
And give Thy word success:
Spirit of holiness,
On us descend.

3. Come, Holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear
In this glad hour!
Thou, who almighty art,
Now rule in ev'ry heart
And ne'er from us depart,
Spirit of pow'r.

4. To Thee, great One in Three,
The highest praises be,
Hence evermore;
Thy sov'reign majesty
May we in glory see,
And to eternity
Love and adore.

Lyrics: England, c. 1757
Music: Felice de Giardini

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John 20 30 to 31

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Key Observation:
The purpose of John is that you might believe and find life.

Devotion:
John is written to teach men that Jesus is the Christ. Actually I love this gospel more dearly than any of the others because it clearly presents Jesus as the Creator and the Savior of the world. It is fashionable on the part of some to declare what is called limited atonement, or the idea that Jesus only died for the elect. John knows nothing of this limited atonement—over and over again he repeats phrases similar to “for God so loved the world”. Reading Calvin’s commentary on John recently, I was impressed that even Calvin did not deny the plain sense of this gospel, but rather gave free weight to their primary thrust. I do not understand why so many claiming to follow Calvin insist on rewriting the many verses of John that express that the Savior on the cross gave Himself for all.

But as I have frequently commented, John also is the most clear gospel about those who are not saved. Jesus clearly foreknows the elect, and those who will have nothing to do with Him it says, “but He did not commit Himself unto any of them for He knew all men. There is a limited atonement only in the sense that it is strictly limited to those who will come to me, for it says, “he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” The mystery of election does not allow us in; rather we must view it from the outside, but in John we see them both clearly presented. God both foreknows and predestines. Men refuse the offered grace of God, and men are held to account for their willful blindness. Neither truth can be compromised at the expense of the other without pulling the saint significantly away from the truth. One day God will judge all men who refused His conviction, and it will be found that men’s willfulness have made them, as Paul says, “without excuse.”

Sometimes I have been accused of harshness in presenting the gospel, but I say unto you that that is the way it has been handed down to us. “Neither is there salvation under any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” It begins and ends with Jesus, and I am so thankful that John makes it clear. The world is desperately lost and in need of its Savior.

Blessed Redeemer

1. Up Calvary's mountain, one dreadful morn,
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss.

2. "Father forgive them!" thus did He pray,
E'en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so.

3. O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end!
Through years unnumbered on Heaven's shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore.

Chorus:
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding dying for me!

Lyrics: Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen

Monday, February 20, 2012

John 20 19 to 29

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Key Observation:
Here is the place where Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit unto the church.

Devotion:
It is Jesus Himself who breathes on the disciples and imparts the Holy Spirit to them, a gift that is without end. Later, the first manifestation of the Spirit is at Pentecost, but the actual giving of the Spirit is here. The church is not given power to forgive sins here—rather the church “proclaims” the forgiveness of sins available in our Savior. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

The difficulty of the church historically has been to hold the line doctrinally. Additions to the Scripture seem to inevitably follow creed development, and history does reveal extra-biblical doctrines arising following speculations about unanswered controversies in the Bible. Let me just say that there is no doctrine from the Bible that allows priests or pastors to forgive sins. We may and should forgive each other, but beyond the forgiveness of the Cross, the Bible knows nothing. There is great safety in limiting our doctrines to those directly obtained from the Bible, and there is great virtue in seeing how our church fathers traditionally interpreted these Scriptures, but there is only great hazard and tragedy in following anything that goes beyond the ken of Scripture.

Thomas, I find a satirical figure. I find him always taking the place of Eeyore, who always gloomily observes the bad things. Let us also go to Jerusalem, that we may also die, says Thomas. Here he makes the statement that he will not believe except he sees the holes for himself. I need to remember that his first statement was not so far off, for all of the apostles, except the traitor, were endangered, and it took the intersession of the Lord to give Himself, and yet save them. Here, Thomas is only asking for what the others had already received. According to Luke 24:39, the Lord Himself had invited the apostles to all look at His hands and feet, to verify that it was indeed Jesus. Evidently Thomas, not present at this appearance, wanted to see for himself.

Says McGee of the appearances of Jesus: “Apparently Mary is the first one to whom the Lord appeared. There are eleven appearances before His ascension and three after His ascension. I think we can surmise from the text that there are others which were not described.” I think it wonderful that Scripture does not record whether Thomas actually examined the hands and feet of Jesus, only that he was invited to do so. What Scripture does record is the cry of Thomas that has echoed in the hearts of millions over the last two thousand years: “My Lord, and my God.”

