Monday, April 29, 2019


Psalm 111

Wisdom is an attribute that many people would like to have.  That is a quality and trait that we hopefully look for in those we want in important positions. We would hope that our political and business leaders would have wisdom, and most people would like to be known as wise.  In our psalm for today the Lord instructs us exactly how one might gain true wisdom. Let’s look into today’s Scripture and see how we might find real wisdom for our lives.

In verse 10 of our psalm we read that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  The Lord repeats this word for word in Proverbs 9:10, and slightly different in Proverbs 1:7 where it reads that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Either way, the key to obtaining wisdom or knowledge is “the fear of the Lord”. Since we would like to have wisdom, it’s best to find out what the “fear of the Lord” is.  This type of fear is a healthy respect and reverence for God’s power and authority, and not having a casual or flippant attitude towards Him which we find so much of today.   A true fear of the Lord leads to respect for His commands and principles.

Life experiences and academic knowledge alone do not bring true wisdom. God is the source of wisdom, and He, alone, will give a foundation for making wise decisions.  In the Book of Proverbs, chapters 1, 8 and 9, wisdom is personified and shown as an attribute of God.  It comes from Him, so without the Lord one cannot be truly wise. As we obey the Lord and His commandments, He will give us more understanding and insight.  The more we know God’s Word, the more wisdom we will gain.

There are several other verses in this short psalm which speak a message, as well.  This is a psalm that encourages us to praise the Lord for many different reasons. We are told to praise Him for His works (vs. 2), His righteousness (vs. 3), and His grace and compassion (vs. 4).  We are also encouraged in this psalm to praise the Lord for His provisions (vs. 5), His truth and justice (vs. 7), His redemption (vs. 9), and His wisdom (vs. 10).

Our praise to the Lord God should come from our whole heart and being (vs. 1).   This is a command the Lord Jesus also gave us in Matthew 22:37. People frequently want to find out all they can about someone they have fallen in love with.  We want to know what they like, and what they dislike. We like to know what their interests are, and what “makes them tick”. When we love the Lord, we should want to know about Him and His works.  The best way to do this is through God’s Word, the Bible. As verse 2 says, as we study His Word, we will learn all about the Lord and His works.

In verse 9 we read that the Lord has sent redemption to His people. “Redemption” means the recovery of something or someone upon payment of a ransom.  Before we came to Christ we were all slaves of sin. Jesus paid the price to redeem us by giving His life as a sacrifice.  Before Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, people could not come into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies. Now every believer can freely approach God’s throne through the Blood of Jesus.

This short psalm gives us many reasons to praise the Lord.  He is our redeemer, having shed His Blood for our souls. He is also the source of all wisdom, which He bestows on those who fear Him.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

3,000 Souls

Acts 2:36-41

Have you ever been at a church service or heard a sermon where a real large number of people came forward to accept the Lord Jesus as Savior?  That would be a very special and blessed occasion. In our passage today we read of the day that the Apostle Peter preached a message to a large crowd of people who had gathered together, and about 3,000 people accepted the Lord Jesus as the Messiah and their Savior.

Earlier in the chapter that our passage is taken from the Holy Spirit had descended upon the apostles and disciples that were gathered together.  As they left the room where they had been gathered in while praying, and going outside, it quickly became apparent to the people in Jerusalem that the power of the Holy Spirit was upon these men and women.  As a crowd gathered, questioning what was going on, Peter used this opportunity to tell them what had happened, and preached his first sermon, telling them about Jesus.

Peter and the other apostles were preaching the Gospel right in the center of Jerusalem, right where Jesus, only several weeks prior, had been sentenced to death.  Just a few weeks ago they had all run and hid for their lives when Jesus was arrested, tried, and executed. Peter had even been afraid of a servant girl, and denied knowing Jesus.  Now, though, he is boldly preaching the Gospel to the gathered crowd , including the very Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders who had ordered Jesus put to death. What brought about this change?  It was the Holy Spirit, which they had just received.

The apostles and other disciples knew, truly knew down deep in their soul, the truth of the resurrection.  If they had really stolen and hid the dead body of Jesus, which the religious leaders claimed, would they have continued to lie to the point of death?  What would be the purpose of that? Some people can be deceived about a lie that someone has told them, they believe it, and might even die for it. However to knowingly make up a lie, would someone continue to proclaim it while being tortured and executed, like many of these men and women would be?

In verse 37 we read how after Peter finished proclaiming the Word of God, and the message of how Jesus died for their sins and had risen from the dead, the sword of the Holy Spirit of God cut into the people’s hearts (Hebrews 4:12). The crowd then asked Peter and the other disciples what they needed to do. Are we prepared to answer this question when someone asks us what to do to be saved? The first thing that Peter answered was that they needed to repent (vs. 38).  After being told about Jesus, His death, and resurrection, one must repent and turn away from sin. They must change the direction of their life of rebellion against God. They need to turn to Christ and depend on Him for forgiveness. Genuine repentance involves more than just fearing the consequences of God’s judgment. The evil of sin must be forsaken, and Jesus must be totally embraced.

Peter also said that after the people believed Christ and repented they needed to be baptized.  Baptism, itself, doesn’t save anyone, but it is something the Lord Jesus told us to do. It is something believers should do as an act of obedience to Him.  Baptism publicly identifies the believer with Jesus and the Church. Through the waters of baptism we identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. We are baptized to show that our sins have been cleansed, not to cleanse our sins.

That first sermon of Peter’s on that first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension to heaven was a straightforward one.  Believe and accept Jesus’ death and resurrection, repent, and then follow through with baptism. That day about 3,000 men and women believed and were saved!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Obey Man Or Obey God?

Acts 5:29-32

Being a follower of Jesus Christ, and living the Christian life, is often not very popular.  It can also get one in a lot hot water if the government opposes the work one does for Jesus, especially spreading the Gospel.  In our passage today from the Book of Acts we read of how the apostles ran up against the ruling authority of Jewish religious leaders and found themselves in serious trouble. As we read their response to the leaders, we can ask ourselves if we would have responded similarly.

