2600.) Isaiah 53

April 19, 2019

I53 change

Isaiah 53    (ESV)

For Holy Week we are looking at prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering and death that appear in the Old Testament.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

"Christ" by Lisa Turnquist

“Christ” by Lisa Turnquist

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

I53 bore our suffering

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

Hebrews 2:17-18   (NIV)

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

I53 pierced crushed
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24   (NIV)

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

I53 like sheep
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

This, of course, is the very heart of the gospel, the good news. Jesus took our place. As Peter puts it, He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, (1 Peter 2:24). He took our sins and paid the price for them. He had no sins of his own and Scripture is very careful to record the sinlessness of Jesus himself. He was not suffering for his own transgressions, but for the sins of others.

Sin is a disease that has afflicted our entire race. We cannot understand the depth of human depravity until we see the awful agony through which our Lord passed, behold the hours of darkness and hear the terrible orphaned cry, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46). All this spells out for us what we really are like. Most think of ourselves as decent people, good people. We have not done, perhaps, some of the terrible things that others have done. But when we see in the cross of Jesus, we realize the depth of evil in our hearts and understand that sin is a disease that has infiltrated our whole lives. Man, who was created in the image of God and once wore the glory of his manhood, has become bruised and marred, sick and broken, his conscience ruined, his understanding faulty, his will enfeebled. Genuine integrity and the resolve to do right has been completely undermined in all of us. We know this to be true. No wonder, then, this verse comes as the best of news: He was wounded for our transgressions. The bruising that he felt was the chastisement that we deserved, but it was laid upon him.

The way to lay hold of the redemption of Jesus is to admit that All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way; and then to believe the next line, But the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He bore our punishment and took our place.

–Ray Stedman

I53 J led to slaughter

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23 (NIV)

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

The holiest site in Christianity: the tomb of Christ inside the edicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This slab is believed to be where Jesus' body was laid in the tomb. The vase of candles marks the place where his head was. The banner behind it varies with the liturgical seasons: this one is after Easter and says "Christ is Risen." Photo © www.HolyLandPhotos.org.

The holiest site in Christianity: the tomb of Christ inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This slab is believed to be where Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. The vase of candles marks the place where his head was. The banner behind it varies with the liturgical seasons: this one is after Easter and says “Christ is Risen.” Photo © http://www.HolyLandPhotos.org.

And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

I53 Jesus-crucified

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

1 Corinthians 15:26   (NLT)

And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

I53 intercession_________________________

Music:

Fine Lenten Hymn for today:  HERE,  from Handel’s Messiah — “Surely He hath borne our griefs,” The King’s College, Cambridge.  The music is followed by a recitation of a poem, “The Coming,” by R. S. Thomas.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
This chapter.    http://menashedovid1.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/chos.jpg
Turnquist.    http://lisaturnquist.com/works/lisaturnquist/resized/image.w450h450.jpg?2008
He took on our pain.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/007.jpg
But he was pierced.  https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wUDQm4ccMoo/hqdefault.jpg
We all, like sheep.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/isaiah53_6.jpg
Jesus beaten and taken to Calvary.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/exedesanme.jpg
Jesus with the crown of thorns.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/jesus-crucified.jpg
Jesus lives to intercede.   https://revealingthefather.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/intercession2.jpg
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2599.) Psalm 22

April 18, 2019

“The Christ of Saint John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali, 1951 (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland)

Psalm 22 (ESV)

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

For Holy Week we are looking at prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering and death that appear in the Old Testament.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Mark 15:34 (NIV)

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

3Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Mark 15:29-32  (NLT)

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

9Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm, one of those in which we hear the voice of the Son in the agony of his crucifixion pleading for the presence and rescue of the Father. “It was you,” he prays, “who brought me safely through birth”—in a manger at the end of a dreary journey. “And when I was a baby, you kept me safe”—from the soldiers of Herod and on the long journey to Egypt. Love followed him—the love of God and his human father, Joseph; the love of God and his human mother, Mary. There was the fullness of the love of God, beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and the beauty of the most admirable of human love from Mary and the no-doubt-amazed Joseph, trying to understand what his marriage to Mary had brought into his life.

