Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, March 31, 2018

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?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

Silenced!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (2 Timothy 1:7,8 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to preach sound Bible doctrine.

Brethren, Satan has a two-fold strategy for hindering God’s will. In “phase 1,” he attacks the message. Remember, his first words in Scripture are in Genesis 3:1: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Satan’s chief goal is to question (challenge) God’s Word, thus removing it as the authority. After repeatedly distorting the Bible, he outright denied it in verse 4. Satan effectually enticed Adam and Eve to corrupt, and thereby abandon, sound Bible doctrine.

If the saint maintains and defends sound Bible doctrine, not relinquishing it, then Satan begins “phase 2.” Satan’s objective here is to attack the messenger, to somehow silence him—through intimidation, hardship, embarrassment, discouragement, and so on. This is where we find Timothy in today’s Scripture. In 1 Timothy, he had dealt with false teaching in Ephesus. He has remained faithful to the grace message, having not compromised with the legalists. Satan has failed to get Timothy to pervert grace.

Now, in 2 Timothy (today’s Scripture), Timothy’s face is damp with “tears” (verse 4). He is crying, emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed by opposition and distress in the ministry. As Paul writes, pervasive doctrinal error exists now: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (verse 15). Most Christians have now abandoned Paul’s doctrine, preferring legalism and other heresies. Dejected Timothy has surrendered, having ceased (!) preaching Pauline doctrine (verse 6).

Paul, imprisoned far away in Rome for preaching God’s grace through Christ, is moved by the Holy Spirit to encourage Timothy to not be ashamed (today’s Scripture). “Timothy, remember who you are and where you came from. God’s power will get you through your situations. Share in those afflictions that accompany the Gospel! No matter what happens, boldly preach!” (Brethren, may we do likewise.)

Solace!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to enjoy the solace of the God of all comfort.

Today’s Scripture is the Apostle Paul at the lowest point in his whole ministry. Keep reading: “[8] For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: [9] But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: [10] Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;….” Did you sense Paul’s great depression in verse 8?

When the Apostle refers to his “trouble… in Asia,” that would have been something that occurred in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). On its western shore sat the city of Ephesus. Here, in Acts chapter 19, Paul had preached Jesus Christ and founded the church at Ephesus. You would do well to read the chapter sometime. Paul’s preaching the truth caused a revival in that spiritually dead, pagan city. With the idol-makers losing customers, they lashed out and caused a riot. Paul could have lost his life! Thankfully, God supported him physically (but most importantly, spiritually).

Saint, when you get “pressed out of measure” in ministry, “above strength, insomuch that [you] despair even of life,” you just keep on going! After all, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;….” If the saints of old found solace in the God of all comfort, then we will too!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?

Spry!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14:19,20 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be spry.

Unbelieving Jews, who pursued and persecuted Paul as he traveled throughout the Roman Empire, stoned him during his first apostolic journey. Such rocks were not meant to injure but kill! Thus, it is highly likely that Paul not only came close to dying here, but that he actually died! Considering the chronology, Paul seems to be the dead man in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

Paul was persecuted and stoned in a city. They dragged his body out. He then rose up and… left the region? No! He reentered that city! Just think, a dead Christian is raised again and returns to the city where they had just mercilessly flattened him! What would drive a man to go to such extremes? He wanted to share God’s Word yet again. After suffering himself for God, he warned believers: “[21] And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

If God’s power could raise this physically dead Christian to keep on going in life and ministry, would He not want us to be functionally alive to continue our life and ministry? How many Christians just sit around doing nothing day in and day out—no witnessing, no Bible study, no good works, no supporting ministries, nothing. “Leave me alone! I am alive in Christ, and I am comfortably dead in conduct!” Oh, dear brethren, this should not be! May it not be true of us… may it never be true of us either!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Satisfied!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:11-13 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be satisfied wherever we are.

Christian friend, are you content while facing hardship? Probably not. We often grumble and wallow in self-pity. Our Apostle Paul, equally human, was no different. Howbeit, he eventually began to look at his problems differently (remember 2 Corinthians 12:9?). The Bible says in today’s Scripture that he “learned” to be content: it was a process, not something automatic. A new believer does not suddenly become skilled in God’s Word. It takes time—some more than others. Additionally, rarely do believers become trained in God’s life. It takes time before you start looking at difficulties in a new light. Sadly, very, VERY few believers ever become able to adopt God’s view of their situations.

Our circumstances change over time (and how quickly they can change, for good or bad!!). Regardless, we can be content. Firstly, today’s Scripture says Jesus Christ has given us the grace, or capacity, to endure all extremes that life will throw at us—great wealth, abject poverty, exceptional health, terminal illness, many “friends” to few if any “friends,” and so on. Secondly, whatever does happen in this life, there will be a limit. It will not transpire everlastingly. This decaying and dying world will pass away, never to be seen again. Sin will be defeated; Satan will be removed. A glorious new world system is coming, one in which dwells righteousness. Through the eyes of faith, we already see it (remember 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8 and Romans 8:18-25?).

Having acquired this renewed mind—God’s view—we can now come alongside our Apostle Paul, and declare with him, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

See!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to see that which is not seen.

Since we are flesh-and-blood creatures, we quite naturally focus on—and unhealthily emphasize—everything we can see, taste, smell, hear, and touch. Basically, we adopt the (secular/unsaved) worldview of, “Empirical evidence is the only reality!” “If it cannot be seen, it cannot be real” is an extremely shallow understanding of reality in and of itself. For example, can we smell love? Do we see air? Can we touch a thought? Do we hear the color green? Can we taste light? Certainly not! These are all fallacious premises. Those concepts must be approached in special ways, or they will not be perceived. Green is not heard but seen. Thoughts are not touched but heard.

Similarly, to experience what God tells and offers us, we do not exercise our five senses. There is something beyond our physical eyes, physical ears, physical noses, physical hands, and physical tongues. This is where the spiritual world lies. Now, just as we understand every creature in the physical world is not benevolent, so we understand that malevolent creatures exist in the spirit world. Whatever they are though, good and bad, we can perceive them if we exercise our spiritual senses.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Through the eyes of faith, we see that there is more to our existence than this life. Whatever we are facing, good or bad, this world is “temporal” (today’s Scripture). Our “light affliction,” our “minor difficulty,” is limited; it is subject to time constraints, temporary. If you keep reading into chapter 5, the verses immediately following today’s Scripture, you will see through the eyes of faith a small glimpse of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” awaiting us!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘Apocalypse?’

Salient!

Monday, March 5, 2018

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (1 Peter 3:14-16 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be striking in our handling of suffering.

The Holy Spirit wrote today’s Scripture concerning end-times persecution: Israel’s believing remnant will suffer immensely under the Antichrist. The Lord Jesus commented in Matthew chapter 24: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (verses 9,10). Verse 21 is worse: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since [!!!!] the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [!!!!].”

In the midst of such dreadful torment and slaughter, God the Holy Spirit wants the Little Flock to be “ready always” to have an “answer” (Greek, apologia—a defense, as in apologetics) when someone will ask them for a reason of the hope in them. They are to be salient, prominent, for their endurance. Just what enables them to bear unparalleled pressure from the Adversary (Satan, embodied in the Antichrist)? How can they tolerate all the opposition, resist the majority, challenge this seemingly omnipotent tyrant, and not be crushed internally by hopelessness?

The answer was already provided in chapter 1: “[5] Who are kept [protected] by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [Second Coming] of Jesus Christ:….”

Paul’s epistles provide us our defense!