Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

THE Cross, THE Resurrection, and Me

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:10-11

ἀνάστασις

anastasis

1.a raising up, rising (e. g. from a seat)
2.a rising from the dead 
a. that of Christ b. that of all men at the end of the present age c. the resurrection of certain in ancient Jewish story who were restored to life before burial

What do these have to do with me? EVERYTHING!!

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8

I am born again…as of July 17, 1993. I was born once of my parents, of water. I was born a second time by the Spirit of God. No, I did not know how that happened but it did because God sent His Spirit to me when I was seeking Him, when I was asking about Him and knocking on the door for Him. I nailed my sins to the cross with Jesus. Yes, I will live as a human being until God takes me Home, whenever that may be. I am growing in the Lord every day, I pray (I am being sanctified). I want to shine His light into this dark world through the Holy Spirit living within me. I want to walk in obedience to Christ. I read the Word of God and get to know my Creator, my Refuge, my Shepherd, my Redeemer, my Savior and Lord. The cross is where I kneeled before Him, asking for forgiveness for all my guilty sins. He forgave me, and calls me His own. I see the empty grave and know that He is with His Father in Heaven. He has risen from the grave. He is resurrected. One day, because I am His, I, too, will be resurrected to live in Heaven with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am forever grateful.

I am forever connected to the Cross and the Resurrection!!

Easter is today. For me, these past couple of years, I have called this day Resurrection Sunday instead of Easter Sunday. My church uses that word as the name of what I have always called Easter. It has not only become a new name for this Sunday, but it is what Jesus did for me, for you, upon the Cross. It is what Jesus did from the grave…He rose alive. These Truths have taken on a far deeper meaning for me with each passing year. Jesus rose from the grave three days after His death on the Cross, never to die again.

THE CROSS

Friday, we celebrated Good Friday. Jesus died on that Friday over 2,000 years ago. It was a horrific death nailed, hands and feet, to a cross. It was a way of execution, capital punishment. “Crucifixion was most frequently used to punish political or religious agitators, pirates, slaves, or those who had no civil rights. In 519 BCE Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon; in 88 BCE Alexander Jannaeus, the Judaean king and high priest, crucified 800 Pharisaic opponents; and about 32 CE Pontius Pilate had Jesus of Nazareth put to death by crucifixion.” *

So this form of death had been around and used for a long time: “Crucifixion, an important method of capital punishment particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished it in the Roman Empire in the early 4th century CE out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion.” *

So why do we call crucifixion Friday “good?” It is an awful way of death. Humiliation was a large part of crucifixions: the person was naked, flogged/scourged to the point of severe bleeding; yelling and screaming at the victim took place as well. There was usually a procession to the place of crucifixion (in Roman times, it was led by the Roman Guard, headed by a centurion). This brutal method of capital punishment was a very public “ceremony” in order to place fear in others, to deter criminals from breaking Roman laws.

“For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most pivotal day in the history of the world. On Good Friday, Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. … It’s called Good Friday because, by Jesus’ death, he became the final, complete sacrifice for our sins. We couldn’t have erased our sins. Our hands would have been forever stained with every single sin for a lifetime. But Jesus broke the bonds of death and sin!” **

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10

Jesus bore the Cross for me, for you, that we would receive mercy and grace for our sins. We can choose to seek His face, asking for forgiveness of those sins. We can choose to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior for He saved us from eternal damnation in hell with the evil one, satan. By dying in our place on that Cross, a place where we should have hung, He died once for us each and all. By choosing Jesus, we also agree, wholeheartedly, that He arose from the dead to live again and forever. He returned to His rightful place at the right side of His Father, our Father God, to live forever in Heaven. We choose Him and we choose life…Eternal life with Jesus in the heavenly places. Oh, I pray this is your choice.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

THE RESURRECTION

Charles H. Spurgeon preached many a sermon on the resurrection of the Christ. This is from one of those:

Once more–the resurrection of Christ is operating at this present time with a quickening power on all who hear the Word aright. The sun is, to the vegetable world, a great source of growth. In this month of April he goes forth with life in his beams and we see the result. The buds are bursting, the trees are putting on their summer dress, the flowers are smiling and even the seeds which we buried in the earth are beginning to feel the vivifying warmth. They see not the lord of day but they feel his smile. Over what an enormous territory is the returning sun continually operating! How potent are his forces when he crosses the line and lengthens the day!

