Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ Double-sided Words of Joy

          The longer I explore God’s word, the more I find connections between different parts of the Bible that leave me feeling what Jesus described to his friends:These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”.[1] The more we meditate on what God has spoken through his word,[2] and the more we live by these words,[3] the more we share in his joy, simple as that.

          Today I was delighted with these two connections of Scripture. First, in Isaiah 57:19 God described how he would bring healing to his people in such a wonderful way that it would result in creating the fruit of the lips.” This pictures the way God’s work would so touch the hearts and lives of his people that they would not be able to hold in their praise and thanksgiving for what God did for them.

          This connects to a verse in the New Testament that applies this to the way people would respond to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Israel returning to their homeland after seventy years of captivity would fill their hearts with thankfulness that would be expressed through songs of praise, so Jesus Christ bringing people out of their sin and into the righteousness that is by faith would result in even greater thanksgiving and praise. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”[4]

          The second connection this morning also began with Isaiah 57:9 where Isaiah continued telling us the words of God. He wrote, “Peace, peace to the far and the near…” These words spoke hope into a situation that, at first, would be filled with anything but peace, but was guaranteed to end in peace. The promise of peace was a gift of hope to carry through the season filled with the heartaches of discipline.

          This is expressed in a more pronounced way in the New Testament when it is applied to the work of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”[5] While God’s promise of peace to those who were far and near was first applied to the return from Babylonian captivity, it held out an even more profound promise that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God’s own Son came preaching a gospel of peace.[6]

          The bottom line was that it didn’t matter if people were far away or near, Gentile or Jewish, Jesus comes to preach peace with God to the whole world,[7] and grants that peace to all who repent of their sin and receive him by faith. When anyone turns to God through faith in Jesus Christ they enter into this new reality: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[8]

          This is the peace Jesus preached, and that God promised seven hundred years earlier. It is the peace that is still preached in Jesus’ name two millennia after Jesus secured our peace through his suffering and death. Isaiah also announced that Jesus would be known as the “Prince of Peace”,[9] because of this wonderful characteristic of his redemptive work bringing people from all nations into a peace-based relationship with the Only True God.

          I hope that you will welcome the double-sided gift of God today. One side is to enjoy the wonders of how his thoughts are woven through the Old and New Testaments with such complexity that we can gladly stand on his words as exalted over anything written by man. The other side is to enjoy the specific revelations of God, that his work will bring such peace to the hearts of all who receive Jesus Christ that they will delight in any and every opportunity to express our joy through the fruit of lips that gladly confess his name.

          Or, as Paul said it so beautifully, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”[10]

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 15:11
[2] 97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119)
[3] “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 32:47); “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
[4] Hebrews 13:15
[5] Ephesians 2:17
[6] Ephesians 6:15; 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), (Acts 10)
[7] 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3)
[8] Romans 5:1
[9] “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
[10] Colossians 3:16

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