“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
How lost we must have been, that to God Himself, it seemed necessary to clothe himself in His own creation that we might be bought back; redeemed. Purchased by Gods blood! God bled. He subjected Himself to pain. “For you were straying like sheep…” I love the gentleness of Gods mercy displayed here in this verse. He equates us, His children to sheep. Gentle and frail. Unable to fend for themselves in the face of their adversaries; ours being sin and its eternal reward. Scattered we were, unable to defend, vindicate, or rescue ourselves. All we could do is run lost in vain. We were in need of a Shepherd. One who would sacrifice His time, energies, sleep, sweat, blood, and I must say, even His life to protect that which belonges to His Master: you and me. And a shepherd we have. We got the best. The Master Himself became our Shepherd. No one cares more about His sheep than the Master. The sheep are His posession and prize. They are of great value in His eyes. But must i say, they are dumb and ever so needy. They would perish without His care. Certain death is inevitable without the Shepherds care.
We are His sheep and we had gone astray, and death had become inevitable. We are those spoken of here: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” And what a horrific way! The end of our way is death, and that eternal. We are those about whom God has spoken: “[There is] none who does good, No, not one.” “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “There is none righteous, no, not one.” If this is us, than “God! Who can stand before you!?” Who can dwell in your presence!?” “Who will You welcome into your glory!?” and as if heaven stands still awaiting His perfection-answer…. God Speaks in His great justice: “There are none… no… Not ONE!”
We are the none, the no-ones. And to the no-ones God in His great mercy and grace has sent to us Someone; namely, Jesus Christ. And just as was spoken of us, to this one it is spoken: “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This is the one who will be ushered into the throne room of God. This is the one who will sit on the throne of God forever, judging grace-saved-sinners as perfected and holy by His blood. This is the one who has taken the punishment that was for man because God became man that man might come near to God. So near that God would dwell in man. Making man His temple. And just as the sacrifice (Jesus Christ) was raised to the throne in Gods presence, so must we, in Christ, become raised with Him, sharing in His risen glory. This is possible only through God’s grace. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” Receive His healing afresh today and become drowned in His awesome grace, “For you were straying like sheep, but now returned to the shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
“The first rule of success is that there is nothing on the outside that can compensate for a feeling of failure on the inside. External accouterments of success — from armored limousines to an army of personal bodyguards — can never protect you from the din of demons who whisper to you that for all you have achieved you are still a big zero.”
That was just one powerful quote from a recent article published in the Huntington Post entitled “Why Powerful Men Can’t Keep Their Pants On.” The Article made an attempt to wrap the mind around the mystery of adulterous human behavior. Why do men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Tiger Woods trade their reputations as successful and outstanding men for the reputation of an unfaithful and uncommitted failure of a husband? That is, succeeding in business, politics, or professionalism yet failing in the home. Guarding their business yet throwing away the family. If there ever was a badge for failure, harming those whom you should love the most would be it. It is often the case that men and women succeed in their pursuit of the worlds riches, attaining them all and yet are all together unsatisfied, miserable, and discontented. Having achieved family, wealth and prestige and yet still longing for more of what cannot seem to be attained.
The Bible tells us that “There is a way that seemsright to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12).” I love what Augustine had to say about the pursuit of man: “Thou hast prompted him, that he should delight to praise thee, for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.” Man is restless until he finds his true peace in the God who made him. God is spirit and we are made in His likeness. We too are spiritual and that is where our greatest longing lies; in the spirit. Our hunger for more is a spiritual hunger often unrealized. We are after God and He is after us and we will find no rest until we find ourselves at rest with our Savior: Jesus.
Stop pursuing the greener grass and start pursuing your God. He satisfies the longing of your soul by freeing you from the longing after things, whatever they may be: reputation, job, money, sex… the list goes on. Your identity will not rest until you find yourself at rest with God. Being identified with Him frees us from needing to be identified with or by anything else. Idols bog us down, making us miserable because they are temporal just like our flesh, but God is eternal as is our spirit and He alone makes our spirit soar with joy and delight and meaning that lives beyond this life into eternity.