“I have relied on you since the day I was born, and you have always been my God,” the psalmist says. That reliance and constancy give to life the experience of love that can make of it a great experience, whether we refer to the love and care of a devoted mother such as Mary was, or to the “steadfast love of the Lord.” His constancy surpasses even hers. In that love, we experience the support and nourishment that leads us to victory in an unsteady and often frightening world.

–unknown

11Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

12Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

John 19:28 (NLT)

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”

you lay me in the dust of death.

16For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—

John 20:25 (NASB)

So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

17I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; 
18
 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (NIRV)

When they had nailed him to the cross, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

19But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!

21Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

_________________________

Music:

Fine Lenten Hymn for today:  From Handel’s Messiah —  HERE  is “Behold the Lamb of God,”  performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

_________________________

25From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!

27All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

29All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

John 19:30 (CEV)

After Jesus drank the wine, he said, “Everything is done!” He bowed his head and died.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dali.    http://2churchmice.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/christ_of_saint_john_of_the_cross.jpg
clock.    http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/17500/17508/300_17508_md.gif
Mary holding Jesus.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c1/c6/18/c1c618b25fb2727ff1623b811a63d496.jpg
Jesus on the cross:  I thirst.  http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/images/religious%20general/Ithirst.jpg
nail-scarred hands.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/nailscarredhands.jpg
casting lots for Jesus’ clothing.    http://www.thevictor.org/story/97221901.jpg
“It is finished.”     https://elizabethfbabatunde.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/it_is_finished.jpg

2598.) from Zechariah 12

April 17, 2019

from Zechariah 12 (NIV)

Jerusalem’s Enemies to Be Destroyed

For Holy Week we are looking at prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering and death that appear in the Old Testament.

1A prophecy: The word of the LORD concerning Israel.   The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: 2 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations.

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

All who try to move it will injure themselves. 4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the LORD. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. 5 Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.’

6 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

7 “The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. 8 On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD going before them. 9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.

John 1:14   (NIV)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

They will look on me, the one they have pierced,

His head was pierced with thorns, his hands and feet were pierced with nails, his side was pierced by a spear.

and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

from Wesley’s Explanatory Notes:

I will pour — This was fulfilled on Christ’s exaltation, when he sent the Comforter to his disciples, it is daily performed to the children of God, and will be continually, ’till we are brought to be with Christ for ever.

The house of David — The whole family of Christ, his house who was the seed of David, and who is called David, Ezekiel 37:24.

The spirit of grace — Which is fountain of all graces in us.

Pierced — Every one of us by our sins pierced him, and many of the Jews literally.

Mourn — They shall literally lament the crucifying of the Lord Jesus.

In bitterness — True repentance will bitterly lament the sins which brought sorrows and shame upon our Lord.

_________________________

Music:

Fine Lenten Hymn for today:  HERE  is Guy Penrod and “The Old Rugged Cross.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Pierced Messiah.    https://kehilanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maxresdefault-83.jpg
Damascus Gate.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/4a8b0-wall__damascus_gate_img_0354.jpg
Jesus on the cross.    http://dvrbible.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/jesus_on_cross_crucifixion-full.jpg

2597.) from Zechariah 11

April 16, 2019

from Zechariah 11 (NIV)

Two Shepherds

For Holy Week we are looking at prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering and death that appear in the Old Testament.

4 This is what the LORD my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. 5 Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the LORD, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. 6For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the LORD. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.”

The flock refers to Israel. This prophecy was partly fulfilled in A.D. 70, when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the people sold as slaves.

7 So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock.

Favor symbolizes the favored status of Israel as the chosen people of God. Union symbolizes the internal harmony of the people that was lost at the time of the siege of Jerusalem.”

–James Montgomery Boice

8 In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.

One explanation (among many) of this prophecy is that the three shepherds represent the prophets, the priests, and the kings of Israel. Jesus replaces all of these — as he said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them 9 and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the LORD.

