“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God shows His love for us in the most remarkable way. When we were still sinful people, indeed before we were born, God’s son, Jesus Christ, came into the world and died for us. He paid that dreadful price to pay for our unrighteousness, sin, unfaithfulness and pride. He paid the price completely and when we believe in Him and trust in what Jesus has done, we receive complete pardon.
Jesus paid for us to show the love of God in all its beauty. It is poured out in an amazing flood of forgiveness, and anyone who places faith in Him, is forgiven and set free from the penalty and effect of sin. Sin has no more dominion over us and we get freedom to approach God and be part of His family.
The cross of Christ is a demonstration of amazing grace and love for all who believe. There is nothing else like it and never will be. We can do nothing for ourselves, but God has given a Saviour who will rescue us from this present evil age and set us free from the power of sin. Look at that cross, see your need and come and put your hope and trust in that Saviour. There is no one like Him.
Hezekiah is king of Israel and had turned the people to trust and follow God. The enemy in the form of Assyria, has raised itself against Hezekiah to kill and conquer if he and the people will not surrender to this mighty power.
Sennacherib the kingdom of Assyria, sends Rabshakeh to negotiate, and present to Hezekiah, terms for peace. It is not peace. Ranshakeh wants everything and promises peace and prosperity to every Israelite home. This is the voice and the mark of the tyrant. When the war-mongers talk peace, we must beware.
Rabshakeh begins by undermining the allies of Hezekiah and pointing out their weakness and treachery. He calls pharaoh “a bruised reed..” which will cause injury and pain to whoever makes contact with him. Rabshakeh offers a treaty with Hezekiah, a treaty of horses but with no obligation to the Lord, the God of all.
Hezekiah’s advisors ask Rabshakeh to speak in Aramaic, so that the soldiers on the wall do not understand and become disillusioned and fearful. They are wise to the strategies of the enemy and are conversant with techniques of the ungodly to undermine faith. Rabshakeh ignores this request. He has come to speak to everyone and lay down the terms of the treatise so all can hear. He uses every opportunity to undermine and spread fear and doubt in the Lord, in Hezekiah and in the help of Egypt.
Rabshakeh promises all good things to the people if they will just follow him and believe in him. He boasts that the king of Assyria is so great and powerful, that he can do all these things for them, which their God the Lord cannot.
Rabshakeh reminds them that none of the surrounding nations were saved by their gods because Assyria is greater than all.
The Israelites remained silent. Hezekiah instructed the advisors to not reply to Rabshakeh.
Eliakim, Sheena, and Joah came to Hezekiah with torn clothes and reported the words of Rabshakeh… Hezekiah will not bend. Sennacherib is ultimately destroyed and all his soldiers are killed by the angel of death in a single night. God goes through the Assyrian camp and decimates the power of the tyrant, Sennacherib, and demonstrates that there is no one like the Lord.
God will not allow His people to succumb to godless ways, nor will he allow them to be defeated by godless enemies, when they cry out to Him. Sennacherib lost everything and Hezekiah and the people of God were rescued. Hezekiah was faithful and sought the help of God and lived to see the power of God being displayed against a ferocious foe. We also trust in such a God, so let us not be discouraged. We can be easily downcast by evil propaganda from the cruelty of the enemy, but God will keep us and will bring us through trials and give us the victory, through Christ, our Redeemer and champion.
“I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.”
The woman hears her Beloved at the door. Perhaps she sees his hand through the latch and she goes to open the door for her lover. She has been shut in from seeing him, and wondering where he is. When he comes to her, she opens for him, and lets him in. The picture of her hands dripping with myrrh and her fingers with the sweet smelling myrrh flowing from them, is very poetic. The beauty of the aroma is there as she opens the bolt of the door.
The Christian is sometimes languishing in doubts and fears and regrets. Our faith can almost fail, and we can be so afraid of life and its challenges, we become stagnant in our Christian walk with God. We make mistakes, and suffer the consequences of them, and the challenge of facing life in a new way, is very great.
The Lord Jesus comes to us and shows us His presence, and seeks communion with us. When we see Him and have knowledge of His presence, we should go to Him and let Him into the citadel of our heart. He will be our comfort and guide and will lead us through every day in His strength. There is no strength apart from His strength, and we can depend on Him at all times.
As we come to Him, let our fingers and hands drop the sweet smelling myrrh, as an anointing of his person, and a sign of our love for Him. We obey Him, our Lord and God. We must not leave off meeting with Him in prayer and Bible meditation. He will be our sweetness and will fill our lives with the sweet smell of holiness and love for God and His people.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”
Philippians 2: 14-26
Grumbling brings everyone down. It usually involves looking in the past for things to grumble about. It involves a mind set, which will destroy your peace and evaporate your joy in the Lord. Instead of leaving everything in His safe hands, we bring memories out of the grave and apportion blame and sadness.
Perhaps we are feeling aggrieved with someone, and indulge our negativity in thinking of the bad stuff they did to us, or things they didn’t do to help us. We forget the sovereign power and will of God, and try to decipher events, using our own faulty wisdom and limited minds. This way of thinking is very destructive. We boost ourselves up, while tearing the other down. It is a classic strategy of the evil one, and we have to find a way to resist him and the fallen propensity of our own minds.
