Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF... Daily Devotional + Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Genesis 22:8 “…my son, God will provide himself a sacrifice…”

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Long before the foundations of Jerusalem were laid, before the walls were raised and Solomon’s temple was dedicated, before prophets and priests and kings walked the streets of the Holy City, there was on that very site a most astounding happening.

Two thousand years before Christ entered Jerusalem, God called Abraham to go to that place and offer up his only son—the son he so dearly loved—as a sacrifice. 

Abraham obeyed.  Men of faith always do.  Abraham, Isaac, and two young men rose up early to begin their trek.  Men of faith obey immediately.

When the mount of sacrifice came into sight, Abraham instructed the two young men to wait.  He said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you.”  Abraham took the wood he had brought for the sacrifice and laid it upon Isaac, his only begotten son.  He himself took the knife and the fire. 

As they walked up that rocky hillside Isaac asked the obvious, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  Abraham prophesied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb.” 

An altar was built.  The wood was laid on the altar.  Then Abraham’s only son laid down on the altar, bound and ready to die.

Isaac may have been 33 years of age, his father 133. Isaac could have run. Abraham could have refused. But both steadfastly obeyed—Abraham obeyed God.  Isaac obeyed his father.  Here is living, active faith.  “See how [Abraham’s] faith worked, and by works [his] faith is made perfect?” James explains.  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:22-24).

That day a voice from heaven halted Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. 

But two thousand years later there was no voice from heaven to halt the sacrifice of God’s Son.  On that fateful day, there was only a cry lifting from earth to heaven—“Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”  God had “provided himself a lamb!” 

“But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, How sincerely thankful we are today for the sacrifice of your only begotten Son.  We look at the cross and stand amazed. We sing “When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.” How marvelous! But it is our prayer that you will be on our mind throughout this day.  Keep us mindful that your ears are listening to us, your eyes are watching over us, and your Spirit is looking through us.  May all that we do bring honor, and glory, and praise to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  To God be the Glory! In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.  Our Father &c…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I WILL PUT ENMITY - Daily Devotional - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Colossians 1:20  “ shall bruise thy head…

Prophetic references to the cross will be our focus for the next several reflections.

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

REFLECTION: Moments after he lured, deceived, and ensnared Eve, the serpent was sentenced—“the seed of a woman will crush your head!”  Too often we point to Eve’s tragic choice and fail to observe that it was a descendant of Eve’s—born of a virgin—without the involvement of any man, who would conquer that old serpent the devil. (Revelation 12:19; 20:2). 

That final conquest would not be painless.  Indeed the serpent would wound and kill his destroyer. But “death could not hold him prey, Jesus my Savior!  He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!” (He Arose, by Robert Lowry).

The enmity, or hostility that exists between Satan and the Savior can never be resolved by negotiation, accommodation, or compromise.  “What communion hath light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with beliel?” (2 Corinthians 6:15,16).  Some moderns have proposed that unity at any price is preferable to calling our enemy and his impish allies by name and engaging them in battle.   But there is an enmity between Satan’s seed and Christ’s that can never be resolved. Failure to acknowledge and accent that difference is the genesis of compromise.

John the Beloved tells us, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  (1 John 3:8).  What Christ came to do, He did!  His sacrifice expunges the guilt of sin, defeats the authority of sin, delivers from the power of sin, sanctifies us from the nature of sin, protects us when enticed to sin, and saves us from the penalty of sin.

But there is more.  We who are born of God, having His seed within us (1 John 3:9), will like our Christ be bruised through persecution and temptation. Yet through it all, we can rejoice that the power to triumph over every solicitation of Satan is ours through our conquering Savior.  “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37). 