Earlier in our chapter in Acts, Peter and some of the other apostles had been preaching the Gospel message of Jesus.  They were also healing sick folk and casting out demons from those afflicted (Acts 5:14-16). This angered the high priest and other religious leaders. They thought that once Jesus had been arrested and executed that they were done with Him. They were greatly mistaken, as now they kept hearing that Jesus had risen from the dead, and His followers kept preaching and spreading His message.  The high priest and the Jewish leaders had the men arrested. However, an angel opened the doors of the jail, setting them free to go and preach the Gospel in the Temple (Acts 5:17-28). When they arrested the apostles again, the authorities told them that they had been told to stop preaching in the Name of Jesus.  They didn’t want to be held responsible for Jesus’ death, which of course they were. Our passage for today contains the response that the apostles gave the high priest and other religious leaders.

Peter responded to them by saying that they had to obey God rather than man (vs. 29).  The Jewish leaders had told them to stop preaching and teaching in the Name of Jesus. If they continue to do so they will be arrested and beaten. God told them to spread the Gospel around Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8). They had already been arrested once before (Acts 4:1-23).  Who do they obey? For the apostles, this required no great thought. They knew that they had to obey God first.

Christians should, in most circumstances, obey their government authorities (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-17).  However, when the government gives decrees and laws that are contrary to God’s Word, God and His Word must be obeyed over and above the law of the land.  Generally there is little disagreement between the two, but occasionally in some countries or under some regimes there arises a conflict. We see this a few times in the Scriptures. When the Israelites were living in Egypt, Pharaoh gave a command that all male Hebrew babies born were to be killed. However the Hebrew midwives disobeyed that law and allowed them to live (Exodus 1:15-17).  Pharaoh’s rule - kill the baby boys. God’s law - do not kill. They obeyed God rather than man.

In the Book of Daniel we read where a decree was made that no one was to pray to any God except to the emperor for a period of time. Daniel was not going to follow that law and continued to pray to Yahweh as he always had (Daniel 6:4-10). Emperor’s rule - don’t pray to God.  God’s law - worship only Him. Daniel obeyed God rather than man. He ended up being cast into the lion’s den, but Yahweh protected him.

There have been at various times and various places around the world where worshipping the Lord Jesus has been dangerous or even illegal, where owning and reading a Bible could get someone arrested and imprisoned, possibly even killed.  Disobeying Pharaoh could have gotten the midwives in severe trouble. The Lord protected them. Disobeying the Persian emperor was dangerous, even for a high-ranking official like Daniel. He was thrown to the lions, but God protected him.  Peter and the apostles knew the danger they were in if they disobeyed man’s law and continued to preach the Gospel message of the Lord Jesus. They were frequently arrested and beaten. Eventually all of the apostles (except John) were executed for being followers of Jesus and preaching His message.  They knew that they must obey God rather than man. If a similar challenge ever comes to us, do we have the courage and conviction to do the same?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Focus On Things Above

Colossians 3:1-4

Where are our thoughts centered?  That’s what Paul is focused on in our brief passage today.  As believers, where is our mind dwelling? Those who follow the risen Savior should have different priorities than that of those in the world. Let’s look at what Paul is teaching us today.

As Paul begins this chapter in his letter to the church in Colossae, he identifies believers as being raised with Christ.  We died with the Savior, and are now risen with Him, as well (vs. 1). As risen to a new life in Him, our thoughts, our concerns, our priorities should be centered where He is, above in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, our moral and ethical behavior should also change as we allow Jesus to live within us. The Holy Spirit will shape us into what we should be.

Christians who are living in the power of the risen Savior should strive to put heaven’s priorities into daily life.  To do that we need to concentrate on what is eternal, not on what is temporary (vs. 1-2). What we think about all day greatly affects the type of person we are and what we will become.  Thus, we need to focus our thoughts on things that honor God. Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 6:19-21, when He said to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth, for where our treasure is, there our heart is also.  If our mind is constantly concerned with things of this world, than that is where our heart and affections are. If, instead, we are concerned with the things of Christ and His priorities, then our heart will be where His is.  The resurrection of Jesus is not just something that happened in the past. It affects every follower of Jesus today. We need to set our hearts on heavenly things and loosen our grip on earthly things.

Often our minds are centered on our worries and problems.  They plague us and bother us, sometimes so much that they are all we can think about.  Paul was not immune to problems and troubles. However he didn’t dwell on his circumstances.  When he and his missionary companion Silas were put in prison in Philippi for preaching the Gospel, after having been badly beaten, what did they do?  Did they sit and worry about what else would happen to them? Did they bemoan their bad fortune? No, they started singing hymns and praising God! (Acts 16:19-36).  God honored that and had them set free.

Does a dead person have any interest in this world?  No! That is all over with for him. Paul reminds us in verse 3 that we have died with Christ and are now risen to a new life with Him when He rose again. Our interests should be where our real home is, in heaven. God wants us to start looking at life from His perspective, seeking what He desires. Don’t become attached to what is temporary.

Our circumstances may be dark, dreary, and gloomy, just like living in a shadowy valley where the fog and clouds constantly cover the landscape. However, if one climbs up the mountain, out of the clouds and valley, there is now sunshine and warmth. So it is when we set our hearts on things above, where Jesus is, and not on things on the earth.  Let’s climb up out of the dark valley, up to where Jesus is. Let’s look at our life and the things of this world with His perspective, and make what He loves and His priorities ours.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Seek The Lord

Psalm 105:1-8

In various places and times throughout the world there have been gold rushes, people packing up and leaving their homes to go out in search of gold, and hopefully strike it rich.  Two famous ones in the United States were the California Gold Rush from 1848-1855, and the Alaska Gold Rush from 1896-1899. People often left their families and sold their belongings to travel and then buy equipment, searching for something they thought would make them rich and happy.  Our Scripture passage for today tells us of something we should be seeking, something of infinitely more value than gold, and that is the Lord, Himself. Let’s take a look, and see what the Lord will teach us from His Word.

