Peace, Security, and Righteousness

from Lynda Lindsey

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. Micah 5:4-5(a)

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. Micah 7:8-9

No more gloom. No more despair. No more living in the shadow of death. The people walking in great darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Out of Bethlehem will come Messiah, Jesus, whose origins are eternal, from of old, from ancient times, with no beginning and no end. Jesus is light; His light exposes darkness and sin. Living in His light we have peace. 

Jesus, King and Lord. Shepherd. One who opens the sheep gate, going before His charges, leading them safely to good pasture and fresh water. Sheep, penned and pastured with many flocks, learn to trust and follow only their shepherd. In Him sheep lie down in safety and peace, protected and sheltered. Nurtured.  Refreshed. Jesus, giver of life, laid down His life for His sheep. He tenderly guides us. He keeps us close to His heart. He binds up our wounds and carries us securely in His arms. Living as His sheep we have security.

There is no god like our God. Just and Righteous is He. Angry at sin, He doesn’t stay angry forever; He delights to show His mercy and compassion. Our God pardons sin and forgives transgressions. He treads all our sins underfoot and hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Do not gloat, enemy! We may fall to individual acts of sin, but repentant, we will rise, not because of self effort, but because the Lord pleads our case and restores us. God is the lifter-up of my head! He who knew no sin became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God! Living in Him we have His righteousness. 

Never Forsaken, Never Abandoned

from Lynda Lindsey

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

For He who avenges blood remembers; He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted. Psalm 9:12

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; You consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. … You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.  Psalm 10:14; 17-18

God, unlike a pagan god of wood or stone, is alive and present to His people, not distant from us. God sees our afflictions, hears our cries, and is a refuge and stronghold for the oppressed and troubled. God sees, and considers, our trouble and grief, taking it in hand, meaning God sees with the intention of handling the problem Himself. 

A stronghold, a fortified place that has been intentionally and carefully built up and strengthened against attack, is a place of safety in battle. Are you besieged, under attack? Troubled? Seek shelter in the Lord’s stronghold. Are you falsely accused by the enemy? Rest in the sure promises of God who never forsakes us, never abandons us. He may seem distant, but trust!

Those who know God, not just those who know about God, will know His name, His character, His attributes and trust in Him. Lord, Messiah, Christ, I AM, Creator, Holy One, Righteous and True. Judge. Advocate. Get to know God, not just know about Him. Rest in Him. Let His comfort and encouragement flow over you. God has taken your trouble and grief in hand; He will handle it Himself. Lean into Him. See what He will do. Trust!

People Who Lack Understanding

from Lynda Lindsey

The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Isaiah 1:3

Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding… Isaiah 5:13(a)

Turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 2:2-6

Rebellious people. A sinful nation. Doers of evil. Forsaking the Lord, spurning the Holy One of Israel. Totally corrupt, except for a small remnant of faithful believers. Even among the animals, the ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s food trough, but Israel, God’s chosen people, didn’t know or understand God! Israel chose to hear, but not understand; to see, but not perceive; to shut their ears, eyes, and heart to God. God urged His people to reason together with Him, to cease from wrong and learn to do right, to seek justice and defend the oppressed, but with hardened hearts, Israel ignored God. Rotten to the core, obstinately ignoring God’s call to repent, God promised judgment and punishment. 

Into this milieu comes God’s spokesman and prophet Isaiah, who received his commission in a dramatic vision. The Lord, high and exalted, was sitting on a throne, the train of His robe filling the temple; He was surrounded by seraphs crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” As smoke poured forth and the earth quaked, Isaiah was overcome with his sinfulness in the presence of God’s holiness. Cleansed by God’s purifying fire, Isaiah’s response to God’s call is, “Here am I. Send me!” 

Isaiah, standing in stark contrast to the people to whom he preached, was wise and understanding. Isaiah understood that sin corrupts and healing can occur only when we are willing to be cleansed. Isaiah was willing; he quickly repented and didn’t turn his lips away from the burning coal that signified God’s cleansing. Isaiah’s tender heart allowed for a quick response to God’s call. Isaiah’s ears were turned to wisdom; he heard with understanding and comprehension. Isaiah’s eyes saw with perception, and he turned to God. Sin corrupts, robs us of understanding, and keeps us enslaved. Don’t be exiled from God’s sweet presence…choose to see and hear with understanding.

