Tag Archives: the cross

COVID19 on the Cross (Isaiah 49-53)

Isaiah clearly says in 53:5, “by his wounds, we are healed.” I watched a YouTube video of a popular preacher who insisted that Christians should not be struggling with physical illnesses because Jesus nailed our diseases to the cross. He quoted a partial verse (Isaiah 53:5b) to support his opinion.

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful picture of Jesus, so accurate in every way, and Isaiah is speaking in the past tense – which is thrilling to me! Our Savior was despised, rejected, beat up and pierced. Why? Because of my sin and yours. God laid on Jesus the inequity of us all. (vs 6)

If you don’t read anything else today, I hope you’ll take time to read Isaiah 53 and fall in love with Jesus all over again. But also notice the emphasis, the “why” Jesus did what He did. I challenge you to find any reference to physical illness, unless you distort verse 5b like some do.

The whole sentence says it was our transgressions, our iniquities, the punishment we deserved for sin was upon Him, and by those wounds incurred from the beatings and the nails piercing His flesh, we are healed from those transgressions, iniquities, and free from the punishment our sins deserve.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make you happy or physically immune from sickness. You aren’t cured from COVID19 at the cross. But you are cured from the disease of sin there. Sin no longer has any power over you when you kneel at the cross.

I hate to tell you this but you might get COVID19. You might get cancer, or dementia, or you might break a leg, or lose your eyesight. That has nothing to do with the grace of God that forgives sin when we confess our sin. The cross was and is about sin.

I’m not going to ask you if you have any COVID symptoms. I will ask you if you have any symptoms of sin. I won’t ask if you have been healed from cancer or a virus or a booboo. I will ask you if you have been healed from sin by accepting what Jesus did for you on the cross. I won’t ask you what you know about COVID. I will ask you if you know the Savior that Isaiah so beautifully described in this chapter.

Jesus died with your sins on His shoulders. I pray you’ve met Him at the cross, and allowed His grace to flow over you, healing you from the disease of sin.

Blameless and Innocent (Psalm 19)

My mom wrote, “for 1991” in the margin of her Bible, next to these verses she’d underlined:

…Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)

Mom lived these verses about as well as anyone I’ve ever known. But it wasn’t so much the verses she’d underlined that stood out to me. I’ve sat here for a while considering the words she chose not to underline in verse 13. Those words are what speak to me today:

Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

I do not claim to know why my mother didn’t underline this phrase, so I won’t pretend to speak for her. I knew Mom as a humble, less-than-confident servant of the Lord she loved. Did she feel unworthy to even suggest that she could be blameless or innocent, even if God had declared she was that and more through the blood of His Son? I don’t know. I only know she didn’t underline that phrase in 1991.

It occurs to me that it’s fairly easy to recognize someone struggling with pride. They tend to brag, they draw attention to themselves, they are critical of others in order to show themselves superior.

It’s not as easy to recognize someone struggling with guilt, regret, or feeling undeserving of God’s grace. They tend to serve God quietly, maybe self-sacrificially, and avoid recognition or praise But they struggle in the depths of their souls, often with a smile on their faces.

Let me share two things God has laid on my heart concerning this. 1) If you feel unworthy of God’s grace, you are right. You don’t deserve it. You are a sinner and what you deserve is hell. That is true for all of us. In fact, grace wouldn’t be grace if we deserved it.

But do not misunderstand, Jesus died for you and me while we were sinners. You do not deserve His forgiveness, but He deserves for you to accept it anyway. He willingly paid what you couldn’t pay. And being blameless and innocent is His gift for you if you would just receive it. We need to stop trying to feel worthy, and instead rejoice in the reality of God’s grace to we who are anything but worthy.

2) Because if we don’t, if we continue allowing ourselves to feel shame or guilt, or if we allow our unworthiness define us, we run the risk of having a works-based faith. We want to feel like we deserve God’s grace so we teach Sunday School, we visit people in hospitals, we fix food for shut-ins, we read our Bibles every day, we don’t drink or smoke or gossip. And we think that somehow living like that will make God love us more, or forgive us more, or maybe it’ll just help us feel good about ourselves.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that nothing – nothing- we do can make God love us more. He died once for you. It is finished, He said. You can’t earn what has already been bought.

Again, I don’t know why Mom didn’t underline this part of verse 13. But if you are struggling with guilt for sins already forgiven, or if you find it hard to accept what Jesus freely offers, understand those thoughts and feelings don’t come from God. They are the arrows of the enemy.

My prayer is that you will rejoice in the cross today, allow God to cover those sins He died for, accept His grace without hesitation. And with boldness, live your life as one who has been declared blameless and innocent.

Because through Jesus’ blood that is exactly what you are.

 

Savior or Executioner (Judges 3-5)

Sisera was running from his enemies, the children of Israel. Jael gave him shelter, AND guarded the door. Sisera was thirsty and asked for water. Jael went one better, and gave him milk. I can only imagine how that sweet liquid felt to Sisera as it hit his tongue. Sisera was weary. Jael provided him with a warm bed.

