Friday, November 22, 2019

Perfect Peace Based on the Gift of Righteousness

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

I was very troubled in my mind today. Very troubled.

I had all this knowledge of God's Word. I knew that He had made me righteous. I knew that He was working behind the scenes.

And yet, this sense of unrest simply would not leave me.

Then I remembered the above verse: Isaiah 26:3.

For the longest time, I used to believe that that verse meant that I had to make that I was always thinking about God. If I lost my focus in some way, then God would not keep me in "perfect peace".

Well, first I had to learn to recognize that God is everywhere, and that I cannot be separated from Him:

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)

So, He will never leave me. He is not going away when I sin or fail. After all, God made it very clear: "I will never leave you ..."

So, what does it mean to have our "mind stayed" on him?

The word "stayed" in the original Hebrew will give us a clue: "samak".

The first mention of "samak"?

"And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him ..." (Genesis 27:37)

Corn and wine speaks of the Holy Communion, and with the communion we celebrate Jesus' death on the Cross.

The second mention of "samak"?

"And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock. "(Exodus 29:10)

The placing of hands on a sacrificial animal is a type of Christ Jesus taking our sins.

To have our mind stayed on Him, then, speaks of being established fully in His righteousness (Isaiah 54:14, 17), that Jesus completed a perfect work in taking away all our sins at the Cross, and that there is nothing more that we must do to be in Him.

This perfect peace is based on the Gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17), righteousness which comes from the perfect work that Jesus did at the Cross:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We have perfect peace because Jesus did a perfect work in washing away all our sins and granting us His righteousness! There is no longer any need for me to do, be, or think a certain way so that God will be OK with me.

I will never be punished for my sins. God will never be angry with me nor rebuke me ever again! (Isaiah 54:9)

I can have perfect peace with Him, because Jesus did a perfect work!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Through Christ Jesus, We Receive Our Life as More Than a Prey

"And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest." (Isaiah 45:5)

I have read this passage a number of times in different devotionals.

There is always one thing that is left out, that is missing in many of the discussions on this verse:

This event took place under the Old Covenant, under the blood of bulls and goats which could never cleanse sin, but which could atone for sin until the fullness of time would come (Galatians 4:47).

Jesus is the Perfect Sacrifice, the propitiation for all the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2)

We are not under an Old Covenant, but under the New Covenant.

He is our God, and we are His people. We do not seek great things for ourselves, that is certainly true, because ... He is already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:6)

The name of the scribe whom Jeremiah is speaking to, Baruch, is taking down a prophecy for Jeremiah.

Baruch was really hard up at this point in the history of the nation of Israel:

"Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest." (Jeremiah 45:3)

Baruch had every reason to feel down. Israel was beseiged by the Babylonians. Those who were still alive were going to be taken captive to Babylon very soon. The city of Jerusalem was going to be burned to the ground, and the Temple was going to be destroyed.

Yet God promised Baruch that his life would given to him as "spoils" wherever he went.

Today, in Christ Jesus,  we are  more than mere spoils.

We have been redeemed from sin and death!

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:" (Galatians 3:13)

And in Christ Jesus, we are not just barely getting by!

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things." (Romans 8:31-32)

In fact, we are called to reign in life with Him (Romans 5:17)

Let us also never forget the promises which Christ Jesus has fulfilled for us through the Cross:

"14In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54:14)

We have His righteousness today. In fact, we are made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Baruch received comfort that he would receive his life as "a prey." In Christ Jesus, we receive life and that more abundantly (John 10:10) and eternal life (John 3:16).

Indeed, we receive our life as more than a prey, because of Jesus!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Noah Was Perfect and Protected; Job Was Perfect, Yet Persecuted -- Why?

"These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:9)

"1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." (Job 1:1)

I have placed these two verses next to each other for a reason.

We have two clear figures, men of God, who are revered in the Old Testament and even mentioned in the New.

Noah was spared the great suffering of the world, and God used him to build an ark, save mankind and the animal kingdom.

Job, on the other hand, suffered greatly. God allowed Satan to trouble Job. He lost everything, everyone, until the very end.

What's going on? Why was Noah protected and Job persecuted?

They were both "perfect", or "tamim" in God's eyes, were they not?

"Noah was perfect ..." This does not speak to moral perfection, but physical perfection, in that he was fully human, not adulterated with the genetics of the "sons of God" aka "Bene Elohim" (Genesis 6:1-4)

That same word "perfect" describes Job. He was fully human, too. God could interact with them as His creation.

But then differences clearly emerge.

Noah was "just", righteous.

He had found grace in God's eyes:

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6:8)

In contrast, what do we read about Job?

"He was upright."

In the original Hebrew, "upright" translates the word "yashar", which speaks of good conduct on the outside. In fact, Job even feared God and avoided evil.

And yet ...

Job did not find favor in God's eyes. He was not righteous.

Job had not found grace. Noah did. Noah depended on God, believed in Him, i.e. "walked with God."

Noah was righteous. He believed in God.

Job was merely upright. He trusted in his own efforts, and spent much of his efforts covering for his children:

"5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." (Job 1:5)

Good works do not save us. Good behavior does not protect us.

Only God's grace protects us, His goodness secures us.

God does not want us depending on our efforts, but resting in His word.

That was God's plan from the beginning:

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."(Genesis 2:15)

God provided everything. He wanted to bless man, and allow man to just receive His goodness:

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men." (Psalm 115:16)

God wants us to believe on Him and receive from Him, not achieve on our own, grieving His heart. In fact, we cannot live apart from Him, for God Himself brought us to life with His own breath!

Noah walked with God, believed on Him, depended on Him.

