And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8)
The Sacrifice of Isaac is a familiar chapter to most Christians. We study it in Sunday School, it’s taught in VBS, we read it familiarly as mature Christians, our eyes having passed over the verses many times.
But sometimes the gravity of the moment just grabs you and won’t let go. The Father DID provide the Lamb for the sacrifice. The grandest, most beautiful, most terrible moment in all of history or ever shall be, was the death of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Ambassadors have all the authority of the sending nation behind them. As Christ’s ambassadors, we have all the authority of heaven behind us!
Sometimes just thinking about how Jesus died for us and absorbed the wrath that was rightfully due me, is overwhelming. Sometimes thinking of how despite my craven sinful nature, God cleaned me and forgave me. Sometimes thinking of the fact that God uses me, a poor clay vessel, for His glory, is just too immense for my mind to absorb.
The Christian journey is sometimes not easy, and it is always demanding, but it is also the most joyous and entrancing life a person could ever imagine. If you have not turned to Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, sins that incur the wrath of a Holy God against you every minute of every day, please do it. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth split history. The event divided the world into two paths. One is narrow and leads to everlasting life. The other path is broad and many find it, and will descend to hell for everlasting wrath.
The Father did provide the Lamb. And He is exalted.
The Lamb Exalted Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:11-13)
There are so many attributes of Jesus Christ than we can praise and ponder. One of them is His kingliness.
He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19:16). God has given Jesus all authority in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18), therefore He is above all authorities anywhere that can possibly be imagined. He is High and exalted on His throne and He is KING.
On earth few of us have actually been in the presence of a King or Queen. There are relatively few royals on earth, compared to number of the population of the plebeians like us.
If one is favored enough to visit a royal, there is strict protocol. ABC News reminds us, regarding a visit with Queen Elizabeth II-
There is a long list of protocols that guides one’s behavior in the presence of Her Majesty and even though the president and the first lady are not required to abide by all of them, there are certain formalities they do have to follow.
There is the “no-touch” rule… Wait until the Queen extends her hand to shake it No gripping her hand or tightly pumping it No hugs, no kiss on the cheek, no touching the shoulder
Refer to the Queen as “Your Majesty” initially then “ma’am” subsequently Bow upon being introduced Do not turn your back to the Queen Wear conservative clothing with not much flesh showing
And so much more.
I remember the HBO mini-series John Adams. It was an excellent series, showing the life of our second President from a fiery attorney in his youth through to old age, in other words, most of his political life.
There came the moment when the Americans had won the Revolutionary war. Adams had been given the privilege and responsibility as diplomat to begin relations with The United Kingdom as national co-equals. He was to meet with the King. The moment was fraught with tension for two reasons. He had all of the future of America resting on his shoulders in how he approached the Monarch these next few moments. Would the United Kingdom be an enemy or an ally?
The second reason was protocol. Here was a scrappy lawyer born in 1735 in British America, (Quincy MA), and was American through and through, about to meet the most powerful man in the world, King George III. Americans had not been known to stand on formality and protocol, and Adams had been strongly tutored for this meeting. Bow three times, once upon entering, once when halfway to the ‘Royal Presence’ and a third time as you enter the ‘Royal Presence’. Avert your eyes until standing before the ‘Royal Presence’. Wear suitable clothing, “something more British.” Unsuitable clothing has been the undoing of many an Ambassador, we learn.
There have always been strict protocols when meeting royalty. In Esther 4:11 we read,
All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.
This scene is described in Esther 5:1. The King is holding his scepter.
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace.
Thrones were always higher, set upon a dais in order to visibly indicate the lower position of the person approaching the Royal Presence. This is a photo of Napoleon’s throne. Pharaoh is described as sitting on a throne in Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:29.
Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; 7For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.
And yet, another aspect of the uniqueness of Jesus continues. He sits upon His throne, the highest of the high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1) and yet we may approach!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12).
Must we dress in a certain way? Must we wait to be introduced or summoned? Must we bow in sequential order as we reach certain spots in the throne room? Must we avert our eyes until He speaks? No! No! No! No!
Our Lord Jesus is said to be the Mediator between God and man. Now, observe, that the office of mediator implies at once that he should be approachable. ~SpurgeonHe is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and yet He has told us we may approach Him with petitions large and small! He is tremendous. Every time we pray we approach Him. He is a God who sees (El Roi Genesis 16:14) and a God who hears!
In his pitiful distress, there broke upon the soul of John Bunyan a vision of the infinite approach-ability of Jesus. John Bunyan’s text-verse was a revelation to him of this approach-ability.
‘This scripture did most sweetly visit my soul; and him that Cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Oh ! the comfort that I had from his word, in no wise! As who should say, “By no means, for nothing whatever he hath done. ‘Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out!’ Like the gate that swings open on hearing the magic ‘sesame’; Like the walls that fell at Jericho when the blast of the trumpets arose; the wall round Bunyan’s mountain fell with a crash before that great and golden word. ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out!’ The barriers had vanished! The way was open!
