Isaiah 55:11 11So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please,and it shall prosper in the thing for which… More
12Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.
I am sure that you have heard the expression, “When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade!” Well, I want you to know that when the devil throws lemons at you, God Himself will make lemonade for you! After all, the Bible says that God works all things together for your good. (Romans 8:28)
And He does it with style — He restores double for your trouble! Beloved, if you have lost a husband or wife through divorce, or a precious child through death, God can restore double to you, so that you end up having more than before, if not in quantity, then in quality!
Consider Job in the Old Testament. When he lost everything, his wife told him to curse God and die. He refused and, instead, responded to God in faith, and “the Lord gave to Job twice as much as he had before”. (Job 42:10)
When David lost the child he had with Bathsheba, he stopped pleading and started worshiping God because he trusted in the mercies of God. Later, God blessed David and Bathsheba with another son named Solomon, who became the wisest and richest king the world has ever known.
Today, God promises to restore double for your trouble — “Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” If He declared it, He will do it! So you cannot but have hope that things will be even better than before. That is why in the same verse, He calls you “prisoners of hope”. My friend, hope in the biblical sense means a confident expectation of good things happening in your life. You are a prisoner of that! You can’t help but wake up feeling hopeful. You can’t help but expect good things to happen to you!
So when trouble comes from the devil, don’t give up and say, “It is hopeless!” Don’t worry or get angry. Worship God like David did and see that trouble as an opportunity for God to bless you with more than what you originally had. And because God has declared it, be confident that you will get double for your trouble!
2 Samuel 9:7
7So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”
When the people in the palace heard that King Saul and his son Jonathan had died in battle, they panicked. Fearful that David was coming to seize the throne, and kill all the sons and grandsons of Saul, they ran for their lives. A nurse took Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, and ran. But as she fled, the five-year-old boy fell and became lame in both feet. (2 Samuel 4:4)
The poor boy would not have been crippled if they had known that David actually loved Jonathan and Saul, and would have looked after Jonathan’s son because he had made a covenant with Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18:3)
In this story, King Saul represents the human race. He is like Adam who sinned against God and forfeited all that God gave to man. He had the position, but not the power anymore because of sin. Jonathan, who came after Saul, represents Jesus, who came as a human. Jonathan was not like Saul — he was good, just as Jesus is not like Adam — Jesus is the perfect Man. David represents God. So Jonathan’s covenant with David speaks of Jesus’ covenant with God. Mephibosheth represents believers today who are “lame” in some way — sick, depressed, fearful, poor and so on.
Now, Mephibosheth became lame because of bad news that was based on a lie. Many believers today are suffering needlessly because they believe the wrong things about God. They think, “My sin has found me out! God is coming after me!”
Well, I have good news for all Mephibosheths: David is not after your life! When David looked for Mephibosheth, it was to show him kindness, to take care of him and restore to him the land that had belonged to Saul his grandfather.
Likewise, God is not out to get you. He knows all about your sins and still loves you. That is why He sent Jesus as the payment for your sins. And because of Jesus’ covenant with Him, He says to you, “Don’t be afraid, I will surely show you kindness. I will restore all to you and you shall always eat at My table!”
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
In this verse, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He did not say, “I am the vine, try to be the branches.” In other words, He wants us to realise that we are already the branches. We do not have to struggle to become the branches.
As His branches, we only have to abide or remain in Christ our vine. How do we do that? We do that by simply being conscious every day of our position in Christ. Because we have received Christ, we are in Christ and are accepted in the Beloved. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1:6) God accepts us because we are in the Beloved and He is in us. And that is how God sees us today when we come into His presence.
What the devil wants to do then is to get you to focus on your condition instead of your position in Christ. The condition you are facing could be financial lack or deteriorating health. The devil wants you to focus on your condition and forget your position — that you are the righteousness of God in Christ and that you are seated with Him in heavenly places at the Father’s right hand. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:6) He wants you to forget that you are an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
The devil knows that once you focus on your position in Christ, it will give you the power to change your condition and circumstances. John 15:5 says that you will bear “much fruit”. This means that when you pray against any lack, abundant supply will flow. When you pray for healing, sickness will leave.
My friend, none of these things can happen by your own doing, but by His life which flows through you. Just as sap flowing through the branches of a vine will cause them to bring forth fruit, His life flowing through you will bring forth a bountiful harvest of provision, healing and miracles. You only need to remain conscious of who you are in Christ!
11‘No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.
Imagine yourself walking past the prodigal son sitting in the pigpen. (Luke 15:11–24) You look at him and see him salivating for the pigs’ food. Believing that it is good to show kindness, you give him money to buy food for himself.
That is human kindness which says, “I am a Christian. I should be kind, good and forgiving.” Such human sweetness or kindness may be likened to honey. Interestingly, while we elevate it, God tells His people not to bring Him a grain offering with honey in it.
The grain offering speaks of Jesus’ life on earth. Not mixing honey in the grain offering speaks of how the compassion and goodness we see in Jesus during His earthly ministry were all divine. There was no “honey” of human goodness that is tainted with human weakness.
