September 30

Psalms 22:1, 16, 18 (NIV) 1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

16Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

18They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

One thousand years before Jesus was born, the shepherd king, David, wrote this prophetic song. We don't know the details surrounding it. Was he going through some similar circumstance, such as the attempt to murder him by King Saul? Or was he lying on the grass while watching his sheep when the Spirit of God came upon him and he began to sing this song? We can only guess.

What we do know is that a millennium in the future, Jesus would be nailed to a Roman cross and begin to quote this psalm so full of the details of that moment. If God could inspire a shepherd to pen the details of that horrible moment, then surely God is sovereign over it. Though Jesus did not sense God's presence, He did have His Word in His heart that assured Him that the Father knew exactly what was happening and what would happen.

God had forsaken Jesus because the sin of the world was placed upon Him. The Father is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus knew the answer, but the psalm was voiced for us. Dogs were the term that the Jews used for Gentiles. In typical Hebrew style David repeated the expression in different terms, "a band of evil men". The Roman Gentile soldiers surrounded the scene. Crucifixion, in which the hands and feet were pierced, was invented shortly before Jesus was born. This prophetic word was truly a glimpse into the future.

An article of clothing was much more valuable to people of the first century because of the time and effort to produce it. Many only had one main robe and a cloak for colder weather. Jesus robe was made of one solid weaving and therefore even more valuable. The soldiers divided up the smaller articles of clothing, but to keep the value intact, they decided not to divide the robe. Instead they put each of their names on a stone, put the stones in a jar, and shook the jar until one stone fell out. The person whose name was on that stone won the robe, not knowing that they had just fulfilled the words of an ancient prophecy.

Consider: If God knows the details of every trial His children endure, we can trust Him to see us through the trial and into a greater victory than we can imagine, just as He did with His only begotten Son. Trust Him! He knows your future, too.

September 30

Ephesians 3:19-21 (NIV) 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This prayer is continued from the previous day's devotion. Paul was impressed by the Holy Spirit to pray that the believers get a grasp on the dimensions of the love of Christ. Because love begets love, our perception of God's love for us will create in us a love for Him. But Paul says this love surpasses knowledge. It is not just something we intellectually attain. Just because you have a PhD in religious studies does not mean that you grasp the love of Christ. It must come from the relationship of time together and revelation. It is the one thing that will cause us to continue strong to the end. Only love will capture our hearts so that we, in turn, put Him above all else. Paul was making the point that the law could not do that for us.

The only way to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God was through a revelation of Christ's love. No formula or rules could produce that change in our lives. Filled to the measure of the fullness of God must come from an intimate relationship with God Himself. Christ in us, communing with us, working through us, is the only way to have that fullness.

Does that sound impossible? Paul says that it is possible through His power at work in us, because God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Is it hard for you to imagine your life bringing glory to God every day? He can do it! Is it hard to imagine loving Him above all other things in life? A revelation of His love can do it.

Consider: Why not take a moment, open your Bible to this passage, and pray verse 16-21 for the people you know that are struggling. Pray it for you and your family. Pray it for your Pastor and elders. The answer to our spiritual struggles is a grasp of the dimensions of the love of Christ for us.