Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Precious Blood Of Jesus

I Peter 1:17-23

Blood is a vitally important part of life.  Without enough blood in our bodies we will die very quickly.  Remove the blood and you remove life.  When someone is very sick or has had a bad accident, often they will need a blood transfusion, where the blood of someone else is given to them.  This is done in order to save their life.  Naturally one would be very grateful to the person or people who donated their blood, especially if this was a very critical, life-or-death circumstance.  In the Scripture passage today, the Apostle Peter reminds us believers of Someone else’s Blood which gave something more important than a temporary physical life, but eternal life.  Let’s take a look.

What do you consider precious in your life?  Perhaps your family members.  Maybe a valuable heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation.  In verse 19 of our passage we see what Peter considered precious to him, and that was the Blood of Jesus.  Some people might bristle at that, finding the mention of shed blood distasteful and not suitable to be talked about in polite company.  That type of thinking has even moved into the Christian Church, as in today’s Christian culture the Blood of Jesus is not mentioned much.  Many Christians and churches want a sanitized version of salvation.  They talk about grace, forgiveness, and love, but do not mention the Blood of Jesus.  Blood is considered offensive.  However, do we not realize that without the shedding of the Blood of Jesus Christ there would be no salvation?

How many churches today won’t sing the great hymns that tell of Jesus’ Precious Blood, such as “Nothing But the Blood”, “Power in the Blood”, and others?  They are ashamed of them.  They feel that such hymns are too offensive and not appropriate in today’s “seeker sensitive” type ministries.  If we remove all of the blood from a body, all we have remaining is a lifeless corpse.  If we remove the Blood of Jesus from the Bible, it is just nothing more than historical literature.  If we remove the Blood of Jesus from Christianity, there is no salvation for anyone, and we, each one of us, are lost for eternity.  How can we forget that Jesus shed His blood for us!

Jesus gave His life, a high price to pay, to make us part of His family.  Our blood can be used to help others if our blood type matches.  That help is only temporary, till one dies, which we all do eventually.  However, Jesus’ Blood is the only one who can save sinful souls.  The price of our redemption was the precious Blood of Jesus.

Peter continues on describing Jesus as a lamb without blemish or spot (vs. 19). John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).  In the Old Testament there were specific requirements as to the type of lamb that would be acceptable for sacrifices.  The lambs needed to be as perfect as possible, without any faults.  The lamb could not have any broken or damaged limbs, no scars, or any fault in its fleece.  Just as the sacrificial lambs were to be without any flaws, Jesus was perfect and without sin.  He was the true Lamb of God, who poured out His Blood, His precious Blood as Peter said, for our salvation.

Jesus’ death upon the cross was no accident, no bad chance of fate.  His death was foreordained from eternity past, before the foundation of the world (vs. 20).  It was not something that God thought up as a plan B, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  Jesus planned from all eternity past to shed His Blood for you and me.

If someone sacrificed their life to save us, wouldn’t we be thankful and be grateful?  Of course we would!  The life they gave for us, the blood they shed, would be precious in our eyes.  We would not be ashamed of it, would we?  The Blood of Jesus should always and forever be precious in our sight!  Without that Blood, we are lost.  It is, indeed, Precious Blood!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Deliverance From Death

Psalm 116

Death has been mankind's enemy, that dark spectre that has hung just behind our shoulder since shortly after being cast out of the Garden of Eden.  We fear death for ourselves and for our loved ones, and when it strikes we grieve deeply.  Today’s psalm from an unknown author, relates the great fear the psalmist had when he came close to death.  He cried out in prayer to God, and gave thanks to Him for his deliverance.

This psalm is the personal testimony of passing through the deep valley of grief.  He tells first of his love for the Lord who saw him through distress, sorrow, and grief.  Then his desire to give God thanks for seeing him through this difficult time.  Praise and thanksgiving should be the natural result of answered prayer.

We don’t know the specifics of the situation the psalmist faced.  It could have been a near-fatal illness that he had.  Perhaps he faced some enemy, coming close to being killed.  Maybe there was some type of accident, or other dangerous situation that found himself in.  Since we don’t know what it was, no matter what life-threatening situation we may ever be in, we can relate to this Scripture.  Also, though the passage appears to deal with being delivered from physical death, it could also be recited by one saved from spiritual death, as well.

What do we do when God seems silent to us?  There are times, often very desperate times, when we pray and we hear nothing back.  When the terrible situation we are in, the deadly illness we or a loved one has, gets steadily worse, where is God?  We are tempted to give up on God and turn away from Him.  That is a mistake.  Believers, instead, should press in to Him, and not pull away.  Praise Him out loud for what He will do for us.

When we are afraid, we lose confidence and doubt God’s goodness.  We are like the disciples in the boat during the storm.  Remember, Jesus is in the boat with us.  God is responsive to those who have put their faith and trust in Him (vs. 2).  We can always reach Him.  God is always near us, listening to our prayers.  When no one else sees, God sees.  When no one else cares, God cares.  He sees.  He hears.  God’s timing is always perfect.

It is good to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and the hope that we have in Him (vs. 5-9).  Faced with this desperate situation, the psalmist looked back at previous times the Lord came to his rescue.  Looking back reminded him that God was One who could be trusted and relied on.  One way for us to remember would be to spend some time naming the many ways God has been good to us.  The same God who has been faithful in the past will continue His love for us in the future.  His goodness can keep us filled with His peace.

When we pray to the Lord, we don’t always see His answer right away.  However, believers are to walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7).  Those who really believe in Jesus should speak of their beliefs to others (vs. 10, II Corinthians 4:13-15).  When we share with others what the Lord has done for us, we might give hope and the beginnings of faith to others who are going through a similar difficult time.

What price can we put on our deliverance? (vs. 12)  God needs nothing, and there is no price on His free mercy and grace.  There is nothing we can ever do to earn salvation.  Our salvation was bought with the price of the Blood of Jesus, and comes to us through faith, not by our works.  When He answers our prayers, that is through His love for us.  The only acceptable gift we can give is our obedience and thanksgiving.

