He is despised and rejected by men

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Isaiah 53:3

These verse described prophetically what Jesus would go through at Calvary.  He was despised and rejected because of us.  He knew the price that had to be paid at Calvary and He knew the pain and suffering He would face.  But it was His love for us that drove Him to choose to come to the earth and lay down His life.

Many in the world today despise the name of Jesus.  They reject the existence of God and want nothing to do with Him.  They want to simply live their lives to fulfill the selfish desires that exist within their hearts.  But God in His grace and mercy continues day after day to knock on human heart.  The Lord continues to advance the gospel throughout the earth.

When we understand the grace and mercy of God we will surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.  To follow Christ means to simply give Jesus all that we are.  His will becomes the driving force in our lives.  We simply live our lives to bring glory and honor to His name.

Romans 15:5-6

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6 NKJV

We serve an awesome God.  He is full of patience and comforts us along this journey that we walk with Him.  We are called to walk in unity.  As we grow in the character and nature of who Jesus is this will be a natural manifestation of our growth in Christ.  We will view our fellow brothers and sisters as the Lord sees them.  We will see those who are lost as the Lord sees them.  The key to all things is growing in the character and nature of Christ.  This happens as we daily abide in the Lord and spend time in prayer and the study of God’s word each day.  We will simply find ourselves becoming more and more like Christ each day.

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Hebrews 6:1-8

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  Hebrews 6:1-8

This is a warning to believers of the importance of growing and maturing in our relationship with God.  We are called to abide in Christ on a daily basis.  We are called to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Those who would begin with Christ and then begin to chase after the ways of the world and abandon the Lord, place themselves in danger.  Sin is deceptive and we are called to walk according to the Spirit.  For when we walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit we will not gratify the lust and desires of the sinful nature.

As we walk each day following the leading of the Holy Spirit our desire for the Lord and His kingdom continues to increase.  We are transformed into the image and character of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As this happens we desire to abandon the things of sin and the world.

But those who would begin with Christ and then turn back to the world play a very dangerous game.  For it is the Holy Spirit who draws us near unto the Lord and it is important we heed the drawing of the Holy Spirit because when we rebel and reject the leading of the Holy Spirit we begin to harden our heart towards the Lord.

Let us heed the warnings of the Lord in His word.  Let us take seriously what God’s word has to say.  The culture of our day rejects God and His kingdom.  We are not called to align ourselves with this world and its ways.  We are called to repent and turn from this world.  May we walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So you do not know the works of God who makes everything

As you do not know what is the way of the wind,[a]
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.  Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

There are things about God’s plan and His ways that remain a mystery.  When we look at circumstances and things we are facing often times we will look at things through our understanding or rationale.  But we must remember that God and His ways are above our ways.  He has called us to trust Him and walk by faith.  As we draw near to the Lord each day and study His word we are encouraged and strengthened.  God’s word is filled with promises and we know He who has begun a good work within us will be faithful to complete it.  Our journey with Christ is simply about growing in faith and trusting the Lord.  Our eyes must remained fixed upon the Lord in every circumstance.

For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Galatians 2:17-21

The apostle Paul understood the grace of God.  The reason he understood the grace of God is because he knew the man he was before he came to Christ.  Before he came to Christ the apostle Paul was a pharisee.  He zealously followed the law of God, but understood it was impossible to keep the law.

Before he came to Christ he thought that Jesus was actually trying to destroy the law.  He zealously tried to destroy the early church seeking out directives from the religious leaders to hunt early Christians down and throw them in prison.  Paul even stood with approval as Stephen was being stoned to death.

But on the road to Damascus the apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus Christ in which Paul’s life was turned upside down.  He committed his life to Christ and God used him mightily to write a majority of the new testament and to begin to plant churches and advance God’s kingdom.  The apostle Paul was sent as an apostle to the gentiles.

He understood that righteousness was through faith alone.  The purpose of God’s law was to govern the nation of Israel because it was a theocracy through a covenant established with God.  But the law was never meant to lead to righteousness.  The law reveals the righteousness of God and reveals man’s need for a savior.  For when one tries to keep the law perfectly it is impossible.

There is only one who was able to perfectly keep the law of God and that was Christ Jesus.  This is why He claimed He did not come to destroy the law, He came to fulfill it.  In fulfilling the law of God it makes it possible that anyone who would placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would have the righteousness of Christ applied to them.  It is only the precious blood of Christ that is perfect and is only able to wash away our sins.

This is why it is no longer us who live, but we live by faith in the Son of God.  Daily we die to ourselves, decreasing that He may increase.  May we daily fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ and desire and seek to know Him in a deeper way.  He has made the way of salvation possible through the cross and it is through Jesus that we are able to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.  Matthew 18:15-17

Jesus has established how we are to deal with brothers or sisters in the body of Christ we know are involved in sin.  We begin by going to them individually and bringing it to their attention.  When a person becomes off track they can become blinded by the sin they are involved in.  Their life style can also begin to negatively impact other members among the body.  This is important because young believers can easily be pulled off track.

