Sunday, January 5, 2014

Anchor for Our Soul

Anchor for our Soul
           God has given us an anchor for our soul not based on our subjective emotional
responses or changing feelings within ourselves, but on the objective reality outside of
ourselves of what God Himself has said and done. That “anchor,” that “confident expectation”  to which we so eagerly look forward is embodied in the English word "hope" which means so much more in Greek and Hebrew than in English. Our English word in this case is simply too weak to convey to us the confidence and strength of the God-breathed words which were given in Hebrew and in Greek.
       Let's begin with a passage from the book of Hebrews chapter six: “So when God
desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul,  a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf. . . ."  Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV
       The word translated hope here is the Greek word elpis (Strong's G1680) meaning
confident expectation” or “solid assurance.” The primary root elpo means "to anticipate usually with pleasure, expectation or confidence."
(Mounce, Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, p. 340)

       We have “fled for refuge” to Jesus because without Him we were “without hope and without God in the world."  Eph. 2:12  lost and on our way to face God for the judgment of our sins.  When Christ brought us to Himself, He gave us an anchor for our soul that we would have the confident assurance that we belong to Him and are safe in Him and that “He will bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom."  2 Tim.4.18  
        We have both His Word and His oath, His absolute promise. And we have the evidence of God's faithfulness and immutability, His unchangeableness throughout all of human history confirmed in the history of our own lives. It is “strong consolation” or encouragement implying “indwelling strength” from God.
        Now all of that is to emphasize that when you see the word hope in scripture, read it as confident expectation” or anticipation of that which most surely will come to pass. Let's take a few of the wonderful verses using hope in the New Testament and see how they sound with that as a translation instead of the English word hope which often implies a desire, but not a certainty.  The certainty is missing in English, but it's not missing in Greek or Hebrew.
Titus 1:2 (ESV) in [confident expectation] of eternal life, which God, who never lies,
promised before the ages began
Romans 5:2 (ESV) we rejoice in [confident expectation] of the glory of God.
Romans 15:4 (ESV) For whatever was written in former days was written for our
instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have [confident expectation]
Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of [confident expectation] fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in [confident expectation.]
Ephesians 1:18 (ESV) having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know
what is the [confident expectation] to which he has called you,

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) Christ in you, the [confident expectation] of glory.

Titus 2:13 (ESV) waiting for our blessed hope, [[confident expectation] the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

        In the Old Testament Hebrew has more than one word translated into English by
hope.” (So does Greek.) Sometimes the same Hebrew word is translated hope in one
place and expectation in another. An example is Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait thou only
upon God; for my expectation is from him.” The Hebrew is tiqvah, [8615] sometimes
translated hope. The literal meaning is “a cord (as an attachment; figuratively,
expectancy:” Or “thing that I long for.”

Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope.The Hebrew here is batach 982—Strong's meaning to trust, be confident or sure:
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope 3176  in the Lord. Strong's 3176 is yachal in Hebrew meaning to wait; by implication, to be patient, hope:

That marvelous verse Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he
shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord is sometimes translated “Hope in the  Lord.” The Hebrew is qavah Strong's 6960 meaning “to bind together (perhaps by twisting),  i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:”

Look at Psalm 39:7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. |6960 qavah is I do await , Hope here is towcheleth 8431

What is clear from both the Hebrew and Greek examples is that when scripture uses
the English word hope it is to have a certainty that is often missing in the popular and
common use of that English word.

       Obviously this is closely-related to faith which is simply believing that what God said in
His Word is true and acting on that. Stepping out, trusting, depending on God and His Word. The Greek word is pistis 4102 meaning persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV Now faith is the substance [5287 hupostasis] of things hoped for, the evidence [or conviction] of things not seen.  "A setting under (support), i.e.
(figuratively) concretely, essence, or abstractly, assurance (objectively or subjectively): KJV--confidence, confident, person, substance.
“Conviction of things not seen” mean “the deep inner certainty in your soul that God is on His throne and working His plan for your life. He will bring to pass what He has promised into reality.”
Faith is the “present assurance of future reality.” It is assurance–NOT anxiety, Faith– NOT fear. We have an Inner assurance in my soul that God will do all that He said He would.
        Do you build your life on what is seen or what is unseen? Live not for the temporal but for the eternal. Don’t focus on what is seen but focus on the Lord. We endure as seeing Him who is invisible.
2 Cor. 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

       We also have the inner certitude that the Holy Spirit is also our anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. “The Holy Spirit Himself, who is the “earnest of our inheritance,” “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16 so He also gives us assurance in our heart. He is the “Anointing” explained in 1 John, the “testimonium” of the Holy Spirit whereby God intensifies the evidence and other reasons for knowing that God is real and the Bible is true. God Himself gives an awareness of His Presence in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Does God ever think about YOU--meaning you singular as an individual? 

