Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Isaiah 30:18

"Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him."

Three truths relating to our Lord's longing present themselves here:

I.  He is characterized as wanting and waiting to be graciously compassionate toward His own.

II. It is right that He would long for His children so deeply.

III. Blessing is promised to those of His children who have His same yearning.

I.  What a wonderfully-needed word for a weary soul!  How good of our loving Lord to reveal His heart's yearning for His own.  So similar is this to David's statements in Psalm 103: "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.  Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame;  He is mindful that we are but dust," (vv. 8, 13, 14).
Lessons which come to mind:
     a.  I cannot disappoint my Father, for He knows me completely, knows that I am but dust.  Nothing I do can ever catch Him by surprise, nor find Him making false assumptions about me.  He has no unrealistic expectations which cannot be met.
     b.  He is never indifferent to me.  The world about me often mocks the thought that God (if there IS one) would care one way or the other about this world, much less individual needs of the billions here.  Yet the living God is as great in His minuteness as He is in His magnitude, and, as Paul reminded the Roman believers: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (8:32)
     c.  My Father's eagerness to shower me with grace and compassion  encourages me to pray!  "Oh, Father!  Heighten my sensitivity to the many ways You show grace and compassion to Your undeserving child.  Call me and cause me to praise You, as You are worthy!"

II.  The uprightness of the LORD proclaimed by Isaiah echoes Moses's lyrics as recorded in Deuteronomy 32:  "For I proclaim the name of the LORD;  Ascribe greatness to our God!  The Rock!  His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;  A God of faithfulness and without injustice,  Righteous and upright is He," (vv. 3, 4).  
One of Satan's most potent and pervasive tactics to deceive mankind is to question God's character.  At the very outset of interacting with humanity, he asked Eve, "Has God said...?"  From then to now his character of skepticism has not changed, and his spirit of rebellion is at the heart of all doubting God's uprightness, justice, and goodness.  We lapse into this same attitude when we complain, contrary to God's command through Paul:  "Do all things without grumbling or disputing," (Philippians 2:14).  "Disputing" refers to questioning God, negatively... to criticize Him, either verbally or in our hearts.  Such a stance steals our joy, grieves and quenches the blessed Holy Spirit, and breaks our fellowship with the Father.  The antidote for such a poison?  Unconditional thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20).

III.  "How blessed are all those who long for Him."  This is both an observation and a promise.  The most satisfied, fulfilled, and completed people on earth are those who long for the living God.  This longing is at the very heart of why we were created.  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man?"  Answer:  "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever."  Enjoying God, responding in eagerness to His eagerness, is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being dead in trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2:1), the natural man is without saving faith, incapable of pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6), considering the things of the Spirit foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14).  Thus, it is understandable that such a one would avoid God's presence as much as possible.  
What does NOT make sense is the child of God, bought by the blood of the sinless Son of God, who experiences little eagerness to fellowship with his/her Father.  The only explanation is sin.  Sin it was, that caused Adam and Eve to try to cover themselves and hide from God's presence... and it has the same effect today.  Oh that we would continually refuse and forsake all that would hinder the fellowship our Father desires to enjoy with us!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holding to a Wednesday Crucifixion

In his book, "Wednesday Crucifixion", George Miller clearly presents this position and the biblical rationale for it.  In summary:

"Mark gives us a clear and uncomplicated series of entrances of the Lord Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.

His first entrance had to be on a SATURDAY, or He would have broken the Sabbath by walking from Jericho to Jerusalem the previous day.  "And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it;  and He sat upon it.  And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, 'HOSANNA!  BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;  HOSANNA in the highest.'  And He entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late," (Mark 11:7-11).  

His 2nd entrance (SUNDAY) was as Priest.  "And they came to Jerusalem.  And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple," (Mark 11:15, 16).

His 3rd entrance (MONDAY), [from Bethany, again] was as Prophet.  "And they came again to Jerusalem.  And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and scribes, and elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, 'By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?'  And Jesus said to them, 'I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.  'Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.'  And they began reasoning with one another, saying, 'If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?'  But shall we say, 'From men?' -- they were afraid of the multitude, for all considered John to have been a prophet indeed.  And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.'  And Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things,' " (Mark 11: 27-33).

TUESDAY was the Preparation Day, and after the trials He was executed on the following day:  WEDNESDAY.

NOTE:  In fulfillment of Exodus 12:3, 5, 6, the Lord Jesus (as the sacrificed Passover Lamb [I Corinthians 5:7], was inspected for FOUR DAYS, from the 10th day of the month (a Sabbath day), to the 14th day of the same month.  

Three days and three nights (like Jonah [Matthew 12:40]) He was in the tomb.  He then arose from the dead on the first day of the week (our Saturday night), the Jewish first day of the week."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Challenge of Waiting

"Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the LORD our God until He shall be gracious to us," (Psalm 123:2). 

Sustained attentiveness is tough.  The disciples who followed the Master into the garden of Gethsemane found it to be so.  The day had been long, the evening intense, and by the time they entered the garden their fatigue was complete.  Yet, there was more than the need for physical endurance involved… the spiritual warfare in unseen realms was raging around them, as Satan sought to thwart God’s salvation plan by overwhelming the humanity of the Savior.  Their struggle and failure to provide the prayer support the Lord Jesus charged them with is understandable.

For, watching and waiting upon the Lord elicit fierce opposition from the hater of our soul.  Better than we, he knows the spiritual power unleashed when the children of the Almighty give Him their full & undivided attention.  He better than we knows what's eternally at stake in the unseen regions around us, and spares no energy to thwart our persevering prayer.  

Such opposition should spur us on to "pray without ceasing," surmising the eternal impact we can make for the sake of our blessed Lord's kingdom.  Rather than becoming dismayed and leaving off praying, may the Lord use the very opposition, obstacles, and opportunities to quit instigated by the enemy to fortify our determination to "pray through."