Tag Archives: Jesus

May 4; Momentary, Light Affliction

Psalm 44, 60, 108, 124; 2 Samuel 8:9-14, 23:18-19; I Chronicles 11:20-21, 18:9-13

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why aren’t all Christians living long and healthy lives in the lap of luxury? Does God abandon His people, even those who love and obey Him? Are there times God goes on vacation, or sleeps, and isn’t aware of what His children are going through? It may seem that way to some.

It seemed that way to David. But we are wrong to judge God according to how we feel. We are to trust Him for who HE IS.

If Jesus had gone to the cross in order to make our lives comfortable, bad things would never happen to Christians. Do you think that was Jesus’ motivating factor for enduring the awful beatings and painful death? When He was hanging there, do you think He thought, “Well, at least Suzie will get that job promotion in 2019, and Johnny will get that house on the ocean, and Ellen won’t get cancer?” Was His goal to make His children healthy, wealthy, successful, and happy?

Of course not!

Then why do we get upset with God when we go through hard times? He never said we wouldn’t. Why do we blame God for a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a job? If anything, Jesus promised life would be hard for us. Do we think He was talking about everyone BUT us?

David gives us a bit of insight as to why God allows those hard times, unfair treatment, suffering. “Yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:22)

Jesus died on the cross to save sinners. And His power can be seen in the lives of His children, even when those children struggle. Maybe especially when His children struggle.

Consider what Paul had to say on the subject. Take a minute and read 2 Corinthians 4. Paul, who suffered more than most of us, considered the beatings, imprisonment, exhaustion, and persecution, “momentary, light affliction…” for the privilege of knowing Christ. Wow.

God doesn’t want us to love Him because He can make us comfortable. God wants us to love Him because HE IS. And God wants to reveal Himself through each of us in a way that will draw people to Him. Is how you are going through those devastating circumstances making people want God in their lives, too?

I’m sure we all know people who are living this truth. I have a friend whose husband was paralyzed years ago in a motorcycle accident. The faith and love of God in this couple is powerful. I have another friend whose husband had a debilitating stroke a year ago. She shines Jesus every day. There is a blogger friend of mine who has lived with ALS for 20 years. He continues to minister to people all over the world in Jesus’ name. Real life people, struggling in this lifetime, and still allowing God to use them for His glory.

Are you struggling? I pray you can embrace the struggle. James tells us to consider it joy when we face trials. Can you do that? Understand that God wants to show off in our circumstances. He wants everyone around you to see His strength and power and love through you. What we are facing is momentary and light if we know Jesus as our Savior. Because we have an eternity with God to look forward to.

And we have the privilege of being His light to a very dark world. Even in our struggles. What are you willing to endure for His sake? What was Jesus willing to endure for yours?

 

April 19; He Has Done It

Psalms 13, 17, 22, 54; I Samuel 24

My one year chronological Bible had me reading Psalm 22 today. Today is Good Friday. Today is the day we remember and celebrate the cross. Jesus was crucified on the Friday of Passover, and that would be today. Of course April 19 is not always Good Friday. But it is today in 2019. And reading Psalm 22 on this Good Friday touched me deeply.

Psalm 22 is not just another psalm. It describes, in amazing detail exactly what we celebrate today. It starts out like this:

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Those are the very words Jesus spoke from the cross hundreds of years after David wrote them down. Now, some might say it’s no big deal that Jesus quoted Scripture from the cross. He quoted Scripture all the time.

But in verse 8 David tells us things that would be said about and to Jesus. Do you think Jesus’ enemies were quoting Scripture when they mocked him? They were trying to disprove His claims to be the Son of God. I doubt they’d pick a verse to quote that might support His claim.

And don’t even try to tell me the Romans studied Psalm 22, then crucified Jesus accordingly. Read verses 16-18. The piercings, the intact bones, the gambling at the foot of the cross. Those things happened just like God said through David. It is truly amazing. Crucification wasn’t even a thing when David wrote this psalm.

What we celebrate on Good Friday isn’t just a story about a nice guy being killed for something he didn’t do. It’s not a tragedy concocted in someone’s imagination. A real person named Jesus was nailed to a cross. He suffered a painful death. And all the time He was – and is – God. Holy. Blameless. Guiltless. Willing.

I hope you’ll take time to read Psalm 22, then turn over and read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucification today. He did that for you. And when your sin debt was paid, he said, “It is finished.” Paid in full.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus gift of forgiveness, what better time to do that than on Good Friday – the day we remember and celebrate the cross? He has done it.

For you.

