God within the Verb

Before the mountains were brought forth,

Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,

Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

                                                                   ~Psalm 90:2

 

Often when we read, we neglect to look at the grammar and punctuation involved in the author’s message. After all, who wants to return to their school days and think about the construction of sentences and word phrases? But I tell you this, much is lost in the meaning of the message if we neglect to pay attention to grammar and punctuation.

Look more closely at the verse above, especially the verb tense within the sentence.

 

Before the mountains were brought forth,

Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,

 

Were. Had. Formed. These verbs are in the past tense. They have already occurred. We are speaking of events that have happened before the writing of this verse.

Now look at the final phrase.

 

Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

 

You ARE God. The to-be verb “are” is present tense. It is right now, as we speak. It has not happened in the past; it will not happen in the future. It is occurring at this very present time.

Can you perceive what this verse it telling us?

When standing before the burning bush and God was sending him to Pharaoh, Moses asked, “When I come to them, whom shall I say sent me?”

And God answered, “I AM has sent you.” (Exodus 3:14)

Beloved, do you see it? He is the great “I AM.” Not the “I was” or “I will be.” He is current and consistent, an ever-present help in time of need. Before the world was fashioned, He IS. He, our Lord and Savior, lives in eternity from everlasting to everlasting. Always present tense.

Read once more with me the verse, but this time look closely at the verb tense. Let the message infuse your soul. Feel the weight of the words, the depth of the message. Let your heart sing for the joy of His ever present Being.

 

Before the mountains were brought forth,

Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,

Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

                                                                       ~Psalm 90:2

Amen.

 

~ Susan

 

Advertisements

The Cross, the Veil, and the Empty Tomb

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

When I think of Easter, three objects come to my mind…

~ the cross, the veil, and the empty tomb ~

 jesus-on-the-cross-for-us

For if not for the cross, my penalty would not have been paid. The broken blood oath of the covenant would not have been satisfied. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed from the curse of sin.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

 torn

As Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit, the veil in the Temple, that separated man from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two. It was as if God, seeing the injustice of Christ’s death, rent His clothes in grief. And in so doing, He opened the way for all to enter into His presence. Now, boldly, we can come before the Throne of Grace, for the barrier of sin that separated us from God has been broken. The terrible gulf has been filled and we are reconciled to the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 The-Empty-Tomb

Even as the sun was blotted from the sky and the earth was covered in darkness, God knew that Sunday was coming. Sealed for three days within the tomb, the Lord’s body lay, uncorrupted. Then with the dawn of that Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away–not to let anyone out, but to let those present bear witness–that indeed, Jesus had risen.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Where-is-Your-Sting

The tomb is empty! Death has no power over Him, the grave cannot contain Him. And now we have not just hope, but a Living Hope in Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior!

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Hosanna!

~ Susan

Three Nails

It is often said that bad things come in threes.Nails

Yet we see in scripture that the number three represents completeness.

Are there not three facets of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Three parts to the Tabernacle: the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies?

Jonah was in the whale for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days.

The number resonates all through the Word of God. How then can we see the number three as a bad omen?

Yet, as I pondered this, it came to methe image of three nails. The vision stayed with me for weeks. Yet I could not put together what exactly God was saying. What was the significance of those three nails?

Three nails pierced the hands and feet of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. Three nails were used to crucify our Savior.

Slowly, my vision cleared. My eyes were opened, as again, I read the story of the crucifixion.

As the first nail bit into the flesh of Jesus’ palm, as the crowd taunted and jeered, He spoke this prayer:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

He looked past the hammer, beyond the hand, and into the heart that was yet unclean. A heart that needed Him, for was not this His mission, to bring the lost to the Father. He forgave, and in so doing, He showed us our need and His redeeming love.

The second nail pierced through his other hand, and with the agony of the searing pain, he cried out:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34

Here was the climax of Jesus’ life. All He had worked for unfolded in that desperate hour. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus not only bore our sins, but He became our sin. He experienced the full meaning of what it was to be human: completely and utterly separated from God. For where sin is, God cannot be. The gulf stretched before Jesus, and He was alone.