Psalm 105 is a fairly long psalm, and our passage today focuses on just the opening few verses.  Here the author of this psalm instructs his readers to both seek the Lord and to call upon His Name.  Calling upon the Name of the Lord is to both pray to and worship in the Name of Yahweh. The people of Israel, from the earliest days following their exodus from Egypt up until the captivity in Babylon, had been prone to falling away and worshipping idols and foreign gods.  The psalmist tells his readers to call upon the Name of Yahweh, to praise Him, and to worship Him (vs. 1-3).

Today God’s Name is used as a curse word more often than not. However, it is a sacred Name. It is a Name that we can turn to for help or protection.  King David said that trusting in the Name of the Lord was better than trusting in chariots or horses, the powerful military equipment of his day (Psalm 20:7). We are as safe in the Name of the Lord as we would be in a fortress tower (Proverbs 18:10). One day all of creation will bow to the Name of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (Philippians 2:10-11).  It will no longer be a Name that anyone will mock!

Sometimes, though, God seems far away from us.  We call upon His Name, but still feel alone. Where are You, God?  I call out for help, but feel like He is nowhere to be found. It is then that our psalmist says we need to seek Him (vs. 3-4).  The people who went out following these gold rushes would have been sadly disappointed if they expected to find the ground just covered with nuggets of gold. They had to search for it, putting in great effort. That’s what God wants us to do for Him. We can’t just snap our fingers and the Lord appears at our beck and call, like a butler.  We need to persist in our seeking of Him.

The most important way to seek after God is by carefully and diligently studying His Word, and learning from godly pastors and Bible teachers. Another way to help us seek God more closely is by looking at what God has done for us and others in the past.  That is one thing that our psalmist writer of this psalm has done, by reviewing to the readers all of what God did for His people when He brought them out from Egypt.

The prophet Isaiah, in speaking God’s Word, said that we need to seek God and turn away from all of our wicked ways.  If we return to Him, He will forgive and pardon our sins (Isaiah 55:6-7). Jesus, when speaking in His Sermon on the Mount, said that if we seek God, we will find Him, if we knock at His figurative door, He will answer (Matthew 7:7-8).  God has promised that He will reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Only a comparatively few of those who went in search of gold in the many gold rushes ever struck it rich.  Some did find a little, but not enough to make it worth their efforts, and many found nothing. When we diligently seek the Lord as we would for gold or other valuable gems, we are promised in His Word that we will find Him. No one who ever seeks Him will come away empty handed.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Why The Resurrection Is Important

Luke 24:1-10

Today, Christians across the country and around the world proclaim “He is risen!”  However, during the early hours on that day of Jesus’ Resurrection, that thought was not in anyone’s mind.  The people who were the closest to Jesus, whose hopes and dreams were all closely tied to Him, were now in the depths of despair.  That was all going to change, though, as they came to hear and believe the good news that Jesus had, indeed, risen from the dead. Everything He had said to them was true, and would change their lives for eternity. The Resurrection. How has it changed your life? Perhaps it hasn’t at all, and is only something you barely think about one Sunday a year. Let’s take a look at the resurrection today.

The women in our Scripture passage were not expecting to find Jesus risen from the dead (vs. 1).  They were bringing spices to anoint His dead body, which they were unable to do late Friday and Saturday due to the Sabbath. This was an act of love and devotion to Jesus, even though they hadn’t believed or paid attention to His words that after He was crucified He would rise again the third day. When they arrived at the gravesite, which was a like a room hollowed out of a cliff, they saw the stone rolled away, and a couple of men within. These men were really angels, appearing as men, and they had come to tell the women that Jesus had risen from the dead as He had said He would (vs. 5-7).

The women wanted to find Jesus to show a final act of devotion to Him, and they went to the grave.  He was not there. He was no longer dead. The women needed Jesus, but they were looking in the wrong place.  The angels asked the women why they were seeking the living among the dead. That is a question for us. Are we seeking what our heart truly desires and needs from the living Savior, or are we seeking it from the lifeless things of this world?

Why is the resurrection important to believers today?  We know why it was important for Jesus to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for sin.  But what was important about the resurrection? For one, it showed that the Father was satisfied with the atonement of Jesus’ Blood for our sins.  The payment was made and accepted. Because of the resurrection we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into human history. Those who have believed in Jesus are redeemed, and are not damned for eternity.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows that Satan and death itself has been conquered.  Jesus is the first fruits, or the first in a long line of those who will rise from the dead (I Corinthians 15:20). Because Jesus was raised, believers will also be raised from the dead and live with Him forever.

The resurrection of Jesus gives authority to the church’s witness.  It was the central message of the early church, and should be just as important a part of our message to the lost today.  It assures us that Jesus is alive and ruling His kingdom. He is not just a legend from the past. The resurrection gives meaning to the Lord’s Supper which Jesus instructed us to commemorate.  We break bread with a risen Savior, not the memory of someone long dead.

Finally, the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us, to help us live in this wicked world today.  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead also helps us find meaning in the midst of tragedies we encounter throughout life. No matter what happens in life, the resurrection gives hope for the future. We serve a risen Savior, who walks with us throughout all of our life.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Crucifixion Of The King

John 19:1-37

As I write today’s devotional, it is early morning on Good Friday, one of the holiest and most sacred days of the year for a Christian.  Our Scripture passage for today is from the Gospel of John, and gives his account of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, and His crucifixion.  Let’s see what message the Lord might have for us from this passage of His Word.

The Jewish religious leaders had long sought to have Jesus put to death, and had arrested Him.  Since they were not allowed to execute anyone, they needed to bring Jesus to the governor, Pontius Pilate. In the previous chapter of John’s gospel, Pilate had interrogated Jesus, and found nothing in Him that was deserving of death, so he sought to have Him released.  The Pharisees and other religious leaders were not going to settle for that, and here we see fear and weakness take over a normally strong and harsh man. Pilate was afraid that if word got back to Rome of an insurrection, or some other trouble in his jurisdiction, he would be removed from his position, and maybe imprisoned (vs. 12-13).  Rather than doing what he knew to be right and just, and setting Jesus free, he took the cowardly way, gave in to the Jews, and thus safeguarded his position. How often do we let fear rule our decisions, sometimes even leading us to do or decide something we know isn’t right, just to save our own skin?

