Tag Archives: salvation

Zechariah 11-14; One

The first couple of times I read these chapters I was excited to see how Jesus is woven into so many verses. Then it dawned on me. He’s not just thrown in there a tidbit at a time. It’s all about Jesus! If things about Jesus are woven into this tapestry, the completed product is Jesus Himself.

Jesus, who doesn’t act like a foolish shepherd, but who is the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd who cares for His flock, who searches for His lost sheep. Jesus, the Shepherd of the Church, the Gospel that blesses some, and sends others reeling.

Considering these chapters, Matthew Henry said that those who reject Jesus, and are determined to further their sinful agendas consider the Church an obstacle, and want it gone. (Sometimes I  have to remind myself this guy wrote hundreds of years ago.) What Henry said seems to be gaining momentum in our present society, doesn’t it? But Henry also reminds us that no matter how hard they try to rid the world of the Church, it is built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and it will stand until the end. As bleak as it has looked in any age, as it may look right now, we win because of Jesus.

Jesus, the One who was pierced for our sin, is the Great Leveler, as seen in Zephaniah’s example of the split Mount of Olives. Everyone escapes through that valley. It’s the only way.

Jesus answered him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The Great Leveler.

Zephaniah reveals Jesus, the Living Water flowing out to all the earth. Reminds me of Pentecost when the Spirit of our Lord was poured out on the believers, and people heard the Gospel in their own languages, no matter where they were from. Then those people took that same Good News home with them and told others who spoke their language about the saving power of Jesus. That Living Water is still reaching lost souls everywhere.

I hope you’ll read the book of Zephaniah and let the old prophet encourage your relationship with Jesus, help you to see Him, and know His great love for you. There is so much more in here than what I’ve shared. It’s a book about the Name above all names.

14:9 tells us what those of us who know Jesus personally already know:

There is only One King, One Lord. One Name.

Jesus.

 

Obediah; There is Hope

I can’t help but think of the sweet reunion between Esau and Jacob as recorded in Genesis 33. A lot had gone down between the two, but when the brothers met after years of separation, they hugged and kissed each other. It seemed all was forgiven. It seemed they would finally live in peace.

If you know their history, you know peace was short-lived. That makes me sad.

Obadiah tells the descendants of Esau that judgment is coming because of their hatred for and mistreatment of Jacob’s family, the family God chose above all other nations to be His instrument. Edom will be punished for rejecting God.

Once again I am reminded how serious God is about being obeyed, about being honored as the only true God. All other religions are doomed to destruction.

But I love how God, even after rendering a death sentence for sin, points to the Messiah. No one has to die in their sin. There is hope. There is salvation through the blood of Jesus for anyone who believes.

The kingdom is the Lord’s. I pray you are a citizen.

Isaiah 16-19; Never Too Far Gone

It is God’s will that no one die without Him. Throughout the Old Testament we see example after example of God using Israel to reach out to lost people, to reveal Himself as the One True God, the Righteous Judge, and Savior of the world. Sometimes people listened and were saved, like the people of Ninevah in Jonah’s day. Sometimes they refused to bow and were destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. But don’t miss the many ways God tried to get their attention.

In the chapters I read today, Isaiah is throwing out warning after warning to people who have rejected God; Moab, Damascus, Cush, Egypt. The prophet, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is clear when he tells how God judges His enemies.

But I love how chapter 19 ends. “In that day…” when God’s enemies repent, God forgives and embraces them as His children. “In that day…” God’s former enemies become His people, His handiwork, His inheritance.

In this case, “In that day…” was fulfilled when the Messiah came and did what He came to do. The apostles preached the Gospel, and people of every nationality were saved. It is believed that it was Mark who started churches in Egypt, just like God told Isaiah would happen. This is good stuff!

Has God laid someone on your heart, but deep down you think that person is too far gone; that he or she would NEVER accept Jesus as their Savior? Don’t you believe it. Keep praying. Keep living Jesus.

I see Scripture assuring us that as long as a soul inhabits the living, it is never beyond what God can do to save them.

Isaiah 8-11; Radically Changed

Isaiah talks about Jesus. Some of these verses are very familiar prophesies about the coming of the Messiah. So beautiful!

I pulled out Matthew Henry and read his take on these passages. Then I reread the chapters in Isaiah to see if I could see what Henry saw. I absolutely love what the prophet shares about what Christ brings to us, what Christianity is all about. God changes human nature when that nature is laid at the foot of the cross.