The final nail was driven into His feet, those precious feet where the tears of Mary had washed away the stains of His journey. It was in that final hour that the third prayer was lifted toward heaven:

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46

Through the torment of His distress, Jesus surrendered to the will of God. He trusted the Father despite His circumstances. The Savior demonstrated to us all, that even in the midst of our trials, we are to have faith in the Lord. God is our salvation. God turned and reached across the void and took hold of Jesus.

“It is finished!” John 19:30

The Bride Price was paid. Yet, God had more to give. Three days later, within a dark and dismal tomb, life returned to Jesus. Death could not hold Him, even as death has no power over us!

But how can we conquer death?

Each point, each prayer, must pierce us, even to our very souls. We must be crucified with Christ.

There were three crosses on that first Good Friday. Two thieves hanging beside Jesus: one to the right and one to the left.

On one side, the thief blasphemed, taunting Jesus:

“If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Luke 23:39

The other thief rebuked the first:

“We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Here, as we all must do, he acknowledged his sin. He perceived his own guilt and the terrible gulf before him. So he surrendered to God, and spoke with a humble and honest heart:

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:41-42

As the thief confessed his belief that Jesus is the One who saves, Jesus looked at him with those loving eyes and spoke these words:

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Today, we have a choice to make. We can either be as the first thief, and deny Christ; or we can be as the second thief, admit our fault and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Jesus showed us the waywith three nails and three prayers.

So what can three nails accomplish?

They can bridge the gulf between death and life. Save the lost. Transform hearts. Open minds. Free a captive soul.

Three nails and three prayers. The choice is yours.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

~ Susan

 

Reference: Robert C. Crosby, D.Min. “The One Jesus Loves”

 

 

Lamb Selection Day – Palm Sunday

Passover LambIt is not by chance that our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is on this day. The events, as they unfold, are not by happenstance. The entire week is a well-orchestrated, choreographed enterprise enveloped in symbolism foretold by the prophets of old.

The week begins with a colt. Jesus gives instruction to his disciples to enter into the city and retrieve a donkey’s foal, for it is to be his transportation into Jerusalem. This colt, Jesus knew where to find it, and what is to be said to its master.

It is not because Jesus could not find a more suitable mode of travel. He can choose any animal He desires, yet the Savior of the world chooses this simple, humble beast. The donkey, you see, is to prove a point, for it is as the prophet Zechariah wrote,

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you;

He is just and having salvation,

Lowly and riding on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

                                    Zechariah 9:9

Jesus comes to the city upon the back of this beast of burden in order to fulfill this prophecy. Not only that, but as he enters, the people recognize the fulfillment of scripture, and shout, even as the prophet spoke. This action by Jesus is understood to be His proclamation, that He is indeed, God’s promised Messiah.

Though the symbolism is not yet complete, for it is even known from which direction the Messiah would appear.

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,

Which faces Jerusalem on the east.”

                                      Zechariah 14:4

It is from the Mount of Olives He will come, riding upon a donkey’s colt.

Jesus now arrives, having come just then, from this very garden. The actions of Jesus are anything but subtle, and they are not lost to the people. So they cry out as they understand what this entry into Jerusalem means: “The King is coming, and He is here!”

“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

                              Mark 11:9

Even the shouts of the people is foretold, their very words proclaimed, recorded in the psalms: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 188:26)

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yet, all is not well, for the people are looking for a military deliverer, a king that would lead them in battle against the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire. As they wave their palm branches, the people shout, “Hosanna.” The branches represent the national symbol, waving their flag in support of the nation of Israel. The word Hosanna, not a cry of peace or religious fervor, but a symbol of rebellion as it signifies a call for deliverance from oppression. This joyous assembly is not singing praises to God, but is crying out for insurrection against an oppressive dictatorship. It is a battle cry.

However, Jesus has not come as a military deliverer, an earthly king to lead His people to war. He comes to reconcile His people to the Father.

