March 26

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—Isaiah. 53:4,5/Matt. 8:16,17 Suffering Vicariously (Our Delegated Substitute!)

Isaiah 53: 3,4

  • He is despised (hated, reviled, loathed, shunned, scorned, derided [antonym is beloved: how heartbreaking that the beloved Son of God bore all this FOR ME!])
  • and rejected (disallowed, forbidden, banned, excluded, vetoed, prohibited) of men;
  • a man of sorrows (distresses, troubles, burdens, disappointments),
  • and acquainted with grief (sorrow, heartache, anguish, pain, misery, unhappiness, woe [antonym is joy: how ironic, that the joy of the Lord gives me strength! Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.]):
  • and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  • Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
  • yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

The NT reference, which speaks of Jesus’ healing the sick, refers back to Isaiah, but I think more of His “vicarious sufferings” on the cross. Yes, He suffered physical pain more than I can imagine, but the fact the He was also bearing the sins of the world is beyond human comprehension. When I think of my darkest days—those times when I was guilty of some sin and yet not willing to confess or forsake it—I think of the agony of heart: the guilty and misery in my soul! That is just a microcosm of what Jesus bore on the cross! He bore it ALL!

APPLICATION: Stop sinning! Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful?! I can never be fully “sin-free” or sin less, but as the play on words tells us: I can’t be sinless but I can sin less! PTL!

And then be grateful for God’s forgiving power! It cost SO much, but it is FREE to all who will yield to His perfect way!

March 25

—Isaiah 53:7/Matt. 26:62, 63 Silent When Accused

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 Isaiah 53: 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Matt. 26:62-65 (NKJV)

And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”

But Jesus kept silent.

And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!

Jesus was not going to answer the high priest and, in fact, does not answer him until the religious leader makes it an oath to God. Even then the high priest does not believe Him!

APPLICATION: Know when to speak and when to keep silent. Some questions need no comment. This is a lesson I STILL have not learned! Also, know that this world will not accept me or God’s Word unless the heart is ready to do so.  Some folks will never choose Christ! How sad!

March 23

download.pngYea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9

And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. Mark 14:10

And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. Luke 22:47

Even though this lesson is focusing on the prophecies, the substance of the scripture stops me in my tracks.  Have you ever been betrayed by someone you loved dearly? I suppose we all have. It’s such a hurtful thing. Our hearts are grieved in places where nothing else can touch. Heartsick.

Oh, how thankful I am that my closest Friend will NEVER betray me! That thought alone can salve the wound of loving betrayal.

APPLICATION: Father, may I never be the cause of such grief to Your heart!

March 18

—Matt.25:1-13 Parable of the Ten Virgins

Obviously, this parable is about the return of Christ. There are several thoughts about which return it is referring too, but I’m just going to focus on the lesson for me! J

Jesus IS coming back. If He came today, would I be ready? Am I a wise or foolish follower? What does that even look like—to be a wise follower of Jesus?

The wise virgins were ready because:

  1. They had their lamps
  2. They had enough oil

They ALL fell asleep and had to trim their lamps, but the difference is that the wise virgins had enough oil to keep burning for the bridegroom’s arrival. For me, that really speaks of being prepared to meet my Master at any time by keeping my eye on the eternal.

What if Jesus came today? How would I feel? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the daily grind that we forget the Master.

APPLICATION: Keep looking up! 🙂

March 21–Week 3: PROPHECIES CONCERNING JESUS’ DEATH

PalmSunday-58e280f35f9b58ef7e94e120Zech. 9:9/John 12:13, 14 Triumphal Entry

Some may scoff and say that Jesus staged the whole thing, but the amazing prophecy actually begins in Matthew 21:2 where Jesus tells His disciples, “Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.”

Fulfilled prophecies strengthen our faith because only an all-knowing, all-powerful God could know the future and have them occur exactly when he plans.

APPLICATION: Praise God for His amazing strength, knowledge, compassion, and plan for my life!

