Jesus is faithful and caring through every season of our life, and he is touched by every feeling we endure during our hard times. The apostle Paul addresses this when he writes, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). The treasure Paul refers to is the knowledge and presence of Jesus Christ — and we hold this precious treasure in our bodies. Just imagine! Yet the Greek word Paul uses for “earthen” is “frail clay” meaning, “weak, easily broken, and easily tempted.”
Paul speaks of Timothy’s “frequent infirmities” in 1 Timothy 5:23. The Greek word for “infirmity” here means “sickly, without strength, feeble of body or mind.” There are other kinds of infirmities besides physical ones and they are just as difficult to handle. Infirmities of the mind are probably the most widespread — those times when your feelings betray you and play tricks on your mind. Let me explain.
You may go to bed feeling content and peaceful, yet wake up with a heavy cloud of gloom hanging over your head. You go through the day downcast and disheartened, unable to shake the negative feelings. Guilt, fear and anxiety are also infirmities of the mind and may haunt you because of your past.
So, how can we be full of “knowledge and the presence of Jesus” and also subject to bad days, feelings of failure, weakness, frailties? It’s because we still dwell in our physical bodies, subject to “infirmities” and temptations of all kinds, both mental and physical.
Ironically, some of our most intense testing may come when we are searching God’s Word. Or interceding for lost souls. It’s easy to get frustrated when we look at others and wonder why we can’t triumph like they seem to be doing. But you are not unspiritual because you experience bad days. You are the child of your heavenly Father and he sends the Holy Spirit to chase away your doubts. The Word says, “Not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).
You cannot fight the enemy on your own but you have this great treasure present in you, so run to your heavenly Father. Then stand still, with patience and hope!
What does God look like? We know he is spirit and that he is invisible to us; in fact, the Word says, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
Part of Jesus’ mission on earth was to reveal the heavenly Father to us. When Christ was about to return to heaven, he told his disciples that they knew where he was going and they knew the way. However, Thomas countered, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). In other words, “If you leave us, how will we ever get to the Father? You told us yourself that you’re the only way to him.”
Jesus explained, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (14:7). Philip was befuddled by this and he must have thought, “What does Jesus mean, we’ve seen the Father? How can we see a spirit? And how can Jesus be God?” So then he got into the conversation: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (14:8).
Jesus was patient because he sensed Philip’s sincerity: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). Jesus then turned and addressed all the disciples: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (14:10). And after this he gave them a glorious promise: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (14:20).
This was an amazing conversation! Christ was telling his followers, “Look at me! Don’t you see that I am God, clothed in human flesh? I’m the very essence of my Father, and all that he is — in nature, substance and character — is in me. I’ve come to earth to show you the human face of God! I realize you can’t comprehend all this now but when I’m raised from the dead, I’ll manifest the Father to you, for he and I are one.”
We know that Christ’s entire ministry was a manifestation of who the Father is. Even today he seeks to reconcile you to himself and rule over you in love. As you accept his love and love him in return, you will discern the face of the Father.
When the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ and his kingdom, he outlined what Christ’s true ministers would be like. In doing so, he defined our ministry in these last days when he said, “I want you to know the marks of the true people of God, those who will be ministering just before the Prince of Peace comes to reign.”
The prophet begins with these words: “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness” (Isaiah 32:1). Then he adds, “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (32:2).
Clearly, Isaiah is talking about Jesus here, and he goes on to tell us that a true servant of God will proclaim the all-sufficiency of Christ. Indeed, such a believer shuts himself in with Jesus, trusting his Lord to make his soul a well-watered garden. He lives in quiet confidence, his spirit at rest and full of peace. And he testifies, “I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:3-4).
Isaiah points out two distinguishing marks of the righteous servant: he has discernment and he knows the voice of God distinctly: “The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen” (Isaiah 32:3).
When Christ first saw Nathaniel coming toward him, he cried, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47). In other words, “Look, brothers, here comes a man who is not a hypocrite. There is no immorality or deceit in him. He’s a clean vessel.”
Then Jesus turned to Nathaniel and said, “Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (1:51). He was saying, “God is going to open up to you continuing revelations.”
Beloved, God makes this same covenant with you and every believer whose life is above reproach, with no hidden sin or dark secrets. Such a servant receives a continuous flow of the revelation of Christ’s glory. Determine in your heart today to pursue God with your whole heart so that you may continue to hear his voice.
After Jesus was crucified, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, took our Savior’s body and placed it in his own tomb. A massive stone was then rolled in place to seal the entrance to the tomb — causing all those around the Master to feel profoundly heartbroken and despondent. Scripture says a group of women, including Mary Magdalene, sat opposite the tomb, probably asking, “What will happen now that Jesus is gone? How do we go on?” (see Matthew 27: 57-61).
Then there were the disciples, who shut themselves up in a room, paralyzed with fear. “The doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). What were these disciples thinking? They could hardly imagine what was going to become of them all now that Jesus was gone.
We cannot fathom what Jesus’ death meant to his passionate followers. Their Master, the hope of the world, had healed the sick and lame, raised the dead, set captives free, and preached the good news of salvation. He was the embodiment of the new kingdom he preached about and when he said, “It is finished,” they must have thought he meant, “It’s over. I did everything I could but I couldn’t make it happen. This is the end of the story.” They were all looking at things with the attitudes they held before the resurrection. But today we know the glorious end of the story.
Sadly, all too often Christians believe the wrong message as they endure the trials of life. They see no hope beyond their difficult situation, as if a stone permanently separates them from confidence and trust in the promises of God. Like the women at the tomb or the dejected disciples, all they can see before them is defeat — but Jesus has the last word!
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15, NIV). Jesus triumphed over all principalities and powers when he rose from the grave. His victory has overcome all your failures! His power can set you free from addiction; his healing can restore broken relationships; his love can conquer every evil that tries to beat you down.
Know this! Jesus is always working on your behalf and he is on the move in your life at this very moment.
God spoke to Isaiah about a certain servant who delights his heart: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1). Who is this one whom God sustains and upholds, guarding his every step? Who is his chosen, his elect — the one in whom he so delights?
We find the answer in Matthew’s gospel: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17). The original word for “I am well pleased” here is “delight.” God was saying, “My soul delights in my son, Jesus Christ!”
Throughout the Old Testament, untold numbers of sheep and cattle were offered to the Lord as sacrifices, yet the Bible says none of these sacrifices brought the Lord any pleasure: “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:6). Yet, in the very next verse we read these wonderful words from Jesus: “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God’” (10:7).
Christ came to earth to do what no animal sacrifice could do. God had prepared a physical body for him here on earth — a body that would provide the final, perfect sacrifice. In short, God abased himself for our sake. Encasing himself in a human womb, he took on our nature. He gave up the riches of heaven to become poor for us, giving his life to ransom us.
From the foundation of the world, God had only one plan: to reconcile fallen, sinful humankind and bring us back into his good graces. God’s plan for doing this was simple. He said, “I’m going to send forth my son as a deliverer and after he has died, risen, and stands before me, I will recognize only him.”
The Lord said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). God would never accept any works by human flesh, no matter how good they might appear. He would recognize only Christ, the servant who perfectly pleased and delighted him!