Easter

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#Lent#16

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

One of the highlights for me about this time of the year is the once-for-all sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. (Sorry for all of you who thought it might be the chocolate.  Hmmm. 🙂 ). It is ridiculous to think that Jesus would be crucified over and over and over and over again. You get the picture. Sort of like the blood of bulls and goats which was sacrificed year after year. When the priest raised the knife to slay the animal (bull, goat, sheep, pigeon, dove) he knew 1)  this was for him also; and 2)  he was going to be doing this again.  Every Day of Atonement the lamb slain was for his sins and the sins of the people. Notice…every. Not just one and done.

No! Not when it comes to Jesus’ sacrifice.  Hebrews 10:12 tells us, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.” Once. For. All. Whereas the sacrifices had to be offered over and over, year after year, this- the ultimate sacrifice- was once for all.

Praise God a sacrifice for sin has been paid. Praise God it was offered once and that was it. And praise God it was for me…and you.

#Lent#14

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

For your enjoyment a song I played this morning following my sermon Colossians 1:15-18.

Here is the song. A song for the sermon.  A song for today.

#Lent#13

Friday, March 13th, 2020

There are different reason why people make professions of faith. Some are dubious like “My friends were” or “My parents wanted me to.” Some are religious-sounding: “I want to go to heaven” or “I don’t want to go to hell.” None of the above mentioned reasons are the right reason for coming to Christ.  In my years of being a pastor, I’ve heard all those and more.

But John Piper puts it into perspective:

But what is the ultimate goal in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God Himself. All the words of the Gospel lead to Him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God.  Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn’t bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in His arms. (p.62)

We should embrace the gospel not to stay out of hell, or even to go to heaven, but because we are overwhelmed by the amazing love of God, the Good News. This Good News cost Jesus His life so we can be enthralled with God’s presence, and yes, spend eternity with Him.

#Lent#10

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Easter often brings talk of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, as well it should! In all of that, what is often lost in the discussion is His birth and its uniqueness.  We leave that for Christmas.

But we really shouldn’t do that.

There is a cult belief that Jesus is just one of God’s children. Another is Jesus was not fully God and fully man from birth to death. The former is a belief of the JW’s and Mormons. The JW’s even go so far as to say Jesus was a created being, Michael the Archangel. They use the term “only begotten” to defend that. (John 1:14)  *But only begotten is a mistranslation of that word. According to Greek scholars, that doesn’t come from the term meaning “beget” but instead has the idea of “the only beloved one.” Therefore, it has the idea of uniqueness, of being loved like no other. John is emphasizing the exclusive character of the relationship between the Father and Son in the Godhead. It does not refer to origin but unique prominence.*

Jesus was no mere man. At birth. Or death. He was unique in every way.  He was one of a kind.

{Note: the more “intellectual” Greek thoughts (denoted by *)  were taken from One Perfect Life by John MacArthur- (p.55).  I am using the book for my morning Quiet Time.  It is a different approach to reading through the Gospels and the life of Jesus.}

#Lent#9

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Jesus’ time on earth, His death and resurrection, was a series of clashes.  It is easy to see the clash on the cross of God vs Satan. Not good vs evil. That’s too shallow and cartoonish. No, the clash was greater.  It was a clash between the King of kings and the Lord of lords , the ultimate Ruler, vs the usurper, the pretender to the throne. The rebel. The loser.

The life of Jesus was also a clash. It was a clash of grace, love, mercy, freedom and new life vs the force of laws, rituals, arrogance, shackles and death. Jesus battled the enemy His entire time on earth. From birth to the grave. The religious system that wanted to bind and keep people under its thumb.

Jesus came to give freedom. He came to give life.  He did not come to make people slaves to rules and regulations, to a religious system that oppressed. I like the way Piper worded it:

The cross means freedom from the enslavement of ritual. (p.45)

You can see it in Acts 15.  You can see it in Galatians. What? The early battle Peter and the other apostles fought; the battle Paul fought against the oppressive  regime of legalism. The cross set us free. Live like it!!

The quote from John Piper is from his excellent book The Passion of Jesus Christ.

#Lent#8

Friday, March 6th, 2020

“The great conclusion to the suffering and death of Christ is this: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ To be ‘in Christ’ means to be in a relationship to Him by faith…Christ becomes our punishment (which we don’t have to bear) and our perfection (which we cannot perform).”  (p.42)

“Being ‘justified by faith’ and being ‘justified…in Christ’ (Gal.2:17) are parallel terms. We are in Christ by faith, and therefore justified.” (p.42)

It is hard to accept condemnation. When someone stands with their finger pointing at me, accusing me of something or condemning me of something, it is hard to accept it. I see my mortal enemy doing that: standing before the Father pointing his finger and like a prosecuting attorney rattle off this-n-that, counting off on his fingers all my wrong, sins, mistakes, and law-breaking. But Jesus rises in my defense and counters every attack with a simple “I took care of that.” Romans 8:1 comes hammering down: “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

There is NO!!