Such is the risen Christ. In the grave He was like the sun in His winter solstice but He crossed the line in His resurrection. He has brought us all the hopes of Spring and is bringing us the joys of Summer. He is quickening many at this hour and will yet quicken myriads. This is the power with which the missionary goes forth to sow. This is the power in which the preacher at home continues to scatter the seed. The risen Christ is the great Producer of harvests. By the power of His resurrection men are raised from their death in sin to eternal life.***

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who is coming into the world.” John 11:25-27

I rejoice in the resurrection of You, my Christ. You died on my behalf and You live this very day with God, our Father. I will, one day, be with You. Yes, Lord, I will have trials and will suffer, but nothing compared to the suffering that You endured for me…on that cross and in the grave. But You rose from death and, now, will live for always. I will die one day on earth, but You will raise me up to be with You forever and ever. If You return before I die, I will then live forever with You. Whether in Heaven with You or on earth alive, I desire to worship, praise, honor, glorify, and love You. I desire to shine Your light of salvation and be a harbor of Your love wherever I am. I love You so much. I am truly blessed to be one of your sheep. In Your Holy and Resurrected Name, I pray. Amen.

The Empty Cross @ pursuingprayer.blog

Philippians 3:10-11 graphic/photo @ BibleStudyTools.com

*from Encyclopedia Britannica.com on “Crucifixion”

**from Crosswalk – “Good Friday”

Knowing Jesus – What Does Philippians 3:10 Mean? @ Knowing-Jesus.com

*** from THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION by C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1893)

“That I May Know Him” graphic @ Perfecting of the Saints

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Pure Silence

He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
yet He opened not His mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so He opened not His mouth.
Isaiah 53:7

פָּתַח

pāṯaḥ

to open wide (literally or figuratively); specifically, to loosen, begin, plough, carve

אָלַם

‘ālam

to tie fast; hence (of the mouth) to be tongue-tied:—bind, be dumb, put to silence.

Two words in this verse that look the same in English yet their meanings differ because of the use, as a part of the word, of a small three-letter word…”not.” It is used after “opened” in the first part, yet not a part of the definition, whereas the second “opened” included “not,” as if it is a whole word. The NLT version of the verse may help to see this a bit more clearly:

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
NLT

Sheep are often described as dumb, but as one who has written a series on sheep in this blog, the “dumb” is their silence, a muted voice. They are a patient and meek animal. They need their shepherd to do most of what they need: guided to the green pastures, led to water, sheared, picked up should they fall, led back to the flock should they get lost. They do not do these necessary feats by themselves. It is just the way of sheep. As “the flock” of Jesus, we need this guidance as well, don’t we? But we are not “dumb,” not stupid. We just get lost too. The “dumb” as used here is mute, unable or unwilling to utter a sound.

C. H. Spurgeon preached: “Though the emblem is very gracious, it is by no means novel, for our Lord had been long before Isaiah’s day typified in the lamb of the Passover. To call Him, “The Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world,” is a very frequent mode of explaining to us how He made expiation for our transgressions and indeed even in His glory He is the Lamb in the midst of the throne before whom angels and the redeemed are bowing. I delight to bring before your minds the singular communion between yourselves and Jesus—you “like sheep” and He “as a sheep”—you like sheep in your wanderings, He like a sheep in His patience. You more like sheep—I mean myself and you—more like sheep for foolishness, but He only like a sheep for the sweet submissiveness of His Spirit, so that beneath the shearer’s hand, “He opens not His mouth.” ….

Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and He had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute. Ezekiel 33:22

I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it.
Psalm 39:9

But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth
. Psalm 38:13

He stands there willing to suffer, to be spit upon, to be shamefully treated and to die, for in Him there was a complete surrender. There was no reserve about His body, soul, or spirit. He was wholly given up to do the Father’s will and work out our redemption. There was a complete self-conquest, too. In Him no faculty arose to plead for liberty and ask to be exempted from the general strain. No limb of the body, no portion of the mind, no faculty of the spirit started, but all submitted. A whole Christ giving up His whole being unto God that He might perfectly offer Himself without spot for our redemption.” * C. H. Spurgeon

Our reaction when accused is usually to lash out, react with some sort of voice and/or action. Could I be still? Could my voice be silent facing accusations? Facing my death? Facing even the Truth? They asked, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37) and “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39) I know what my immediate response would be, but Christ is silent.

Throughout the time when Jesus was being questioned, being accused, being killed, He was silent.

But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Matthew 26:63

But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Matthew 27:12-14

So he questioned Him at some length, but He made no answer. Luke 23:9

He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. John 19:9

But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:5

I am amazed as well.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (from Isaiah): He conducted himself under his sufferings so as to make it appear that he did not suffer as an evil-doer; for, though he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth (v. 7), no, not so much as to plead his own innocency, but freely offered himself to suffer and die for us, and objected nothing against it. This takes away the scandal of the cross, that he voluntarily submitted to it, for great and holy ends. By his wisdom he could have evaded the sentence, and by his power have resisted the execution; but thus it was written, and thus it behoved him to suffer. This commandment he received from his Father, and therefore he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, without any difficulty or reluctance (he is the Lamb of God); and as a sheep is dumb before the shearers, nay, before the butchers, so he opened not his mouth, which denotes not only his exemplary patience under affliction (Ps. 39:9), and his meekness under reproach (Ps. 38:13), but his cheerful compliance with his Father’s will. Not my will, but thine be done. Lo, I come. By this will we are sanctified, his making his own soul, his own life, an offering for our sin.