It is for this reason that Jesus chose this particular day to enter into the city of Jerusalem. As He rides upon the colt, He enters the city with the lambs. Four days, it is, before the Passover, and that day is Lamb Selection Day. This is the day that the Passover lamb is to be chosen, the innocent sacrifice that will take the place of the first born. It is the tenth day of the month; on the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb is to be killed.

Enter Jesus, the perfect propitiation, to be chosen as their spotless lamb. Not a political liberator, but the King of all, whose kingdom is established by love and sacrifice.

Four days later, Jesus is with His disciples in the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover. Only this Passover is not like the others. Here Jesus puts Himself as the Lamb, His body and blood as the sacrifice. Then, the next morning, He is alone, upon the cross, His blood shed for the many that are now nowhere to be found.

And as the shofar is sounded, at the ninth hour, or three o’clock in the afternoon, the Passover lamb is slain, the lamb without blemish, given up for the people. It is at this very moment, upon a lone hill called Golgotha, that Jesus says, “It is finished.”

reflections on Christ - crucifixionJesus is the perfect Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Because of this single act of selflessness, all who follow Him are set free from the bondage of sin, liberated from the oppressive regime of the Enemy.

“Hosanna in the Highest!”

~ Susan

The Story of Christmas : Part V

MAGI_bl_and_wh_following-starAfter Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, behold wise men, philosophers, priests, and astronomers, learned men of the Eastern nations, came to Jerusalem, to Herod. Now Herod the Great, the son of Antipater, being appointed by Rome was the king of Judea. In this day of our Lord’s birth the scepter had departed from Judah, a foreigner being upon David’s throne.

So the Magi came to the king and spoke, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? Long we have traveled to come to this land, for we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. Is this not foretold?”

A star will come out of Jacob;

a scepter will rise out of Israel.

                        ~Numbers 24:17

“We have seen this omen of some remarkable event, a light that shines in a dark place. So we have come to seek out the source of this heavenly apparition, to learn what He has to teach us. It was His light that guided us to this place.”

The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,

Upon them a light has shined.

                                    ~Isaiah 9:2

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, for his claim to the throne was illegitimate. Fear for his kingship grew as he pondered all the Magi spoke. For the king knew the prophecy well:

The scepter will not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants,

until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,

the one whom all nations will honor.

                                    ~Genesis 10:49

So Herod gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people, inquiring of them where the long expected Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

                                  ~ Matthew 2:6

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

For often it is that wicked people conceal, under a mantle of deceit, their evil designs, cloaked beneath the appearance of pious ambition. And so it was fulfilled as the scriptures foretold, even as the new-born King lay within the stone-cradle, that the government should be upon His shoulder.

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy, these Magi of the East, a noble witness of His divinity from heaven, and of His kingly estate, from strangers.

The Star, the harbinger of hope, led them on to the Christ Child. For any who seek the Blessed Savior, God will guide; even if for a time it seems the Light has gone out, yet holding fast, it will reappear, to direct all who look, in the way to the Redeemer, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

As the wise men entered into the house, they saw the Child, great and beautiful, with Mary His mother. In heavenly homage they fell down upon their faces and worshiped Him, for they had found what they sought, the Christ, the King of kings.

These who were esteemed, cast down their high standing before Him who sits on the throne, and they worshiped Him who lives forever and ever, saying:

You are worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory and honor and power;

For You created all things,

And by Your will they exist and were created.

                                    ~ Revelation 4:11

And in the illumination of the Savior, they took the gifts that they possessed, and having opened them, laid them at the feet of the Master, as all must do who serve. In humble and lovely reverence they gave: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.Adoration-of-the-Magi-c_-1725

Gold as tribute to the King;

Frankincense, a fragrant aroma, an offering to God;

Myrrh, bitter herb, for embalming the dead.

King, Lord, Savior.

The One to reign, rule, and redeem.

~     ~     ~

“Hast thou not a heart, though unworthy of Him, dark, hard, and foul?

Give it to him as it is, and be willing that He use and dispose of it as it pleases Him;

He will take it, and will make it better,

and thou shalt never repent having given it to Him.

