Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Harvesting a Peaceful Fruit of Righteousness
As you remember, our group is studying Malachi and have reached chapter 3. The prophet explains God's displeasure by the assertion that the spiritual leaders' weariness and disobedience has actually wearied God. I believe he quotes Isaiah 43:24 "you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities". Malachi is God's final call to repent and obey the terms of the covenant with whole hearts.
Knowing their weakness and bend toward sin, in mercy and great love, God warns of His approach, "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me...The LORD who you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, ...is coming!"
Take notice! Wake up! Be alert! Look for him!
The messenger of the covenant is coming on the scene!
Unfortunately, Israel defied God's warning. Weary of service, taking shortcuts in mandated offerings, and overwhelmed with positional pride, they missed the offered relationship with their God. Their arrogance believed God would bring vengeance on their enemies, but they were too good to face judgment. Because they neglected to receive God's relationship, they didn't recognize God's "Word" when this Messenger "was made flesh and dwelt among us". They continued to look only for the world's Judge, the God of vengeance on their enemies, a roaring lion, and this caused them to miss the Savior, the precious Lamb of God.
In the Gospel of Matthew, a messenger comes on the scene, preparing the way through proclamations for Repentance. He was rejected and thrown in jail. He faced death at the hand of an emperor, yet, his message prepared the way for Jesus, the Lord who suddenly appeared. Misunderstanding two separate comings of the Lord, John experienced the people's arrogant disobedience and expected judgment, possibly recalling this prophecy of Malachi. To clarify the Lord's appearance among them, John sent servants to Jesus asking for an explanation.
How did the Messiah's ministry fit the warnings of pending judgment?
Jesus gently responded to John the Baptist by pointing to an earlier prophetic book, Isaiah, giving more detail to this appearance. Jesus quoted Isaiah 35, "behold, the God of vengeance, even a God with a recompense; he will come and save you." The Judge's plan included mercy, a redemption that would save from the terrible judgment. The prophetic coming of the Messiah as Light to heal blind eyes and ears and cleanse from sin came with a recompense which met the vengeance of God at the cross. Christ's first coming satisfied the wrath of God, yet He saved His people, by the shedding of His own blood. "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world be saved through Him" John 3:17
Today, I looked at Jesus' words in John 12:46-47, "I came into the world as LIGHT so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world."
Healing the blind living in darkness, opening the deaf ears, and touching leprosy - all show physical touches of Jesus, yet, represent the spiritual changes taking place in those who receive the Word of God, believing the Truth. God sent His LIGHT into the world. This Light made those in darkness see their condition, hear the Truth leading to belief, and be cleansed of the disease of sin. All his physical miracles completely healed and pointed to what the sacrifice of His own blood does to those who come to Him.
With John, many ask "What about judgment?"
John 12:48 speaks of the judgment mentioned in Malachi. The Word spoken is Jesus and He will judge on the last day. In mercy, God gave Jesus the commandment of eternal life, but those who do not receive Him, reject mercy and will face judgment.
During this time of grace, a just God is satisfied in Jesus Christ. Yet, many reject Him. God deals with this rejection in justice through the second coming of Christ. While we wait for His return to fix our broken world, we must be faithful to proclaim "Today is the day of salvation!"
The Savior calls in mercy now!
What wonderful Grace! The words that Jesus gave us are eternal life. Several passages answer the question of who faces God's wrath in judgment. In Jesus, we are saved from the wrath of God!
We looked at five passages stating we are saved from the wrath to come. John 3:36, John 5:24, Rms 2:8, Rms 5:9, and Eph 5:6.
As I read this precious Word, my heart overflowed with such gratitude! Jesus' own words about God's wrath is amazing and wonderful! There's no longer fear of meeting God. Christ's sacrifice on the cross satisfied the wrath of God, freeing me to serve Him with a whole heart.
While I live in this broken world, God trains me in trials and hurts to make me more like Christ. Broken people also cause a hard workout on my heart, but I grow in grace as I consider all He did for me. I struggle with the brokenness of the world, yet, by faith, I claim God promises to strengthen my faith, increase my endurance and make me all He has planned for me.
The Word is my coach in this race I run.
In Hebrews 12, I'm encouraged to "Consider Jesus".
Consider all He endured, even the shedding of blood, and my burdens become light and momentary realizing how much He did for me. God is working for my good with the promise is a harvest of a peaceful fruit of righteousness. In gratitude, I know I will lay my harvest at His feet in honor of all he did for me.
As I close this week's study time, I'm resting in the meadow of God's omnipotent love, among the blossoms of His beautiful promises, and living out His abundant life in faith. Sheltered under the good and bountiful cloud of Jesus Christ, I'm reminded of this song bursting with gratitude...
"How can I say thanks for the things that are done for me...
Things so undeserved, that you gave your very life for me...
The voices of a thousand angels could not express my gratitude...
All that I am, or ever hope to be....
I owe it all to Thee!'
To God be the Glory.....