March 15

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—Matt.21:33-41 The Parable of the Vineyard

Characters in this parable:

  1. Householder/landowner—he planted the vineyard, put a wall around it, and dug a winepress and tower
  2. Husbandmen/vine-growers—the householder rented it to them
  3. Servants/slaves—householder sends HIS servants to the vineyard that THEY might receive the fruit
    1. Husbandmen took the servants and beat, killed, stoned them

(This action repeated several times)

  1. Son—sent by the householder

Spiritual application:

  1. Husbandmen kill him God is planting His Word into His people
  2. Pastors (Jewish culture: chief priests) are caring for His “vineyard”
  3. Pastors? As well?
  4. Jesus—sent by His Father in heaven.

Not sure who the husbandmen would parallel today. A church hierarchy where corruption is taking place or perhaps just a pastor and staff?

Jesus asks what the householder should do.

Their response: Householder should destroy the husbandmen and let out the vineyard to others which will pay the husband his due.

THEY KNEW THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THEM!!! And sought to seize him BUT feared the people!

It’s always helpful to look before and after a passage to gather more context. We just looked at the Parable of the Two Sons which basically teaches obedience to the Father. Tomorrow, we will look at Matthew 22, which opens with the parable of the king who is preparing a wedding banquet for his son. Friends, who were invited, make excuses why they couldn’t attend.

Does that shed any light on today’s parable? What is a parable anyway? Simply put, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus is constantly using physical examples to teach Gospel truths. So, today’s parable…

APPLICATION for me: Keep in the middle of the road.

I hear them angels calling loud:
Keep in the middle of the road,
They’s awaitin’ there in a great big crowd,
Keep in the middle of the road.
I see them stand ’round the big white gate,
We must travel along for we get too late,
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Right in the middle of the road

Refrain:

Then, children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right, don’t you look to the left!
But keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
(Keep in the middle of the road)
‘Cause the road am rough and it’s hard for to walk,
(Keep in the middle of the road)
I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair,
And I’ll keep on a-going till I get there
‘Cause my head am bound for the crown to wear
Keep in the middle of the road.

Come and join our weary band
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Cause we’re bound for home in the happy land
(Keep in the middle of the road)
Turn your back on this world of sin
Just knock at the door, and they’ll let you in
Cause you’ll never gonna get such a chance again
Keep in the middle of the road.

This world am full of sinful things,
Then keep in the middle of the road, oh yeah!
When your feet get tired, just put on them wings,
Keep in the middle of the road.

If you lay down in the road and die,
You can watch them angels in the sky,
You can put on wings and get up and fly,
Keep in the middle of the road.

` African Spiritual

 

Now, why would I say that? Well, the husbandmen lost sight of the goal: they were working for the King! They got greedy and wanted all the glory which was due the householder.

Ministry is not easy. Being a born-again believer who is sold out for God is not easy in any generation, and if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the right and get too caught up in some theological, denominational, or standard issue or more concerned about numbers or our reputation, which draws us away from the real goal—serving the King.  And if we’re not careful, we’ll look to the left and get all caught up in the trinkets and baubles that the world dangles in front of our noses at every turn and we’ll fall in that ditch and forget—we’re here to serve the King!

My husband and I have watched several TV shows lately that are centered around the White House. We often hear this statement: I serve at the pleasure of the President. I’m so glad I serve that the pleasure of the King of Kings! I’ll never fall in the ditch if I keep my eyes on Him!

March 13

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–John 15:1

Jesus is the true vine and his Father is the husbandman, vinedresser. The TRUE vine—this makes me think of different vines I’ve run into in my gardening.  Our son and his wife bought a house in South Carolina several years ago and it must have been owned by a gardener at one time. There are seven gardens and tons of flowering trees, but much of it was taken over by vines of different sorts.  Thankfully, there were no kudzu vines! If you’ve never lived in the south you may not be familiar with this rascal!  A kudzu vine will take over everything and is next to impossible to get rid of!

In the north, we have another nasty vine called poison ivy.  As a child, we had poison ivy on the front hill of our property but my mom really worked at keeping it under control. (Don’t ever burn it and stand in the smoke! You will be covered with poison!) When we bought our first home we also had poison ivy, but I didn’t recognize it because it was this hairy looking branch that had connected itself to the trees. The tiny reddish leaves that I was used to seeing were twelve to fifteen feet up the tree!

