Dear Friend in Christ:
I pray you are well. Oftentimes, we are tested on the message we preach. And so it has been this month as I have been preparing this message. I will say, with great gratitude, that God has been faithful to bring us through “many dangers, toils, and snares” by His amazing grace.
I want us to look at Jesus together, and consider His courage, so that we might ourselves be encouraged in the battles we are all facing. Our message is the Good News about King Jesus and His Kingdom: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). Jesus has revealed the Father to us and has promised the Holy Spirit to us. The Spirit has filled us and empowered us to be witnesses wherever He leads.
Our witness is not simply in pretty or clever words, but it is in how we live in the grace, integrity, and supernatural power of God. Our confidence is not in our own strength or wisdom, but in His, and in the eternal reality that His ways work and He has triumphed over every evil. Our hope is not in “horses or chariots,” but it is in the Name of the Lord.
Our prayer is that His Kingdom will come and His will shall be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. Our joy is in knowing that He Who promised is faithful and that His Word that has gone forth shall not return void.
I love the Prophet Isaiah. More than 700 years before Jesus, the Messiah, was born, Isaiah accurately prophesied God’s purpose for the Messiah and so many key events that happened in Jesus’ life. I’ve heard it said that Isaiah saw Jesus more clearly, by the Spirit, than most people who actually lived during Jesus’ own time on earth. Isaiah not only prophesied the birth and mission of Jesus, but also vividly described the suffering and Crucifixion of Jesus (see Isaiah 53). Isaiah also perfectly prophesied the attitude of Jesus in Isaiah 50:
“The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:5-7).
Isaiah describes the humble obedience, courage, and confidence of the coming Messiah. He would come to a rebellious people to seek them out and save them. Tragically, many would reject Him and the salvation He offered. Though He spoke truth in love, He would be tortured and mocked. But, the Messiah confidently declares: “The Lord God will help me; therefore I will not be disgraced.”
It was this faith in the Spirit’s calling and faithfulness that causes Messiah to declare: “Therefore, I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.” Despite the painful torture and death that awaited Jesus, He set His face like flint to do the Father’s will. Flint is a hard, tough rock that symbolizes determination and steadfastness. Jesus courageously embodied and fulfilled this prophecy: it all came to pass, just as Isaiah had prophesied—another confirmation that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
Knowing He would be killed, Jesus “set His face to go to Jerusalem,” according to Luke 9:51.
Why? Because He was confident in God’s goodness and God’s plan, which was already settled in Heaven, in perfect agreement among the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was a settled issue for Jesus, even before it happened on Earth. When we know we have truly heard from God, and that message is confirmed by Scripture and trusted counsel, we cannot be shaken, even if the whole world shakes.
The quality of being resolute was also seen in Jesus’ disciples and in the early Church. Peter, who had denied even knowing Christ, repented, and he was restored. He preached the Gospel on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 people were saved. The Apostle Paul repeatedly urges us to keep our eyes on Jesus and press on in mission (1 Corinthians 9; Philippians 3). Paul certainly walked it out in his own life. Likewise, the writer of Hebrews says this in Chapter 12 …
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become wearyand discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
The key for us in running the race set before us is in looking to Jesus. He provides the example of how to run with endurance, despite opposition. Jesus ran with courage and steadfastness because of the joy set before Him. Jesus knew the outcome of the race before He took the first step. When we face hostility or the temptation to become weary, look at Jesus. The One Who overcame every obstacle will give you grace and strength.
Our English word “courage” comes from French word, “coeur,” which means “heart.” To “take heart” means, “be courageous.” To “encourage” means, “put heart into.”To discourage means, “take heart out of.” Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” God repeatedly told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous” (see Joshua 1). One of my favorite stories in the Bible is in 1 Samuel 30, when David was facing seeming catastrophe. Scripture says, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord.”
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of wisdom.” Courage is not blind arrogance or fleshly reckless machismo. Courage is informed by wisdom from God. Prudence is not fear; presumption is not faith.
