Rest

Last night I spent some time with a few of my close friends. I had a million other things on my mind regarding school, work, and travel plans. Spring break is this week is this week and I am looking forward to relaxing, spending more time in the word, and reading books I actually want to read. However, even in the middle of this crazy week, and I still took time to take care of my friends spiritually.

Our main point of discussion was how to feel content, in our employment and in our lives overall. I pointed the group to Matthew 11: 28-30, where Jesus says, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” These words have been a comfort to me in times where I have needed Christ’s rest. We discussed some other passages, like in John 16 when Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, in John 7 when Jesus says he will give us the Holy Spirit, and in Isaiah 55 when God promises us grace and mercy.

Ultimately, our discussion boiled down to one simple point: Jesus is the source of our content. Jesus is the source of our rest. In order to find rest, we must seek Christ. In a song by All Sons & Daughters, the words say “Our hearts are restless, until the find rest in You.”

To go along with this theme: I’m going to rest, and read a good book right now.

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The Good Shepherd

It’s the first day of March, it’s a rainy day in Lynchburg, VA. I’m sitting in Liberty’s library contemplating the goodness of our savior. While I have had a long and busy few weeks, with papers and tests I can visibly see God working and moving in my life to bring forth his will for me. In my Bible reading today I read about the Passover in Exodus chapter twelve. While I long for God to work in my life in that sort of way I see that he already has. God sent his son Jesus, to live perfectly, to suffer and die to pay for our sins. God did not have to do this, but Jesus is ” the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” God took away our sins, and selected us for salvation from before the beginning of time, not based on our own merits, but on his will.

I once listened to someone preach about this topic a few years ago. He discussed the reason why Jesus is a “shepherd” was so important. Now, if we think about it who else was a shepherd in the Bible? Specifically, one of Jesus’ ancestors. Keep thinking about it. King David. The man God made a covenant with regarding a Messiah coming. Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 and does much more than even David described in his writing.

R.C. Sproul

A second reason this topic is important is that in the New Testament, a shepherd was seen as one of the lowest types of jobs. It was a reviled and hated position. While in the time of David a shepherd was regarded as a high occupation, in the time of Jesus it was seen as one of the lowest of the low. Jesus was reviled in the same way but deserved the honor that David received. However, Jesus deserves it infinitely more.

Third, we can see Jesus “shepherding our lives. In this sense, we can look at two biblical examples. Genesis 48:15 and Revelation 7:17. In Genesis 48, Jacob describes God as “shepherding” him through his life. In Revelation 7, Jesus is described as our shepherd.

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:17

Along with the Revelation passage, John chapter 10: 14-18 is such a sweet promise to me and to other believers. The fact that Jesus knows his own, and we know him, that he lays down his life for us, that he draws us to himself, that there will be “one flock,” and that Jesus willingly laid down his life, but only to “take it back up again.” Jesus takes our sin and shame willingly to give his sheep eternal life. ‘

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:14-18

Soli Deo Gloria

Hunger and Thirst

What does it mean to thirst for God? You may think about it in some completely offhand way, but think about it and truly dwell on what this means to you. The Psalmist asks this question. Psalm 42 has been a go-to for me in times of mourning. The beginning of the Psalm says this, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul thirsts for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night while they say to me, “Where is your God?” I could continue quoting these short eleven verses, but first, we will discuss these first three. The LORD our God is faithful and true. We, as Christians, should long to be in the presence of God all day long. I wish to be in the presence of my Father continually. It is in His presence where his children can feel most content.

I can truly attest that “my tears have been my food before.” There was a time in my life where I did not rely on the LORD, but yet he was calling me. I did not understand these things, but God, in his providence allowed me to be called his son. Like the Psalmist writes I shall, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Jesus also partially addresses this issue. In Mathew five, Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” God is truly the only one who can satisfy our desires. Jesus in the Gospel of John tells the Samaritan woman about the living water. “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The Father calls us, the Son saves us, and the Spirit sanctifies us. We truly cannot pay our debt to them.

However, we see that we do not have to pay our debt. In Revelation 21 John writes further about this topic. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (verses 3-4, 6)

I have no words to ascribe, to the faithfulness, of our God.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Take Heart

John chapters 13-17 contains what many Christians call the Farewell Discourse. Jesus’ final teaching and prayer for his disciples, and for future Christians are encouraging. Although he speaks of things that bring sorrow, God is always faithful and never changes, but he does change everything else. The God of the universe sent his son for us, not to condemn us, but to ransom us with his blood. This changed the world forever. We can now have a relationship with God, and God gave his Holy Spirit to us, which Jesus discusses in this passage.

