Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christ, The Branch

Isaiah 11:1 – “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:”

Several times throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah is referred to as the “Branch.” Our text above introduces the concept to our minds. The prophet Isaiah announces that one day a Branch will come – a Branch that will grow from a dead, royal line, the house of Jesse. When God wanted a king for Israel, He told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and there He would show Samuel which of Jesse’s sons he was to anoint as king. All of Jesse’s strong, manly sons came marching through, each one God told Samuel was not the one. But out in the wilderness, tending to the sheep was the youngest son – a fair, ruddy complexioned lad – a poet – a singer – a dreamer. “This is the one,” God told Samuel. “This young lad will become the great psalmist of Israel – this ruddy fellow will become the man after God’s own heart – this little shepherd boy will become the great warrior-king of Zion.” And he was the beginning of a great royal line – David, Solomon, and on and on. And, according to all the prophets, the Messiah would usher in the kingdom of God through this royal line.

So . . . what happened? The line died out. The nation of Israel became divided – the larger part choosing a different king, the smaller part keeping the Davidic line – the people choosing to worship idols and abandon God. Finally God had all He could take, causing the Babylonians to conquer and carry away Zedekiah, the last Davidic king. The royal line of David was gone … caput! So how was the prophecy that a son of David would sit on the throne forever going to be fulfilled now? Well, there would come a “Branch” – a shoot – a sprout – a twig – a rod. Where would this “Branch” come from? It would come from a stem – not a royal family tree – but a stem – a stump – a trunk of a cut-down tree. And it would be the stem of Jesse. How about that!?! New growth from the dead family line of Jesse, once a proud royal tree, now cut down to the ground – all that remained was a stump. In fact, as far as anyone knows, all that remained of this once proud family was two plain commoners living in Nazareth of Galilee, Joseph and Mary. They were all that was left of Israel’s once illustrious royal line.

And one day this stump sprouted forth a Branch, a young, green shoot giving this dead line new life. Yet not only did He give the royal line new life – He gave all men new life. This Branch brought from lowly beginnings, of humanly impossible beginnings, new life from a dead stump. And the greatest miracle of all, He was not here just for decoration, but was here to produce and bear fruit. In Him are hidden great and wonderful promises. This is what made the Apostle Paul say, many years later in 2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” This Branch brings new life to all – salvation to all who will accept the free gift. Imagine that – on His birthday, He gives a precious gift to everyone else. He’s Jesus Christ, the Branch.

Quote – “What those prophets affirm in the metaphor of the Branch is that God will not leave His people without a leader to show them how to be His people.” – Dennis Bratcher

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lo, I Come

Psalm 40:7 – “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.”

Oh what a blessing to see pictures of Christ in the Old Testament. Many of the Psalms are Messianic in nature – that is, they speak of the coming Messiah; His suffering; His sacrifice; His first advent; His second advent; all painting a picture of Christ’s work of forgiveness on the cross. The very religion of the Jews – the yearly sacrifice – the tabernacle in the wilderness – the temple in Jerusalem – all the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism – all point to the coming of the Messiah to “bruise” the head of the serpent.

But here in Psalm 40, the need for salvation is never more evident. Man, created in innocence, has plunged into sin and degradation. Man’s condition was lower than sacrifice and offerings could atone for. And then Christ steps forward and says, “Lo, I come.” Christ is the obedient Servant, coming to earth into man’s sinful race, “encompassed about” by “innumerable evils (v.12).” But why? Why did the apostle in Hebrews 12:2 declare that Christ “endured the cross, despising the shame?”


What made Christ leave His heavenly home
And take upon Himself humanity?
He did not set aside His Deity, mind you,
He just put on a robe of flesh.

What caused Him to suffer the humiliation of mortality,
He who was immortal?
Why did He identify Himself with sinful fallen man,
He who knew no sin?

What made Him endure the existence of the creature,
He who was the Creator?
Why did He come to dwell among us,
He who had dwelt in glory?

Why did He subject Himself to the ridicule of men,
He who could destroy them with a single word?
Why did He suffer the pain and agony of the cross,
He who was the Lamb of God?

When God created man so many years hence,
He was the crowning of His creation.
He so loved this precious creature,
That He breathed His very Spirit into him.

Yet when man chose to disobey God,
His heart was broken at the sin –
Scripture calls it the “joy that was set before Him.”
His Love answers all the “Why’s.”
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “He whom the ages could not contain, the glorious One who dwelt with the Father for ever unseen, now appeared within the bounds of time and space, and humble shepherds saw him, and adored.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Profit of Prayer

Job 22:27 – “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee.”

In this day and hour, when everyone is seeking profit, let us not forget that there is great profit in prayer. The ancient one tells us that if we make our prayer unto God, He will stop what He’s doing and hear us. The Infinite One – the One who runs this universe – the One who manages the affairs of nations – the One who does great and mighty works – will stop everything and hear our prayer.

Charles Spurgeon related this during one of his sermons: “All the mighty works of God have been attended with great prayer, as well as great faith. Have ye ever heard of the commencement of the great American revival? A man, unknown and obscure, laid it up in his heart to pray that God would bless his country. After praying and wrestling and making the soul-stirring inquiry, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ he hired a room, and put up an announcement that there would be a prayer meeting held there at such-and-such an hour of the day.

“He went at the proper hour, and there was not a single person there; he began to pray, and prayed for half an hour alone. One came in at the end of the half-hour, and then two more, and I think he closed with six. The next week came around, and there might have been fifty dropped in at different times. At last the prayer meetings grew to a hundred; then others began to start prayer meetings; at last there was scarcely a street in New York that was without a prayer meeting. Merchants found time to run in, in the middle of the day, to pray.

“The prayer meetings became daily ones, lasting for about an hour; petitions and requests were sent up; these were simply asked and offered before God, and the answers came; and many happy hearts that stood up and testified that the prayer offered last week had been already fulfilled. Then it was when they were all earnest in prayer, suddenly the Spirit of God fell upon the people, and it was rumored that in a certain village a preacher had been preaching in thorough earnest, and there had been hundreds converted in a week. The matter spread into and through the Northern States. These revivals of religion became universal, and it has been sometimes said, that a quarter of a million people were converted to God through the short space of two or three months.”

Yes, there is great profit in prayer. Oh, more than likely it won’t fill your pockets with cash; it won’t put a Porsche in your garage; it won’t give you a vacation house in the south of France. But it will profit you in ways that you could never imagine – with joy – with peace – with hope. Who knows but that you will pray for God to bless your country and He will send great revival sweeping through the shores of this once-great land. Who knows?

Quote – “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

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