Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 60 - 3 Steps To Christ In A 2-Fold Way

As we draw our series on Bible Numbers to a close, it is most fitting to end it with how the unbeliever can find Christ and how the believer can draw closer to Christ. I've always felt that God is a very economical God. He blesses many people with the same verses but in different ways and for different reasons. As I was searching for just the right thing to write about, I was drawn to Matthew 11:28-30 this morning. My spirit needed encouragement and these were the first verses I had memorized as a new believer and I turn to them frequently.

Matthew 11:28-30, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (28) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (29) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (30) As beautiful and comforting as these verses are to the believer, they are equally as beautiful and comforting to the unbeliever. I noticed that Christ stated that there are three things one must do to come to Him. Three symbolizes the godhead - the Trinity. How fitting that these three steps are depicted in this light.

1. Come unto Jesus - Jesus is the only way to Heaven for the lost. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6) There is no other way - there is no other person (dead or alive) who can claim this. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:12) No matter what any religion preaches, the fact of the matter is that Jesus is the only way to Heaven - not your good deeds, not Allah, not Buddha, not John Smith!

To the born-again believer, this statement confirms that we can continually go to Jesus for all our needs, all our future sins, all our problems and all our concerns. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Ti 2:5) We have no need to pray to Mary or pray to the saints - we can go straight to God Himself, Christ Jesus! Furthermore, when we sin, we can go to Christ Himself, not some priest in a confessional. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 Jo 2:1) Jesus is our attorney, if you will, who defends us before a Righteous and Holy God. God demands payment and justice for sins. Jesus stands before His Father as your Attorney and says, "Father, I have paid the penalty for my child with My Blood." The Father sees our sin no more but only the blood of His Son. No priest, no saint or anyone else for that matter can fill these shoes, my friend. Praise God that we can still come to Jesus!

2. Take His yoke upon you: Have you ever seen a yoke? Notice that there are two openings. Jesus is telling the unbeliever that the sinner is in one part of the yoke and Jesus is in the other part. Again, Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I love how a yoke is placed between the head and the heart! How symbolic that is to me. One needs to hear the Gospel and believe it with his heart before he can be saved. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:10) One can only be righteous if he puts on the righteousness of Christ.

For the believer, we can look at the yoke and see that Christ carries our burdens with us. We are not alone in our walk on this earth. He is there right along side of us - like the beautiful Footprints story. Furthermore, when you look at the yoke, you can see that if one turns to the right, the other must turn to the right. We are guided by the Holy Spirit of God Himself! What a blessed portrayal of God's love for us!

3. Learn from Him: It is so sad that mankind turns to self-help books, to gurus, to religious leaders instead of to Jesus' Word. Jesus said to learn from Him! Jesus provided us with the Bible, His very words, whereby to learn and grow. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17) Notice that Rom. 10:17 does not say faith comes by a self-help book, or Dr. Phil, or John Smith. It says that faith comes by the Word of God. Jesus is the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Joh 1:1) and For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 Jo 5:7) Christ provided the written Word of God so that we would be able to find true salvation through Him. What more does one need?

To the believer, we are encouraged to learn from Him. Don't substitute man-written books and devotionals for God's Holy Word. It is the Word that will cleanse us. It is the Word that convicts us and grows us. It is the Word that prevents us from being misled by false doctrine. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Ti 2:15)

As a result of coming to Christ, we are promised rest. The unbeliever finds rest through salvation and the born-again believer finds rest because he is not alone in his pilgrimage on earth. Jesus said that His yoke is easy. Have you ever tried to lift a yoke? I have! It is not light at all. In fact, I could barely lift it. But Christ says His yoke is easy and it is light. That means that the burden of sin has been taken on by Jesus and that this burden is not on our shoulders any longer. We also know that although He has taken on the burden of our sins, He also carries our burdens in life, right along side of us.

This is a beautiful depiction of how the Saviour not only delivers us from sin but continues to carry our burdens with us so we are not alone. ... and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 28:20b)

Dear God...
Thank you for this series these past couple of months. What a blessing they have been to my soul.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 59 - The God Of Second Chances

This is the story of a young man that failed the Lord miserably, and was later given a second chance.

In Acts chapter 12, the apostle James was captured and beheaded by king Herod, and Peter was also imprisoned, facing a similar fate within a matter of days. But the Lord had other plans. He sent an angel to release Peter from prison, and Peter went to the house where the early church was having a prayer meeting on his behalf:

Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

As most reading this no doubt know that the apostle Paul (first called Saul) is a very prominent figure in the New Testament. Much of the book of Acts is taken up with him and those who were involved in his three missionary journeys. He was in Jerusalem with Barnabas. When they left there to head back to Antioch, Barnabas' nephew went with them:

Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

From Antioch, Barnabas and Saul were sent on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor:

Acts 13:2-3 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

It is interesting to note that the Word of God refers to their ministry as work. God didn't call them in order for them to take it easy and relax - He had some work He planned for them to do.

Acts 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

They took young John Mark with them to be their minister. The word used in this passage indicated that Mark was their assistant - possibly brought along to carry supplies, help with the menial tasks, etc.

But before too long we read this sad account:

Acts 13:13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

This verse in itself doesn't explain what happened, other than to let us know Mark no longer went with them, that he turned back to Jerusalem. But in Acts 15, we read:

Acts 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

The word for departed here is a stronger word used than in chapter 13, and means "to remove, i.e. (actively) instigate to revolt; usually (reflexively) to desist, desert, etc." Mark deserted them in the ministry! He abandoned the work! Perhaps he found it too hard, perhaps he got a glimpse of some of the hardships that they might have to endure in the ministry, perhaps it was just too much work after all - something which he may not have had in mind when the idea of travelling and preaching to far off locations originally presented themself to him. Either way, he abandoned ship, and left Paul and Barnabas, and headed home where the way was much easier for him.

