Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, April 2, 2021

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Scrooges and Christians

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Joy to the World! #4

Monday, December 14, 2020

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:6,7 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

When Satan’s reign on Earth and in Heaven concludes, voices in heaven cry out, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Hebrews 1:8,9 quoted today’s Scripture as true of Jesus Christ’s righteous reign. Notice how Father God addressed Jesus as “God.” Human history has never experienced a global, benevolent, theocratic monarchy. For the first time ever, all power in Heaven and Earth will be consolidated forever in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-10). All governments in Heaven and Earth will be cleansed of evil. By faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, we will participate in that operation of God (Colossians 1:16-22). We will reign with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7)!

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” And, Jeremiah chapter 23: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Indeed, there will be such joy! Jesus Christ glorified forever, in Heaven and Earth! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who were the ‘seventy’ whom Christ sent out?

Joy to the World! #3

Sunday, December 13, 2020

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

God’s Word to Adam just after he sinned included the following pronouncement, “…[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17,18). This is part of the “bondage of corruption” of which Romans 8:21 speaks. Sin tainted creation. Thorns and thistles began to grow, making Adam’s labor in the field even more grueling. Paradise was indeed lost… but not forever!

When God created the heaven and the earth, He selected a special location on Earth as His home. Exodus 15:17,18 say: “Thou shalt bring them [Israel] in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 40:22 says God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” While Adam’s sinful actions delayed God’s earthly kingdom, God would take care of those mistakes and still accomplish His original intention.

Israel’s mistakes further delayed God’s earthly kingdom. However, God will restore Earth’s ecology to its original, pre-Fall (pre-sin) conditions. This is true especially of Zion, Jerusalem, which will be the global and universal capital city. There will be joy and gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. All believers in heaven (Body of Christ) and earth (redeemed Israel) will join the angels in song. The curse has been lifted, and Jesus Christ has been exalted (Isaiah 11:1-9)!

Fret Not! #7

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The upcoming weeks will be quite interesting for our country. Whatever happens, whoever is ultimately declared president, the next four years will be challenging. Maybe the “fatal blow” has already been inflicted—maybe not. Only time will tell. In light of eternity, this is really but a minor issue.

No matter what shocking or distressing information we uncover in this life, Father God already knew about it. In fact, He is aware of every single scintilla of bad news. The curse of sin and Satan’s influence are literally universal. Nevertheless, God, with complete knowledge of all that is wrong, is not fretting. Why? He knows how it will ultimately be made right one day. We simply take the position of faith. Yea, we agree with Him!

Never forget Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Through Christ’s shed blood, saints will occupy Earth’s governments and Heaven’s governments. Redeemed Israel will accomplish God’s purpose and plan in the Earth; the Church the Body of Christ will do likewise in the Heavenly Places. Evil will be dealt with, and permanently removed from creation. Hasten that wonderful day, Lord, hasten that wonderful day! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘charger?’

Fret Not! #6

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

Today’s Scripture encourages us to worry about nothing. In our circumstances—good or bad—we can and should come to Father God in prayer. Whatever the case, we talk to Him in light of what we have read in His Word rightly divided, thereby giving us “the peace of God.” “Peace” is in the sense of tranquility, freedom from distress or anxiety. Our hearts (souls) and minds (spirits) will be guarded through Christ Jesus, the one and only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

Verily, verily, we live in a fallen world; the Bible calls it “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). This is because Satan is called “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Adam giving him possession of it back in Genesis chapter 3. Hence, he boasted to Christ in chapter 4 of Luke: “[5] And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. [7] If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. [8] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Ultimately, Jesus will indeed gain control of the world’s kingdoms—and He will not have to worship Satan! Revelation 11:15 says of that glorious future day: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” As touching the evil in the world, let us remember that it is only for a time. The Lord, when He is ready, will make things right. We take comfort in that.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Fret Not! #5

Friday, November 13, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The Book of James comments: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Romans 16:19 adds: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

Over the decades, especially here in the United States, the professing Body of Christ has gained quite a reputation for taking certain political positions. While this is not wrong in and of itself, Christians should be more familiar with spiritual truth than political platforms. We should be known first and foremost for our doctrinal positions—which are often shallow or nonexistent. As we read in Romans above, it is better to be more familiar with the truth than be experienced in error. After all, “[Jesus Christ] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:…” (Galatians 1:4). We should have our priorities straight. Sound Bible doctrine, once emphasized, will guard us against the lies of this evil world system.

Like James says, this world is opposed to Almighty God. Thinking like lost people is not for Christians. Let us see 1 John chapter 2: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

No matter what happens, we need to remember, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?

Fret Not! #4

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

One of the “Christian metaphors” in Scripture is that believers in Christ are soldiers. Read 2 Timothy chapter 2: “[3] Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. [4] No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” A soldier cannot afford to be caught up in civilian life because he is not a civilian! If he is not fully conscious of who he is (and who he is not), then he will be unable to adequately fulfill his purpose. In like manner, we cannot let this temporary world distract us from our identity in Christ.

It has been joked—and, yet, it is more tragic than comic—that when Jesus Christ returns to take His people home to Heaven, He will have to yank some of them twice. They will be so intertwined with this earthly life; it will be hard for them to leave it all behind. Entertainment, possessions, and friends… they will be disheartened and disappointed to see it all fade away. This is not the way it should be. Colossians chapter 3: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

As long as the Christian has “set [his or her] affection [focus, attention, attitude] on things above, and not on things on the earth,” that believer, when the Lord returns, will gladly forsake all that this world has to offer. Earth is not our home, and we are “just passing through….”

Fret Not! #3

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The Apostle Paul teaches in Titus 3:8: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” “Careful” here is in the sense of thoughtful, attentive, concerned about. If we Christians must be anxious about something, Scripture says we should worry about maintaining good works! This is an ongoing process, a keeping on laboring in accordance with sound Bible doctrine.

Chapter 2 had already stated: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” The Bible encourages us also in Philippians 3:20,21: For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

We members of the Church the Body of Christ are destined for Heaven. Consequently, it is ever (!) so (!) important (!) we as believers in Jesus Christ not get attached to this world, preoccupied and overwhelmed with all its problems. Martha of long ago needed to learn that lesson, and the Lord corrected her. In like manner, through Pauline doctrine, He adjusts our thinking to see “[the] one thing [that] is needful….”

In order to bring you a special study tomorrow, we temporarily break from this devotionals arc….

Fret Not! #2

Monday, November 9, 2020

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

Consider the words of 1 Peter chapter 5, verses 6 and 7: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Here, “casting” is throwing. It is the same idea as Luke 19:35, “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.” The Apostle Peter’s admonition will impart immeasurable strength to Israel’s believing remnant suffering persecution under the Antichrist. Likewise, it is an insightful cross-reference to today’s Scripture, that we may benefit.

Read Luke 10:38-42 again, noting the words “not care” of verse 40: “[38] Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. [39] And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. [40] But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. [41] And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: [42] But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” When the Bible says God “careth” for us, this would be in stark contrast to Jesus not being concerned with Mary leaving Martha (most insignificant!).

We are bound to time and space, so it is natural for us to see things from a “here-and-now perspective.” Unless we are using renewed spiritual minds, we will place great emphasis on temporary matters. Yet, if we take the position of faith, we will throw our minor worries onto the Lord. Released from those burdens, we are free to worry about something—yea, some things—of eternal worth. Let us see what they are….