Wedding Clothes

From Lynda Lindsey 

Jesus, telling the parable of the wedding feast: “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend, he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.” Matthew 22:8-12

Zechariah’s vision of Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord:

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Zechariah 3:3-4

No one would dare arrive at a joyous wedding celebration wearing ragged, soiled garden clothes. Just so in Bible times there was a definite protocol for wedding guests. In those days when a king’s son married, the king provided wedding garments for the attendees. To refuse to wear the wedding robe would have been a deliberate insult to the king. Jesus’ audience, listening to the parable, would have understood that the refusal of the invited guest to don the wedding robe was an intentional affront. The man rejected the king’s offer of a new garment and was subsequently thrown out of the celebration.

Joshua, a high priest of God, was ministering in Jerusalem after his return from Babylonian captivity. In Zechariah’s vision Satan attacks and accuses Joshua of sin, even while God offers mercy, grace and forgiveness to Joshua. God assures Joshua that his sins are removed just like his filthy clothes. God then clothed Joshua in new, rich garments, signifying that once we’ve received pardon we are clean and made new.

We are invited into God’s kingdom and into a relationship with Jesus Christ. There is salvation in no other name. The problem? God is righteous and holy but we are not. We lack the proper attire. The solution? Exchange our dirty rags for the King’s rich robe of righteousness. Admit sin and guilt. Let the shed blood of Jesus flow in a cleansing stream. Accept His pardon and joyously enter the celebration! You’ll be glad you did for all eternity!

An Approachable King

from Lynda Lindsey

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread the on the road. Matthew 21:4-8

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” Matthew 21:10

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”  Matthew 21:31(b)-32

Jesus, Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. He accepted the praises and hallelujahs of the jubilant crowd waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks on the road. The whole city was astir with curiosity about Jesus! However meek and humble Jesus may be, He boldly pronounced Himself King, affirming His position by quoting Scripture all Jews would know. 

In most societies it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have direct access to kings, royals, powerful rulers or presidents. Appointments must be booked in advance of the requested audience, calendars consulted, confirmations sent and received, security checks performed. One progresses through layers of aides, assistants, secretaries and receptionists, showing proof of identity at each stage, before a face-to-face meeting takes place with the elite and powerful. Unless, that is, your Sovereign is Jesus who allows His followers direct access!

Jesus, Sovereign ruler of all, allowed ordinary folk permission to crowd in close. Small children, lepers, the mentally unstable, the ill, tax collectors, prostitutes, rich young rulers, Jesus offered compassion and kindness, love and healing to all. He touched the untouchables, often preferring the company of “sinners” who repented and believed to the smug, self-righteous, disbelieving religious leaders. Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is still approachable. Through Jesus the Son we have access to the Father and the Spirit. Crowd in close. Believe. Be astir with curiosity…His hands are extended in welcome!

Take Words and Return to the Lord

from Lynda Lindsey

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” Hosea 14:1-2

“O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him.  I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me.” Hosea 14:8

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.  Hosea 14:9

Rebels defiantly oppose and resist authority, are proud of their non-conformist attitudes, and see themselves as heroes leading a charge against the establishment. God, however, doesn’t label a rebel a hero, but a sinner in need of repentance. The wise and discerning understand God’s ways and walk uprightly; rebels, in their unwillingness to conform to God, stumble through life. Sinners all, rebellious to the core, have only to return to the Lord seeking forgiveness with words of repentance and  restoration will follow. 

With what words do we approach the Lord? We ask the Lord to receive us graciously and forgive all our sins. We admit we cannot save ourselves and confess the worthlessness of trusting anything except the Lord for salvation. We confess and renounce as vain hope the idols of riches, fame, power, and greed. We lift up praise and thanksgiving to God from our heart. 

God sees into the heart of a repentant son or daughter; His ears are quick to hear our contrite prayer. He forgives. God turns His anger away from us. He heals. He restores. He makes us fruitful again. Our roots grow deep, our life flourishes like a spreading tree that offers shade and respite to others. Be wise. Be discerning. Gain understanding. Walk in the ways of the Lord. Sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap the fruit of unfailing love. Break up the unplowed ground of your heart…because a tender heart is ever receptive to the Lord. Turn, or return, to the Lord. Ask, seek, and find Him; His door will open!