He Came for This Day!

cross of christ Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

He bore our sorrows and infirmities (sins) and cast no blame on us.  Who can even imagine his mental anguish.  He was scourged (not under the more merciful Jewish law, which allowed no more than 40 lashes to be given to the worst of offenders) under the Roman law. His scourging was even more severe as Pilate intended it as equivalent to his crucifixion. Not a bone was broken, as ordered, however, there was hardly any part of his body, from the crown of his head, which was crowned with thorns to the soles of his feet, which were nailed to the cross, that was not covered with wounds and bruises.  Because of their hate for him, they thought that God did as well (that he was his enemy and actually was fighting against him); so, they became enraged against him, saying: “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” Psalm 71:11 The cross, resurrection and exaltation portray both suffering and healing, rejection and triumph, humiliation and glory.

May this day of reflection on the sacrifice of the beautiful and innocent Lamb of God and the incomparable mercies and riches of God on those who formerly were His enemies fill your heart with awe and thankfulness.  “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10

Thankful and amazed that He would come and die to save a wretch like me.

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He Turned the Tables…Forever!

As Easter approaches and Spring is in full bloom in the hill country, I am reminded of the Lord’s sacrifice to bring me to God. God’s gift is for anyone who will receive it. His love for us is undeniable. His sacrifice for me is personal.

To Live is Christ

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day ; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day .  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”   Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’…

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The King Invites You to Feast

In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived. 2 Kings 25:27-30

Jerusalem has been ravaged by the Chaldean’s and is in captivity.  The glory has departed from the royal city, for the King of Judah is taken prisoner and the principal officers have been put to death.  All hope appears lost for the “thrones of the house of David,” Salomon’s temple was burnt to the ground, and the sacred vessels are carried away to Babylon.

After thirty-seven years while the King is imprisoned, a glimmer of light appears. Hope is restored to the captive people. The King of Jerusalem is invited by the King to dine daily at his table.  He is also given minimum security prison conditions. 

In the midst of a storm or tribulation…Jesus speaks tenderly to us through His Word, gives us new clothes…robes of righteousness, and positions us at a seat of honor at His table. He invites us to come and eat with Him and feast at His table of abundance.  He provides life…abundant life!  Jesus brings release from bondage and bestows instead foretastes of the infinite pleasures at His right hand. Are you troubled?  Are you weary?  The temptation can be to seek TV, a hobby, work, or anything else that can provide a distraction or what we think can soothe us.  Seek Him!   Seek the source of life…Christ.  He is our bread.  He is our fountain of life.

“They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.” Psalm 36:8

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”  Psalm 63:5

His Glory Aside…Our Flesh Denied

Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:6-7

I go back to these verses frequently and ponder the wonder of them. To think that God himself would take on the nature of a servant and be made in human likeness in order to reconcile ME to the Father…well, it’s just overwhelming.  How about you, does it fill you with awe?  I pray that the reality of what Jesus gave up and gave you overwhelms you.

In Philippians 2:7, it states, “made himself nothing.” That portion of scripture means, He laid aside His glory.  This is key to grasping the reality of the incarnation.  John 1:14 says, “And the Word (Logos) became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus was not two separate personalities, he was one person possessing two natures…divine and human.  He did not empty himself of His deity.  In His incarnation, Jesus did not at any time, for any reason, to any degree or for any season lay aside His deity.  Colossians 2:9 states, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”  This scripture confirms and attests that Christ was complete in His deity in his human body.

John 17:5, Jesus prayed to His Father, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”  Jesus lived in glory with the Father and He laid it aside to take on the nature of a man.  His glory is in perfect union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  His glory is witnessed in having legions upon legions of angels praising, worshiping and attending Him at all times.

Understanding Jesus as the God-man is something that we cannot fully comprehend.  We won’t be able, in this life, to understand how it transpired, but it is important; however, to grasp the fundamentals of this reality.  Jesus was fully God and fully man in His human body.  There were infrequent times when the Holy Spirit directed Jesus to access the superhuman capacities which are a part of His divine attributes.  Other than those infrequent occurrences, Jesus lived out His life under real limitations fundamental to unfallen humanity.  During the period between His physical birth and His ascension to the Father, Jesus voluntarily surrendered the independent exercise of His divine attributes.