 

March 20; A Relationship

Deuteronomy 23-26

Religion is full of rules. If you do this, this, and this, and don’t do that or that, your god will accept you, won’t punish you, or will at least tolerate you. We read about religions that advocate sacrificing children, or killing the infidel to appease a god. We hear about religions that require X-number of prayers, abstaining from certain food and drink, or wearing veils and head coverings as part of their religion.

Now I’m not saying Christianity doesn’t have rules. God gave us the Ten Commandments and holds us accountable for obeying them. The Bible, especially the Old Testament like the chapters we read today have pages and pages of rules, often repeated several times.

But there is a reason I believe Christianity stands out from all the rest. The rules God gave His people were given so that He, a Holy God, could fellowship with us. The rules we abide by were given because God loves people.

It’s not about rule-following so we can get Him on our side. He’s already on our side. It’s not rule-following so that He’ll forgive us. He’s already forgiven us by the blood of Jesus. The God of Christianity put down rules so that He can:

“set (us) in praise, fame and honor high above all nations he has made and that (we) will be a people holy to the Lord (our) God, as he promised.” (26:19)

The God of Christianity doesn’t look at people as something to dominate, or control. He looks at His children as “his treasured possession.”

When the followers of most other religions follow their rules, the only thing they can hope for is a god that might let up on them, and maybe promise them some kind of eternal peace. The God of Christianity promises Himself, His Spirit living in us, blessings and joy, as well as an eternity in His Presence.

It’s for that reason I agree with those who say Christianity is not a religion as much as it is a relationship. Here’s God, awesome in power, Holy, Holy, Holy, creator of the universe, wanting to hang out with me. Here is God, knowing that I cannot obey all the rules, that I am a sinner by virtue of the first sin I ever committed, paying the penalty Himself that my sin deserves. Here’s is that same God, knowing I can’t come to Him no matter how many rules I follow, coming to me.

And I, as His child by His grace through Jesus, will demonstrate my love for Him by obeying Him, cherishing Him, walking with Him. It’s not about the rules. It’s about the person of Jesus Christ, a Holy God who came down to my level so that I can have a relationship with Him.

It’s about a God who actually loves me. And I love Him, too.

March 1; No More, No Less

Numbers 7

Every time I read this chapter I am blessed. It may seem repetitive and boring to read each word. But the truth it represents gets me every time.

The fact this chapter so beautifully portrays is: we are all on equal footing before God. Every tribe came to the Presence of God with the exact same things. Big tribes weren’t required to give more, small tribes didn’t get away with less.

And that’s how it is today. Every one of us is on equal footing before our Holy God:

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

We are all sinners. None of us has anything more to offer God than the next guy:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Every one of us is saved in exactly the same way:

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Because, and this is the kicker:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven give to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And Jesus tells us exactly who that Name is:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me(John 14:6)

That’s it. That’s what the Bible tells us in the Old Testament and the New. We can’t be good enough, generous enough, spiritual or religious enough to approach God on our own. Everyone is required the exact same thing. No more. No less.

 

February 6: Not From Yourselves

Exodus 13-15

Every day I read God’s Word, I write my thoughts and observations in a journal. These past few years my journals have served as a rough draft for the posts on this blog. The journal I am using now has a Bible verse on each  page. Today’s verse is Ephesians 2:8-9, and it reinforces the truth found in these chapters in Exodus so beautifully!

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

The parting of the Red Sea is a familiar story to most. The dramatic rescue of the Jews from the Egyptians is nothing short of spectacular. God revealed His power to the whole world when those waters parted, and the Jews were saved.

I am reminded the Jews didn’t build a dam to stop the water. They didn’t throw together a barge to float across the water. They didn’t do a part-the-water-dance. In fact, God told them to be still.

Their salvation had nothing to do with anything they did. It was His grace that saved them. And His grace is still saving souls thousands of years later.

Someone told me recently that a friend of their’s who lived a very difficult life with health issues and heartache was in heaven now because, “She paid her penance on earth.”

Dear one, that isn’t close to being true. Your troubles here on earth – or even all the good you do – have zero to do with whether or not you spend eternity in the Presence of God.

ZERO.

There is only one thing that will save you. It’s not from yourself. It is a gift from the heart of God. It’s His grace.

The Jews walked through the waters of the Red Sea on dry ground because God alone made a way. And we can walk through this life and into the next because God made a way. His name is Jesus.

There was only one way for the Jews to be saved from their enemy. And there is only one way for us to be saved from ours. They had to go through the Sea. We have to go through Jesus.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name on earth or in heaven, no other salvation in anyone else other than Jesus Himself. No other way. And we can accept what Jesus did on the cross, because of the grace of God.

If you haven’t already, please surrender to God. Be still. Quit trying so hard. Ask God to forgive you, and He will. Let Him save you by His grace through the precious blood of Jesus.