What about the times when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we would wish, when perhaps a loved one dies?  Verse 15 contains a special answer to that.  The Word of God says that the death of a believer is precious in His sight.  Believers are precious to God.  He carefully chooses the time when they will be called into His presence.  When a believer dies, God rejoices that another one of His children has entered His eternal presence.  We will grieve their passing, but we should also rejoice, knowing that they are now with the Savior.  We should always remember - death is not the end, but a new beginning.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Through Fire And Water

Isaiah 43:1-3, 10-12

“Hey you!”  Sometimes that’s how we are called when the other person doesn’t know our name.  We might not think that’s a big deal if it’s a stranger calling us, but if it is someone who really should know our name, like our teacher, boss, or neighbor, that’s another matter.  Names are important.  We can feel rather insignificant when someone who should know our name doesn’t even bother to know or use it.  How about God?  In this week’s Old Testament reading from the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer we will learn whether God knows and cares enough about each one of us.

There are many of us who go through life feeling very insignificant and unloved or cared about.  We are just a “Hey you!”  Or we are known by some nick-name that is really a put-down, like “Skinny”, “Fatty”, or “Freckles” because others couldn’t be bothered to learn our real name.  As the Prophet Isaiah opens our Scripture passage today, he lets us know that Yahweh, our Creator God, knows each and every one of us by our name (vs. 1).  Today in 2020 there are approximately 8 billion people on earth, yet God knows each of us individually.  He knows and loves us enough that He calls us by our individual name.  We are not just that anonymous person at work or school, or in the neighborhood.  We are not just a Social Security number to God.  We are a special person to Him, with a name He knows and calls.

As Isaiah continues on in this passage, God not only knows our name, but He loves and cares enough about us that He also protects us throughout all of life’s trials and dangers (vs. 2).  God protects us in times of trouble.  We are important to Him.  Isaiah names two specific types of danger here that a person might go through in life, water and fire, but any type of danger would apply.  We all face raging waters and fires of adversity in life.  God promises that He will be with us as we go through these trials.  They will not overcome us if we trust Him.  No matter how deep the water we wade in, or how raging the river that comes against us in life, we will not be overwhelmed.  Jesus is with us.  His love for us is stronger than anything (Zephaniah 3:17).

Going through deep water or through fire all alone will harm or possibly kill us.  When we go through those, whether literally or figuratively, we should never do that in our own strength.  Take hold of Jesus’ hand, and have Him carry you through.  Fear tells us that God will not come through, and that we will be defeated.  We must never listen to fear!  Jesus tells us to not be afraid.  He will walk with us through any trial.  He cares for the tiniest of sparrows, and we are more valuable in His sight than they are (Matthew 10:31).  Just as Jesus was sovereignly in control over the storms on the Sea of Galilee, so He is over the storms and trials in our life.

The Bible says here in this passage “when”, not “if”.  Trials will come.  However, we can trust that God will be with us through them all.  He promises to bring us safely to the other side.  Why does He promise us that?  Why does He care about us individually, care about us enough to call us by our name?  As verse 3 tells us, it is because God loves us enough that He came to save us, He is our Savior.  We are His (vs. 1), as He bought us with His Blood, shed on Calvary.

Since we are God’s children, bought through the price of the life of His Son Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility to tell the world who God is, and all that He has done for us (vs. 10-11).  He has told us to be His witnesses, telling them that there is no other Savior except Jesus.  The false religions of the world have never had a god who loved the people who falsely worshipped them.  Their false religions never claim that their god knows them individually, nor protected and cared for them like Jesus does.  No matter what we go through, we can be confident that Jesus has not abandoned us, and never will!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Very Special Scars

John 20:19-31

Many people have various scars on their bodies, perhaps from surgeries or maybe an accident.  I have several.  On my left arm I have a large scar from when I shattered that arm in several places two years ago and needed surgery to repair it.  I have a scar on my right wrist, a scar from a burn, and a scar from a deep cut on my leg.   When you look at your scars you are reminded of what occurred to make them.  Those scars can “speak” to you, telling what you have been through.  In today’s study from the Gospel of John we will look at some very special scars that we should always keep in our memory.

As our Scripture passage opens, Jesus comes and appears to the disciples that first evening after His resurrection (vs. 19-20).  In order to reassure them that they were not seeing a ghost, Jesus shows them His hands and side, those scars where the nails had been driven through, and where the centurion's spear had been thrust.  They saw and believed that He truly had risen, just as the women had reported.

There was one of the disciples missing that evening, the Apostle Thomas.  Perhaps he was afraid to be in a group with the others since the Jewish religious leaders were threatening them, or maybe he just wanted to be alone with his grief.  Whatever his reason, Thomas was not there when Jesus appeared to the others that Resurrection Day evening.  Later that week when the ten disciples told Thomas of Jesus’ appearance to them, he scoffed, telling them that he would not believe unless he stuck his fingers into those scars (vs. 24-25).  Perhaps Thomas had watched the crucifixion from a distance, seeing when those scars were made on the Savior’s body.  Obviously those scars were important to him, marring the body of the Teacher he had loved, and now was dead.  The next Sunday evening Thomas was with the disciples when they were gathered together, and Jesus appeared to them again.  Calling Thomas over, Jesus showed him His scars, offering him the chance to look and touch them, and gently chiding him for his unbelief (vs. 26-27).

The various scars I have on my body, and those you might have too, are permanent in this life.  They don’t fade away.  They won’t wash away.  They are there until I die.  In heaven, in the glorified body all believers will have, those scars will be gone.  The scars that Jesus has, though, are permanent for eternity.  Even in His glorified and heavenly Body, those scars remain.  They show for all eternity the price that was paid for our salvation.   Jesus’ scars prove Him to be the Messiah.  They tell the story of our salvation.  It is a story of pain, caused by our sin and endured for love of us.

As Isaiah the prophet said, we are engraved into the palms of God’s hands (Isaiah 49:16).  When God looks at those scars on His hands, He sees your name and my name in there.  He loves each one of us so much that He died for us, receiving those scars for love of you and me.

Both Thomas and the disciples had trouble believing others' testimonies of the resurrection.  The women, particularly Mary Magdalene, had returned giving testimony of Jesus’ resurrection, and the ten had been slow to believe until Jesus appeared.  Then Thomas wouldn’t believe their testimony, either.  Jesus told us that those who do not need visual evidence of God and His power are especially blessed (vs. 29).  Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see.  When we are faced with uncertainty, do we trust in God’s unseen sovereignty and care for us?  Will we believe, even if we cannot see right now?  Even when we don’t see God at work in our situation we need to still trust Him.