The Jewish leaders brought the accusation against Jesus of blasphemy (vs. 7), which was a capital crime for them, but not for Rome.  So they added a charge of treason against Rome, no crime in Jewish eyes, but definitely for Rome (vs. 12). The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead so badly they even verbally gave allegiance to Caesar and Rome, even though they hated Rome’s authority (vs. 15). They feigned allegiance to Rome, and rejected their Messiah. Their own words condemned them. God was to be their only King, and they abandoned all loyalty to Him. The religious leaders were to turn people to God, and here they were killing their Messiah.

Pontius Pilate had Jesus flogged (vs. 1), which was often so severe that it sometimes killed a man even before his execution.  The rough Roman soldiers went beyond their orders, and also mocked the claims Jesus’ accusers made of Him being a king, making a crown of thorns and forcing it on His head (vs. 2-3).  That crown of thorns is more valuable than the Crown Jewels kept in the Tower of London, coated in the Blood of the Savior! He bore that for love of us!

Pilate’s phrase, “Behold the Man!” (vs. 5) was sarcastic, as he was attempting to show the Jewish authorities that Jesus was not the dangerous man they made Him out to be.  Pilate even put a sign on Jesus’ cross that read “King of the Jews” (vs. 19-22). Though he had yielded earlier, Pilate stood firm on this, against the religious leader’s arguments.  Despite how it looked, the sign was true. Jesus was just now coming into His Kingdom. His death and resurrection defeated Satan. Jesus is King of the Jews, Gentiles, and the whole universe.

Jesus’ final words, “It is finished!” (vs. 30) really means “Paid in full”.  We all have a sin debt that must be paid, but we have no way to pay it. Jesus took our sin upon Himself, and wiped those sins out with His Blood (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20).  No one can condemn us now, as Jesus paid the penalty in full. With His death, the sacrificial system of the Jewish Law ended.

Many non believers have argued that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but passed out, and later revived in the coolness of the tomb. The Apostle John squashes that argument in verses 32-35. The soldier’s spear pierced the sac which surrounds the heart, and which contains a clear fluid (looking like water).  By piercing this sac, the heart was also pierced. This is proof that Jesus was dead, not just passed out. In addition to John being a witness to this, the Roman soldiers were impartial witnesses.  They had seen enough executions to know when someone was dead or not.

All that Jesus went through on that first Good Friday, the flogging, verbal and physical abuse, carrying a heavy cross through the streets, and crucifixion, He endured for love of us.  “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Run The Race

Hebrews 12:1-3

Do you enjoy running?  Many people do, often taking part in marathons. In Chicago, where I live, there is an annual marathon every October.  Whether one is running in a marathon or a 100 meter dash, the athlete doesn’t want to be loaded down with extra weight.  Imagine running the marathon wearing a backpack loaded with bricks! No one would ever do that! They also need to concentrate and push on with endurance.  The Bible often compares our Christian life to running in a race, and our passage today from Hebrews is an example.

The writer of Hebrews begins our passage by reminding the readers that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (vs. 1).  The witnesses he was referring to included all of the believers that he had just spoken about in the previous chapter, those who had gone on before us, and are now with the Lord. Believers running the Christian race can be inspired by the godly example of saints who have gone before, whose examples of faith encourage us to live godly lives. Others have run the race of faith, and have won.  Their witness and example should inspire us.

The Lord in His Word here compares our Christian life to running a race.  An athlete does not want to be loaded down by extra weight when competing.  As believers we should not be encumbered by sin, habits, legalistic rules, etc.  We need to give up whatever endangers our relationship with Jesus. What is hindering your walk with the Lord?  Some type of entertainment? A pastime that keeps you out of church? Questionable companions? Grumbling and impatience? Whatever it is, like the bricks in the backpack, we need to toss them out. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can fight sin, and keep running steadily.  He will enable us to run with endurance, with a steady determination to keep going, not slowing down or giving up.

A runner, whether in a marathon or running a short sprint, needs to keep his eyes on the goal, on the finish line.  If he starts gazing up at the sky, or something along the path, he can easily start to slow down, get distracted, and maybe even get off track.  In our Christian life a believer needs to keep his eyes on Jesus (vs. 2). If we keep looking at others or at our circumstances we will stumble or fall. Jesus is the object of our faith and salvation, and our example. He kept His eyes on His goal, which was to be the sacrifice for our sins, and open the gates of heaven for those who accepted Him, and then be crowned King of Glory in heaven.

Even though the cross was horrific, Jesus had joy, knowing He had accomplished the Father’s will.  Running a race is hard, exhausting work, but it is worth it when you cross the finish line. Our race may be a difficult one, but as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can endure what path the Father has us travel on, for the joy that will await us at the finish.  Jesus is our example of willingness to suffer in obedience to God (vs. 3). He faced hostility and endured the cross. What we go through is nothing compared with Jesus’s suffering.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus and following the instructions He gave us in His Word, the Bible, is vitally important.  A pilot needs to totally trust his instrument panel in the aircraft, and not necessarily in what he sees out the window, especially when visibility has disappeared due to weather.  A pilot can lose sight of the horizon, sky, earth, and experience spatial disorientation. If he relies on his sight, he can end up with a disastrous, fatal crash. In the same way, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, totally trusting Him and His Word.

In a race it is not important how one starts, but rather how one finishes.  We get the prize for crossing the finish line, not for a great start. We need to run with endurance the race set before us.  The great cloud of witnesses will be waiting for us as we cross the finish line, cheering us on home!

Monday, April 15, 2019

The King Of Glory

Psalm 24

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day when the Church remembers the triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.  Psalm 24 also speaks of the Lord as the King of Glory, entering into the gates of the city. Let’s take a look at this psalm as we also reflect on the events of Palm Sunday.

Psalm 24 was written by King David, possibly in honor of when the Ark of the Covenant was moved from the house of Obed-Edom into the city of Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:10-12).  The Ark had been captured by the Philistines years earlier. Then, after many years, the Ark was returned, making a stop at the home of a man named Obed-Edom for awhile before moving on to Jerusalem. As the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized God’s presence with His people, came into David’s capital city, he wrote verses of praise to the Lord, particularly verses 7 - 10 of our passage. He pictured even the gates and doors along the city walls opening in praise and honor to God as the Ark returned.