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

To pay the shepherd 30 pieces of silver was an insult — this was the price paid to an owner for a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). This is also the amount Judas received for betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3-10). The priceless Messiah was sold for the price of a slave.

— The Life Application Bible study notes

13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.

14 Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.

_________________________

Music:

Fine Lenten Hymn for today:  HERE is a song about how much our Good Shepherd cares for us — “What Wondrous Love Is This.” Sung by Fernando Ortega.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
sheep grazing.    http://www.godsgracecc.com/Websites/ggcc/Images/psalm_23_15674_0605_01.jpg
the Good Shepherd.  http://www.ogs.net/images/good-shepherd-2.jpg
thirty pieces of silver.    https://www.english.op.org/godzdogz/tuesday-of-holy-week-betrayed-and-abandonned-by-his-closest-friends

2596.) from Genesis 3

April 15, 2019

“Adam and Eve,” by Lucas Cranach, 1526 (The Courtauld Gallery, London)

from Genesis 3  (NRSV)

The First Sin and Its Punishment

For Holy Week we are looking at prophecies of the Messiah’s suffering and death that appear in the Old Testament.

Now the serpent

The text here does not, by itself alone, clearly identify the serpent as Satan, but the rest of the Bible makes it clear this is Satan appearing as a serpent.

Ezekiel 28:13-19 tells us that Satan was in Eden. Many other passages associate a serpent or a snake-like creature with Satan (such as Job 26:13 and Isaiah 51:9). Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 speak of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan.

The representation of Satan as a serpent makes the idea of Moses saving Israel by lifting up a bronze serpent all the more provocative (Numbers 21:8-9), especially when Jesus identifies Himself with that very serpent (John 3:14). This is because in this picture, the serpent (a personification of sin and rebellion) is made of bronze (a metal associated with judgment, since it is made with fire). The lifting of a bronze serpent is the lifting up of sin judged, in the form of a cross.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in blue)

was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“

4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

Eve surrendered to this temptation in exactly the way John describes in 1 John 2:16. First, she gave in to the lust of the flesh (saw that it was good for food), then she gave in to the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), then she gave in to the pride of life (desirable to make one wise).

Gen3 red-apple-

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the Fruit, she pluck’d, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.

–from Paradise Lost, by John Milton

“Take and eat” will one day become verbs of salvation, but only after Jesus had lived in the world of Adam’s curse and surrendered to death.

7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 8They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

10He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Romans 5:18-19 (NLT)

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

The context of this verse is the fall of Adam and Eve. God is speaking to the serpent who is a personification of Satan. God desires no coalition between himself and Satan. The two are mutually exclusive.
        “Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed.”
God draws a distinction between “your seed” (Satan’s seed) and “her Seed” (Jesus). “Her Seed” refers to the humanity (incarnation) of Christ. Notice that this passage does not say that the “Seed” was of Adam. This is an inference of the virgin birth. The New Testament calls Jesus the “Seed” (Galatians 3:16).  
        “He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
God is predicting the defeat of Satan by the coming of Christ, the Messiah. God is drawing the battle lines between himself and Satan.
“He shall bruise your head” is a mortal wound. The power of Satan is crushed by the cross of Christ.

Yet even at the moment of the first fall, God promises a solution to their sin. At the fall Satan bruised the heel of Jesus. Sin was the cause of Christ going to the cross. At the cross Christ will crush Satan’s head. One is a non-lethal and the other a lethal act. At the cross Jesus dealt Satan a fatal blow. There he paid for the penalty of sin fully.

–Grant Richis

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Music:

Fine Lenten Hymn for today:  HERE  is “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” It was written by Isaac Watts and published in Hymns and Spiritual Songs in 1707. This performance is by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

“When I Survey” is a hymn which is saturated with theology and a call for an emotional response from the singer. It is a statement of faith that crosses denominational lines and generations. According to hymn scholar Lionel Adey, the lines “‘All the vain things that charm me most / I sacrifice them . . .’ have a meaning personal to each singer, one that might require either action or renunciation.” The three pledges at the climax of the hymn (“my soul, my life, my all”) are a sacrifice that had once been required only of those taking monastic vows.