In chapter 11, Isaiah uses word pictures to describe the person who encounters Jesus. He speaks of wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, calves and lions… all living in harmony. The most vicious of animals no longer vicious. Cobras without venom, harmless vipers when the world is full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Or, when your world is full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Henry says this:

“This is fulfilled in the wonderful effect of the gospel upon the minds of those that sincerely embrace it; it changes the nature, and makes those that trampled on the meek of the earth, not only meek like them, but affectionate towards them.” (Commentary in one Volume; Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; p 845)

Has God radically changed you? Or is there still a bit of that wolf, that leopard, or that viper in you? Embrace the Gospel. Let Jesus transform you into that person who loves like Jesus loves, who has compassion and kindness toward others.

Would it change your family dynamics if you did that? How about your workplace, your neighborhood, your church? Would it effect your prayer life? Your Bible study? Would it effect how you view yourself?

The radical change that comes from a right relationship with the Messiah is always, ALWAYS change that is good!

Esther; An Edict Not Revoked

Whenever I read this book I wonder, when I get to the part where the king who condemned all Jews to death, why he doesn’t just rescind his order and let them live once he discovers the truth. Why doesn’t he send out an updated edict and let the Jews off the hook? Instead, he gives the Jews a way to survive the death sentence.

Today Warren Wiresbe (With the Word Bible Handbook) put a light on the subject that helps me see things a bit more clearly. If you have read other posts of mine you know my strong conviction that all Scripture is given us by our loving Heavenly Father for the expressed purpose of revealing Himself to us. So what can a book that doesn’t even mention His Name teach us about God?

His Sovereignty. His dealing with prideful people. The fact He blesses obedience. And this:

JESUS!

Dr. Wiresbe reminded me God, from the time of Adam and Eve, has proclaimed an edict: Sin requires a death penalty. ALL sin, every sin comes with a deadly price tag whether we think that’s fair or not. And God is not going to revoke that edict.

Every impure thought, every vulgar word, every unkind action, all disobedience condemns you. You’re not going to talk God out of it, either.

Just like the Jews in Esther’s day were condemned to die, we are condemned to an eternity of death, separated from God.  But God provided a way for us to survive. He didn’t revoke the edict – He FULFILLED it! Jesus died so we don’t have to. That was our death sentence Jesus took on Himself.

Now here’s the other thing: The king didn’t write the new edict allowing the Jews to be saved, then lock the paper up in a vault. He sent couriers out into the land to tell the good news to everyone!

We need to be doing that, too. Your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker might need to know that they have a death sentence hanging over their heads, and that salvation is their’s for the asking! Jesus paid what they cannot pay. And they can have eternal life through the precious blood of their Savior.

Our Holy God cannot rescind the edict. Sin=Death. But Praise God that He Himself provided a way of salvation from the penalty of death my sin requires. I live because Jesus died. Praise God.

He did the same for you!

2 Kings 6-8; The “Eyes” Have It

Roman philosopher Cicero said, “The face is a picture of the mind, as the eyes are its interpreter.” The French have a saying, “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” We’ve all heard it said, “The eye is a window to the soul.” Even Jesus spoke to this in Matthew 6:22&23 when he said, “The light of the body is the eye…”

My dad was a great story teller. But the older I got, and the more I heard his tales, the more I was able to recognize the truth or fiction in what he was saying by the twinkle in his eyes.

Have you ever run into someone and asked the question everyone asks, “How are you,” hear them say “Fine,” like everyone always says, but can see in their eyes they are anything but fine? There really is something about the eyes, isn’t there?

God uses “eyes” several times in the chapters I read today. The first is found in 6:16-17. The king of Aram is out to get Elisha. The prophet and his servant, fearful for their lives, are hiding out in Dotham. When the servant steps out the door, he panics when he sees they are surrounded by the Aramean army. Elisha tells the servant not to be afraid. Then he prays that God would open this man’s eyes. What the servant saw then was God’s own army, horses and chariots of fire, enveloping Elisha, ready to defeat Elisha’s enemy.

Are you facing a battle that threatens to defeat you? Are you panicked at the impossibility of victory when you look at the hopelessness of your situation? Ask God to open your eyes, that you might see glimpses of truth He has for you. He might reveal His Power and Presence in any number of ways. But if you are His child, and if you ask Him, I believe He will give you the assurance you need. He did for Elisha’s servant.

The second time “eyes” are mentioned is in the very next verse. The Aramean army is at the door, unaware that God’s army is also there. Elisha didn’t pray that God would destroy them. He prayed that God would blind them. And He did. As a result, the army was rendered useless for battle.

Then, and I love this, Elisha led them to their salvation. The man they would have killed, took them out of danger (away from the army of God set to do battle – and we know who would have won that one), and led them to dinner before releasing them.

No one died that day.

Friend, non believers ARE blind. Many hate us because of our love of God, and devotion to Jesus. And some would rather see us dead than hear what we have to say.