The first missionary journey started approximately in AD 46 or 47 - now three or four years later, Paul and Barnabas travelled back to Jerusalem to give their accounts of the wonderful works God had done through them in the years they were gone. After that, they headed back to Antioch to preach and teach the Word of the Lord. Then Paul started to think again about the churches he had planted and the new believers that he had come to know:

Acts 15:36-40 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

Barnabas wanted to take his nephew along with them - and Paul flatly refused. Perhaps this verse came to Paul's mind:

Proverbs 25:19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Perhaps Paul's refusals went like this: "John Mark is simply not reliable; we can't take him along; he will just fail us again! No, he is NOT going with us! We do not need to have someone tag along who is just not committed to the ministry. If he deserted us once, he will do it again. I will not take that risk!" The disagreement over this young man was so strong, that they went their own separate ways, and Paul travelled on his second missionary journey with Silas instead.

That is the last we hear of both Barnabas and John Mark in the book of Acts - and perhaps Mark would have faded completely off the scene if it wasn't for the grace of God - the God of second chances!

In Peter's first epistle, we hear about this man again:

1 Peter 5:13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.

John Mark was now with Peter in Babylon - and Peter wanted to let them know that his spiritual son greeted them as well.

In approximately 62 AD, we hear Paul making mention of Mark in several of his prison epistles:

Philemon 1:23-24 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

Hm, Mark was now a fellowlabourer with Paul, working together with Paul - involved in the work once again...

Colossians 4:10-11 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

Paul was now telling them to look out for Mark if he came their way, to receive him and take care of him. Some things had changed - both in Mark's committment to the ministry, and in Paul's impression of him. Now, Paul was saying Mark was a comfort to him - someone who came alongside and gave him strength!

But what touches me most are Paul's final words about John Mark. In what was probably his last letter written before he faced his own martyrdom at Roman hands, his thoughts went out to this man whom he now considered a friend and partner in the work:

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Mark had learned the lesson he had failed before. Now, he knew what it meant to be a servant, ministering to the needs of others, ministering faithfully - being used by the Lord!

Timothy, bring Mark with you. Oh, he has been such a help and a blessing to the ministry - I can really use him here!

Praise the Lord for His forgiveness - for His grace - for His second chances!

One final note I want to end on, which ties this devotional together directly with Behold: A Fivefold Picture, and the reason why I wanted to include it as my last devotional in this series:

John Mark - the man who failed the ministry, failed his fellowlabourers, failed in the work and turned back in defeat - learned at last what it meant to be a servant...

Mark 10:42-45 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

...And was used by God to write the Gospel that truly presented the Lord Jesus Christ from the perspective of a Servant.

John Mark - who by the grace of God (which is what John means: "Gift or grace of God"- see 1 Corinthians 15:10) - became a faithful servant and was used by the Lord to teach us about what servanthood really means, from the perspective of the Greatest Servant of all time:

Behold My Servant!

Preached August 26th/07
Written August 30th/07
Jerry Bouey

Isn't it amazing how the Lord will emphasize certain things in our lives - reinforcing something He is trying to teach us?!

When I was working on the two part devotionals Behold: A Fivefold Picture, I kept running across articles that referred to one of those five verses/statements! Then, the last half week or so, the Lord has been reinforcing Mark's Gospel and its emphasis on Jesus being a servant (and His example to us) - again, I kept coming across articles, studies, etc. that focussed on this theme. By coming across them I mean I was not searching for them in any way, but just continuing on in my regular studies, following a link in my email, reading the next sermon outline in a series I have been reading online, etc.

God is sure trying to teach me something! And it is neat to have that continual reinforcement so I learn the lesson. I just find it amazing and awe-inspiring when the Holy Spirit does this to me - and I am sure there are times He does this to His other children too.

I hope you are blessed by this character study on John Mark. I always love the theme of forgiveness and new beginnings - but am strengthened spiritually by having it tied together with the theme of being a servant.

I didn't comment on this in my studies, but when looking for verses on Mark's theme, one of them I came across was this one:

Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

It is one of the three places in the New Testament where God is referred to as "Abba, Father" - Daddy - indicating the closeness we can have with Him...

...And the context was in submitting completely to His will, in the Gospel that deals with being a servant.

Hm, I am beginning to see something here! ;)

And what a wonderful lesson to learn!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 58 - Five-Fold Trust

How many times have we heard the statement, "Trust in Christ as your Saviour"? There is only One that you can trust explicitly and totally for all things in your spiritual life as well as your physical life. I find it interesting that there are five occurrences of the phrase I will trust in the Word of God. The number five symbolizes God's grace. There is no greater grace than that given to us at the Cross of Cavalry. When we trust Christ as our Saviour, we receive that grace of God in our lives. Noah Webster defines this grace as:

Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.

And if by grace,then it is no more of works. Rom 11.

We cannot earn God's love - we cannot work for our salvation - it is free. Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (8) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (9)

Noah defines trust as:

Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person.

Christ left His Heavenly home because there was no way mankind could get to Heaven on his own merit. His compassion for us was so great that He gave up everything and shed His own blood to pay the price for our sins. A price must be paid - judgment must be served - and Christ paid this price and took upon Himself the judgment for all of our sins, my friend. All it takes for us is to trust Him. Trust Him for what? Trust the fact that He is the only way to Heaven and His death, burial and resurrection is the only Gospel - the only way to Heaven. There is none other. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:12) Once we have trusted Christ with our salvation and have been saved, we learn to trust Him with everything else in our lives.

Let's look at the five occurrences of trust:

1. Trust in His strength: The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psa 18:2) There is nothing that will cross our path in life that will be too difficult for the Lord to handle. Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jer 32:27) Does this not bring you great comfort? It surely does for me!

