December 3

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV) 4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 52:13 through chapter 53 contains some of the most detailed and rich prophecies concerning the Messiah. The most comforting are those in our passage for today. Man's greatest infirmity is sin. His greatest sorrow is his estrangement from God. Jesus took that upon Himself while He was on the cross. We cannot comprehend the horror of the sins of the world, but Jesus could. He still took it on for us. Even in the process of dying for man, He was cursed, mocked, and insulted. They implied that He deserved it for being a liar. Yet He suffered through it to the end.

Why was He pierced? For our transgressions! Why was He crushed? For our iniquities! Make that personal. The only way we could have peace with God is for someone to pay the sin debt we owed. Someone had to be punished for the rebellion against God and all His goodness. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.

How could we be healed from this disease of sin that so permeates our nature? By His wounds we are healed! Every one of us is like a dumb sheep that wanders away from the Shepherd that cares and looks after us. We wander off into dangerous areas in which we can be attacked and devoured by the Wolf. If we were caught and killed, it would serve us right, for we have refused to follow our loving Shepherd. Yet, the LORD laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all.

Consider: How grateful, how thankful, how forever indebted we are to Him!

December 3

1 Peter 1:13-16 (NIV) 13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Because God has orchestrated your salvation through the wonder of the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, prepare your minds for action! If He went to all that effort to save you, He must have something for you to do. Of course, He desires a relationship with you above all else, but a relationship results in action. Start preparing your mind for the work of infiltrating the world as an agent of Almighty God.

Be self-controlled, a fruit of the Spirit. Let that fruit come to fruition in your life. Once you realize what important assignments God has for you, you will want to be disciplined as you prepare for them. We aren't just laboring for a worldly empire, but for the Lord of all. Get it together! Stop fooling around. This is serious business. You formerly just conformed to your evil desires. There is no time for that anymore.

Your hope should be on the grace that will be lavished on you when Jesus appears in glory. With your eyes fixed on that day, live a holy life. That means a life that is set apart for His purposes. He is the standard. He is holy, and that is why we should be holy in everything we do. Be holy in all our thoughts and the way our time is spent, in our desires and aspirations. He is worthy of that response.

Consider: Are my thought life and self-discipline reflecting the high calling I have in Christ?