Yet with all the kindness Sisera received at the hands of this Jewish woman, Sisera remained an enemy of God. He did not repent. And the one who had lavished him with grace and mercy became his executioner.

We must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. The sun rose today on everyone. There is oxygen to breathe in every corner of the world. Working limbs, hearing ears, love and laughter are enjoyed by the vast majority. And to top it off, Jesus died for the sins of every individual. For God so loved the world!

Yet some who are enjoying the grace and mercy that is ours at the hand of a very patient and loving God, will one day meet Him as their executioner. Some who accept His blessings in this lifetime will die His enemy unless they accept what is their’s through the blood of Jesus.

Yes, God is a loving God. He is slow to anger. He is actively working in the hearts of people everywhere to come to Him, to love and obey Him, to repent of sin and know Him.

But one day we will look into those eyes and see our Savior, or our Executioner. There is no third option.

December 30; What Not To Wear

Revelation 15-18

So often we can become impatient for God to give our enemies what we think they deserve. But as I read John’s vision in the book of Revelation, I realize God is not out to avenge our enemies. But He will certainly deal with His.

His final judgment will be unimaginably awful for anyone who rejected Him during their lifetime on Earth. It is a truly frightening account of their future.

Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments. (16:7)

God isn’t going to arbitrarily torture someone just because He didn’t like them, or because of the color of their hair. But a painful existence is ahead for anyone who has ignored God’s wooing, His hand of correction, His conviction over sin, His constant attempts at winning the world. His judgments are true and just.

Jesus says, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (16:7)

So let me ask us this: What are we wearing? What clothes are we hanging onto? Good deeds? Charity? Church attendance? Morality? Good luck with that.

Those are exactly the things NOT to wear. When those filthy rags disintegrate, and they will, you’ll be standing there as naked as the day you were born.

For me, I want to be awake, wearing the righteousness Jesus bought for me on the cross. I want to keep that robe close to me because it is the only ticket into heaven anyone has.

I want that for you, too.

 

December 24; Faith in Action

Hebrews 10:19-12:29

Do you know what I noticed about the people listed in Chapter 11, the “Hall of Faith?” Each one put their faith in God, but none of them sat on that faith. It wasn’t enough to simply believe. They all did something as a result of their faith.

They warned, went, obeyed, blessed, spoke, refused, left, passed through the Red Sea…. All of these people were commended for their faith yet none of them actually saw the One in whom they’d placed their faith. None of them knew the Messiah Jesus whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow. But that didn’t stop them from having faith in Him anyway.

Everybody has faith of some kind. I have loved ones who have faith their belief there is no God won’t usher them into hell. Some people have faith in false gods, in religion, in goodness and kindness, in the stars, or in themselves. We all have faith that what we believe is true.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (12:2)

So who has authored your faith? I pray you will place your faith in the author of creation, in life itself, in love, and in eternity. I pray you’ll place your faith in the One who went to the cross for the joy of forgiving your sins.

Then, with the saints listed in Chapter 11, let’s do something with that faith. Let’s warn, and go, and obey, and bless… because the truth of the matter is, people need to know there is only One who is worthy of our faith.

December 23; Our High Priest’s Birthday

Hebrews 7:1-10:18

Melchizedek is a curious fellow. He appears in Scripture for a few verses, then promptly disappears. We don’t know where he came from, or where he went after talking to Abraham. He was a priest, but not from the tribe of Levi. Curious.

Yet the writer of Hebrews compares Jesus to this mysterious Old Testament priest. He tells us in 7:16 that Melchizedek represents the “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.”

Jesus was descended from Judah, not Levi. And with Him came a new and better covenant than the one God had previously made with Israel. (vs 22)

No more animal sacrifices. No more need of any priest to enter the Presence of God on our behalf. Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice for us all, then He sat down at the right hand of God in heaven where He serves as our High Priest in that sanctuary set up by the Lord, not by man.

I hope you’ll read these chapters in Hebrews today. As we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s do so with the knowledge of what His birth meant. Let’s thank Him that the baby didn’t stay in the manger, but grew up to be our sacrifice. Jesus was born to die.

But He is not dead. Right now, today, this very minute He is sitting next to the Father and interceding for you and me. He is praying for us. Does that make you want to fall at His feet in humble praise and thanksgiving? Does that make you want to love Him like He deserves to be loved, obeyed like He demands, and serve Him in any way you can? It does me.

I want to say “Happy Birthday Jesus, my Savior, my King, my amazing High Priest. I love you!”

 

December 15; Attitude Check

Philemon; Philippians 1-2

I remember that, as an adolescent girl, I could be a bit moody. No really, I could. I could get upset over what now seems insignificant, but at the time seemed the end of the world. And I remember on more than one occasion, during one of my displays of emotion, I’d hear the stern voice of my Dad say, “Change your attitude.”

