Jesus the Game Changer, Forgiveness and why it matters
His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.
His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.
God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
The vital relationship which the Christian has to the Bible is not that he worships the letter, but that the Holy Spirit makes the words of the Bible spirit and life to him. The Psychology of Redemption, 1066 L
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. 2 I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.”
3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so they can worship me. 4 If you refuse, watch out! For tomorrow I will bring a swarm of locusts on your country. 5 They will cover the land so that you won’t be able to see the ground. They will devour what little is left of your crops after the hailstorm, including all the trees growing in the fields. 6 They will overrun your palaces and the homes of your officials and all the houses in Egypt. Never in the history of Egypt have your ancestors seen a plague like this one!” And with that, Moses turned and left Pharaoh.
7 Pharaoh’s officials now came to Pharaoh and appealed to him. “How long will you let this man hold us hostage? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?”
8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “All right,” he told them, “go and worship the Lord your God. But who exactly will be going with you?”
9 Moses replied, “We will all go—young and old, our sons and daughters, and our flocks and herds. We must all join together in celebrating a festival to the Lord.”
10 Pharaoh retorted, “The Lord will certainly need to be with you if I let you take your little ones! I can see through your evil plan. 11 Never! Only the men may go and worship the Lord, since that is what you requested.” And Pharaoh threw them out of the palace.
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt to bring on the locusts. Let them cover the land and devour every plant that survived the hailstorm.”
13 So Moses raised his staff over Egypt, and the Lord caused an east wind to blow over the land all that day and through the night. When morning arrived, the east wind had brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts swarmed over the whole land of Egypt, settling in dense swarms from one end of the country to the other. It was the worst locust plague in Egyptian history, and there has never been another one like it. 15 For the locusts covered the whole country and darkened the land. They devoured every plant in the fields and all the fruit on the trees that had survived the hailstorm. Not a single leaf was left on the trees and plants throughout the land of Egypt.
16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron. “I have sinned against the Lordyour God and against you,” he confessed. 17 “Forgive my sin, just this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this death from me.”
18 So Moses left Pharaoh’s court and pleaded with the Lord. 19 The Lord responded by shifting the wind, and the strong west wind blew the locusts into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remained in all the land of Egypt.20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart again, so he refused to let the people go.
This is another long passage so two quick notes for the times in which we live.
Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:3-4
One of the most important verses in the Bible for linking the Old and New Testaments is 1 Corinthians 10:11a: “Now all these things happened to [Israel] as examples, and they were written for our admonition.” The way God cared for Israel tells us He will care for us.
God birthed the nation of Israel and has carried and cared for her and will deliver her at the end of the age. Nothing Israel has experienced will be more than she is able to bear for those who trust in the Lord. Likewise, God elected believers in Christ and called us to Himself. Nothing can separate us from His love and His divine purpose to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29, 35-39). When we face difficulties in life, we can rest assured they will not be stronger than God’s power to deliver and save us.
If you are experiencing tests or trials, remember that God is bigger than them all. Nothing will derail His plans for your eternal destiny.
Righteousness delivers from the sting of death, but not from the stroke of it. Matthew Henry
The riot at Ephesus had been quelled by the judicious words of the recorder of the city.
Not as a coward did the apostle flee from conflict, but after all danger was over in Ephesus, he carried the war into other regions. See with what affection he bade farewell to the brethren; embracing them as a father does his children.
Acts 20:2, 3
With unwearied energy he laboured to spread the gospel. The words of the historian are few, but we know from the epistles that each day was crowded with work for Jesus.
Paul, having seen his dear Philippian brethren, came over with Luke and joined his seven companions at Troas.
He felt that he should never speak to them again, and, therefore, he prolonged his address.
The place thus became heated, and being very crowded, the air was heavy, and it was not easy for the hearers to keep awake.
Acts 20:9, 10
Remember, if we go to sleep during sermon and die, there are no apostles to restore us. The word of God deserves our wakeful attention.
A quiet lonely walk of twenty miles suited Paul, it would give him space for prayer and meditation, and help him to shake off some of the depression which had gathered over his mind while he waited at Philippi. Those who labour much for the Lord must have their times of retirement for self-examination, prayer, communion with God, and preparation for future efforts.
By these descriptions of Paul’s activity we are taught to be active and energetic for our Lord. We can never do enough for him to whom we owe our all. What are we doing? There is a sphere for each one of us, whether old or young: are we filling it? Are we in earnest, or are we incurring the guilt of unprofitable servants?
Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigour on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown.
‘Tis God’s all-animating voice
That calls thee from on high;
‘Tis his own hand presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye.
A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.
Behold, I come quickly; holdfast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)
There is no doubt in my mind that millions of Christians in our day yearn within themselves to be ready to see the Lord Jesus when He appears. These are the saints of God who have a real understanding that what our Lord Jesus Christ is to us in our personal lives, moment by moment, is more important than merely dwelling on “what He did for us!”
I say this because a great segment of Christian theology emphasizes the “utility” of the cross on which Jesus died, rather than the Person who died on that cross for our sins.
Because of that view, many really have no emotional yearning for the return of Jesus. The best hope they know is a kind of intellectual, theological hope. But an intellectual knowledge of what the New Testament teaches about the return of Christ is surely a poor substitute for a love-inflamed desire to look on His face!
While we await Him, our Lord expects us to love one another, to worship Him together and to send this gracious gospel to the ends of the earth.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12
Yes, he is blessed while he is enduring the trial. No eye can see this till it has been anointed with heavenly eye-salve. But he must endure it, and neither rebel against God, nor turn aside from his integrity. He is blessed who has gone through the fire, and has not been consumed as a counterfeit.
When the test is over, then comes the hallmark of divine approval — “the crown of life.” As if the Lord said, “Let him live; he has been weighed in the balances, and he is not found wanting.” Life is the reward: not mere being; but holy, happy, true existence, the realization of the divine purpose concerning us. Already a higher form of spiritual life and enjoyment crowns those who have safely passed through fiercest trials of faith and love.
The Lord hath promised the crown of life to those who love Him. Only lovers of the Lord will hold out in the hour of trial; the rest will either sink or sulk, or slink back to the world. Come, my heart, dost thou love thy Lord? Truly? Deeply? Wholly? Then that love will be tried; but many waters will not quench it, neither will the floods drown it. Lord, let thy love nourish mine to the end.