Tag Archives: Jesus

Choose Me (Ezekiel 42-43)

He was so willing. God would have forgiven Israel for every evil thing they ever did or even thought. “Here I am,” He said. “Here is my throne and a place for the soles of my feet. I’m not going anywhere.” They just needed to turn from their sin, put away their idols, and He would live among them forever.

Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple… its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. (43:10b-11)

He was so willing. But they couldn’t do it. And neither can we.

Sometimes connecting with God’s heart breaks mine. This morning as I read these chapters I could hear His longing, and could almost feel His pain. “Choose me!” He pleads.

He’s done all the work. That altar and its regulations were fulfilled perfectly when God sacrificed Himself on the cross. “Just choose me,” He cries.

I pray that you have, at some point in your life, chosen God, that you have repented from sin, turned from your idols, and turned to the Savior. But I hope that isn’t the only time you’ve dealt with sin in your life.

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin. He tells us He made a conscious decision to “die” every day, to put aside self and sin, and choose God. Every. Day. “To live is Christ,” he said.

Choosing God isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. Choosing God comes with sacrifice, hardship, selflessness. Choosing God means getting out of our comfort zones, going to battle, loving people who don’t agree with us, and praying for them. Choosing God goes against everything we’ve come to believe is true; that we should be wealthy and healthy, that we deserve to be happy, that as “children of the king” we should live the high life.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew the world would hate us for choosing Him, because they hated Him first.

But choosing God is the most amazingly wonderful choice you will ever make. Choosing God is choosing something better than anything this world offers. Better than money, or fame, or a home on Easy Street. Choosing God is choosing love and forgiveness, help and encouragement, purpose and fellowship, and eternity more wonderful than any of us can imagine.

“Choose me,” God is saying to you. “Choose me today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Choose me this hour, this minute. Choose me and I promise I will never leave you, I’ll plant the soles of my feet in your heart and bless you with Myself.”

I choose God today. I’m praying you’ll do the same.

COVID19 on the Cross (Isaiah 49-53)

Isaiah clearly says in 53:5, “by his wounds, we are healed.” I watched a YouTube video of a popular preacher who insisted that Christians should not be struggling with physical illnesses because Jesus nailed our diseases to the cross. He quoted a partial verse (Isaiah 53:5b) to support his opinion.

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful picture of Jesus, so accurate in every way, and Isaiah is speaking in the past tense – which is thrilling to me! Our Savior was despised, rejected, beat up and pierced. Why? Because of my sin and yours. God laid on Jesus the inequity of us all. (vs 6)

If you don’t read anything else today, I hope you’ll take time to read Isaiah 53 and fall in love with Jesus all over again. But also notice the emphasis, the “why” Jesus did what He did. I challenge you to find any reference to physical illness, unless you distort verse 5b like some do.

The whole sentence says it was our transgressions, our iniquities, the punishment we deserved for sin was upon Him, and by those wounds incurred from the beatings and the nails piercing His flesh, we are healed from those transgressions, iniquities, and free from the punishment our sins deserve.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make you happy or physically immune from sickness. You aren’t cured from COVID19 at the cross. But you are cured from the disease of sin there. Sin no longer has any power over you when you kneel at the cross.

I hate to tell you this but you might get COVID19. You might get cancer, or dementia, or you might break a leg, or lose your eyesight. That has nothing to do with the grace of God that forgives sin when we confess our sin. The cross was and is about sin.

I’m not going to ask you if you have any COVID symptoms. I will ask you if you have any symptoms of sin. I won’t ask if you have been healed from cancer or a virus or a booboo. I will ask you if you have been healed from sin by accepting what Jesus did for you on the cross. I won’t ask you what you know about COVID. I will ask you if you know the Savior that Isaiah so beautifully described in this chapter.

Jesus died with your sins on His shoulders. I pray you’ve met Him at the cross, and allowed His grace to flow over you, healing you from the disease of sin.

