Tag Archives: the cross

Equal Shares

Ezekiel 47-48

The land was divided equally among the tribes of Israel. I love how God leveled the playing field. Everyone was given the same.

That’s something I love about God. He sees us, demands of us, treats us, and loves each of the same.

  1. All have sinned. Yes, that means you and me. All. Everyone has sinned. (Romans 3:23)
  2. That sin has earned us a death sentence. (Romans 6:23)
  3. God loved each of us and sent His Son Jesus to pay our death sentence. (John 3:16)
  4. Whoever (rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sickly, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, you) believes won’t have to experience that death, but live forever with God. (John 3:16)
  5. When we repent, He forgives us completely. (1 John 1:9)
  6. When we repent, we are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:1-7)

The flip side of that coin is also fair and equal. If you reject God, He will reject you (Matthew 10:33) no matter if you are rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sick, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, or you.

A word of caution: accepting God on your terms is rejecting Him. Jesus said that He is the only way to God. (John 14:6) That is true for all of us.

It rains on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on everyone everywhere, night falls, morning dawns, and we all have 24 hours a day to choose God or reject Him.

I think you know how I am praying for you today.

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

The Most Important Word in The Bible

Deuteronomy 13

God gave specific instructions to the Jews concerning worship, sacrifices, how to treat one another, caring for the poor, etc. The nuts and bolts of it were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross so today we don’t sacrifice animals on a stone altar, and we don’t kill idolators. But God’s instructions to the Jews speaks volumes to us today.

Deuteronomy 13:18 is the lesson God wants us to understand from His instructions:

The Lord your God will be merciful only IF you listen to His voice and keep all His commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases Him. (emphasis mine)

Gods words in Deuteronomy are still true today, and only through the substitutionary work of Jesus can our sins be forgiven without the physical sacrificing of animals. Without blood, there is still no forgiveness of sin. Jesus shed His own blood as the ultimate, perfect substitute.

What we read in Deuteronomy is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross. He became those sacrifices for us. And therefore, the same principle applies:

God will show mercy IF we obey Him.

We can’t expect God’s blessings unless we do ALL His Word demands. That’s a tall order on our own.

IF I accept Jesus as my Savior I am obeying the Law spelled out in Deuteronomy. And IF I live my life like Jesus spelled out in the New Testament, then and only then can God bless me.

And, oh what blessings!

I think “IF” might be the most important word in the Bible.

Mistaking Grace

Leviticus

Sometimes I think we mistake grace for an eraser. We think it negates the requirements of acceptability to God, or that God’s grace just wipes away our sins…”Just As If I’d Never Sinned.”

What we read in Leviticus are the rules for addressing all kinds of impurity. It’s not a fun read. In fact, it’s tempting to just skip over the whole thing, thinking it doesn’t apply to us in 2022. But did God change the rules? Or are the requirements spelled out in Leviticus still a thing?

God’s law has not changed. The difference is after the cross the fulfillment of those requirements were transferred to Jesus. So, yes, the blood of bulls is still required. Jesus provided His own blood. The doves, the lambs, even the scapegoat are still required. Jesus became all of that to fulfill each requirement.

Now don’t go out and kill some unsuspecting farmer’s livestock. Jesus already did what was required once and for all. That debt has been paid in full by His own precious blood.

But just because the fulfillment of the Law was complete in Jesus, don’t skip over these chapters in Leviticus. I know they don’t apply to you in the material sense. But they do apply to you. It gives you such detail about what Jesus did for you. It’s a lot!

I challenge you to read these chapters carefully and let God reveal Himself to you as you do. There is much more to Jesus’ death on the cross than you might think.

We can, because of grace, stand before God “Just As If We’d Never Sinned.” But the fact is we did sin. And God’s grace cost Jesus a great deal. A great deal. He didn’t simply erase our sin. He painfully fulfilled all the requirements needed for the forgiveness of our sin .

Grace is not an eraser. It’s a gift that cost more than you or I may realize.