Quotes with page numbers are from John Piper’s book The Passion of Jesus Christ.

#Lent#7

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Grace. That is the theme of two very important events: the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus.

The birth of Jesus is a picture of grace. More specifically, His lineage. I’m sure you have heard the analysis of the women in His lineage. If not, here it is:

  • Tamar- played the prostitute with Judah to have a child.
  • Rahab- was a prostitute who saved the spies.  She became the mother of Boaz.
  • Ruth- a Gentile who married Boaz and became the great grandmother of David.
  • Bathsheba- an adulteress the mother of Solomon.
  • Mary- the mother of Jesus. A virgin, yes, but not sinless. One of us.

PURE GRACE.

The death of Jesus is also a picture of grace.  Maybe it would be more accurate to say it was grace in action.  Grace is defined as “unmerited favor.”  Who of us can say we deserved that kind of love?  None of us. But that kind of love is grace in action. The King dying on a cross He didn’t deserve, for someone like me, who didn’t deserve that display of love. As the old hymn says, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene/And wonder how he could love me a sinner condemned unclean/ O how marvelous, O how wonderful and my song shall ever be/ O how marvelous, O how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me.”

GRACE. PURE GRACE.

#Lent#6

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

I’ve just finished reading The Creaking on the Stairs by Mez McConnell.  It is subtitled “Finding Faith in God through Childhood Abuse.” I have to admit I was sickened and angered by his stepmother’s treatment of him (and his handicapped sister), and the lack of compassion , even laughter, displayed by the so-called adults she surrounded herself with. The book is about him coming to grips with a God of love, grace, and forgiveness. It is his journey from childhood abuse; to teenage bullying and rebellion; to a life of drugs and crime; to prison; to eventual salvation, fatherhood and being a pastor.

Lots stuck out to me…this being one of the sharpest:

Jesus came for victims. For the helpless. For the abused. For the lost. For the wayward. For those without a voice. For those who’ve faced injustice. For those who’ve known only pain and hurt.  For the abuser. For the oppressor. For the violent. For the murderers. For the rapists. For the paedophiles. For those who have caused only pain and hurt.

For broken people like me.

For broken people like you.

For broken people like them.

(The above quote was taken from page 168)

It’s the you that got to me. Mez was including himself in the “me.” He was including me in the “you.” He is including us all.

We are all sinners before a holy God.  I. AM. A. SINNER. BEFORE. A. HOLY. GOD.

You need the cross. I. NEED. THE. CROSS.

 

#Lent#5

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

In my years as a pastor I have heard more than once (okay often) people say, “I figure as long as my good deeds outweigh my bad ones, I’m good to go.” They are, of course, presuming several things: their good deed will outweigh they bad; and two, God operates that way.

News Flash!! NOPE.

For one, our good will never outweigh our bad.  What part of “There is none righteous, no, not one” do they not understand?  What part of “By grace are you saved by faith.  And this is not your own doing;  it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast” do they not understand?

We are not saved because our good deeds “outstack” our bad ones. We are not saved because there is any merit in what we do. There is no balancing act. The reality is this: one sin throws the whole scale off.  We are not judged-weighed- on good vs bad deeds.  We are judged on only one thing: have we come to Jesus and had our sins washed away by His blood. Nothing more; nothing less.  So don’t waste your time looking in the mirror at your deeds and do the comparison game.  It won’t work; it won’t matter.

#Lent#4

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

It is common to talk about the blood of Jesus as we come to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. As it should be. I mean, the whole Good Friday thing is about the death of Jesus and the shedding of blood. The whole resurrection three days later is about victory over death.

John Piper wrote:

When the Bible speaks of the blood of Jesus, it refers to His death. No salvation would be accomplished by the mere bleeding of Jesus. His bleeding to death is what makes his blood-shedding crucial. (p.26)

A couple of pages later he writes:

What the shedding of blood shows is that we deserved divine punishment, not divine sacrifice. (p.29)

Two actions were in the works- death and resurrection.  His death paid for our salvation; His resurrection confirmed it. His death took the punishment which was ours; the resurrection said, “Victory!”  It’s like a two-fer. You can’t have one without the other.