2. Trust in His judgment: But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee. (Psa 55:23) Man will have his time before God and he will be judged! Everyone will have to bow before God and be judged. It is interesting to note that there are three occurrences of this prophecy in the Word: I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isa 45:23) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Rom 14:11) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (Phi 2:10) Man can sin against you and hurt you but his time will come. We do not need to seek vengeance - his punishment will come soon enough.

3. Trust in His protection: What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. (Psa 56:3) How many times have you been afraid? How can you trust in a friend to take care of your fears when he cannot be there 24/7? But God is there always - He never sleeps and is there to comfort us in time of fear. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. (Psa 121:4) How wonderful is that? There have been times when I have feared the outcome of a certain trial and the Lord has taught me to trust Him with this fear. In so doing, I was showered with peace in the midst of this trial. My problem was not over but I no longer was afraid of the outcome because I had a calm assurance that God would work it all out.

4. Trust in His care: I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. (Psa 61:4) I recall never feeling safer than when my father put his arm around me. I knew that the world could fall apart around me but I was safe. It blesses me that God would use these words about His care to bring us comfort. We can trust that He will care for us. David found comfort in God's care. Five times in the Word we can find thy wings - all five are found in the Book of Psalms. Again, God's grace can be found in His care for us! It is soothing to picture ourselves enveloped in God's arms!

5. Trust in His salvation: Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isa 12:2) When we are born again, we are placed into God's family. As a parent, do you randomly add and remove your children from your family because of their behavior? Of course not! A parent's whole purpose is found in their children! When my child has abandoned me, I do not abandon him - no matter what he has done! In fact, the more trouble my child is in, the more I pray for him. The more sin he is involved in, the more I strive to bring him back to his God. The bottom line here is that although my child has strayed from me, my love for him has not ceased and I am more determined to get him back. How much more the Heavenly Father? We can wholly trust in God to keep our salvation. We may turn our backs on God, but He will never turn His back on us. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Joh 10:28)

I challenge you to find one friend on this earth that you can trust in who can provide you with this five-fold trust. Some may be able to provide strength, protection and care - but none can provide those as well as judgment and salvation! Only God can fulfill this five-fold trust. As Noah Webster defined trust, can you say that you totally trust God with every intimate area of your life? Do you have full confidence that your salvation is protected? Do you rely and have rest in your mind that God will take care of all things in your life? And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:7)

Put Thou Thy Trust in God
Paul Gerhardt

Put thou thy trust in God,
In duty’s path go on;
Walk in His strength with faith and hope,
So shall thy work be done.

Commit thy ways to Him,
Thy works into His hands,
And rest on His unchanging Word,
Who Heav’n and earth commands.

Though years on years roll on,
His cov’nant shall endure;
Though clouds and darkness hide His path,
The promised grace is sure.

Give to the winds Thy fears;
Hope, and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
His power will clear thy way;
Wait thou His time, the darkest night
Shall end in brightest day.

Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
So shalt thou, wond’ring, own His way,
How wise, how strong His hand.

Devotional by Kate Plourde

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 57 - Turning Bitter Waters To Sweet

Exodus 15:22-26 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

The Lord was testing the nation of Israel as they were wandering in the wilderness. There were over 600,000 men, plus women and children that were in need of daily water and food - and the Lord was providing for them. But He allowed them to feel their lack and their need of His provision before He gave what they needed to prove them. Everytime a trial came their way, what was in their hearts came out: murmuring and griping; complaining against God and the leader He appointed to lead the people.

The nation of Israel at first couldn't find any water, and then, when they did, the waters were bitter (Marah means "bitter"). As long as the people were rebelling and going their way, their way was bitter. But when the tree was put into the bitter waters, they were made sweet.

Consider these verses:

Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Acts 10:38-40 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Acts 13:23, 28-30 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus... And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The cross of Christ is compared to a tree (it certainly was made out of beams from a tree). Without the salvation Jesus provided by dying upon the cross for our sins, our lives are empty and bitter. Yes, sin may bring pleasure for a season, but the pleasure eventually leaves a spiritually bitter taste in our minds. Sinful pleasures can never fulfill the longing in our souls - only knowing the Lord and walking with Him can do that!

I remember how bitter my life was like before I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ: it was bitter. All the abuse in my past created scars that wouldn't heal, bitterness that tainted each day, leaving a depression and a complete lack of purpose. Life was bitter to me!

But then came Jesus - and He healed my soul, healed the waters of my spirit, healed the wounds in my heart and mind - gave me a reason for living, gave me forgiveness. With Jesus' cross (ie. His death upon the cross) affecting me, the waters of my life were made sweet! There was healing.

There is also another application to this passage in the Bible: that of taking up our cross daily.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

When we, as believers, get our eyes off of the Lord, life is made bitter again - there is no joy, no peace of mind. When God has only half of a believer's heart, you might as well call them Mara!

Consider the story of Naomi recorded in the book of Ruth. Naomi and her family moved to Moab in a time of famine, instead of trusting the Lord to provide and staying in Bethlehem. They went their way, out of the will of God, and it cost them dearly. Within ten years, she lost her husband and her two sons, and one daughter in law went back to her pagan gods. Empty and barren, Naomi returns with Ruth to Bethlehem, and we read this sad account:

Ruth 1:19-21 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Naomi means "pleasant." But she was no longer pleasant; instead she was bitter and anguished. As the story goes on, she puts her eyes back on the Lord and gets right with Him - and He brings healing to her troubled soul.

When we are determined to go our own way, there is bitterness - when we die to ourselves, die to our own will, there is healing and blessing. Consider Jesus, our example:

Matthew 26:37-44 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Luke 22:41-44 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus faced a unique battle. He knew He was going to the cross to bear the sin of the world upon Himself. The Son had never been separated from the Father or the Holy Spirit in all of eternity - and God cannot look upon sin - knowing that when He bore our sins it would bring temporary separation in the Godhead, He struggled with what He had to bear. However, enduring that cup of God's wrath was the only way Jesus could provide for our salvation - and three times He prayed in earnestness and agony, submitting His will to His Heavenly Father's, and won the victory. The blood vessels bursting in His face (bloody sweat) showed the intense pressure and anguish He was in - still He gave His will to His Father. Then God strengthened Him, and He went on with a renewed determination to go to the cross.