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Genesis 44

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, and she picked up the tab. I wasn’t expecting that. I argued for a minute, but she held the bill. I thanked her, and she paid for lunch.

It looked like Benjamin would have to be a slave as punishment for stealing a silver cup. Knowing how devastated their father would be at the loss of his youngest son, all ten brothers volunteered to give up their freedom and become slaves, too.

Joseph the governor of Egypt (whom they didn’t realize was actually their long lost brother), insisted that because Benjamin was “guilty,” Benjamin would have to serve his own punishment.

Then Judah, one of the brothers responsible for selling Joseph into slavery, offered himself. The punishment had to be paid, and Judah wanted to take on that punishment for Benjamin.

It’s a picture of grace, isn’t it? Unlike Benjamin who was actually innocent of stealing that cup, you and I are guilty. We are sinners. We have disobeyed and dishonored God more times than we could count. The wages, or the just punishment of sin is death.

We deserve to die an eternal, painful, unrelenting death for the sins we have committed. But Jesus stepped in, picked up the bill, went to the cross where He died, and paid our death sentence.

Now, wouldn’t it have been ridiculous for me to go to the cashier at the restaurant the other day and pay my portion of the bill after my friend had already paid it? No one in their right mind would do such a thing.

It’s as ridiculous for anyone to pay their own death sentence, too, because Jesus has already paid it in full! I had to accept my friend’s generosity at the restaurant. And because I did, I was able to walk out of there without it costing me anything.

If you haven’t accepted what Jesus has already paid, I urge you to do that today. It would be ridiculous not to.

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 from 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.

(John 1-3) The Whosoever

There is a debate among Christians over the “whosoever” in John 3:16. The question is” did God put on human flesh and live on earth for 33 years to die a horrible death for a few “chosen” people He would draw to Himself, and leave the majority of people without hope? Or did Jesus come to purchase salvation for the world, for every man, woman, and child who draws breath?

God loves the world. God gave His Son so that everyone who believes will have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world – not to condemn – but to save the world. Anyone who believes in Him in not condemned. Anyone who doesn’t believe is already condemned because of his unbelief. The truth is, Jesus came to be the Light but some people prefer the darkness. (see John 3:16-21)

Some people will point to Matthew 22:14 where Jesus said: Many are called, but few are chosen, and John 6:44 where the Lord said: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and Ephesians 2:8-9 which says: It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works so that no one may boast. These verses, they will argue, support the belief that God is selective in whose life He is working, that we as individuals have nothing to do with it.

Yet Jesus said: I will draw ALL PEOPLE to Myself. (John 12:32)

Here’s what I see according to Scripture:

  1. Jesus died for the sin of the world, for all of us without exception.
  2. God the Holy Spirit is revealing Himself, drawing to Himself every person – everyone! It’s not a question of “if” the Spirit moves in someone’s heart. The Spirit’s moving in all hearts. That’s a given.
  3. Now here’s where the “chosen” comes in. God chooses to save anyone who believes, anyone who is born again (John 3:5ff). God chooses to reject and condemn anyone who refuses to believe, anyone who prefers the darkness over the light He reveals to everyone.

C.S. Lewis said it best: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”

Think about that for a minute.

The Lord is “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b)

I think there is much more Scriptural evidence to support the fact that God, right now this minute, is working in the hearts and lives of all people everywhere, that He is seeking to save the lost, that God chose mankind to save and provided salvation for “whosoever” at the cross.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

If there are people to whom the Holy Spirit is not revealing Himself, if there are some who God deems expendable, if there are those God is not drawing to Himself because they didn’t make the list, they would have a right to sit in hell and say, “It’s not fair. God didn’t choose me.”

No. They will sit isolated in hell and weep over the fact they didn’t choose God, remembering all the times God wooed, drew, revealed Himself, and died, so had they believed, their eternity would be life instead of the agonizing death they suffer. They will sit there forever without excuse.

