Tag Archives: the cross

August 20; Sin’s Debt

Jeremiah 52; Psalms 74, 79, 85

Today’s Scriptures continue with the Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God’s disobedient children were being punished. The psalmists asked God for mercy because the hand of God was heavy on them.

God will always punish disobedience. There has never been a time, nor will there be a time, when God gives His creation a free pass. Every disobedient thought or action, every sin committed comes with a death sentence. Every sin.

I think sometimes people think that when a person becomes a Christian, God cancels our sin debt, somehow erases the ledger so we stand before Him guilt-less, just as if we’d never sinned. But I don’t think that’s the case.

When I look at the cross I know my sin debt wasn’t just canceled. It was paid for by the Savior who painfully shed His blood, and died to pay the price my sins deserve.

I love Psalm 85. God forgave us and covered our sins, but He did it with Jesus’ blood. He set aside His anger toward us and directed it to His Son instead. His unfailing love granted salvation – but it cost Him a great deal.

His peace is ours, but not because we are sinless. It’s ours because we are forgiven. The sin I committed yesterday doesn’t just disappear when I ask God to forgive it. It’s a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

If I can tell myself God simply erases my sins when I ask for forgiveness, I don’t feel quite as bad about sinning. I mean, I use erasers all the time. No big deal.

But if I remember that sin cost Jesus great physical suffering and death, that lie or that jealousy or that dirty thought takes on a different meaning. It becomes a very big deal. It makes me ashamed to have contributed to Jesus’ suffering, and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. (Ps 85:10-11)

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (verse 7)

But may we never forget what that salvation cost Jesus, may we never take for granted that our sin debt was paid for us on the cruel cross of Calvary by Someone who wasn’t guilty.

I pray you know Him and have accepted what Jesus died to give you. He took the punishment you deserve for every sin you’ve ever committed. You sin debt is paid in full. Please accept it.

 

July 28; Trusting The One We Fear

Nahum; 2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum reminds us that God is to be feared… and trusted. Feared because His judgment is harsh and inflexible. Trusted because He never places judgment on anyone who doesn’t deserve it. What is sin for you is sin for me.

And the wages of sin is death. He’s pretty upfront about that.

But here’s what else Nahum says about God: He is slow to anger.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (1:7)

Yes, God protects His honor and holiness with jealous zeal. Yes, there are devastating consequences for those who don’t play by His rules. But don’t get stuck there. Because the same jealous and avenging God took on Himself His own wrath, His own death penalty so you and I wouldn’t have to.

You might think God isn’t fair, and you would be right. It wasn’t fair that Jesus took your sins to the cross. He never committed even one sin. Yet our Savior endured the cross, didn’t give a second thought about the shame – for love of you!

Yes, the Creator God, Almighty, All-knowing, Eternal and Holy, is a God to be feared. You can look at Jesus’ death on the cross and get an idea how serious God is about sin, and what it cost His Son to take the punishment you deserve.

Look at the cross. That should be you up there. If that doesn’t make you fearful, I don’t know what will.

Then look into the face of your Savior, and know He can be trusted:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9; emphasis mine)

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. (Romans 3:23-24; emphasis mine)

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8; emphasis mine)

We have reason to fear God. And we have every reason to trust the One we fear, when we are His children through the blood of Jesus.

June 21; That’s Harsh

2 Kings 9:1-11:3; 2 Chronicles 22:7-12

Jehu obeyed God, as hard as it might have been. Every person in Ahab’s family from the oldest to the youngest was executed. All the priests of Baal were also killed. These were enemies of God, and they had to be eliminated. Sin had to be removed at all cost.

It’s tempting to think God through Jehu is too harsh, the penalty for being related to Ahab too severe. But that’s because we don’t understand how much God hates sin, no matter how small or how innocent we think the sin may be.

God abhors sin. God cannot exist where sin is; not in a nation, or a heart. Until we see sin through God’s eyes we will allow God’s enemy to live.

I’m certainly not talking about killing people. Jesus died so sin can be eliminated through His own blood, so no one ever has to die for sin ever again. But in order to receive the forgiveness Jesus bought there on the cross, we have to make that choice and accept it.

We have to put sin to death in our own lives, sever relationships if necessary, turn off the TV and computers, put down that glass or that bag of chips, forgive…

Hear God say to us that He is deathly serious about sin in all shapes and sizes. Hear Him say He will not tolerate your sin or mine. Hear Him as He shows us in His Word how He views sin, and how He deals with sin. His own Son died, took the penalty for every sin we’ve ever committed. God is that serious about sin.

