Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
December 1, 2013 – God’s ways are not our ways
We know that the Word of God tells us that God’s ways are so far above the ways of man. God is so far beyond the ability of our finite minds to comprehend that God Himself must open our blind eyes and unstop our deaf ears if we are to see our need for the Savior, only the will His sacrifice as meaningful for us. The prophet Isaiah described this disconnect as follows:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts, Is. 55:8-9.
Often God will speak to us in ways that clearly indicate that His ways are not the ways of this present world. In fact, they are often diametrically opposed to the ways of man. God sometimes uses paradox (an apparent contradiction in terms or a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true) when communicating through the written Word of God. Even within the chapter noted above the offer of salvation is given using a paradox:
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price, Is. 55:1.
As we can see, the prophet Isaiah offers those who are spiritually thirsty, God’s living water, the Holy Spirit of Yeshua, to those who understand their need, who thirst after righteousness. The prophet chides the children of Israel for seeking to be filled from sources that cannot give them what they truly need, Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy, Is. 12:2?
Only through God, can all our needs according to His riches in Glory by Messiah Jesus.
December 8, 2013 – Drawing Water from the Wells of Salvation
The name of Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Translated literally, this word means “salvation.” When we see the word “salvation” in the Old Testament, it is the name of the Messiah. “You shall call His name Yeshua (Salvation) for Hw will save His people from their sins,” Matt. 1:21.
The Bible gives us several astounding prophecies concerning the promised Messiah 750 BC, Is. 7:14, 9:6, 49:6-7, 52:13-53:12, Isaiah clearly tells us that Jehovah Elohim is Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, he characterizes the gospel message in terms of receiving the water from the wells of salvation or Yeshua.
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Yeshua in Hebrew), Is. 12:2-3.
During Messiah’s earthly ministry, when speaking about the Holy Spirit, Yeshua describes Him as “Living Water,” John 4:9-10, 7:38; Rev. 17:16-17. It is the Spirit of Messiah, the Holy Spirit, Who quenches our thirst for righteousness and gives us God’s peace.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?… 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence, I Cor. 1:13-20, 26-29.
December 15, 2013 – What Can You Purchase without Money?
So we can see from this example in Isaiah 55:1 that paradox is used in the Word of God to communicate spiritual truth. God’s truth cannot be understood by human intellect alone. The gospel is a free gift of God’s amazing grace that is clearly priceless, yet Isaiah tells us to purchase it without money. This seems to be a paradox until you realize that it is truly a gift of God’s mercy that you did not deserve it. That is why you cannot buy it with gold or silver, Acts 3:6. It is not obtained through good works, Titus 3:4-6, so the only way to obtain it is by grace, unmerited favor, Eph. 2:8-9. Let’s look at some of the paradoxes of the Word of God.
In order to really live, we must die: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal. 2:20.
To save one’s life, they must first loose it: Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it, Luke 17:33.
To become wise, one must first become a fool: Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise, I Cor. 3:18.
To reign, we must serve: His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord,’ Matt. 25:21.
To be exalted, we must first become humble: And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted, Matt. 23:12.
To be first, we must be last: So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen,” Matt. 20:16.
When we look through the eye of faith, even things that appear to be inconsistent can be clearly understood.
December 22, 2013 – A Root Out of Dry Ground
In the grand messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53, the Messiah is described as being “a root out of dry ground,” Is. 53:2. There had been four hundred years of silence in Israel, dating back to the prophet Malachi. When the Messiah arrived, Israel is described as a “dry ground.” Not that there were no believers, there has always been and will always be a remnant of Jews who take God at His Word and trust in the Messiah, Rom. 11:5. However, the leadership of Israel and the vast majority of the Israelites in the first century AD were not men and women of faith.
The living Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is always our best example. Even though the Messiah was King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He emptied Himself of His deity, Phil. 2:5-8. He stepped out of His heavenly throne room, Isaiah 6:1-5, John 12:41, and was born the stepson of a Jewish carpenter and a his betroths, a virgin named Miriam. God became a man, Is. 9:6, in order to accomplish forgiveness for the sins of man. This too was a paradox, for as the incarnation took place the angels of God were praising the King of Kings, Luke 2:13-14, yet the worldly King, Herod (Herod the Great who was appointed King of the Jews by Caesar) perpetrated a heinous crime by having all the male children in the area of Bethlehem slain, Matt. 2:16-18.
We should always follow His example. Like our Lord and Savior, we should become servants to others, thereby letting His light shine in us becoming examples to others pointing the way to Jesus.
December 29, 2013 – Our Salvation is Perhaps the Greatest Paradox of All
Because God’s ways are not our ways, God’s plan of salvation is a great paradox. The world, the flesh and the Devil say you must be a good person, do a lot of good deeds, etc., and then God will reward you with heaven. All religions and “isms” promote this as the way of salvation, yet the truth is exactly the opposite. All our self-righteous efforts result in further condemnation as far as God is concerned, Is. 64:6; Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:20.
Perhaps the greatest example of this truth is found in the history of the body of believers that Paul established in Corinth during his second missionary. The city of Corinth in the first century AD was making a comeback. It had been conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. In 44 BC, Julius Caesar ordered Corinth rebuilt as a Roman colony, so Paul arrives when the city is less than a century old.
Around 150-200 followers of Christ were in Corinth at the time Paul wrote his letters to them. Corinthian Christians lived in large, complex households and worshiped in house churches that reflected the city's diverse make-up. Corinth was located in an extremely advantageous location in the first century AD. It was located directly south of the Corinthian Gulf, on the Peloponnesian side (southern Greece) of the Isthmus of Corinth. It had two harbors that accommodated the city's position of control over the isthmus between two seas.
It is to this body of believers that the Apostle Paul/Saul wrote:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,
I Cor. 1:18-21.