Sometimes I believe I am so slow to learn.  I have within the last couple of years come into a experiential learning of what it is to die to self in my flesh to a deeper level than I’ve ever experienced.  In exchange, I experienced a test of waiting on God and experiencing His glorious will and purpose coming to pass.   It was not easy, but necessary and an enriching experience for me if I was to further my walk with the Lord.  In the midst, I spent days and days that turned into months and months on my knees in prayer.

Of course, at first, my flesh fought me.  In fact, the battle really began when I set my face like a flint.  Then in one particular situation, fear gripped me because I had never trusted God to that particular level.  It took days of struggling, but the desire to be obedient to God finally held sway.  During those days of struggle, the thought came to me of praying and asking the Lord to give me a joy in the expectancy of waiting through the Holy Spirit.  That is what the Bible means by “hoping in the Lord.” Hoping is associated with waiting on Him.  Hoping is expectantly waiting to see what God is going to do.  This is where, for me, Jeremiah 29:11 came to life, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  After those days of struggle, instead of the intensity of what I wanted, in my flesh, getting stronger…the intensity of my flesh began to weaken. The desire to wait on God became stronger.  The scripture verse that I clung to changed as well.  Instead of Jeremiah 29:11, I started quoting “And God works all things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.  And the joy of waiting and watching for Him became glorious.  I prayed.  I watched.  I waited.

This is where the pedal meets the metal.  Isn’t this where the war is waged?  This is where it’s possible to win the battle or lose ground because we cease waiting on Him.  We give up and cease waiting on the Lord because the circumstances may start to look worse and we become fearful.  In fact, the circumstances may begin to look, in our thinking, catastrophic, but God is in the midst of those circumstances.  He is working in those circumstances.  Beloved, God requires, first and foremost, faith and trust, then and only then, does he open our eyes to see.  Faith always precedes sight.  So our circumstances can look dire and that’s why we can’t depend on what we see.  We must trust Him whom we don’t see.  If you will hold sway to Him and wait on Him, He will reveal to you His will and His beauty and your joy will be full.

Everything around us tells us to trust what our eyes see. The challenge of our faith walk intensifies because of the culture we live in.  A culture of instant gratification.  Instant access to knowledge. Instant access to just about anything we want.  But Paul admonishes us in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  I’m so thankful that our God is not coerced by our desires, by our culture, or by anything outside of Himself.  So, we must fight against our inclination and our culture that tells us to trust what we see.  We must trust Him whom we can’t see.

He is the truth.  He is the life.  He is the way.  Trust Him.  Trust the Son of God who loved us enough to lay aside His glory and become a man so that we, as man, would become sons of God.

He Turned the Tables…Forever!

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day.  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’ soul as he himself was the offering for sin, the sacrificial lamb.  It also signified the withdrawing of the light of God’s countenance as Jesus took on the sins of the world.

After Jesus cried out and breathed his last breath, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The splitting of the curtain signifies the destruction of the nation and church of Israel and the entering in of the new and living way into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ.  No longer will the High Priest, from the Levitical priesthood, come into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people with blood that is not his own but with the blood of animals.  Christ is now our High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, who’s own blood was shed as the only eternal, acceptable sacrifice and sprinkled on the Holy of Holies in heaven and therefore he is able to continually intercede for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Hallelujah!

In the temple area in Jerusalem, the Court of the Gentiles is several acres on the outer most part of the temple area.  This is the designated area for gentiles from all nations to come worship and pray.  Just a few days before, Jesus had come into the temple area in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money changers.  These passages of scripture are given the most prominence in regard to the anger of Jesus to the greed and dishonesty of the money changers and people selling animals for sacrifice that filled the Court of the Gentiles.  Furthermore, any gentile who wanted to come into the Court of the Gentiles to pray had a difficult time doing so because they were crowded out by all the vendors selling animals and the money changers that were making exorbitant fees.  Jesus comes into the Court of the Gentiles and literally “turns the tables.”  The Jewish leadership had allowed the sanctity of God’s temple to be robbed.  Allowing the merchants and money changers into the temple area showed the Jewish leadership’s lack of dedication to God and the true purpose of the temple.  Further, it also showed Israel’s lack of respect for people of every nation to come worship and pray.  What Jesus did by turning the tables, in a sense, displays what was getting ready to happen in a few short days.  Similarly, in the book of Esther, God “turned the tables” for the Jewish people displaying the greatest turnaround on the grandest of scales.  Christ will, likewise, be turning the tables for all peoples from every tribe and nation.