We have all the proof we need in the Word of God.  Let’s take up our Bible, believe what is written there, and seek the Lord in faith.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Using Our Trials For Good

I Peter 1:3-9

Have you ever had someone tell you that they have both good news, and then some not-so-good news for you?  We all like the good news.  Give us that!  They can keep the not-so-good news to themselves, we are thinking.  Good news that we have an inheritance is always received with joy.  Especially an inheritance that is safe and secure.  The news that we have to go through some heavy trials, some very difficult times is not something we want to hear.  This is the news that the Apostle Peter gives as he starts his epistle message today.  However, as Peter looks at it, and as he teaches us, it all can be good news for believers.  Let’s look and see what the Word of God can teach us.

As Peter opens his letter to fellow believers, he shares with us some good news.  One piece of good news is that because Jesus rose from the dead and is alive, we have a living hope (vs. 3).  All that God has promised to those who trust in Him is guaranteed.  Those promises are not something that can be lost, so our hope can be sure and steadfast.  Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that God will honor all of His promises.  The reason God provided us with so glorious a salvation is because He is a merciful God.  That is also good news, because we need His mercy since we are sinners.  Once we have taken Jesus as our Savior, we have the hope of eternal life.  We can have confident optimism in all God has promised us.  This knowledge, and that He is always with us, should keep us going, even in the worst of times.

We have a new life that begins when we are saved.  Our hope is guaranteed by Jesus’ resurrection.  We also have an inheritance that is incorruptible (vs. 4-5).  It cannot be destroyed or tainted, and it lasts forever, which is more good news for us.  It is kept secure in heaven, guaranteed by God.  Ft. Knox, where the U.S. stores its gold reserves, is one of the safest, most secure places on earth. Yet as safe as that is, our inheritance kept in heaven, is far more secure.  God is keeping our inheritance for us. He has supreme power, omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign.  He will keep both our inheritance and us secure.  This inheritance will not pass away or decay, nor is it polluted or tainted with evil.  God has guaranteed this for us, and we can have confidence in Him based on the indestructible truth of God’s Word.

One thing that can be discouraging for believers, despite knowing that we have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven, is the many trials we go through while here in this life (vs. 6).  The Bible makes it clear that troubles are inevitable for God’s children.  As His followers, we can expect difficulty.   Peter encourages us to look past all of our troubles, and on to our eternal inheritance.  Whatever trials we have to endure in this life, our souls cannot be harmed if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.  We know we will receive the promised rewards.  For this we can greatly rejoice, despite any trials or problems we go through.

Our trials can show just how genuine our faith is.  It is genuine if we come through the trial still trusting God (vs. 7).  How would we know that we can trust God if we’ve never experienced a situation where only He could help us?  Trials allow our faith to be refined by fire, just like gold.  God uses everything that touches our lives for our good and His glory.

Let’s lift our eyes to God instead of focusing on our troubles.  If our hope is only in this life, we will have despair.  God has ensured that our tribulations accomplish His purposes.  He is sovereign over every adversity.  God uses trials to strengthen our faith.  Going through suffering, and yet remaining true to Christ gives a testimony to others about salvation and the Lord Jesus.  Going through our trials clinging closely to Jesus will make our faith stronger.  God can turn what may seem like bad news into something positive for us.

Monday, April 20, 2020

To Know And Love God

Psalm 111

Do you remember falling in love with someone?  One thing that a person in love does is try and find out all they can about that one they love.  They want to know about where their loved one lives, all about their job, their likes and dislikes.  They want to know what foods they enjoy, their taste in music, hobbies, etc. It is almost as if the one is studying the person they love.  The same should hold true for those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, as our psalm reading for this week tells us. Let’s look into this short psalm and see what it can teach us.

The psalmist begins by proclaiming his praise of the Lord, saying that he will praise the Lord with his whole heart (vs. 1).  This isn’t just a small love, or little praise, but one with the whole heart.  This is reminiscent of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38.  We are to love and praise God with all of our heart, completely, totally, and fully devoted.

When we love someone deeply we often tell others all the many things that we love about our loved one.  We will tell them that he or she did this or that wonderful thing for us. We tell others how smart we think our loved one is, how talented they are, what wonderful wavy hair they have, what beautiful blue eyes, etc.  Our psalmist spends most of this psalm telling many of the things about God that he loves (vs. 2-9). He begins saying how those who love God, and find pleasure in Him, will study all He has done. They will try to find out all they can about Him, and spend time in learning and studying all of His works (vs. 2).  This is done by reading and studying the Scriptures

God’s works are mentioned five times throughout these verses.  First, the psalmist tells us that all God does is honorable, glorious, and righteous (vs. 3).  The things He does are not evil, wicked, or harmful to us. That would be the realm of the devil, not God.  He is gracious to us, and full of compassion (vs. 4). He reminds us that God provides for our needs, giving us food, and remembers all of His promises to us (vs. 5).  All He does is done in truth and justice, and His work will last forever (vs. 7-8).

The psalmist saves the mention of God’s greatest work for last, and that is the redemption of mankind (vs. 9).   Scripture provides for us a solution for this great need, that of rescue from sin and eternal separation from God.  He has an eternal plan for rescuing us from our sin and allowing us to enjoy fellowship with Him. That was accomplished by the shed Blood of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus paid the price to free us from slavery to sin. He gave His life as a perfect sacrifice. Now all believers can freely approach God through prayer, and have Him in their lives through the Holy Spirit.

The final verse of this brief psalm tells us how we can obtain wisdom (vs. 10).  Everyone wants to have wisdom, and not go through life bumbling around, making mistakes, and amounting to nothing.  The only way to become truly wise is to fear God - to show Him due reverence and worship (Proverbs 1:7). It is not through life experiences or academic knowledge.  Our true wisdom depends upon our relationship with God. If we do not acknowledge God as the source of wisdom, our ability to make wise decisions will be faulty. We will make mistakes and foolish choices.  The more we obey God, the more insight and understanding He will give us. The more we know His Word, the more wisdom He will give.

