Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53.

The Suffering Servant.

Do you know Him?
Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.

He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

Maybe you’ve read this. Maybe you’ve pondered what it says. Maybe you’ve read it once and forgotten the weight that it holds.

Here is the story of Jesus Christ; a story that was told even before His birth.

He was a servant that grew in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot; but in dry ground. It says that there was nothing beautiful or majestic about Him. Imagine that? There was nothing to attract us to Him. He came into this world looking as you and I; there was nothing that would have given away who He was.

Because He didn’t come as a dictator, ruler or conqueror, He was despised and rejected. When was the last time that you’ve heard those words used? This man that came to save us from ourselves is said to be a man of sorrows; that He was acquainted with deepest grief. Mourning and sadness were dear friends. And what did those around Him do? What do we still do today? We have turned our backs on Him. We looked the other way.

This passage goes on to say that we didn’t care. We showed no concern for the burdens that weighed Him down. Notice what it says next? Yet it was our weaknesses He carried. We were the reason for His distress, and do you know what we did? We blamed His suffering on His own actions. The leaders charged Him with blasphemy and said that He had sinned against God and that His death was the punishment. People thought that His suffering was caused because He, a normal man with no particular feature of beauty, called Himself the Son of God.

So, He was brutally punished. He was pierced, why? So we could be whole. He was whipped, why? So we could be healed. And for what? All of us (yes the Bible says that ALL of us) have strayed away. He came as the Good Shepherd to care for His sheep, and we left Him; we abandoned Him. And even after the neglect, God still allowed His Son take away our sins.

The Bible says that while His suffering occurred, Jesus never said a word. He never opened His mouth. Even when all of these outrageous charges were being brought against Him, our Savior was quiet. And then He was led away. Not one of us cared that He had no children to carry His name; no one cared that His life was being brought to a close before He had a chance to have descendants. He had never sinned, and yet He was treated like a criminal, killed like a criminal and buried like a criminal.

But what they didn’t know is that God’s plan had already been set in motion and Christ’s line would reign forever and all eternity; His eternal kingdom.

It says that when Jesus sees what His suffering accomplished, that He will be satisfied. Because of Jesus Christ, each one of us is able to attain righteousness; not because we deserve it, but because He thinks we are worth it. He bore the sins of this world so that we could be free.

Jesus interceded on our behalf. And because of that, He now sits at the right hand of God; in His rightful place.

As a KING.


Let us remember what our Lord and Savior suffered that day on Calvary. He came as a servant, in Your Name and we punished Him for it. We denied that He could be Your Son, and we rejected Him. Why Lord, would You still show mercy to us who don’t deserve it? We don’t deserve Your love, grace or mercy and yet, You offer it. Thank You for Your promises and the hope that You’ve given us. I know that none of us is righteous enough on our own, but Lord, with You by our side, we can stand tall. Your blessings are greater than I can ever count or even imagine and Your favor for me never ceases to amaze. Father, I pray that You would give me a heart, fashioned after Yours. Break my heart for what breaks Yours, and keep me in constant thought about all the great things You do. Those who walked the earth in the past may not have been able to see the beauty that Christ held, but Lord, I do. Not just in His appearance, but in the works that He did and the words that He said. He is beautiful,  and it’s His beauty that will save the world.

In Jesus’ Name,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Face of Mercy" - Original Poem

Hey everyone!

Here is another writing that I wanted to share with you.
I can only be broken down for so long,
Before the weight of this world makes me fall.
Fallen from your grace, fallen from your hand;
Fallen from everything that kept me standing tall.

How can you even look upon my face?
Against you, I've dishonored and disregarded.
I've decided that on my own, I was strong enough.
My heart for you, has become cold and hardened.

The trappings of this world, have trapped me in it's grasp.
I'm helpless, I'm calling for someone strong enough to save.
How could I forget that you've been here all along?
Waiting with your outstretched hand, saying, 'Child, call my Name.'

I look up, and there you are, with your face of mercy.
You call me out from my weighted brokenness
Called out of humanity, called out of the dark;
Called to be more than clay scarred by sins.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Save Me From Myself" - Original Poem

Enjoy, my friends!

