“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street” (Isaiah 42:1-3).
This passage is all about Jesus. The Holy Spirit had moved upon the prophet Isaiah to bring forth a revelation of what Christ would be like when he comes and the image that comes forth from these verses is clear: Christ would not come with a loud clamor or noise. Rather, he would come as a tender, loving Savior.
We read the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew 12:14 where we see the Pharisees planning to kill Jesus because he had healed a man on the Sabbath. When Jesus found out about it, he “withdrew from there.” He did not retaliate in anger or try to get revenge, although he could have summoned a legion of angels to deal with his enemies on the spot.
This tender spirit, Matthew says, reveals the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:19). So, what did Jesus do after he quietly withdrew from Jerusalem? The Word says he immediately went outside the city and continued to heal all who crowded in on him: “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (12:15).
Jesus instructed the people, “Don’t tell anyone about the miracles you see.” Even after healing two blind men, Christ told them to keep it to themselves (Matthew 9:30). You see, Jesus did not want the people following him for his miracles. He wanted their devotion because his tender words had captured their hearts.
Jesus wanted everyone, including every future generation, to know he came into the world as a Savior: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Today, focus on the Savior’s love and his great gift of salvation for all mankind.
If you have ever had times of feeling low and troubled, then Psalm 77 was written for you. The writer of the psalm, a man named Asaph, was a Levite from the priestly line in Israel. He was also a singer and served as David’s appointed choir director. Altogether, Asaph wrote eleven psalms and they were filled with righteous instruction for God’s people.
Asaph wrote Psalm 77 after he fell into a horrible pit of despair and his condition grew so bad that he was beyond comfort: “My soul refused to be comforted” (77:2). Yet Asaph was a praying man. We see this in the same psalm as he testified: “I cried out to God with my voice … and He gave ear to me” (77:1). I am sure Asaph had heard David’s very similar testimony in Psalm 34: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (34:15).
Asaph knew David’s compelling story of how he had to flee Gath to escape Saul’s wrath. He had felt like such a failure that he had cried out to God in agony and was totally delivered. In fact, God put a song in David’s heart. In Psalm 40 David wrote a new song of faith which surely made it into the hands of Asaph as a testimony: “[He] heard my cry. He also brought me up out a horrible pit … and set my feet upon a rock” (40:1-2).
Does Asaph’s story describe your own spiritual battle? This godly, praying, faithful man was facing depression and there seemed to be no way out. But he concluded, “God’s ways are not known. I don’t know why he allowed me to go through such discouragement, but I can only rejoice that he has made me free.”
David said, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). Truly, the Holy Spirit will comfort you in your dark times and help you recover your joy, peace and rest as you seek him.
Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? Do you ever get discouraged because you cannot figure out your true calling?
Jesus sums up our core purpose in John 15:16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” Our purpose is simply to bear fruit. Many sincere Christians think bearing fruit means simply to bring souls to Christ, but bearing fruit means something much larger than soul-winning. The fruit Jesus is talking about is reflecting the likeness of Christ.
Growing more and more into Jesus’ likeness must be our purpose in life. It must be central to our activities, our lifestyle, our relationships. Indeed, all our gifts and callings — our work, ministry and witness — must flow out of this core purpose.
If you are not Christlike at heart — becoming noticeably more like him — you have missed God’s purpose. You see, God’s purpose for you cannot be fulfilled by what you do or measured by anything you achieve. His purpose is fulfilled in you only by what you are becoming in him, how you are being transformed into his likeness.
The disciples took Jesus on a tour of the temple in Jerusalem to show him the grandeur and magnificence of the structure, because they thought he would be impressed with it as they were. Instead, Jesus told them, in essence, “Not one stone of this temple will remain. It all looks very impressive, but it is man-centered.” In short, Jesus refocused the disciples’ attention to the spiritual temple and Paul later wrote to the church, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Many believers today are like the disciples, impressed by the wrong things, but Jesus’ message is clear: our focus should be on our spiritual temple. The fact is, the Holy Spirit abides in our bodies and as we spend time with him, he is prepared at any moment to bring us into his purpose.
Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, was on his way to Damascus with a small army to take Christians captive, bring them back to Jerusalem, and imprison and torture them. But Jesus appeared to Saul on the Damascus road, blinding him. “And [Saul] was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9).
In those three days’ time, Saul’s mind was being renewed. He spent the entire time in intense prayer, considering his past life, and he began to despise what he had been. That is when Saul became Paul.
This man had been very proud, full of misguided zeal. He sought the approval of other high-minded religious men but then he said, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
Paul was a man who could say, “I once was somebody. All my peers, including my fellow Pharisees, looked up to me. I was climbing the ladder, and I was considered a holy man, a powerful teacher of the law. I had a reputation in the land and was blameless in the eyes of the people.
“But when Christ apprehended me, everything changed. The striving, the competing — everything that I thought gave my life meaning — was surrendered. I saw that I had missed the Lord completely.”
Paul thought his religious ambitions — his zeal, his competitive spirit, his works, his busyness — were all righteousness. But Christ revealed to him that it was all flesh, all for self. Therefore, Paul stated, “I laid aside all desire for success and recognition and I determined to be a servant” (see 1 Corinthians 9:19).
If you desire to be emptied of self, ambition and worldly reputation, I encourage you to follow Paul’s example. I know of no other way to achieve a servant heart except through prayer.
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).
How amazing it would be if all believers were walking in humility! How attractive the church would be to a lost, hurting, broken world, and how healing for people who have been wounded in the house of the Lord. And further, how wonderful and glorious it would be for our Father to see his church putting on the garments of humility.
Some may think that being humble means not offending others when, in reality, that is man-pleasing rather than God-pleasing. The world may despise humility but as we see in this passage, God exalts those who walk humbly. It is not always easy to walk in humility; actually, it is impossible without the grace that God promises.
Humility is necessary in order to have the outpouring of God’s blessings. The opposite of humility is a domineering attitude, a person who is always commanding, always exercising authority without any kind of mercy or grace. Peters says we are to clothe ourselves in humility. I always thought humility meant stripping off things, taking away, getting down to nothing. But Peter is saying humility is putting on certain things.
One of the ways to grow in humility is to put your complete trust in God. “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (5:7). It is impossible to cast your cares onto the Lord until you first know that he is mighty; you would not cast your cares on God if you thought he was going to let you down or fail you.
Humility frees us from the arrogance of saying, “I can take care of myself,” and empowers us to trust the strong hand of God. It brings us to a place of peace, grounded and established in him. Determine today that you are going to grow in humility by allowing God to orchestrate the events of your life. Humble yourself before him and in due season he will exalt you (see 1 Peter 5:6).