Friday, March 2, 2012

Views of the Servant

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2 (NIV)

In this verse we see two views of God’s servant. The Father saw the servant as a vital life-giving organism that would mature and produce fruit, bearing witness to the Father. God also compares Him to a root, a strong rhizome to give support as well as nourishment to those for whom the Servant will work.

Man viewed the Servant as not special in looks, nor majestic. He had nothing attractive to draw people to Him. Whenever I read this passage, a metal picture of Jesus as the soldiers led him down the Via Dolorosa as depicted in The Passion of the Christ.

“He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before his shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 (NIV)

Here, we see the world’s treatment of the Servant. The people of Jerusalem turned into an ugly mob, they taunted Jesus. They spat upon Him. He bore a horrible beating. The soldiers gambled to see who would get his robe. They beat Jesus to the point that He couldn’t stand up under the cross arm of a cross. But He never said one word in complaint. Jesus willingly gave up His life for you and me. The crowd treated Jesus as nastily as anyone can treat another human being and yet He later asked the Father to forgive them.

One of the most meaningful passages of scripture to me is where Jesus prays at Gethsemane. He knows what lay ahead for him. He asks God to not let it happen, “If at all possible, take this cup from my mouth.” Yet Jesus then gives Himself over to His Father’s will. Nevertheless, not what I will but what You will.” Mark 14:32 (NKJV)

In this passage the Son turns His over to the Father and willingly sacrifices His life for you and me. No one else in this world has done such a thing like this for us. The people of Jerusalem chose to take Jesus’ life in the most horrible way know to man at that time. And yet, He didn’t complain. He was silent before His accusers. This behavior was not according to human nature.

Dear Jesus:

We sometimes forget how you chose to go to Calvary for us. We neglect to focus on the fact that you didn’t defend yourself before the powers of the nation. Please draw us closer during this Lenten season and help us to learn more of You. We will give You the praise. AMEN

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Personal Check-up

Bing Photo

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith;

test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you

-unless of course you fail the test?”

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Paul speaks very frankly here. He advises the believers at Corinth and to us to get a ‘spiritual check-up.’ As I heard this passage read during an Ash Wednesday service, I felt convicted of ignoring the basics of the faith.

The following questions came to me then next day as I sat down to meditate on Paul’s words.

Do we notice Christ in our lives?

Do we notice Him in the lives of those around us?

Do we spend time with Him through prayer and Bible reading?

Do we speak kindly to those around us?

Do we show concern for others when they have difficult circumstances facing them?

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to bring a Sunday message to the church we were in. It was a day where most of the congregation would be at Family Camp. The pastor was required to be there, with one exception to the rule.

I found myself spending the whole week before looking at everything I did or said to anyone. Imagine if you will, a person studying his or her actions by looking through a microscope. That’s how I viewed my deeds.

A few days prior to that Sunday, a man in our church entered heaven. Most of those who planned to go to the campground remained in town in order to attend the calling for the gentleman who had passed. Because of the change in people’s plans, I spoke to the backbone of the church, those who made the decisions, who paid the bills, and kept the doors opened. As I reflect on this time, I realize God was allowing me to go through that time of introspection in order to prepare me.

Can we forget to do the basic steps of our faith? I believe we can. We can also use certain seasons of the church year to intentionally spend more time in Bible study and prayer.

A friend of mine is using the season of Lent to memorize scripture-a verse a day. Some devotional magazines publish special Lenten Bible studies to help those who seek a closer walk with God. A few years ago, a Sunday school class decided to perform positive acts of kindness to people who were going through tough times. I am trying to send cards and notes to people who were ill or had illness in their family.

As believers, we want to honor Christ in what we do.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Servant’s Mission

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,

My Elect One in whom My soul delights

I have put My Spirit upon Him;

He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

He will not cry out nor raise His voice,

Nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

And smoking flax He will not quench;

He will bring forth justice for truth.

He will not fail or be discouraged,

Till He has established justice in the earth;

And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Isaiah 42:1-4 (NKJV)

Almost every faith-based ministry, church, or community service organization I have heard of has a mission statement. I believe this practice tells the public about the objectives of each organization. All these groups have a goal as well as a mission.

God has a mission for His servant. Isaiah tells us the servant’s mission is three-fold. This mission is closely related to a goal. His servant is commissioned to do the following:

He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles: God was the creator of ALL people, Jew and Gentile alike. Historically, the Israelites were Pharisaical in the attitude. They were haughty when dealing with the Samaritans. He wanted everyone to love and adore Him, no matter what their circumstance. Jesus chose to fellowship with sinners, the down and out, and the misfits. One of the special people I look forward to seeing when I get to heaven is a man who came to our church because he had a need; he was ill and also homeless.

He will bring forth justice for truth. I have heard it said that God’s justice is like the two-edged sword. He approaches all interpersonal controversies with an open ear and sheds the light of justice on different issues involved in each matter.

Till He has established justice in the earth: God desires to establish equitable outcomes for issues that we face on this earth. This desire is a work in progress. Those of us who have lived very long know that sometimes justice is not served in certain instances. Several years ago, a friend of mine had a daughter who was victimized. The person got acquitted. When I heard this, I was upset. My friend said words to the effect that justice would come in the next life. This was a Christian lady who believed that God would never leave her nor forsake her. I learned something about her faith that day.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...