Archive for February, 2011

Nobody Else

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

Isaiah 43:11

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

There are so many verses in the Bible that we could look at that would tell us the exact same thing: Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.  There is no other Saviour.  No one else can save us and we can not save ourselves.  It is Him, it is all Him, and it is only Him.

There are many people in the world who are trusting in one thing or another to save them.  But, sadly, unless that trust is in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, they are trusting in something false.  It is difficult to write with enough force to truly convey the fact that Jesus is God, He is the Lord, and He is the only Saviour.  Fallen man has long attempted to get around this one Saviour, but it can not be done.  There is no other Saviour.  Period.

It has been my hope and prayer that this blog would be used to encourage people and magnify the Lord.  I think that some days, we just need to stop and think about this fact that there is only one Saviour, and that One Saviour is Jesus Christ.  If you know Him, thinking on these things will be a comfort and an encouragement to you.  If you do not know Him, He is the only Saviour and the only hope.  He is the only one Who can save us from our sins.  And He will save you if you will put your faith and trust in Him.  If you have any questions about this Saviour, feel free to contact me.  He died for us, He was buried and He rose again from the grave.  All for us. 

I will leave you think about our wonderful Saviour with one of the most famous verses in the Bible:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

~John 3:16

Consider

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:  That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

Isaiah 41:19-20

I’m not a botanical expert, but I do know enough to know that fir trees and pine trees general don’t grow in the desert.  If I was driving through a desert and came to a nice, beautiful pine tree, I would probably have to look at it twice just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.  But, pine trees and fir trees in the desert are just what God says that He is going to do.  And His purpose in doing that will be to make us stop and think.  His purpose will be to make us take the time to consider Him and His wonderful works.

How many times have we see a “fir tree in the desert” that made us stop what what we were doing and think about Him?  I think that the Lord puts things like in our lives just to help us.  The other day, I was delivering a stove to a house and I looked up and saw a small cross on the wall.  I’ve seen crosses like that a thousand times before, but this one stopped me in my tracks.  It made me start thinking about the cross and all that Jesus Christ had done for me there.  I started praying and thanking the Lord for His goodness and mercy to me.  All because of a small cross on some stranger’s kitchen wall.

The next time He puts a “fir tree” in your desert, stop and “consider, and understand… that the Lord hath done this.”

A Soft Heart

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

Jeremiah 9:1

I once heard a preacher comment on this verse by saying that most people today are too hard hearted and I think that I would have to agree with that assessment.  Here, the prophet Jeremiah (aptly nicknamed “the weeping prophet”) is lamenting the slain of his people.  To me, this verse is very convicting.

How many people do I know who do not know Jesus Christ?  How many people have I come across during my life who didn’t know Him?  How many people are there out there in the world who have never even heard the gospel?  We live in a dying world.  Those all around us are perishing and how often have I not even been moved by that thought?  I know the Lord.  He gave me the opportunity to grow up hearing about Him and His saving grace.  I have a Bible.  I have several Bibles.  And I know how to read them.  While I have heard the name of Jesus just about every singly day of my entire life, how many people are there in the world who have never even heard His name once?  Even more convicting, how complacent have I been with these facts?

Jeremiah, in this verse, wishes that his eyes were a fountain of tears so that he could shed them for his people.  I don’t know that my compassion for people will ever be quite that high, but I know that I can have much, much more compassion for the lost.  I know that my heart is too hard.  Only the Lord can soften our hearts and give us a heart for Himself and for His work.

Glory In Him

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory  in the Lord.

I Corinthians 1:31

This verse in Jeremiah immediately made me think of the verse in I Corinthians.  As I have said before, I love seeing something in the Old Testament that I know is repeated in the New Testament.  It’s like seeing an old friend in an unexpected place.  Both of these verses say the same thing, and any time something is repeated, it must be important.  And I think that this concept is important. 

In these verses, God tells us what to glory in.  He tells us exactly what to do; I like verses like that.  He tells us that the absolute only reason in the entire world to glory in anything is Him.  He is the reason that we should have glory and He should be the singular object of that glory.  If we are going to glory in anything, let us glory in Him. 

In Jeremiah, He tells us that His characteristics are lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness.  These are the things that should excite us.  Just think about His lovingkindness to us.  Think about His judgment and His righteousness.  All of those characteristics of God came together perfectly at the cross.  There, the sacrifice of Jesus showed God’s lovingkindness toward us, His judgment on sin, and His perfect righteousness embodied in the One who was crucified.  This is the reason that Paul would later say in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

There is only one reason for us to glory: Jesus Christ and His cross.  But what a wonderful thing to glory in!

 

Withholden Good Things

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

Jeremiah

This is a powerful verse that really makes you think.  What good things have my sins kept from me?  That is a loaded question.  And, quite honestly, it is a question that I do not like to dwell on.  But maybe thinking about it a little bit every now and then will help me to not have quite so many good things withheld from me in the future.  Constantly remembering our past failures is a recipe for fear and more failure.  It can make us want to just throw in the towel when we think of how many times we have failed our Lord and Saviour.  But sometimes remembering how we have failed Him can spur us on to serve Him more faithfully. 

This verse tells us that these people had good things withheld from them because of sin.  The Lord loves us and wants to bless us.  But sometimes He can’t bless us because of our sin.  Our sin always causes problems.  It causes problems for us and it causes problems for others.  I don’t know how many times the Lord wanted to use me to help someone else, but couldn’t because of my sin.  I don’t know what the good things that I have missed in my life are, but I know that I can look back to points in my life when my sin has come between me and the Lord.

