Tag Archives: redemption

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.

A Better Hope

Colton, my nephew’s four-year-old son is learning to zip his own coat, and the other day he wanted to show me he could do it. Colton found the two ends, lined them up, and tried to connect them, but failed. So he tried again, doing exactly the steps Mommy had taught him. But he failed again. And again.

Then I watched him look at his mother with a soulful look that said, “I need you,” and he took a step toward her. She didn’t roll her eyes or scold him. She didn’t make fun of him because he’d failed. She squatted down so her face was level with his, kissed his forehead, and zipped his coat.

The writer of Hebrews talks about the Law, and Jesus’ role as Priest. In chapter seven he points out that the Law was weak and unprofitable. It, he says, made nothing perfect.

On the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (verse 19)

That better hope is Jesus. You can try to live this life on your own. You can go to church, volunteer at the homeless shelter, write a check to a charity. But none of that will save you. You can try all you want to meet God’s standard of perfection. And you’ll fail.

But when you look to our High Priest, Jesus who bought your salvation with His blood, He will meet you face to face. He will save you. He won’t roll his eyes or scold you. He’ll kiss you on the forehead and zip your coat. He loves you so much. You can trust His love.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us. As our High Priest you have the power to forgive sins. As the perfect Lamb of God, you’ve shed the blood necessary for our salvation. I pray that everyone reading this post will know that better hope the writer of Hebrews talks about. May we come to you, admit our need of you, and allow you to demonstrate your love for us. Thank you, God, for forgiving me, and giving me hope.

Renewed Days

I read Lamentations this morning. God was unresponsive to the cries of the disobedient nation of Israel. There was a famine in the land and the Jews were not spared. In fact, the actions of some to survive are unimaginable. How desperate they were! Why did God reject his people?

Woe to us, for we have sinned. (5:16)

The last two verses of this sad book caused me to pause. Here’s what they say:

Renew our days of old, unless You have utterly rejected us, and are very angry with us.

The truth of the matter is God was angry, and they were rejected because of their disobedience.

Psalm 119 reminds me how important is God’s Word, how necessary it is that we obey it. God’s not playing around. He’s serious about sin. And so should we be. He has spelled out His demands, His Law, and has demonstrated the severe consequences for disobedience. This psalm challenges me to love Scripture and obey it. There is evidence of God’s holiness, power, and love on every page.

Then I read the beautiful letter Paul wrote to Philemon, and I am reminded what Jesus did for me. I sinned against God, like Onesimus sinned against Philemon. Philemon had owned Onesimus, but Onesimus walked away from him, may have stolen from him. God created me to be His, but I, too, walked away when I sinned. Onesimus owed a debt he could not pay. There’s no way I could pay my sin debt, either.

But Onesimus repented. He became a follower of Jesus, a helper to Paul. So Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus, to accept him as a brother, to place any debt of Onesimus’ on Paul’s account. And Jesus did the same for me. He paid my enormous debt, asked the Father to forgive me, and accepted me as His child when I repented, too .

My days are renewed and I am not rejected, thanks to Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

A Moment of Praise

I was reading my MacArthur Daily Bible this morning for March 28. Moses prophesied concerning the coming Messiah, and Jesus told us that he is that one!

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, ” Moses said in Deuteronomy 18. And in Luke 4, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… to preach… to heal… to proclaim…” Then he said: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The whole Bible is about Jesus, isn’t it? Every page, every verse points us to the Savior.

He is our priest, our prophet, our shepherd, the way, truth, and life, the sacrificial lamb, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is God in human form who went to the cross to buy me back. He is love. He is holy. He never leaves or forsakes us. Nothing can separate us from his love.

He died on that cross once and for all, that WHOSOEVER believes in him will have eternal life. He died and rose again. He went to heaven to prepare a place for us.

And one day, HE’S COMING BACK with the sound of a trumpet to take us home.

Praising God today!

There is Life in the Blood

As I was reading Numbers 27-29 this morning I was once again astounded at the amount of blood that was spilt, the great number of animals that were sacrificed in order for the purification of the people of Israel. Every day offerings were made. And once a year hundreds of animals were killed during their festivals. For me, that’s hard to imagine.

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Life is in the blood.

God requires a blood sacrifice. Looking at the Old Testament account makes me realize what a very big deal it is that Jesus shed his own blood once and for all. His sacrifice fulfilled the requirements of every animal sacrifice we would ever need according to Old Testament law. It is done.

He did what a thousand bulls could not do. We never have to kill a calf ever again in order to be forgiven. Jesus’ death covered the tab. And I just need to accept it. I was once dead in my sin. Now I am alive in Christ. And all because of Jesus’ blood.

Jesus’ blood washed away my sin. From the first little lie I told as a toddler, to the mean things I did as an adolescent, disobedience towards my parents, a multitude of sins committed as an adult, a sinful thought life, an unforgiving spirit, laziness, gluttony, pride and self-centeredness, to the most recent little lie I’ve told in my 60’s. I am forgiven because Jesus shed his blood.

Once again I am astounded. And so grateful to my Savior and Lord.

Dear Jesus, thank you doesn’t seem sufficient to express what I am feeling today. You paid the penalty for my sin when you died on the cross. Your blood met the Father’s requirement for my forgiveness. I am humbled. I am grateful. I am forgiven. May my life be lived in such a way that you are exalted, you are praised, and you are pleased to have given yourself for me. Thank you for the life I can enjoy because of your shed blood.

December 4

Romans 2-4

Did you know Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” is actually the middle of a sentence? Here is what that entire sentence says beginning with verse 22b:

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

In the same breath Paul calls us sinners then points us to grace. I love the word “freely” in that sentence. We are all sinners and we have all been given a gift. Not a wage, like Paul explains in chapter 4. A costly gift, yes. It cost Jesus his life to pay the penalty for my sin.