I know these things, because they have happened to me, and have caused my life to be very much wrecked. Our minds can go into an illness phase, and we can find ourselves thinking, feeling, saying, and doing things we would not normally do. It can be like a storm and it seems no one can stop it. There are people who wrestle with this weakness all their lives. How can it be put right?
Only God can do this. We can educate ourselves about all sorts of things, but only God can deal with us and our minds, which are very powerful and drive us along. We have to wait for the storm to blow over, and hope and pray that what we think and do at that time, is not irreversible. Only God can save us from the wreckage and put us right again.
It is so important that we process our grievances and grumbles in a godly way, and not allow then to take over our thoughts. Satan is most virulent against those we love most and we must not let him in. He hates us with a perfect hatred, and we need God to stand guard over us and protect us. God is over all, and promises that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purposes. Things might seem hopeless, and we think the enemy has got the upper hand, but he can never do that.
Trusting in the Lord is the absolute bottom line and depending on Him, even in the storm when you think He is not close to you. Nothing is outside His will and we hang on to hope. Even the faintest glimmer is enough to see us through. We hold on to Him, because He is holding onto us. Rejoice in the Lord, always and trust in the previous promises that are all through His Word. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, then we will not be grumbling and complaining. Jesus is the author and perfected of our faith and He has done it all for us. The price is actually paid, so let us enter in….
Prayer has does not add to the character of God. He doesn’t need our prayers to allow Him to be, or remain, as God. Prayer is for our benefit, that we can engage with God and enjoy His presence, and He also enjoys the praise and blessing of His people. God is not remote, but desires to draw near to His people and for them to bring their requests to Him. Jesus has come to bring a body of His people to heaven, where there is fellowship forever. He longs to have them in His embrace, and we long to be with Him also. Prayer is the bond we have with Him, even as we walk this world. His Spirit is with us and causes us to pray all kinds of prayers, for our benefit and His glory.
Prayer grows our spiritual life, and let’s us get to know God in a closer and closer way. It is the Christians daily breath, and it is on our tongues at all times. At times when we can’t pray, we have fellow Christians who pray for us. Prayer is a relationship with God and other Christian believers. It is crucial to our spiritual life.
When we are in need, we pray. When we are rejoicing, we pray…
Prayer changes everything, especially our hearts. To pray intercessory prayers gives us a better view of ourselves and other people. To lift our eyes to heaven is a privilege and a source of hope. We are heard and the answer will come at the right time. We persevere in prayers that the answer will be certain and we will know it is from God.
Prayer grows us up and makes us mature Christians. We pray in the name of our Saviour, Jesus. Keep praying, as we walk in step with our Lord Jesus.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”
2 Peter 3:18
We must grow in Christ or we lose out on grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. We need to seek Him and seek forgiveness and peace with God. As we walk in our Christian lives we become more like Him and our spiritual knowledge increases. We keep growing right to the end of our lives.
God will keep us in His grace. We will fall and fail and others will speak against us, but we keep trusting that God will work all troubles according to His purposes. He can change any situation and any person. He can renew all things and sustain us whatever our state. When we fall, there is forgiveness and peace, and the strength to bear our trouble. When we get into deep water, He will send help and give us peace. When family and friend forsake us, His presence more than compensates for the loss.
Giving glory to God for what He has done for us and obeying Him is our top priority. It flows from a grateful heart. Whatever we have experienced, we trust Him to keep us in His love and to know His grace in our lives.
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:”
The authorities, the chief priests and the Pharisees, already knew all about the Messiah, because they had searched the Old Testament Scriptures for information. Now evil king Herod wanted that information so that he could destroy this baby who threatened his position as leader and ruler of the land.
Herod asks the chief priests where this baby was to be born. They told him, since they knew from the prophet Micah, who tells us clearly that Bethlehem is the place where the Deliverer would appear.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times .” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.”
So Herod now knew the place and moved on to the wise men, to find the time, according to the star that appeared in the east, which they were following. Herod feigned faith and the desire to worship this person. Herod was waiting for the time when he could rid the country of this “threat” and keep all authority to himself. Herod had all baby boys under the age of two years, murdered to save his own skin.
But Herod cannot dupe God, no matter who he thinks he is, or how much authority and power he has. God protects Jesus, the hope of the world, by sending the family into exile in Egypt. So many were not saved, such is the demonstration and consequence of evil. But God kept Jesus safe and when Herod died, the family came back to Judea.
The Saviour of the world rescued many and brought many daughters and sons to glory. Those who were not saved from Herod, and lost their lives, where brought safe into the shelter of Christ, as all little ones go to Him. Jesus is truly our Saviour, and is working all things for good and the salvation of all those who He searches for. Not one will be lost. All Christians have a place and time where they encountered God and find salvation for their souls.
The prophet writes.
“Salvation is of the Lord..”
We cannot manoeuvre it or educate people into a certain mindset, but we wait for God to demonstrate His power. Only He can show us our sin, give us strength to face it, and be sorry. We receive forgiveness and are restored. The place and time for this is of little consequence, so long as we are truly the Lords.
