Archive for the ‘Christ’s sacrifice’ Category

One of the best ways to demonstrate genuine faith is to show others that insults toward us aren’t like matches on gasoline.

We’ve all encountered verbal cheap shots from others at home or at work or at school, sometimes even at church. And these have sometimes happened in the presence of multiple people.

It takes an abundance of self-control to not fire right back when we’ve been disrespected. Our instinctive pride wants to punish those who are seemingly attempting to tear us down.

The Christlike response — as demonstrated on the Friday before Resurrection Sunday long ago — is counter-intuitive to our human nature.

We are to remember that the path of meekness is NOT a path of weakness.

It takes real strength of character to choose meekness.

If you’ll observe life carefully in the days ahead, you’ll notice that those who typically respond quickly and negatively toward insults are people with less strength of character.

The reverse is true, as well. Your friend or relative who seems to never “fight fire with fire” is likely a person of deep character.

When he or she is doing so because of Christian convictions, that is even better.

Why this topic today? Here is a verse from today’s devotional reading:

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Proverbs 12:16

The Bible says that a fire will go out if no fuel is added to it. Let’s remember that we serve ourselves much better — and the misdirected person attacking us — if we’ll overlook insults. For to fire back will not prompt the critic to think more highly and kindly toward us, but instead the opposite.

Yet, if we show that insults won’t distract us from our mission to be kind, moral and generous toward others — to become more like Christ — then the one firing insults just might eventually realize that we’re not going to step into the ring because it serves no good purpose.

And that’s the bottom line, my friends. We don’t serve Kingdom purposes by exhausting time and effort defending our pride.

It’s SO much better when we simply forgive the offender’s insult — just as Jesus did on the cross — and remain focused on humbly serving others in the name of Christ.

As always, I love you

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Sometimes, we experience motivational lapses regarding our call to serve God by forgiving others, giving to others, praying for others, attending church, reading the Bible, etc..

The grind of daily living just seems to shove its way to the front of the line and the next thing you know, our faith seems to take a back seat.

There’s a verse in Psalm 103 that can awaken our sense of spiritual perspective, though.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Listen, no matter how much persuasion Satan seeks to subtly send our way about putting ourselves before others — particularly God — we simply have to remember that God and His Son Jesus Christ put us first when Jesus went to the cross.

The fact that Jesus atoned for our sins when He stretched out His arms on the cross should provide more than enough motivation to stretch our “want to serve” moments into a “need to serve” philosophy for living.

I will never be able to adequately compensate Jesus Christ for what He did for me.

That fact alone provides all the compulsion I need to do all that I can for Him.

I pray that you will believe the same.

As always, I love you

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While He was suffering on the cross, Jesus was told three times that He should save Himself.

First by the religious leaders who hated Him.

Then by Roman soldiers who mocked Him.

And then by the crucified criminal who insulted Him.

Selfish people wanted Jesus to do the selfish thing.

But the crucified criminal who honored Jesus had a different request.

He asked Jesus to save his soul when Jesus’ Kingdom was established.

The criminal with a changed heart knew that Jesus was on the cross by choice and that it was only a painful precursor to blessings far greater.

That’s why He knew Jesus couldn’t save Himself and then save others.

Jesus had to lose His life if He were to save others.

Selfish people don’t understand this.

They certainly don’t practice it.

Please, my friend, sacrifice any selfishness in your home life, work life, school life or church life.

The world will mock your efforts to live differently than the unsaved, egocentric people around you.

But unless you and I live unselfishly, we won’t lead people to the cross of Christ.

Instead, we’ll be leading people to the cross of their own, eternal suffering.

They’ll have to try to save themselves.

And that’s not happening.

Choose the better way.

Choose unselfishness.

Take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Whatever hassles and hurts you face as a result are just precursors to blessings far greater.

As always, I love you

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It is a very blunt teaching that I read in Numbers 35:33 this morning.

“…murder pollutes the land. And no sacrifice except the execution of the murderer can purify the land from murder.”

Yes, I know that some will say that God decreed this law so that social chaos would not result from unpunished bloodshed.

There was more to v. 33 than preserving social order, though.

Because God is holy and just, the land over which He would preside was to be characterized by holiness and justice.

If He were to look the other way when murder occurred rather than require just retribution against the person with blood on his or her hands, then God’s claim of holiness would have been a lie.

The children of Israel very quickly chose to ignore God’s standards of justice, however, and within just a few generations, social order collapsed and it was every man for himself.

What is happening in Mexico now with the plague of grisly murders and the failure of government to hold culprits responsible is a prime example of what happens when murderers operate with impunity.

Let’s bring this closer to home.

When I read verses like Numbers 35:33 and when I consider the fact that it is my sinful choices that Jesus died for on the cross, then I realize that I am the murderer.

I didn’t attack Jesus with an axe or with a gun, but there is no doubt that my choice to sin was the same as picking up the nail and hammer.

The fact is that Jesus should be the One standing over my sprawled-out body with the nail and hammer in His hands.

I should be the one executed, not Jesus.

Jesus chose to take my punishment, though, in order to “purify the land” of my heart and soul.

Knowing that, I will serve Him and encourage others to embrace the One who was executed in their place in order to purify the land of their hearts and souls from the stains of sin.

Will you pledge to do the same?

