The Greatest Invitation

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Isaiah 55:1

During a recent week, I received several invitations in the mail. Those inviting me to attend “free” seminars on retirement, real estate, and life insurance were immediately thrown away. But the invitation to a gathering honoring a longtime friend caused me to reply immediately, “Yes! I accept.” Invitation + Desire = Acceptance.

Isaiah 55:1 is one of the great invitations in the Bible. The Lord said to His people who were in difficult circumstances, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” This is God’s remarkable offer of inner nourishment, deep spiritual satisfaction, and everlasting life (vv. 2–3).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life.

Jesus’s invitation is repeated in the last chapter of the Bible: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).

We often think of eternal life as beginning when we die. In reality, it begins when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

God’s invitation to find eternal life in Him is the greatest invitation of all! Invitation + Desire = Acceptance.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of mercy, pardon, and eternal life. I acknowledge my failures and receive Jesus as my Savior today.

When we accept Jesus’s invitation to follow Him, our whole life changes direction.

INSIGHT:In Isaiah 55, the prophet draws on the imagery of a royal banquet to give discouraged Judeans hope that, despite their suffering, God’s promises to them remained trustworthy. In the background of Isaiah 55 is God’s promise of an eternal covenant with the line of David (Ps. 89:28–29). Isaiah’s report broadens God’s promise to the line of David even further, depicting a royal feast where all Judeans share the kingly role of representing Yahweh to the nations (55:3–5). When Jesus came, He said He was the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise (John 7:37) and invited everyone, especially the forgotten and marginalized, to His feast (Matt. 22:1–14). Through His Spirit, Jesus’s followers can enjoy Christ’s abundant life and, as His representatives, invite all the world to the banquet. Who might you invite to the feast?

Our Awesome God

Revelation 4:9-11

In our culture, God’s name is often mentioned with little reverence. In fact, many people actually use it as a curse. Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty God who created and rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life. First, it affects our prayers. As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. What’s more, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big” (Eph. 3:20; James 4:2).

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior: If God has these attributes, surely it’s in our best interest to obey gladly. And as we, too, desire righteousness, we’ll be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted. Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father? He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways. Make these characteristics your priority, and watch how your prayers, behavior, and faith are impacted.

Satan’s Malice

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? . . . Still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 2:3-5)

After Satan suddenly plunges Job into total poverty and rips his children from him, “Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20-22).

Nonchalantly appearing among the “sons of God” again, Satan callously suggests that if God would strike “His hand” against Job—this time by ruining his health—Job would rebel and disavow his relationship with God. All of heaven must have cowered as Satan maliciously baited God again. But the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:6-7).

As Job moves to the trash heap to scrape the oozing pus from his sores, his wife throws a final slur at his face: “Curse God and die.” But Job simply says, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). May the example of this good man encourage us to trust God even in times of woe. HMM III

Adapted from The Book of Beginnings  by Dr. Henry M. Morris III.

“With God all things are possible.”

Psalm 78:13-32

Upon this occasion we shall read a part of the outline of Israel’s history contained in

Psalm 78:13-32.

Psalm 78:13

This recapitulation begins at the Red Sea even as our spiritual liberty begins at the drowning of all our sins in Jesus blood.

Psalm 78:14

Thanks be to God for providential guidance. We are not wanderers who have lost their way amid a trackless waste, but we follow where the unerring wisdom of Jehovah leads.

Psalm 78:15-16

Here were abounding and extraordinary supplies; apt symbols of the streams of grace which flow to us from the great deeps of electing love and covenant faithfulness.

Psalm 78:17

What a change from grace to sin! It is enough to make us weep to see how good God is, and how base a return man makes. It would seem as if the more the Lord blessed man the less man blessed his God.

Psalm 78:18

To desire God to aid us in gratifying unholy appetites, is to tempt the Lord; but his holiness will not yield to our solicitations, for God cannot be tempted.

Psalm 78:20

To question the Lord’s power is to speak against him. Unbelief is essentially a slandering of the Omnipotent and gracious God.

Psalm 78:21, 22

Nothing so angers God as unbelief. O for grace to be kept from it.

Psalm 78:23, 24

This made unbelief so much the worse. Mercies received aggravate the criminality of distrust. It is so much the worse to doubt when we have received already such great favours from our gracious Father.

Psalm 78:25-28

God gives plenteously when he gives.

Psalm 78:30, 31

No. Gratification does not kill the passion. Man can be satiated with evil, but he is not nauseated with it. He changes the form of the sin, but sins on. Note here that God’s bounties in this case were not pledges of love, but rather tokens of anger.