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104177-104179). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.



How Great Thou Art

Stanza 1:
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The world Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed;

Refrain:
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Stanza 2:
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;

Refrain:

Stanza 3:
And when I think,
That God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross,
My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
To take away my sin.

Refrain:

Stanza 4:
When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 - 1940
English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 1989

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Freedom of Unhurried Life, by Alan Fadling

Thoughts on guest sermon, 2/19/12

Our speaker was great! He pointed out that Jesus was relaxed and unhurried, near the end of the sermon reminding me that Jesus, when He was baptized, was led into the wilderness and there tempted. He fasted for 40 days, after which He was tempted to turn the stones into bread. I find it fascinating that no one in the story, or in telling the story, doubts Jesus’ ability to change the stones into bread, and I think it wonderful to be reminded the power of my Creator God.

God is never in a hurry, reminded our speaker, quoting Oswald Chambers. John Wesley says he is too busy to be in a hurry. My reading of Scripture needs to be thoughtful and deep, and I might be better off reflecting on one verse a day rather than reading a book a day. I think the “hurry” the speaker was using is probably to be distinguished from business, for, especially in John, I find the Lord very busy, yet taking time after that business to find a quiet time alone with His Father. Says McGee in a devotional reading on John: “There are a great many of us today who read the Bible but still do not know certain scriptures. I believe there are two reasons for this. One is that we may read a passage many times and each time see things in the passage that we have never seen before.” I do need to pause and taste the fruit of the Spirit, and I can be so busy in getting things done that I forget, as did Martha, the really important things.

Why is it that the Word seems to contain so much meaning? I think it is because the Word shows us the eternal nature of God, and that eternal picture has so many nuances of meaning.

I spoke on the immanence of God this week, and I do think it is a doctrine much related to what our speaker was trying to communicate. People tend to forget that it is only in the “now” that I can meet God and change myself as I said here: “The chains of the past encircle our plans for an uncertain future, but it is only in the present, flitting and fluttering by each instant, that we have the power to forge links to either the future or the past” (http://poetrymrd.blogspot.com/2006/05/present.html).

Upon reflecting further, I think there is an additional reason we do not walk with God as we ought: we simply do not know ourselves as we ought. McGee says that God has put the white hair on old men as a signal that their life is about to run out, and that they need to have it in order. But most of the people that I know do not heed the warning and live each day as if there is always going to be another. When I was 17, and as yet, did not know the Lord, I was paralyzed on the right side. Doctors tested me for ten days with renowned specialists being called in, and yet remained mystified as to causes. But as I regained my physical abilities, an ever-present joy began to infect my persona, and remains to this day. Coming to the Lord with such a perspective I found immensely helpful, for I wanted to make precious use of the moment, knowing that each morsel of time that we have been given is so precious.

There is a country song with the refrain that goes something like I wish this for you, that you could live like you are dying. And that is precisely the problem! People live like they have all the time in the world left, and of course that is not true. We have only been given the now, a perspective that sharply focuses for those of us who have strayed too close to death. Would not the world be a better place if we all would live as if we were dying?

But beyond that, man also needs to be aware of the immanence of God. Says Tozer: “God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle and is accepted by Christian theology generally. That is, it appears in the books, but for some reason it has not sunk into the average Christian's heart so as to become a part of his believing self.” God is here. Can you go anywhere where you cannot say, God is here? Nothing will bring spirituality to the believer more than reflection on His immanence. I cannot hide from God anywhere, as Adam unsuccessfully tried to do when he sinned. There is no where that I can go to flee his presence as Jonah found out.

But I judge the giants of the faith are not as Jonah or Adam—they recognized the God whose precious promises of abundant life permeate the Bible—that God is everywhere present with them. I believe that is what gave Paul and Peter the strength to face their martyrdom, full of faith, and nothing wavering, for they knew that even at the awful death they faced, even there, God was with them. Such giants would never say “I am far away from God” for they would realize the inaneness of such a statement. Tozer analyzes some of the spiritual giants, and finds they have this in common: “I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity.”

To understand that God is everywhere present with you, is to understand that you can access that God at any point, at any place, and at any situation. You become like Nehemiah, who prayed in an instant before coming and petitioning the king for the rebuilding of the temple. Like our speaker this morning, Tozer reminds us, “We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.”