When we give God only half of ourselves - picking and choosing what parts we will submit to Him - there is bitterness, there is turmoil within, no peace of mind. When we submit to His will in every area of our lives (inasmuch as we know that will) - when we take our cross up daily, then the Lord will heal those bitter waters.

Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Israel was a very forgetful nation - but there is a lesson to learn here. The Lord taught them how to make their bitter waters sweet, showed them that this healing was based on their obedience and submission to Him; then notice where the Lord took them next:

Exodus 15:27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

An abundance of fresh water - a well for each tribe, and seventy palm trees. Seventy - seven times ten - a multiple of seven contains the same meaning as seven: completeness, perfection, fulness. The Lord was indicating to them that abundance and blessing came from their obedience to Him and His Word. All that they needed was theirs when they got their hearts right with Him and walked right before Him. Satisfaction and fulfillment was found when the cross was added to the waters of their lives!

Are the waters of your life bitter or sweet? Have you come to the cross of Christ and received the Saviour that died upon that cross? Are you dying daily to yourself - have you taken up your cross today?

Written and preached August 28th/07
Jerry Bouey

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day 56 - Be Ye Holy

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. (Psa 68:5) Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. (Psa 150:1)

Is there anything as magnificent in God's creation than mountains? When I behold pictures such as these, I stand in awe of the Creator! I am reminded of His might, His love, and His holiness. As I meditated on this today, I was deeply impressed about how God wants us to be holy like Him. I searched the Scriptures for the phrase, be ye holy, and discovered it appears three times! Praise His Holy Name! The number three symbolizes the godhead, the Three-in-One, the Triune God! Holiness is complete in the godhead!

Let's look at the verses together. I was blessed beyond measure when I discovered the numbers within the numbers themselves!

1. LORD - Jehovah: Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Lev 20:7) The word LORD in this verse refers to Jehovah. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob says we must be holy. Noah Webster defines Jehovah as:

JEHO'VAH, n. The Scripture name of the Supreme Being. If, as is supposed, this name is from the Hebrew substantive verb, the word denotes the Permanent Being, as the primary sense of the substantive verb in all languages, is to be fixed, to stand, to remain or abide. This is a name peculiarly appropriate to the eternal Spirit, the unchangeable God, who describes himself thus, I am that I am. Exo 3.

Jehovah is the Jewish national name of God. They do not recognize the Three-in-One, but we do. It is so clear once you are born again and are able to understand the Scriptures and how they show us this blessed Trinity. Their Jehovah, our Heavenly Father, wants us to be holy!

2. He that called us: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Pe 1:15) Our Saviour, our Shepherd, calls us to Him. Jesus calls us out of darkness into His light - the light of the Word of God. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Pe 2:9) We are His sheep and we know His voice! And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (Joh 10:16) He knows us by name. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (Exo 33:17) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (Joh 10:14) The second Person in the Trinity, who has called us, is asking us to be holy!

3. He that writes to us: Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pe 1:16) The Holy Spirit wrote the Word of God so that we would have God's very words to grow by, to guide us, to teach us. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Pe 1:21) The third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, has written to us and is asking us to be holy!

The Three-in-One, our God, wants us to be holy as He is! But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6) Praise the Lord that Christ's shed blood covers us and our sins are no longer seen by God but only Jesus' blood is seen. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isa 1:18) Because of this precious gift of salvation, we are able to be holy as God is holy. Do we live like we are holy? We should be striving to do so. We cannot be perfect but we can strive toward perfection. Do we live a separated life, abstaining from the very appearance of evil? If not, we should!

Take Time to be Holy
William D. Longstaff

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Devotional by Kate Plourde

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 55 - Behold: A Fivefold Picture - Part Two

I want to build upon something that was presented in Part One of this study. It is interesting to note how the cherubim in the Old Testament are a type of Christ. They each have four faces, and each face represents one Gospel:

A) Matthew, the Lion, presents Jesus as the King, dealing with the Kingdom of God and with His authority.

This Gospel is written primarily for the Jews and deals more with that nation and focusses more on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy than the other Gospels. It is in this Gospel that we find more references to Jesus being the Son of David, the King that is to reign. Here we find Jesus being referred to as the Son of Man (ie. the Messiah) - in contexts that are more reflective of His power (eg. His returning in glory and reigning, His charge over angels).

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Behold Your King!

B) Mark, the Ox, presents Jesus as the Servant, always doing the will of His Father.

This Gospel is geared more towards the Romans. In it we see a Servant under the authority of another (ie. His Father) - all power is given unto Him to fulfill His mission, but we still see Him subservient to His Father. This Gospel also refers to Jesus as the Son of Man, but the majority of those references are to His mistreatment and suffering - ie. the Suffering Servant.

Matthew 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Mark 12:6-9 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

Isaiah 49:5-6 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

In the last chapters of Mark, as we see this Servant being led closer and closer to the cross, we hear more references to His departure and returning again in glory.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

Behold My Servant!

C) Luke, the Man, presents Jesus as the perfect Man, always depending upon the Father.

Luke's Gospel is more geared towards the Greeks, presenting the Ideal Man. In it we see Jesus in all His humanity. This is the only Gospel that gives us a glimpse of His childhood - and in it we learn more about the events surrounding the virgin birth. Here we see our Saviour teaching more about prayer, and showing us the important of it in His daily life; we also see Him doing His miracles and teaching and preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 4:17-21 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Here we see Jesus experiencing more emotions, showing more compassion, and interacting more with the Gentiles around Him. In this universal Gospel, we see Jesus reaching out to the lost of all nations.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Here is the Saviour, the Messiah, for the whole world, not just for the Jews. Yes, to them first, but not only to them!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Behold The Man!