In retrospect, the worst thing one could do for the prodigal son was to give him money when he was in the pigpen. Not only would he not have gone home, but what the Lord was doing in his heart would also have been spoiled. This is what happens when we go by the goodness of our human hearts instead of the goodness of God in our hearts, which is directed by His love, wisdom and perfect timing.
My friend, God does not want you to be moved by what you see but by His Spirit. There were many needy folks surrounding Jesus during His time on earth. But He did not heal every sick person around Him, feed every hungry stomach he passed or raise all who were dead. Isaiah 11:2–3 tells us that the Lord was not moved by what He saw or heard. He was moved only by the Spirit.
You too have the Spirit in you. (1 Corinthians 3:16) Be moved by Him. Follow the peace that He puts within your spirit to do or refrain from doing something. That peace is the peace of God. Acting on that peace will cause God to be exalted, and His divine goodness and kindness to really be a blessing to you and others!
15And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,
People who have a grateful heart are always praising God. You often hear them say, “God is good!” They know that God is the reason for every blessing they get.
But there are those who look to God for blessings and when they get blessed, they just go on their merry way. Their hearts are captivated by the blessings instead of the One who has blessed them.
Jesus had an encounter with both these types of people when He walked into a village one day. Ten lepers cried out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13) Now, when you call out to Jesus for mercy, He always hears you. On another occasion, when two blind men cried out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” He took the time to give them their miracles. (Matthew 9:27–30)
So these 10 lepers cried out to Him for mercy. He stopped, looked at them and said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And “as they went, they were cleansed”. (Luke 17:14) But only one came back and fell at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Notice the very sad words of Jesus that followed: “Were there not 10 cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)
The other nine obviously knew that it was Jesus who had cleansed them. Yet, they did not bother to go back and thank Him. My friend, let it be said of you that when the blessings come, you remember to give God the praise, glory and honour, and acknowledge that He is the source of every blessing in your life.
Do you know that when the man came back to thank Jesus, he received the additional blessing of becoming whole? Jesus said to him, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19, KJV) He was not just cleansed of leprosy, he got his missing fingers and toes back!
My friend, when your heart is thankful toward God, you position yourself for even greater blessings!
33… seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
God doesn’t want you grabbing the newspaper first thing in the morning and reading all the bad news in the world. He knows that if you do that, your heart will be full of cares, anxieties and even fears.
When you are reading the newspapers, magazines, medical journals, economic reports, watching movies or surfing the Internet all the time, then you are getting your “nourishment” from these sources instead of God’s Word. Now, I am not against these things. But if you constantly feed only on earthly things which cannot satisfy, you will fill your heart and mind with cares and worries.
Jesus doesn’t want you to end up worrying about your life — what you will eat, drink or wear — as these are the things that the Gentiles (people of the world) seek. He says that your heavenly Father knows very well that you need these things. (Matthew 6:31–32)
That is why He promises you that if you would seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things that the world seeks after will be added to you. It will not just be given but added, which means greater in quantity and quality!
If you are faced with lack, don’t pursue material goods. Pursue God your provider. If you are sick, don’t pursue the “cure”. Pursue God your healer.
My friend, don’t grab the newspaper or call your friend first thing in the morning to talk about the latest bad news. Instead, grab your Bible and read all the good news God has for you for the day. And as you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all the things that the world is running after will be added to you!
5… and by His stripes we are healed.
Under Roman law in Bible times, a criminal was either scourged for a lesser crime and then set free, or crucified straightaway if guilty of a greater crime. But Jesus was both scourged and crucified. Pontius Pilate had hoped that after scourging Jesus and presenting His bloodied body to the people, they would be satisfied and willing to let Him go. But the people were not and demanded His crucifixion instead.
Don’t think for a moment that the people had power to inflict such suffering on Jesus. It was all part of God’s plan and the scourging was necessary for only by His stripes are we healed.
The Roman whip used for scourging was made of leather straps embedded with glass, bone and metal hooks. With just one strike, the instrument would have been wrapped around Jesus’ body, causing the glass, bones and hooks to cut deep into His flesh. And as the whip was pulled back, the hooks would have stripped His flesh off, exposing muscle and bone. Indeed, the psalmist says, “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me,” (Psalm 22:16–17) and “The plowers plowed on My back; they made their furrows long”. (Psalm 129:3)
Although 39 was the maximum number of times one could be whipped according to Jewish law, I believe that Jesus was whipped more times than that because the Romans, who were not likely to regard Jewish law, carried out the scourging.
Whichever the case, His back would have been reduced to a mass of bloody, mutilated flesh. That day, Jesus’ blood flowed freely from His body for your deliverance from every kind of disease and physical affliction. God allowed every one of those stripes to fall on His Son’s body so that your body need not be scourged with diseases.
My friend, if you are sick or suffering from some physical condition, know that Jesus took the scourging as full payment for you to be free of that condition. He bore those stripes so that, today, there is no sickness, no disease left for you to bear. By His stripes you have been healed!