These are surely the most precious words to the person who has failed. The sense of blame is crushing and the voice of accusation is very loud. We have disobeyed the commandments and hurt ourselves and other people. We have made a mess of our lives and disappointed others.
We ask why. Why did I do this? What was the situation I was in and why did I choose the wrong path in dealing with my own troubles? Every person who fails has to answer these kinds of questions. If we are to learn we must ask ourselves difficult things.
God must stop us in our tracks. We get so caught up in what we are doing it all gets enmeshed in our lives and we are trapped. If God is for us, He will intervene and make us see what we are doing, and cause us to confront our failure. He will take away everything that is necessary to bring you back to Himself. We must repent and turn from our sin and ask Him to forgive. God will forgive and allow us to live and depend on Him. Our faith can grow, and we will stay away from trouble. Repentance brings forgiveness.
God can forgive us because of who He is and what His Son, Jesus did on the cross. He took the penalty for our sin and He can break its power in our lives. It’s a simple message, to be sorry about what you have done, said or thought and bring it to God and ask Him to take it away. He will forgive and give you the victory over the sins we hide inside ourselves.
It is more difficult for others to forgive, especially if we have hurt them badly and let them down in a major way. We must wait for the time of forgiveness and pray that God will change hearts and minds to forgive. Humans do not forgive, even little things, and only the heart that belongs to God, will be able to do so. If we harbour resentment and pride, we hurt ourselves and the effect of the sin gets worse.
We need to practice repenting and forgiving every day, little things as well as big things.
When we sin, we can think it is ok, until it is pointed out to us what we are doing, and then comes humiliation. We feel the effects of our unfaithfulness, and it is horrifying. The weight of it can crush us, and we can easily loose our faith. When everything is against us we must hold on to the fact that God loves us and wants to forgive. His grace really is so amazing. To know it in your life, brings peace and great hope, that He can change anyone. God waits for us to come to our senses, and face up. Every time we do, He is sufficient, and so our faith grows and our love for our Saviour Jesus, also grows. But if we harbour grudges, and refuse to repent or forgive, our spiritual life will be stunted, if it was ever there at all.
It is a major issue to our human lives. Without these two graces, we have no faith and no hope. Grace is the harbinger of blessing, and our lives must irradiate grace, which is the light of God shining through.
When someone sins against us, we can react badly and refuse to forgive. We blame the other person, since they are the sinner. We use it as an excuse not to forgive. Anger, blame and resentment eat away at us, and we loose blessing in God. Our life with God is shallow and our life is not blessed as it could be. Relationships fail, because we won’t forgive. Pride takes prime place. We think it is the sinner’s fault that we have no blessing, but if another thing had happened, we would have the same ungracious reaction.
God will never let us run away from our fault. He requires that we face it and repent of it and receive His blessing in our lives. Some one may have to carry the burden of our unforgiving attitude and some people become the scapegoat for the sins of others. This is not God’s way. God is not in the business of blaming people… He waits to forgive. He is waiting for you. He never gives up, never retaliates and never blames. This is why the Christian loves Him, because He is ultimate love. To know that love, is the greatest thing, even if you loose everything and everyone you love, He will make it up to you. He has a long-term plan, so that all are saved from sin and death, and His ultimate purpose is that His people live Iives full of service for Him.
Repent: say “I’m sorry”
Forgive: say “I forgive you”
It’s that simple, but we must work it our daily in our lives and endure the inevitable ravages of blame, guilt, anxiety, as we rebuild our lives each time we sin. We must not look back, or crave the things of this world an longer. We work for our God and our loving Master, and He knows what is best for us. He can use any situation to bring glory and praise to Himself, and blessing to His children. The impossible is possible with God, and He will not allow His people to wallow in the shallows of disobedience and selfishness.
If you have sinned badly, you can put it behind you, but it may not be so easy for others. It can come back to you and you may have to suffer loss and rejection because of what you have done. Don’t be discouraged, God will not leave you, and He will provide what you need some other way. Do not take on the sins of others against you, as if they were your fault. Everyone has to deal with their own sins, whatever they might be. To imagine that you would not have a particular sin, unless the person who sinned had not done the thing against you, is not right. Our sins come out some way or another, and how we deal with them, is crucial. If we bring them to the Lord, He will abundantly pardon us, and strengthen us to forgive the wrong-doer. The Christian has the Holy Spirit to give the power and grace to carry out God’s commands.
Relationships can get so broken. They fail. Only the greater purpose of God will allow us to cope with this disappointing fact. Life’s twists and turns we cannot see coming, but we rest on the loving arms of our God. Only He can fix us, because we certainly cannot fix ourselves. We will also need plenty of Christians friends who we can talk to and try to put the pieces of our lives back together. The wisdom of these people, will help us and encourage us.
My prayer is that we will all experience repentance and forgiveness and that our lives would bear fruit for God, especially in our family settings. Sometimes he has to break our hearts to get us to see what we are really like. His love bears with us and gives all we need for time and eternity. May we grasp the blessing when it is held out us….