As always, I love you

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Most Christians, including you and I, spend many hours thinking about who is to receive a Christmas gift and about how much those gifts will cost.

It’s just part of the season to which we’ve become accustomed over many years.

How many hours do we spend, though, thinking about a Christmas gift for God and about how much that gift will cost us?

The season of life that I’m experiencing now is different than in the past. Christmases past were characterized by plenty of gifts to open with kids and other relatives. And I loved it.

I realize now, however, that I should have been more diligent with including God as a gift recipient on Christmas mornining. Both tangibly and intangibly.

It’s very easy to become horizontally focused on Christmas morning, with all attention as to who is getting what.

The fact is that we wouldn’t have the occasion for gift-giving if it were not for God and His great gift — the birth of Jesus — that led to the eternal gift of salvation via the gift of His sacrifice on the cross.

I’m praying that you’ll seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how you will tangibly — and intangibly — give very meaningful gifts to God on Dec. 25th. There are thousands of ways for you to do so and I pray that your gift will show true sacrifice.

I write this today because of how my heart was stirred this morning while reading from the One-Year Bible:

“Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:7b-8)

People in Micah’s day were spiteful of Jehovah God yet still felt the oppressive guilt of their own sins, even to the point of sacrificing their children in pagan rituals in order to be relieved of that emotional baggage.

A firstborn child would die for their sins, all right. But it would be the holy Child of God named Jesus, not the children of sinners who murdered innocent children in order to appease their own consciences.

God sacrificed His firstborn and only Son to pay for my sins. The very least that I should do for Him this Christmas is to always do what is right, always to love mercy and always to walk humbly with my God.

I pray that you will do the same.

And let’s not forget to show mercy by putting a generous gift under the Christmas tree for somebody who needs a tangible sign of God’s mercy given into his or her life.

As always, I love you

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August 16, 2010

I am amazed at the precision of God’s promises.

Even more, though, I am amazed at the foreknowledge and power demonstrated by God in protecting those promises.

Here is the promise that deeply stirred me this morning:

“For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” Psalm 34:20.

To think that this was written 1,000 years before Christ was crucified is mind-blowing to me. Rome didn’t even exist as a political power at the time and the practice of crucifixion was reportedly unknown at the time of David, according to historical records.

David’s words here could not be directed at believers because bone-breaking accidents happened then just like bone-breaking accidents happen now.

So what was David describing? I believe that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was providing a Messianic prophecy and he likely didn’t even know it.

You see, if Jesus were to later serve as the perfect, sacrificial, atoning lamb of God, He could not have the flaw of a broken bone while on the Roman cross. The Old Testament is filled with verses that stipulate that lambs used for atoning sacrifices HAD to be without defect in order to be acceptable to God.

Even the original sacrificial lamb each Hebrew family used on Passover night had to be without broken bones (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12).

And, I believe, that’s the reason that Jesus said, “It is finished” and then gave up His life on the cross before the soldiers came to hasten His death by breaking His legs.

I’m glad that God protected the bones of the righteous Redeemer during all those beatings Jesus received before the crucifixion, some of them even with rods. Ribs could have easily been broken during those beatings, but God prevented that, protecting Jesus’ place as our Sacrificial Lamb.

In protecting Jesus’ bones, God protected our hope.

In giving that promise to David 1,000 years before it played out on Calvary, God also provided an incredible reminder to me of His providence, His purpose, His love and His power to get the atoning job done for me and for you.

Thanks, Abba Father. You are amazing.

As always, I love you

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click Whose robe are you wearing?

If I found myself wandering on a frozen, snow-covered land filled with hungry wolves, the last thing that I’d want to be wearing is a long, neon-orange coat.

My long-term survival prospects would be much better if all my garments — the hat, the mask, the long coat, the pants, gloves and boots — were white.

You see, when there is a mortal threat looming, it’s best when your weakness doesn’t even show up on the radar.

I thought this morning of the lost, orange-wearing hunter being chased through the snowdrifts by a pack of wolves. You see, I had just finished reading Psalm 32:1 and was taking great comfort in the fact that Jesus washed away my sins when I declared Him as Lord with my verbal and baptismal confessions.

I rejoiced that God placed on me the robe of righteousness promised to those who “put on” Christ.

And as long as I live a surrendered life to Christ and to the heavenly Father, I will continue being seen as a friend of God’s Kingdom, rather than a foe.

Here are the words of Psalm 32:1 —

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (NIV).

I pray that you aren’t trusting your goodness or charm or family ties or past deeds to get you into heaven.

For no amount of human effort can “unstain” you.

You know the sins you’ve committed. And God has complete notes about the ones you’ve forgotten.

Obeying the gospel (Acts 2:38) is your only hope.

When you stand before God without the covering of Christ’s robe, without having been washed white by the blood He shed on the cross, then you’ll look like a blood-spattered murderer standing against a perfectly white background.

Trust me when I tell you that is NOT what you want to happen. For the misery of hell will be far worse even than being an everlasting chew toy for wild wolves.

Your eternal outcome will be much better if God sees that you are covered with the white robe of faith in Christ and invites you to join the gazillion smiling saints on His right wearing white robes given them because of their confession/conversion to Christ.

Choose the blessed life. Choose the covering of your sins. Choose Christ. Declare such with your lips, your baptism and your holy living.

As always, I love you

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