D) John, the Eagle, presents Jesus as the Son of God come down from Heaven, and focusses on who He is and His coming to save man from their sins.

Like Luke, this Gospel is universal - I believe we can even say this Gospel is more geared for every nationality than the others. Here Jesus is portrayed as the Saviour for the whole world - He didn't just come for one particular nation (ie. the Jews). This Gospel focusses more on His deity than the others do, more on the fact that He is GOD manifest in the flesh, He is equal to the Father and is one with Him. He is no mere man - He is GOD with us! Here His glory is displayed, here His miracles shine forth His power, here we see the image of the invisible God in all His fulness!

John 11:25-27 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 4:42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

While this Gospel more clearly sets Jesus forth in all His glory and gloriously manifests His deity to the lost world, and is the best Gospel to use as a witnessing tool to reach the lost, to reveal Jesus to them, we also find it is the favourite of many born again believers. The Gospel of John's main focus is to clearly present Jesus Christ as God, as the Saviour/Messiah come down from Heaven to redeem fallen man.

John 20:30-31 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Not only does this Gospel reveal to us how to have eternal life in Christ, it also shows us what that life means on a practical basis.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Eternal life is more than being saved - it is living life to the fullest in right fellowship with your Saviour!

Behold Your God!

I am sure there is nothing like having an Introduction in the middle of a study! Now to continue where we left off in Part One:

4) Behold The Man!

John 19:1-5 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

Luke presents Jesus Christ as the perfect Man, the Son of Man. The genealogy he gives in his Gospel shows that Jesus, in His humanity, is a descendant of the first man, Adam. It is noteworthy that the term Son of God occurs seven times in Luke's Gospel - six (being typical of man) in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, and once in reference to Adam, whom Jesus descended from and who was directly created by God Himself. Jesus is both God and Man - perfect God and perfect Man in one. God clothed in a human body, manifest in the flesh, so He could die for the sins of fallen man. He had to become one of us to redeem us.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

(See also Luke 3:38; 4:3, 9, 41; 8:28; 22:70.)

Jesus is both the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. Though there is some overlap on the themes presented in each Gospel (to flesh out - so to speak - the picture of the Saviour), I think it would be appropriate to call Luke's Gospel the Gospel of the Son of Man.

Prayer is a major theme of His Gospel, showing the Son's dependance upon His Father.

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?

Luke 9:28-29 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

Luke 11:1-2 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 22:39-46 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

Jesus not only depended upon His Father, He sought and did His Father's will in all things.

Luke 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

Luke 10:22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

Luke 22:29-30 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

If Jesus, the sinless Son of Man, the Perfect Man, needed to depend upon His Heavenly Father moment by moment, day by day, shouldn't we also need to? If our Saviour needed to cling to His Father and seek His Father's will in the midst of His temptations and trials (ie. the events leading to His crucifixion), shouldn't we also need to? Are we following in His example of prayer and trust?

Zechariah 6:12-13 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Luke 19:46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Behold The Man!

5) Behold Your God!

Isaiah 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

This follows on the tail of the prediction of John the Baptist's declarations of who the Messiah would be, and the need to prepare the way for Him - prepare the way physically, prepare the people's hearts spiritually:

Isaiah 40:3-8 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

"Including His own affirmation of it, seven different ones avow His Deity in this Gospel. First, John the Baptist: 'And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God' (1:34). Second, Nathaniel, 'Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God' (1:49). Third, Peter, 'And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God' (6:69). The Lord Himself, 'Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?' (10:36). Fifth, Martha, 'She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world' (11:27). Sixth, Thomas, 'And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God' (20:28). Seventh, the writer of this fourth Gospel, 'These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name' (20:31)." - Arthur Pink, Why Four Gospels?

John's Gospel is the Gospel of the Son of God. In it we see the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ more clearly and more often than what is presented in each of the other three Gospels. Seven times in John's writings he refers to Jesus as the Word:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Five times he refers in his writings to Jesus as the only begotten Son (of God):

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Over and over again in John's Gospel, the deity of Christ is emphasized - as well as the need to believe in His divinity as one of the fundamentals of the faith:

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (Compare with Philippians 2:6)

John 10:30 I and my Father are one.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, Jesus clearly professed to be the I Am of the Old Testament, clearly professed to be God! And with those statements of His deity, He also declared Himself to be ALL that His people would ever need in this life, in eternity.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Isaiah 35:3-4 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Jeremiah 32:17, 27 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee... Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Isaiah 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

Isaiah 11:1-5 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Behold Your God!

Have you searched the Scriptures? Have you personally come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Have you received Him as your Lamb, the Lamb of God that took away your sins?

Do you Behold Jesus in the Scriptures as:

The Lamb Of God?

Your King?

God's Servant?

The Man?

Your God?

Behold this fivefold picture - He is all these and more!


August 22nd/07
Jerry Bouey

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 54 - Jesus' I Am Statements - Part Three

Brother Jerry asked me to search out the Book of John and the "I am" statements that Jesus made. What a delight to find eight such statements! Eight symbolizes a new beginning and we find this new beginning through Jesus Christ and His requirement that we be born again (John 3:3) - our new beginning! What joy the Word brings us when we take the time to search it out.

Let's look at the verses that make up the eight "I am's":

Bread of Life: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (Joh 6:35) and The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. (Joh 6:41) and I am that bread of life. (Joh 6:48) and I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (Joh 6:51) Jesus is the Bread of Life. This is the first of the verses that had an "I am" statement. Can you live without eating? Of course not! Neither can we live without the Triune God - neither can we live without the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Joh 1:1) Jesus is the Word of God and we cannot live without His Word - it is what sustains the believer. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4) Jesus is our Source of nourishment.