While the Ark was gone, being held captive by their enemies, the Philistines, it might have seemed to the people that Yahweh had lost His power, and that the gods of their enemies now had control in the world.  David proclaimed in verses 1 - 2 that Yahweh was the creator of the earth and all that is in it, and had never lost His power.  He will never relinquish His sovereignty over the earth to anyone.  God is in control. He is on the throne, and all creation belongs to Him.

Many hundreds of years later, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom David, the prophets, and godly believers had looked forward to, had come. Jesus had spent the previous three years teaching and instructing His disciples, and preaching the message of the Kingdom of God to the people. Many people accepted His teachings, but He also made many enemies, particularly among the Pharisees and other religious leaders.  Now, five days before He would be captured and executed, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem upon a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11). Crowds gathered, many singing His praises and waving palm branches. Others, particularly the Pharisees, were in angry, sullen silence.

Why were the people praising Jesus?  Many in the crowd were expecting a military leader as their Messiah.  They wanted someone who would overthrow the Romans, kick them out of the country, and bring a great king like David and Solomon of the past.  This Jesus seemed like a good one to overthrow the Romans. Others might have just been joining others in the crowd. They might not really have known who Jesus was, but joined in the parade to have a good time.  Then there were those who had truly followed Him, accepting His message, believing He was God’s Son, who came to save them from their sins.

That ride into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday must have been a bittersweet one as Jesus knew the hearts of these people. The one group’s praise was true, as they knew and believed that Jesus was the true King of Glory.  The other’s praise was hollow and false. Within a few short days they would be standing in the public square shouting out to Pontius Pilate that Jesus should be crucified (Matthew 27:17-25).  The very people whom He came to save would reject and kill Him (John 1:11). The Philistines had returned the Ark of the Covenant relatively unharmed, but the people who were praising Jesus one day would kill Him, the Son of God and their Messiah.

Today there are many people who think Jesus is a “good guy”, a great philosopher or teacher.  They are ready and willing to give Him some praise or accolades when in some crowds, but when in another crowd they quickly deny Him.  They are embarrassed to appear religious or one who believes the Bible. They are just like those that Palm Sunday - praise Him one day, scream for Him to be put to death the next.  Which group do you belong in? Those whose praise is false and hollow, or those who truly acclaim Jesus the King of Glory?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Passover

Exodus 12:1-14

If you knew that your life was in danger, that for certain you would die unless you did one thing, wouldn’t you want to find out what that one thing was, and then be sure to do it?  This week we mark the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. One of the final things He did with His apostles was to celebrate the Passover, and then instituting the Last Supper remembrance.  Our reading for today tells the background of the Passover celebration, and what this celebration is really all about. Let’s look into the Scriptures and see what we can learn.

For several hundred years the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had been enslaved by the Egyptians. After many years of servitude God raised up Moses to confront Pharaoh, and to bring down upon him and the nation the ten plagues.  Most of us have heard of them, the plagues of frogs, lice, locusts, darkness, etc. The final plague would be the worst and most devastating one, one that would finally convince Pharaoh to let the people go.  The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn throughout all the land of Egypt. God, however, would make a distinction between His people and the Egyptians, in those who believed in and followed Him, and those who didn’t. God gave Moses some simple instructions to give the people to follow in order to be spared death. If they obeyed and followed these, they would be spared from the death angel.

The instructions were really rather simple.  The people were to take a lamb that was perfect, with no blemishes or faults, kill it at twilight, and then roast it. They were to take the blood and apply it to the doorposts and lintel. When the Lord would pass through the land He would see the blood applied to the house, and would pass over them.  The blood of the lamb would separate them from the others, and they would not be killed.

The lamb was innocent - innocent blood was shed to deliver the people from death.  It was a substitute for the person who would have died in the plague. Today we are not at risk of being killed by a death plague like with Moses, but everyone is at risk of spiritual and eternal death.  To be spared from this death an innocent life must be sacrificed in our place. The lamb also needed to not have any flaws. It had to be perfect. Who is completely innocent of any faults, having no flaws or mistakes, and is perfect who could take my place so that I will not suffer eternal death?

Jesus was the perfect, the sinless Son of God.  He lived a perfect and sinless life (Hebrews 4:14).   Just as the lamb that was selected on that night of the final plague had to be without any fault or flaws, so Jesus was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us (John 1:29, 36).  Anything less than the sinless Son of God would not be a fit sacrifice. Jesus is the real, the true Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7). The people had to apply the blood of that slain lamb to their doorposts in order to be spared death from the death angel.  Jesus delivers from sin and death all who apply His Blood to themselves.

Verse 6 states that the passover lamb was to be slain at twilight. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian at the time of Christ, the passover lamb was traditionally slain at 3 pm.  That way there was time to prepare the passover dinner to be eaten at evening. Jesus was crucified at noon at the beginning of Passover, and died at 3 pm. He truly is the true Passover Lamb.

If we believe that Jesus is who He says He is - the Lamb of God that died for the sins of the world, we are to apply His sinless Blood to our life.  When we die our natural death, God will look to see if the Blood of His Son has been applied. If He sees it, then He will pass over, and we will not suffer eternal death.  As verse 13 states, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Be sure that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, and His Blood has been applied to your heart!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Parable Of The Vineyard

Luke 20:9-19

How well do we heed warnings?  Some people need to be told only once, and they listen.  Others need several warnings before they listen. Then there are the ones who will never listen, never heed the warning, and bring their own doom upon themselves.  Our reading today from the Gospel of Luke is the parable of the wicked vinedressers, telling the lesson of those who refused to heed God’s call.

Jesus had recently entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey, to the cheers and acclamation of the people.  Now, a day or two later, He told this parable to the people who gathered around him, including many of the Jewish religious leaders.  The parables that Jesus frequently told were more than just stories to entertain the crowds. They were told by Him to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.

This parable tells of a man who had a vineyard for which he hires tenant farmers to tend the vineyard while he leaves the country for an extended period of time.  At the harvest season the owner sends servants to receive the crop. However, the tenant farmers mistreat the many servants sent by the owner. Finally he decides to send his son, thinking they will respect him.  The response is just the opposite. Seeing it was the son and heir, the farmers decide to cast him out of the vineyard and kill him.