My daughter and son-in-law received great praise from me recently, as I commented on how much I appreciated the wonderful way they were living and walking with God. To my surprise, my daughter momentarily confused my praise, thinking I was praising them for what they were doing, as both of them are wonderful teachers in a Christian school. She commented that the economy and salary they had might well force them to find something more substantial in salary. She then asked me if I would still approve of them.

I was not praising them for what they were doing, but rather for who they are. I understand the confusion, for it is easy to think that what we are doing (especially for men!) is who we are. I spent many years chasing, as many men do, after the act of doing, and it took me growing older to realize that I missed much living that way. (See: “I Never Took Time”, http://poetrymrd.blogspot.com/2006/01/i-never-took-time_18.html) God is not concerned as much with what we accomplish before Him in our life. We might build a spectacular skyscraper to present to Him, but what is that to the Creator of the world? Rather, God is concerned with who we are, and how we walk day to day before Him. All works that we do, Philippians 2:3 teaches us that our good works is indeed “God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.” A wise man is not concerned with the building of the skyscraper, rather he is concerned with his walking close to the Creator of the universe. Realizing that God is always with you, and that you should live accordingly, will lead to your life of faith being lived like one of the great Christians, for we do not design our deeds, but rather walk with Him to find His fulfillment in what we do. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”


Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson; Foundation Press, Christian Miracle (2011-01-31). The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 742-744). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.

Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson; Foundation Press, Christian Miracle (2011-01-31). The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Location 717). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.

Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson; Foundation Press, Christian Miracle (2011-01-31). The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 650-652). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104172-104174). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

John 20 9 to 18

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Key Observation:
Mary does not recognize her Lord at first.

Devotion:
Mary is the second believer to recognize the resurrection of the Lord. But she does not recognize her Lord, and I find myself wondering why. It is not to be the last time in which my Lord appears before His disciples and is not recognized. This lack of recognition provides a dilemma—how is it that His own believers do not recognize Him? I can think of a few answers to why this might be so:
1) They were not expecting the resurrection—that is, they did not expect to see a dead man walking.
2) Scripture tells me that his visage was marred—I recall the severe beating which the Roman guards gave Him. Such a beating would have permanently disfigured Him, and recognition may not have been easy. There is no evidence that His body did not explicitly show the results of this beating; evidently the nail holes were still in his palms for Thomas to see
3) Jesus may deliberately have changed His appearance to begin a conversation that would lead to realization of who He was
4) Similarly, if His visage was marred, he may have had His face covered, or stayed in the shadows, making His features obscured.

Interestingly, McGee does not entertain the probability of His visage being so marred that a friend would not recognize Him. I wonder if my experiences on working for many years on Skid Row are not making me think this. I do recall many of my friends being jumped and beaten, and by the time I saw them, they were difficult to recognize, in some cases causing brutal disfigurement. Says McGee of this passage: “How much is the glorified body changed? I don’t know, but I don’t think the change is so great that this accounts for her lack of recognition of Jesus. I believe that Mary is absolutely single-minded in her grief. Although she sees two angels, this doesn’t seem to draw her attention in any particular way. They ask a question, not because they don’t know the answer, but because they are trying to arouse some evidence of faith in Mary. She is single-minded in her answer. He is still dead, and the probable answer is that the body has been stolen, as Mary reasons it out. She does not expect to see Christ alive; and, in her unbelief, she does not recognize Him.”

Interestingly, McGee feels that John and Peter both recognized the resurrection had taken place. McGee feels that Peter also recognized the meaning of the left behind burial clothes; I am not sure that I can see that in the Scripture. Only John seemed to instantly recognize what had happened, and I think Peter’s running to the tomb was his reaction to Mary’s account that someone had stolen the body. I would argue that Peter’s character tended to show brash actions, often with little forethought. I think at this point that Peter was still reacting to events and had not yet processed them. It was probably not until later that Peter recognized what had happened.

The next passage I wonder about is where Jesus tells Mary to touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to the Father. McGee has some wonderful speculation about this passage: “He says to her, “for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” This is the reason she should not hold on to Him. So apparently He did ascend to His Father before the appearance to the disciples in the house. I believe that the Lord Jesus presented His blood at the throne of God and that His blood turned the judgment seat into the mercy seat which it is today. That blood was shed for your sin and for my sin. I think the blood will be there throughout all eternity as an eternal testimony of the price He paid for us.”"