PRAYER: Our Gracious Heavenly Father, With the Apostle we say, “Thanks be unto God, for His unspeakable Gift!”  To know that from the very foundation of the world you were making provision for the redemption of fallen man is wonderful evidence of your great love for us.  Open our eyes to see our enemy, to recognize his subtle as well as his straight-on attacks, and to appreciate our conquering Savior.  Forgive us for yielding to the allure of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our heart’s desire is to be wholly and holy on the Lord’s side.  Savior we are Thine!  May all that we say and do this day bring glory to the Savior in whose name we pray. Amen.  Our Father &c.

Monday, February 27, 2012

ENDURED THE CROSS - Daily Devotional - Monday, February 27, 2012

Hebrews 12:1 “Looking unto Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…”

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 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. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

In reading the Gospel accounts of Christ’s crucifixion, I have often been amazed by their brevity.  Matthew simply writes, “And they crucified him.” (Matthew 27:35).  Mark testifies, “And they crucified him.” (Mark 15:35).  Luke tells us, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him.”(Luke 23:33).  John records, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him…”  (John 19:17-18). 

Attempts by artists and actors to accurately portray the suffering of the Savior on the cross fall woefully short.  Of necessity their depictions are this-worldly. Relying on an artist’s palate, the actor’s talent, the cameraman’s skill, the musician’s ability, or even the imaginative writer’s vocabulary, it is impossible to fully reveal the spiritual dimensions of Calvary.   Too often men have cheapened and concealed the spiritual reality of the sacrifice by their feeble depictions.

But when a holy man, moved by the Holy Ghost, (2 Peter 1:21) tells us that our Messiah “endured the cross,” literally “despising the shame” (not simply ignoring the shame, but purposefully chosing to scorn the shame), and that he did all of that for the “joy that was set before him,” suddenly we see truth that could never be perceived by the naked eye. 

We see a falsely accused, mercilessly tormented, suffering Savior, looking upward and forward to the joy that is the unique possession of all who do the Father’s will.  When the cheers of Palm Sunday turned to the jeers of Good Friday, He did not halt. He prayed: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”(Luke 23:46).  This is the Christ we look to.  This is the example we follow.  And the joy of doing God’s will and abiding in His presence forever is the reward we know.

PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, We come into your presence awed by your power, amazed by your love, and humbled by the sacrifice of your only begotten Son.  We see Jesus, poor, despised, hated, persecuted, blasphemed, mocked, spit upon, cursed, humiliated, hanging on the cross, and we pray, Oh God, help us to follow in His steps, and run with patience the race that is set before us. May the love that compelled our Christ, indwell our hearts. And may we rejoice to take up our cross today, anticipating that glorious someday when we will exchange our cross for a crown.  In the name of Christ our Messiah we pray. Amen.  “Our Father, &c.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD... Daily Devotional - February 26, 2012

Colossians 1:20  “Having made peace through the blood of the cross.”

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him 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. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…

REFLECTION: The Prophet Isaiah heard from Heaven:  “There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:21).  Men who are at war with God have no peace.  Men who are at war with God, war with one another and war within.  As certainly as peace on the battlefields of this war-torn world is bought only at the price of blood, so peace with God can only be purchased at the price of blood. Every fallen man of Adam’s race is an enemy combatant.  It can only be thought amazing that God would deign to send heaven’s best into this enemy occupied territory.  But God so loved…

We have all sinned.  We are by nature children of wrath.  But through the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, we have been DELIVERED from the power of darkness, TRANSLATED into the Kingdom of Christ, REDEEMED from the dominion of the slave-master called sin, and FORGIVEN from every we have committed.  Now we are no longer at war with God, we belong to God! There is peace through the blood of the cross.  Hallelujah what a Savior. 

PRAYER: Our Father which art in Heaven, we give Thee all the glory, and the praise, and the honor for offering up your only Son as a full, and perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  I confess it is my duty to love you with all of my heart.  May that love be the motive for all the that I do.  May my affections, my senses, my health, my time, and whatever talents I have be wholly thine.  May the joy I have from peace with God, lead me to a greater love for God.  Thank you Lord for saving my soul.  In the strong name of Jesus I pray. Amen.