A group from our church was visiting a rescue mission when something miraculous happened to me. One of our group was spending time with an elderly man who bore all the classic signs of the street alcoholic. The Lord spoke to me in a way I had never experienced. As I watched our team member open himself up to this man, he disappeared and Christ became visible. And as the alcoholic man received the lovingkindness of my friend, he too began to disappear, and take on the image of Christ, who was present in his pain and need. — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey
In honor of our Easter celebration this weekend, today I share another wonderful devotion from Beth Moore. How beautifully the Old Testament prophesies the coming of Christ! There are numerous pictures and stories that prefigure the coming of our Savior. Here’s one:
I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. –Isaiah 22:21-23
Now here is what Beth says about this passage:
If you study the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus, you will find that they come in a dazzling variety of forms. In some places the predictions were clear. They obviously pointed to the coming Messiah. In other instances they were veiled. Join me now as we look at an absolutely fascinating passage–these words that apply so beautifully to Christ at this moment. In their immediate sense, they were written about Eliakim, the palace superintendent during the Assyrian invasion of Israel, but you can see their ultimate significance in terms of the cross of our Christ.
Note how God said He would give His servant the key to the house of David, opening a door no one can shut. He said He would “drive him like a peg into a firm place.” As unfathomable as the process is to you and me, the cross was the means by which God chose to position Christ in the seat of honor for the house of His Father. The cross is the open door no man can shut.
Isaiah 22:23 says, “I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place” (KJV). The original word for “firm” in the NIV and “sure” in the KJV is aman: “in a transitive sense to make firm, to confirm…to stand firm; to be enduring; to trust.”
Nothing was accidental about the cross of Christ. The Son of God was not suddenly overcome by the wickedness of man and nailed to a cross. Quite the contrary, the cross was the means by which the Son of God overcame the wickedness of man. To secure the keys to the house of David and open the door of salvation to all who would enter, God drove His Son like a nail in a sure place. A firm place. An enduring place.
When God drove His Son like a nail in a firm place, He took the written code, finally fulfilled in His Son, and canceled our debt to it. With every pound of the hammer, God was nailing down redemption. — Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 270
I love these words from John Piper about the all-satisfying Treasure and the end of a quest!
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. –Hebrews 11:6 [ESV]
The faith that pleases God is a confidence that God will reward us when we come to Him. The reward we long for is the glory of God Himself and the perfected companionship of Christ. We will sell everything to have the treasure of Christ Himself.
So the faith that pleases God is the assurance that when we turn to Him, we will find the all-satisfying Treasure. We will find our heart’s eternal delight. But this implies that something has happened in our hearts before the act of faith. It implies that beneath and behind the act of faith that pleases God, a new taste has been created–a taste for the glory of God and the beauty of Christ. Behold, a joy has been born!
Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. We enjoyed many things…but not God. He was an idea–even a good one–and a topic for discussion; but He was not a treasure of delight.
Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the soul’s end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever.
And then, faith–the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, He will give me the desire of my heart to share His holiness and behold His glory.
But before the confidence comes the craving. Before the decision comes the delight. Before the trust comes the discovery of Treasure. — John Piper, in Desiring God, quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/20
I cannot begin to tell you how very true this is in my life. Once I discovered that it wasn’t about me being good enough for God, I experienced the greatest joy, freedom, relief and confidence. It’s all about Him, not about us. He’s my true joy and treasure, through and through! Though I appreciate them, my treasure and hope is not in a church, or a favorite speaker, my own good works or efforts, not in Heaven or Earth. He is real and is my greatest Treasure. He made it possible for me to come to Him, not by being an example but by living that perfect life for me and dying in my place. Now I get to daily experience this very special and personal relationship found only in Him!
Here are the lyrics to that beautiful hymn that was written (it is said) because the bellows of the organ had been destroyed by mice. They needed something “silent” that could be performed with guitar rather than organ. What a beautiful Christmas carol!
Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ, the Savior is born! Christ, the Savior is born!
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
What do you suppose the word “herald” means? Three things:
- An official messenger or representative of a monarch
- A forerunner, or person or thing that precedes or comes before
- A person or thing that proclaims or announces
Here is the hymn of the day:
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King:
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.”
Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
This week I’m sharing some of my favorite Christmas hymn lyrics. Here is one of the beautiful ones we sing every year:
It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, From heaven’s all-gracious King:”
The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary load, and hear the angels sing.
For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old,
When, with the ever circling years, shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.
–Edmund H. Sears
It’s always sad to say good-bye to a sponsored child, but the time had nearly come in Colombia. First we listened to another great speaker — Juan Carlos Salazar, the LDP Pastor. He spoke about our identity in the resurrected Christ. He asked, “What happened in the resurrection of Christ?
- Gloria — We saw the glory of Christ (in the Old Testament this glory resided in the Tabernacle; in the New Testament we have access to this glory on our behalf)
- Poder — We saw the power of God (on Pentecost the disciples were transformed from being fearful, limited, loaded with guilt and shame to men filled with the Holy Spirit — unafraid, forgiven, free)
- Trunfo — We saw the triumph of Christ over death (Christians are not afraid of death, for we can know Christ; unbelievers are terrified of death)
- Santidad — We saw the Holiness of God (His holiness in you assures you will be with God when you die; the enemy has no power over your mind, body or thoughts)
I was later told that Juan Carlos once had a gun held to his head by a guerrilla group close to the area where Luis grew up. They terrorized Christians but could not overpower them with fear of injury or death. I could see this was true as I visited with Luis afterwards. He began to show me photos of his family on his laptop. The best one of all was of the entire family at a birthday party. Everyone had birthday cake all over their faces, and they were grinning in silly ways to the camera. Even Grandma and Grandpa got caught up in the fun!
Next it was time for lunch and we were eager to line up buffet style at the dining area.
It was delicious, once again, as all the food in Colombia had been, and Sixto kindly sat with us to translate for us.
I met one of the staff members who told me that he had been a sponsored child, too, growing up. Raul told me that he was excited recently to find his former sponsors on Facebook; they live in Australia. Here is Raul.
I also visited a bit with these two sweet ladies, such vital leaders in the Leadership Development Program of Colombia. They have truly taken each one of these valuable students into their hearts.
Then it was time for our final photos together and farewell hugs.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to meet this fine young man, to know his family a little better and to finally have the hugs we’d looked forward to for so long. I know he has a bright future and that he’ll be involved in much leadership for his community. Together with his bride-to-be, Lena, they will no doubt be ministering to children for years to come in Compassion Colombia’s new Project #746. I hear that out of 153 kids only 15 have sponsors so far, so perhaps you would like to contact me and request one. I can definitely connect you with one of these special kids in need.