Light of the World: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Joh 8:12) and As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (Joh 9:5) and I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (Joh 12:46) Not only is Jesus our very sustenance, but He lights our way - removes our blinders and gives us light to the Truth and through the Truth, the Word of God. I once was blind, but now I see (Amazing Grace)! No longer do we need to walk around in spiritual darkness. Jesus brings the blessed light of the Gospel to us and sheds that light in our cold, dark and sinful hearts. Once we see our sin for what it really is, the way God sees it, we realize we are completely lost - we realize we are in utter darkness and deserving of hell. Jesus is our Source of Light.

Good Shepherd: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (Joh 10:11) and I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (Joh 10:14) These two beautiful verses give us insight to the compassion of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour! Not only does a Shepherd lead, guide and care for his sheep, but this Shepherd gives His life for His sheep and He intimately knows His sheep. His sheep know Him intimately as well when they are born again and growing in Him. If you ever want a blessing in your morning devotions, study out what the job of a shepherd was in biblical times - even in modern day times. It will bless your socks off. Jesus carefully chose His words to be penned, my friend. These analogies are not meaningless. The Lord had every intention of communicating with us clearly. He used our senses to help us to understand the depth of His words. All one has to do is study it out and they will receive a blessing. Without the Shepherd, the sheep will fall off a cliff. They will walk into the path of danger because they do not have the sense to stay away. Does this sound a bit like us? Oh my, it sure does! Jesus is our Source of Care.

The Door: Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (Joh 10:7) and I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (Joh 10:9) Our Good Shepherd leads the lost to a door. But alas, like the old saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," the lost can be led to the door of salvation but they can't be made to walk through. It is a decision only they can make. Jesus is the only door to salvation. He emphatically states in John 10:7 that He is the door of the sheep. Verily, verily - Surely, surely - For certain, for certain ... There is no other way. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6) Again, the Lord used a wonderful analogy here. You cannot enter your house without going through a door. You cannot open that door without physically turning that door knob. You, my friend, have to do the work. Your front door does not just open itself to allow you in. You physically have to open it. Jesus is our door but we physically have to gain entrance by being born again. Jesus is our Source of entrance.

The Resurrection: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (Joh 11:25-26) The cross would be nothing without the Resurrection of Christ. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, He would not be God and the whole account would be fiction. However, Jesus did rise from the dead. This is what separates Him from the world's other gods. Mohammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Joseph Smith did not rise from the dead. He is the only One who can claim this because He is God. Because He conquered death, He has the keys to hell and death and provides us with the opportunity to live for all eternity with Him. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Rev 1:18) Jesus is our Source of eternal life.

The Way: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6) Praise the Lord for this road map, the Word of God, our Bible! It is the Word of God that leads us to Him. The Word of God, breathed by the Holy Spirit of God, draws us to salvation and builds our faith after salvation. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17) The Word guides us and instructs us as we walk the pilgrim's path here on earth. There is only one way to Heaven and once we are saved and are walking the pilgrim's pathway, Jesus is our Guide along the way. His Word provides us with a clear map - clear instructions - of everything we will need along the way. He provides stop signs - He provides green lights - He provides cautions - everything we need is found in His Word until we reach Heaven. Jesus is our Source of direction.

The Vine: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (Joh 15:1) and I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (Joh 15:5) Anyone who has grown anything knows that a leaf apart from the tree lives temporarily and then withers away. We are the same. Without daily walking with Christ, we become weak. Without daily nourishment in the Word of God, we are easily led astray and begin to wither. As long as we are attached in and through the Word, we abide in Him. The Word cleanses us and the Holy Spirit is able to take our yielded vessel and mold us into the image of Christ. If we detach ourselves from the Word and cease to grow spiritually, we leave ourselves open to the devil and his temptations. It is then that we see ourselves droop and then wither away. Jesus is our Source of life.

Son of God: Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (Joh 10:36) Only Jesus could say that He is the Son of God. The other gods of this world have claimed this but none have been able to prove it. Their lies and deception eventually came to light. In the end, these antichrists will be made known to all the earth. There is only One Son of God, the Christ. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Mat 16:16) This is the very foundation of Christianity, my friend. Jesus is God. Jesus is our Source - period.

Chief of Sinners
William McComb

Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed His blood for me;
Died that I might live on high,
Died that I might never die;
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His, and He is mine.

O the height of Jesus’ love!
Higher than the Heaven above;
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lasting as eternity;
Love that found me—wondrous thought!
Found me when I sought Him not!

Jesus only can impart
Balm to heal the smitten heart;
Peace that flows from sin forgiven,
Joy that lifts the soul to Heaven;
Faith and hope to walk with God
In the way that Enoch trod.

Chief of sinners though I be,
Christ is all in all to me;
All my wants to Him are known,
All my sorrows are His own;
Safe with Him from earthly strife,
He sustains the hidden life.

O my Savior, help afford
By Thy Spirit and Thy Word!
When my wayward heart would stray,
Keep me in the narrow way;
Grace in time of need supply
While I live and when I die.

Devotional by Kate Plourde

Jesus' I Am Statements - Part One
Jesus' I Am Statements - Part Two

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 53 - Behold: A Fivefold Picture - Part One

In the whole Bible, there are 1275 verses that contain the word behold - yet among all these there are only five specific statements that tell us to behold the person or character of the Saviour, the Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament and clearly portrayed in the New Testament. There are five profound statements about the Lord Jesus Christ. Often the word behold has a comma after it, indicating that the author of that book wants us to pay attention and hearken to what is being said - Behold, I have something to tell you; or Behold, consider this. But these five statements are different.

