Thursday, January 26, 2017

Beautiful, Part Three

How do we escape God’s wrath?

Jesus had never sinned, but became sin for our sake. On Him, God’s perfect, only begotten Son, the wrath of God was satisfied so that we could be spared eternal punishment in hell for our sins. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Because of His suffering and sacrifice, those who belong to Him, purchased and redeemed by His blood, will never experience that wrath. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (also 1 Corinthians 6:20)

Isn't it hard to take in? What would you call that? The very definition of love? Most definitely beautiful! Now the question is, what kind of love will we show in return? And do we want to be beautiful like our precious Lord and Savior?

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 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

From where does our strength come?

These days, there is an endless stream of self-help books and motivational speakers. We are encouraged to look inward to find peace and strength. We are told to “believe in ourselves.” Jesus knew better. His focus was where it should be–on His Father, the only true source of peace and strength. We are told that we deserve and need to “spoil” ourselves. Jesus got hungry and tired just as we do. During His 3-year ministry, He gave of Himself to the point of exhaustion–teaching, healing and casting out demons–sometimes not even taking a break to eat, but He never complained or “burnt out.” He didn’t quit or take vacation to recharge—instead He went alone to the Mount of Olives, sometimes all night. His strength came from the Holy Spirit and His Father. He didn’t let the cares of this world deter Him from His mission. He knew why He was here and never wavered. ...Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well... John 4:6 

They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. John 7:53, 8:1-2 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Luke 9:58

“And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him." John 8:29 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” John 4:34

We too need to put all of our focus on God, not caring what the world thinks. Jesus told us to count the cost of following Him. Sadly, there were many who believed in Jesus during the time of His ministry but kept silent because of the cost it would have had in their personal lives. We need to remember what and Who really matters, not allowing ourselves to be distracted by worldly troubles or pleasures. We answer to God, not men, when it comes to doing our Father’s work. Jesus said to fear only the One who could destroy both body and soul. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:23, 26

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? ...So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:28, 33

"And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." Mark 4:16-20

Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:42-43

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. ...We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4

What about the opposition?

Jesus was not deterred by criticism, ridicule or attempts to silence Him. He did only good during His entire earthly life, and He faced opposition that would have been so wearying and discouraging to any of us. Yet He was eager to fulfill His mission, on His Father’s timing. "...for my time has not yet fully come." John 7:8 "I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” Luke 12:49-50

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:66-69

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. John 7:1 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" John 10:32

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. Psalm 27:12 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Matthew 26:59-60

For I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side! —as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. Psalm 31:13 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. Matthew 26:3-4

Even Jesus’ own disciples were not able to understand His mission, although He told them in advance. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." Matthew 16:22-23

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. Luke 18:31-34

"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” John 12:27 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?" John 18:11

Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." John 18:37

This is Part Three 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.