        Why should He?  Who are you that the eternal God Creator of heaven and earth and all that therein is should pay attention and be concerned about you—YOU as an individual, singular, one person in all this vast universe and well-populated world? 

        Good question, don’t you agree!  Who art thou?  Who am I that God should be concerned about me?   But He is.  That’s what MANY scriptures tell us.  You must find the answer in His character, in His grace, not in our alleged goodness or assumed importance. 

        But we don’t get lost in the vastness of the universe and the crowded cities of this world because  God is absolutely infinite!  so He has “unlimited time” for each one of us as an individual.  And, just as important, He cares for you.    “Casting all your care on Him for He careth for you.”  He does so with a double meaning—caring about and caring for, as in Psalm 23.    

        We are not alone!  People ask me sometimes if it’s difficult for me to “live alone” after being married for 54 years  to such a wonderful wife.   And I tell them, “I’m never alone.”  And that is literally true.  And I know it and I feel it.  And a lot of the time I just talk aloud to the Lord –and sometimes double check to be sure no one else is listening.  (^-^)  “ But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.  Psalm 40.17   but the Lord takes thought for me. esv 

           The Hebrew word translated thinketh is also interesting.  It’s Strong’s #2803   The root is interpenetrate or weave.  Interpenetrate reminds you of Heb. 4.13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. esv   And the second root weave. takes us to Philippians 1.6  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” niv  But also listen to the various synonyms given in the lexicon:  think, regard, value, make account of, conceive, consider, esteem, find out, forecast, imagine, impute, purpose, regard. 

             God thinks about us and His thoughts are much deeper and much more thorough and penetrating and purposeful than ours.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa. 55.8-9 esv 

             For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29.11 esv

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Excellency of the love of Christ by Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758

Excellency of the love of Christ by Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758

       It is exceedingly satisfying to love Christ and to be loved by Him. Discovery of the excellency of Christ and His love is 'exceedingly contenting and satisfying to the soul.' We seek those things which are most excellent and most satisfying—and we find them in Christ. 'The carnal soul imagines that earthly things are excellent; one thinks riches most excellent, another has the highest esteem if honour, and another carnal pleasure appears the most excellent; but the soul cannot find contentment in any of these things, because it soon finds an end to their excellency. They sought happiness in those things but did not find it.

        But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and so great excellency, that when you come to Christ you look no further for you have found what you sought! There is a transcendent glory and an ineffable sweetness in Him. They had been pursuing shadows but now have found substance in Christ. He has an infinite excellency more than capable of fulfilling our deepest longings. And those who are most Christ-like know this. The longing soul may be satisfied, and the hungry soul may be filled with goodness. The delight and contentment that is to be found in Christ passes understanding and is unspeakable and full of glory. It is impossible for those who have tasted of this fountain, and know the sweetness of it, ever to forsake it. The soul has found the river of water of life, and it desires no other drink; it has found the tree of life, and it desires no other fruit.

        Christ's love gives us abundant contentment. It is exceeding sweet and satisfying because it is the love of a person of such dignity and excellency. The sweetness of his love depends very much upon the greatness of his excellency; so much the more lovely the person, so much the more desirable is his love. How sweet must the love of that person be, who is the eternal Son of God, who is of equal dignity with the Father! How great a happiness must it be to be the object of the love of him who is the Creator of the world, and by whom all things consist, and who is exalted at God's right hand, . . . who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and is the brightness of the Father's glory! Surely to be beloved by him is enough to satisfy your soul!