Do You Hear It? (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah continues to talk about God’s judgment on sin. But he also reminds us God will protect His children from the outcome His enemies will face. I love this picture:

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (2b-3a)

I am part of that vineyard, God’s Church, through the blood of Jesus. God says He protects it, waters it, guards it against harm. I know that a healthy vineyard goes through pruning, and harvest, and that’s not always comfortable. But God assures us He’s got our backs even when we face the trails of life. It gives me such peace to know the One who cares for me.

Then God says something that I need to remember. Listen to verse 4:

“I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.”

This verse should terrify some. God will pass judgment on anything and anyone who tries to harm His Church. And it will not be a gentle tap on the wrist. The idea of God going to battle against anyone, or condemning someone to that fire should throw fear into hearts. But God is not motivated by anger. He is motivated by love, and here’s how I know that:

“Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (verse 5)

Do you hear God’s heart? I do. God’s will is that no one die without Him. He WANTS everyone to come to Him, to accept what He died to give. He WANTS to protect and defend and nurture and ultimately to spend eternity with each and every one of us.

Some people will go to hell. But that’s not what God’s heart wants.

Do you hear the tenderness in verse 5? He says He will destroy His enemies, but He’d would rather not. “Let them make peace with me.”

Have you ever heard the words, “I love you,” from that special person in your life? Those three words can bring such joy when you know the sentiment is true. What happens then, when that special someone repeats those precious words a second time? Maybe slower, softer, emphasizing each word?

“I love you. I. Love. You.”

That’s what I hear in God’s voice as He said these words in verse 5, as He talks about people who position themselves as His enemies. As He readies to go to war against them, to mete out that final judgment, His heart still cries out:

“Make peace with me. Oh, make peace with me!”

Is there someone I know who needs to make peace with God? May I hear the anguish in the heart of my Savior as He pleads with them to come to Him. May I be faithful to tell them how they can do exactly that, to introduce them to the Savior who loves them so much.

But sharing Jesus isn’t just about helping someone avoid hell. It’s about hearing God’s heart. Do you hear it?

 

 

God’s World (Isaiah 13-17)

We who know God through His Word understand that this is His world. It’s His creation. And He makes the rules. He has made it plain that he demands and blesses obedience. His judgment on disobedience is without mercy.

But here’s what touched my heart today. In the midst of warning the nations about the upcoming judgment on their sin, God says this:

My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. (16:11)

God grieves when anyone has to pay the price for sin. Because no one has to! That account is already paid in full. God has done everything He can, short of taking away our ability to choose, in order that no one need pay for their sin.

And He hurts when we don’t accept what He offers.

It must be a little like loving an addict, sitting by while you helplessly watch them give in to their addiction, knowing you’d do anything to make them whole, yet having no control over their choices. You know there is an answer. But the choice to accept the help has to be their’s. You can’t force them.

Friend, God loves you. He wants to have a relationship with you, but it has to be on His terms. He has done everything He can to make that possible, to heal you from your addiction to sin. In fact, He paid your death penalty. But He won’t force you to accept it.

God grieves every time any of us reject Him. He laments from His inmost being, an anguish that is unspeakable. He certainly doesn’t take pleasure in meting out judgment on we who are created in His image.

This is God’s world. You are His creation. And He loves you enough to die for you. Will you bring Him joy today? Or grieve Him by rejecting Him?

I’m praying for you.

Seriously? (Isaiah 5-8)

Do we really think we have better ideas than God’s? Are we foolish enough to believe our plans are good and fair, and God needs to get on board?  We can fight our own battles, but Isaiah warns us that we will be fighting against God. Do we honestly think we’ll win?

God has a solution for all the bad things in the world. He has the means for turning evil hearts into holy hearts. He’s provided a way to change hate into love:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

God with us!

God has the answer to all that is wrong in our world. He sent His Son to BE the answer!

If I have a medical question, I don’t go to a two-year-old for answers. If I need advice I don’t ask an infant what he thinks I should do. Yet we are acting equally irresponsible when we listen to the advice and follow the plans of our fellow, fallen, sinful man. Whether it’s the CDC, Black Lives Matter, Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Lebron James, or any number of “experts” in all that is wrong with the world, we are asking two-year-olds to solve our problems.

There is only one answer. There is only one plan that will see success. There is only one person’s advice that is worth listening to.