So the reason why so many are unsatisfied with this world is because this world was not created to be our satisfaction. God meant to be Himself, satisfaction for us. God loves you and asks you to turn from living for yourself and to finally and forever find your satisfaction in Him…
You can access Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s full article from the Huntington Post that I refer to here:
The following is an answer to a recent question I received from a seeking skeptic. May you be encouraged to boldly reason your faith in an intelligent and loving way. The World has great and honest questions. We should learn to patiently lend a listening ear and do our best in reasoning with them, leading them to God.
Here is the Question:Does the bible distinguish if it is more important to use the right words to express the wrong ideas or the wrong words to express the right ideas? Example, if I use the word “energy” in replace of the word God to express God, but think of the same image as those who say God, is this ok?
Here is the Answer (in the context of the letter i received, the person had many more questions which is why i gave this exhaustive illustration. ill share the other questions later):
First of all, A Christian’s life should be governed by the Word of God (the Bible). This does not mean that there are not Hypocrite-Christians who speak one thing and practice another as there are hypocrites in every faith and in every belief system. There are hypocrite atheists, agnostics…etc but this does not mean that we should reject absolutes simply because of errors in human behavior or follow-through. Truth is truth; in the Bible and elsewhere. We don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water so-to-speak. And if hypocrites (liars, money hungry TV evangelists, child-molesting priests/pastors… the list could go on) are the bath water and Jesus and the Bible are the baby we can just as well throw out the bath-water hypocrites and yet still deal solely with Jesus and the Bible. That is the decision each person must come to on their own: What do I believe about Jesus and the Bible. With that pre-face let me attempt to answer your questions.
The Bible says to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Imagine that a doctor just diagnosed you with a terrible deadly disease. “You are going to die!” says the doctor. You walk away feeling like you’ve been sucker-punched in the gut, scratching your head, saying to yourself, “What a cruel thing that has just happened to me.” You don’t blame the doctor for your disease. The disease was already there. The doctor simply let you know your inevitable condition. He revealed the reality of your condition: Certain doom. You don’t walk away going “What a cruel doctor.” But rather “What a cruel thing is going on inside of my body.” The doctor has simply told you the truth of what is happening in your body. Now, imagine that the doctor had just given you this death sentence and allowed you to just walk away hopeless, and yet withheld from you the further truth that He also knows of a cure for your body that will make you well. Now that might seem cruel. He gave you the diagnosis without the cure. He spoke some truth to you, and yet withheld other truth. This is not love, it is not loving. If a father sees his child playing in the street with traffic, the father does not simply allow the child to continue in the behavior because the child decides, “this is what I want to do,” but the father, because He loves His child must speak boldly to the child, letting him know that if he continues in this behavior, his life is in certain danger and inevitable doom. Does this spoil the child’s fun? For a moment it might, but if the child hears the voice of the father and listens, than the love of the father has won the life of the son. If the son does not hear the father’s voice and obey, than he has taken his life in his own hands and will sadly die. The heart of the father was to speak the truth in love, giving his son the bad news (you cannot continue this way) so that he can experience life; receiving the good news.
This is the same as our diagnoses/ cure scenario with the doctor and the patient. In order to bring healing to the patient, the doctor must give him a proper and true diagnoses even if it is hard to give (because that is the loving thing to do), and as a bonus and a blessing, the doctor gives the hope of a cure. But as we know from life, truth is not always welcomed or received. The patient may not accept the cure because he does not want to accept the preceding diagnoses. But as we know, you cannot have one without the other. You will not accept the cure for cancer if you don’t first accept that you have the disease. Though the doctor was faithful to deliver his message to the patient (or speak the truth in love), it is up to the patient to receive or reject both. One option leading to the reality of death (whether he believes it or not), or the other leading to the reality of Life.
So, in using words, we are to speak the truth. And do it in a way that would reflect the heart of God: love. Though truth is truth, however it comes across, there is a tactful, gracious, and loving way to display and speak it to others.
So, if someone says “Energy” or “Mother-nature” and really means “creating-force” or “God” I would need further clarification. Because as Christians, we are to say what we mean and mean what we say. I say, Jesus is God and nothing was created without Him. I simply mean that Jesus is God, God is Jesus, Not “mother-nature” , Not some mysterious force, but a known, revealed God who has a name and a certain, absolute identity.
