Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Prophecy 20: Isaiah 53:11


Daily Thoughts – December 24th   

Prophecy 20: Isaiah 53:11
"After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." - Isaiah 53:11
Isaiah 53:11 and cross references
Merry Christmas to my friends and family.  As most of you know I love Christian music, especially this time of year. One of my favorite Christmas songs though is; "Mary did you know"; by Mark Lowry. It has been sung by many artists in many different settings, but I was fortunate enough to see Michael English sing it at a Christmas concert last year. For those of you unfamiliar, here are few of the lyrics:

Mary did you know
that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters
Did you know
that your baby boy has come to make you new.
This child that you delivered
will soon deliver you.

What was going through Mary's mind as the day of her child's birth drew near? As any woman 9 months along in her pregnancy, she could not have been comfortable. I'm sure her back ached, the weight of a healthy strong baby bearing down on her small body during that 2-3 day journey to Bethlehem, riding atop a donkey. Her mother wasn't there to hold her hand and help her through it. No, Mary was not having a "good" time carrying the Savior of the world.

As any mother would be, she deeply loved the child before he was born. She probably had sung hymns and psalms to him over the past 9 months. But, she did have the knowledge of who she was carrying. So, were there moments of extreme sorrow and pain that she went through when she thought of these prophecies from Isaiah which describe his life and death? She couldn't have known to what extent he would have to go to save the world, but she knew in her heart that her son would die one day for the iniquities of all mankind.

Christmas is but a few days away. I truly hope that these last few weeks you have pondered these Messianic Prophecies leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ with the same wonder and awe that I do. 400 years, 500 years even 1000 years before his birth, the prophets were detailing his life as only God Almighty could through their pen. This child came for one purpose only and that was to die for our sins that we might have eternal life one day. As you celebrate Christmas with your family and loved ones over the next few days, don't focus only on His birth, but on His purpose. Be blessed, my friends.

- Rich

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Prophecy 19: Isaiah 6:9-10


Daily Thoughts – December 23rd   

Prophecy 19: Acts 1:11
"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." - Acts 1:11
Acts 1:11 and cross references
It shall come to pass that in the city of David, she will bring forth a son and call him Immanuel, meaning God is with us. Read the scripture Isaiah 7:1-15 to your children on Christmas morning followed up by the traditional reading of
Luke 2:1-7. In this way, you are sure to continue the teaching from generation to generation of the foretelling of the Messiah and His birth.

You have been exposed to nearly 20 prophecies about the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. I have shared with you Isaiah 9:6 which discusses the Immaculate Conception and birth, of which we celebrate on the 25th. Now I want to share with you a messianic prophecy regarding His second coming. I do this so that you are aware and busy preparing for this day.

All throughout the Old and New Testaments prophets have foretold of the second coming of the Messiah to redeem and then judge the world. Regarding the first coming of the Messiah, there was a matter of several hundred years between their prophecies and His birth. I have shown you how even after hundreds of years the Israelites and Jewish leadership did not recognize Him when He was born. I am concerned that over the last 2000 or so years we have forgotten who it is we are looking for.

To avoid this disconnect the second time, it is crucial that you continue to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ. The stronger you become in your faith and understanding of His grace, the more familiar and prepared you will be upon His return. The knowledge you have gained over the last 4 weeks is a solid foundation to emphasize that Christ alone is the long-awaited Messiah. With the acceptance of this fact, we must then prepare for the next prophecies that remain unanswered and ensure we are ready when they too are fulfilled.

A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to all of you. May you find the peace of the Savior as Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds on that cold night in Bethlehem. The night the angels cried and sang Halleluiah to the King.

