I was sitting on a bench in our backyard this morning when I noticed our hibiscus plant had withered and two bulbs that had started to grow were now dead. It was kind of sad and it got me thinking about my life.
There have been times in my life when I was a withered Christian. I had no fragrance*, no “bulbs”, no color. For the life of me, I couldn’t find God; heaven was as brass*. I would fervently pray but no peace could I find. Nothing I do changes anything in my life. I am reminded of Psalms 63:1: (CEV) O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Nevertheless, I called out to Jesus. I asked my Lord to show me my faults so I could repent, to teach me how to obey His commands, and to transform me as Scripture says in Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Jesus did! It wasn’t in a day or a week or even a month, but He brought me out of my winter and into spring. Just like my hibiscus plant, I came alive, again, and what He did for me He will do for you for Jesus said:
John 10:10 (BSB) 9 I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.…
*2 Corinthians 2:16 (BSB) For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one, we are an odor of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life. And who is qualified for such a task?
*Deuteronomy 28:23 (KJV) And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
Last time we talked about the day eternity changed. This time I want us to fully understand that when God poured out His wrath on Jesus they had the complete plan of salvation worked out with exact clarity.
# His vision is complete
It’s said that Mozart, the great music composer, never wrote down a single note on paper until he had his musical composition completed in his mind. When it was finished in his mind then, with fervor, he scored the musical composition, releasing all that was built up within him. I don’t know if that legend is true but my wife, for one, has that same proclivity, so Mozart had nothing on her.
My wife, Diana, is a creator of things. From bookshelves to stuffed animals, she can make them, and they are excellent. Curiously, she has said to me on more than one occasion, “I can’t start until I’ve worked the whole thing out in my mind.” Now I’m not saying she’s a Mozart, but there is a connection there.
This “see it all first” talent is a testimony to our God; it’s one of the countless human attributes from the image of God in which we were created. Scripture is full of examples of God’s way of “seeing all” and working within “His counsel” (**Ephesians 1:11**) to accomplish His will.
Here is a passage of Scripture that has meant a lot to me when meditating on the marvels of the “one true God” (John 17:3):
Isaiah 48: (emphasis added)
6 I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them, and I made them known;
then suddenlyI acted, and they came to pass
There is nothing in the universe that can stop the will of God. So, be encouraged when you read in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
For a moment, think about Jesus as the Omega (i.e., “the last”). He will have the last work, the last decision, and the last word.Moreover, take heart, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6); Completion is “the last.”
You can’t see the whole you, your end from your beginning, but God does. God holds a “you” in His heart, and it is complete. There are no missing pieces. If we will only stop trusting ourselves and put our trust in Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, if you will cast all our cares on Jesus, if you will live wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly for Jesus, if you will go as the Holy Spirit guides us, if you will make disciples as Christ’s great commission has told us to do. (**Matt 28:18-20**),
If you let God do His will in you, for you are free to choose good or evil, but if you chose God you can be that whole person He holds in His heart – all the good parts and none of the bad. That is the desire and intent of God. Our Heavenly Father has a vision of you, and He has already stored up all you need to become “you.” Just let go of whom you think you want to be and give your life to Jesus so you can be the person you are meant to be.
Prayer: I pray this, and I hope you also do.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for completing the way of salvation that God the Father gave you to do. Thank you for calling me, saving me, and adding me to Your kingdom. I know nothing can steal my eternity with you for you said in Jude 1:24, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.’
I pray You will teach me to disdain the world and not let it steal my joy. Why do I allow this world to turn my head? Teach me, Jesus, to keep Your commands. Thank you, my Savior, my Mediator, my Lord.
In the will of my Savior, I ask, Father God, for Your vision, Your plans, Your strength, Your endurance, and Your provisions through Your Grace to have free reign in me to complete the unique calling You have placed on my life.