      There is quiet rest and sweet refreshment in Christ Jesus, for those that are weary. He is 'as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' Christ puts strength and a principle of new life into the weary soul that comes to him. A little of true peace, a little of the joys of the demonstrated love of Chirst, and a little of the true and holy hope of eternal life, are enough to compensate for all that toil and weariness, and to erase the remembrance of it from the mind. That peace which results from true faith passes understanding, and that joy is joy unspeakable and full of glory.There is something peculiarly sweet and refreshing in this joy, that is not in other joys; and what can more effectually support the mind, or give a more rational ground of rejoicing, than a prospect of eternal glory in the enjoyment of God from God's own promise in Christ? “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

     The fainting, sinking spirits are now revived and this principle of spiritual life is a continual spring of refreshment, like a well of living water. 'but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 Christ gives his Spirit, that calms the mind, and is like a refreshing breeze of wind. He gives tht strength whereby he lifts up the hands that hang down, and strengthens the feeble knees.

     Christ is the joy of the soul, and if the soul be but rejoiced and filled with divine light, such joy no man can take away; whatever outward misery there be, the spirit will sustain it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

'Abundantly satisfied'

    'They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.' Psalm 36:8 (KJV)

       'They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.' Psalm 36:8 (KJV)

Don't you just love that verse! Makes you think of the Garden of Eden, doesn't it?

       That's what it's going to be and even more when God restores Paradise.       There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. Psalm 46:4 ESV And that river is described in the last chapter of the Bible:

       And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1-2

      Jesus told the woman at the well, 'Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him
a well of water springing up into everlasting life.' John 4:13-14 ESV

      Just as a spring constantly supplies water so also the Holy Spirit has an unlimited supply of life and strength for all those who have come to Jesus with their empty hands of faith in what He said and what He did.

'The river of thy pleasures.' The pleasure of knowing and having fellowship with Jesus Himself.

       “As they have the fruits of Eden to feed on, so shall they have the river of Paradise to drink from. God's everlasting love bears to us a constant and ample comfort, of which grace makes us to drink by faith, and then our pleasure is of the richest kind. . . . Heaven will, in the fullest sense, fulfill these words; but they who trust in the Lord enjoy the antepast even here. The happiness given to the faithful is that of God Himself; purified spirits joy with the same joy as the Lord Himself. 'That My joy may be in you, that your joy may be full.'
--Spurgeon, Treas. Of David, I, 2, 160

        Knowing God is what 'abundantly satisfies' us. And He is the only complete satisfaction in all of life. 'Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God!'     And God saved the best until last: 'As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.' Psalm 17:15

Monday, April 15, 2013


'Withhold not thy affection from us'

        That's an unusual admonition, isn't it? For it implies that we have a choice as to whether we will have or show affection or “tender mercies” towards other people. Love is not something you generate yourself but it's a gift from God because “God is love” and the fruit of the Spirt begins with love: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . .” Gal. 5:22-23

         Not only so, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 ESV But the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit told us that it's possible for us to block that love or “withhold it.” He wrote to his Corinthian brethren, “We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.” 2 Cor. 6:11-13 So you can either “close your heart” towards others or “open wide your heart.”

        The Apostle John speaks to the same matter: 'By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.' 1 John 3:16-18 esv

        “Affection” is a very interesting word. Similar to love but not quite the same, perhaps a sub-division within the broader category of the word love. Jonathan Edwards has written extensively about the importance of our affections and how they are directed. We do well to heed his many scriptural teachings. Philippians 1:8 speaks of the “affection of Christ Jesus and Luke 1:78 and many places in the Psalms speak of “the tender mercy of our God.” That's what affection does. Love may or may not have emotion, but affection always does. Even more than fondness, affection has pity and compassion and emotional feeling for the other person. You esteem them highly, respect them and admire them. Affection certainly motivates you to serve and help and encourage the other person.

        And when we think of our affection towards God, it goes even deeper because of the majesty and glory of God Himself. Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758, wrote 250 years ago, 'There is a divine and superlative glory . . .an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature than in other things, a glory greatly distinguishing from all that is earthly and temporal . . . . We rationally believe that God is glorious, and we also have a sense of the gloriousness of God in our heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God in our heart. We know that God is gracious but we also have a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute.'

        We understand truths about God but God also gives us 'the sense of the heart, as when there is a sense of the beauty, amiableness, or sweetness of a thing, so that the heart is sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it.'

        'There is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. If you've never tasted honey, you do not know exactly how it tastes.

       'So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of her beauty. . . . There is a wide difference between speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. . . . Wlhen the heart is sensible of the beauty of something or someone, it necessarily feels pleasure. . . .