Today, I want to focus on the implications of this. Jesus tells us that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) The people of the world reject our Savior. If they hate Christ, they also hate the Father. (verse 23) Jesus even tells us that there will be those who kill us because they think they are doing a service to God. Paul was one of those people. Over the course of the last two thousand years, there have been many people who kill Christians for whatever reason. But, we are still called to go. We are still called to tell those who hate us, about the one who loves us.

The Father and the Son will send us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and He will bear witness about Jesus. (verse 26) He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. (16:8) The HS will guide us in truth, and glorify the son. (verse 13-14) He will speak through us when we are being persecuted. (Matt. 10:20) He will be our advocate to the Father. Our Immanuel, God with us.

John 16:20 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” We will see Jesus again, and no man, angel, demon, death, nor life, can take our joy away from us, in Christ Jesus. We can ask the Father for this joy, and we will receive it in full. (verse 24)

Finally, Jesus says he is going back to the Father. (verse 28) But first, he must die, he will be left alone, by earthly men, but Jesus is never alone. He has his Father. (verse 32) Jesus will be high and lifted up, he will be pierced, beaten, crushed, and afflicted. (Isaiah 52 and 53) For our sin, the sinless will be punished. Jesus laid down his life for us. Jesus’ sacrifice is the only reason we are not alone. The Godhead is always with us. Jesus has truly, overcome the world. Though we may have tribulation. Take Heart Beloved.

I write these things beloved, to encourage you. We are coming to a time where even in America we have a great chance of persecution. Not that this is a negative thing. Indeed I believe it to be a positive thing, but we must learn to trust the Holy Spirit. We must learn to trust his instructions to us. So that we may take heart, that Jesus has overcome the world.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Blessed, is the Son of David

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our Father David! Hosanna in the highest! (Mark 11: 9b-10) Jesus is fulfilling a prophecy about him in the book of Zechariah. In the future, Jesus will again come riding, but for all nations, tribes, and tongues to see. He will come riding on a white horse on the clouds, ready to judge the nations with a sword coming out of his mouth. He is called, Faithful and True, He judges and makes war on the wicked, and leads the armies of Heaven. He is the lamb, the King of Kings, Immanuel, and the Lion of Judah.

As I read these words describing my King, I am amazed, I am awestruck, thankful, and yet fearful. Not fearful in the way that Jesus will judge me with the wicked, but in a respectful manner. I will not lie. I have read the pages of Revelation some nights, yearning for death, yearning for Heaven, for my savior, my first love. I have read these pages, of salvation, scrolls, weird a great city, a feast, and then peace. I have cried over these things. I yearn to “drink from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

But, without suffering there can never be growth. Peter writes, “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. James (The Brother of Jesus) also writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds. The Apostles suffered much more than we can imagine, but yet, God is faithful. American Christians don’t understand suffering for the Gospel, not really, but yet we still suffer. The main reason I was able to come to God, (other than being predestined) was that my mother was diagnosed with cancer five years ago next month. But still, God is faithful. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Beloved, I do not share these things with you that you may feel sorry for me. I share these things with you that you may join me, in longing for our Savior’s return. “Jesus said that no knows the day or hour except the father.” He also answered the Pharisees saying that “when he ascended into Heaven his followers would pray and fast.” We long for you to return LORD GOD. King of Heaven. Jesus, Son of David. Have Mercy on Us. Amen

Soli Deo Gloria.

New Beginnings

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John, an Apostle, the son of Zebedee opens his gospel with what a lot of scholars would call a poem. To someone reading on a surface level, this verse may not mean much, but to someone who has studied this passage many times, this verse can mean everything. On the forefront, I notice a parallel with Genesis One, that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” I think this is John’s main point. To show that from the beginning Jesus was there. This shows, to me, that the steadfast love of the LORD is everlasting. His plan is perfect, and that his will is good, and for his glory. Andreas Köstenberger in his book Encountering John wrote, “what none of the characters in John’s Gospel knew when they first met Jesus, was that Jesus is the preexistent, Incarnate Word from the Father. We, however, do get the chance to know this the moment we open the book.

Secondly, John has written about this “Incarnate Word” that the Father and the Son created the universe and that even before this that the Father had predestined and called his children to himself. Romans 8:30 says, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” God is worthy to be praised because of this simple fact. That Jesus is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Using a similar metaphor, Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) We are Jesus’ sheep and he has died for us.

The last clause of the first verse, “the Word was God.” This is an important point of doctrine. Not only has Jesus been eternally present, but also that Jesus IS God. Jesus is the Lamb of God, and he is also God. He has always and will always have a place in the Godhead. Regarding, the Trinity, The 1689 London Baptist Confession says this, “In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on Him.” (Chapter 2, Paragraph 3.)

Jesus has always been God and will always be God. He is the Alpha and Omega, worthy to be praised. We must take our knowledge and apply it to our lives, and worship him.

Soli Deo Gloria.