Some 800 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah described what the coming Messiah would be like.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, KJV)
“Wonderful,” in this instance, suggests something beyond human comprehension—a description that fit Jesus perfectly. Everything about him, from his teachings to his healing power, was extraordinary. “Counselor” refers to a king who offers wise guidance to his people. No one in history offered more wise advice than Jesus did. His words changed the world. More importantly, they continue to change the lives of anyone who takes them to heart. Jesus’ wonderful counsel is still available to all.
The child, whose coming Isaiah predicted, would not only be sent by God but he would also be God—the Almighty Creator of the universe.
The phrase “Mighty God” suggests a warrior mentality, a fact that likely excited the Jewish people of Isaiah’s day—and especially those of Jesus’ day. The Jewish people were waiting for a righteous warrior-king to lead them. In the first century, they were looking for such a leader to free them from Roman control. With “Mighty God” on their side, they reasoned, how could they lose? They could not wrap their heads around the fact that “Mighty God” had bigger plans—far beyond mere political skirmishes.
PRINCE OF PEACE
The prospect of a royal hero who would restore peace to Israel surely sounded good to the people of Isaiah’s day, who faced constant threats of invasion and exile at the hands of the mighty Assyrian army. Isaiah, however, was talking about a peace much more profound and meaningful than a détente between two warring nations. Isaiah predicted the coming of One who would restore spiritual peace between God and humankind.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, makes it possible for us to have a relationship with our heavenly Father through his sacrifice. Our peace comes through his death and resurrection.
The above article was adapted from JESUS which my team created for Time Inc. It appears in the winter of 2014-2015 as a special edition magazine within the USA.
God gives us salvation through his Son, Jesus. That’s the central theme of Christianity.
With the gift of salvation, however, comes something equally valuable. The apostle John describes it this way: “God has given us his Spirit. This is how we know we are one with him, just as he is one with us” (1 John 4:13, CEV).
How do we know we belong to God? We have his Spirit inside us. We have access to his strength when we’re tempted. We have access to his guidance when we’re lost. We have access to his wisdom when we’re confused. We have a direct line to him when we need to talk. If we think it, he hears it; when we ask questions, he answers us.
How often do we thank God for such an incredible gift? How often do we take advantage of the opportunities the Holy Spirit offers?
"Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him." (Isaiah 1:4, NIV)
The people of Israel turned their backs on the Holy One because they wanted to pursue sin. But God, in his holiness, will have nothing to do with sin.
The fact that sin cannot exist in God’s holy presence should inspire us to seek forgiveness when we do something wrong. Our wrongdoing does not put our salvation in jeopardy—Jesus paid for our sins once and for all—but it does affect our closeness to God. If we have unconfessed sin in our lives, we cannot have an intimate relationship with him. We need to confess, ask forgiveness and start fresh. Additional Verses on God's holiness:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3, NIV)
“There is no one holy like the Lord;there is no one besides you;there is no Rock like our God." (1 Samuel 2:2, NIV)
"For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16, NIV)
“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.” ’ ” (Exodus 3:14)
The Israelites were slaves in the land of Egypt, where many gods were worshiped. The Lord wanted his people to know that only one deity was worthy of their worship—only one could free them from captivity.
“I am” is the perfect name for God because it contrasts his existence with the nonexistence of other gods (who might be named “They are not”). It also calls attention to his eternal nature. When nothing else existed, God could say, “I am.” If everything else ceased to exist, God could still say, “I am.”
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.’ ” (Genesis 17:1, NIV)
God was getting ready to do something amazing in Abram’s life. He was going to make a great nation from Abram’s descendants. The only problem was that Abram had no descendants. He and his wife were almost one hundred years old, and they had no children. That may explain why the Lord introduced himself to Abram as God Almighty. He was assuring Abram that he had all the might he needed to accomplish his plans—no matter how impossible they seemed.
Here are additional verses that identify God as Almighty:
"May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples." (Genesis 28:3, NIV)
"I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty." (Exodus 6:3, NIV) "David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LordAlmighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." (1 Samuel 17:45, NIV)
"And he became more and more powerful, because the LordGod Almighty was with him." (2 Samuel 5:10, NIV) "The LordAlmighty is with us." (Psalm 46:7, NIV)
"Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you." (Psalm 89:8, NIV)
" Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1, NIV)
The good news for believers is that God has lost none of his might. He is still able to do all that he wills.
David tapped into God’s strength in ways that are available to us, too. He prayed in the morning:
"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." (Psalm 5:3.)
He poured out his complaints to God:
"Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8).
He meditated on the beauty and mercy of God:
"One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
David’s renewed strength rallied his men. They returned from battle victorious, along with their families, their possessions and all that their enemies had plundered. God still makes his strength available when we look to him. With his strength we can overcome the worst times—even those days that never seem to end.
Taken from a project I edited for Zondervan in 2010 called the Busy Dad's Bible.
One of the best-known and oft-quoted pieces of relationship advice is found in Ephesians 4:26. That’s where the apostle Paul wrote,“Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry.” What’s remarkable about the verse, though, is not just what it says but also what it doesn’t say. The apostle Paul did not say,“Don’t get angry” or “Anger is a sin.” Instead, he warned us not to let our anger cause us to sin. Anger is a healthy emotion,every bit as valuable to our well-being as joy and grief. Anger is a natural response to upsetting circumstances. Neither does the verse say, “Don’t get angry with someone you love.” That’s unreasonable. When two people try to build a life together, conflict is inevitable. If they have problems resolving their conflicts, anger is practically a given. And that’s okay. What the apostle Paul suggested in Ephesians 4:26 is that we resolve our anger in a timely manner—ideally, within a day.
Why? One reason is that anger must not be allowed to fester. If it does, it will mutate into something uglier. Turned outward, it will become hatred; turned inward, depression. Clearing the air during your waking hours will prevent both scenarios. A second reason to work through your anger before sleep overtakes you is that it lets you get on with your life sooner. Anger—and the grudges that result from it—will occupy your thoughts until you do something about it. The more quickly you deal with it, the less your productivity will suffer. A third reason to deal with anger today instead of tomorrow is that tomorrow is promised to no one. Too many people regret their last angry words to a loved one. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them. Don’t go to bed angry.
You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for this? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about this? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43–48, CEV)
When you think of the word enemy, what images come to mind? Whose face do you see? Think of the circumstances that led to your present feelings about that person. Consider the relationship you have with the person today. And then compare your findings with Jesus’ words in the first book of the New Testament.
Jesus holds his followers to a different standard. You say you love the people who love you? So what? The worst people you know love their friends too. If you say you love your enemies, though—and prove it with the way you treat them—you’ve set yourself apart. And that’s exactly what Jesus wants his followers to do. To love your enemies is to work toward the best possible relationship with them and to learn to live at peace with them. The first step in that process is to stop any ongoing escalation of anger. If the rift or circumstances that soured your relationship are fresh, address them in a positive way. Own up to your culpability in the matter, and give the other person a chance to do the same.
I am looking for a number of people to read the Gospel of Mark with me. We'll start Monday, August 25 and read for 2 weeks (about a chapter per day). Your commitment is to: * Read the Bible everyday for two weeks. * Commenting on a daily question in a private Facebook group. On most days, the question will simply be: What did you learn about Jesus from this passage? This is low pressure way to get back into the God's Word and read the Bible. Will you join me? There is no cost and no book to buy. The goal is simply to create a short-term group of people reading the Bible. Two weeks. That's all. Will you join me? [[I'm sorry, our group is full! Click the home page and join my email list to stay informed about the next one]] read more