–Rachel Tillay

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Cranach.  http://static.artbible.info/large/cranach_adameva_1526.jpg
apple.  http://thesmilecenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/red-apple-bite-300×299.jpg
Thank you, Jesus.   http://i.myniceprofile.com/202/20262.jpg

2595.) James 5

April 12, 2019

Calligraphy by Tim Botts

James 5   (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Riches are going to prove a liability, not an asset, to the selfish

1-6And now, you plutocrats, is the time for you to weep and moan because of the miseries in store for you!

Hearing Jesus in James:

Luke 6:24 (NIV)

“But woe to you who are rich, 
   for you have already received your comfort.”

Your richest goods are ruined, your hoard of clothes is moth-eaten, your gold and silver are tarnished. Yes, their very tarnish will be the evidence of your wicked hoarding and you will shrink from them as if they were red-hot. You have made a fine pile in these last days, haven’t you? But look, here is the pay of the reaper you hired and whom you cheated, and it is shouting against you! And the cries of the other labourers you swindled are heard by the Lord of Hosts himself. Yes, you have had a magnificent time on this earth, and have indulged yourselves to the full. You have picked out just what you wanted like soldiers looting after battle. You have condemned and ruined innocent men in your career, and they have been powerless to stop you.

Ultimate justice will surely come: be patient meanwhile

7-8But be patient, my brothers, as you wait for the Lord to come. Look at the farmer quietly awaiting his precious harvest. See how he has to possess his soul in patience till the land has had the early and late rains. So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord’s coming is very near.

The pastor who married my parents in 1946 was quite an elderly man when I knew him in my childhood. But I clearly remember him announcing on several occasions that he would not die, because the Lord was coming soon. Well, he has been dead and buried for decades now. Yet James is no less true — The Lord’s coming is very near. We wait with joyful expectation!

9 Don’t make complaints against each other in the meantime my brothers (as you wait for Christ’s return)—you may be the one at fault yourself. The judge himself is already at the door.

10-11 For our example of the patient endurance of suffering we can take the prophets who have spoken in the Lord’s name. Remember that it is usually those who have patiently endured to whom we accord the word “blessed!” You have heard of Job’s patient endurance and how God dealt with him in the end, and therefore you have seen that the Lord is merciful and full of understanding pity for us men.

Don’t emphasize with oaths; speak the plain truth

12It is of the highest importance, my brothers, that your speech should be free from oaths (whether they are “by” heaven or earth or anything else). Your yes should be a plain yes, and your no a plain no, and then you cannot go wrong in the matter.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Matthew 5:34-37 (NIV)

“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;  or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Prayer is a great weapon

13If any of you is in trouble let him pray. If anyone is flourishing let him sing praises to God. If anyone is ill he should send for the Church elders. They should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. Believing prayer will save the sick man; the Lord will restore him and any sins that he has committed will be forgiven. You should get into the habit of admitting your sins to each other, and praying for each other, so that if sickness comes to you, you may be healed.

Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer 
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice 
Rise like a fountain for me night and day. 
For what are men better than sheep or goats 
That nourish a blind life within the brain, 
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer 
Both for themselves and those who call them friend? 
For so the whole round earth is every way 
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

–from “Morte D’Arthur,”  by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer.

Do you remember Elijah? He was a man like us but he prayed earnestly that it should not rain. In fact, not a drop fell on the land for three and a half years. Then he prayed again, the heavens gave the rain and the earth sprouted with vegetation as usual.

A concluding hint

19-20 My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and his loving action will “cover a multitude of sins”.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Mark 2:1-12 (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home.  Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them,  four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.  They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves,  “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts?  Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said,  “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

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Music:

Back to verse 13 —  If anyone is flourishing let him sing praises to God.  I come from a musical family and my husband is musical and I think you can make a good case that God is musical, too! So today I will give you one of my favorites, a hymn I have sung every week — if not every day — for most of my adult life. “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” was written in 1680 and is now widely sung around the world. Are you flourishing? Then join in  HERE!