The last we spoke, our ordinary man, Isaiah stood in awe and fear before the throne of God. The posts were shaken, the room filled with smoke, and the seraphim cried, “holy holy holy!”. Wow! Can you remember the mood: quite serious, fearful, and humble. If you did some homework and read the entirety of the chapter you would have heard the rest of the prophets cry: ” I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…”
I am a man; defiled, is Isaiah’s cry; I am a nasty sinner; in our own plain language. Forget any temptation to believe that you have been reading a fairy tale or bedtime story. It is the trickery of time and the craftiness of our enemy to dull our faith by convincing us to read through the Bible as if it were only some book, when the Lord would have us experience Him through its true and living words and events. Do not be fooled, Isaiah was a real man: flesh and blood, body and spirit; full of emotion and feeling… just like you and me. A real man, before the presence of the Almighty! Now, maybe you can relate in some small way, at least in your humanity: desperate for redemption; longing for peace; needy for salvation; but lost in sin and among a people gross with the like. I know I can relate. But relation does not stop there…
Though lost in the deepest pits of despair; tainted by every sin imaginable, a man humbled himself and like Job, repented in dust and ashes (job 42:6). Though relatable to our hero, I am not talking about Isaiah anymore, I am talking about me. Can you relate? Have you been there? I have learned something great from the Lord; that He, in His awesomeness can create beauty from ashes. The best place on earth I have ever been, has been on my knees, being resuscitated, filled and most importantly, forgiven. Though men fall down as dead before the presence of The King, They shall be revived, called, and empowered to go! That’s why I said above that relation does not stop at fear and trembling, but like Isaiah, our souls have been touched by hot coals and our spirits brought to life by His life giving spirit. In our humility, we have been forgiven all our sins and by the power and glory of HIS life giving grace we may now enter into the most holy place with great boldness (Heb 4:16), knowing that our great forgiver desires to be our able and willing empowerer.
Dear friend, maybe you feel powerless? maybe you feel sinful, wicked, and completely unworthy? Maybe you have fallen before the Lord and feel unable to get back up? condemned? Maybe you have been drowning in legalism and pharisitical-religious-idioticy (i have been there)? Are you face to the ground and overwhelmed? Allow me to encourage you to stop listening to the voice of condemnation. Stop striving in your own flesh. I implore you, stay where you are, strive no more. Remain face to the ground. Be quiet. Be still and hear the voice of the Almighty calling you by name… He hears your cry and He sees your state. He comes to you out of the dust and ashes, hot coal in hand. Allow Him to purify your soul. He will cleanse you of all sin and wash you from all uncleanness. The rumors are true: our God is a consuming fire. Rest in that fire and be cleansed for eternity.
Amazing… The same God to be feared is the God who forgives… The God who humbles is the God who exalts… When we are weak He is strong… When we are faithless, He remains faithful… Though we be a weak, sinful people, He in His love and Grace offers strength and purity. Though we be ordinary, He is a God of the extraordinary. Its seems to me, that our God is in the business of taking ordinary men and women and empowering them to do the seemingly impossible. May i challenge you? His business has not gone bankrupt! He is the same yesterday today and forever. Its time to get over ourselves and to forget about our insufficiencies. He has given us grace upon grace! Where are the redeemed who will trust in faith that our God will be faithful and strong on their behalf just as He has been since Genesis 1:1? Do you not have the strength? the time? the words? the status? the list goes on… He has more than enough of all the above and more. In His grace He offers the Strength that you do not deserve. He gives the power by HIS Spirit that you do not have nor deserve and so on and so forth. This is His grace toward you daily. Though you be a single man prostrate on the floor of the temple of God, He will raise you up, forgive you your sin and call you out….
“who will go for Me? Who shall I send?”
The Lord, He calls. Who will answer His call?
“Lord, Help us to remember Your strength and favor toward us and to remember that we are only men. It is not by our strength but by Your Spirit. Thank You Lord. Amen.”
“And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.” 1 Kings 13:1-3
Imagine if you will, the King, before his pagan alter. He has been entrusted by God with the house of Israel and all the people therein. And he is in complete rebellion and sin, and not only himself but his sin is leading a nation into sin.