The vineyard was a common symbol for the Jewish nation in Old Testament Scriptures, familiar with all of Jesus’ listeners (Isaiah 5:2).  God is the landowner, and the vinedressers or tenant farmers are the Jewish leaders of the day (vs. 1). The messengers or servants that the owner sent represent the prophets sent by God to bring His message to the people (vs. 10-11).  The true prophets of God were frequently rejected and mistreated by both the political and religious leaders of the nation. Now God has sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to the nation of Israel. How were they going to treat Him? Jesus knew, and the conclusion of this parable foretells exactly how the religious leaders would treat the Son of God (vs. 13-15).  They took hold of Him and executed Him outside of the city.

As Jesus concludes this parable, He tells what happens to those tenant farmers (vs. 15-16).  Should the owner of the vineyard just shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh well”, and ignore the treatment given to his messengers and especially his son?  No, Jesus says that he will take the vineyard and give it to others. The behavior of the original tenant farmers brings down divine judgment. The kingdom and spiritual blessings will be given to other vinedressers - the church, which consists mainly of Gentiles (Romans 11:11).

The religious leaders take offense at this parable, since they knew it was directed to them.  They reacted with hostility. Jesus then quotes to them Psalm 118:22. Jesus is the stone which was rejected, which becomes the chief cornerstone in God’s redemption plan (vs. 17).  He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to unbelievers. This is a reference to what the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 8:13-15. The Jewish leaders’ rejection of the Messiah had been prophesied in Scripture.  Ignoring the capstone or cornerstone is dangerous. A person could be tripped or crushed. Rejecting the Messiah, the Savior Jesus, brings judgment and punishment. However, rather than taking warning, the religious leaders proceed with their plots, falsely arresting Jesus later in the week and having Him crucified.

How do we respond to the message God sends us?  When a preacher brings a message that follows true to God’s Word, what is our response?  The world mocks those who faithfully preach from the Bible. In some places in the world they may be assaulted or even killed.   Do not be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, rejecting the message that God sends us. Let us accept Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone, and build our life upon Him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Forgetting The Past And Pressing Toward The Goal

Philippians 3:8-14

Many people have, at one time or another, made a resume.  They list the jobs and positions they have held, their accomplishments, and all of their education. Everyone wants to present themselves in the best possible light, especially if they wish to impress someone for a new job or advancement in their position. They are proud of their education, proud of their accomplishments.

The Apostle Paul would have had a very impressive resume. Growing up as a devout Jewish man, he had all of the accomplishments that such a man would wish.  He was born around 5 AD, of pure Jewish heritage, with no gentile blood. He had a prestigious Jewish education under the great rabbi, Gamaliel, and strictly followed the teachings of the Pharisees (Philippians 3:5; Acts 22:3). As a proud and faithful Pharisee, he even persecuted early Christians, supporting their execution. All things a devout Jewish man would be proud of. Then, following his conversion to the Lord Jesus, he devoted the remainder of his life spreading the message of salvation all across the Mediterranean. Indeed, Paul’s resume would have been very impressive.

Paul knew he had excellent credentials and accomplishments, both before he was saved and after, yet he knew they were nothing.  He needed Jesus. That is why Paul counted all things a loss compared to knowing Jesus (vs. 8). Everything Paul had ever done, and it was a lot, was nothing. It was a loss, compared with knowing Christ.  Our relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else. Knowing Him more should be our ultimate goal.  To “know” Christ is not meaning to have intellectual knowledge of Him. It means to know experientially or personally, a shared life with Christ. Everything else was garbage to Paul.

No amount of keeping religious laws or efforts can make us right with God. Our righteousness comes only from God, by trusting in Jesus Christ (vs. 9). Any thinking that righteousness comes from keeping religious laws is proud self-righteousness, external morality, and religious rituals.  It is produced by the flesh, and cannot save us from sin. Paul gave up everything that he had achieved in his life prior to coming to Christ, in order to know Him and His resurrection (vs. 10-11). Paul knew that knowing Jesus was more than worth the sacrifice of anything he gave up.  For those who have accepted Jesus as Savior, His crucifixion marks the death of their old sinful nature. By raising Himself from the dead, Jesus displayed His power over both the physical and spiritual worlds. His resurrection gives believers Jesus’ power to live for Him (vs. 10-11).

Paul pursued sanctification, living his life for Christ, with all of his might.  He pressed on to win the prize. We should not let anything take our eyes off of our goal of knowing Christ (vs. 12).  Lay aside everything harmful and everything that distracts us from growing as a Christian, just like an athlete does when training.  Paul did this by forgetting the things of the past (vs. 13-14). He wanted one thing in life, and that was to be like Christ. He was not going to rely on past virtuous deeds and achievements, or to dwell on his sins or failures. That is an example we should follow, as well. We can’t dwell on the past, either our accomplishments, victories, or defeats. Paul tells us to forget what is behind. This included for Paul forgetting the wrongs done against him. He didn’t keep a “hate list”, and neither should we.

What if we’ve done some rather bad things in our past?  Wouldn’t that stop us from serving Jesus? Paul didn’t let his past, including his persecution of Christians, to stop his work for Jesus.  Our hope is in Christ. We can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become. To best accomplish this we need to concentrate on our relationship with Jesus now.  As believers, we are forgiven. Move on in faith and obedience, and keep moving forward and making progress.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Captive Set Free

Psalm 126

A lifetime spent as a slave or spent in prison is not a pleasant one, as we can surely imagine.  Picture then how relieved the prisoner is when the warden comes to tell him that his sentence is over, he’s done his time and he is free to go.  The cell door is opened, he’s given his belongings, and walked to the front gate. There is rejoicing with the slave when the master comes and tells him that he is set free, free to go where he wants and do what he wants.  The slave is now a free man. Our psalm for today tells of the rejoicing when the captive people of Israel were set free to return to their homeland.

