Tag Archives: redemption

October 27; What the Cross Does Not Do

Matthew 21:1-22; Mark 11:1-25; Luke 19:1-10, 28-28; John 12:12-19

It was time for Jesus to complete His mission. It was time for the cross. So Jesus, on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem with more fanfare, showered with more attention than He had permitted during the previous three years.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But you and I both know just a few days later, the same people who celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city would demand His crucifixion. What could possibly happen to cause such a drastic change?

John and Luke provide us with insight. “…the whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37). John tells us a similar account in that the people who witnessed the bodily resurrection of Lazarus spread the word, and people flocked to Jesus because they heard He had given a “miraculous sign.” (12:18)

The people who joined the parade to accompany Jesus into Jerusalem seem to have been focused on the material. They may have thought they were leading their ticket to easy street into town. Maybe they followed Him out of simple curiosity. But their faith quickly died because they weren’t following Jesus in truth.

During Jesus’ public ministry He performed many miracles, more miracles than could be recorded in the Gospels. But He never healed a sick person so that person would be well. He never gave sight to a blind person so that blind person could see. He never raised a dead child or adult so that person would live a few more years.

All His miracles had one purpose only: to establish the fact that Jesus is God, so that when they nailed Him to the cross, everyone would know just who was hanging there.

Did Jesus die on the cross so His followers would be healed of all physical ailments? No! Did Jesus die on the cross so our bodies would live forever on this earth? No! Did Jesus die so our bills would be paid and we’d have roofs over our heads and food on the table? No!

Jesus died to pay the price for your sin and mine. Jesus died in order to redeem sinners. Yes, Isaiah said “by His stripes we are healed.” But people who claim that guarantees physical healing for the saints are twisting Scripture to mean something it doesn’t.

Dear one, if you are following Jesus because of what He can do for your bank account or your doctor’s appointment, you run the risk of making the same mistake the people in Jerusalem made that last week of Jesus’ life on earth.

Let’s turn our eyes away from the temporal and look to the eternal. Let’s not make the cross about our comfort. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this life. Paul lamented his thorn in the flesh. Most of the twelve disciples met with gruesome deaths.

What the cross does not do is guarantee a healthy, wealthy life in this world. But it does guarantee a glorious eternity with Jesus Himself. The cross does not buy my comfort or my happiness or my cancer-free life. The cross bought my pardon, my redemption, my salvation. And yours!

What the cross does do is nothing short of amazing!

 

February 16; It’s Not All We Have

Leviticus 1-4

“Religion is man’s attempt to make peace with God on his own terms. Redemption is God’s offer of peace through Jesus Christ.” (With the Word; Warren Wiersbe; Thomas Nelson Publishers; 1991; page 72)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

What we read in Leviticus are instructions for sacrifices to God. Blood was shed daily, and the Jews had to follow these instructions religiously. It was all they had in order to please God.

But it’s not all we have after the cross. What we read in Leviticus, what the Old Testament Jews were required to do, demonstrates what Jesus did when He died once and for all, when He fulfilled every requirement for our sin debt.

I am not religious. I’m not even what you might call “spiritual.” I am a woman with a relationship with God Almighty. I am a woman who has accepted what the blood of thousands of goats and bulls could not do. I am a woman redeemed by the precious blood of my Savior, Jesus the Christ.

I am a woman at peace with God. On His terms.

As I read through the book of Leviticus I want to see Jesus. I’ll not get caught up in the details of the sacrifices without connecting them to what Jesus did for me. I have so much more than what the Jews had there in the wilderness. I have Jesus!

And that’s all I need.

Genesis 3 – And We All Fall Down

First let me say that I believe Adam and Eve were real people, created not born. I believe they walked with God in a beautiful garden, loved and were loved. I believe a snake spoke to Eve, and I believe Adam and Eve chose sin.

Sin didn’t just happen to them. God wanted them to trust Him, to believe Him. But they willingly disobeyed. Rather than believe God, they believed Satan’s lie that they could be like God.

The couple knew they had changed the moment that fruit hit their stomachs. God knew they had changed, too (No, it wasn’t a surprise). And He immediately set His plan of redemption in motion. There are so many beautiful aspects to God’s response to Adam and Eve after they sinned.