Oh that we might understand the consequences and effects of our sinful actions upon others. Like a killer plague and virus does our sin spread to others and through the body of Christ if it is not repented of and severed from our body’s quick as day. And in King Jeroboams rebellion, right before the alter, ready to burn incense before all of Israel and a multitude of false priests, prophets and misled Israelites comes the word of the Lord, once again, out of the mouth of His prophet.
It will not be long in your rebellion before the Lord brings a word to you, straight from heaven, sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel to pierce your heart and bring you to your senses. For God loves His people and He is always willing to set you aright, that you may continue on the blessed path of knowing Him. But not all will heed the word of the prophet. Many choose to walk on their own continually, reaping what they sow in rebellion, only to the destruction of their own flesh and sadly others. Jeroboam would not repent and in his rebellion would bring upon himself a withered hand (healed by the grace of God), a humiliated wife and the death of his son and the death of all of his family. There is a great lesson to be learned from the life of Jeroboam. It is a lesson leading to life and peace should we heed its warning. I find in this story an exhortation to fall in love with the Lord, putting Him first in all our lives. He must be allowed access and full reign into all our being. Allow Christ to guard not only your body but allow Him your mind as well. There is rest in Christ for the believer today. Rest from fear and doubt and the works of the flesh. And rescue from ourselves should we choose to submit to the Lord and accept all of His amazing benefits and glory. For in a life, submitted to Him, His plan, and for His glory alone, we will find and be filled with perfect peace and be able to say along with good king David:
“…The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised…”
2 Samuel 22:1-4
2 Corinthians 2:4
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have for you.”
Oh what depth of love we might have within ourselves as we conform more and more into the likeness of our Savior – To love as powerful as Christ on the cross. He is bleeding, and yet He is giving life. He is in much anguish and suffering and yet He is experiencing victory for so many souls. He is dying – being poured out, and yet He is vastly in love with those for whom his blood is being spilt. This is love, though it be a strange thing to take in, to grasp. A love that is willing to go through trial and much anguish so that others may experience true joy and everlasting peace.
I wonder how many Christians are missing out on the fullness of knowing their Savior because they are too safe. Too scared to step out in faith or too scared to suffer for the well being of others. I’m not talking about being tortured or spread over a splintery cross. But to be spent: emotionally, physically and spiritually stretched beyond your personal bounds for the sake of others. True men and women of God who change lives and effect eternity for the sake of the gospel suffer in this life while others benefit, and yet because of this suffering, they enjoy pure, perfect joy now and in heaven. No wonder scripture says to us about our Savior: “that for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…” There is great joy in tears and trial and in sufferings when they are for the purpose of the gospel, the joy of others, and to the glory of God! You must experience this sort of love in order to scarcely understand it.
“O, Lord, that we might experience you more fully in the fellowship of your sufferings.” Amen
They honestly state, “I cannot believe in what is unseen.”
“I have no faith toward God, because I cannot see Him with my eye.”
And yet without reserve, doubting, they place their measure of faith in what is seen.
“Unless I can see it, it will not satisfy.”
The faith of disbelief in God is placed elsewhere.
You might say:
“I faith what I feel.”
“If I feel it, I believe it. If I taste, touch, hear or see it, I accept it.”
“If I can argue for it, or reason through it, than surely I would give my life for it.”
As people, we mostly believe that it is a satisfying thing to be able to see the object of our affections. But if you can see what you place your hope in, yet draw no joy from it, there is no pleasure in the seen thing at all. I have found most often that the seen things are the empty things – the letdowns in the end. We looked to be fulfilled and yet fulfilled we are not.
Empty we come to our table and there find no fullness at all – only the same old desire unfulfilled. And so we are on the hunt.
Searching to be satisfied.
Our hearts are beating for a single treasure.
The desire of man is probing the pleasures of life – hoping – expecting by faith, and panting for calm in a world full of storm. The desire of man is to be satisfied, and yet seeing, we are still wanting. And hearing many things, we are still deaf to the answer. Seeing the objects of our faith, most of us are unmoved. I don’t mean that we are not accepted or are without some definition or meaning or purpose, but I mean that we are left unaffected. Untouched by our roaming faith.