Having a fear of God is having a healthy respect for God’s power and authority.  Having a reverence for Him, a combination of love, awe, and dependence built on an accurate knowledge of His power.  Genuine believers have a healthy fear of the Lord, which leads to respect for His commands, precepts, and principles.  Genuine faith in Jesus always results in learning what pleases Him, and then, very importantly, doing that.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Reminder Of A Promise

Genesis 8:6-16; 9:8-16

Most people would agree that keeping a promise is important, and promises really shouldn’t be made lightly.  No one likes having promises broken that were made to them, nor to be known as a promise-breaker. How about when we have to wait a long time for the promise to be fulfilled?  Do we give up hope? That probably depends on who made the promise, and what their track record is when it comes to keeping their word. Our Old Testament Scripture passage this week comes from the Book of Genesis, from the familiar account of Noah and the Ark.  As we study this passage, we see that Noah showed much patience and trust in God, and the fulfillment of His promises.

As we read earlier in the Book of Genesis, mankind had grown so terribly sinful that God decided to destroy everyone.  He instructed Noah to build an ark to save himself, along with a pair of each animal. When the ark was completed, Noah and his family, along with the assembled animals boarded the ark.  They were on the ark for seven whole days before God sent the rain (Genesis 7:4-10). Did Noah wonder if he had misunderstood God, or that this was sort of a joke? After a week God sent the rain.  It rained for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:12). That’s a long time. I enjoy a good thunderstorm, but if it continues steadily raining for more than a few days straight, I want to see the sun again!  The ark continued to drift upon the waters for many days before the tops of the mountains began to appear, and even more time before it came to rest (Genesis 8:1-5), and a while longer before the ground completely dried.  That is a long time. God had promised to protect him and his family. Throughout this whole time, in the midst of what must have been some terrifying times for Noah and his family, he kept trusting God, believing that He would keep His promises.

As we read in our passage, Noah sent out both a raven and a dove.  The raven kept flying until the waters completely receded. The dove, however, came back when she saw there was no dry land (vs. 9).  When the dove was sent out the first time, she could find no place to rest. She flew and flew, but there was no place for her to land.  So what did she do? She returned to the ark, a place of refuge, a symbol or type of Christ. There she was safe. We may wander all over the world looking for rest, but our rest can only come from Jesus.

After Noah sent out the dove a second time, she returned with an olive leaf, indicating that plant life had returned to the earth.  He waited an additional week, and then the Lord gave the okay to leave the ark (vs. 15-16). What if Noah had been impatient, and had left earlier?  Perhaps when the ark first landed on ground, or maybe when the dove had returned with the leaf? If Noah had been impatient and gone out earlier than God wanted, it would have been a mess with mud and muck!  Noah did not go out until God told him to, when it was safe to. When we rush ahead of God’s timetable we will find ourselves in a mess, in nothing but trouble. God knows best.

When Noah and his family were out of the ark, God gave them a special promise.  He promised to never again destroy the whole world by a flood (vs. 11). Throughout Scripture God gives two kinds of promises - conditional promises, and unconditional ones.  Conditional promises are dependent on our behavior. We do this, and God promises He will do that. Unconditional promises are not dependent upon us. What God promises will happen, no matter what.  It will stand. This promise to Noah and his family was an unconditional promise.  God has promised, no matter what, He will not flood the entire earth again. There have been devastating floods in various parts of the world, but never again one that floods the whole earth.  God has said, though, later in Scripture, that He will destroy the world by fire (II Peter 3:10-11, Revelation 20:9, and Revelation 21:1).

God gave the rainbow as a sign of His promise to Noah (vs. 13-16).  This is a symbol of God’s covenant to never destroy the whole world again with a flood.  God never breaks His promises. He promised Noah that He would protect them and the animals from the flood, and though they were on the ark for a long time, God kept that promise.  They emerged without any harm. Now God has given mankind His Word. The rainbow is a symbol of that promise. Each time we see a rainbow, we can remember God’s promise to us. Each of God’s promises are unbroken and unending.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Jesus Christ Is Our Only Road To Salvation

Acts 4:1-21

Sometimes it is possible to tell where someone has been, just by one look, or perhaps even by the smell.  Workers in coal mines would often come back home with the black coal dust on their faces and clothes. 19th century chimney sweeps would be covered in soot.  Coming back from a swimming pool, one might smell a bit like the chlorinated water. Working in a perfume factory, one might bring that scent with them, and get too close to a skunk and you certainly will!  Can anyone tell that we have been with Jesus? In our Scripture selection today from the Book of Acts, we read how the enemies of the Gospel knew that Peter and John had been with Jesus, it was so evident in their character and words.

Right prior to the start of our passage, Peter and John had just performed a miracle in the Name of Jesus, by healing a crippled man.  Peter followed up the healing with a message about salvation in Jesus Christ (Acts 3). This angered the Jewish religious leaders, including the high priest and elders.  They greatly objected to the apostles talking to the people about the resurrection of Jesus (vs. 1-7). They had executed Jesus as a blasphemer, and they didn’t want the apostles telling people that He had risen as He said He would.  A few short weeks earlier these disciples had fled when these same authorities had come and arrested Jesus. They had hid in fear when they crucified Him. Now they boldly stood before these religious leaders and proclaimed the Name of Jesus (vs. 8-12).  The Holy Spirit gave Peter power to preach the Gospel to the very men who had condemned Jesus to death.

In this brief Gospel message that Peter gave that day, one important truth sticks out, and that is that there is salvation in no other name than that of Jesus (vs. 12).  Salvation is exclusive. It is by faith in Jesus Christ alone.  There are only two religious paths - the broad path of works, which leads to eternal death, or the narrow path of faith in Jesus, which leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14).  Since God has designated Jesus to be the Savior of the world, no one else can be His equal. There can be no being “open-minded” about how we get to heaven or how we are saved from sin.  No other religious leader is God’s Son. No one else died for our sins and rose again. Salvation is through Jesus only, not any other religious beliefs.

Verse 12 often offends many people.  Jesus said that the world would hate us for believing that He, alone, is the Son of God (John 15:18).  If the shed Blood of Jesus is not necessary for salvation, if some other religious philosophy or teaching will also do, then why would God have sent Jesus to the cross?  God makes no mistakes, and it is through Jesus, and faith in His Blood alone that will bring one to heaven.