But I love – LOVE – the fact that God went looking for them. Not because He didn’t know where they were. But because they didn’t know where He was! God didn’t wait for them to come to Him. He sought them out!

Luke 19:10 says Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” What was true in the garden is true yet today. God goes after the lost lamb, turns the house inside out looking for that lost penny, goes into Zacchaeus’ house, and eats at the table with publicans and sinners.

God, who is not willing that anyone die without Him, stops at nothing to win a soul for eternity while that soul is still inhabiting a body in this lifetime. He’s not up there somewhere sitting in a recliner with remote in hand, checking this person, then switching to someone else. He is actively seeking every person. He’s actively seeking you and me.

We all sin. We’ve all taken the same fall Adam and Eve took so long ago. And the same God who came looking for them, is doing the same for us. When I read this chapter in Genesis I don’t just see God’s condemnation for sin, or His curse on creation.

I see God’s love, the provision of forgiveness through the blood of His Son. I see grace and mercy. I see Someone who WANTS me with Him, who is right here right now trying to get my attention.  I see God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And I love Him.

December 7 – It’s A Gift

Acts 20:1-3; Romans 1-3

What is good enough? I know some pretty amazing, generous, loving, honest people who care about the environment, give to the SPCA, volunteer at homeless shelters, and are great neighbors and friends. I know people who never say a bad word about anyone, who are kind and supportive. They are hard-working, family-centered, salt-of-the-earth kind of people. You probably know them, too.

Maybe you are one of them yourself.

So how do you handle Romans 3:23 in regards to really good people? Oh sure, no one is perfect, you might say with a wink. But the people I described don’t commit those blatant, awful sins that everyone recognizes. Their goodness must outweigh their goof-ups.

We are going to read Romans 6:23 tomorrow. And folks, that verse applies to the goof-ups, too.

Many of us memorized Romans 3:23 as children. But verse 24 completes the thought in a really wonderful way:

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Does that make your heart sing? You are a sinner. You deserve the death penalty your sin requires. But here stands Jesus holding a gift with your name on it. Redemption. Forgiveness. He doesn’t tell you to clean yourself up first, or give money to the poor, or quit drinking before He’ll give you the gift. He bought and paid for your salvation while you were still a sinner.

The truth is, none of us can ever be good enough. You don’t erase a sin by doing a good deed. That’s just not the way it is. That sin that you committed deserves death. And Jesus died. That sin requires blood spilt to redeem you. Jesus’ blood ran down that cross that day.

Forgiveness is ours through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It’s a gift. It’s His gift to you.

Dearest Savior, I would imagine most people reading this blog have accepted You as their Savior. I pray that is true. But may we, as we consider Paul’s words to the Romans, have the truth cemented in our minds so that we can share this amazing gift with the people you’ve laid on our hearts. And, Father, if there is one who reads this and has yet to ask for the gift that is their’s, I pray they will do that today. Move in our hearts, Lord. And may You find us faithful.

April 17 – Forgiven and Blessed

I Samuel 25-27

Abigail asked David for forgiveness. Yes, it was her husband Nabal who had refused to help David. But 25:28 tells us Abigail, after falling on her face at David’s feet said, “Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant.”

In verse 35 we see David granted her request. And later, after Nabal’s death, David brought Abigail into his home and made her his wife. She became the king’s bride.

As I read this today I saw a picture of my relationship with God. When I fell on my face before Him and asked Him to forgive me – he did! Then He lifted me up and took me for Himself. I am His. He is mine.

The Bible calls believers the Bride of Christ. That’s me. And all because I humbled myself and asked Jesus to forgive me. How blessed I am.

I pray you can say the same.

Feb 26 – And The Winner Is…

Numbers 7

I’m not sure how it started, but we have a playful competition among me and my sisters when it comes to gift-giving. If I put $25 in a birthday card for one of the kids, one sister might put $26 in hers, and another sister might give $26.50. I’ve been known to pull out my wallet and throw an additional $5 at a nephew if a sister out-gave me just so I will be the “good” aunt. One time, I was the highest gift-giver by a penny in a card to our dad.