      “This sense of the divine excellency of things contained in the word of God brings a conviction of the truth and reality of them.'” from The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards by John Gerstner, vol. I, pages 201-202.

       Love longs for response and affection gives it. One of the most satisfying parts of love is to be able to share a particular event or situation with someone you love. When you see something beautiful or desirable or worthwhile, your first reaction is to want to share it with someone you love. That's an important part of enjoyment and pleasure. It is part of our fellowship with the other person. “I carry you in my heart” even when they are not with you.

       But affection can also simply mean “tender mercies.” And Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and “tenderhearted” one to another. God treats His people with “tender mercies.” We see them daily. 'The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.' Ps.145:9 'Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord. . .' Ps. 119:156

       And in Psalm 40:11 David prays that God will not “withhold” His tender mercies from him. He won't withhold them because God is in His Being, in His attributes, “tenderhearted” towards all He has made. He always does what is best for them. But it is possible, as we have seen, for us to “withhold” our affection or tender mercies from each other. That's why Jesus told His disciples that “By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35 So affection and love are the “final apologetic” to show the truth of the Gospel and its reality in our lives and the Presence of God Himself giving us that love and affection.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Goodness of Trouble in its effect on our lives

         One of the major reasons why God sends or allows trouble to come our way is to make us realize our absolute dependence on the Lord because it is that, more than anything else, that will humble us and keep us from being proud, which is the devil's pernicious sin and our constant temptation. 'God alone knows how to humble us without humiliating us and how to exalt us without flattering us and how he effects this is the grand truth of the Christian message.” Ravi Zacharias, 'Why Jesus?' page 59

         We didn't create ourselves and we can't even keep ourselves alive. We must look to God for the very breath we breathe and for the ability to do so. So much trouble came to the Apostle Paul and his fellow workers that they 'despaired even of life.' 'We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.' And they knew why that happened: 'But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.' 2 Cor. 1:8-9 NIV So they learned to look to God and to depend on Him and not on themselves to take them through their problems.

         And they had a promise to help them do that: 'God will not allow you to be tempted [or, tested] beyond what you are able to bear, but will with the [testing] provide a way out so that you are able to endure it.' 1 Cor. 10:13 HCSB, NIV, ESV, NAS

       And one of the best promises of all in the entire Bible is one of its most famous verses:   Romans 8:28 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'

         Not all things are good, but God can use even the hardships, difficulties, and problems in our life to work them together to bring about good. Good? What kind of good? Character good, exalting Christ good, realistically good—NOT cynical or hopeless, but anticipating the glories that most certainly will eventually come about as God works all things after the counsel of His will. And His will and His ways are what we have to learn. 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.' Isaiah 55:8 ESV

        Both of my daughters have recently been telling me about a book that has been very helpful in their lives: I read it a year or so ago and it was a great blessing so let me quote just a few things I underlined in that book for my own benefit. The Promise: God Works All Things Together for Your Good by Robert Morgan, 2010.

        'The Holy Spirit, who doesn't waste words in the Bible, began the sentence, not with an emphasis on what God is going to do, but with an emphasis on what our attitude should be about it. The primary subject is the pronoun we, and the primary verb is know. Romans 8.28 thus begins with a statement of certitude. . . .

          'We don't hope, hypothesize, or hallucinate. We don't postulate, speculate, or fabricate. We don't toss and turn in anxiety. We simply know. We know God, therefore we know His power, understand something of His providence, and can trust His provision.

        'It's certain. For sure. Positive. Fail-safe. Inevitable. It's God's guarantee, and it can never be otherwise.

         'This is an attitude we see throughout Scripture. The word know occurs 1,098 times from Genesis to Revelation, and we're instructed to approach life with total trust in the realities of Christ.

'I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.' Job 19.25

'I have written these things . . . that you may know that you have eternal life.' 1 John 5.13

        'Faith is the ability to tackle life with confidence, come what may, knowing that the trustworthy promises of God are precisely as real as the transient circumstances around us. Faith is believing that God will do exactly as He has said. Living by faith isn't a matter of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping for the best. It's confronting the realities of life from the perspective of God's immutable, unbreakable, unfailing Word. Those who live by faith don't have a 'hope so' optimism. They live in the society of the certain.

         'Yes, the Bible does use the word hope. But in the Bible, hope is not synonymous with maybe. Biblical hope refers to sure and certain expectations, which, because they're still in the future, create in us a sense of anticipation.'

