For further study: https://williamdearnhardt.com/2015/06/22/the-god-forsaken-god-2/
Several years ago, when I first became a literature evangelist, I was attending an awards banquet for the best sales persons in the Southwest. I was awe struck by the nice shiny plaques and trophies the winners were receiving for leading the region in sales, hours worked, and other categories. I was so impressed that I decided right then and there that I was going to be Number One next year so that I could receive such a reward at the next awards banquet.
The next year I went out and worked from early morning until as late at night as I could. After all, if I couldn’t lead the region in sales, I could at least lead in hours worked by just working all the time. Sure enough by the end of the year I had led my region in hours worked and in sales! I could not wait to receive that award I had been fantasizing about all year! Only one problem: Due to finances there was no awards banquet that year. Nothing for me! No recognition! I was angry and upset. I had been slighted. I felt insulted by my leaders.
Soon after that, I was on my way to an appointment to show the Christian books to a family in Grove Oklahoma. As I was driving down an old dirt road, I ran across an old historic church and a very old cemetery next to it. Being the history buff that I am, I decided to take a few minutes and look around. It was interesting! Many of the people had died in the 1800′s. I saw many graves for children and little babies. One family had lost four babies over the course of a few years, and I was amazed at the faith of this family as they had a Scripture promise engraved on each grave marker.
As I was contemplating the suffering this family must have endured, it dawned on me that many of these people had died at ages a lot younger than I was. Soon I was contemplating the fact that I had outlived many of these people and, of course, was the only one alive right now. Soon a voice inside my mind started asking me the questions, “Why have you outlived these people, and why are you alive right now?” As I pondered the suffering and heartache of the families represented in the cemetery and in the world today, it hit me like a bolt of lightning! I am not alive today to win trophies and awards. Those trophies cannot heal broken hearts, they cannot forgive sins and they cannot give people hope for tomorrow. Suddenly I realized how selfish and silly I had been. I decided to minister to save people’s souls and give them hope and not to win awards. I then realized the meaning of the words in an old classic hymn, “When my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.” I realized my trophies were my works, what I had earned. Of course nothing that I had earned, could ever heal a broken heart, forgive a single sin, or save my soul, let alone someone else’s!
Finally, the regional director felt sorry for me and sent me a very nice plaque. Several years after that, I was asked to have a vespers service for a church youth group camp-out. I asked them to have a bonfire going as I gave my talk. I showed the kids my nice shiny plaque and let them admire it as I talked about how hard I had worked for it. Then I told them how that plaque could do nothing to save me or anyone else. I then took the trophy and threw it into the fire. As the trophy melted in the fire and the kids looked at me with shocked expressions, I told them that “My trophies I lay down, and now cling to the old rugged cross.” I don’t need the trophy, I need the cross, for it can accomplish so much more for a hurting, dying world! Now, instead of being motivated by awards and trophies to save souls, I am motivated by the cross of Christ. “The love of Christ constrains me.”
I told you about my trophy. Now what about yours? Are you holding onto a trophy in your life today? Ask yourself if that trophy can heal a broken heart, or forgive sins, or give people hope. I encourage you to lay down your trophy and join me, as we all cling to the old rugged cross. Never again do I want to live to draw people’s attention to my trophies. I am alive today for one reason and one reason only—to draw people’s attention to the Cross of Christ.
Why are you alive today?
Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.
The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we expect to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom.
The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read prophecies, such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. Would we have thought differently?
There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell books to were all just like us. We hear what we expect to hear.Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they expected to hear. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment.
Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make similar mistakes?
Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah.
“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people. It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. InMatthew 6:33 Jesus says,
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we may still be materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.
Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?
When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him. Below is a study on the Messiah, showing the prophecies predicted in the Old Testament, and their fulfillment in the New Testament. Paul probably used some of these Scriptures when he taught the Jews about the Messiah.
At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. Jesus looked past the mistakes of His disciples and saw the pain. On the road to Emmaus, he took pains to demonstrate to them from the Scriptures that His life had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. He probably used some of these Scriptures as well.
|The place of His birth||Micah 5:2||Luke 2:4-7|
|His virgin birth||Isaiah 7:14||Luke 1:26-31|
|The slaughter of the children||Jeremiah 31:15||Matthew 2:16-18|
|His flight into Egypt||Hosea 11:1||Matthew 2:14,15|
|The time of His baptism||Daniel 9:24,25||Luke 3:1,21,22|
|His rejection by the people||Isaiah 53:3||John 1:11|
|His entrance into Jerusalem||Zech 9:9||Luke 19:29-38|
|His betrayal by a friend||Psalm 41:9||Luke 22:47, 48|
|The price of His betrayal||Zech 11:12||Matthew 26:15|
|Spat upon and beaten||Isaiah 50:6||Matthew 26:67|
|Crucified between two thieves||Isaiah 53:12||Mark 15:27,28|
|The wounds in His body||Zech 12:10||John 19:34; 20:27|
|Given vinegar and gall to drink||Psalm 69:21||Matthew 27:34|
|Gambling for His clothes||Psalm 22:17,18||Matt 27:35,36|
|None of His bones were to be broken||Psalm 34:20||John 19:32,33|
|To be buried with the rich||Isaiah 53:9||Matt 27:57-60|
|His resurrection||Psalm 16:10||Luke 24:1-7|
Seeing how Jesus met all the Old Testament predictions affirms our faith that He is indeed the Messiah. It also affirms our faith in the Bible.
Greater yet, it affirms our faith that He will come the second time, just as the Bible promised He would come the first time. There are actually twice as many Bible promises about His second coming than there are about His first coming.