Tag Archives: redemption

Why The Tree?

Genesis 1-3

We can question why God placed that tree in the middle of the garden knowing it represented sin and separation from Him, when He created us to fellowship with Him. We could, as some do, accuse God of playing a sinister game with the victims of His creation.

Or we can recognize and be thankful for the fact that He created us with dignity, intelligence, the ability to choose to do the right thing. Yes – He knew given the choice, we would sin. But He didn’t leave us hanging.

He did what needed to be done so that when we do the right thing – when we choose Jesus – He looks at us through the perfection and holiness of His Son.

Right form the start God began painting a picture of His plan to redeem us. He placed a tree in the center of the garden. Then He very clearly said that tree was the difference between life and death. Choose wisely, He warned.

There is another tree in the center of your life. God very clearly tells us it’s the difference between life and death. I’m sure you know that tree is the cross of Jesus. And I want you to hear God’s clear warning:

Choose wisely.

Today is the first day of 2022. I hope you know Jesus as your Savior and have made Him the Lord of your life. But if you haven’t, today would be a great day to do that. Begin this year with a clean slate, a pure heart, forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to save you.

That’s why the tree. Choose wisely.

(Hosea 4-8) I Want That, Too

Sometimes I can almost feel God’s heart breaking. Even as He spells out the judgment to come, even as He expresses His anger over the continued disobedience of His children, He says, “I want to redeem them.”

If only they would repent. If only they would obey. If only they would let Him, He would save them. He wanted to redeem them. But because they’d rather hold on to their idols, He couldn’t.

God threw out a lifeline, but they were still drowning because they couldn’t let go of their sin. And it broke His heart.

I don’t think I can fully understand the extent of His pain because I can’t fully understand the depth of His love. But as I read God’s message to us through Hosea, I know I don’t want any part of adding to His pain.

I want to repent of sin the moment God reveals it to me. I want to resist temptation, and obey Him with every breath I take. I want only to bring Him joy. My redemption cost Jesus so much. I don’t want to waste a single drop of the blood He shed paying the death penalty for my sin.

There isn’t an idol, a sin, that’s worth a fraction of the cross. I hear God say, “I want to redeem Connie.” And I want that, too.

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.

(Ruth) It’s Not Just About Love

I usually look at the book of Ruth as a lesson in love, and it truly is that. But today, I see it mostly as a picture of redemption. I think this book could easily have been named, “Boaz.” Because without Boaz’s act of redemption on behalf of Naomi and Ruth, they would have had no hope. The would have continued in their poverty for the rest of their lives.

It wouldn’t have mattered how much they’d loved each other. Their love could not have saved them. Only the work of the redeemer would take them from curse to blessing, from bitterness to joy, from death to life.

Get the picture?

We can talk about love all day, but without the redemptive work of Jesus, we are without hope. Love cannot save until it is nailed to the cross.

Do you love God? Great! Do you know He loves you? He does! But His love without His redemption will not save you.

The book of Ruth isn’t just about love. It’s about redemption.

The Gospel isn’t just about love, either. It’s about redemption.

Ruth laid everything at the feet of her redeemer, Boaz. In that act she became totally dependent on him to save her. That’s the Gospel: Putting everything we have, are, and hope to be at the feet of Jesus, becoming totally dependent on Him, confessing our sin and turning from it is our only hope of salvation. Otherwise there is no saving.

Only the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, can take us from curse to blessing, bitterness to joy, death to life. Only Jesus.

Only our Redeemer.

Once and For All (Leviticus 16-18)

When I read about all the different kinds of sin sacrifices, and all the different regulations for each, I can’t help but think of Jesus.

When Aaron lays hands on an animal and then slits its throat, I see Jesus’ blood dripping down His face, drops of blood from His hands and feet dripping down the cross to the ground below. When Aaron sprinkles blood on the altar or touches an ear or thumb with blood, I know Jesus’ blood was applied to me.

I think it’s important for us to read the Old Testament account of the sacrificial system which God provided for dealing with sin. When we read all the regulations, all the intricate details, we can better understand what Jesus’ death did.

Because it is nothing short of amazing to know that Jesus fulfilled every regulation, every detail perfectly…

once and for all!

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.