Because Noah believed, He was righteous!

And because Noah believed, God formed a covenant with him, a covenant of peace and protection.

"But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee." (Genesis 6:18)

and also

"And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;" (Genesis 9:9)

God did not establish a covenant with Job,, and He could not because Job did not believe in Him. He was afraid of God, sure, but Job did not trust in Him, did not see Him as a good God from whom he could draw all things. 

In fact, Job did not start walking by faith until the very end, after he had suffered greatly, reduced to the end of himself, where he could do nothing more but ... believe and receive:

"1Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

2I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

3Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

4Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

5I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (John 42:1-6)

And let's not forget that when Job "repented", or rather rested, felt sorry for his wrong beliefs, but more importantly he "rested", he stopped striving, and started believing in Him!

And with that, God turned Job's captivity!

"10And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10)

So, what does it all come down to? Why was Noah perfect and spared, while Job was perfect yet persecuted?

Noah believed in the LORD, that He is good, and he received God's grace (cf. Genesis 15:6)

And with that, Noah was righteous!

And righteousness opens up manifold blessings to us!

"Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked." (Proverbs 10:6)


"In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54:14)

Note that in Isaiah 54:10, God speaks of "my covenant of peace", which will not be removed from us--a covenant just like the one which God made with Noah, with Abraham (Genesis 15, 17). This covenant is enacted because of righteousness!

And this righteousness is not our righteousness, but His!

"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17)

No tyranny, no terror can afflict us because we are established in His righteousness

In fact, today, we can rest in God's favor, in God's grace, because we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Beloved, you do not have to fear or wonder why Noah was protected and Job was persecuted. Today, when you believe in Christ Jesus, you receive His righteousness--and keep receiving it! (Romans 5:17), which in turn causes you to reign in Life and be freed from sin, destruction, and death!

You need not fear enduring the troubles of Job, but can rest in the gracious protection and favor of Noah--because of His righteousness!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Bread and the Wine: Holy Communion

"5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

I have been taking the Holy Communion on a greater basis. Sometimes, I remember what Jesus did for me more than once a day.

With the Bread, I say:

Jesus was:

  • Broken

  • Beaten

  • Bruised

  • Bloodied

  • Bashed

For my Blessing.

With the Wine, or the Cup that I drink, I say:

This is Your Blood.

The Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant.

The Blood that speaks better things than the blood of Abel.

The Blood that cleanses me from all sin and all unrighteousness.

There is such joy, such pleasure when I take communion. Jesus truly is the Bread of Life!

The Communion is indeed the way of escape for every trial!

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What Pleases God: Believing in Him, and Coming to Him

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

This morning, I was meditating on a very powerful question, and a very powerful truth.

"How can I please God?"

Why? Because He so pleases me! He has ravished my heart in a way that is just unprecedented in my Christian walk.

"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck." (Songs 4:9)

Before, I did not think that He was present unless I was thinking about Him, manifesting Him through my efforts, my thought-life. Such a drain, such a burden that was for me!'

He is actively loving us, and in fact our Loving Father has been loving us when we weren't even paying attention!

"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)


"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

and also

"9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10)

And of course:

"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

God our Father sees us just like Jesus, for we are in Christ (Ephesians 1:6) and Christ is in us!(Colossians 1:27)

I could not help sharing how much He loves us - how much He loves me!

So, I am so brimming over with His love, I ask "God, how can I please you?"

Then Hebrews 11:6 came to mind.

"Without faith, it is impossible to please God."

We have to have faith -- We have to believe in Him:

"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

Now, we need to believe that He exists.

We also need to believe that God is a rewarder. Indeed, He wants to provide more good to those who diligently seek Him.

What does that mean? I struggled with that phrase for a long time. Was I supposed to "look for God"? I mean, is He not everywhere, and ever-present? Does He not comfort us with "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"? (Hebrews 13:5)

There is another verse which talks about seeking God's face, too:

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek." (Psalm 27:8)

What does "seek His face" mean? Many commentaries render this Hebraism to mean "Seek His presence." Well, waht is that supposed to mean? Once again, is He not ever-present, ever-available?

Then I read the New Living Translation of Psalm 27:8:

"8My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”

"Seek His Face" means "pray to Him", or "come talk to Him."

God rewards us when we come to Him, when we pray to Him, when we talk to Him!

That is exactly what God was looking for when He had created Adam and Eve to begin with! He wanted us to come to Him, to fellowship with Him, to depend on Him!

In Hebrews 11;6, we read "He that cometh to Him ..."

In this verse "come" is literally "proserchomai". Here is the full exposition on this Greek word:

proserchomai: to approach, to draw near
Original Word: προσέρχομαι
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: proserchomai
Phonetic Spelling: (pros-er'-khom-ahee)
Definition: to approach, to draw near
Usage: I come up to, come to, come near (to), approach, consent (to).

This verse made me think of Genesis 45:4, in which Joseph invites his brothers "Draw near to me."

But this verb "draw near" ("Nagash" in Hebrew) appears sooner than that in the Old Testament:

"And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" (Genesis 18:23)

In the first mention of "Draw near", Abraham comes to God asking Him to spare the righteous in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Notice that Abraham believes that God exists, and that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. God answered Abraham's prayers every time he asked.

Would that Abraham had asked "If there is ONE righteous, will you spare the city for that one?"

At any rate, what pleases God?

That we believe He exists, and that we come to Him! That we ask from Him, that we come to Him, toalk to Him, call on Him in time of need!

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 14:6)

God wants us to come to Him.

God wants us to depend on Him.

That's what pleases Him -- Not what we can do for Him, but that we let Him do for us!