 

January 15; The Man Upstairs

Job 35-37

People who know about God may think like Elihu. In fact, most false religions in the world have gods like the one Elihu describes.

Do you know people who refer to God as, “the man upstairs?” There are some who picture God on a cushy throne, wine glass in hand, feet up and eyes closed, with no thought of his creation, no involvement in the lives of his people. In a sense, it’s convenient to believe in a god like that. What does he care how I live my life?

Some people might think of God as a big old bully, sitting up there in heaven with lightning bolts in his fists, hurling them at helpless people like a villain in a video game. “Take that, human!”

Nature does declare God’s power. But Jesus reveals a different side of God; the softer side, the side that loves and cares for people, the side of God that rubbed shoulders with the least of us, and called us His friends. Jesus told us God not only sees every sparrow out there, not only counts every hair on our heads, He wants to gather us up like a chicken gathers her chicks to protect us.

The truth, contrary to what Elihu would have you believe, is that you DO matter to God. He DOES answer when you call out to Him, and He DOES listen to your pleas. Not only that, but if we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, we can have an intimate relationship with this great God of ours. That means everything to Him.

Do you know this personal, great God of ours? He’s not at all like “the man upstairs.” He is here, right now, and He wants you to know Him.

January 9; Is There A Target On My Back?

Job: 15-19

Job brings up a hard truth about God that we often try to ignore. We can talk all day about God’s love, His grace, His forgiveness, kindness, acceptance. But we don’t like to even think about His wrath.

Now, to be perfectly clear, chapter 1 tells us Job’s suffering is not a direct result of sin. God is not punishing him. In fact, Job is an upright citizen. God even calls him “righteous.” Yet awful things are happening to Job.

In chapter 16, Job says he feels like God has placed a target on his back. Job feels God’s anger as though God were ripping him to shreds with gnashing teeth. Job says he’s tried to bind his wounds himself, he’s cried endless tears. But Job realizes his helplessness to combat God and win.

It’s easy to say Job didn’t deserve this. But here is what God impressed on me: if Job, descried by God Himself as a “righteous man,” has no defense against God, I’m in serious trouble.

Paul, in Romans 3:23 tells me everybody has sinned. Romans 3:10 actually quotes some Old Testament verses that tell me there isn’t a righteous man or woman anywhere. Not even one.

(I have no problem hearing God call Job “righteous,” then reading more than one Scripture that says no one is righteous. Job never lived like he was sinless. He continued to offer sacrifices for his sins and for those of his children. “Righteous” described Job because he had dealt with his sin.)

Scripture repeats these words, or words like them: Every sin is punished. Every sin deserves death. Every. Sin.

That’s why I think we should probably remove the word “deserve” from our vocabulary when talking about circumstances of life. We are all sinners, and God hates sin. Hates it. It’s hard to hear, but God considers sinners his enemies. (Romans 5:10; Philippians 3:18; James 4:4; I Samuel 12:14; and others)

Being sinners, we “deserve” God’s wrath. And, friend, you can’t handle God’s wrath.

As I look at the theme of worship in the book of Job, I am blown away that this man who is so lost, so grieved and alone, still looks to God. He begs God for an audience, not to give God a piece of his mind, but to present his case before God. Job longs for an advocate from heaven. Listen to this:

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. (17:19-21)

Read that again and let God speak to your heart. Hear Job’s confidence that there is Someone who is on his side, someone who pleads with God on his behalf like a man pleads for his friend. And Job had never even heard the name of Jesus. My soul is overwhelmed at the beauty of this truth. I love it so much.

Here’s something about God’s wrath: It’s real. And it’s frightening. It’s harsh and relentless. And we are absolutely, totally powerless against it.

But Jesus!

Jesus took God’s wrath directed at you and me. He faced God’s fierce anger – AND IT KILLED HIM.

But He didn’t stay dead! He defeated the last enemy – death. Now, by His grace, I can stand before God – not an enemy – but as His precious child. Not because of my own righteousness (which is non-existent) but because I’m wearing Jesus’ righteousness through the blood He shed on the cross.

God is no longer my enemy. He’s my Father. He calls me His friend!

Please understand that unless you have accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are an enemy of God. You can try to bandage your own wounds, you can try to stand before Him in your own strength. But you don’t have any hope of winning that battle. No hope.

I don’t know what the circumstances of your life are like right now. But I know if you are blessed, you don’t deserve it. If you are suffering, you deserve much worse. You might feel like there is a target on your back, and you might be right.

But read again what Job said in the quote above. And know there is Someone in heaven who would love to be your advocate. Someone who would love to cover that target on your back with His own blood. Someone who wants to turn you from being an enemy of God, to being His most precious child.