It was not a suggestion.

I hear God say the same thing to me today. I hope you’ll read Philippians 2:5-11, and do an attitude check on yourself. Paul tells us our attitudes should be the same as Jesus’.

I’ve always loved these verses which speak of what Jesus did to pay for my sins, the lengths He went to die on a cross. And these verses thrill me every time I read about the Name of the One I love.

The truth is, I have no reason to have a bad attitude. I have no reason for self-pity, jealousy, bitterness. When I get a good look at what Jesus gave up to ransom me, and I realize He never complained or regretted what He’d lost, I am ashamed to remember the times when I made a big deal of things unimportant in the light of eternity.

I don’t believe God is talking about sadness, or grief, or disappointment as being sinful. Those were emotions Jesus Himself felt. But God is speaking to me about my overall attitude when bad – or good – things happen.

Paul says IF I have any encouragement from being united with Christ, IF any comfort from His love, IF I have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and IF I have received tenderness and compassion, (I emphasized the “ifs” because of course I have received all of that and more. It’s not an “if.” It’s a definite) then change your attitude!

Time for an attitude check. May my attitude, and yours, be the same as that of Jesus.

November 8; Zero Balance

Mark 15:22-41; Matthew 27:33-56; Luke 23:33-49; John 19:17-37

The cross. The place where criminals died a slow and painful death. The place of humiliation and disgrace. The place where Satan and the Jewish leaders thought they could get rid of Jesus.

But it was on the cross where Jesus, though sinless, became sin for me. It’s where Jesus paid my death sentence. It is finished. Paid in full. Zero balance.

I remember when I first started teaching in the early 70’s, making a whopping $3,500 a year, there were months when I was unable to pay all my bills. I dreaded getting mail because there was always an envelope with a notice inside threatening to turn off my power or turn my account over to a collection agency.

I hated answering the phone. Remember, it was way before caller ID so you never knew who you were going to be forced to speak with when you answered. And sometimes there were very unfriendly voices on the line telling me I needed to pay my bills or else.

They weren’t wrong. I owed them money. They had every right to demand payment. I just didn’t have the means to pay them.

I was reminded of that today as I considered what Jesus did for me on the cross. He paid what I could not pay. He satisfied my debt so that I need never fear God or dread His presence.

My sin debt, and believe me it was sizable, was something I had no means of paying. But Jesus took my debt, became my sin, and paid it all. I am debt-free because of the cross.

When God looks at the ledger of my life, He only sees a zero balance! I am so thankful for the cross!

November 6: The Man Standing Before Rulers

Matthew 27:1-10; Luke 23:1-12; Mark 15:1-5; John 18:28-38

You do know Jesus could have stopped this, don’t you? He could have defended Himself against the lies being told about Him. He could have easily convinced both Pilate and Herod He wasn’t guilty of anything. But He just stood there, like a sheep before the slaughter.

Don’t kid yourself. Jesus was NOT a sheep before the slaughter. He knew exactly what He was doing and where His silence would take Him. And He wanted to go there.

I know there are many who are convinced that Jesus, while in the garden, asked His Dad for an alternate plan at the last minute, that He went to the cross out of stoic obedience. But I look at the Man standing before rulers, hearing the lies and slander, feeling the force of blows to His body, and I know He didn’t want to be anywhere else.

It’s what He’d come for.

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, knowing He had the power to pulverize His accusers, understanding He stood there absolutely guiltless, I realize how loved I am. With every blow, Jesus expressed love and grace. With every lash, every lie, every insult, He was saying loudly and clearly: “I love you!”

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, I can almost see the pain in His eyes. He felt the blows. He felt the rejection. I imagine His body, His heart and soul ached, cried out in pain. But my salvation was more important to Him than the pain. He walked through that abuse so He could get to the cross because my sin debt needed to be paid there.

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, my heart is filled with love. No one has loved me like that. No one could except Jesus.

I love the Man standing before rulers.

November 4; Tears

John 15:18-17:16; Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46

It’s hard for me to read about the last few hours of Jesus’ life on earth. I find myself wanting to sit with Him, to hold His hands, to put a cool cloth on His fevered brow. I want to pray with Him, and wipe His tears.

But I know had I lived at that time, I would have been just like Peter, James, and John. I wouldn’t get it anymore than they did.

You know how I know that? Because even as I sit here with tears running down my face for love of that hurting Man who loved me enough to die for me, I have slept while He is grieved over sin in my life, in the lives of my loved ones, and over sin in the world.

Jesus didn’t die, then return to heaven to sit on a throne and say, “Glad that’s over. Now it’s up to them.” He is still working, still praying, still grieving over sin in our lives.

I know the Bible says one day He will wipe the tears from our eyes. But who is wiping His tears?

Oh, may I see sin like He sees it, how He faced it there in the Garden. May I live to please and not grieve Him. May I have the privilege of wiping His tears, and bringing Him only joy.