If you have yet to submit to God, to be born again, I can assure you God is working fervently in your heart right now. His desire is that you become His child through the blood of His Son. You.

If you have a loved one who seems far from making that decision, rest assured that God is working fervently in that heart right this minute, too. Keep praying. Keep living your faith in front of them. Keep trusting God because He loves that person even more than you do.

He will do everything He can to draw all people to Himself. Except making them come to Him. That is a choice they will have to make for themselves. That choice isn’t “works,” as some people believe. Paul tells us all to make that choice:

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9)

That is a promise to whosoever believes.

And when they make that choice to believe, they become chosen of God. He won’t turn away anyone who comes to Him.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

(Mark 14-16) Remove All Doubt

The Roman soldier recognized that Jesus was truly the Son of God when he watched Jesus die on the cross. The cross removed all doubt that soldier might have had about Jesus..

Have you taken a good look at the cross? Have you really seen the One who endured such abuse, such unrelenting torment in order to take the punishment you deserve? Look at Him. That’s how much He loves you.

“Truly this man was the Son of God,” who gave His life so your sins can be forgiven, so you can live forever with Him. I pray that today you’ll take a good look, then lay your sins at the foot of the cross and let His blood wash them all away.

Take a good look at the one and only Son of God, and let Him remove all your doubt, too. But don’t just stop there. Take the next step, and accept what He died to give you – forgiveness! He’s waiting. And I’m praying.

(Matthew 12:30-32) Unforgivable

Is there an unforgivable sin? According to Jesus there is. But what is it? And what if I’ve already committed it? Is there no hope for me?

Well, first of all, rest assured that while I’m still breathing and my heart is still beating, there is hope. Scripture is very clear that “whosoever believes” will be saved, that to humble ourselves and repent of sin is salvation at the cross. Those who go to Jesus in Truth, He will in nowise cast out.

So what is this unforgivable sin? These verses are confusing at first glance because Jesus makes a distinction between Himself and His Spirit. We know, according to Scripture they are one and the same. So what is blasphemy against Jesus and blasphemy against the Spirit, and why is one more serious than the other?

I don’t know.

But I can tell you my opinion according to what I see in God’s Word. If you want to know what I think, read on.

There were all kinds of blasphemous actions against Jesus. Think of what kinds of things He endured in His three years of ministry on Earth. He was called a glutton, a friend of sinners, Satan himself. He was hated by many. His last day on Earth included beatings, hearing lies said about Him, ridicule, and His painful death on the cross where the abuse continued. Yet, some of His last words from the cross were: Father forgive them!

This tells me the abuse Jesus endured was not the unforgivable sin. He was rejected, despised, and murdered. Yet He was willing to forgive it all.

Rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit is another matter. The work of the Spirit is to woo, to convict, to penetrate the hearts of all people. Rejecting Him is unforgivable. God cannot and will not forgive someone who doesn’t want His forgiveness.

The good news is, the Holy Spirit isn’t one and done. He doesn’t give just one chance for anyone to accept what He offers. He doesn’t just give up after one rejection.

Take Paul for instance. While he was known as Saul he rejected Jesus in a very public way. But do you think the first time the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin was there on the road to Damascus? I don’t. It was, however, the first time Saul, later Paul, humbled himself and submitted to the Spirit. Paul’s acceptance of Jesus as his Savior in obedience to the Spirit, saw his sins forgiven. All of them.

The unforgivable was forgiven. And that’s a miracle!

Those who reject the continued working of the Holy Spirit who convicts, who reveals Jesus, who speaks Truth, will not – cannot – be forgiven. If you are rejecting the Biblical Truth of God, you have no hope of forgiveness. That opportunity is good only while you are alive on Earth. If you reject it, you will face God on your own, unforgiven.

It’s not too late. If you are reading this post, the Holy Spirit is working in your life. Don’t ignore Him. Don’t reject Him. Open your heart and let Him give you what Jesus died to provide.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. None of it is unforgivable. Only rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness is unforgivable.

I’m praying for you.

(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.