Tag Archives: the cross

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(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.

(Isaiah 53) It Is Enough

God has hidden many of the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Yet He has given us enough of a glimpse to understand the horror, the excruciating pain Jesus must have endured in order to save each of us.

The New Testament tells us Jesus’ captors beat Him, pulled out His beard, thrashed His back with scourges. Isaiah tells us Jesus was beaten so severely He no longer even looked like a human. I think Jesus must have gone through much more than any of us realize.

Did you watch “The Passion of the Christ” without looking away during the scene depicting Jesus’ beating? I couldn’t watch it. But as I sit here today I remember the sounds of those lashes tearing His flesh. It haunts me. And that was merely Hollywood’s imagination as to what went on.

I looked up what constituted a scourging (truthmagazine.com, The Scourging of Jesus, by David McClister). Maybe you know this. Three leather straps about three feet long were tied together, each with either a sharp stone or bone attached to the end. It was designed to lacerate, to cut deep. The victim was tied to a pole, stripped of his clothing, and a strong man would begin to swing the scourge at the back of the one being scourged.

The victim was “lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15)

They ripped open Jesus’ back and exposed His internal organs. No wonder He was unable to carry His cross. We know that after this brutal beating, they crucified Him, nailed Him to a cross and watched Him die a slow and painful death.

Now, in my thinking, this is what makes what Jesus did so incredible: at any moment He could have disappeared. He could have struck down the soldier wielding the scourge, turned those leather and stone straps into spaghetti. He could have called ten thousand angels to wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. Yet He chose to stay. He chose to feel each wound. He wanted to save you more than He wanted to escape.

In fact, I don’t think escaping ever even crossed His mind. He loves you that much.

So my question is, why would anyone think what Jesus did isn’t enough to save? Why would anyone think you need the cross plus something else: baptism, church attendance, good deeds? Can you seriously look Jesus in the eye and tell Him what He did was not enough?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say except through me plus anything.

If you have not yet looked upon the wounded Jesus and known He did that for love of you, I pray you will do that today. God is able to forgive your sins because Jesus paid your account in full. Jesus took upon Himself your sins and took those lashes you deserved so that when you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, you will be saved.

Because what He did that night is enough.

(Psalms 69-70) Jesus and the Psalms

So many of the psalms speak of what Jesus would endure on the cross. Guiltless, yet condemned. Treated horribly, rejected, scorned, beaten, He suffered and bled and died. The fact that God gave us a glimpse of our Savior’s sacrifice thousands of years before He came just cements the fact that this Book I read is true, and the God it reveals is exactly who He says He is.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation continually say, “God is great!” (70:4)

(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.

(Joshua 11-15) Move Right In

All of those cities had been built and were inhabited by men, women, boys, girls, grandparent, aunts, uncles. Yet all of them refused to bow to God. They had heard about Him, how the Jews had crossed the Jordan, how the walls of Jerico tumbled. They just couldn’t let go of their pretend gods, even when faced with the truth.

Not all of them were killed at the hands of the Jewish soldiers. Some were merely driven out of their homes and towns. They lost everything they’d worked for, everything their parents had worked for. Their gods could not save them.

The Jews who knew God, walked right into those towns and went house hunting. They moved into homes they did not build, took over businesses they did not start, enjoyed the comforts they didn’t earn. Is that fair?

The big picture here is God. Any of those residents of those towns could have at any time surrendered to God and been dealt a different hand. It was their stubborn refusal that brought about that judgment. What they had built, using their own devices, could not withstand the hand of God.

The same is true today. Many people have built themselves a comfortable existence, worship who and how they want, refuse to submit to God, and are ok with that. But just as the people of the land had done, they have created a life that cannot last. Those ancient people had lost it all, as will any of us who refuse to surrender to God. Be warned.

On the other hand, the Jews who had submitted to God received blessings from Him they didn’t deserve. And so have I. I don’t deserve God’s grace and mercy, His forgiveness, His Presence. I haven’t earned a second of His favor. But He gives it to me because I have surrendered my life to Him.

The fair thing would be if I was made to pay for my sins, as the ancient people we read about today paid for their’s. I’m guilty. I sin. I’m no better than the rest. But Jesus loved me enough anyway to go to the cross, pay what I owe, and freely gives me Himself when I surrender to Him.

The reality is, the Jewish people moved right into the land God had given them. In a very real sense I did, too. They went through the water of the Jordan. I went through the blood of Jesus. But that which is on the other side is blessing after blessing.

My prayer is that you have surrendered to Jesus and know what it is to live in the Promised Land of His Presence and blessing. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Understand that what you are building your life on apart from Him will not withstand the hand of God.

Surrender your life to the God who loves you enough to die for you. Then move right into to a relationship with Him and enjoy what Jesus paid to give you.

My Response (Hebrews 10)

Mom would have been 96 today. I would have enjoyed celebrating with her. But since she’s in heaven, she has no age, no birthday, no need for candles or cake. She’s in glory!

Reading her Bible today gave me a special connection with her. I love that woman! I was touched my some verses that touched her. Chapter 10 talks about the amazing work Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice and what it means for my life and my eternity. Here is what she underlined:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (22-25)

I want my response to Jesus to be exactly that! A sincere heart, full of the assurance of my faith in Him, a guiltless conscience because of the decisions I make as His representative. I want to hold unswervingly to the hope I have, even when my hope is not politically correct or “woke.” I want to encourage you even more as we see the very real possibility that the end of life as we know it may be coming to an end. Let’s stand together in the Truth that is Jesus!

I hope you’ll read Hebrews today. It always makes me love Jesus more every time I read it. He did it all. The old is gone, the new is come. I want my response to His sacrifice, to bring Him joy.