So often, when Jesus spoke, He would speak of future realities in the present tense.  One example is when Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age.  In Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel”  Surely, the disciples must have marveled at what Jesus was saying and wondered when this event would happen in their life time.

As finite beings that think sequentially because of our restriction to time and space, we exist in past, present and future tenses.  However, this is not true for God.  God is eternal, transcendent and above time and space.  God is the eternal present tense.  He is the eternal present tense in our past, present and future.  So, when Jesus tells the disciples of these events,  He is speaking of our future reality in His eternal present tense.

In the present, Jesus shows his anger toward the money changers crowding in the Court of the Gentiles and preventing the gentiles from worship and prayer.  In the future, Jesus displays through this act that the former way of temple worship will be no more.  The promise of that future reality was signed and sealed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom.  The gentiles from the outer court of the temple area will, in a sense, be able to run right into the temple, past the The Holy Place and into the The Most Holy Place to the alter of God.  This is reason for praise and worship.

How am I to respond to this wondrous news?  Don’t stand around and dawdle in the Court of the Gentiles, run…don’t walk…run through the temple to the Holy of Holies to the alter of God.  Jesus has secured our future.  He was forsaken by the Father so that we wouldn’t be forsaken.

Have you been lukewarm in your relationship with the Lord?  Have you been half-hearted in your approach to the things of God?  Today is the day to turn it all around.  Jesus has already turned the tables for you.  All you have to do is turn to Him.

Further consideration:  If you would like information on what your next step should be in seeking God, please leave a comment or send a question on my comment page. 

In Darkness, Light Dawns!

I don’t know about you, but I love the way God uses His creation to point to and proclaim Jesus.  Not only does God use creation to point to Jesus, but also to reveal that creation was made by Him and for Him and thus to display and give evidence of Jesus’ power over creation.  (Col. 1:16) Continue reading

Is Suffering Really Necessary? Part 2: Surrendering Ourselves/Surrendering Idols

We will park here to explore more deeply the topic of surrendering.

Christ wants every area of our lives surrendered to Him.  When we surrender our whole heart to Him, evidence will be reflected in our daily life.  That means that each area of our lives will reflect His desires.  That includes:  our vocation, family life, friendships, hobbies, past time experiences….every area!  Christ wants our undivided devotion.  Continue reading

Is Suffering Really Necessary? Part 1

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:10-11

What’s the first thing that grabs you when you read these verses?  If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s most likely the knowledge of having to share in Christ’s sufferings.  Continue reading

Past Sins vs. Cleansed Conscience

I have learned that because of some issues in my childhood, I developed a sensitive conscience.  At first glance this may appear to be a good thing.  You might think that someone with a sensitive conscience is thoughtful about what they say or do, but unfortunately this is not the case.  A sensitive conscience lives with remembrances from the past.  There is a mulling over and over of events that were sinful or brought about by sin, it tortures the person with hopelessness about the future.  Everyone has nagging thoughts that bring back the past and, of course, Satan loves to remind us of our past mistakes and accuse us over and over so that we will not “hope” in the Lord. Continue reading

He is my Hiding Place and my Rock!

Don’t you love it when the Lord reminds you “of everything I have said to you?”   As Jesus told his disciples in John 14:26, so it is true for us,  “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

This week the Lord has been reminding me that my “hiding place” is in Him.  Even saying the word “hiding” will stir up the nay sayers, because as Christians we associate hiding with “hiding from God” but that is not the type of hiding I’m talking about.  I no longer have to hide in shame because of sin and then produce my own coping mechanisms to deal with the shame because my hiding place, my place of refuge, has been secured in Jesus.  As it says in Colossians3:3 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  Now instead of hiding from God as Adam and Eve did when they sinned, we are to run to God to hide in Christ.  King David proclaimed in Psalms 32:7:  “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Selah Continue reading