Which leads me to wonder, will the Lord always have the nail holes in His hands? I wonder if we will not always see the marring of His visage. Or perhaps not, the Scripture is not clear on this point. I do find it wonderful that Jesus makes it plain that He is going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Because of His resurrection, I have stepped into a shared eternity at the feet of my Lord. What could be better than that?


McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104201-104203). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104190-104194). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


And Can It Be?
1. And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

2. He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me.

3. Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray:
I woke the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

4. No condemnation now I dread:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Chorus:
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

Lyrics: Charles Wesley

Saturday, February 18, 2012

John 20 1 to 8

1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

Key Observation:
John is the first believer in the resurrected Lord.

Devotion:
What a privilege to be chosen as the first believer! I know not what a Christian was before the cross; Jesus chose many to follow Him, and as I can best guess, they were believers. But weren’t they believers without content? To take away the resurrection of Christ is to take away everything, for it is the hope of all of Christianity. Says McGee: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very heart-blood of the Christian faith. It is so important that someone has said, “We cannot make too much of the death of Christ, but we can make too little of the resurrection of Christ.””

Mary assumes the worst; evidently Peter is overwhelmed with grief at the thought of someone stealing the body—it is John who first understands what the linen clothes signal, before Christ had even appeared. What a mercy it is to study the life of Jesus through His best friend. In the last chapter, I saw John struggling with the crucifixion. I recall that John, alone, of all the apostles was present to see the crucifixion. He does give us the cry of Jesus concerning the giving of His own mother to the care of John, but is really sketchy over the gruesome details of the cross. I submit that even in his old age, John remembered the cross all too well, and did not want to dwell on what happened that tragic day.

Contrast the end of chapter nineteen, the narration of the cross (a bare 21 verses), with that of the resurrection, which takes up all of chapters 20 and 21, approximately twice the verses. John recognized the importance of the resurrection! Paul, too, recognizes the power of the resurrection: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Peter, not to be left behind, also tells me of its importance: “Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” I might well note that without the resurrection Christianity would become the most empty religion imaginable.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness says the hymn. I might well add that my hope is also in His resurrection, for that resurrection represents the complete and total victory over sin.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104100-104101). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


My Hope Is Built

1. My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Refrain:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
(Refrain)

3. His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
(Refrain)

4. When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!
(Refrain)

Text: Edward Mote, 1797-1874
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868
Tune: THE SOLID ROCK, Meter: LM with Refrain

Friday, February 17, 2012

John 19 38 to 42

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Key Observation:
Joseph and Nicodemus were secret believers.

Devotion:
I saved this portion of scripture because I wanted to think about secret believers. I understand very little of the need to be a secret believer, though I suppose I have felt stifled in my Christian expression. Being a public school teacher there is much that I cannot say, and I envy my daughter who teaches the same grade, but in a Christian environment. I am old enough to realize that many who begin in Christian schools seem not to do any better with regard to finding a Christian life than those in the public sphere, but there is an advantage to being able to openly state the Christian view. In that sense I am stifled, but when I read about people being killed because they profess Christ I understand that people from some cultures come to belief from a vastly different viewpoint.

I remember recently reading Joel Rosenberg speaking about a small revival of sorts in one of the Moslem countries. I cannot imagine trying to be a new Christian in such an environment. I suppose it is obvious to me why Islam seems to win out in almost every clash with Christianity—they advocate for murder and severe persecution. Not so with Christians, at least those who are walking in the Spirit. Our Lord teaches us to turn the cheek and pray for our enemies, that God may grant them repentance and that they may find life. Instead of believing that we Christians have to fight our way to the ruling kingdom, we believe that we must await the return of the King, and only then will our righteousness in Him be revealed to the world.

Both Nicodemus and Joseph in the above passage felt so fearful that they would not publically express their faith, but when push comes to shove, as they say, they chose to do what they could for their Lord. Do I know they had faith? Notice the passage proclaims Joseph to be a disciple of Jesus, and I think it is a safe assumption that Nicodemus was like Joseph. If they went public, they feared for all of their social standing, and even their right to attend synagogue, for they and their families would have been cast out. I wonder how often they managed to tell of their Lord, and when. I wonder about the Day of Pentecost, whether they were also filled with the Spirit. This is the last mention of Nicodemus so we cannot but speculate, but I wonder whether Nicodemus and Joseph got to a point where they had to publicize their faith. Someday the end of the story will perhaps be known, but not on this side of heaven.