Read your Bible. Get to know the Answer. Follow His Plan. Obey God and see our world change.

Do you think you have a better idea? Seriously?

 

The Same Boat (Ecclesiastes 7-12)

Solomon was so wrong about so many things. He was looking through the eyes of a natural man, out of the framework of sin, of self, of trying to outthink, outsmart, and out maneuver God. As wise as he was, Solomon wasn’t God. He would never be God.

Solomon seems to believe we are all in the same boat. We live. We die. We succeed. We fail. Life is good. Life is hard. But Solomon misses the boat, so to speak.

I recently heard someone say, “We are all in the same storm. But we are NOT all in the same boat.”

Some people are weathering the storm of life in cardboard canoes, paddling against the waves with plastic straws. Some are trying to fashion their own lifeboats by grabbing at driftwood while trying to stay afloat in the torrent.

But some of us are resting in a sturdy, sea-worthy, ocean vessel called, Salvation. Some of us are enjoying peace in the midst of the storm of life while in the presence of the Prince of Peace. Some of us will come out of this storm more alive than ever when we finally step on the shores of heaven.

Yes, there is a storm raging that effects us all, Solomon. But we are not all in the same boat. Not even close.

Do You Want Change? (Psalm 149)

The book of Psalms ends with praise to God, our Creator, Savior, Sustainer, Judge, and King. We are reminded of who He is and what He has done, and the fact that more than anyone or anything, He deserves our praise. He alone is worthy of our praise.

But there is a thought that struck me today as I read 149:6-9 in light of the present climate in our country these days. So often we pray – I pray – “God, defeat the enemy. God, bring about peace. God, show people the wonder of your salvation. God, fix this.”

Today I hear Him say, “No. I asked you to pick up the sword.”

God could turn this world into Eden with a word. He has the power to turn every heart of every person on this earth toward Him in an instant. But He won’t. In His sovereignty, His plan for the salvation of the world includes you and me. He’s made that pretty clear.

God will release His power to save through obedient children, yielded vessels. He will go to battle against Satan with an army of believers ready for battle. We not only need to pray that God will defeat the enemy, we need to then get off our knees, pick up the sword, and go into battle. We need to be armed with His Word, strengthen by His power, and following His lead. The battle won’t be won unless we do.

Don’t read these verses in psalms and picture Muslims, or atheists, or that jerk down the road. Our enemy is Satan. And if we want him defeated in the lives of those people we need to wield the sword against that snake. Not against people who disagree with us. Violence is not the answer.

But we who know Jesus need to go, and tell, and live, and love Christ so that people who don’t know Him will want to know Him. That’s how Satan will be defeated. That’s how the battle will be won. That’s how eternal souls will find forgiveness. And that’s how to bring about change.

Racism, political parties intent on taking away our rights and freedoms, abortion, the few corrupt policemen, and whatever else you think needs to change, won’t change until people accept the fact that they are sinners in need of a Savior, then accept the Savior! Sinners will act like sinners. Don’t expect them not to just because you are praying God will fix our country.

Pray. Don’t stop praying. But while you are praying, pick up the sword and join the battle. Nothing will change unless you do.

 

Blessed Because (Psalm 145)

It is often that the verses my mother underlined in the Book of Psalms have to do with God’s love, protection, and faithfulness. Just in this one psalm, Mom underlined four verses:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” (vs 3)

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises…” (vs 13b)

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (vs 18)

“The Lord watches over all who love him…” (vs 20a)

David tells us that God is worthy of praise. He is faithful, near to us, and watches over us. These verses are timely considering the unrest surrounding COVID 19. I pray that they are your experience in all this, that you are resting in the knowledge that God is with you every step of the way. I hope you aren’t living in fear like those who have no hope.

Mom seemed to understand the correlation between our personal relationship with God, and His blessings on us. He is near to all who call on him. But in verse 18, David repeats that thought with this caveat: “to all who call on him in truth.”

It’s a mistake to think God comes near to just anyone who prays, or just anyone who isn’t an axe murderer. Not all roads lead to God. Scripture makes it clear that if we want to be near to God, we have to come to Him in truth. How can you know that truth?