The kingdom of Babylon had taken the kingdom of Judah into captivity in the year 598 BC.  In 538 BC, after the Persian king Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire, the Jewish exile ended, and the first group of exiles returned.  Many more followed over the next several decades. This was a time of great rejoicing for the people. Their release from captivity was so unexpected, it seemed like a dream (vs. 1).  When the Hebrew people were released from their captivity and allowed to return to their homeland, the surrounding people and nations took notice of what God was doing (vs. 2). This was not something that could be kept hidden, nor was it anything that the people wanted kept secret.  They acknowledged to themselves and to each other the marvelous things the Lord was doing for them (vs. 3).

Today, most likely you are not being held captive as a slave to anyone.  Perhaps someone has spent some time in prison for one reason or another. However, there are other ways one can be held captive.  People can be held captive to all sorts of addictions, whether drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, etc. Before one is saved, we are all servants or slaves to sin, as Jesus tells us in John 8:34. When we come to Christ, though, accepting Him as our Savior, He sets us free from the captivity to sin. We no longer need be held in bondage by whatever Satan has held us captive. God’s power not only releases us from sin’s captive hold, it brings us back to Him.  Like the Hebrews in our Psalm, we can rejoice. And like them, we should let others know, especially the unsaved, what a change in our lives Jesus has made.

As we continue reading in our Scripture passage, the Hebrew people prayed to God for Him to bless them, and to restore their fortune (vs. 4).  God promised in the prophet Joel 2:25, that He would restore to us what Satan has stolen. It might not necessarily be in the same way, and it might not necessarily be restored in material blessings. However, what the Lord will give us will make up for the years that the devil stole.

As we conclude our psalm, the psalmist writes about sowing and reaping, sowing in sorrow, but reaping in joy (vs. 5-6).  We can have tears because of the wasted years in our life when we were captive to sin. There are also certainly tears we shed from the trials and afflictions we endure all throughout our life, even after salvation. Our tears can be seed that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of tragedy. Our life will not be free from all hardship, but our tears are seeds that will one day bloom into joy.

Jesus often spoke of the seed being the Word of God, and bringing forth a harvest of souls for the kingdom of God, that the harvest was ready, but laborers being few.  As believers we are to work for the Lord to bring in that harvest of souls into the Kingdom. The work can be difficult, and we may often weep over our lost family, friends, or loved ones.  Do we weep over the lost condition of a son or daughter, over a spouse or parent? Do we weep knowing our friends are unsaved? They may turn a deaf ear to us, or even mock or ridicule us. All the more we should cry out to God for their salvation. We are promised that if we sow in tears, bearing the seed while weeping, we shall come again with rejoicing, bringing in a harvest.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Ridding Ourselves Of Harmful Baggage

Isaiah 43:16-21

Some people enjoy hiking and camping out in the backwoods or mountains. They pack what they need into a backpack and off they go. Experienced hikers know that they do not want to carry extra baggage in their packs, as it will only needlessly weigh them down. The same can be said for those who prefer to travel with a suitcase on a plane. Don’t pack useless things one would never need, especially since some airlines have a weight limit for baggage.  This is good advice for us as we go through life. As we open up our Bibles to our passage from the prophet Isaiah, I would like to mainly focus on verses 18 and 19.

Many people, myself definitely included, have been carrying around baggage from the past, throughout our lives, that weighs us down. We have this large, invisible backpack that we carry, and it is filled with all sorts of things, some good, but a lot that is not good.  The bad things could include bad habits that we have, memories of negative events of our past that we refuse to give to God and let go of, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc.  The good things could include when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, the wonderful children we’ve raised, the good we’ve done to help others, etc. In verse 18, the Lord tells us to forget the bad of the past. Don’t carry it around anymore. Just like the hiker goes through his backpack and throws out what he doesn’t need that is weighing him down. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in Philippians 3:13-14. He had plenty in his past that could have weighed him down if he had let it, such as persecuting Christians, and cursing the Name of the Lord Jesus.  However, when he accepted Jesus as his Savior, he knew to give his past and its mistakes to God, and then empty them out of his “invisible backpack”. Don’t dwell on the past. All it does is tire us and weigh us down.

Sometimes in an action/thriller movie we see the main character running down an alley, trying to escape from the “bad guys”, and he runs into a dead end.  We wonder how he will escape. There are times in our own life where we seem to be trapped in a dead end, with no way of escape. The things that are chasing us might be financial troubles, bad health, relationships that are estranged, and many other problems, and we have no way out.  Isaiah tells us in verse 19 that we need to seek the Lord. He has promised us that He will make a road in the wilderness. A wilderness or a desert is no place to get lost in. One can quickly die of thirst with the merciless sun beating down. One can get bit by a poisonous snake or meet up with some other dangerous animal.  However, if you find a road or a pathway out, you’re in luck. God said He would make that road for us.

Verse 19 also says that God will do a new thing for us.  At the time of Isaiah the prophet, around 740 BC - 686 BC, people worshipped many false gods.  They believed that some of the gods wanted or demanded human sacrifices. At times even some of the Jewish people fell into that hideous practice.  However, Yahweh, the one true God, did something totally new, which the followers of the false gods had never heard of before. Yahweh became a man, one who would live and then die as a sacrifice for our sins, rising to life again on the third day.  He became the sacrifice that we needed! The past miracles would be nothing compared to what God would do for His people in the future. Their deliverance in the past would be like nothing in comparison to the deliverance in the future.

We have the advantage over Isaiah, in that he could only look forward, knowing that God was promising to do something great and new for His people.  We know that the Lord Jesus came to be our substitutionary sacrifice. Let us praise Him for that new, unheard of before depth of love and mercy He has offered us, praise Him for making a way for us in the wilderness, and for taking our past with its sins and mistakes.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

The Gospel reading for this week from the Book of Common Prayer’s lectionary is a passage that is familiar to many. It is the parable that Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  Jesus told many stories to the people that taught spiritual lessons. The Prodigal Son and The Good Samaritan are perhaps the most beloved. Let’s take a closer look at this parable today, and see if we can learn something new.