I was reading a favorite passage from Tozer last night, and read again his exhortation to believers to find what I would term the deeper walk with Christ. Tozer talks about the immanence of God, and the need for believers to see that, just as Elisha prayed for the King to see the heavenly host and their superiority to the earthly minions. I know what he is talking about, and until about ten years ago, I thought I was the only one to be experiencing the walk in my family. To my delight my brother started sharing with me on how he had found God, and talked and prayed to Him in his evening walks. I suspect that another brother is discovering that walk even now, and again I delight in his discovery.

What kind of walk am I talking about? It is not a walk that is in any sense privileged, because God is the same to each of us, full of love and mercy. It is a walk available to all, but I think Tozer right when he suggests that not many of us find it. Let me share his thoughts: “I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek."”

I think part of what Tozer calls “spiritual receptivity” is the realization that God is with us, and that there is no time or place or situation or problem where God is not with us. Look at the spiritual faith of Moody, who knew his God, not as many of us pridefully boast to know Him in a theological sense, with lots of doctrine and verses to fit into our views. But rather Moody knew his God in a personal way, somehow coming to this spiritual receptivity very early in his Christian life, before he knew more than the simplest gospel message, and he was successful, I think, in sharing his faith so well because he seemed so immediately in tune with his God. He seems to have been reborn into the Christian faith knowing that the God of the universe was always there, and when he preached so successfully, I think it was because of that awareness. Somehow Moody was able to bring the nearness of his God alive and meaningful to many ears in his audience.

But I think looking at any of the spiritual giants of our faith will quickly bring me to the same reflection—God was very immanent to them—they understood that He was there, and that He cares about them with an all consuming love. Christians today who want “just a closer walk with Thee” would do well to reflect on His immanence. Such reflection surely leads to that closer walk. It is not that such a walk will bring more sight, though I think that is a common result. What a different life I might live, if I could but see the armies of the Lord, as did Elisha. Enoch walked with God, and God took him. I think Enoch is just an early example of someone who walked so closely to God, knowing this great feeling of immanence. Such people as Enoch and Elisha and Moody saw more in life than we commonly see, and such sight did in turn build their faith. It begins with, and ends with, as the hymn says, turning your eyes upon Jesus. Is it at all remarkable that such men should end by being seen as spiritual giants?

Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson; Foundation Press, Christian Miracle (2011-01-31). The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 717-721). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.



Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

3. His Word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Chorus:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Lyrics: Helen Howarth Lemmel

Thursday, February 16, 2012

John 19 23 to 37

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

This passage is too full of prophecies not to note them here:
1) Fulfillment:
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. (John)
Prophecy:
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. (Ps. 22)

2) Fulfillment:
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. (John)
Prophecy:
21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Ps. 69)

3) Fulfillment:
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. (John)
Prophecy:
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. (Ps. 34)

4) Fulfillment:
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. (John)
Prophecy:
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zech. 12:10)

The record of John is true, and the words of fulfillment that I read there are no less true because John reminds me that they are true. Chapter Nine of Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict attempts to gather all of the prophetic utterances of the life of Christ and is well worth the study. Here in this short passage are four fulfillments of prophecy from the Old Testament. Again I am reminded that everything happened exactly in the way that God had foretold, and that Jesus fully intended to come to the cross.

John is the only gospel to include the two cries from the cross: Woman, behold thy son, and behold thy mother. John tells us that he took Mary into his house from that day on. I do so love this gospel because of the continued and more intimate look that I am given about Christ. John’s advantage of being next to Jesus most of the time gives me more insight into what my Lord is really like.

All for Jesus

1. All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed pow'rs:
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

2. Let my hands perform His bidding,
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only,
Let my lips speak forth His praise.

3. Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I've lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit's vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

4. O what wonder! how amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
Deigns to call me His beloved,
Lets me rest beneath His wings.

Lyrics: Mary Dagworthy James

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

John 19 16 to 22

16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Key Observation:
Jesus is not only King of the Jews, he is King of the world.

