Monday, January 30, 2017

Beautiful, Part Seven

What kind of gift is fit for a King?

Jesus received frankincense, myrrh and gold from the magi. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 These valuable gifts were fit for a King, but they were also prophetically symbolic of His future suffering—frankincense and myrrh are both obtained by wounding the bark so that the fragrant resin “bleeds” from the tree. This is called “striping.” Jesus healed the sickly, doomed state of our lost souls by His stripes. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Paul was very familiar with this concept through his own suffering for Jesus’ sake. But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." Acts 9:15-16 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17 [Paul said] Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. 2 Corinthians 11:24-25

Jesus promised great reward in heaven for suffering for His sake. Paul exhorted us to rejoice in suffering for Christ and count it as a privilege. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and falsely utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:10-11

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29-30 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:32-36 Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. Hebrews 13:12-13

Peter reminded us that suffering is the norm for us when we follow our Lord’s example. However, our strength comes from Him, and He gave His life for us. If we love Him, then we will seek His glory and honor in all we do. The apostles and other disciples couldn’t grasp the plan of redemption or the full power of God until after Jesus' resurrection. Then, they proclaimed the Gospel boldly and fearlessly for the rest of their lives.

Resist the devil, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:9-10

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:20-23

What is true beauty and love?

Beauty in God's eyes goes way beyond skin deep. What's on the surface does not interest Him at all. He designed us and is not impressed in the least with what we've done with our appearance. He knows what's deep inside, even our very thoughts. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

What He's looking for is obedience out of love, trust and respect. If He only wanted obedience, then He wouldn't have given us free will. He wants us. A beautiful heart to Him is one that is broken, repentant and completely reliant on Him for mercy and grace. If we truly understand who He is, what He is like, all that He has done, continually does and is going to do, we will not only want to give him our whole heart, but we will be utterly awestruck that He would care for us as He does (and He does).

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Psalm 37:3 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! Psalm 40:4

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:16-19

This is Part Seven of a series.  You may download the entire devotional in a "pretty" format here or in a basic, small file size format with highlighting here.