First of all, I think God would have us know His army is surrounding us, ready to fight our enemy, to give us victory over those who would do us harm. But I also think He wants to remind us that He wants to save them, too, that Jesus died for them as much as He did for us, and that anyone who believes in Him will be saved. God wants us to lead them to the cross.

If Elisha had fought that day, people would have died with no hope. But because Elisha asked God to blind them, he was able to lead them to the place where their lives were spared. Remember Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek, do good to those who mistreat us, and make disciples (you do know He didn’t tell us to go into the world and pick out just nice people to make disciples of, don’t you?)

Another reference to “eyes” is found in 7:21. This time it’s a sad message. The army officer questioned God’s power. Oh, he eventually witnessed that power up close and personal. But he wasn’t allowed to share in the blessing.

I am reminded that at the Name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. For some it will be too late to receive the blessings of heaven. That truth breaks my heart. I can imagine how it effect’s God’s.

8:11 refers to “eyes” again. This time it was a gaze that bore right into Hazael’s soul, and caused him to be embarrassed. Elisha looked deep into Hazael’s eyes and saw the evil there, and Hazael knew Elisha wasn’t fooled by his outward behavior.

I think some people don’t want to get too close to God for that very reason. They’d much rather live their lives concealing the truth within their evil hearts, than looking into God’s eyes and know He sees that truth. They go through life avoiding eye contact with God, as though if they ignore Him, He won’t see what they are hiding. They can fool people into believing they’re ok, but try looking into God’s eyes. That’s a different story.

People who study human behavior say that, generally speaking, you can tell if people are lying by watching their eyes, you can recognize fear, love, anger, joy by the brightness and shape of their eyes. Eyes just might actually be a window into our souls.

So, what are your eyes saying about you today? Have you allowed God to reveal His Presence in your life? Can you see His hand at work, are you praying and seeing answers to your prayers? Are you assured that He is right beside you, ready to help you defeat Satan?

Or are you walking around blind, hoping someone will lead you to salvation? Do you question, or are you rejecting God’s Truth? Understand that rejection, that unbelief may be leading you to an eternity without hope.

Are you avoiding God because you know His gaze will make you face your sinfulness? Dear one, that same gaze will assure you of His love and forgiveness if you ask Him.

This is my prayer for you; that you will look forward to the day when you look into the eyes of Jesus Himself, and see His love and acceptance because you accepted Him as your Savior while you were on this earth.

Those are the eyes I am anxious to see!

2 Kings 2; The Road To Faith

Elisha saw God’s chariot accompany Elijah into heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah skipped the dying and went straight to God’s Presence in a dramatic display. Everyone knew that God was coming to get Elijah. Elijah told Elisha if he was privileged to witness the getting, God would bless him. Elisha saw. And he was blessed.

But not everyone saw what Elisha saw. The men waiting for Elisha to return hadn’t seen the chariot or the whirlwind, and they found it hard to believe. So because of their persistent pleas, Elisha let them search for Elijah, knowing full well they were not going to find him. Elisha let them search because he realized they needed to know for themselves that Elijah was gone.

Reminds me of Jesus’ “doubting” disciple. The other disciples had seen the risen Lord. Thomas hadn’t been there when Jesus appeared to them. So, even though I’m sure he remembered Jesus saying He would rise again, Thomas had trouble believing He’d really risen in the flesh. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Later, Jesus did appear to Thomas. The disciple saw for himself Jesus was alive. And he believed.

I love the way God allows us all to be individuals. He meets each of us where we are. I had a pastor once who became a Christian after reading the book of Revelation in the Bible. It scared the faith into him.

I know others who came to the Lord after a tragedy, some after hearing a sermon, some were drawn to Jesus by love. Some people need to see God’s hand, witness a miracle before they’ll believe. Others believe as soon as they hear what Jesus did two thousand years ago.

After Thomas saw Jesus and believed, Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

I don’t think Jesus was scolding Thomas with these words. And I don’t think Elisha was upset with the men who felt they needed to go looking for Elijah before they’d believe God took him.

Not everyone takes the same road toward faith. It’s personal. It’s intimate. And it’s God-lead. I guess I’m saying if you’re the type of person who needs to see before you believe, God knows you are. Ask Him to show you. Beware that He might show you through hardship, but if you need tangible proof, He can do that. Then believe, and be blessed.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to be shown anything, but can believe in Jesus by trusting in His Word, God knows that, too. Believe, and be blessed.

Because God wants you to know Him. He is personally, intimately interested in your eternal soul, and He longs to fellowship with you. Seek Him. You’ll find Him on the road you are traveling.