Psalm 78:13

God often smites the mighty when he has pity on the poor and weak.

Psalm 78:32

As mercy did not soften, so chastisement did not humble them. Lord, what is man!

 

God of eternal love,

How fickle are our ways!

And yet how oft did Israel prove

Thy constancy of grace!

 

Now they believe his word,

While rocks with rivers flow;

Now with their lusts provoke the Lord,

And he reduced them low.

 

Yet when they mourn’d their faults,

He hearken’d to their groans;

Brought his own covenant to his thoughts,

And call’d them still his sons.

 

Jesus’ Last Lesson For the Disciples

John 14:16

I’ve often heard Christians ask, “I wonder what it must have been like to walk with Jesus. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk with Him and to hear His voice and talk to Him?” But believers who ask these kinds of questions don’t understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If they did, they’d know that having the Holy Spirit with them is just like having Jesus right at their side!

Because Jesus was about to depart from the world, He knew it was absolutely essential that the disciples learn how to rely entirely on the Spirit of God and to follow His leadership. Therefore, Jesus used His last moments to teach the disciples how to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership in the same way they had followed Him.

It must have seemed strange to the disciples as they listened to Jesus speak about the Holy Spirit. They had been accustomed to Jesus’ physically and visibly leading them, but now they were learning that the Spirit of God would become their Leader. This would be a Leader they couldn’t see, couldn’t touch, and couldn’t audibly hear; yet they were supposed to follow Him just as they had followed Jesus. They were probably thinking, What is the Holy Spirit’s leadership going to be like in our lives? Does He act and think differently than Jesus? What is it going to be like to follow the Spirit of God?

Knowing that these were normal questions to ask, Jesus used His final moments with the disciples to dispel all fear and insecurity they might have felt about following the Holy Spirit’s leadership. This is why Jesus was so careful to use key words when He spoke to them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, for example, Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter….”

Notice that word “another.” I want to draw your attention to this very important word today. In Greek, there are two possible words for another. The first is the Greek word allos, and the second is the Greek word heteros. The word allos means one of the very same kind; same character; same everything; or a duplicate. The second word, heteros, means one of another kind or one of a different kind. This word heteros forms the first part of the word heterosexual, which, of course, describes someone who has sexual relations with a person of the opposite sex.

The Greek word used in John 14:16 is the first word, allos. The word allos emphatically means that the Holy Spirit would be like Jesus in every way. This conveys a very strong and important message about the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the disciples to know that the Holy Spirit was just like Him. Following the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be any different than following Him, except the Spirit’s leadership would be invisible rather than physical and visible, as Jesus’ leadership had been.

 

One translator says the word allos in John 14:16 could be translated to mean:

“I will pray to the Father, and He will send you Someone who is just like Me in every way. He will be identical to Me in the way He speaks, the way He thinks, the way He operates, the way He see things, and the way He does things. He will be exactly like Me in every way. If the Holy Spirit is here, it will be just as if I am here because We think, behave, and operate exactly the same….”

Earlier in John 14, Philip told the Lord, “… Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (v. 8). Jesus answered, “… Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father” (v. 9).

Jesus was the exact image of the Father when He walked on this earth. Hebrews 1:3 (amp) declares, “He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature….” This means Jesus reflected the character of His Heavenly Father in every way. That is why Jesus told Philip, “… He that hath seen me hath seen the Father….”

If you see Jesus, you see the Father. By looking at Jesus, you can discover the Father’s will. Jesus did and said exactly what the Father would do and say. His life, attitudes, and actions were the absolute manifested will of the Father, for the two were united in nature, in character, in thought, and in deed.

As Jesus teaches the disciples about the Holy Spirit, He takes this truth one step further. Just as Jesus is the exact image of the Father in every way, now Jesus unmistakably tells the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will exactly represent Jesus in every word. That’s why the word allos is used to make this point. It leaves no room for doubt that the Holy Spirit will be exactly like Jesus.

The word allos tells us the Holy Spirit perfectly represents the life and nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus did only what the Heavenly Father would do, and now the Holy Spirit will do only what Jesus would do. As Jesus’ Representative on earth, the Holy Spirit never acts on His own or out of character with the life of Jesus Christ.

You see, the Spirit of God was sent to bring us the life of Jesus. Just as Jesus told Philip, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father,” now He is telling us, “If you have the Holy Spirit, it will be just as if you have Me.”