Christ is approachable. Praise Him! Approach today, with no worries of what you must say or how you must look. He will in no wise cast you out. How sweet is this knowledge.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. (Luke 8:34-37).
Sychar, where Jesus met a woman at the well
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42).
In one town, they saw Jesus perform a miracle, delivering the man from his legion of demons. Jesus demonstrated his sovereignty over creation, including the demons in the spiritual realm. The people saw, and rejected.
In another town, one woman’s testimony, a well-known immoral woman, seemed to have been changed. Her shame was gone, or at least diminished in the face of the incredible news that this man who told her all she ever (shamefully) did (but seemed to love her anyway), could be the Christ.
Things to ponder:
1. Just because they witnessed a miracle does not mean that belief always follows. Some believed because of the signs (John 2:11, John 2:23, John 11:45). Others saw signs and miracles and did not believe (John 11:46).
2. Far from being dry, dusty, and unnecessary, doctrine leads one to faith and repentance. Doctrine is the act of teaching or that which is taught. “Doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source.” (GotQuestions). Like the Bereans who consulted the word after hearing Paul, the townsmen of Sychar were open to hearing Jesus teach. They listened and heard. “And many more believed because of his word”.
3. Some in the same crowd or the same room or in the same family believe, and others don’t. That’s the way it always has been and always will be. Some wonder why that is when we all have free will. Our will isn’t as free as one thinks it is. Our will is a slave to sin, it’s bound. Belief comes when Jesus opens ears and eyes to see and repent, gives a spirit of repentance. He intervenes from outside of earth, outside of ourselves, from heaven and breaks the binding of our soul to sin by giving us the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in us that can awaken our dead soul. Picture Lazarus dead in grave cloths, awakened by the sovereign call of Jesus. That was a picture of God’s sovereign election of individuals to save whom He decided in eternity past to save, before history began. Did Lazarus have free will? Only to remain dead.
The Reformed view of election, known as unconditional election, means that God does not foresee an action or condition on our part that induces Him to save us. Rather, election rests on God’s sovereign decision to save whomever He is pleased to save. (Source: Ligonier, Tulip & Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election)
Two towns, Gadara and Sychar. Two individuals in the same family, the unconverted and the saved. One rejects and departs, one repents and believes. Continue to pray for those in unbelief.
I’m big on God’s wrath. It is rarely taught from the pulpit, even rarer is the new book on it, children aren’t taught it, today’s theologians ignore it. I love God’s wrath because it is an expression of one of His holy attributes: justice, and because I love Jesus, I love ALL of Him.
I am in awe of His wrath, and if I think on it longer than a moment or two, I will cry over it. God’s wrath is already being revealed (Romans 1:18) and it is a mind-bending, majestic thing. This attribute is still a necessary portion of who God is and we must understand it to proclaim it.
God’s wrath is very present, very real, and very imminent.
John 3:36, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Too many Gospel proclamations have shifted from ‘God is angry with sin and will punish unless…’ to, ‘God loves you and has a plan for your life…’
Revive the wrath! In a long ago issue of Credo Magazine, the topic was “The Forgotten God: Divine Attributes We Are Ashamed of and Why We Shouldn’t Be“. I especially enjoyed the article “Should We Teach Our Children about the Wrath of God?” Check it out. It is free online. (cached)
When Adam sinned, the Lord our God, creator of all, cursed the ground.
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; (Genesis 3:17)
I live in a rural area. Not every place on earth looks like this, I know. But I’m astounded that ANY place looks like this, after the curse.
If God’s earth is THIS beautiful after the ground has been cursed, then imagine the beauty of heaven! Look toward the reward- being in God’s family, perfected in glory, and seeing the face of Jesus, amid inexpressible sounds and sights of beauty of such scope that we cannot even imagine! (2 Corinthians 12:4)
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures, (2 Peter 3:15b-16)
The plumb line…God’s word, straight and true-
therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; (Isaiah 28:16-17).
Oxford Dictionary says a plumb line is “a line with a plumb attached to it, used for … determining the vertical on an upright surface.”
Are you a Bible twister, or are you following God’s plumb line of truth? Are you following a Bible twister, or do you submit to righteous teachers who follow God’s plumb line?
In this chaotic world full of man’s philosophies, I’m grateful to Jesus for His word, God’s plumb line of truth to follow, and to the Spirit for opening my mind to it. It does not matter that the line is narrow, all I need is His strength, and the width of my feet to follow it.
Enjoy this Psalm 29. As the MacArthur Commentary explains, it has the earmarks of earliest Hebrew poetry. Its general form is a hymn, proclaiming 3 representative realities of God as supreme and therefore praise belongs to Him alone:
1. Lord’s supremacy over heavenly beings
2. Lord’s supremacy over the “forces of nature” (references pagan gods)
3. Lord’s supremacy over humanity
It builds and in my opinion is a majestic and breathtaking poem/hymn. Happy Lord’s Day!
