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Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas! Christmas Eve Message - Mary Treasured & Pondered

The Christmas Eve message from Forest Hill Presbyterian Church . . .

Mary Treasured & Pondered

But Mary treasured up all these things, 
pondering them in her heart. – Luke 2:19

In 1997, Beth and I were engaged, and I spent the summer in China, teaching English. It was difficult to be apart from each other for 8 weeks, and communication was difficult and expensive in those days before the Internet and smart phones.  We were able to talk on the phone a few times (which was expensive), and Beth sent me a care package with a letter, which took weeks to arrive. Being apart made me treasure the sparse communication we had and the care package I received. I thought about every word of our conversations and treasured each item that was sent to me in the care package.

Mary was in an unfamiliar town. She was away from her parents and the people she had known all her life. She may have felt a bit relieved to be away from the rumors, gossips and looks. Yet she was in a stable of some sort, amid animals, having just given birth to her firstborn with only her loving husband by her side to help her.

Then, hours later, as she is exhausted and overjoyed as only a new mother can be, shepherds come to visit. We’re not told how many shepherds came or whether they brought any of their littlest lambs with them, as we always see in manger scenes this time of year. The shepherds come and tell Mary that angels visited them in their field as they were on the night watch, telling them the long-awaited Messiah had been born.

Mary’s response to all that she was told be the shepherds, indeed her response to all of the remarkable events of this uniquely wonderful birth is found in verse 19:  “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

The word translated as “treasured” means “to keep from being lost, to preserve, to keep in mind.” The word translated “pondered” means “to bring together in one’s mind.”  So Mary was intentionally remembering, so as not to forget or lose these things, and she was bringing them together in her mind.

The fact that Luke tells us Mary treasured and pondered “all these things” indicates that she was keeping and considering, preserving and pondering more than just the words of the shepherds. In fact, this sentence functions as a summary of everything that Mary has experienced to this point, from the visit of the angel Gabriel to her visit to Elizabeth to the journey to Bethlehem to Jesus’ birth and the visit of the shepherds. “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

We can consider “all these things” under two headings, all she had been told and all she had received.

All She Had Been Told

By the Angel Gabriel

Mary’s story in Luke’s Gospel began with the words of the angel Gabriel: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” In this unusual greeting, Mary found out she was the special recipient of God’s great grace, that the Lord had shown His favor to her and chosen her for a very special role in His redemption of His people: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord 
God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (vv. 31-33)

Of course, it wasn’t physically possible for Mary to have a baby. She had never been with a man. She knew this was impossible, so she asked how it would happen, and she was told by Gabriel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

Such wonderful and yet overwhelming news would be tough for anyone to process. Yet this young girl, maybe 13-15 years old, responded with faith, humility and obedience, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

So Mary knew from the beginning that her son was the Son of God, for she knew He had no earthly father. And despite the fact that she was a poor girl from a small town in the hills of Galilee, she was to be the mother of the great king, the long-awaited Messiah, who would sit on David’s throne forever. How could it be? She did not fully understand, but she treasured and pondered.

By Her Cousin, Elizabeth

Then, prompted by Gabriel’s words, Mary had gone to visit Elizabeth, her cousin, who was miraculously pregnant after many years of being unable to have children. Elizabeth’s words had been almost as wonderful as the words of Gabriel had been earlier –

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” – 1:42-45

Elizabeth had called her highly honored and favored by God. Her older, godly cousin had called her “the mother of my Lord” and had expressed humble honor at Mary’s visit. Even Elizabeth’s baby boy had been thrilled by the coming of Jesus and had leapt in his mother’s womb.

By the Shepherds

And now shepherds have come, bringing news of a visit from an angel. The angel told them of “good news of great joy for all the people.” A new title had been added to Jesus, matching His name (YaHWeH saves), He is “a Savior, Christ the Lord.” So her Son would not only rule over God’s people forever, but He would bring salvation!

Then, the shepherds told how they were visited not just by a single angel but by a great multitude of the heavenly host, who were praising God with their heavenly song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Mary knew that, somehow, she was one with whom the Lord was pleased, that she was a favored one, and so she knew that peace from God had been added now to the message of an eternal kingdom and salvation. Kingship, salvation and peace.