- Rich

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Prophecy 18: Isaiah 6:9-10

Daily Thoughts – December 22nd   

Prophecy 18: Isaiah 6:9-10

"He said, "Go and tell this people:" 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." - Isaiah 6:9-10
Word pictures confuse me most of the time. Lisa used to use word pictures frequently to get her point across in discussions. She was really good at it, drawing on topics she knew I would have an interest in like Baseball, Football or anything technical. How she could take an everyday discussion on parenting our children or dealing with our finances or improving our communication and turn it into a parable that got her point across in a way that I could relate too. The problem is that they are only effective the first time they're used. Each subsequent time that a similar word picture or parable is used it tends to fall short of making the point for one reason or another.

The prophecy from Isaiah 6:9-10 reflects on God's directions after Isaiah stepped forward to serve God. God's direct command, "GO..." calls Isaiah out to a service for the most Holy. He is to prepare the people of Israel for the Messiah who will come preaching and teaching in manners that are not understood by man. In order that the people draw closer to the Messiah for answers to life’s questions. In turn, this allows them to be healed by Him.

Christ comes into His ministry filled with parables and stories to make His point. How many times have you read the story of the fig tree in Luke 13 and scratched your head as to the meaning? Or the parable in Luke 18 about the rich man regarding the camel going through the eye of a needle? Christ's parables are a way for His pupils and His followers to continue striving to learn more, rather than to quickly understand based on their own knowledge. For us today, these parables contain the same strengths. They draw us to Christ so that we may learn about His ministry and His message for the masses. In turn we are capable of then sharing that information with the people we come into contact with.

- Rich

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Prophecy 17: Isaiah 49:6

Daily Thoughts – December 21st

Prophecy 17: Isaiah 49:6

"He [the Lord] says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." - Isaiah 49:6
Do we need the Messiah today? Look around and ask yourself if you have it all under control. As we near the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we should be reflecting on how this significant event; which literally split the calendar and brought hope to the nation of Israel; is alive in each of us. So what hope does he provide to the 21st century? We face issues of divisiveness, political unrest, global warming, perceived injustices, debates over absolute truth and morality, and a waning interest in the biblical truths. A recent study was done that showed in the late 1960s that 65% of Americans were Bible-believing Christians. Looking at the next generation (baby-boomers) it showed that only 35% of Americans profess themselves as Bible-believing Christians, and the following generation (busters) only 16%. Looking at the millennial and the gen-z generations, the predictions are that less than 5% will be Bible-believing Christians. Many would say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but that most religions are equally relevant in finding eternal salvation. So we need to reflect on what has changed in the last 50 years that has driven this decline in Christian beliefs?

The Messiah came to provide salvation for all man-kind, the tribes of Israel as well as the Gentiles. The prophecies we have observed over the last 3 weeks have all pointed to one individual, God's Messiah as the means to salvation. This foundational truth straight from the scriptures was critical for the people in Israel at the time of Isaiah's writing no more so than it is critical for us today.

All throughout the New Testament, we find examples of Jesus Christ preaching God's message to the masses. He was not segregating the Jewish brethren from the Gentiles. His miracles were upon the lepers, the Romans, the Samaritans as well as the Jewish. He forgave the sins of people from every walk of life and even broke bread with sinners and tax collectors. As prophesied in Isaiah 49 - the Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles and bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Paul the apostle references this once again in Acts 13:47 in his dialogue with the Jewish leaders and converts.

This is our mission as well my brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a generation all around us in need of hearing the truths from the bible. Take this Christmas season to share God's plan of salvation with those around you, and with those in your network. Be blessed as you spread His news.

- Rich

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Prophecy 16: Jeremiah 23:5-6

Daily Thoughts – December 20th

Prophecy 16: Jeremiah 23:5-6
"The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness." - Jeremiah 23:5-6
I have noticed that we tend to put individuals on pedestals. We flock around them to hear their words of wisdom and learn from their actions. We watch and trust that they have our best interests in mind when they make decisions. We allow ourselves to become wrapped up in their lives and influenced by their choices; good or bad. This is very much like the Israelites in the days of Jeremiah. They were trusting in their leadership rather than on God. This had taken them from great power under King David to near ruins through the unjust and unrighteous behavior of the Kings and rulers of the time.