        These are truths that last and that God uses to take us all the way Home where He will 'bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom.' 2 Tim.4.18 They are the anchor that holds and grips the solid rock. 'We have this hope [this 'expectant certainty'] as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.' Heb. 6.19 It wouldn't be much of an anchor if it didn't include certitude. The promises are rooted in the character and strength of God Himself.

          But don't miss that all-important immediate personal element: it is the Lord Himself who will do all of this: “. . . no one came to my support . . . but the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . . . The Lord . . . will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.” “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is another of His promises. Heb.13.5-6 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. . . ' Ps.23.4

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jesus' 7 Last Words on the Cross

Jesus' 7 Last Words on the Cross

       Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus died on the cross. He died for our redemption, to pay the penalty for our sins. As eternally vital as that is, there's even more to be learned from how He died and what He said even in those last hours

       His death not only saved us and gave us eternal life, but it teaches us how to live now on this earth. Those lessons cluster around Jesus' last words or sayings on the cross. Jesus spoke 7 times from the cross and each time there was a lesson for us to apply to our own lives. Those words reveal His character and His attitude and since we are to have “the mind of Christ,” they teach us how to live.
1) Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus died forgiving those who sinned against Him and underlying His prayer for forgiveness is an understanding of the desperate condition of the human heart: “they know not what they do.”

John MacArthur describes it this way: as Jesus hangs on the cross the victim of “animosity, bitterness, vengeance, and vile wickedness of a world of men and a host of demons, what is His response?” Does He call for vengeance? No, He prays for their forgiveness.

The application to our lives: have we, have you ever had anything done to you so horrible as all of that?! Surely you are to forgive –as Jesus forgave you. That is the criteria: “even as” Ephesians 4:32 “. . .forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”

This is to be your way of life: you should live with a heart of forgiveness toward those who wrong you, being more concerned that they be forgiven than that you get vengeance.

2) Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Jesus died bringing the truth of the gospel, the truth of eternal life to the thief on the cross.

Remember me,” he said to Jesus–he is pleading for forgiveness and he obviously understands that Jesus can indeed save him. He’s already admitted his guilt, now he’s pleading for mercy. And in the midst of Jesus’ agony, He was more concerned with the salvation of one individual person, a condemned criminal.

And by that attitude, He shows us how to live.

3) John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

As Jesus was dying, His mother was on His heart; He wanted her cared for by one of the disciples He loved so much. (It seems obvious that her husband Joseph had died by this time and Jesus as the eldest son had the responsibility to care for His mother.)

4) Matthew 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

This was by far the greatest agony of the cross, the separation from God the Father in His death.

Sin separated us from God–but once we know Jesus as Savior, we also have the Father and the Holy Spirit–and we will never have to experience what Jesus did in order to atone for our sins.

Forsaken” is one of the most tragic words in the English language–and when said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me”–and “Me” was the perfect Son of God! I don’t know how long of a period of time–but it was sheer agony to Jesus.

Why was this necessary? Because He was bearing our sin and sin separates from God. “God is too holy to look on sin, too pure to behold iniquity,” the prophet Habakkuk wrote. Sin alienates from God.

Nothing we ever experience can come even close to the pain of this separation.

What lesson does this teach us for our lives? How terrible sin is! Much worse than we generally consider it. Sin sent Jesus to the cross–because of His great love for us. And sin separated the eternal Father from the eternal Son–temporarily, yes, but nevertheless, it did separate. It did something that devils and demons couldn’t do, but sin did.

5) John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.”

Jesus was experiencing some of the results of being a man, a human being–with all the weaknesses of our humanity. And what does it teach us? It shows the frailties of our humanity and our dependence on God. He needed a drink of water and He couldn’t get it for Himself and He needed someone to get it for Him. He knew what human need is and that’s why He is a sympathetic and faithful high priest. He was fully man as well as being fully God.

6) John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

It is finished!” Redemption is accomplished. He died completing the work God gave Him to do.

The apostle Paul said the same thing–and he, too, completed the work. Acts 20:24. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Tim. 4:6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,

7) John records that Jesus “gave up the ghost.” Luke records more detail Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Jesus died entrusting Himself to the care of God. We must live the same way: “Casting all your care on Him for He careth for you.”

In other words, you live with confidence in God–confident trust that He who promised will also perform what He promises. He can be counted on to bring you through the worst trials and will be with you in the Valley of the Shadow. “I will fear no evil for though art with me.”