I’m fragile, I’m broken.
I’ve been scarred by many sins.
I’ve been told over and over
That death gives way to new life again.

But how can I believe
When I feel so unworthy?
My shame hides in the shadows;
My guilt has overrun me.

There’s a light at the end
Of the tunnel, they say.
That the one who is the Light
Answers when we pray.

To you, I fall upon
Knees that are so weak
Your glory has overcome me
My lips tremble when I speak.

“Holy One, I come to you now,
Asking you to love me.
My burdens are great;
I’ve been so weary on my journey.

I can’t begin to understand
The depths of your great love,
But you have promised me
Mercy, fallen from above.

Save me from myself,
Jesus, place your hands around me.
Save me from the world
That wants to keep me here so badly.”



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jesus, Bring the Rain

Have you ever thought about asking God to do this? To bring the rain? To bring the trials and tribulations?
James 1:12 -- Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
There is a song, by MercyMe called Bring the Rain. The lyrics say:

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

As a follower of Christ, like the lyrics say, people have asked me how I can still praise God after things that I've been through. My answer to that is this: I wouldn't know what else to do. I have no reason to breathe, other than to worship the name of God. Yes, it's hard to go through things that crush us and persecute us. It's hard to be abandoned by friends and loved ones. It's hard to deal with death and loss. But to me, it would be so much more impossible to live a life without God in it. He is the reason that I'm able to get through the rough spots.
Philippians 3:14 -- I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
It's my prayer that we would be persistent with our faith; not letting the world affect our goal. Sometimes we need that rain, the trials and times a faith-testing, for us to be drawn back to Christ.
It's not an easy road, this life. And God never promised that it would be, but when Christ walked this earth, He left us with this:
Matthew 28:20 -- And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
So back to my original question. Have you ever thought of asking God to bring the rain? If not, make it a prayer.

Father, there are trials in my life that I can't even begin to understand. People say that I should give up; that I should let go, but Lord, you know my future. You know the inner workings of my heart, and you know that I can't live without you. These trials that have come my way, they test my faith. These trials bring questions and pain, but Father, I know that I don't have to be afraid. What is unanswered and unknown to me, you have the answer and you know the outcome. You hold me in your righteous right hand. I'm safe in your hands Father, and I will rest there. I know that everyone goes through trials in their lives, and I know that even though I'm Your child, I'm not immune to it. If I must endure them, Father, give me the strength to get through them. I will trust in you, for your word is truth, and your promises remain. Jesus, bring the rain.




Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who Defines Me?

Yesterday I was having a discussion with one of my friends about the way that Christ called us to live, and how society calls us to live. This lead me to question: Who defines me? Society or Christ?

In today’s society, we are told that it’s okay to drink before the legal age; that it’s okay to have sex before marriage; that it’s okay to slander and gossip about people; that it’s okay to lie, cheat and steal, as long as you aren’t caught.

What does this say about us as a world? I was raised in a family where these things were unacceptable, but I found myself breaking the rules. I’m not going to lessen the fact that I’m a sinner. Yes, I’ve had alcohol before the legal age of 21. Yes, I’ve lied, and cheated. I stole a pack of gum when I was two years old. I’ve slandered and gossiped, done intentionally and subconsciously. I know that at times I’ve told myself that all of that is okay to get away with once and a while because I’ve chosen to save myself for marriage. That’s what we’ve learned, isn’t it? We try to justify our sins by placing a weight on them.

“I’m better than her because I’ve only lied..she’s been with 10 people.”

“God will forgive my sins, because they aren’t as bad as his.”

This is such a wrong way of thinking. And Christ came to change that.

At the Sermon on the Mount, when He was speaking the Beatitudes (Matthew 3, and following chapters), He proposed a new way of doing things. Even thousands of years ago, people sinned the same sins that we do now. And Christ knew this. That’s why He came; to save us. We needed to be saved, and without Him, we would certainly be lost forever.