All together, these words from Gabriel, Elizabeth and the shepherds gave Mary so much to ponder, so much to treasure!

All She Had Been Given

Yet Mary had more than just words to treasure and ponder. She had received much from the Lord already.

A Miraculous Pregnancy

The first and most obvious thing Mary had already received was a miraculous pregnancy. All pregnancies carry an air of the miraculous about them. The idea of carrying around a tiny, developing life inside your body is profoundly marvelous. Yet Mary knew with each movement of the Baby Jesus inside her that her baby was a true miracle. Her baby was very different from any other baby who had ever been born in the history of the world. The last people to be directly and miraculously created by God were Adam and Eve.

A Faithful Husband

With her miraculous pregnancy, Mary had also been given a faithful husband. Joseph was a righteous man, and he was going to divorce Mary when he found out she was pregnant. God was merciful to both Joseph and Mary, giving Joseph the truth in a dream and giving Mary a faithful husband who would father her other children and who would help her raise Jesus as best as they could.

A Beautiful Baby Boy

And finally, now, in her arms, she had been given a beautiful baby boy. Babies are so wonderful, so precious. I remember when Andrew was first born, and we stopped going anywhere or doing anything. No more movies, no more trips to Starbucks. For a while, we really didn’t do much of anything but look at, hold, feed and love this tiny boy.

And yet all of this was only the beginning, which Mary knew based on all the words she had heard. Her newborn infant Son was the Son of God, destined to be the eternal King over God’s people, bringing salvation and peace to all of God’s own, including her. What she had received so far was nothing compared with what she was yet to receive.

Will We Treasure & Ponder?

The question for us this Christmas Eve is simple: Will we treasure and ponder all we have been told and all we have been given?

All We Have Been Told

We have been told even more about Jesus than Mary was told. We know the whole story of His life – of His sinless perfection, His miracles of healing, feeding, and freeing people from demons and death. We know of His atoning death on the cross and of His glorious resurrection three days later. We have the complete word of God, the whole counsel of the Scriptures, to show us all about Jesus.
Have we treasured and pondered all we have been told?

All We Have Been Given

Not only have we been told the truth about Jesus, but we have been given so much – forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, adoption into God’s family, the wisdom of God’s word, the fellowship of God’s people, service in the kingdom of God for His glory and the good of others, an eternal inheritance, kept in heaven for us, and a perfectly glorious eternal destiny.

Have you indeed been given these things? Have you received the benefits Christ was born to give?

They are found in Jesus Christ Himself, received by faith as we are united to Him as His people.
If you have not yet received these things because you have not yet trusted in Christ, will you turn to Jesus tonight in faith? Will you believe in the One who left heaven and came to earth in humility to save you and to be your King forever?

If you have received these things, are you treasuring them, making sure you don’t forget? Are you
 pondering them, carefully considering Christ and all His benefits to you?

This Christmas, may we all pay much closer attention to the things we have heard. May we hear the words about Christ and receive the benefits in Christ, and may we treasure up all these things, pondering them in our hearts.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Day 21: The Final Word

Today's Scripture Reading: Malachi 3-4

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. - Malachi 3:1-2, ESV

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. - Malachi 3:16-17, ESV

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. - Malachi 4:2, ESV

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. - Malachi 4:5-6, ESV

The Final Word

Everyone loves the Hallelujah chorus at the end of Handel's Messiah. After hours of beautiful music anticipating and celebrating the coming of Christ, the music builds to the Revelation-inspired Hallelujah chorus. As Christmas draws near, our time reflecting on Advent and the prophecies of the coming of Jesus is drawing to a close. We've spent 21 days exploring what the Old Testament prophets said about the coming of Jesus. We come today to the final chapters of the last book of the Old Testament. Like a good chorale or a great fireworks show, the Old Testament has been building anticipation and tension to prepare for the coming of Christ.

The final chapters of the last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi 3-4, focus on the coming of the Lord with great clarity and zeal. We hear about the coming of John the Baptist:
  • "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me." -3:1
  • "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." - 4:5
We are also told much about the coming of Christ:
  • He is the Lord, "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming."
  • He will redeem those who have faith and write their names in a book before the Lord (called the Lamb's Book of Life in Revelation:  The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession
  • The Coming Messiah will be the "the sun of righteousness [who] shall rise with healing in its wings"
As we look back and remember the First Advent of the Lord and we look ahead with joyful anticipation for His Second Advent, we must heed the words of Malachi and make sure we are among those who fear His name and who trust in Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, so we need to ask Him to keep doing His work within us.

Lord, thank You for keeping every promise when You sent Your Son. He perfectly fulfilled the words of Your prophets for He is the Word incarnate. We thank You for Jesus and ask that You would strengthen our faith and give us undivided hearts to fear Your name this Christmas and always. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Day 20: A Most Remarkable Small Town

Today's Scripture: Micah 5:1-4

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days. - Micah 5:2, ESV

A Most Remarkable Small Town

It is most fitting that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This small town of no earthly power, no cultural or political significance, has a remarkable history in God's story. The beginning of this story is obscure and sad, as Bethlehem was the burial place of Rachel, Jacob's beloved bride (Gen. 35:19).

Then, the story of Bethlehem turns hopeful and redemptive. The Book of Ruth tells the story of covenant faithlessness and curse, as Elimelech takes his wife, Naomi, and heads to Moab during a famine, leaving the Promised Land in pursuit of material well-being. After Elimelech and both of his sons die, the women of the family- Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah- are left alone, abandoned and hopeless. Yet Ruth and Naomi return to the Promised Land, to Bethlehem, where their kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, gives them hope and a future again.

The next chapter in Bethlehem's story finds a prophet, Samuel, in search of a new king for Israel. He is sent to the house of Jesse, where he anoints the least-expected son, the youngest, a shepherd-boy, David. David's older brothers don't even take him seriously, so how would Israel? Yet David becomes the hero of Israel and then her greatest king.

Hundreds of years after David's death, Micah the prophet foretells the coming of a future glorious king, who would be born in Bethlehem and would "stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God." (Micah 5:4) This glorious king would be one "whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." (v. 2)

Over 700 years after Micah's prophecy, Caesar Augustus issued a decree to get a census count of all the realms of his vast empire. Local leaders were allowed to conduct the census according to their cultural traditions, so the census in Israel was done by ancestral lineage, with each family going to their ancestral city. This brought Joseph and his new bride, Mary, from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem.

Yet Bethlehem's story doesn't end with the birth of Jesus. It actually closes with the fulfillment of a prophecy regarding Rachel. Jeremiah the prophet foretold a time when Rachel would be "weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15) Where was Rachel buried? Bethlehem. So, if Rachel is going to weep, where would she weep? Bethlehem. And Matthew tells us this prophecy was fulfilled in Herod's slaughter of the innocent baby boys in Bethlehem. 

Bethlehem's story thus comes full-circle, from Rachel's death to Rachel's weeping. But the middle chapters are full of hope and redemption: a kinsman-redeemer, the restoration of hope, the anointing of a king, the promise of a glorious future. All of these themes come together in Jesus, the Kinsman-Redeemer who restores our hope, the King who is greater than David, the One whose death brings life for God's people.

Today's Advent lesson is to follow God's story from beginning to end. Never lose sight of what God is doing in His redeeming love. In unexpected places like sheepfolds and mangers, He is always at work!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Bethlehem. It reminds us of Your redemption, powerful and faithful. Thank You for Your story, surprising and hopeful. Give us eyes of faith to see You working and the grace to follow where You lead. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Day 19: With Us in the Fire

Today's Scripture Reading: Daniel 3

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” - Daniel 3:24-25, ESV

With Us in the Fire

Isaiah 53 teaches us that Jesus is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, which means that He sympathizes with us in our sorrow. We need real sympathy when we're sorrowing and suffering. It helps that we have a Great High Priest who is able to sympathize with us. But sometimes we need more than sympathy, don't we? We need a powerful and protecting presence.

Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego had been uprooted from their homes in Jerusalem and moved to a hostile foreign land a thousand miles away. They had been indoctrinated in the ways of Babylon, but they had stuck together and remained faithful to God. They had faced a challenging a test with their decision not to eat the delicacies of the king's table, to keep themselves pure. God had shown Himself to be faithful and they had passed the test.

Now a larger test stood before them, literally. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar had been inspired by his dream, in which he was the head of gold on a giant statue. Whatever the reason, he constructed a giant golden statue of himself and insisted that everyone bow down to it. The three Hebrew youths looked around and saw everyone complying. What would they do? Together, they refused to bow.

Their refusal was noticed and they were arrested. How dare they defy the king's command? Nebuchadnezzar had come to like and even admire these remarkable young men, so he decided to give them another chance to comply. Their refusal and their unwavering trust in their petty Hebrew god infuriated Nebuchadnezzar. Whatever affection he had fled and was replaced by an fiery rage.

"Heat the furnace seven times hotter and throw them in!" The blaze was so intense that it killed them men who threw them into the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego fell bound into the furnace.

Yet Nebuchadnezzar rose from his throne in astonishment when he realized he was seeing the impossible. Four men were in the furnace, not three. And they were walking around, unbound and unharmed in the intense heat! The fourth man in the fire looked like a son of the gods!

Who was the fourth man in the fiery furnace? Can we doubt that it was the Lord Jesus, taking human form before His incarnation to accompany these faithful men of God in their trial? Jesus was with them in the fire, and His presence protected them from all harm. Not even the smell of smoke could cling to them.

Do we know that Jesus is with us in the fiery trials we face? Do we sense His presence, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit? Do we rely on His protecting presence?

Jesus promised us, "I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) God has said to His children, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) Will we walk in the light of His promised presence, abiding in His word as He abides with us?

Lord Jesus, You came to be Emmanuel, God with us. You have promised to be with us always, never leaving nor forsaking us. Let us rest in Your presence as You abide with us. May we abide in You always. Amen.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Day 18: The Righteous Branch

Today's Scripture: Jeremiah 23:5-6 & Zechariah 3:8-9

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ - Jeremiah 23:5-6, ESV

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. - Zechariah 3:8-9, ESV

The Righteous Branch

Listen to a sermon from John Piper on today's text.

Would you consider it a complement if someone called you a branch? Honestly, doesn't this seem like a really strange title for God's Son, the long-awaited and much-anticipated Messiah? The Branch? Yet think about what a branch does:

A branch bears fruit and has leaves which make food for the tree. If you want fruit from a tree, you look for it on the branch. If the tree is going to get food, it is made by the leaves on the branches. So, the branches provide life for the tree itself and for the world. Likewise, Jesus feeds His flock, the tree of God, and provides food for the world.

A branch is strong and gives support. We have a big old oak tree in our front yard. On a sturdy branch is a rope swing. My kids love swinging, held up safely by the strength of the branch.

A branch provides shelter, covering people from the heat of the sun and the weather.

Yet this branch is a specific promised Branch. Jeremiah and Zechariah both have a specific Branch in mind. They are picking up on Isaiah's prophecy of a shoot from the stump of Jesse, which we looked at in Day 10. They picture the shoot growing into a strong branch, a new life for God's people.

In Jeremiah, the Branch is a King. He is a King whose reign is marked by righteousness and justice. He will reign in such a way that will bring security and peace to God's people. Further, He will be called "The Lord is our righteousness." Paul speaks of the Righteous Branch in 1 Corinthians 1:30: "Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption."

In Zechariah, the Branch is the High Priest as well as King. God speaks to Joshua the High Priest and tells him that he is a sign pointing to the coming Branch, who will be the high priest at a time when God removes all the iniquity of His people. Thus, the Branch will be the High Priest and the atonement for His people.

It may seem strange to call the Messiah a Branch. Yet we can thank God for such a wonderful, righteous, just, life-giving, sin-atoning, security-providing Branch as Jesus Christ, King of kings and our merciful and faithful High Priest!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day 17: The Song of the Messiah

Today's Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. - Isaiah 61:1-3, ESV

The Song of the Messiah

What prophetic passage did Jesus see as describing Himself and His mission best? Well, we may not be able to give a definitive and irrefutable answer to that question, but when Jesus launched His public earthly ministry in Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4:16-30, He read Isaiah 61. So today's passage has a special place as The Song of the Messiah. The word translated "anointed" in verse 1 is the Hebrew word Mashach, or Messiah.

Jesus read Isaiah 61 to an expectant synagogue gathering in Nazareth, where He had grown up and was well known. It was on the streets of Nazareth that Luke tells us Jesus "grew and became strong, filled with wisdom" and He "increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." (see 2:40 & 52) 

When Jesus finished reading from Isaiah 61, He closed the Torah scroll, sat down, and said "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." This was not well received. Jesus had a good reputation, but how could the local carpenter's son be the fulfillment of Isaiah prophetic words?

Yet we know Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of Isaiah 61. He was the long-awaited Anointed One. So let's consider what He said He came to do:

1. He came to preach good news to the poor. Jesus did not come to prop up the egos of the rich and powerful. He came to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God to those who had been excluded and marginalized by the world's kingdoms. The Pharisees had added many requirements to the Law, which only the wealthy could reasonably fulfill. Jesus came to open the gates of the kingdom to all who believe, welcoming all who come by faith in Him. 

2. He came to bind up the brokenhearted. Sin and suffering break many hearts in this world. Jesus came to bind up the wounded hearts, bringing healing to those who have been broken. He did this by bearing our suffering and brokenness in His body on the cross, healing us by His wounds. 

3.  He came to proclaim liberty to the captives. Sin doesn't just break our hearts; it also enslaves us. Satan holds us in bondage to the fear of death, as our guilty consciences condemn us before God's holy Law. Jesus breaks the chains of condemnation and the enslaving power of sin through His victory over sin at the cross and His victory over death in the empty tomb. 

4. He came to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Jesus' coming brings God's favor to His people. As Jesus fulfills all righteousness and takes the punishment we deserve, He brings the sunshine of God's favor and the fulfillment of God's blessing for us. Because of all that Jesus came and did, the Aaronic blessing falls upon all of us who trust in Him - 

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  -Numbers 6:24-26, ESV 

Have you believed in Jesus and received the good news of what He came to bring? Or are you still walking in the brokenness, imprisonment and condemnation Jesus came to undo? Too many people have missed the joyful freedom, healing and blessing of Jesus' coming. Let's walk by faith this Christmas in the work of our Messiah! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day 16: He Shall See and Be Satisfied

Today's Scripture Reading: Isaiah 53

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities. - Isaiah 53:10-11, ESV

He Shall See and Be Satisfied

I have a very tricky question for you: What does a dead man see? Here's another: How long does a dead man live?

Why am I asking such bizarre and obvious questions? A dead men doesn't see anything, and he obviously doesn't live at all. He's dead. I'm bringing up these questions because so many people read Isaiah 53 and miss the resurrection.

If you've read Isaiah 53, you're probably familiar with the theme of the suffering servant. We explored that theme yesterday. Yet we must notice that the righteous servant doesn't just suffer in Isaiah 53. He dies. How else can we interpret "they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death"? By the end of verse 9, the servant of God is dead and buried.

Strangely enough, this servant dies as a sinner, a condemned wicked man who is nonetheless buried with a rich man, or perhaps in a rich man's tomb. The level of specific detail regarding the death and burial of Christ is astounding, as it is in Psalm 22. Yet somehow people read these very specific words and miss the resurrection in verses 10-12.

After the righteous servant is dead and buried, it is said of him that "he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days" and "he shall see and be satisfied." Clearly the dead man is alive again, alive and rejoicing to see "the will of the Lord . . . prosper in his hands." Not only is this a clear prophesy of the resurrection, but it is also very encouraging.

Jesus sees our salvation. He sees it and rejoices in it, finding satisfaction that His death was not in vain. He justifies many and is satisfied to see us justified through His perfect righteousness and obedient death. We are "accounted righteous" because He bore our iniquities. Praise God!

Hebrews 12 describes "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." What was the joy set before Jesus as He faced the cross? It was the knowledge that His suffering would not be in vain. He would accomplish the purpose for which He went to the cross: Our salvation.

Are you trusting in Jesus? Do you wonder some days if you're going to be able to persevere in faith? Do you ever wonder if you're really going to be saved in the end? Consider this: Will Jesus look on the purpose of His loving suffering and be disappointed? Will Jesus' soul fail to be satisfied? Absolutely not! And His satisfaction is in our salvation.

Lord Jesus, You died to redeem me, to make me righteous and to bear my iniquity. Though my sins are great ad my doubts are pesky, Your loving sacrifice is more powerful still. You love me and You will be satisfied with nothing less than my full and final salvation from sin. I know You can save me and You will save me, for You have already done all of the work and You have already received Your satisfaction.  I praise You! Amen.