Isaiah had given his life in service to the Lord. The Lord had revealed extraordinary events to Isaiah, including judgment upon Israel, but also the coming of the Messiah. Much of what Isaiah saw by the Holy Spirit was painful to see and to say. He wasn’t appreciated in his day by his people; tradition suggests he was eventually martyred. But God did not forget Isaiah nor the Word given through Isaiah. Look at this … it’s amazing!
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
After Jesus was baptized by John and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, where He was tempted by Satan. Jesus defeated Satan by declaring the Word of God and remaining faithful to it. And then, Jesus began teaching and ministering in the Galilee region:
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah” (Luke 4:16-17).
NOTE: The men in the synagogue took assigned turns in Scripture readings. On this day, the assigned reading—ordained in God’s Sovereign timing—was from Isaiah 61, where Isaiah was prophesying about JESUS! And among all of the men in the synagogue, whose turn was it on that specific day to do the Scripture reading? JESUS! Can you imagine the scene in Heaven? Perhaps the Father called Isaiah over to the balcony of Heaven to watch. “Come over here, Isaiah. I have something I want to show you!” The scene continues in Nazareth …
“And when Jesus had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” (Luke 4:18-22).
You would think the people would have praised God and rejoiced. But they totally missed the significance and reality of what Jesus had said. My friend Mike Poulin once said, “You can be in the middle of something God is doing and still miss it.” The people simply thought, “Oh, He’s a nice boy. He speaks so well.” Jesus knew they missed it, so He drove the point home, telling them that just as they resisted the prophets in the past, they would reject Him.
Furthermore, He told them that because they rejected Him, God would show His favor to others.
The congregation turned ugly, filled with wrath, thrust Him out of town, and tried to throw Jesus over a cliff. But verse 30 says something amazing: “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” I don’t know what happened, but He simply passed through the raging mob, parting them like the Red Sea, because He had the Father’s business to do.
Jesus set His face like flint to do the Father’s will; to reveal the Father to the world and reconcile the world to the Father. He was never deterred nor distracted. He continually courageously faced down opponents and stymied the schemes of the enemy. And at the very moment when the Devil thought he finally had Jesus right where he wanted Jesus to be … on the Cross … that was when the Father’s plan was fulfilled and Jesus won the greatest victory of all time! I heard Mahesh Chavda say, “One drop of the blood of Jesus is enough to destroy the entire kingdom of Satan.”
When Jesus declared on the Cross, “It is finished! Into Thy hands I commit My Spirit,” it was not a statement of weary defeat. It was a statement of triumph and vindication from the Father. It’s a direct quote from Psalm 31, which was a prophetic Psalm from David. Read that whole Psalm and consider that this was the declaration Jesus deliberately made on the Cross. He endured the Cross because of the joy set before Him. And then, Hallelujah, He arose! He arose!
LOOK TO JESUS
As we look to the courageous Jesus, our own courage will be renewed. We face many challenges. Some of us have been weary, scared, confused, angry, grieving, or frustrated. But Jesus Himself is our peace, our hope, and our Solid Rock. “If you look to yourself, you will be disappointed; if you look to others, you will be disillusioned; but if you look to Jesus, you will be delighted.”– Dr. Harold Wilmington
Thank you for standing with us. This has been a challenging year in so many ways, but by God’s grace and with your friendship, we have persevered in our mission. Please remember us in your prayers and in your giving this month. Visit us online at csmpublishing.org , or on Facebook at Charles Simpson Ministries. You can also follow us on Twitter @CSMinPublishing. We deeply appreciate you!
Stephen Simpson, President
Scriptures referenced: Romans 14:17; Isaiah 50; Luke 9:51; 1 Corinthians 9; Philippians 3; Hebrews 12:13; 1 Samuel 30; Joshua 1; 2Timothy 1:7; Luke 4:16-17
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.