These religious leaders noted right away that Peter and John had been with Jesus, and that they were two of His disciples (vs. 13).  They didn’t have to wonder who these two were. It was evident by their words and actions. People ought to be able to look at us and know that we have been with Jesus.  Our conduct and behavior should proclaim that to others.  What gave Peter and John the boldness to speak out to these powerful and dangerous group of men?  They had been with Jesus. Salvation unites us with Him, and fills us with His Spirit.

These religious leaders knew that Peter and John had broken no laws, and that everyone knew about the miracle that had been performed (vs. 15-17).  But they had to stop the spreading of the news that they had executed the Messiah. They sternly warned and threatened the apostles to no longer preach about Jesus or His resurrection.  However, the apostles had such a zeal for the Lord, that they could not keep quiet, even when threatened. Jesus had promised that those who acknowledged Him before men, He would acknowledge before the Father (Matthew 10:32).

Peter and John were common fishermen, not scholars like the Sanhedrin.  Yet who was on the correct path? Who did God use to spread His truth? When minds are closed, even the clearest presentation of the facts can’t open them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Getting The Yeast Out

I Corinthians 5:6-8

Any bread-makers reading this?  I have made various fruit breads before, such as banana bread and cranberry bread.  However, I have never made any yeast breads before. My children and I frequently watch classic TV shows, and one of our favorites is I Love Lucy from the 1950’s.  One hilarious episode is when Lucy accidentally puts way too much yeast in a loaf of bread she is making, and what happens then.  In our brief Scripture passage today, the Apostle Paul speaks about leaven, or yeast, and what it signifies in our life. Let’s take a look and see what we can learn today.

I Corinthians is a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and a significant part of the letter is spent attempting to correct some serious sins and problems the Corinthians had allowed in their lives.  This was very necessary, as sin, left unchecked, will spread and become worse and more destructive. As our passage opens, Paul is warning the Corinthian believers that this is something they need to take seriously, since it seems that some of them were even bragging about some of the sins that various members of their congregation were involved in (vs. 6).  Paul begins to compare sin to something most of them would be familiar with - leaven.

Leaven, better known today as yeast, is referenced in Scripture to represent influence, and in most cases it refers to an evil influence.  If we make bread, and add yeast to it, the yeast permeates the whole loaf. When we tolerate sin in our lives, and in our local church, that sin will permeate our whole life and being, and it will also corrupt the local church.  If someone sees one person doing something wrong or sinful, and nothing is done to correct them, then they might think that this behavior is okay. If speed limits are never enforced on certain roads, then rather quickly speed limit signs mean nothing, and everyone goes however fast they want to.  This holds true with any behavior. With no correction, the behavior gets worse and worse. Ask anyone who has taken in some foster children who have not been raised with any firm rules, discipline, and guidance.

Blatant sin left uncorrected in our life, or in the church, will permeate it and corrupt it, just like the bit of yeast added to the dough.  Very soon it has spread through it. It is just like a small bit of mold that very quickly destroys a whole loaf of bread. The same is true with cancer in the body.  If nothing is done, it can spread to other organs and put one’s life in danger. It must be removed (vs. 7). We cannot tolerate it, or else it will jeopardize the spiritual health of ourselves or the church.  We cannot sin a little without it tarnishing our witness.  We cannot sin a little without it diminishing our power.  We cannot sin a little without sowing curses and death for ourselves.

When the Jews left Egypt, being set free from the bondage of slavery, they used unleavened bread at the Passover ceremony.  Bread with no leaven or yeast symbolized being freed from the bondage of sin. The Church today is to be “unleavened”, separated from the power of sin and death by Jesus, the perfect Passover Lamb (vs. 7).  We are to remove everything sinful in our lives, and that of the church, being separated from our old life. Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb, the perfect sacrifice for sin. Because He has delivered us from the slavery of sin, we should have nothing to do with the sin of our past, the “old leaven” (vs. 8).

As believers, those who have put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, our life is to be unleavened.  We need to get the sin out of it. We get the leaven out of it by replacing it with sincerity and truthfulness, (vs. 8), with honesty, integrity, and God’s Word.  If we see anything corrupting something, we make sure that we get it out, just as a doctor will cut in and remove a cancer. Before sin eats deeper into our souls, we need to ask God to excise it so that we can become spiritually sound and healthy.

Monday, April 13, 2020

When The Mountains Skipped

Psalm 114

Have you ever seen something so spectacular that you just wanted to jump up and shout out your excitement?  Perhaps it was at a sports event, and your team just made an unbelievable score, winning the game against tremendous odds.  Maybe you heard an astounding rendition of a favorite symphony, and you wanted to heartily applaud the orchestra, or a wonderful performance on stage.  It’s especially moving if your child or loved one took part in the performance. How about when it is God we want to cheer? Our short psalm for today speaks of all of nature giving God a cheer for what He has done.

Our unknown Psalmist began his psalm telling of the greatest event to that date in the nation of Israel’s history, the greatest thing that God had done for His people, which was His deliverance from bondage in Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea (vs. 1).  God brought the people across the wilderness, and gave them the land of Canaan, the land that He had promised their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vs. 2). Not only was this land the land that He gave to His people, it was the land where the Temple was, and where His Presence dwelt.

The psalmist used very poetic language throughout his writing to describe all he felt about God and the great things He did.  Verse 3 described God having parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22), and then 40 years later when He parted the Jordan River for the people to enter the Promised Land (Joshua 3:13-17).   He described both the Red Sea and the River Jordan as taking a look at mighty Yahweh, and fleeing back, parting at His command (vs. 3, 5). When the people came into their promised land and heritage, he again used very poetic language to describe the mountains and hills like lambs and rams frolicking and skipping (vs. 4, 6).  I have seen some cute videos of little baby goats skipping and frolicking around. They look so happy and playful! That is the way the psalmist described that natural land, as if they were rejoicing and happy at what Yahweh had done, skipping in delightful praise to Him.