In this prophecy we see God taking the leadership of Israel into His own hands. Through the voice of Jeremiah, he strengthens His promise of a Messiah coming from the seed of David. The Messiah will come in the future as a righteous branch from David's line. A branch starts as a humble bud from the original and grows over time to become strong, sturdy and resilient. It is also over time that fruit will begin to blossom and seeds will be spread widely.

Recognize the scope of God's declaration is for all people, not just the Israelites. His appointed King will be just and righteous to all mankind. Declaring safety to Israel provided reassurance to His people that He was their protector, comforter and provider. The final statement of this prophecy though, secures their understanding that the Messiah would be God incarnate. Only God himself could provide justice and righteousness. So, for God to state that His Messiah would be the Lord Our Righteousness; He is stating to the people of that time that the Messiah would indeed be God himself.

This was also confirmed in Isaiah 7:14; "the virgin will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)." As you celebrate Christmas, do not let this origin slip from your mind. The Messiah was brought forth from God directly to bring righteousness to all man-kind.
- Rich

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Prophecy 15: Zechariah 9:9


Daily Thoughts – December 19th

Prophecy 15: Zechariah 9:9
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." - Zechariah 9:9
This is a direct prophecy of Christ's triumphant Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem. Israel had been without a king for nearly 500 years from the point that Zechariah wrote this prophecy. Within the prophecy to the church of Zion and Jerusalem God clearly communicates that a new King is coming and will be riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

A few things to note:
1) God will once again provide a King for Israel after years of silence.
2) This King will be anointed by God and placed into power with salvation and righteousness
3) The king the people were desiring was of this world, and Christ is of future

Is it any wonder that the people lined the streets during that triumphant entry to lay palm branches before Him in an act of worshipping their new King. The rulers of the day certainly saw this act of homage to Christ and took insult from it, thereby fueling their anger and hatred towards him. So, thinking this through - the rulers (studied in the scriptures and prophecy) refuse to accept Him; yet the masses (traditionally less studied) follow the prophecy, recognize their new King and rejoice. Was God stimulating the excitement amongst the masses, and likewise stimulating the bitterness amongst the rulers?

Five hundred years pass between the prophecy and the fulfillment. The fulfillment once again was exact in nature and out of the control of the masses. God's planning was impeccable and on His schedule, not man's. We need to consider this as we think about future plans from the Creator.

- Rich

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Prophecy 14: Psalm 69:8

Daily Thoughts – December 18th

Prophecy 14: Psalm 69:8
"I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. "    - Psalm 69:8
Here again we find the psalmist David, writing the words of a sufferer, but certainly referencing the coming Messiah as well. Yesterday, I pointed out the fact that Christ was hated by the masses and authority in His last days. Today, I wanted to take this one step farther. We find references to Christ being refused by his family, disciples and those closest to him.

How can this be? How could the disciples - Matthew, Peter, John and the others turn away from the man they had walked and lived with for those years? We see this prophecy fulfilled in John 7:5 and John 1:11. Then there is the often-quoted scriptural reference to Peter denying Christ the night of His betrayal.

It really comes down to the motives and expectations of those around Christ at that time. Their history had told them that the King would come and re-establish Israel to its proper place of strength. It was not that they didn't believe in Christ, but that they couldn't comprehend His purpose and His true place in God's plan. His brothers questioned His role by trying to place Him in the public's eyes where he would gain popularity and rise to King. His disciples continued to underestimate the authenticity and power of the man they were walking with. We see other times them trying to steer him clear of the masses, even the children. They all left His side in the Garden of Gethsemane. After His death on the cross, they converged to hiding in the upper room, unsure, confused and wondering what to do next. How could their King be killed? He was the chosen one of God.

Were these actions intentional or contrived to fulfill the prophecy? Of course not. These were predicted a thousand years before His birth and fulfilled through His life and those around Him, to once again demonstrate from God the Father just who Jesus Christ was. So tell me then, with all of these examples why does man still ask this question?

- Rich

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