Devotion:
Notice that Pilate delivers Jesus to the Jews to be crucified. But it is not quite the way it happened, for we know the Jews had to keep themselves pure on the Day of Preparation, the day before the Passover. Interesting intrigues have been seen in this “trial” all along. Evidently the Jews felt that they were unclean if they entered the court where Jesus was being tried by Pilate. So I see Pilate going into the room to talk to Jesus, and then coming out again to talk to the Jews.

McGee gathers the scriptures to show the back and forth movement: “There is another interesting byplay to watch here. The Jews absolutely would not go into the judgment hall and thus contaminate themselves, but they brought Jesus to be taken into the judgment hall to be tried. So there is a change of scene in this drama from outside to inside and inside to outside. Watch it:
“Pilate then went out” (v. 29)
“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again” (v. 33)
“And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews” (v. 38)
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him” (John 19:1)
“Pilate therefore went forth again” (John 19:4)
“And went again into the judgment hall” (John 19:9)
“He brought Jesus forth” (John 19:13).”

The Jewish leaders have already told Pilate that they do not have the power of capital punishment, and when Pilate would release Jesus, they protested strongly, saying, you are no friend of Caesar. The Jews are very anxious to have this done, and tried Jesus illegally during the evening. Thus with Jesus going before Herod, there are three trials of Jesus, with mockeries and beatings in between. And all of this has to take place before the Passover begins at 6 in the evening. So everything is illegal, and rushed, that they might have Him crucified before the beginning of Passover.

It is interesting to note that the Passover Lambs were slaughtered for the observance of Passover during the afternoon of the Day of Preparation. It was during this same time in which Jesus was being crucified! In God’s immutable plan from eternity past, this day was set aside, not as the Jews thought—to remember their flight from Egypt, but rather as the day in which God would Passover the world in judgment, offering grace and forgiveness to all who will believe. The blood, which the Jews put on their doorways as a signal of grace to the angel of death was itself in the gesture of a cross, with the sides being marked and then the head of the doorway.

Which brings me to consider further that which I began looking at yesterday. Who was responsible for the death of Jesus on the cross?
1. The soldiers. Of course those who did the physical act of nailing Him to the cross were responsible.
2. The Jewish leaders and chiefly Annas, the high priest. These leaders were the manipulators behind the cross, working hard to bring about His death.
3. Pilate. The leader of the Romans was a pathetic man wanting to keep his power and please his factions—the Jewish leaders. Of course He was responsible.
4. Satan. Of course Satan is responsible. He, in trying to kill the Christ, manages only to bruise His heel. (Gen. 3)
5. Jesus Himself. The scriptures are very clear that Jesus willingly submitted to this death on the cross.
6. God the Father. It was the Father who sent His Son (Jn. 3:16)

As I tried to point out yesterday, there is a whole lot going on here at the same time. Man and Satan have their very different motives from God the Father and God the Son, yet I find that every single action either of them take, it is fitting into the sovereign plan of God. This cross was not at all a “done deal” until the will of Lucifer and men had been factored in. And yet, it all went exactly as God foresaw. Election and the choices of men and angels working together. Ask me to explain it? I cannot but observe. My God is a Mighty God, slow to anger and rich in mercy. Why not find that mercy today?

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 103861-103869). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


At Calvary

1. Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

2. By God's Word at last my I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I'd spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
To Calvary.

3. Now I've giv'n to Jesus ev'rything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Of Calvary.

4. Oh, the love that drew salvation's plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary.

Chorus:
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.

Lyrics: William Reed Newell

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

John 19 9 to 16

9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

Key Observation:
Who delivered Jesus to be crucified?

Devotion:
I find myself wondering about who delivered Jesus. I know that Annas has been fingered for being the mastermind, and it is altogether fitting that I could see this as Annas, and yet I know that there is more going on here than is easily seen. Is there perhaps a reference to Satan here? McGee would suggest not, “There are differences of sin and differences of judgment. Those who delivered Jesus to Pilate had the greater sin because they had more light than Pilate did. However, that does not exonerate Pilate at all. He is guilty.”

I accept that, but cannot help but wonder, where was Satan in all of this? Was He not trying to kill Jesus? Jesus has told us that he is a murderer from the beginning. He also said to the bad leaders that they were of their father the devil, and the works of their father will they do. Men conspired to put Christ on the cross; was it not at the behest of Satan? I know that I must remember the overall theme: no power is given men except that it is from above. In other words, it was the will of God that His Son would give himself up to be crucified. Somehow the immutable purpose and election of God works in harmony with the evil choices of Annas, and perhaps Satan.

