Making it My Own

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He was pierced for Sheila’s trangressions,
He was crushed for Sheila’s iniquities;
the punishment that brought Sheila peace was on him,
and by his wounds Sheila is healed.  
(Isaiah 53:5)

The ancient words written by the prophet Isaiah didn’t really  read quite like that.  He didn’t know me.  He didn’t use my name in the text.  But, the text was written about me.  It was also written about you.

“…and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.for the trangressions of My people He was stricken.” (Is. 53:6, 8).

You see, when I dare to personalize peace, I also must look at the heinousnes of my crime, “the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath,” as the old Puritan would say.  How hard is it to go low to the depths of humiliation to say what God already knows, “I am a sinner.  I have sinned against You, God. “?

It is ugly.  It is not what I like to think about.

Still, it is the truth about me.

And it is true for all of us, for God says, “each of us has turned to our own way.” Oh, we must admit we love our own way.  We so love to be in control, and for the most part we tend to think we do okay choosing our own way.  Preoccupied, we forget about God.  We wake up each morning figuring out how to make our own selves happy.  We do not rise in thankfulness to worship God by finding our deepest satisfaction in Him.

There rises on  a hill a great piece of evidence against us to remind us of our guilt.
The old Puritan prays,
“Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.
Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God, its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.  Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.” (Valley of Vision)
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You see, what I may call insignificant, God doesn’t.  We tend to grade our behavior by our own self-made, shifting standards of morality.  We joke about our “one weakness.”  Not God.  Our holy God is just and completely righteous.  He does not dwell in the gray, and His immutable character is eternally the same.  But, it is the purity of His love and justice that demands that all wrong be made right.  Where we might wink at wrong, God understands the devastation of evil.

The old Puritan’s pen scrawls hope for the guilty,
“Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.”

The ancient prophet Isaiah writes, “…and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin…
After He has suffered,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by His knowledge My Righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities….For He bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.”

God sent Jesus so that I can have peace with Him.  I see the love in this indescribable gift of forgiveness. “For God so loved Sheila that He gave His one and only Son, that when Sheila believes in Him she shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for Sheila.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Truth must move from our head to our heart; we must make it our own. Do you believe? Our own hearts must confess our sinful turning away.  Our own hearts must trust that only Jesus’s blood can cover the sin and set us free to live reconciled to God.
peace-with-god

 

 

 

 

Infinity Emptied into Infancy

The people were scared, terrified actually.  Strong forces were joining to wage war against them, and their hearts trembled like the great trees in the forest bowing to the wind. 1383498429_4-640x477 Isaiah, the prophet, is sent with a very simple message: “Do nothing-be careful, quiet, watch your heart, and don’t let it be afraid.” God gave the message of hope to his people, because God knew what they could not know.  His warning was clear: If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.  

This way of faith seemed inadequate to the people.  Isaiah didn’t budge.  “I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face…I will hope in Him.”

But, the people wanted to control the future.  Their hearts sought the false & the futile.

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God promised joy to come.  Would they believe? or would they choose to only hope in what they could see?  God promised to give a royal son. His zeal would bring peace, joy, justice and righteousness without end.

 

 

 

The people who walked in darkness have see a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has a light shined.
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy
at the harvest…For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
isaiah-9-6-for-unto-us-a-child-is-born
For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:2-3, 5-7

Seven centuries would pass before the birth of Christ.  God masterfully designs His promise to span across the centuries and tells His people, “Do not fear; I will do it.”

Between 2 FINITE things there still remains some degree of proportion; for example, a drop of water exhibits some proportion to the ocean. But between the finite and the infinte, it is IMPOSSIBLE; the Psalmist writes, “Who is like Yahweh our God—the One enthroned on high, who STOOPS down to look on the heavens & the earth?”

Amazingly though, infinite God becomes a finite man–on purpose–in order to reconcile a very messed-up child back to a hallowed Father! The humiliation is mind-boggling!! Apalling wonder…God sends His own Son Jesus, who STOOPED, making voluntary descent from His elevation, “who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He EMPTIED Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.”

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Infinity
e  m  p  t  i e d
into infancy…

 

The promise fulfilled.  And so we wait again in calm assurance and quiet hope for our Lord Jesus to return.  If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.  

The Cup

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All of hell was held in that cup.
The dark wine of God’s fury filled to the brim.
In just a few hours, Jesus would no longer be the Beloved Son,
but rather the one Cursed by the Father.
If Jesus had not drank the cup of God’s wrath,
we would have to drain that bitter cup ourselves.
Together, God in the Father and God in the Son suffered
to atone for our many violations and the very intentions of the heart.
Silence.
Separation.
Thunderous, quaking judgment of horrible proportions,
as God abhorred his soul.
Jesus, you drank the cup of wrath without mercy,
so that I could receive your mercy without wrath.
All glory, honor and power be yours!
Receive the cup of His mercy, O Sinner, and live!