You and I must stop looking backward and grieving over what we missed by not living two thousands years ago. Instead, we must learn to let the Holy Spirit lead and guide us, just as He did in the Early Church. Jesus’ physical absence didn’t stop the early believers from performing miracles, raising the dead, casting out demons, healing the sick, or bringing multitudes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Because the Holy Spirit was with them, the ministry of Jesus continued uninterrupted in their midst.

Why don’t you start opening your heart to the work of the Spirit today? He wants to represent Jesus to you, your church, your family, your business, and your city, just as He did to believers who lived during the time of the book of Acts. Remember, if you have the Holy Spirit working alongside you, it’s just like having Jesus right there at your side!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me learn how to work with the Holy Spirit! I don’t want to waste time grieving over what I missed by not living two thousands years ago, so I ask You to teach me how to let the Spirit lead and guide me. Your Word teaches that because the Holy Spirit is with me, the ministry of Jesus can continue uninterrupted in my life today. Holy Spirit, I ask You to bring me into a greater knowledge of how to work with You so that the ministry of Jesus can continue through me!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I declare by faith that the Holy Spirit works mightily in my life. I know His voice; I discern His leading; and I boldly do what He tells me to do. Because I am obedient to His voice, the life of Jesus Christ is manifested in me. Having the Holy Spirit work with me is just like having Jesus right by my side all the time. Just as Jesus worked miracles in the book of Acts through the apostles, the Holy Spirit works miracles through me today—healing the sick, casting out demons, and bringing salvation to the lost through Jesus Christ!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you say that the Holy Spirit is working powerfully in your life right now? If you say yes, what is the evidence that lets you know He is working mightily through you? Ponder this question, and write down your answers on a piece of paper.
  2. When you read the Gospels, does it seem like you’re reading about the same Jesus who works in your life today—or about a historical Jesus who did things you’ve never experienced?
  3. What actions and changes do you need to take so the Holy Spirit can become a supernatural Partner in your life?

The Holy Spirit would be the disciples’ new Leader. This would be a Leader they couldn’t see, couldn’t touch, and couldn’t audibly hear; yet they were supposed to follow Him just as faithfully as they had followed Jesus. They were probably thinking, What is the Holy Spirit’s leadership going to be like in our lives? Does He act and think differently than Jesus? What is it going to be like to follow the Spirit of God?

Because the month of April is normally the time that Easter is celebrated, I have dedicated all the Sparkling Gems for the entire month of April to the following subjects:

  • Jesus final hours with His disciples
  • Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Jesus arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Jesus trial before Pontius Pilate
  • Jesus appearance before King Herod
  • Jesus scourging and beating
  • Jesus crown of thorns
  • Jesus crucifixion
  • Jesus burial
  • Jesus resurrection

I believe that the information that follows in April’s Sparkling Gems will be revelational and life-changing for you. My prayer is that these Gems will give you insights into these events that you have never seen or heard before.

 

On Firing Greatness In Others

All of us have known or observed those rare individuals who seem to be able to take what is average and forge it into greatness:

  • A disinterested student
  • A failing company
  • A discouraged athlete

Look into the eyes of the person on the street and more often than not you will see disappointment. Unfulfilled aspirations. People who have settled into second best. In all probability, whatever dreams they once had have failed to translate into reality.

 

Oh, there are the exceptions to be sure.

 

But what you dont often see in people’s eyes is that spark… that sense of anticipation… HOPE.

 

I have a question for we who have tasted of the richness of Christ and have come to understand the greatest challenge ever meted out to mankind – that of going and making disciples of every nation:

 

Must we too be consigned to that same category of dashed dreams, disappointment, and run-of-the-mill subsistence?” I would like to believe the answer is a resounding “No!

 

Listen to Robert K. Greenleaf: “Servant leaders are healers in the sense of making whole by helping others to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than they would be likely to attain for themselves.

 

The prophet Isaiah gave us the secret to fulfilled dreams and hope in writing, “If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desiresand you shall be like a watered garden… ” (Isaiah 58:10, 11)

 

Back to Mr. Greenleaf: Those servant leaders who are great for God understand what it means to take that “average” person and serve him in Jesus’ name. They know what it means to bring healing to him by helping him “to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than [he] would be likely to attain for [himself].

 

That is, the servant leader knows the importance of believing in him, investing his life in him, and pouring out his soul for him. He understands what it means to take him to the top of the mountain and help him gain a vision of what he can become for God… To fire in his soul a passion for greatness that is characterized by a life of sacrificial service to others.

 

And in so doing, the servant leader himself will also be lifted out of the quagmire of self-absorption and despair to become a watered garden from which others may freely drink.

 

 

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