The psalmist then spoke to the physical earth, telling it that it should tremble at the presence of the Lord God (vs. 7).  We sometimes tremble when we are afraid. Trembling in the Bible describes genuine fear in the overwhelming presence of God.  To tremble at God’s presence means to recognize God’s complete power and authority, and our frailty by comparison. Mankind can tremble in fear of God because of their sinfulness.  After we have accepted Jesus as Savior, our fear becomes a worshipful reverence, and praise for God’s glory. That fear can also bring a trembling. Believers can find joy in God’s presence, which will lead us to fall before Him in adoration and worship.

We can sometimes see, as we look around, the world tremble at the presence of the Lord.  Mount Sinai trembled before God when He appeared there to give Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:16-18).  When we see the majesty of nature, we should, like the mountains, oceans, and all of creation, give praise and glory to God’s greatness.

The psalmist concluded this short psalm in verse 8 with a reference to when God brought water out of the rock for the people (Exodus 17:5-6, Numbers 20:7-11).  This was an additional example from nature where God did something great and astounding that the psalmist wanted us to remember. There is nothing drier than a rock or boulder in the desert wilderness.  Yet God brought water out of a rock to quench the thirst of multitudes.

Today, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, can point to His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead as the greatest event in human history.  Just as the Jewish people were set free from slavery at the Exodus from Egypt, those who have placed their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior have been delivered from the power of sin and death.  Just as the waters looked at the power of God and parted at His command, the rock covering Jesus’ tomb rolled away. All of nature can again rejoice like frolicking lambs at the knowledge that He’s alive! Let us, with nature, rejoice in our amazing and extraordinary God.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Risen Savior Calls Your Name

John 20:11-18

Great grief and sorrow can blind us to what is right in front of our eyes.  This can be especially true if we have gone through a very traumatic, perhaps violent and brutal event.  Oftentimes the mind will draw the person back behind a protective shell for a while, as they try to cope with what has happened.  There are several different accounts of events connected with the Resurrection of Jesus, giving several different people’s perspectives of what they saw, felt, and believed that morning.  Today we’ll look at the account of one of Jesus’ most devoted followers, Mary Magdalene.

There were many women among Jesus’ followers.  Jesus treated them all with dignity and as people of worth, unlike the culture of His day.  Mary Magdalene was a woman who was tormented by many demons in her life, seven to be exact. Her life must have been sheer misery when she came to Jesus, and He cast them out of her (Mark 16:9).  (Legends have said that she was a prostitute, but there is no Scriptural evidence of this.) Mary Magdalene had followed Jesus from the early days of His ministry. She was present at the crucifixion, and was one of the several women who were going to anoint Jesus body early Sunday morning.  Jesus honored her love and devotion by appearing to her first, and entrusting her with the first message of His resurrection.

Mary Magdalene had gone with the other women to anoint Jesus’s body, but when they all saw the tomb open, they fled to tell the other disciples.  Mary’s feelings of grief and loss, along with possible wondering what really and truly had happened, drew her back to the tomb. She, along with all of the disciples, must have heard Jesus say that He would rise again.

When she returned, Mary looked inside the tomb and saw the angels, one at the head of where Jesus had lain, and the other at the feet (vs. 11-12).  This was a symbolic picture of the two cherubim that covered the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:22). That was where the blood, on the Day of Atonement. was brought by the High Priest for the atonement of the sins of the people.  Only the High Priest could go there and see the Mercy Seat. Jesus was in reality the Lamb of God, and His Blood was poured out for our atonement. Here, where His Body had lain, was symbolic of the Mercy Seat, and the two angels pictured those two other angels at the Mercy Seat.  Now, an ordinary woman has come, showing that Jesus’ Blood has opened the way for us to come to the throne of God and obtain mercy (Hebrews 4:16).

The angels came to shed light where there was darkness.  They came to bring glory where there was death. The angels at the tomb signified that God approved of Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him to life.  God’s righteous demands for atonement had been fulfilled.

When Mary Magdalene turned around, leaving the tomb, she saw Jesus, though she did not recognize Him (vs. 14).  The vivid memories of Jesus’ bruised and broken body were still etched in her mind. Jesus’ resurrection appearance in a glorified body was so dramatically different, that she failed to recognize Him.  However, the moment He spoke her name Mary recognized Him. She was a true and faithful follower and believer. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27).

Mary Magdalene didn’t want to lose Jesus again (vs. 17).  Her understanding was not full. Jesus did not want to be detained at the tomb.  If He did not ascend into heaven, the Holy Spirit could not come. Jesus had important work to do, and so did Mary Magdalene.  She needed to go forth and spread the Good News of Jesus. It was also here that Jesus called the disciples “brethren” for the first time.  Because of Jesus’ work on the cross in place of sinners, this new relationship with Jesus was made possible.

Mary Magdalene did not meet the risen Savior until she discovered the empty tomb.  She then responded with joy and obedience by going to tell the disciples. We cannot meet Jesus until we discover that He is alive, and His tomb is empty.  Then we are to share the Good News. Mary Magdalene didn’t at first recognize Jesus. Her grief had blinded her. She couldn’t see Him because she didn’t expect to see Him.  Jesus spoke her name, and immediately she recognized Him. Jesus is calling your name. Can you, like Mary Magdalene, regard Him as your Lord?

Friday, April 10, 2020

Judas The Betrayer

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-25

As Holy Week draws to a close, I thought we would take a look at one character who played an important role in this tragic drama, Judas Iscariot.  We all know him to be the one who betrayed the Lord Jesus to the Jewish High Priest and the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court of ruling elders). As we look into Judas’ story, let us see if there is anything we can learn from his life to help change our lives more to the better.

Early in the Gospel accounts we read that Judas was one of the twelve disciples that Jesus had personally selected.  From all outward appearances he seemed just like any of the others. In all probability, throughout most of Jesus’ ministry, no one would have suspected anything different or sinister about Judas from any of the others.  The other disciples gave Judas the job of treasurer, managing the group’s finances. Though he gave pious words about giving money to help the poor, the apostle John mentions in his Gospel that Judas would help himself to the money he was in charge of (John 12:5-6).  This would indicate that, though Jesus’ teachings were often slow to sink into the hearts of the other eleven disciples, they never really reached Judas’ heart. He did have a greed for money, and no real trust in God to provide for him, as he would dip into the petty cash box for his own purposes.  Also, Judas must have made excuses in his mind for this behavior, thinking that little amounts, little sins, now and then don’t really matter.

