Isaiah 9:3 – The Joy of the Lord

Isaiah 9:3
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Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

-The nation of Israel was growing in terms of power, wealth, and population.  But because they were living outside of the Lord’s will, He withheld any increase in joy.  Imagine getting more and becoming more but not being able to enjoy it because you did it without the Lord.  This principle applies to more than just nations, but also churches, households and individuals and it’s a snare that people fall into every day.  It may seem like a good idea to sacrifice your testimony in order to fit in with a certain crowd.  It may seem expedient to sacrifice Church attendance for a better paying job.  But when you understand that the Lord gives and takes away joy as He sees fit, it gives our life choices a much different perspective.

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Matthew 7:7 – Seek and ye shal find

Matthew 7:7
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Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

-If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, then doesn’t He already know everything that we could ever ask of Him before we ask it?  He certainly does and tells us as much in Matthew 6:8, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  If He knows what we will ask Him for, why do we need to ask Him at all?  Because the most important part of prayer is not our requests, it’s not even God’s answers; it is the dialogue that’s important.  God could give us everything we ever need without us asking, but then we would miss out on the opportunity to talk with Him, to commune with Him, and to develop a deeper love and trust for Him.

Hebrews 12:2 – Author of Faith

Hebrews 12:2
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Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

-It is evident in scripture that there is nothing any of us could do in order to secure our own salvation; that was wholly a work of the Lord.  Here the Bible reveals that we aren’t even responsible for generating our saving faith, the Lord Himself ignited that spark of belief.  God’s great plan furnishes us with the love to send a Savior, the Blood to wash away our sins, the Grace to extend salvation to whosoever will, and even the Faith to believe it’s all possible.  Let it never be said that the Lord is not thorough or that His love for us is incomplete.  Let it also never be said that the Lord stops at simply igniting our faith; for it is also made evident in this very verse “that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Luke 11:1-4 – Teach us to pray

Luke 11:1-4
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And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

-Think about all of the amazing things that the disciples watched Jesus do; miraculously raise the dead, heal the lame, multiply food to feed people by the thousands.  Yet in all of scripture, the only thing we ever see the disciples ask Jesus to teach them is how to pray.  There could be many reasons for this, but I think it’s simply a matter of importance.  At the end of the day, communing with God is more important than anything else.  No matter how hard we try to ignore it, we all fundamentally understand that having a relationship with our Creator means more than any great work or miracle we could ever perform.  All of the wealth, power, and influence in the world will still leave you empty at the end of the day; but no one has ever come into the presence of God Himself and left empty.

John 4:46-54 – Faith

John 4:46-54
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So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

-Not all of us have faith that can move mountains.  In scripture, there is an account of Jesus telling a Syrophenician woman that His gifts are not meant for dogs, to which the woman replies that even dogs get crumbs from their master’s table. This answer was enough to make even Jesus comment on her great faith (Matthew 15).   Here in John 4, Jesus tells a desperate father that he lacks the necessary faith; the man doesn’t have a profound comeback like the Syrophenician woman and can only say, “My child will die if you don’t come.”  Jesus sends the father on his way with only His word that the child will live.  Now the man is at a decision point; does he continue to plead with Jesus and risk angering Him or take Jesus at His word and go home?  This is the same question with which many in this life constantly struggle; whether or not to take Jesus at His word.  It can seem like life would be easier if more of us could perform acts of great faith, but Jesus never said we had be great, He only asks that  we believe He is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  Look back at the father in this story one more time:  The Bible doesn’t say that he built a monument to Jesus, or that he was martyred for the cause of Christ; the Bible simply says that he “believed the word that Jesus had spoken” and look what happened to him; he got to see his son restored to health and his whole house saved.

John 2:9-11; Exodus 7:20 – Law and Grace

John 2:9-11
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When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Exodus 7:20
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And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

-Notice the difference between the first miracle of Moses and the first miracle of Jesus Christ.  Moses used God’s power to turn the water into blood to bring humility and suffering to Pharaoh and his men; Jesus turned the water into wine so that those at the wedding feast would have joy (in scripture, wine is symbolic of joy).  Despite Moses’ many triumphs as God’s man, this shows his limitation as the Old Testament lawgiver.  “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)  The lawgiver can punish man’s sin, but only the Grace-giver can truly bring joy to those who have sinned.

2 Peter 1:16 – The Pure Word of God

2 Peter 1:16
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For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

-From the beginning, the early Church leaders were careful that the message of Jesus Christ be delivered in its pure form.  That means not mixed with human wisdom or interpretation, but rather limited to that which they saw Jesus do and heard Jesus say.  If you’ve ever played the game where you pass a message through a can and string, you’ll understand why this is so important.  Just as the message passed along the can and string changes slowly until someone ends up with a completely different message, so too can the Word of God be changed by introducing a new idea here, an allegory there; until someone ends up with a completely different message.  Some of us may have grown up with a diluted Word and may have still heard enough truth to get saved, but what happens to that generation that inherits more falsehood than truth?  Keep God’s word clean and pure because His word is the only thing that He said would accomplish that which He pleases (Isaiah 55:11); He never made such a promise about anyone else’s word.

Isaiah 6:1-3 – Holy, Holy, Holy

Isaiah 6:1-3
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In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

-The Lord is called many things in the Bible; but only here is His description repeated in this manner for emphasis.  If you learn nothing else about the Lord’s character, lesson one is that He is HOLY.  Holy doesn’t mean He’s slightly better than good, Holy doesn’t mean He tries really hard; Holy means His goodness and His righteousness are completely above and completely beyond anything that we could ever emulate or understand.  So much so that the Seraphim, when they come into His presence, can only cover their faces and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord”.  Consider that these Seraphim have never lied, never cheated, never sinned in any way.  If they show such reverence and humility in the presence of God, how much more reverence and humility should fallen humanity show?  Never lose sight of who God is and who we are; your life will change more than you can realize if you can grasp this truth and never forget it.

John 10:27-29 – Never Perish

John 10:27-29
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 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

-The most important fact to remember when it comes to salvation and eternal security is who is doing the work.  Who is responsible for saving and guarding souls?  The Lord Jesus Christ brings us in and God the Father keeps us in.  If any part of us believes we share in the responsibility, we’ll always have doubts.  Remember, in the Lord’s faithfulness lies eternal security.

Romans 3:19 – “That every mouth may be stopped”

Romans 3:19
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Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

-In the wake of Sunday’s shooting, we’ve heard responses from political figures and religious leaders from across the spectrum.  Everything from “those gays got what was coming to them” to “a loving God would never allow this to happen.”  But in all the rhetoric, the one message that has been lost is the message of Romans 3:19.  The truth is that God’s Word reveals both the law and judgments of God.  When faced with these truths and the manifestation of these truths, the gay mouth should be stopped, the political mouth should be stopped, and the Christian mouth should be stopped.  Why?  So that instead of hearing each other, we can all hear God and so become guilty before God.  Only then can we properly pray because only then will we see that it’s not just lives on the line, souls are on the line.  As long as we are motivated by things like grief or indignation or national pride, our prayers will be circumstantial: “Lord, we need better gun control laws” or “Lord, we need more love in this country.”  But when we are motivated by a healthy fear of God, our prayers take on an eternal weight:  “Lord, have mercy on sin-sick souls” or “Lord, I’m a sinner, have mercy on my soul.”  50 people lost their lives in Sunday’s shooting.  Tragic.  But don’t let that tragedy blind you to the fact that 50 people stepped into eternity and faced God.  Were they ready to face God?  That’s not for us to know.  Are you ready?