Sibbes more mercy than sin in us

The Not So Simple Act of Forgiving

Forgiveness is a tricky thing. Nobody can “just forgive,” not even God. First, it is impossible to “just forgive,”to just let the wrong go.

Forgive

Dictionary definition of the word Forgive.

“Let it go” sounds nice, but forgiveness is not a simple thing and never easy.  Every wrong has a cost. Someone always pays.  The cost of the wrong is paid in sleepless nights, damaged relationships, regret, lost trust …well, you get the idea…and that is just the beginning of the incredible cost. Besides, what if we really care about the person who violated what is right?  Is it in the best interest of the person for us to magically “let it go”? Would it be loving or just for society to overlook evil?   How much more so with God?

God’s justice is wrapped up in His essence. Psalm 85 10, 11If there is a God, there is a real justice.
If God lets injustice go, then there is no right or wrong.
If there is no absolute right or wrong, we have a paper doll god.  Please, don’t give me a paper doll god cut out in one dimension, a god of my own making.

Forgiveness gets really messy and complicated. Perhaps, that’s why we love fairy tales that serve us poetic justice and a “happily ever” after ending. So, bottom line…how does a real God deal with real wrong?

The one real God absorbed the wrong. All wrong has a cost, and God Himself chose to pay that price.  Together, God in the Father and God in the Son suffered for our great violations. There is a glorious complexity to the cross! A God who just forgives is not a holy God. A God who won’t forgive is not a loving God. A God who cannot forgive is not wise, for He does not know how to satisfy love and justice. In the cross, love, justice, and holiness are fully satisfied…”even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom.”Tim Keller wrath and love satisfied
On the cross, wrath and mercy were satisfied.  And on the cross, love wins.
This personal ransom is paid for me and for anyone who desperately needs real forgiveness and is willing to trust Him for everything.  Oh, how we need Him for everything!

 

 

The Son of Man takes the wrongdoer’s destruction and sets the heart free to love and forgive others.  Only a real God can satisfy so completely the high cost of righting wro
ng.

 

 

 

 

Tim Keller ransom for me

…and justice for all.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.   John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

In a governing paradox, our western culture promotes self-government and individuality, yet remains coolly suspicious with unmasked distrust of external authority.  Donald Trump has become the icon of the angry American.  Perhaps, we feel betrayed.  Perhaps, the American dream is the latent pumpkin that never quite morphed into the bedazzled carriage sent to transport us to the Prince’s ball. justice
Racial tensions are taut and pregnant, economic pain births greater inequality, college debt pushes against career investment, families struggle, commitment becomes harder, and greed still seems to win.  The Nobel Prize winner and Princeton economist Dr. Angus Deaton  while being interviewed concerning the rising all-cause mortality of middle-aged whites suggested that this segment of the population “have lost the narrative of their lives.”

Les Miserables
The New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote this in response, “Or to put it a bit differently, we’re looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true.”  Is it just a mere illusion, a figment of imagination, to believe that power was meant to extend justice?
Abuse of authority breeds the cynic.  

But, let’s suppose you deal with a ruling leader who executes perfect justice and integrity.  What if  there would be that One?  One who never miscarries justice and cannot be deceived.  One who will not be bought for a price.  One who will not be perverted through power’s spell. One who will not force peace with a gun?

Would we be comfortable with such a just authority?
Absolute authority with absolute justice.

Injustice is not merely the result of social structures and systems.  The heart betrays a man.  Justice emerges from purity.

What if a life narrative did exist that could not be corrupted by the deceitful heart?  

A babe was born Lord at his birth…a holy King.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of him:

He will not judge
by what He sees with His eyes,
He will not execute justice
by what He hears with His ears,
but He will judge the poor righteously
and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.

The Messiah baby is the King who sits enthroned forever.
Yet, this King was judged in night court as a criminal and crucified the next day.  The King allowed it.  He said, Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels?  How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”  At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn’t arrest Me. But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.”  Purity cannot be corrupted. It took “God here with us,” Immanuel, to satisfy justice.  So, the Son of Man with a perfect life, came to satisfy the law’s demands.  For if each of us are honest, there is no one whose heart does not deceive, who has never committed a wrong,  and who is not indicted for anarchy against the Highest King.  Yet, it is God’s very holiness that also transcends in love that ordained this sacred redemption.  The Son of God emptied Himself of all privilege, made Himself nothing, and offered His body as bail; so that, justice would cry no more against us. “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.”  (Colossians 1:13-14)

Absolute authority with absolute justice prevailed and liberty was won!

ps. 45 vs 6

God sees all corruption and evil.  Beauty adorns justice, for love requires it. Justice will reign in Christ’s kingdom.  We praise the King of kings whose throne is established in justice.

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ! 

-Dustin Kensrue