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J. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”, 1962 edition by HarperCollins

Images courtesy of:
Botts.  http://www.prestoimages.net/graphics02/5592_pd287443full.jpg
coming again.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/jesus-is-coming-again.jpg
James 5:16.   https://www.todayschristianwoman.com/images/32206.jpg

2594.) James 4

April 11, 2019

James 4   (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Your jealousies spring from love of what the world can give you

1-3But about the feuds and struggles that exist among you—where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don’t get it, you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don’t possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit—you only want to satisfy your own desires.

As the 20th-century philosopher Mick Jagger said so well, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

4-6 You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realising that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God!

Think of the inner pain and torture inside the person who is betrayed by an unfaithful spouse; who must reckon with the truth, I am faithful to them, but they are not faithful to me. This is what the Spirit of God feels regarding our world-loving hearts.

–David Guzik

Anyone who deliberately chooses to love the world is thereby making himself God’s enemy.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Luke 16:13 (ESV)

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Do you think what the scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality? Or do you imagine that this spirit of passionate jealousy is the Spirit he has caused to live in us? No, he gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why he says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’

You should be humble, not proud

7Be humble then before God. but resist the devil and you’ll find he’ll run away from you.

Resist comes from two Greek words: stand and against. James tells us to stand against the devil. Satan can be set running by the resistance of the lowliest believer who comes in the authority of what Jesus did on the cross.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

   “‘He will command his angels concerning you, 
   and they will lift you up in their hands, 
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

8-10 Come close to God and he will come close to you. Realise that you have sinned and get your hands clean again. Realise that you have been disloyal and get your hearts made true once more.

Many of us are discovering that Christian growth does not happen apart from some disciplines like spiritual reading, meditation, prayer, journaling, Bible study, and worship. Henri Nouwen has said that discipleship can never be real without discipline.

Many of us—I was one—rebel against the idea of self-discipline. It seems easier to do “what comes naturally.” But I’ve found that neglect of spiritual disciplines leads only to stagnation and frustration.

Disciplines make the time and space in which God can affect our lives. He is always with us, but only through discipline can we become quiet enough to recognize his presence, to hear his voice from among the many that speak to us. Someone has called this “active passivity.” We grow by receiving, but we have to give; our task is to learn and practice those disciplines by which we receive.

I don’t do the disciplines in order to win God’s approval; I know I already have that. I don’t even do them to feel I’ve made a certain amount of “progress” or to “make” growth happen. I just do them, and leave the result to God.

Lord, I desire to grow closer to you.

–Lyn Klug

As you come close to God you should be deeply sorry, you should be grieved, you should even be in tears. Your laughter will have to become mourning, your high spirits will have to become heartfelt dejection. You will have to feel very small in the sight of God before he will set you on your feet once more.

It is for God to judge, not for us

11-12Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticise the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbour’s judge?

It is still true that man proposes, but God disposes

13-17 Just a moment, now, you who say, “We are going to such-and-such a city today or tomorrow. We shall stay there a year doing business and make a profit”! How do you know what will happen even tomorrow? What, after all, is your life? It is like a puff of smoke visible for a little while and then dissolving into thin air. Your remarks should be prefaced with, “If it is the Lord’s will, we shall be alive and will do so-and-so.” As it is, you get a certain pride in yourself in planning your future with such confidence. That sort of pride is all wrong.

“There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass – one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

No doubt you agree with the above in theory. Well, remember that if a man knows what is right and fails to do it, his failure is a real sin.

Hearing Jesus in James:

Luke 12:48   (CEV)

 If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better.

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Music:

“Draw near to God . . .” HERE  are the Sharon Singers of the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute with “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” written by Sarah F. Adams in 1841.

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J. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”, 1962 edition by HarperCollins

Images courtesy of:
Trust in his timing.    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/e2/db/09/e2db090c85e7a124e3bc2629804db13e.jpg
James 4:8.  http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/raylapke/James48.jpg