Tag Archives: Only

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 47 (Easter)

47. Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

Finish Race

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Perspective, perspective, perspective. Before we understand Christ’s perspective, we must understand ours. Fixing our eyes upon Jesus.

The Greek word for fixing is defined: to look away from other things and look only on one thing. There is an aspect of turning one’s back and to look away as part of the process.

There is a multitude of verses which speak to this exclusivity. It’s not just a simple matter of making Jesus first, with a panoply of other options, interests, needs, wants and preferences crowding in behind Him. Yes, He is in front, but there are all those distractions insinuating themselves behind Him; many seeking to supplant and usurp Him. And since we essentially have no will power, we need to clear the deck, turn away from all else and fix our eyes only on Jesus.

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ( James 4:4)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. ( John 15:19)

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)

Country Asphalt road in strong flare

The last two verses demand our attention in regard to our perspective. Jesus is not just a choice—not even a first choice. Nor is He our last choice. He is our only choice. He is our only master, our only God. There cannot be another. So when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, there are no distractions, no colorful backdrop, not even a context. There is only Jesus. And when He is all you see, then you will have the appropriate perspective for everything else.

Who for the joy set before Him.

Before we ponder the joy, we should consider what was set before Him, that which was the source of the joy. The Greek word for set before has an interesting application. It could be restated as lie before, which can refer to a dead body laying in state. Now I’m not sensing a whole lot of joy coming out of that particular app, but is speaks accurately to our condition. Without Christ, we are dead in our sins and trespasses. We are a corpse. He saw our condition, knew what was to be done, and did it. Thus He saw the joy for His obedience, and saw the joy for the glory it brought His Father, and He saw the joy in raising us from the dead.

Set before can also apply to an infant, which also speaks to our state after we have been saved by Him: we are—in the words of Peter—newborn babes (1 Pet 2:2;1 Cor 3:1).

There is also an exposed sense to the word; as a prize that is set before all who would see it. We should consider this exposure. When God looks upon us, there is nothing hidden. All our private thoughts, concealed attitudes, secret sins—and what ever else we would seek to disguise—all lay open and  bare to His omniscient gaze. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? It should, unless you have been hidden in Christ, so when God turns His omniscient gaze upon you, all He sees is Christ.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. ( Ephesians 5:6-13)

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. ( John 3:20-21)

So we’ve seen examples of what may have been set before Him; and since God the Son is omniscient, then surely there were more things which He saw set before Him. The defeat of sin, Satan, death and the grave. Accomplishing the work given to Him by His Father. We must not forget that He saw you and me specifically and individually. The was not a general redemption. He died and rose again for you. All the other things that were set before Him—and they are myriad—should pale in comparison, when you know the Holy Son of God, Jesus the Christ, died for you. You were on His heart and mind. You were set before Him.

There’s the joy. And if Christ could push through, look past all the yuck, there is the key for us to do the same.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ( Jas 1:2-4)

James tells us why we are going through trials, and the end result. But Jesus show us how. So we can consider it all joy when we look not to the trials, or the situation. Or even the results. We must look to Jesus. Again, not our first choice, nor our last choice, but our only choice.

Tomorrow a recap of What God Gave Up for Lent

 

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 20

20. He Himself

Jesus Reaching Down

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, griefs can also be translated as sickness and disease. So you could just as easily say that He bore our sickness, or He bore our disease. But we’re not talking about physical disease—we’re talking about the spiritual disease of sin; a disease which is completely and utterly fatal, both temporally and eternally.

I’m not a big fan of grammar, but the phrase He Himself, is called an intensive pronoun, which is used to emphasize the subject. In this case, Christ is the subject, and by emphasizing Him, we learn He alone was capable and worthy and had the sole authority—and chose—to bear our griefs. There neither is, was, nor will be, another. This phrase reveals the urgency, the necessity of what Christ Himself did, and only He could do. We know from Scripture that the blood of bulls and goats does not cut it: For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. ( Heb 10:4) It took the Lamb of God, it took God’s Son to bear our sins.

There are several meanings within the word bore that deserve consideration: to carry off, to take away, to forgive, and even to be swept away. So when Christ bore our sins to the cross it was not merely a matter of bearing our sins, but He carried them away, and took them to the grave with Him. Is there any doubt of how thoroughly involved God is in your life? He took the worst of you so that He could make the best of you.

This is the first of the substitutions: They were our griefs, but He is the One Who carried them.

Singing with the King (99) – One Stop Shop

You alone are God. (Psalm 86:10)

Last time we looked at this Psalm with a more or less theological approach. We considered this verse the way David was seeing it, the way he was seeing and knowing the LORD. But then we continued on with more verses from this Psalm to understand why David knew this to be.

Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (vs. 2-5, 15)

Notice the couplets:

Protect me— I am devoted to you.

Save me— I serve and trust you.

Be merciful to me— for I am calling on you.

Give me happiness— I give myself to you.

Then David lists off a string of characteristics about his God, who alone is God: good, ready to forgive, full of unfailing love, compassionate, merciful, slow to get angry, filled with unfailing love, and faithfulness. Who wouldn’t want to come to a God like that?

I mention all this again because God being the “one and only” is more than just a theological truth, it’s a relational truth. What I mean by that? Not only is He God alone, He’s all you need. Consider these following verses:

In heaven I have only you, and on this earth you are all I want. (Ps 73:25)

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (Ps 23:1)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)

The apostle Paul picks up on this theme in in his letter to the Philippians: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (4:19)

So now we have in effect, a double-edged sword. The LORD, he is God alone. And he’s all that you need. God does not call you into an exclusive relationship, just to exclude you from all else. Your salvation need and you relational need are one.

Your salvation is both eternal (John 6:40), and to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Your heart has more than you can ever ask or imagine:

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The greatest need for your heart? The greatest need for your soul? Jesus Christ… Only.

Singing With the King (7) – God is Good

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. (Psalm 73:1)

standing tallDo you have a foundational belief on which you stand? Something you can cling to regardless of what is going on around or within you? The Psalmist did—he made a declaration—and made his stand: Surely God is good to Israel.

The Hebrew word for surely has two uses: one is emphatic, the other is restrictive. So you can put an exclamation point behind the emphatic version: Surely God is good! Or because we understand Who God is and how He works, we use the restrictive version: Only God is good.

Christ Himself, the Son of God spoke to this: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

The Hebrew word for good has numerous translations; the most frequent are: better, best, pleasing, and favorable. It describes excellence of quality, excellence of character, and that which is of a higher nature (a vague way of saying God…).

This verse has the only occurrence of God is good in the OT. However, the Lord is good occurs seven times:

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34:8)

For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. (Psalm 135:3)

The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:9)

Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever. (Jeremiah 33:11)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:25)

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. (Nahum 1:7)

So, how can you experience God’s goodness? In His refuge. In His love. In His faithfulness. In His mercy. In His care. And when you do, you will sing His praises—forever.