IV. So this brings me to my second and much briefer, major point: how the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings enable us to endure victoriously what God calls on us to suffer.

A. We have the lessons from His cross:

1. forgiving spirit

2. concern for sharing the gospel to the lost

3. selfless love more concerned for others than your own suffering

4. seriousness of sin and great desire for holiness

5. realization of your own weakness and frailties–and limits

6. desire to finish your course with joy and the ministry that God has given you to do–moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful

7. entrust yourself to the care of Him who loves you enough to die for you on that cruel cross.

B. Now there’s one more great truth to relate His sufferings to ours:

Hebrews 12:2-3 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. [3] For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

1. Fixing your eyes on Jesus because the word translated “looking” means to fix your attention on Christ.

Focus on Him and not the problems.

Focus on Him and not yourself.

Focus on Him and not all the things that could possibly go wrong.

Looking away from everything else that might distract.

2. You focus on Christ and ponder what He endured.

1. The next time someone ridicules you and mocks you, think of Jesus “silent before His accusers”

2. The next time someone reviles you and says all manner of evil against you falsely, think of Jesus and how when he was reviled, reviled not again, but committed Himself to the Father. Do ye the same.

3. The next time someone spits in your face, think of Jesus and how the soldiers spit at him.

4. The next time someone says something unkind to you or rude, don’t get angry but instead think of the lies they told about Jesus.

5. The next time someone does something unfair to you, consider this the world’s greatest injustice: the perfect Son of God–who never–literally never sinned, not a sin of attitude, a sin of commission, or a sin of omission–He was absolutely perfect, and think of what they did to Him.

6. Have you ever heard of an injustice like this one where the Judge said publicly, “I find no fault in Him”–but kill Him anyway!

7. The next time you are in excruciating pain, compare your pain to what Jesus endured on the cross.

8. The next time you think you can’t endure the particular trial you are going through, look at Jesus and know that God the Holy Spirit who gave Him the endurance in His humanity to endure will give you the endurance to “take” whatever He allows or sends your way. Remember His absolute promise: God will never allow you to be tested beyond your endurance but will with the testing provide a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.

Consider Him” by comparison to your “light affliction which is but for a moment.”

3. And that familiar scripture really puts the whole thing into perspective:

2 Cor. 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”

Just as God accomplished so much by the death of Christ–eternal redemption for all who repent and trust in Him as Savior and Lord.

So also He is accomplishing something–many things by your suffering or affliction. It’s “working for us”.–an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

4. He’s making us more like Christ–we are being changed by the Holy Spirit as we obey and as we look at and look to Christ.

5. He is burning out the dross so that we will come through the fire as pure gold.

1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

6. We learn obedience to God’s will “by the things which we suffer.” Heb. 5:8

7. We learn what is really valuable in life–that which continues into eternity and does not simply end up on the ash heap. 2 Cor. 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

What continues into eternity? Our relationship with the Lord; our relationship with others; the truth of the Word of God. Holiness and the character qualities produced by the Holy Spirit. Serving, ministering, glorifying God, worshiping God will continue throughout eternity.

Consider Christ

1. Consider the afflictions of Christ–so much greater than yours

2. Consider the grace given to Christ to endure the sufferings–and surely God will give you the grace to endure yours: “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

3. Consider the presence of Christ–He is never absent from you, even when you don’t sense His Presence, He is still there. He who never failed you in yesterday’s afflictions is still present for today’s strength. He is our ever-present help in time of need.

4. Consider the patience and perseverance, the endurance of Christ. He lives in you and you can endure through Him. “Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. . . .”

5. Consider the prayers of Christ. He ever-liveth to make intercession for us.

6. Consider the purposes of Christ–and we’ve already discussed several of them.

7. Consider the glory that is yet to come. The suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us.

Strong's Ref. # 3049 Romanized logizomai Pronounced log-id'-zom-ahee

middle voice from GSN3056; to take an inventory, i.e. estimate (literally or figuratively):

8. How did Jesus endure? Scripture tells us: “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” He knew what He was accomplishing and what His atonement would mean to all of us, millions of us for all eternity. And that brought Him joy because He loves us.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 15:11-15

11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

12. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith. He endured and He will enable us to endure and make us more than conquerors through Him who loved us.