Poetry Saturday—How Few Receive With Cordial Faith

How few receive with cordial faith
the tidings which we bring?
How few have seen the arm revealed
of heav’n’s eternal King?

The Saviour comes! no outward pomp
bespeaks His presence nigh;
No earthly beauty shines in Him
to draw the carnal eye.

Fair as a beauteous tender flow’r
amidst the desert grows,
So slighted by a rebel race
the heav’nly Saviour rose.

Rejected and despised of men,
behold a Man of woe!
Grief was His close companion still
through all His life below.

Yet all the griefs He felt were ours,
ours were the woes He bore:
Pangs, not His own, His spotless soul
with bitter anguish tore.

We held Him as condemned by Heav’n,
an outcast from His God,
While for our sins He groaned, He bled,
beneath His Father’s rod.

His sacred blood hath washed our souls
from sin’s polluted stain;
His stripes have healed us, and His death
revived our souls again.

We all, like sheep, had gone astray
in ruin’s fatal road:
On Him were our transgressions laid;
He bore the mighty load.

Wronged and oppressed how meekly He
in patient silence stood!
Mute, as the peaceful harmless lamb,
when brought to shed its blood.

Who can His generation tell?
from prison see Him led!
With impious show of law condemned,
and numbered with the dead.

’Midst sinners low in dust He lay;
the rich a grave supplied:
Unspotted was His blameless life;
unstained by sin He died.

Yet God shall raise His head on high,
though thus He brought Him low;
His sacred off’ring, when complete,
shall terminate His woe.

For, saith the Lord, My pleasure then
shall prosper in His hand;
His shall a num’rous offspring be,
and still His honours stand. 

His soul, rejoicing, shall behold
the purchase of His pain;
And all the guilty whom He saved
shall bless Messiah’s reign.

He with the great shall share the spoil,
and baffle all His foes;
Though ranked with sinners, here He fell,
a conqueror He rose.

He died to bear the guilt of men,
that sin might be forgiv’n:
He lives to bless them and defend,
and plead their cause in heav’n. —William Robertson

Where’s God When I Feel Abandoned?

Have you ever felt abandoned by someone? 

You stood up for someone, but when you needed someone to stand up for you they disappeared Or you did what was right, but no one recognized you for it? Or you were the encourager, but when you needed encouragement no one was around for you? Or maybe even you obeyed God down to the very last detail, and yet it seemed God abandoned you when you needed Him most? 

Jesus knows what every single one of these scenarios feel like! He stood up for the downtrodden, but they screamed, “Crucify Him!” He poured His life into teaching and encouraging His friends, but they all ran when the heat was on, leaving Jesus all by Himself. He obeyed God down to the very last detail, and yet it seemed like God abandoned Him when He needed Him most. 

Have you ever felt abandoned by God? 

Jesus did. 

Hanging from the Cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!” 

I cannot help but notice two things about the state of mind Jesus was in heading to the horrific treatment He would face (see Matthew 26:31-44; 27:27-46). 

  1. Jesus knew all of this was going to happen to Him. Notice the phrases “for it is written” and “so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled” and “so that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled. Even His cry from the Cross was a literal quotation of Old Testament Scripture (Psalm 22:1).
  2. God was silent. Even though Jesus called out to His Father three times in prayer, “My Father!” there was no heavenly response. 

Why would God remain silent during this trial? God didn’t need to speak to His Son during the trial because He had already spoken to Him before the trial! 

It’s the same in our trials—

The Teacher prepares us for the test, but then is silent during the test. 

God’s silence is not His rejection or abandonment. Just as God provided for Jesus in His moment of trial, God has provided for us in our trials too—For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. (1 Corinthians 10:13 AMP) 

So let’s learn three invaluable lessons we can learn from Christ’s time of supreme suffering. 

1. Be honest in God’s presence 

Jesus didn’t hide His feelings, nor did He try to couch His vocabulary in “churchy” sounding words. God already knows what’s in your heart, so pour it out raw and honestly! Go to the Psalms and see raw emotions on full display in prayer. 

2. Lean all your weight on Jesus

Jesus prayed, “My Father!” and He cried out from the Cross, “My God!” His death on the Cross took away the barriers that kept up from coming into God’s presence (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). After His resurrection, Jesus sent this message to His friends: “Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to MY Father and YOUR Father, to MY God and YOUR God’” (John 20:17). 

3. Go to the Word of God

This is what Jesus did. In His moment of abandonment, He quoted Psalm 22 from the Cross. Jesus fulfilled ALL of the Scriptures, so now we can pray with greater assurance—For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

God’s silence is NOT God’s abandonment. God’s silence is His invitation for us to be honest, to lean on Jesus, and to trust every promise in His Word. Every single promise that is Yes! and Amen! 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our Where’s God? series, please check out: 

And join me this Sunday as we take a look at how Jesus has conquered humanity’s ultimate enemy. 

Poetry Saturday—Christ Jesus Lay In Death’s Strong Bands

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah.
Hallelujah! 

It was a strange and dreadful strife
when life and death contended;
the victory remained with life,
the reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
that death is swallowed up by death,
his sting is lost forever. 
Hallelujah!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
so strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
faith points to it, death passes o’er,
and satan cannot harm us. 
Hallelujah! —Martin Luther

The Ministry Of Reconciliation

Ministry of reconciliationWhen couples are divorcing, their most common complaint is summed up in two words: irreconcilable differences. The couple is saying that things have gotten so bad―and the distance between them has gotten so vast―that there is no hope at all of ever patching things up.