If they fail to listen when we approach them then we are to bring along one or two witnesses and confront the person once again.  If they fail to respond we are then to bring them before the church.  This is a practice that is not carried out in many churches today.  Many churches fail to use church discipline as it is prescribed in God’s word.

But when the lifestyle of a member in the body of Christ begins to negatively impact the greater body of believers it is time to take action.  Everything should be done in love and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing should ever be done in a self-righteous spirit because that only comes from our sinful nature.  The goal of all church discipline is that the individual will repent of the sin they are involved in and return to a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.  The most important thing is the health of the greater body of Christ.  We are family and we are called to love one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another.  But it doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to wickedness and sin.

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.  Psalm 51:1-2

It is to the grace and mercy of God that we appeal.  Because of His grace and mercy He has chosen to forgive us and send His Son to die in our place.  Jesus came to take the punishment and wrath that we deserve.  Because of sin in our lives it is only the precious blood of Jesus that can cleanse us from our sin.

In Christ our sins are washed away forever.  When we come into relationship with Jesus His righteousness is placed upon us and when we draw near to the Father the only thing that remains is the righteousness of Jesus.  This is why we are able to draw near to the Lord with confidence.  In Christ fear no longer fills our heart because we come to know the unconditional and eternal love of God.

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2 NIV

Through Jesus Christ we have been set free from the demands of the law.  The law reveals the righteousness of God and reveals man’s need of a savior.  Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.  Through faith in Christ we have received the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ has been applied to our lives.

Condemnation only stands for those who have rejected Jesus Christ.  The only answer we have for sin is the precious blood of Jesus.  So to reject Jesus Christ is to reject the precious gift of salvation.  If someone rejects salvation the only option they are left with is condemnation.  This is why anyone who is in Christ is saved and anyone who rejects Jesus Christ is condemned.

Rejoice always, pray continually

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

We are called to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. This happens as we mature in Christ and come to understand that the Lord is in control of all things.

Circumstances can often discourage us, especially if things are not working out the way that we expect. This is simply how faith grows. As we experience tough challenging times the Lord is continually calling us to trust and seek Him. As we seek Him through every circumstance He will strengthen us and He will continue to grow and refine us.

God has a perfect will for our life and His ways are high and above our ways. It is not based upon our understanding but simply trusting the Lord each step of the way. The Lord will always provide and always lead. He has simply called us to follow and trust Him. He is our Good Shepherd. The safest place we can be is in the will of God. There is nothing more exciting upon the earth than abandoning ourselves to the plans and purposes of the Lord.

that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us

This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him.
 
1 John 5:14-15 AMP
 
The key to answered prayer is praying according to the Father’s will. When we pray according to His plans and purposes we know that He not only hears us but that He will answer us according to His will. He has so designed the earth that He chooses to work and accomplish His purposes through the prayers of His people.
 
Now you may inquire “how do we know how to pray according to His will”. This simply comes a result of growing in our relationship with Him. As we draw near, study His word, and spend time in prayer, we come to know His heart and His purpose. We become more and more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and it is the Holy Spirit who leads us in prayer.
 
Often times the way the Holy Spirit leads us in prayer is the Lord will place a persons name upon our heart. We may have a picture of who they are come to our mind, or it may be a burden God places on us for a nation, city, government, or church. God has called us His people to be a house of prayer and time and time again in His word He calls us to pray. May we be obedient and respond as the Holy Spirit leads.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
 
During this account in the gospel of Luke we are given some very important information about Zaccheus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was a man who valued money above all else and most likely cheated those he collected taxes from. Tax collectors were the most hated in Israel. Taxes were collected for the Roman empire and it was Jews taken advantage of other Jews.
 
Zaccheus was a short man and needed to climb a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus passing through the crowd. A sycamore tree can grow to be between 75 to 100 feet and be 10 feet in diameter. It is a very large tree. As Jesus walked by He stated to Zaccheus that He desired to have dinner with him.
 
The people grumbled because they didn’t understand how Jesus could spend time with such a man as this. But Jesus looked beyond the surface. Jesus looked into the heart. In Zaccheus He saw a man who was hungry for truth and it was the Holy Spirit who drew Zaccheus. When Jesus stated to Zaccheus that He desired to eat dinner with Him Zaccheus responded without hesitation.
 
Zaccheus demonstrates through his actions the faith he has in Jesus. He states to the Lord that he was willing to give half of all he had to the poor and to repay four times anyone he had wronged. The heart of Zaccheus had been impacted by the Living Christ. This is a contrast to the rich young ruler who when Jesus spoke to him about his wealth was not willing to depart with it and walked away from Jesus.
 
Jesus statement that He came to seek and save those who were lost sums up His mission. He came to earth to give His life so that anyone who would place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would be saved. It is because of what Jesus has done alone that we have salvation.
 
Authentic saving faith impacts the way we live our lives. It affects every decision we make on a daily basis. It is impossible to claim that we are truly saved and not be transformed into the character and nature of Jesus Christ.