Ascribe to the LORD Glory
A Psalm of David.
1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,a
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
My favorite doctrines are Grace, followed by Providence.
Grace that is extended by our loving God is shocking and amazing and wonderful. I was saved later in life and I remember what it felt like to live a sinful life in rebellion against God. It was confusing and upsetting, most of the time.
I read a lot, and enjoyed historical books and the world’s myths. As I read books, all the world’s made-up gods were capricious or unloving or dismissive of humans. That seemed right to me. Even when I read of the Founding Fathers and learned about their deism, that god also seemed right to me. The deist god created everything – including humans – but then retreated from humankind’s affairs and let us wind down of our own accord. I could accept that. (As long as any god left ME alone!)
Grace given by a loving God was foreign to me and unthinkable. Because that would mean He was involved with humans, lovingly.
But that and only that God is the one true God.
He pre-existed since forever, but at the appointed time set by the Father, He came in the form of a baby who grew to be a man-God, teaching and loving and performing miracles. He died for our sins and absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf.
Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound It was not a sweet sound to me then, but it is now.
That saved a wretch like me I used to close my mouth if I happened to be at a Church service, like at Christmas, and this hymn came on. I wasn’t a wretch!, I’d utter. And close my mouth, refusing to say the lyrics.
I once was lost, but now am found I didn’t know I was lost and I didn’t know I needed to be found.
Was blind but now I see I didn’t know I was blind. Revelation 3:17 may apply here: For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
That the Lord of All would stoop to save a wretch like me, covered in mud and dwelling with the pigs, like the Prodigal, is amazing. That He would walk into Jerusalem, knowing the cries of Hosannah! would turn bloody and hateful a week later. That He went toward his kangaroo trials, his scourging, and his death, even death upon a cross, to save filthy sinners, is amazing. What grace!
Thank you Lord, for your grace!! How wonderful that even when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun. An eternity praising You is not enough, but what grace that I am able to do so in the first place.
Was blind but now I see…
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
I was compelled to do a piece about “unity in Christ” and what Christ means, not what “we” assume He means. [The picture] is Christ the Lamb of God who manifested all that “unity” of the redeemed in God the Father and God the Son!
Did you ever get home from a long week and your body just throbs? Pulses with stress and worldly pollution and reverberating with clanging and noise you just can’t seem to get out or clear your head?
Saturday morning I slept late, always nice. (until 7:00 am!). I roasted broccoli, butternut squash, orange peppers, and spaghetti squash. On weekends when I process the produce and cook, I listen to sermons. I enjoy Refnet, Reformation Network. It’s a 24-hour online radio station featuring expositional sermons, prayers from the Valley of Vision, music and hymns, devotionals, some talk on news issues from a Christian perspective, and plain old reading of the word, uninterrupted and unadulterated. It’s a great network. No ads, and it’s free.
So on Saturday morning while my hands worked, my mind was busy listening. I listened to three sermons on RefNet.fm while I cooked: Alistair Begg on David and Goliath (which is not about facing your giants but is about the might of God), RC Sproul on Mary’s Magnificat (brought me to tears), and John MacArthur on predestination in Romans 8, gorgeous.
As for the prayers, I heard one from the Valley of Vision that was so lovely, it was so beautifully written. Here is just part of it:
Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be yours alone. Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in you, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of you as Savior, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in your Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from you. The Valley of Vision (Puritan Prayer)
When people are stressed or overwhelmed they do a lot of things. They work out. They go for a walk. They cook ;). They enjoy their hobby/game/movie. For the Christian, there is no better stress reliever than the Word. Read it or listen to it. I don’t know how to explain the supernatural advance of the Spirit in us, but when I listen to the reading of the word and sermons explaining the word and music that praises the Lord, it does something to me. It washes me from the inside. It restores me, cleans me, revives me.
After a few hours, my heart was expanded with love for Jesus, my head was full of scripture, and my belly was satisfied with food He had provided.
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; (Psalm 19:7a)
he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)
I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Thy word. (Psalm 119:107)
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)
Power- and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:19)
The reviving energy of the Word is part of the great power He bestows on us.
The word “power” (dynamis; cf. 3:20) means a spiritually dynamic and living force. This power of God is directed toward believers. Paul then used three additional words to describe God’s power. It is according to the working (energeian, “energetic power,” from which comes the Eng. “energy”) of the might (kratous, “power that overcomes resistance,” as in Christ’s miracles; this word is used only of God, never of believers) of God’s inherent strength (ischyos) which He provides (cf. 6:10; 1 Peter 4:11). This magnificent accumulation of words for power under scores the magnitude of God’s “great power” available to Christians. Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 620). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
What a good and loving God we have. His word is eternal and strong, it refreshes, revives, strengthens, and enlivens. Don’t put off reading it or listening to it.
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