It matters not whether my family or people of this world understands. I humbly prostrate myself before You, Almighty God. I cry out Your Word. I seek the council of your anointed disciples, for You said in Proverbs 11:14, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” I rest in You for this work is Yours, and You share Your glory with no man. (Isaiah 42:8) I rejoice that it’s not by my skill, talent, strength, cunning, or intelligence that Your call on my life depends. All of me rests on You, oh my God.
Thank You for seeing the end from the beginning. For assuring my place in You, provided, of course, I chose to live in You, for You have made all mankind free moral agents able to chose life or chose death.
Dear Father, I am so thankful, excited, and full of awe by what You’ve promised and what You’ve done and what You now are doing in and through me. It indeed is joy unspeakable. I reaffirm I pray this in the name of Jesus, the name above all names. Cause any part of this prayer that is not in alignment with You to be cast out, and I ask Your forgiveness for any selfish requests I have me.
I remember as if were yesterday when my mother grabbed my arm and dragged me out of a Sunday night church service. It was at Temple Baptist Church. I was six or seven years old. I had squirmed, made noises, refused to just lay down on the floor and sleep. I was in full rebellion mode and after about 30 minutes of this Mom had enough. If it were possible, steam would have been coming out of her ears.
Dragging me, Mom opened the side door in the sanctuary, pulled me through, and suddenly we were alone in the church’s hallway. The real punishment was about to begin but she “hid” it from the congregation. Oh, they could hear it but their eyes were shielded by the wall of the sanctuary. That was both merciful and even more painful, for this punishment was personal, from Mom to me. And, oh yes, I deserved it and so much more than she applied.
She was so angry she could hardly look at me. There was no “last nerve”; that was gone. Much in the past had been building up around my behavior and now I’d hit the tipping point. If not for her mercy, her wrath would have left me wounded in spirit as well as in body. No, neither of those occurred, although she spoke some unvarnished truths and I got my butt smacked, nothing worse occurred. Still, she got through to me and I never behaved that way in church again and I have never forgotten her anger and how I had hurt her by my actions.
Now, for a moment, let me take you back to when Father God poured His wrath out on His one and only Son, Jesus. It’s the day eternity changed for Jesus, the Son of God, never had and never would again Jesus be separated from God the Father. In all eternity this is a unique event.
Jesus is hanging, bleeding, suffering, on a cross. It is “The” cross. The wood is gone but we rarely pass through a single day without glimpsing, somewhere, sometime, a symbol of that cross. The cross of Jesus is where our salvation was bought.
The culmination of thousands of years of God’s wrath is now poured out, unrestrained, upon Jesus because He willingly took this unimaginable ordeal, pain, and punishment, as a substitution for the judgment and punishment you and I deserved.
We find a first-hand account of this the book of Matthew, chapter 27:45-46:
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
God the Father hid this punishment from people. He caused darkness to cover the land from noon until three. Just like my mom’s punishment, people could hear but the punishment was hidden. This was a very personal matter which no one should watch. It was the fulfillment of what the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, had planned in eternity past. It was a punishment that Jesus suffered beyond anything we ever could understand.
The Reformation Study Bible’s commentary says, regarding Matthew 27:46:
why have you forsaken me. Jesus’ desolate cry is a fulfillment of Ps. 22:1 showing the depth of His distress as He suffers separation from His Father. Later the apostles realized that Jesus was enduring the dreadful wrath of God’s judgment on sin. This was all the more agonizing to One whose relationship with the Father was perfect in love. The cry is Aramaic, except the Hebrew “Eli.” Mark gives the Aramaic “Eloi.”
The punishment that Jesus took upon Himself did not change Him but it did make the way by which you and I might receive forgiveness for sin. The completion of our way to salvation was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s death. Our hope for eternal life was made real through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting His time to call His own to His marriage supper.
As for me, returning back to our pew after my behavioral adjustment was embarrassing because I knew I was too old to have behaved the way I had and to have received the punishment all in the congregation knew I’d received. No, I was not scarred forever, I needed no psychological therapy, and I still love my mother though she passed away a number of years ago. What she did was good for me. What God did was good for “…there is none good but one, that is, God…’ (Mt. 19:17)