Tag Archives: the cross

November 3; In Rememberance

Mark 14:22-31; Matthew 26:26-35; Luke 22:15-20, 31-38; John 13:31-15:17

We observed the Lord’s Supper in church this morning. I don’t know how often your fellowship serves Communion, but I hope that you never take it for granted. Jesus gave us this gift the night before He died. He gave us the gift of rememberance.

When I took the tiny cracker and pressed it into the palm of my hand, I remembered that Jesus was a real man, with a real body, who experienced real pain. Excruciating pain from beatings, floggings, torture and humiliation. Thorns crammed into His head, nails driven into His hands and feet, then hung on a cross to slowly suffocate like some common criminal. I remembered His body.

When I took that little plastic cup filled with grape juice between my fingers, I remembered that Jesus bled real blood from real wounds. I remembered that that blood was spilt to pay what I can never pay – my death sentence which my sins deserve. I remembered His precious blood.

So today, I humbly remember what Jesus did for me the night He took my sins to the cross. I receive His forgiveness and grace. I don’t deserve what He did. But I know He deserves a me who loves and lives for Him.

I worship my Savior, in remembrance.

 

October 27; What the Cross Does Not Do

Matthew 21:1-22; Mark 11:1-25; Luke 19:1-10, 28-28; John 12:12-19

It was time for Jesus to complete His mission. It was time for the cross. So Jesus, on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem with more fanfare, showered with more attention than He had permitted during the previous three years.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But you and I both know just a few days later, the same people who celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city would demand His crucifixion. What could possibly happen to cause such a drastic change?

John and Luke provide us with insight. “…the whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37). John tells us a similar account in that the people who witnessed the bodily resurrection of Lazarus spread the word, and people flocked to Jesus because they heard He had given a “miraculous sign.” (12:18)

The people who joined the parade to accompany Jesus into Jerusalem seem to have been focused on the material. They may have thought they were leading their ticket to easy street into town. Maybe they followed Him out of simple curiosity. But their faith quickly died because they weren’t following Jesus in truth.

During Jesus’ public ministry He performed many miracles, more miracles than could be recorded in the Gospels. But He never healed a sick person so that person would be well. He never gave sight to a blind person so that blind person could see. He never raised a dead child or adult so that person would live a few more years.

All His miracles had one purpose only: to establish the fact that Jesus is God, so that when they nailed Him to the cross, everyone would know just who was hanging there.

Did Jesus die on the cross so His followers would be healed of all physical ailments? No! Did Jesus die on the cross so our bodies would live forever on this earth? No! Did Jesus die so our bills would be paid and we’d have roofs over our heads and food on the table? No!

Jesus died to pay the price for your sin and mine. Jesus died in order to redeem sinners. Yes, Isaiah said “by His stripes we are healed.” But people who claim that guarantees physical healing for the saints are twisting Scripture to mean something it doesn’t.

Dear one, if you are following Jesus because of what He can do for your bank account or your doctor’s appointment, you run the risk of making the same mistake the people in Jerusalem made that last week of Jesus’ life on earth.

Let’s turn our eyes away from the temporal and look to the eternal. Let’s not make the cross about our comfort. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this life. Paul lamented his thorn in the flesh. Most of the twelve disciples met with gruesome deaths.

What the cross does not do is guarantee a healthy, wealthy life in this world. But it does guarantee a glorious eternity with Jesus Himself. The cross does not buy my comfort or my happiness or my cancer-free life. The cross bought my pardon, my redemption, my salvation. And yours!

What the cross does do is nothing short of amazing!

 

October 14; Bread From Heaven

Mark 6:45-56; Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:16-59

Seriously, is there anything better than the aroma of freshly-baked bread, filling the entire house with its enticing scent? There might be something better than that. But you have to agree that smell is right up there.

On the surface, what Jesus is saying in John 6 is anything but appetizing. If you don’t understand metaphors, reading this portion of John’s Gospel can be disturbing because it seems Jesus is proposing cannibalism. That’s the opposite of baking bread, right? But take a closer look at this Scripture. Jesus is telling us He is the Messiah!

He is the Bread which came down from heaven. His body made of real flesh, will be brutally beaten and hung on a cross where He will die. His blood, as red as yours, will be shed so my sins – and yours- can be forgiven. And we who take Him in are satisfied forever.

No more hunger for peace. He is our peace. No more longing for love. God IS love. No more thirsting for joy, or happiness, or worth. Jesus is all that, and more. People who are always looking for more, have only to accept what Jesus offers, and find more than they were looking for.

There are those who will tell you that Jesus is talking to a chosen few, because He tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…: (vs 44). They use the word, “unless,” to suggest God is selective in who He draws to Himself. But read on.

Verses 45-47 says, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him come to me… he who believes has everlasting life.” I will tell you without hesitation that Jesus is talking to YOU.

Jesus is saying you can’t bake your own bread. God has sent His Son, the Bread of Life, into the world, and like a fresh loaf right out of the oven, His aroma spreads out over the whole world, drawing all people to the source. Everyone who listens to God, and believes in His Son, will have everlasting life.

That’s what God chose. He chose to save everyone who listens to the Father, learns from Him, and comes to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Jesus tells us not to work for food that spoils. Don’t try to find happiness in a spouse, or fulfillment in a job, or success by driving a BMW, or salvation in church attendance. The only “work” we can do to receive what Jesus died to give us is believe in Him. (vs 29)

Breathe in that aroma, devour that Bread from Heaven, make Him a part of you. And never hunger or thirst again.

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.