But he offers it to me freely. The righteousness he bought is mine for the taking. He redeemed me through his precious blood. It’s  a righteousness I can’t earn. It’s forgiveness I don’t deserve.

Go back to 3:22: 
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL WHO BELIEVE.

I am almost done with my Christmas shopping and in fact, have most of the presents already wrapped. I love buying for my loved ones and carefully pick out things I believe they will appreciate. They aren’t paying for those gifts. I don’t spend more on the ones who were nicest to me this year. These gifts are an expression of my love for them. And it would hurt me deeply if those gifts remained unopened after I gave them.

That’s kind of what happens when, faced with the truth of our sinful state, we walk away from God’s grace. He bought our forgiveness and is handing it to us with open arms. My prayer is that you won’t let that gift go unopened.

As I was writing this this morning the words from an old hymn kept running through my head. Some of the words are these:

Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin.

How can my tongue describe it? Where shall its praise begin?

Taking away my burdens, setting my spirit free.

For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Gracious Jesus, thank you for going to the cross and paying the debt for my sin. Thank you for freely offering redemption to me, a sinner. I pray that each one who reads this today will accept your gift. And may we who know you as our Savior make you Lord of our lives. May we live today out of grateful hearts and serve you with love.

 

August 13

Ezekiel 14-16

When I was reading about how God adorned the nation of Israel with jewels and beautiful clothes, when he fed them with fine flour, honey, and olive oil, when he washed them and protected them, I thought, “Wow! That’s what he’s done for me!”

He washed me with his blood, clothed me with his righteousness, set a crown of life on my head, and protects me, too.

But then I read on. Israel took what God had given her and turned it into something detestable. She trusted in her own beauty, became comfortable in God’s provisions, and prostituted herself. Worse than a prostitute, she paid others to be with her.

I am convicted today. What have I done, really, with the things God has given me? How have I used his salvation? How do I wear his righteousness? Am I so comfortable in the knowledge of my redemption I think I can do what I want and still be ok? Have I convinced myself that God loves me so he must accept me for who I am?

If that describes me I am the vilest of prostitutes. And Ezekiel reminds us what God thinks about that.

Father in Heaven, forgive me when I take you for granted. Forgive me when I squander away your provisions. May I remember what it cost Jesus to provide me with cleansing, forgiveness, eternal life. May I hold those things dear, use them the way they were intended to be used, and may I be grateful for the privilege of being your child. May you be honored through my life today.

July 27

Jeremiah 16:1-17:27; 2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:8-33

I gave my heart to the Lord as a little girl. I grew up knowing I was a Christian and that God loved me. It wasn’t until I was  teenager, though, that I really heard and understood the seriousness of sin. I confessed my sin at the altar of our church, broken before a holy God. With tears I accepted his cleansing and it was at that moment I truly realized what it meant to be  Christian.

What is your response to God’s Word? When you read how God hates sin, when you recognize yourself as a sinner, when you realize your need to repent – what do you do?

Josiah tore his clothes when he heard God’s Word read to him. He was devastated, ashamed, broken. Josiah confessed his sin and accepted God’s forgiveness. Then he got up and began to live life a changed man.

I remember my altar experience of long ago. And I wish I could say I got up from there that day and lived a changed life myself. I have to admit there have been times when my walk with the Lord wasn’t a priority and when I allowed sin to get a grip on my heart. There have been other points in my life when God’s Word cut me like a knife, when I looked into the face of a holy God and recognized my sinful state. There have been other tears of repentance when I’ve allowed God to deal with the sin in my life.

And I hope there continues to be. May I always be sensitive to what God would say to me through his Word. May I read it with an open heart. May I recognize those things in my life that hurt my Lord. And may I, like Josiah, be quick to repent.

I pray the same for you.

July 24

Zephaniah 1:1-3:20; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

When was the last time you read the book of Zephaniah? Can you even find it in your Bible? It’s one of those books I have to stop and think where it even falls in the Old Testament.

But reading it today I was reminded that the God of love, of grace, and redemption is also the Mighty Judge. He has the power to destroy this life we know as easily as he created it. 

In our politically correct nation our churches have emphasized God’s loving attributes. But we don’t often hear about his anger. Read Zephaniah and you will see God’s anger toward sin.

God doesn’t take sin lightly and he certainly doesn’t laugh at sin. He never overlooks sin or excuses it on the basis of someone’s intentions. Like it or not, agree with it or not, God is clear about what sin is. Lying, infidelity, homosexuality, dishonesty, greed, gluttony, drunkenness are all sins as identified by God in his Word. 

Yes, all sin is forgivable when confessed. But no sin will go unpunished. That punishment will be paid either by the one who commits the sin or by Jesus on behalf of the sinner. 

The payment for sin is death. Eternal death. The Bible tells us Jesus not only paid that debt but he conquered death itself. We can either accept what he did or face him on our own. And facing him on our own will only turn out badly.

Let’s thank God for his love, for his grace, for redemption. But let’s not forget who we are dealing with here. He is Almighty God, Holy, Holy, Holy. 

And sin makes him really mad.

Holy God, we bow before you today and acknowledge that you take sin seriously. Forgive us when we don’t. I ask that you’ll reveal in each of us today those things in our lives that anger you. May we confess and repent of them and accept Jesus’ work on the cross on our behalf. I pray that none of us will hold on to sin or think for a minute that you will excuse that sin in us. May we view sin the same way you do and purge it from our lives. May we walk with you today in the righteousness that is ours through your Son.