Money is the god of some and yet though they move money, money does not move them. I can change my surroundings or possessions with money but money cannot speak to me, comfort me, hear my cries and relieve my anxieties. It cannot bring relief and companionship to the lonely heart.
Sex is the god of many. All effort, emotion, and mind are consumed with this act or vision. Faith in the groped-for fleeting satisfaction of fornication. Yet we are untouched or fulfilled by sex. Though moving in sex, though moving from one partner to another in this act, we are not moved by it in heart. Satisfied but for a moment only, and then the moment passes. Lasting satisfaction is lacking because sex satisfies mostly the body but for a moment then, it is fleeting. The body is left hungering only for more but without being truly and lastingly pleased.
And the list could go on.
We are searching for contentment.
The mind and body are hungry for meaning, but what if man is more than just body and mind? Though what is seen is natural, what if in what lies beyond the “eyes-seen” world is where we are only satisfied? In the seemingly unnatural?
Though men move naturally toward satisfaction and self-worth, they are not moved by what they grope for.
What if the seen does not satisfy because the unseen in man hungers for the ultimate satisfying treasure – worth that cannot fade away. Love that is not fleeting. Purpose that lasts beyond this life – beyond time. The treasures that we know – the felt treasures are all effective for only a moment of pleasure. But what is unseen is unaffected by material treasures. The spirit of man that lives beyond this temporal life is yearning to be satisfied by the unseen – the spiritual. The body is possessed by spirit, and knowing that the body is rotting, the spirit is longing for its maker – the creator and satisfier of all things.
Your need and my need is spiritual, not fleshly.
Not worldly, but godly.
Reality is, that the body is dead without the spirit and the spirit is dead without God.
Long ago, God breathed His very breath into a pile of dust and brought man to life. His breath became our source of life and we are as His creation, longing to breath from the source once again. Satisfaction awaits but only at the fountainhead. You, being created in the image of God, who is Spirit, are longing to be touched by the God who formed you. To truly be moved by that which you place your faith in.
God moves me.
I am moved by Him.
He is moving in me.
Gushing out brilliantly.
Over and under, in, through and out of the deepness of my heart, spirit, mind and emotions.
I have searched the world over and have found only sweet, fulfilling satisfaction in Him alone. His Spirit lives in me and I am supremely satisfied in Him!
I have not seen Him with the eye but have experienced Him with the heart and deep into my spirit, which He has made alive. And in knowing Him, I am complete and satisfied in mind, heart and faith.
There are those who even see with the eye and still do not believe. But I have heard His still and small voice whispering to my spirit, calling me to be in Him complete and there be completely satisfied.
I am a faith-walker – needing not sight but knowing Him through the experience of His touch upon my life. He has lit the path of life and inflamed my heart to burn for Him. He walks upon the landscape of my soul, and in heaven, though here on earth I now walk with Him in pleasure forevermore.
My desires are for Him alone.
He changes me,
Makes me whole, therefore I am wholly His.
I have been delivered up to my God for His good pleasure. I am a sacrifice upon the alter of allurement. I have tasted and now see. I am lured by His immeasurable grace toward me. He is the hunter, I am His prey, and I have been caught by the one who only wholly loves me and cares for my soul. I am pleased to be trapped by His love. This is the result of his affections toward me and my experience of faith in Him.
He is a God to be experienced, not intellectually beheld.
But you must run after Him! Searching and calling after Him to be found, and there, you will no doubt be found by Him. But faith is an action as well as a reality, and the reality and faith-filled Creator of faith is longing to be your desire and object of faith.
Yet as we know, reality is often tested.
But know this my friend, the God of reality will be found as real as life and more powerful than death come the end of your life. And there, in that moment, having not experienced Him here you will surely never know Him there.
Are you experiencing your God, or just reading about Him? The seen does not satisfy because we were meant to be other-worldly.
Our unseen spirit is most greatly delighted when enraptured by His Spirit – seen with the spiritual eye.
Come boldly before your God today and experience Him in all of His glory. Let Him blow your mind. See Him and be seen by Him with Fresh eyes.