In my life right now, I feel like I’m letting the world define me. I feel burdened, downtrodden and lost. I go through periods when I feel like I don’t need God; where I’d rather live my life, my way, because I know that at the end of the day, He is still going to forgive me, or simply because I feel like I’ve fallen too far from His grace.

I’ve learned that even though I’ve been saved by the blood of Christ, I need to be continually washed by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. The blood cleaned us all, once and for all, but the Holy Spirit remains within us, now and forever. If I taught myself to listen more closely, and follow His guidance, then I could live the life that Christ called me to live.

Christ told us: above all, love your God and love your neighbors; don’t judge others; don’t slander; don’t pride ourselves on our own lives; pray in the quiet where no one can see us; think with pure thoughts; serve each other; pray for those who persecute us; if we are struck on one cheek, to present the other, etc.

This would be such a beautiful way to live.

My prayer is that I will open my eyes to the things that God is trying to do in my life; that I will try to live as righteously as Christ would want me to; that I would put other’s needs before my own; and that I would love God with my whole heart. I’m not interested in the things of this world, but it’s so easy to be consumed by them. I take heart in the fact that all of this is temporary, and that one day I will see the face of God. I want Him to be able to say, “Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant,” instead of, “Why did you choose the temporary, worldly, un-lasting things, rather than what is everlasting?”

I want to be defined by Christ; I will not be defined by this world.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Praise in Blessing, Praise in Suffering

I was awoken this morning at 5:30 AM. With it being a Saturday, and only getting about 4 hours of sleep, I wondered why I was awake.

After about an hour of not being able to go back to sleep, I laid in bed, thinking. Why is it so hard for us to praise God in times of blessing, as well as times of suffering?

I put on the Christian music channel on TV and began to read my morning devotions.

One of the first things that I read was about Daniel, and his persistence to God while in the lion’s den. In the most troubling circumstances of his life, he chose to pray to God, to thank him for all He is and all He has done. Imagine that. Even in the most dire circumstances, he still called out to God’s Holy name. It didn’t take him receiving good news to praise God; he did it without fail.

Lately, I find that if my life is going the way that I want, I don’t call out to God anymore. I’ve become trapped by my own selfishness and I forget that everything I have been blessed with, came from the hand of God Himself. He could take it all away from me in an instant, simply because I wasn’t appreciative of what I have, or because I didn’t thank Him or honor His name for bearing those blessings. I wonder, if He took it all away, would I still praise Him?

Maybe you’ve heard of Job. The man who had it all and in a split second, it was gone. His family, his crop, his livestock, his health. Job had a horrible suffering poured out on him, and even he still chose to praise God.

My life hasn’t always been a steady road. True, it’s never been threatened, I’ve never been thrown into a lion’s den, and I’ve never had to suffer the way that Job did, but I’ve gone through my own battles and wars. I need to remember my times of suffering and cherish them. Weird, right? Not so much. In praising God through my sufferings, as well as the blessings, I can thank Him through all. We are given a choice. The one choice that will decide our eternal futures: life or death. And it all stems from blessings and curses. We are blessed beyond measure, even when we feel like we have little to be grateful for, and it’s in these times of uncertainty that we should cling to God, that much more. In doing so, we are choosing to trust God, with everything we are and everything that we have..which will one day lead us to eternal life.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 — Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We have so much to live for, and following, praising and serving God should not only be during our times of blessing, but in the times of stress, suffering or distress as well. To thank Him for what He has given, and what He has taken away, because it’s in His divine plan.

I will be the first person to say that I don’t thank God enough for all He does, and this morning was a reminder of that.

My goal is to keep God on my mind, at all times. To remember that I’ve been blessed beyond what any man could measure. I won’t overlook my times of suffering; I will cherish them, because I know that there is a light (a blessing) at the end of that trial.

And through it all, God is standing by my side, with His hand outstretched, saying, “My child, the one that I hold dear, I’m here. Have faith in me, and when your blessings come, and they surely will, remember that it was I that pulled you through your sufferings.”

Thank God for your blessings and thank God for your suffering. Praise His name through it all.