December 2

Isaiah 52:13-15 (NIV) 13See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 14Just as there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness– 15so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Isaiah gave a number of prophecies about the suffering servant. They so beautifully describe the life of Jesus that it is a wonder some cannot see it and that the Jews of that day did not recognize Him. The wisest thing Jesus could have done for those He loved was to lay down His life. In the passage today, we see the cross raised, lifted into place, and the Son of God highly exalted. Though His body was beaten and torn beyond human recognition, He became the sacrifice whose blood would be our atonement.

Kings bow before the wonder of His sacrificial death. They cannot speak in the presence of One whose love is so great that He would die to give them life. Pilate did not know the prophecies were being fulfilled before his eyes. Kings have not heard the Gospel and yet somehow will know that God has made a Way. God has revealed His Arm, Christ Jesus, and ever since the world has looked in awe at the wonder of His life and death in our place.

Who would ever have guessed that God loved us to that extent? We sit in silence pondering the amazing love of God and our lack of gratitude for it. How could He love us so? The suffering Servant bore our sins that we might forever be right with God. Let the wonder of it grow within your heart.

Consider: See that you never grow calloused toward that great display of His love for you.

December 2

1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV) 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Peter is expressing the paradox of the Christian life. We have a glorious inheritance ahead of us. Until we get there, we are kept by the power of God. He says that this causes us to greatly rejoice. If you aren't greatly rejoicing, you haven't seen the wonder of what lies before us, or you haven't seen His power that is keeping us until we get there. Joy should be the distinguishing characteristic of every Christian.

The paradox is that the journey is full of trials. Those trials cause grief, but they also accomplish a purpose. They prove our faith just as precious metal is purified by fire. They burn out the impurities of our worldly ideas and misguided doctrines.

So how are we supposed to be joyful in those painful trials that cause us grief? We see they are serving a purpose. We see our faith growing stronger and purer. We look forward with eyes of faith to our Savior's glorious return. To hear His, "Well done!" will be more than worth the refining process. As we envision that day and the heart of our Savior who is shaping us for that day, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, even as we endure the grief of these momentary trials.

Consider: You are probably in a trial, coming out of one, or going into one. Good! They will refine and test your faith so that someday you will hear Jesus say, "Well done!" Look to that day with eyes of faith and be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.