Judas, like many people at this time, expected the Messiah to bring deliverance to Israel from their enemies, and particularly now, from the Romans.  As Jesus became more popular, they were hoping that He would start a rebellion and overthrow the powers from Rome. Many scholars believe that Judas was one who felt this way.  As one of the hand-picked twelve, he possibly felt that in this new order he would have an important position. During the last weeks, however, Judas realized that the kingdom Jesus kept talking about was not physical or political, but spiritual.  He came to see that Jesus was not going to rally an army and defeat the Romans, as he, and many were hoping. Perhaps Judas thought, if he forced Jesus’ hand, He might do as he desired. So Judas made the free decision to betray Jesus to the Jewish chief priests and Sanhedrin (vs. 14-16).  Then, he hopefully thought, Jesus would give the cry, and all of His followers would rally around and kick the Romans out.

This, though, was not God’s plan, and it was not what happened.  Judas had gone to the chief priests and received the betrayal sum of 30 pieces of silver for the promise that he would betray Jesus to them at a given time and place.  30 pieces of silver was the Old Testament price given for the cost of a slave (Exodus 21:32, Zechariah 11:12-13). 30 pieces of silver would be worth around $200 in present-day value.  Judas thought so little of Jesus, that he sold Him for nearly nothing. So little for the price of the Blood of the Savior. Jesus was betrayed with contempt.

Judas allowed his political and patriotic desires, and his greed to place him in a position where Satan could manipulate him.  Evil plans and motives leave us open to being used by Satan for even greater evil. Judas could have backed out, changed his mind, and not gone through with the betrayal.  Once he opened the door for Satan in his life, though, Satan came and took possession of him (John 13:26-27).

Though this betrayal of Jesus was one of the greatest crimes in the history of mankind, God was still in total control.  God had chosen the time of the Passover for Jesus, the Son of God, to die His sacrificial death. Jesus was foreshadowed and represented by the Passover lamb which was sacrificed.  Jesus died to pay for the sins of mankind. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God’s plans and purposes are worked out, even in the worst of possible events.

As we look at the path Judas chose to go down, we need to think about our commitment to God, and the presence of God’s Spirit within us.  Are we true disciples, or are we uncommitted pretenders? Have the teachings of Jesus sunk into our hearts, or gone in one ear and out the other, like with Judas?  Are our own plans and desires more important to us than those of God’s? Let’s check to be sure our commitment to the Lord Jesus is strong and sure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Lord's Supper

I Corinthians 11:23-32

The Thursday prior to Resurrection Sunday (the day before Good Friday) is called Maundy Thursday.  The name Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum”, which means “command”, and the name was given to this day because of the new commandment that Jesus gave His disciples on the night of the Last Supper, to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34).  Maundy Thursday is a holy day for Christians, as it commemorates the institution by the Lord Jesus of the Last Supper. The three synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) give accounts of the Last Supper, and the Apostle Paul gives an account, as well.  Today I thought we would take a look at his account of that sacred meal.

Most Christians are familiar with the accounts of the Last Supper given in the Gospels.  Paul’s account is just a bit different, in that he doesn’t just relate the particular details of what happened, but also gives instructions of how we are to observe this sacrament.  Jesus had commanded His followers to keep the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice for us. However, it seems that even in the very early church, believers had forgotten the solemnity of what this commemorated, and were beginning to take it for granted and without thought.  In our passage, Paul gives instructions of how this sacrament is to be commemorated.

Just as the Passover celebrated the deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the Lord’s Supper celebrates the deliverance from sin by Christ’s death.  It looks back to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and should be remembered with praise and thanks. It also looks ahead for when He comes again (vs. 26).

Different Christian traditions believe different interpretations about the Lord’s Supper.  Some believe the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ Body and Blood. Some believe the bread and wine remain unchanged, but Jesus is spiritually present.  Others believe the bread and wine are only symbolic of Jesus’ Body and Blood. All would agree, however, that the Lord’s Supper is an important sacrament of the Christian Faith.  The bread points to the offering of Jesus’ Body “which is broken for you” (vs. 24). This shows the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death on the Cross. The cup of wine points to Christ’s Blood, shed for the forgiveness of our sins (Leviticus 17:11).

Paul instructs us that the Lord’s Supper should not be treated casually in attitude or behavior.  It is to remind us of our need for forgiveness. We are told to examine ourselves for any known and willful sins.  We are also told to “discern the Body of Christ” (vs. 29). Believers should recognize the sacred nature of the meal.  Paul tells us to examine ourselves for sin, and correct it before coming under God’s discipline (vs. 27-32). We should confess our sins, and turn from them in repentance.  Delaying this invites God’s discipline. Sin is not something that we can sweep under the rug and ignore. The Blood of Jesus is a symbol of our repentance from sin, and an acceptance of Jesus as our Savior.

The worship of God in His presence should not be taken lightly or casually.  The Lord’s Supper should not be allowed to become a routine ritual. We should always remember what Jesus did for us, dying for our salvation.  The sacrament should be held thoughtfully, worthily, and with reverence, done orderly, and in a dignified and worshipful manner. Paul warns that if we don’t, we are guilty of sinning against Jesus’ Body and Blood, sharing the guilt of those who crucified Him (vs. 27, 29).  An unworthy manner would be in an indifferent manner, an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, where it has become a meaningless ritual. The Lord’s Supper is a serious sacrament.

The Lord’s Supper should be the meal we desire the most because of what it represents.  It gives us continual spiritual nourishment. Eating the bread tells us that Jesus was our substitute.  His Body was broken to pay for our sins. Drinking the wine reminds us of His Blood that was shed for our sins.  Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, whether it is every week, once a month, or however often our church tradition celebrates it, let us remember exactly what our Lord Jesus did for our salvation.

Monday, April 6, 2020


Psalm 22:1-21

One of the most depressing and discouraging words in the English language is the word “forsaken”.  It brings to mind being abandoned and deserted by those we should have been able to trust or who we felt should have loved or cared for us.  We might think of a woman whose husband walked off and deserted her, saying she was forsaken. Or a mother who abandons her child somewhere. That child is forsaken.  When we need a helping hand or someone to turn to during a difficult period, it is very discouraging to find that those we thought of as friends have forsaken us. Feeling that one is forsaken is one of the worst feelings imaginable.  In our psalm for Holy Week, the week leading up to Good Friday, is one that pictures the great suffering and torture the Lord Jesus went through on that Good Friday, and His being forsaken by God during those hours.