1) Behold The Lamb Of God.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

The Messiah that would come and take away the sins of the world is the central theme of the whole Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament types and animal sacrifices - they all pointed to Him and the work of redemption that He would do. From the slaying of the animals and the coats of skins made in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21) to the blood washed robes in Heaven (Revelation 7:14), the picture is there for all with eyes to see. Man's sin deserved death, but God loved us so much, He sent His Son to die in our place. I love Abraham's prophecy and how it is worded:

Genesis 22:7-8 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

It doesn't say, "God will provide a lamb for Himself," but that God Himself would be the Lamb! From the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12, to the Lamb led to the slaughter in Isaiah 53, to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) - it is one central, glorious theme.

1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Jesus is that Lamb of God!

Behold the Lamb!

Before we go to the next phrase, I want to draw your attention to two creatures in the Word of God:

A) The Cherubim

Ezekiel 1:5-10 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

Ezekiel 10:14-15 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.

B) The Four Beasts In Revelation

Revelation 4:6-7 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

The Living Creatures (Cherubim) and the Four Beasts were not the same creatures - each cherub has four faces, and each Beast has only one - but all together all four Beasts have the same four faces as the cherubim:

a) a lion - the king of the beasts,
b) a calf/ox (referred to as a cherub in Ezekiel 10) - the beast of burden,
c) a man - the highest creature in all of God's creation, and the only creature He died to redeem,
d) and an eagle - the most majestic of the birds of the air, soaring among the heavens.

Just as the four pillars for the gate to the tabernacle (see Exodus 27:16) give a fourfold picture of the one way inside (see John 14:6) to where God's glory dwelt, so too do these four faces represent the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fourfold picture of Him we see portrayed in the four Gospels. We may not know all of why God created these creatures the way He did, but it is obvious that one of the reasons was to be a testimony to the one they were created by and will spend eternity worshipping.

"Another Old Testament type which anticipated the fourfold division of Christ’s ministry as recorded in the four Gospels may be seen in Exodus 26:31, 32, 'And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made. And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.' From Hebrews 10:19,20 we learn that the 'veil' foreshadowed the Incarnation, God manifest in flesh — 'through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.' It is surely significant that this 'veil' was hung upon 'four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold:' the wood, again, speaking of His humanity, and the gold of His Deity. Just as these 'four pillars' served to display the beautiful veil, so in the four Gospels we have made manifest the perfections of the only-begotten of the Father tabernacling among men." - Arthur Pink, Why Four Gospels? (Note: this quote does not indicate a complete endorsement of Pink or of all his theological stands. There is much I have read from him that has been a blessing to me, but other things that I would caution against. Please only read him with discernment, comparing all things diligently with the Word of God itself.)

2) Behold Your King!

John 19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus Christ as the King. In his Gospel, we see clearly that Jesus is that King that was foretold to come, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the descendant of King David. As the lion is the king of all beasts in the animal kingdom, Matthew presents Jesus as the King of all kings.

Genesis 49:9-10 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Matthew starts off with presenting us with His royal lineage (His geneology), then shows the danger of the jealousy of a rival king. From the wise men coming to worship the King of the Jews, and the parables and references to the Kingdom of Heaven - as this Gospel unfolds, we come to realize that Jesus is that King. We see His kingly authority in His teachings, the keys of the Kingdom He gave to the apostles, and His Great Commission; His kingly majesty in His transfiguration; the comparison in various parables about the King and the King's Son; the fulfillment of various Old Testament prophecies related to a coming King; the New Testament prophecy of the Son of man (Jesus) as King judging the nations in Matthew 25; and Matthew's account of the trials and crucifixion of this King.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:4-5 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

John 12:14-16 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

Matthew 27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

Matthew 27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

Matthew 27:37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Matthew 27:42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Praise the Lord that the story does not end with the King's mock trial and crucifixion, but with His resurrection and ascension to glory! He is coming back again to reign from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 32:1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

Isaiah 33:17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

It is interesting to note how there is a reference to the Branch that fits under each one of these last four points. That is something I have never noticed before this morning. It certainly adds to the picture!

Jeremiah 33:14-16 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

Revelation 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Are you ready for the King's return in glory? Are you seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness - are you looking for His kingdom to come? Behold your King!

3) Behold My Servant!

Isaiah 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

As a calf or an ox is often used as a beast of burden - the servant of the beasts, if you will - so Mark's Gospel presents the Lord Jesus Christ as God's Servant. No geneology for a lowly servant, just a dedicated soul busy about His master's business. In Mark, many times you will see Jesus rushing from one place to another; read the Gospel writer's terms such as immediately (used 17 times), straightway (used 19 times), forthwith (3 times) - often you will find many verses linked with the word and indicating that the events portrayed occurred one right after another. In Mark's Gospel, we see various times where Jesus is shown as having authority and power delegated to Him by the Father - as a master will delegate authority and responsibility to his servants. We also see Jesus seeking to draw attention away from Himself, not to Himself - a true servant is more concerned with doing God's will than drawing attention to Himself, more concerned with giving God the glory than taking it from Him.

Isaiah 52:13-15 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

This prophesied Servant would be a Man of action, would be continuously busy, continuously showing others what a true servant is like. I love these descriptions of Jesus' ministry, and their example to us:

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mark 9:33-35 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

John 13:1-5 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

John 13:15-17 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Luke 12:35-37 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

Luke 22:25-27 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Jesus is that Servant that was prophesied in the Old Testament - the one who would both be a servant doing the Father's will (represented by the beast of burden), and a sacrifice (represented by the bullock slain and burnt on the altar). Fulfilling God's will and laying down His life for us - a true Servant indeed - a willing Servant!

Mark 14:35-36 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Matthew 12:14-21 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

That victory came when Jesus conquered sin and Satan, death and Hell, by shedding His blood upon the cross and dying for the sins of man, then arising victorious over the grave.

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Zechariah 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Are you following Jesus' example of service? Are you learning of His meekness and humility? Are you becoming a servant and serving others, like your Master did while on earth?