Jesus said HE IS THE TRUTH. (John 14:6) You draw near to God through His Son. Period. Read God’s Word. You will find the absolute one and only truth by which you can enjoy a closeness with God.

God doesn’t protect just everyone, either. He protects those who love him, according to  the psalmist. Scripture talks a lot about love, and what love for God looks like. It’s not just three words, “I love God.” Love for God involves obedience, sacrifice of self, commitment, and a servant’s heart that lives love out of gratitude for what God has done. God’s protection is reserved for those who love Him, to those who have accepted what Jesus died to give, the forgiveness of sin and a glorious eternal home.

God’s blessings are directly related to our relationship with Him. Because, no matter what happens, if we live or die, if we have a brick home or a cardboard box, if we are a part of a big old family or alone, those of us who know Him have God! And those of us who know Him know it doesn’t get any better than that.

I am blessed because of my relationship with the Creator, Holy, Eternal God through His Son Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

Come What May (2 Samuel 16-18)

Ahimaaz wanted to run and tell David the outcome of the battle between his men and Absalom’s. Joab said no. He would send someone else to David because, “You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”

The news about the battle wasn’t all good news. David’s son Absalom had been killed in that battle, and that fact would destroy David. Or it would destroy the messenger like those who brought David word of Saul’s death. David had a history of killing the messengers of bad news, and Absalom’s death would have been the very worst kind of news.

Ahimaaz’s reply to Joab speaks to me:

Come what may, I want to run.

We have news to share with the world. It’s the best news ever in the history of the world. But with it comes some bad news, too.

The bad news is that we are sinners. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. And sin comes with a death sentence. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone outside ourselves to save us from that awful end. Some people get angry when faced with the truth about their sin.

The good news is, Jesus is the Savior we need. Jesus paid the death sentence that would have sent us to hell, and instead offers us eternity right next to Him in a place too amazing for words. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The thing is, you can’t share the good news without the bad. In order for someone to accept the Savior, they need to see their need of the Savior. And sometimes we might hesitate to share that message for fear of how it will be received.

Will I lose a friend? Will I be laughed at? Will people start treating me differently, unfairly, exclude me from things? Or as in some places in our world, will I lose my life?

Ahimaaz wanted to be the one to tell David, and he was willing to pay whatever price to share that message. He wasn’t concerned with his own safety. He wasn’t looking for some reward. It wasn’t about him. I believe, for Ahimaaz, it was about the message.

It’s still about the message. God is challenging me to take up Ahimaaz’s battle cry when given the opportunity to share His news with people He died to save.

“Come what may, God, let me be the one to tell someone about You today.”

The King (Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68)

David was a powerful, popular king in his day. Yet he often talked about God as being the King over all kings. Even in the height of his reign, David knew he was really just a worm. (Psalm 22:6)

Got me thinking about what kind of King God really is. Here is some of what David says about that:

First of all, David tells us that God the King has a powerful army at His disposal. Ten thousands and thousands of thousands of chariots ready to move at His command. (68:17) In fact, David tells us all the kings of the earth belong to God. (47:9) God is the King of Kings!

The King of glory, strong and mighty. Who is this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – HE is the King of glory. (24:10)

I can know without a shadow of a doubt that my King has absolute power over my enemy Satan, and his weapons of sin. At any time, the whole angel army will fight for me as a child of the King.

David describes our King as a Shepherd (Psalm 23). That is quite a different picture than that of a powerful king. A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, a shepherd gives up house and home to stay with the sheep, to protect them and make sure they are fed. That’s who God is to His sheep.

David also tells us our King is our Savior, that he blesses and vindicates those who seek His face (24:6). In fact, our King Savior died in order to save us. (Psalm 22)

David talks about our King as our Creator in Psalm 22. Our King is near to us, He hears the prayer of those who trust Him.

And finally, David declares that one day every knee will bow to the King of Kings (22:27-28). God is not the king of Christians. God is the King of everyone who has ever lived since the beginning of time. And one day, no one will be able to deny that Truth.

What a privilege to be the child of the King of Kings, the Shepherd’s lamb, protected by, loved by, blessed by the Lord God Almighty!