I do wonder if Satan is not kept sort of out of the deed because Jesus does want us to know that He gave Himself willingly. Also there is really not a contest between good and evil, between Jesus and Satan; the Bible reveals the contest is so very one sided, and that the devil will be cast into the lake of burning sulfur. I do not know! If I had to guess, I would guess that the cross had somehow been part of the plan Satan had to rid the world of the Christ. I do remember that Satan entered the heart of Judas, and aided Judas in doing the betrayal. I think that somehow Satan figured that putting Jesus to death would end forever the problem, and clearly he did not foresee the resurrection, and the revealing of the mystery church.

McGee says, “Notice the dignity of the Lord Jesus through all this. Notice that He is not the one on trial. Pilate is forced to a choice. Will it be Jesus Christ or Caesar? The religious leaders are forced to a choice. Will it be Jesus Christ or Caesar? They make their dreadful choice, “We have no king but Caesar.” The day will come in the future when they will have to make another choice. Jesus Christ or the Antichrist? Friend, listen; every man must make his choice about Jesus Christ. He says, “He that is not with me is against me …” (Matt. 12:30). The minute you make a decision against Christ, you make a decision for “Caesar.””

It is very clear to me that Pilate wishes to release Jesus, believing Him to be an innocent man. There is no need to see any “faith” or conviction on the part of Pilate; he just does not want to be used by the Jews to kill an innocent man. Thus Pilate is guilty also, though not to the degree as those who conspired to put Him there.

I do see the sovereign purposes of God working somehow with the free choices of men, and against the constraining of Satan. The Scripture promises us (through Paul) that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, and certainly I see that here. The immutable purpose of God was to send His Son to die for the sins of the world, yet in everything man and devil were conspiring to foul up the plan. God is so powerful that He takes everything we do and fits it into complete harmony with what He has said will come to pass. Nothing is able to confute His counsel. (Psalm 2) Satan, in all his rebellion, will only serve the plans of our God—but yet is fully responsible for evil, as the wicked Jewish leaders are also responsible. Don’t ask me how they harmonize! I just know God has presented them as both true, and it is our job to believe. This I will do, God willing.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 103988-103992). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 103971-103973). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.


All the Way My Savior Leads Me

1. All the way my savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who thro' life has been my guide?
Heav'nly peace divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

2. All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for ev'ry trial,
Feeds me with the living bread;
Tho' my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.

3. All the way, my Savior leads me;
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father's house above:
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

Lyrics: Frances Jane (Fanny J.) Crosby

Monday, February 13, 2012

John 19 1 to 8

1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

Key Observation:
Pilate is pulled into the crucifixion unwillingly.

Devotion:
If I had a sword and saw this going on, I think I would cut off a servant’s ear also. What a wonder that the Creator of everything should give Himself for me. In this passage, the soldiers seem to enjoy their job and in other accounts we see them asking Jesus to prophecy and tell who hit them. Reflecting on the omniscience of God, I know that God knows to the least degree those that would slap Him, whether it be figuratively or literally. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.”

I am reading in Philippians today, and there is a famous passage about Christ submitting to death on the cross. (Phil. 2:5-11) There is mercy aplenty now, and the most grievous sinner can be forgiven. We are to follow Jesus in his picture of submission to the most unrighteous of deaths, and hope that some might see and know the great mercy available.

Here they ridiculed Jesus, Pilate perhaps hoping to satisfy the Jews without having to kill Him. The difficulty of the Jewish leaders was twofold. First it was the day before the Passover, and touching unclean things would have put them out of participation. Second, under Roman law, the Romans retained the rights to capital punishment, so what I see here is every pressure applied to Pilate to carry out their will. It is Annas, the high priest, who is the real force behind this mock trial. Jesus refers to Annas later in verse eleven. Yet again, I say that this is a mystery, for the Son of God came to give Himself a ransom for many, and He did just that, but woe to those who participated in the plan to put Him there. Here are the elective purposes of God and the free choices of men working hand in hand together, so that I cannot tell where one leaves off and the other begins. God alone knows, and I trust His judgment.

At the Cross

1. Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut His glories in,
When Christ the mighty Maker died
For man, the creature's sin.

4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While Calvary's cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

5. But drops of grief can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do.

Chorus:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Lyrics: Isaac Watts; Chorus: Ralph Erskine Hudson