As the parable begins, we are introduced to a small, but very wealthy family consisting of a man and his two adult sons.  The younger son comes to his father and demands his share of the inheritance (vs. 12). This son asking for his inheritance while his father was still alive was basically saying that he wished his father was dead, as he was not entitled to anything until then.  The father divided the inheritance, though probably reluctantly, and gave this young man his share. The younger son took it and promptly left, going to a far country to live a “wild” life (vs. 13). The Greek word for “prodigal” means “dissolute”, conveying the idea of a totally debauched lifestyle.

After an unspecified length of time, the younger son had spent all of the large inheritance he had been given.  About the same time a famine came, leaving him destitute (vs. 14-16). The only job he could find was as a farmhand, feeding the pigs.  Feeding pigs would have been abhorrent to any Jew. He had fallen to the lowest rung, and was so destitute that he was willing to eat pig slop.  “No one gave him anything” - all of his so-called friends were around when he had money, but left when he was broke!

Finally, in this lowly condition, the younger son started to think straight.  He came to his right mind, his right senses (vs. 17). Destitute and hungry, he is a picture of one who is a candidate for salvation, knowing that he can do nothing to help himself.  He now understood the gravity of his transgressions against his father (vs. 18-19).

In this parable the younger son is the picture of the penitent sinner who returns to God the Father.  The father is a picture of God, who is eager to forgive, and longing for the return of the sinner. God has great joy, and there is celebrating in heaven when a sinner repents. However, the elder son illustrates the wickedness of the Pharisees’ self-righteousness, prejudice, and indifference toward repenting sinners, as we will shortly see.

The father had been waiting and looking for his son’s return (vs. 20). Daily he must have stood looking out across the fields towards the road, looking for his son’s familiar form.  Every time he went into town he must have looked around, asking if anyone had news or knew about his boy. Finally he sees the son coming, and he gathers up his robes and runs to welcome him back! (vs. 20-21).  God is not indifferent to sinful man, but is a Savior, longing to see sinners repent, and rejoices when they do.

God is always eager to forgive.  As represented by the father, rather than take the son back as a servant, making him grovel because of his sins, he embraces him as a son. He would not take his son back as a hired hand, but only as a beloved son.  The father gave him a robe to wear (vs. 22). This was traditionally reserved for guests of honor. The ring was a symbol of authority. The son got an honored position back. Sandals were not generally worn by slaves back then. The fatted calf (vs. 23) was reserved for the most special of occasions.

What about the elder son?  How did he react when his brother returned home? (vs. 25-32) He represents the Pharisees, who were seemingly close to God in outward appearance, but who had no real, genuine love for Him.  They had no joy, no interest in repentant sinners. This son was angry, just like the complaining scribes and Pharisees. He does not recognize or admit his own sins, acting very self-righteous, just like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11.  He had deep contempt for his brother, not even calling him his brother, and also for his father, begrudging the love that the father had to his brother.

There are many people who have wandered away from God and have ended up in Satan’s pigpen, feeding off of his slop.  How many people are out there, thinking they can never go back home, never go to God the Father, not after the life they have led?  Leaving God’s will takes us into a far country, one ruled over by Satan, a place where we make foolish decisions and end up in trouble. However God is waiting with open and outstretched arms to receive you! Do not hesitate another day, but like the prodigal son, return to the Father. And for those who already dwell with the Father, we need to be sure to welcome the repentant sinners into the fold, not with any self-righteous, pharisaical attitudes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Reconciled To God

II Corinthians 5:17-21

Every once in awhile I hear the sad story of people who have had some terrible argument, and are now hostile and estranged from each other.  It might be an adult child who tells his parents he never wishes to see them again as he walks out. Perhaps it is the parent who kicks his teenage or adult child out, telling them to never darken the doorway again.  Maybe two, once close friends are now not talking to each other. For whatever the reason, they need someone to step in the middle and attempt a reconciliation between them. Since the days of Adam and Eve, mankind has been estranged from God due to our sins.  We have needed someone to bridge that gap for us, to come and bring reconciliation between man and God. In our passage today we read how that was accomplished.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote this second letter to the Corinthian church, starts off this passage by describing how when believers first come to faith in Christ, they become a new creature, we experience a new birth (vs. 17).  Our sins are forgiven, paid for by Jesus’ substitutionary death. After the new birth, our old value systems, priorities, beliefs, and loves are replaced. Evil and sin are still present, but we view them in a new perspective, and they no longer control us. When someone comes to Christ and accepts Him as their Savior, they are not merely turning over a new leaf. They are beginning a new life with a new Master. This is all accomplished by God. He wants sinful men to be reconciled to Himself, and He calls believers to proclaim to others the Gospel of reconciliation (vs. 18).

One may ask how was this reconciliation accomplished?  Paul goes on to explain in the next verses. God used His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the only acceptable and perfect sacrifice, as the means to reconcile sinners to Himself (vs. 19).  God offers this reconciliation to everyone, regardless of race or status. However not everyone takes and accepts it. Those who accept will receive atonement. Those who don’t will pay the price.

The heart of the Gospel is explained in verse 21, and tells how sinners can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the sinless Son of God. However, God the Father treated Jesus, while on the cross, as if He was a sinner, though He was not.  He had Jesus die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him. God will not allow sin in His presence (Habakkuk 1:13).  The penalty of sin is death and separation from God for eternity (Romans 6:23). Jesus did not become a sinner.  He remained as holy as He ever was.  Jesus was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins committed by all who would believe, though He committed none. The wrath of God fell on Jesus, and the just requirement of God was met for those for whom He died. Thus, sinners who believe are made righteous. Jesus bore our sins so that we can bear His righteousness. God treated Jesus as if He had committed the sins, and those who accept Him as Savior as if we did Jesus’ righteous deeds.

When we accept Jesus as Savior, we are no longer God’s enemies, strangers, or foreigners to Him.  We have been reconciled, and now we have the task of telling others to be likewise reconciled. We have been given the job of an ambassador (vs 20).  An ambassador is a representative of the ruler and government of one country to the ruler and government of another. We are to represent the King of heaven to those on earth, bringing the Gospel, and pleading with them to be reconciled to God.

Have you been reconciled to God?  If not, as an ambassador of the King of heaven, I come to you today to urge you to admit your sins, and to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made on your behalf.  Ask Him into your heart and accept Him as your Savior. Be reconciled to God today!