He shall frame it to His own likeness,

and will give thee Himself, and be thine forever.”

~ Matthew Henry

~     ~     ~

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh,

Justified in the Spirit,

Seen by angels,

Preached among the Gentiles,

Believed on in the world,

Received up in glory.

                        ~1 Timothy 3:16

Have a Blessed Christmas

~ Susan

The Story of Christmas : Part IV

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, and the sky closed dark and still, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” In simplicity of devoutness and faith, they forsook all, those shepherds to whom the angels spoke, and went to find the Savior. With eagerness of spirit they came in haste to the place of where they were told. The path was dark after the glory displayed by the heavenly messengers, yet they ventured on into the swarthy night, until at last, they came upon a stable hewn into the side of the hill. Slowly they peered into the illuminated camber, eager, yet with trepidation, as the anticipation pulled at their hearts.

As they entered into the room, there they found Mary, and Joseph, and just as the angels had said, the Babe lying in a manger. When they looked upon the Child, they knew it was He, the One foretold. This new-born King, this Messiah, he looked through time directly into their hearts. And in the eyes of the Christ Child, they saw the abiding love that would suffer all things for them and on bended knee they fell and worshiped Him.

Now when the shepherds had seen Him, their hearts were full. Abounding in hope and faith, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. Not being able to contain all that they had seen, with exultation overflowing, they went out proclaiming the day of the Lord. And all those who heard it marveled at what was told them by the shepherds.

But Mary gathered all that had happened, all that was said, and placing them in her heart, pondered and cherished them. Delicate and beautiful, a mother’s heart, that kept them, resolved them, locked away in her very being, all those things respecting her child. Treasured up in her memory, she carried them always until the time would come for all to be revealed.

Then the shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, of the Babe in the manger, of the Christ Child that had come.

~ Susan

The Story of Christmas: Part III

shepherds-see-new-star-39535-galleryNow in that same country, through the watches of the night, there were shepherds tending their flocks. The lonely melody of the flute floated through the dark sky as a shepherd boy soothed the sheep with his song, lulling the flock into a torpid lassitude. The glittering orbs of the starlit sky winked down upon the hapless boys who looked well to their charge. As the migratory flock rested upon a bed of green grass, a stillness settled over the watch fires.

With tremulous power the heavens unfurled, the night sky aflame in glory. With shattering opulence, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, His glory rebounding. In the presence of the magnificent splendor, the shepherds trembled, all their sin laid bare before them and they fell upon their faces in fear and doubt.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, both wonderful and amazing to behold, which will be to all people.”

With trepidation, the shepherd boys lifted their eyes to look upon the messenger of the Lord. In the watchfulness of his beauty they despaired. Yet there was something in his voice which drew courage from their souls as they listened to the words spoken.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord; He is the Good Shepherd foretold, the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, the anointed of the Lord: Prophet, Priest, and King. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

By three tokens you shall know Him: The Babe, the swaddle, and the manger.

In this manner you shall find the Child, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. Amazing contrast there shall be, for it was by this birth the Savior of all has chosen to come.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that though He was rich,

yet for your sakes He became poor,

that you through His poverty might become rich.

                        ~2 Corinthians 8:9

For pride is the character of all the children of Adam, but humility the mark of the Son of God. By humility Christ comes to reign, for it is by these means only, one may enter into His kingdom.

Then suddenly on high, the heavenly vision all encompassing, ruptured the sky. Oh, magnificent appellation! A multitude of the heavenly host, heralds of the new-born King, descended from on high, who compass the majesty of God round and filled the air with lofty strains, “The way of peace is thrown open to all people, by reconciling the world to God by His atonement.”

The angelic beings transferring their exalted station, bent to the poor earth and with pure voices proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

And as the morning stars sang together, the foundation of man’s soul was laid; the cornerstone of man’s salvation set in the incarnation of the Son of God, inducing man to lay down the weapons of rebellion and to submit his soul to God’s redeeming love. (Albert Barnes)

~ Susan