Behold My Servant!

The continuation of this fivefold picture in Part Two will give us Luke's and John's Gospel presentations of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Behold The Man!

Behold Your God!

August 20th/07
Jerry Bouey

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 52 - Fear And Wisdom

When I look upon God's creation, it never ceases to amaze me! The wonder of God's Hand upon all that man can behold is enough to cause us to believe! The Bible says that we are without excuse - God has provided His creation to move us, if you will, into searching for the Creator. Romans 1:18-20 says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (18) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (19) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (20) My Pastor is going through Romans in our morning services on Sundays and he covered these very verses this past Sunday.

Even when I was not born again, I knew in my heart that there had to be a God because when I stared at the Northern Lights or at a sky filled with stars, there could be no other explanation. This was replaced with a healthy reverence for God - this is what led me to Him at the age of 25. God knew that my heart had this reverence for Him and it needed to be nurtured with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was at that time that I was gloriously saved! Praise be to God in the highest!!

It is this reverence - or in the Word it is referred to as "fear" - that drew me to the Lord and He has since given me wisdom through His Word. I did a search for verses with the two words fear and wisdom and was delighted to discover that there are seven verses! Coincidence? I doubt it!! The number seven symbolizes perfection. How can we be made perfect, my friend? Only through the perfect, shed blood of Jesus Christ. When we are born again, the Father no longer sees a sinner - but He sees the perfect blood of His Son over us! OK, now I'm whoopin' and hollerin'! Let's look at the seven verses together!

(1) And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28) It is this fear - this reverence for God - that drew me to salvation several years later. Although I was raised catholic, I did not have a desire to find God in that church. It is hard to explain but I believe it was God's hand of protection over me. He drew me to Him by placing awe of His creation deep within my heart and then using that reverence to point me in the right direction! This fear (awesome reverence) turned into wisdom on April 1, 1980, at noon - that is when my heart accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour! This is the beginning of our eternal lives - our born-again nature will live on forever! I love how this beginning coincidences with the first verse - the number one symbolizes beginning!

(2) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psa 111:10) Once I was born again, this wisdom began to grow. Notice this verse says that it is the beginning of wisdom. How does one gain this wisdom? The answer is in the latter part of the verse. We get wisdom by being in the Word and doing what the Word commands us to do. The Holy Spirit moves us and molds us into Christ's image. As we yield to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we become more like Christ. With the beginning and understanding of God's Word, we can be witnesses for Him. Notice how this is the second verse? The number two symbolizes witness and separation! It is only through reading, understanding and growing in the Word that we can learn how to live godly lives.

(3) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Pro 1:7) It's wonderful to see the progression here. Do you see it? After one is born again and growing in the Word, we begin to really know what we know about what we know! Our knowledge grows as we study God's Word and sit under the preaching. It is at this point in our spiritual lives that we find ourselves at spiritual cross roads. We make many choices between what is right and what is not. We begin to think of our testimony to others and eliminate things from our lives that are not necessarily sin but may be a hindrance to others. Notice that the fool despises wisdom and instruction. There are many Christians out there who fit this role. They don't spend any time in the Word, they don't yield themselves to the Holy Spirit's prodding. They don't grow spiritually - and if they do, they grow very slowly. When we grow, we begin to realize the role that each part of the Godhead has in our lives. We see how the Heavenly Father looks at us as we do our own children. We see what the Saviour has gone through and done for us! We experience the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts! How lovely that this is revealed to us in the third instance of these verses! The number three symbolizes the Godhead!

(4) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Pro 9:10) When one understands why we must be holy and what the benefits of living righteously are, one has gained much knowledge according to God. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pe 1:16) We cannot be holy if we are not practicing righteousness in our lives. Practicing righteousness means that we are allowing the Holy Spirit access to and control over our lives. In so doing, we are able to worship God in spirit! God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Joh 4:24) God's Word has a wonderful way of intertwining and developing itself, doesn't it? If we spend time in the Word, we are surely rewarded. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Joh 1:1) When we absorb the Word of God in daily reading and studying, we see that Christ (the Word) was in the beginning. He is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. The number four symbolizes earth, creation and world. Christ was at the beginning - He created everything. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Col 1:16) How appropriate is that?

(5) The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. (Pro 15:33) I think of how Christ had to humble Himself to take on the form of man and give up His very life for our sins. He now sits at the right hand of the Father and awaits His reign here on earth. It is only through His shed blood that we can receive salvation. When we humble ourselves and accept the perfect work of the cross, we are given life eternal through Christ and we will reign with Him. The precious grace of God to man was given through Jesus Christ, our Saviour! The number five symbolizes grace, the Cross and atonement. The placement of these verses in this particular order is not a coincidence, my friend! Glory!

(6) And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; (Isa 11:2) When the Holy Spirit rests upon man (residing within the born-again believer), He provides us with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of God! It is the Holy Spirit Himself who moves us and guides us in all things. Mankind is nothing without the Holy Spirit in his life. Mankind is lost without the Holy Spirit wooing him to Jesus Christ. Man needs the Spirit to direct us and feed us spiritually! Praise the Lord for God's Spirit in our lives! The number six symbolizes man. Man is nothing without Christ. Man cannot have the spirit that this verse speaks of without Jesus as his Saviour. Man is incomplete without the Spirit of God within him.

(7) And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isa 33:6) Oh blessed God of all, thank You for these verses this morning! The last verse, the seventh verse, covers salvation being our treasure! Our Pearl of Great Price! The number seven symbolizes perfection and completeness. There is salvation in no other, my friend! Christ saves us completely. He was the Perfect Lamb of God - without sin - there is no other!

Lord, thank You for lifting my spirit today and placing me on shouting grounds! Praise and honor be to Your Name!

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Devotional by Kate Plourde

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible