Jesus' Footprints

Archive for June 2012

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises” – 2 Peter 1:4

God keeps His word. When He promises something He follows through. He promised to give Abraham a son in His old age; He promised Moses that He would be with him and when he had to stand before Pharaoh. He provided him with whatever he needed to complete the task. He promised David that He would raise up his offspring to succeed him and he would establish his kingdom.

He told David that Solomon would build a house for His name. He also promised that His love will never be taken away from Solomon and that David’s house and kingdom will endure forever. God promised that the virgin will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel. He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7)

All these promises were fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah conceived Isaac who gave birth to Jacob from whom the twelve tribes of Israel came. Moses, through God’s grace and help, was able to lead the Israelites to freedom from Egypt and to the land God promised them. Solomon built the Lord’s temple and even though he became unfaithful to God, doing evil in His eyes, God did not take the whole kingdom away from him because of His promise to David. (1 Kings 11:34-36, 39) He sent His Son Jesus to live among us and He is from the House of David. The house of David continues to reign to this day.

God’s promises sometimes have conditions. Moses did not go to the Promised Land because he disobeyed God. All of the kingdoms, except one, were taken away from Solomon because he followed other Gods when this was one of the conditions God had explicitly made of His people. David himself had instructed Solomon never to stray from God and God knows this. Remember He is all knowing.
(1 Kings 2:2-4)

It is our responsibility to show God that we have confidence in Him and trust that He will meet our needs, to obey Him and not allow ourselves to be swayed by our need to do what He promised on our own because we can’t wait. We have to have patience and wait on Him. His promises will be fulfilled in His time not ours. In their impatience and lack of confidence Sarah encouraged Abraham to lie with Hagar and as a result Sarah was ridiculed and disrespected by Hagar. From Ishmael came a nation, which is currently at war with the descendants of Isaac (Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 16:1-16)

“To day if ye will hear his voice” – Psalm 95:7

God speaks to us but we must listen. We must be able to discern His voice like a child is able to discern his/her mother’s voice by listening for it. The child knows his/her mother’s voice. We, as children of God, our Heavenly Father, should know His voice. To do this, we should read about Him, learn more about His nature from the scriptures and spend more time with Him. It is like a person you develop a relationship with. The more time you spend with him or her, the more you learn about this person. You become close and you are able to tell when they are happy or when they are troubled.

God is the same way. The more we get to know Him the more we are able to tell the difference between Him and the intruder who enters the pen through another way instead of the gate. This is the devil who tries to draw us away from God through whatever means are at his disposal. He tries to tempt us, deceive us and distract us. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and listen for His voice we will not be led astray. He will protect us and provide for us. When we lean on him, trust Him, give our lives to Him, it will be easier to block out the temptations of the world and not be led astray by the intruder (the thief, robber) who tries to separate us from God and the truth.

Jesus is the means through which we are able to have a relationship with God. He is the gate through which we, the sheep, enter and God is the Shepherd. We have to go through Jesus to get to our Father. It is through Jesus that God expressed His love for His sheep. It is through Jesus that our sins were forgiven. It is through Jesus that we have the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us. It is through Jesus that God conforms us to Christ’s image and prepare us for His work. We are sanctified through Jesus.

It is through Jesus that we are able to resist temptation, follow His example, learn more about God, Heaven, forgiveness, love, trust, faith, tolerance, mercy, salvation, truth. Jesus is the gate. Whoever enters through Him will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture (John 10:9). This means that once we accept Christ, we are saved and have everlasting life. The pasture is the word of God. Once we feed on the word of God, we will not want of anything as pointed out in the 23rd Psalm. The pasture is God. Once we hunger for Him, we will not want of anything.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and we know Him. He laid down His life for us. He protects us from the wolf (the devil). If one of us gets lost, He goes out of His way to find us and bring us back to Him—under His loving care and protection. He will not allow the wolf to scatter His beloved sheep.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27

When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was Peter said that He was the Son of the Living God.  Jesus blessed Peter and told him that this revelation came from God.  Peter recognised God’s voice in the midst of all the voices who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets.

Then, when Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen—His persecution and trials and His death and resurrection, Peter rebuked Him.  Jesus recognised that the devil was trying to contradict Him.  This is an example of how the devil tries to prevent us from following God’s plan for each of our lives and how he uses those close to us. 

Peter heard God’s voice telling that Jesus was the Christ, His son.  And Christ means “anointed” or “chosen one” in Greek.  Christ in Hebrew means “Messiah.”  Jesus was God’s chosen one to bring salvation to His people and the only way this could happen was for Jesus to die on the cross.  Then, He would be raised to life.  This was God’s plan.  But, then, Peter heard a conflicting message—one that was a direct contradiction to God’s word.  It was contradicting what the prophets wrote.

Everything Jesus said about what would be become of Him was written in the scriptures.  He said that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  He was flogged, spat on, mocked and rejected by the people who did not believe that He was the Messiah. (John 12:37-50)  To rebuke Jesus, is to rebuke the scriptures—the word of God.  This is an example of how to discern God’s voice from the devil’s.  God would never contradict Himself.  Everything Jesus said came from God. (John 8:25-30, John 12:49-50).

Basically, what the devil was saying through Peter was, “Your plan will not work.  You’re wasting Your time.”  This speaks of our failure to see the big picture—things from God’s perspective rather than our limited one.  In that instant, Peter was thinking like man instead of like God and forgetting that with God, all things are possible.  God’s desire was to have His son come to earth and live among us, teach us what we need to know about Him and how to live spiritually.  Then, Jesus would take on our sins, die on the cross, which is a symbol of God’s love for us and our salvation and then rise from the dead.

God’s plan was to forgive us our sins and show us that there is life after death.  He wanted us to know that we were saved and no longer enslaved by sin.  Jesus was sent into the world to defeat sin and remove the punishment of sin.  When we sin and confess our sins, God forgives us.  This is what the devil was trying to prevent.  He tried to tempt Jesus who came into the world to restore what the devil had destroyed.

Jesus came to teach us the truth—that there is a God who loves us and wants us to trust and believe in Him and who would save us from our sins and protect us from evil.  Satan deceives and destroys while God saves and protects.  God wants us to know that we can resist the devil through His strength, His power.  He knows that we would be tempted as Jesus was and lied to as Peter was when he told Jesus that He would not fulfil God’s plan.  Satan wants to give the impression that God doesn’t love us enough to willingly sacrifice His Son’s life to pay for our sins once and for all.  But the Cross says differently.

O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer (Nehemiah 1:11). 

When Nehemiah learned that Jerusalem’s wall was broken down and the gates were on fire, he wept.  He mourned for several days.  He fasted and prayed to God.  His prayer is a wonderful model prayer.   It follows this pattern:

Acknowledgment:  O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments

Confession:  Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israelwhich we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.

Thanksgiving:  Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

Supplication:  O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” 

God answered Nehemiah’s prayer.  The king granted Nehemiah’s request to return toJudah.  The cupbearer prospered and was granted mercy in the king’s sight. 

When we hear bad news we give ourselves time to deal with it like Nehemiah.  He cried and mourned.  Then, we reach out in faith.  Nehemiah fasted and prayed.  Then we act in faith.  Nehemiah told the king the situation and what he needed and his request was granted.

Don’t let a bad situation keep you down for long.  Turn it over to God and He will take care of it.  The best weapon against adversity is prayer.

When King Herod heard about Jesus he thought it was John the Baptist come back to life.  Then we learn how John died and why.  First, he was arrested and then thrown into prison because he dared to speak out against Herod’s unlawful relationship with his sister-in-law, Herodias.  She was still his brother’s Philip’s wife.  Theirs was an adulterous relationship.

Herodias wanted John dead because of what he was saying about her and Herod.  All John was doing was speaking the truth.  He was a man (prophet) of God and his duty was to speak out agains iniquity.  Adultery was a sin.  It had to be addressed and that was what John the Baptist was doing.  He could not look the other way.  This was the same man who called for people to repent.  He had to confront Herod about his sin.  He told him plainly, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  For this Herod wanted to put John to death but feared the people.

Herodias was determined to have her way.  She played on her husband’s weakness.  She used her daughter to get what she wanted on Herod’s birthday.  John 14:6,7 state that the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and the guests and pleased the king so much that he foolishly promised with an oath to give the girl whatever she asked for.  She asked, at her mother’s bidding, for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Herod realized too late that he had been set up.  Obviously this request had Herodias’ name written all over it. She stood to gain a lot from John’s death.  Mark wrote in his Gospel that she held what John had said about her against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not;  for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.  Herodias had to scheme and plot to get what she wanted.

Herod couldn’t go back on his word.  He had no choice but to do as the girl asked.  John was beheaded and when his head was brought on a platter to the girl, she took it to her mother.  I could just imagine the smug look on Herodias’ face.  She had gotten rid of the baptist.  She had succeeded in silencing his voice.  Now she was free to live as she pleased.

Herod had been tricked into killing a just and holy man.  This reminds me of King Darius who had been tricked into signing a decree that would sentence the prophet Daniel to death.  He could not revoke it.  It also reminds me of the story in Judges 11 of Jephthah, the foolish father who made a vow he could not take back.

What can we learn from this horrible and tragic story of John the Baptist?  We shouldn’t make vows or promises we will later regret.   And if someone we know is doing something wrong, we should say something.  Just today I heard a story of someone was behaving inappropriately at his workplace so his co-workers they confronted him about it.  They warned him to stop what he was doing or risk losing his job.  It was then up to that individual to either smarten up and heed his co-workers’ warnings or continue doing what he was doing and get fired.  As Christians, we could only bring the truth to people–what they decide to do with it is up to them.  At least they can’t plead ignorance.

I think that as a holy and just man, John the Baptist had to do what was required of him which is found in Ezekiel 3:18, 19.  He was to warn King Herod of his sinful way and if the king did not turn from his wicked way, he will die in his iniquity.

When God sends someone to call us out for a sin we are committing, we should not want to shut the person up.  This is God’s way of reaching out to us and calling us to turn away from our sin and to turn to Him instead.  In other words, don’t shoot the messenger but be thankful that the One who sent him or her loves you so much that He is willing to wash you thoroughly from your iniquity, and cleanse you from your sin (Psalm 51:2).


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