Sometimes we might be able to say that both husband and wife shared some of the blame. But this isn’t true in a spiritual divorce. When we are separated from God, it’s all on us. Paul describes us as powerless sinners, unholy enemies of God (see Romans 5:6, 8, 10). We did the leaving; we are the problem.

But in the desire to bring reconciliation, God puts it all on Himself―more specifically, on the death of His Son Jesus on an old rugged Cross. In Romans 5 Paul says our reconciliation was through Christ five times in just three verses (vv. 9-11).

As if it weren’t amazing enough that Christ’s death on the Cross saved us, justified us, and reconciled us, giving us a brand new start (2 Corinthians 5:16-17), God then gave us the same ministry that He undertook through Jesus: the ministry of reconciliation (vv. 18-19)!

What Jesus purchased for us on an old rugged Cross allows us to “become the righteousness of Christ” (v. 21). Not reflect His righteousness, not talk about His righteousness, but actually become His righteousness!

We have the supreme privilege of being able to bring the message of reconciliation to others who used to be where we were: powerless sinners, unholy enemies of God!

We have the awesome joy of being God’s righteousness to people who think their irreconcilable differences will keep them from God!

The greatest act of serving you could ever do for anyone is telling them that they can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ’s work on an old rugged Cross!

Absolutely amazing!

We’ll continue our look at the Old Rugged Cross next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me at Calvary Assembly of God.

No Plan B

The Old Rugged CrossIn my family, what starts off as Plan A at the beginning of the day is highly likely to end up as Plan K-13 by the end of the day! We just try to be flexible and roll with the changes.

But we must be careful about giving the characteristic of “flexibility” to God—He doesn’t need to be flexible and modify His plans. He has no Plan B; everything is His Plan A.

Jesus is described as being the sacrificial Lamb from before the dawn of Creation (1 Peter 1:18-20). And in Heaven Jesus is still known as the Lamb that was slain (Revelation 13:8 and 5:5-6). Jesus coming to earth to die on an old rugged Cross was always God’s Plan A. The whole time Jesus Christ was on earth, He knew what was happening.

Here are 5 things Jesus knew. He knew…

  1. …when His time had come, and that all things were about to be fulfilled through His crucifixion—John 13:1, 3
  2. …the exact sequence of events leading up to His death on Calvary—Matthew 20:17-19
  3. …the immutability of the Scriptures—Matthew 26:53-56
  4. …the infallibility of the Scriptures—Luke 24:25-27
  5. …that God would be glorified in fulfilling His Plan A—John 12:27-28

With this in mind, here are 5 things we should know. We should know…

  1. …that all my days were written down before the dawn of Creation—Psalm 139:16
  2. …God loves me more than I can fathom—Psalm 139:17
  3. …my life was always intended to be a part of God’s Plan A—Ephesians 2:10
  4. …no weapon formed against God’s Plan A for me will succeed—Isaiah 54:17
  5. …that God will be glorified in fulfilling His Plan A in my life—Romans 8:28

The old rugged Cross reminds us that God’s Plan A was always for Christ’s death to make it possible for our lives to make sense!

As Andrew Murray wrote: “God fully relied on His Son to see to it that His honor was respected. And in Jesus we too may bravely enter this covenant without fear that we will not be able to fulfill it. We can rely upon Jesus to see to it that He will bring everything to completion. Jesus has not only discharged our old debt but also undertaken the responsibility for whatever else may be required.”

I’ll be continuing our series on The Old Rugged Cross this Sunday, and I hope you can join me.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“That is the religion of ninety-nine English people out of every hundred who know nothing of divine grace—we are to be as good as we can; we are to go to church or to chapel, and do all that we can, and then Jesus Christ died for us, and we shall be saved. Whereas the gospel is, that He did not do anything at all for people who think they can rely on themselves, but gave Himself for lost and ruined ones. He did not come into the world to save self-righteous people; on their own showing, they do not want to be saved.” —Charles Spurgeon

Twitter stands up to ISIS. About time!

bu-030415-1Interesting research results from The Barna Group in What Millennials Want When They Visit Church.

“The engagement of God’s power never takes the place of the engagement of our will! The power of God in sanctification never makes us passive! The power of God engages itself beneath or behind and within our will, not in place of our will. … God will never appear with power in your will in any other form than a good resolve that you make and keep.” —John Piper

“Jesus is Amen as to His righteousness. That sacred robe shall remain most fair and glorious when nature shall decay. He is Amen in every single title which He bears; your Husband, never seeking a divorce; your Head, the neck never being dislocated; your Friend, sticking closer than a brother; your Shepherd, with you in death’s dark vale; your Help and your Deliverer; your Castle and your High Tower; the Horn of your Strength, your confidence, your joy, your all in all, and Amen in all.” —Charles Spurgeon

Read this in my Archeological Study Bible and thought this rang true for our generation still today: “This generation was not guilty of the gross idolatry of its forefathers. Rather, these Israelites had embraced a kind of dead orthodoxy, in which they tried to get by with the minimum that their faith required.”

The Old Rugged Cross

The Old Rugged CrossThe Apostle Paul traveled the known world preaching and teaching. Luke preserves some of his sermons for us in the Book of Acts, and Paul’s letters reveal the depth of and breadth of his Spirit-inspired thoughts. But of all the doctrines which this eminent apostle taught, there was one truth that stood out as the foundation for all others—

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

The work that Jesus Christ did on an old rugged Cross is absolutely the most central message of all others. Without the Cross, no other doctrine makes sense.

Sadly, we spend far too little time looking at the Cross.

Join me this Sunday as we take a long look at the Cross and the Lamb of God Who was sacrificed on it. Our series is simply called The Old Rugged Cross.

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