Thinking about these things is not pleasant, but it does make me think of two things: first, I am thankful that the Lord has had mercy on me and on my many sins.  Second, it burns a desire to stay close to Him and serve Him even deeper into my heart.  What good things has the Lord been forced to withhold from us?  Let us ask Him to help us do our best to not miss anything that He would have for us!

Christ Liveth In Me (Hymn)

Christ Liveth In Me
Daniel W. Whittle (1891)

Once far from God and dead in sin,
No light my heart could see;
But in God’s Word the light I found,
Now Christ liveth in me.

Refrain

Christ liveth in me,
Christ liveth in me,
Oh! what a salvation this,
That Christ liveth in me.

As rays of light from yonder sun,
The flowers of earth set free,
So life and light and love came forth
From Christ living in me.

Refrain

As lives the flower within the seed,
As in the cone the tree,
So, praise the God of truth and grace,
His Spirit dwelleth in me.

Refrain

With longing all my heart is filled,
That like Him I may be,
As on the wondrous thought I dwell
That Christ liveth in me.

We just started singing this hymn at my church a few months ago, and I have enjoyed it.  That is one truly wondrous thought upon which to dwell: Christ liveth in me!  And that should be the longing in our hearts: that like Him we might be.  If Christ lives in you, this is a wonderful song to sing.

Opened Eyes and Loosed Prisoners

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Isaiah 42:6-7

There is so much great truth in these verses that I don’t even know where to begin.  I love the comfort found in verse six and the purpose found in verse seven.  But it all goes together.  As with everything else, all truth comes beautifully together in Christ Jesus.

Verse six starts of by telling us that He has called us in righteousness.  Sometimes I think God made a mistake when He saved me.  I have failed Him over and over and I can not imagine why He would choose to save a sinner like myself.  But He has and I can only thank Him for it.  He has also promised in this verse to “hold our hand and keep us.”  If that doesn’t comfort and encourage you, I don’t know what will.  The image I get from reading this is that of a father holding the hand of his small child.  The child stumbles along, tripping and bumbling the whole way.  But the entire time, the father has a firm hold on his hand.  That sounds like us as Christians.  We often trip and stumble, but He continues to hold our hand and keep us.

Verse seven tells us why He came and it tells us just what He has done for us: He has opened our blind eyes and has freed us from the prison of sin.  Without Him, we would be blind and a slave to sin.  With Him, we are alive in Him, able to see clearly and free. 

Some days it is good just to stop for a second and think about all that Jesus has done for us and all that He is to us.  Some days (or maybe every day) it’s good to just be thankful for our Saviour!

Seeking the Living Water

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.  I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

Isaiah 41:17-18

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:38

There are so many places in the Bible in which salvation is offered not to the strong and able, but to the poor and needy.  I am always thankful for this, because that means that “whosover will” really does mean “whosoever will.”  We are not excluded because of our weakness.  Think about the imagery in this verse:

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst…”  Here is a person who is poor and needy to begin with.  They start out with nothing and they don’t even have the most basic of life essentials: water.  They are literally on the verge of death.  They have nothing and they have no hope in themselves.  It is then that He says “I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” 

Not only will He hear them and answer their prayer for water, He will answer it abundantly.  “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”  There will be water everywhere!  There will be water on the mountains, in the valleys, in the wilderness and in the desert.  You can’t get much more water than that! 

When the people realized their hopeless condition and their thirst, He heard their cry and gave them “rivers of water.”  He has done the same for us.  When we were thirsting for something, He gave us living water.  What a beautiful image He has given us!

One Voice

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 40:3

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh before me: for he was before me…   The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:15, 29

As I have said before, I enjoy reading in the Old Testament and finding a prophecy that was then fulfilled in the New Testament.  I love seeing Jesus where you don’t expect to find Him.  Here He is, right in the middle of the book of Isaiah.  After 39 chapters of judgment and chastening, chapter 40 begins with the words “comfort ye…”  And then we find Jesus.  Or at least a prophecy about John the Baptist talking about Jesus.

I have always liked the image of John the Baptist being a “voice crying in the wilderness.”  Maybe it’s because I love Jesus and I love the wilderness, I don’t know.  But I have always liked that image of one man using his voice to speak of the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

I believe that I have written this before, but it bears repeating: that should describe every one of us as Christians.  We should all be one voice crying in the wilderness of the world, lifting up our voices to magnify the King.  We should be telling everyone about the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.  Each of us has only “one voice.”  How are we using it?

They Never Looked Back

But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Jeremiah 5:23-24

The Lord here details a condition that I hope none of us ever finds ourselves in.  He says that His people have a “revolting and a rebellious heart.”  All of us, from time to time, find ourselves with some rebellion somewhere in our heart.  All of us have “revolted” against the Lord.  None of us have been perfectly obedient to the Lord.  But I hope that He has never had to say of us that we have a “revolting and a rebellious heart.”  I know that my heart has not always been right, but may He never say of us that we are “revolted and gone.” 

Verse 24 tells us that they never said in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God.”  They rebelled; they revolted.  And they never even looked back.  They turned their backs on the Lord, who gave them everything they had.  And they never even thought that maybe, just maybe, they should turn back to Him and fear Him and serve Him.  They chose their way and they never considered the Lord.

Let that never describe us.  We will stumble along the way.  We will fall at one point or another.  None of us are perfect, but when we stumble and when we fail, let us always remember the Lord our God.  Let us remember Him and always humbly come back to Him when we have wandered away from Him.  We should ask the Lord to help us to always think of Him.