It is harsh. You might think it’s too harsh. But you aren’t God. And the truth of the matter is, that harsh penalty was paid by Jesus on your behalf. I pray you accept it, embrace Him, and look at sin through His eyes.

June 11; A Look In The Mirror

I Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 10:1-9, 11:1-4, 13-17

Sometimes I read accounts like the one in today’s Scripture and I find myself shaking my head. The audacity of some to openly defy God, the in-your-face rejection of Him, astounds me. Jeroboam heard God’s Word, saw evidence that God was true, then turned around and did exactly what God had condemned.

This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall, and to its destruction from the face of the earth. (I Kings 13:34)

We can obviously make a connection to our own government. We can also see examples of this in the modern church. But, as always when I look into God’s Word, it’s like looking into a mirror. And sometimes I just don’t like what I see looking back at me. It hurts when God puts a finger on my heart.

I’d like to share what He is saying to me today. Number one, He has put His rules and expectations in writing. He has given clear instructions for living. He has proven Himself to be true over and over. I can make no mistake about it, God is holy and demands to be obeyed. Period.

Secondly, God hates sin. God punishes every sin. God cannot exist in harmony with sin. He makes it clear that our choice is either sin or Him. It can never be sin AND Him.

I know these things. Yet there have been times when I, and probably when you, have chosen sin over holiness, have neglected to do what He asks of me, and times when I knowingly, with an in-your-face attitude, have defied Him.

Like the foolish prophet, there have been times when someone who claims to have heard from God, says something that sounds right. Something inside of me questions whether or not it is truly Scriptural. But this someone says he’s a spokesman for God, and who am I to question that, right?

This morning as I look into the mirror of Scripture I am reminded that the only Truth is that which is written in the pages of the Bible. Anything, or anyone who adds to or contradicts what God inspired men to write down is straight from Satan.

And, if I believe that Scripture is true, I’d better be doing what it says. Because the Bible paints a holy, fearsome, powerful God who punishes every sin with death. It also clearly paints a picture of the cross. This harsh judge who has the power to condemn all of us, came to live with us in a human body, suffered and died on the cross, condemned Himself to the death we all deserve.

And He stands with open arms to receive any and all of us who go to Him.

Today, as I look in the mirror of Scripture I see a sinner saved by grace. I see a woman who was lost, now standing there wearing the holiness of the Savior. I see a woman who chooses Jesus.

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.

 

February 5; It’s In The Blood

Exodus 10-12

To those who don’t understand, Christianity might seem a little bizarre. I mean, there is so much emphasis on blood. In the Old Testament, you read about gallons and gallons of it being spilt for sacrifices. Christians talk about washing in blood, applying blood. We even sing songs about blood. To an outsider, that might sound strange.

But for those of us who do understand, we make no apology. That blood we sing about is precious, and life-giving. We’re not talking about rubbing the red gooey stuff over our bodies for any reason. We are talking about blood that was shed 2,000 years ago. We are remembering what that blood bought for us.

As I was reading these chapters this morning, a hymn we used to sing in my youth was running through my head. It was written in the 19th century by John Foote, “When I See The Blood I will pass, I will pass over you.”  So I got out my hymnal, and had my own private worship service as I sang:

“What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“Lay aside your garments that are stained with sin, and be washed in the blood of the Lamb.”

“Would you be free from your burden of sin? There’s power in the blood!”

“Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.”

“My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!. Saved by the blood of the crucified One.”

Yes, we Christians are obsessed with blood – but not just any blood. In the Old Testament it was the blood of a lamb that protected the Jews from death. It was the blood of lambs, goats, ox, and birds that satisfied the sin debt for a time.

But since God came to earth as a man, and shed His own blood once and for all, we celebrate the blood of Jesus. Because when that blood is applied to my life, when it covers my sins, I am free! I am forgiven! I can stand before a Holy God without fear!

Hebrews 9:22 reminds us that without the shedding of blood, sins cannot be forgiven. That’s why Jesus died. So you and I can be forgiven.

If you have a minute, get out a hymnal, or Google some of the great hymns of our faith and consider Jesus’ blood. Read all five verses of William Cowper’s “There is a Fountain.” And the five verses of “Hallelujah! What a Savior,” by Philip P. Bliss.

Isaac Watts wrote “At the Cross,” and “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.” He understood what Jesus’ shed blood means to us.

Jesus shed His blood for you because He loves you, and wants you to know Him. His love sent Him to the cross so you can be forgiven.

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Amen.

 

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.