Psalm 22 is a prophetic psalm, with many of its verses being fulfilled by Jesus Christ on that day of His crucifixion.  The very first verse is one of the most heart-rending verses in the whole Bible, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  These were the words that Jesus cried out as He hung upon the cross (Matthew 27:46). Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for our sins, the sins of the whole world.  Though He had no sin Himself, our sinless Savior became sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21). He experienced the full penalty of all of our sins, including the terrible separation that sin caused between mankind and God.  God poured His wrath upon His Son Jesus, for our sake, turning His back to Him during those hours He hung upon the cross. During the time that Jesus hung on the cross, the sky had gone dark and the sunlight disappeared, signifying being forsaken by God.  Being forsaken and abandoned by God was worse than any other pain that Jesus went through, and He cried out in agony to His Father.

As we continue reading in this prophetic psalm we see the people who gathered around the cross at a short distance, and what they sneeringly called out to Jesus (vs. 6-8).  The words of these verses echo what those people, especially the Jewish religious leaders and Pharisees said (Matthew 27:41-43). They stood around the cross, casting reproach and ridicule upon Jesus.  We do not know what David was going through at this time, but his words were prophetically fulfilled by Jesus at the time of the crucifixion. Despite their being like ravenous beasts, like raging lions, ferocious bulls, and wild dogs (vs. 12-13, 16), Jesus did not reproach them back.  Instead, He prayed to the Father (vs. 9-11).

The psalm continues to give a very graphic description of much of the physical agony and brutal treatment that Jesus endured (vs. 14-15).  The torture of Jesus started in the Garden of Gethsemane, and continued on through the hours on the cross. Jesus’ bones were put out of joint, and his heart felt like giving out (vs. 14).  All through that horrible day of beatings, scourging, carrying the cross and then hanging upon it, He was not given a drink of water. His thirst must have been worse than any we might ever go through (vs. 15).

In verse 16 we have a prophecy of the type of death that Jesus would experience.  This psalm was written approximately 1,000 years before Jesus lived. At that time crucifixion was an unknown form of execution, not really practiced until centuries later.  Yet here David describes the nails going through Jesus’ hands and feet. Crucifixion was not a type of execution that the Jewish people ever used. Instead, they would stone a person, or occasionally hang someone, but never crucify them.  That was a Roman form of execution. God put in His Word that the Savior was to be crucified, both in this psalm and also through the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10).

Another Messianic prophecy that was given in this psalm, and which was fulfilled in Jesus was in verse 18, when the Roman soldiers cast dice to see who would get the seamless robe that He wore (Matthew 27:35).  As we read that verse in Matthew, and corresponding ones in each of the other Gospels, we might overlook it, but it is another example of how Jesus Christ fulfilled each prophecy that was given in Scripture for the Messiah.

We may go through some very bad times, have all our family and friends abandon us, but God will never forsake the believer, the ones who have come to Him through Jesus.  We may feel like God is not there, however He will never forsake us. Because Jesus was forsaken at the cross, we never will be (Hebrews 13:5).

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Salvation In Yahweh Alone

Isaiah 45:20-25

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week that culminates with the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross for us, the week prior to Resurrection Sunday.  Our Old Testament Scripture reading for this week is a short passage from the prophet Isaiah, where the Lord is calling His people to come and listen to His Words. Let’s look at what He is saying to us today.

One of the faults or sins of the people of Israel that God had issue with them over was their strong tendency to forsake the exclusive worship of Him, and turn to worship the many false gods and goddesses of the people and nations around them.  Sometimes they would combine the worship of Yahweh with that of Baal and the other false gods, a practice called religious syncretism, where one combines different religious traditions together, a bit of one religion with a bit of another or several other religions.  That was just as wrong and sinful in God’s eyes as in completely forsaking Him. The prophet Isaiah, speaking for God, calls the people together to hear His words, which in this passage strongly condemns the worship of any other god but Himself.

What are the gods that people today in the 21st century have set up?  There are still large portions of the world that worship various false gods in their religions.  For some people the temptation is to worship themselves, their ego, their intellect, or humanistic philosophies.  Some worship the god of money and what it can buy, desiring to have the latest technology, new cars, bigger houses, etc.  Some worship the god of pleasure and entertainment. There are some who think they can innocently mix fortune telling or horoscopes with following Jesus.  There are so many types of false gods.

Isaiah warned the people then, and still today, that these gods cannot save (vs. 20).  They will not help you. When faced with a crisis, what have any of the false gods of pagan religions around the world ever done to help their followers?  Nothing! Has our own intellect or any humanistic philosophy ever helped us when our backs are against the wall? Our belongings and new toys can’t help us, either.  All the money in the world can’t help us. Diseases, war, and death strike the rich as well as the poor. Horoscopes and seeing what the stars say are all deceptive lies from Satan.

As this world seems to spin more and more out of control, many desperately seek something, someone who can help, something they can cling on to.  When they face multiple crises in life, and need something, the devil comes and deceives them into thinking that any of these false gods can help, but it is a false hope.  We are warned in this passage that there is no other God except Yahweh. He is the one and only true God. There is none other besides Him (vs. 21).

God calls out to us, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!” (vs. 22).  There is no other God besides Him. Only He can help us. He has given His Word that He will save us (vs. 23).  He will not forsake those who come to Him for salvation. All it takes is a look towards Jesus. We don’t have to perform any great work, any great effort or endeavor in order to be saved.  We just need to look towards that Savior upon the Cross, and cry out to Him. A moment of looking, reaching out, and calling upon Him and we will be saved. The power of salvation rests in Him, alone.

This invitation is open to everyone.  Salvation is for all nations. God’s people includes all those who follow Jesus.  Those who refuse to follow Jesus are not His children. One day, though, those who have refused to follow Him now will ultimately bow the knee to Him (vs. 23).  The Apostle Paul echoes the same statement in Philippians 2:10-11. It is so much better to turn to Him now, to know His love and care throughout this life now, than to rebel and then after this life be faced with an acknowledgement when it is too late.  There is no better day than today to look to Jesus and be saved!