Bad, or untrue vines. They are out to destroy! Jesus is the true vine and His purposes are always good! He will gladly graft on any branch that believes in Him and then pours Himself into it, nourishing it and strengthening it to produce fruit for His glory.

And then there’s the vinedresser or husbandman—the gardener who really knows how to care for the vine and all His branches. In fact, the Vinedresser willingly cut the vine down knowing that It would revive and be able to nourish the branches in a way that had not been possible before!

Application: Oh, I want to be a good branch! How I want to grow and bring forth fruit, trusting the Father to cut and prune and slash as He sees fit so that I can produce more fruit—much fruit—for His glory!!! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

March 12

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—John 10:7-9 Jesus is the door/gate

BACKGROUND: 1-5

  • Thief and robbers crawl through the window. (false teachers trying to steal souls away from the truth of God’s Word)
  • “into the sheepfold–the sacred enclosure of God’s true people.”
  • Climbs up some other way—wanting heaven but not entering in God’s way. OUCH!
  • Other ways? Works, philosophies, religions
  • One door—One shepherd (tolerance?)

V 3: The porter opens (Jesus has the right by His own blood to be admitted as the only True Shepherd).

  • The sheep hear.
  • He calls them by name.
  • He leads them. PTL!

V4: He takes them out to pasture. They follow!

V5: They WILL NOT follow a stranger but flee!

V6: The disciples did not understand. (We’re in good company when the truths of the Word are unclear!)

In verse 7, Jesus calls Himself the door of the sheep. “This simple creature [the sheep] has this special note among all animals, that it quickly hears the voice of the shepherd, follows no one else, depends entirely on him, and seeks help from him alone–can not help itself, but is shut up to another’s aid” [Martin Luther].

V 9: Jesus states again that He is the Door.

COME THROUGH JESUS (the Door)=SALVATION

Go in and out and find pasture (The Shepherd is responsible for feeding as well as caring in every way for the sheep). This is fellowship!

APPLICATION:

  • Am I His sheep?
  • Am I following?

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  • Am I eating?
  • Am I resting in Him?
  • Am I pushing at the fence?

 

Mar. 11

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–John 9:5

Do you see a pattern in Jesus’ teaching?

  • He and the disciples pass a man that is blind.
  • The disciples ask a question
  •  Jesus answers and teaches.

We would be wise to look for God’s lessons in every life situation because that’s what Jesus did.

Think about the darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Have you ever been blinded by a bright light after being in the dark? What a great illustration of salvation.  We walked in darkness. We couldn’t see the truth.  (That is what was wrong with the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day–religious but lost.) The Light was right in front of them but they did not have God’s Light within them to see Him.

When Jesus made the following statement, he was talking about His light which shines into our souls at the time of salvation. Matthew 6:23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (NKJV)
Application 1: I am so thankful for my salvation.  The older I get, the more darkness I see in so many lives. Is that why Jesus asked, Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?

Application 2: For me, I’m challenged to shine for Jesus, be His little light wherever I go, and to share His Light with others as often as I can.  That’s a tall order, but we have a great Teacher, Comforter, Helper, and Friend!

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5

March 9

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–John 8:23

Once again the whole passage may need to be read to get the whole story. It begins with the adulterous woman being brought to Jesus.  He writes on the ground and asks the one who has not sinned to cast the first stone. I love verse nine: And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldesteven unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. I love that the elders led–a challenge for me! Verse 32 is also a favorite: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Such a simple statement but it was misconstrued as well. (I shouldn’t be surprised when my simple statements are misconstrued.:) )

When Jesus tells them that He is going His way in verse 21, He also says that they will die in their sins and not come with him.

This passage is a great example of listening with the unregenerated mind and not the born-again heart. Look at what Jesus said vs. what they hear:

  1. I’m going to heaven but you are not because of your sin/ We can’t go with him, He must be suicidal (21-22)
  2. You’re from this world, I’m from heaven/Who are you?  (23-25). They never once consider that Jesus may have been exactly who He said He was–the Son of God!

These are just two examples, but verse 27 sums up their thinking which Jesus knew completely: “They understood not …”

Application for me: Am I listening when I’m reading the Bible or hearing teaching or preaching? Do I hear what I want to hear? Am I willing to look inside and see what Jesus sees?