Silly, I know. But we always get a good laugh out of it. And my nieces and nephews just shake their heads and roll their eyes.

Reading Numbers 7 is repetitious. I could have condensed this chapter to about  six verses:

Every tribe gave exactly the same thing when it was their day to bring the sacrifices to the temple: one silver dish…”

However,  God inspired the writer of the book to repeat the identical list twelve times. It’s tempting, because they are all the same, to skim over 90% of this chapter. Yet God wanted it to be written this way.

So I read every word this morning. And when I did I thought about my family’s little competition. It occurred to me that there can be no competition when we come to the Lord.

God leveled the playing field so no one can say they are the “good” child for bringing more. God says ALL have sinned. God says no one comes to Him except through His Son Jesus. God says unless a man is born again he will not see heaven.

Here’s what God expects of us, what He demands we give Him: everything!

We must all empty ourselves in humility, confess our sins, and ask  Him to forgive us by the blood of Jesus. We can’t buy our way into redemption with money or talent or good intentions. And someone isn’t more saved than another by virtue of the level of their sacrifice.

And, here is what I love about the seventh chapter in Numbers. God accepted every sacrifice equally, whether given the first day or the twelfth. It tells me that today, every time a sinner repents, even if he’s the 1,000 sinner redeemed in a day, God accepts that soul with as much joy and love as though he or she were the only one.

So the winner is us. It’s we who have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. It’s those of us who have emptied ourselves and allowed God Himself to fill us up. I am the apple of God’s eye. But so are you, if you know Him. And we both received His forgiveness exactly the same way.

 

It’s Not A Common Thing

The book of Hebrews is rich with mind-boggling, heart-thumping truths. I challenge you to read the whole thing, slowly, intentionally, asking God to reveal Himself a little more clearly as you do. I know He will. He’ll convict you, and lift you up in the process.

In chapter 10 of this amazing book, the writer tells us that if we willfully sin after receiving God’s grace, there is a “certain fearful expectation of judgment…” He says, if the Old Testament Jews rejected Moses’ Law and died without mercy, how much more so we who consider “the blood of the covenant by which (we are) sanctified a common thing.”

Let me say that again. If the Old Testament Jews rejected Moses’ Law and died without mercy, how much more so we who consider “the blood of the covenant by which (we are) sanctified a common thing.”

Do you consider what Jesus did on that cross, the suffering He endured, the blood He shed, the humiliation, the death, a common thing? No big deal? A nice gesture like giving someone a puppy? Then why act like you do? Why willfully sin after you have received His grace?

The writer tells us it’s like trampling Jesus under our feet when we take sin lightly.

Ezekiel, in chapter 22, said God couldn’t find any man to stand in the gap, to build a wall on behalf of the land so God wouldn’t destroy it. The picture I get of someone standing in the gap is one with arms stretched out to both sides.

Like Jesus on the cross.

God is serious about sin. God hates sin. God punishes every sin. And every sin results in death. Every. Sin.

Jesus didn’t die on that cross only to say 2000 years later, well maybe homosexuality is really no big deal after all. Or, if you are spiritual you don’t really have to accept Jesus. God hasn’t changed his mind in 2015.

God is as serious about sin today as He was in the garden with Adam and Eve. He’s spelled out exactly what sin is and what the consequences are.

Death without mercy.

Have you ever sinned? Lied? Lusted? Hated? Cheated? Got drunk? Used coarse language? Even just once? Then you are condemned to die without mercy.

Unless you allow Jesus to stand in the gap. Unless you accept the fact that Jesus died without mercy on your behalf. Unless you repent and accept His loving gift of grace. Unless you are as serious about sin as He is.

Heavenly Father, I pray for your people today. May we be as serious about sin as You are. May we hate sin, run from it, stand against it. May we honor what Jesus did on the cross every day with the choices we make. You command us to be holy as You are holy. May you find us eager to accept your holiness, and to live our lives obviously different from everyone else. I, for one, never want to treat what Jesus did on the cross for me as though it’s no big deal. I never want to trample my Savior under my feet by choosing to sin. I want to show you with every breath how much I appreciate You for saving me.