For me, for my sin! God is so merciful and so graceful. Thank You, LORD. I so appreciate You and love You for saving me from myself.

When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

Jesus trusted His Father. Jesus “entrusted” Himself to His Father. Let the Word of God speak for itself:

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:11

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (Deuteronomy 32:35)

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

Father, I thank You for sending Your precious Son to save me, to save us all that we would come to You and know Your mercy and saving grace. I pray that His silence will continue to speak volumes into the hearts of men, women, children as they hear about Jesus’ sacrifice on that awful Cross. As we near Resurrection Sunday, may this silence still our hearts to truly draw closer to the One Who came to take our sins, nailing them to that Cross where He was also nailed, and where He died once for all, carrying our loud, obnoxious sinful voices with Him while He remained quiet. Oh, Lord, I am so sorry. I am also so grateful to You for carrying me with You, giving me a new birth, a new life. I love You, Jesus. In the silence, God raised You from the dead and shows me that I will die once too and then willI walk with You into eternity. Hallelujah! Oh, how I love You…”Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.” ** As I hum these words, Lord, I hear Your silence yet I feel Your love. Praising You with all my heart. In Your Holy and beautifully silent Name, I pray. Amen.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Hebrews 9:27-28

Photograph: Resting Lamb by H. Zell – own work: CC BY-SA 3.0;/ WikiMedia File: Lamb – Animal Park Muggensturm 01.jpg; Created: 17 February 2019; Scripture added by me on Pixlr

*BY C. H. SPURGEON, THE SHEEP BEFORE THE SHEARERS, Sermon No. 1543, A SERMON
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 20, 1880,  AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (from Isaiah)

Photo of Sunset: by Cindy Lever from Pixabay

** song: “Oh, How He Loves You and Me”. Copyright: 1975 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Jesus Suffered So For Me

Day after day, week upon week, I suddenly am overwhelmed with with the injustice, the bigotry, the killing of seemingly innocent lives. This past week has been so filled with these heinous acts that I just have to stop to remind myself that God is in control. No matter what I wish was the reality all around, these things are not in my control. I can pray, and I do. I can stand up for what I believe to be right, yet I am still not the one in charge. Thus I pray.

Sweet sisters and brothers, I have another post almost ready to go. I have been writing on the silence of the Lamb of God as He was being accused, judged, retaliated upon. Instead, though, am sharing something that is not mine, yet still on the Lord’s silence. This season before Resurrection Sunday, I have been reading a couple of devotional books to remind me of all that Christ has done for me. Words (other than God’s Word) are not enough to focus my heart upon Him but they are reminders, guides, prayers to point me to the One Who changed my life 28 years ago.

From “An Ocean of Grace, A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past,” Tim Chester writes an introduction each day accompanied by the writing of a church father from ancient days, a Christian such as Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, and so many more.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God,…. 1 Peter 3:18a

Tim Chester says: “A swap has taken place: Jesus takes out judgment and gives us his reward. The 3rd-century church father Cyprian reminds us that we see this great exchange in every aspect of the story of Christ’s passion.” (Mr. Chester changed part of the Treatise IX of Cyprian into a prayer, as I looked up the original.)

Precious Saviour,

even before Your very passion and cross, before they had reached the cruelty of death and the shedding of blood,

what infamies of reproach You patiently heard, what mockings of contempt You suffered.

You had used Your spit to heal a blind man; yet for us You received the spittings of insulters!

In Your name the devil and his angels are beaten; yet for us You suffered beatings!

You crown martyrs with eternal flowers; yet for us You were crowned with thorns.

You give victory palm branches to those who overcome; yet for us You were struck on the face with palms.

You clothe us with immortality; yet for us You were stripped of Your earthly garments.

You give us heavenly food; yet for us You were fed with bitter gall.

You hold the cup of salvation; yet for us You were given vinegar to drink.

You are guiltless, the just One; indeed, You are innocence itself and justice itself, yet for us You were counted among transgressors, and truth is suppressed with false witnesses.

You shall judge; yet for us You were judged;

You are the Word of God; yet for us You were led silently to the slaughter.

When You hung on the cross, the stars were confounded, the elements were disturbed, the earth quaked, night shut out the day, the sun withdrew his rays that He might not be compelled to look upon the crime.

You did not speak, nor did You resist, nor did You declare Your majesty.

To the very end You bore all things with perseverance that in You a full and perfect patience might be consummated.

And after all these things, You still receive Your murderers if they will turn and come to You; and with a saving patience, You close Your Church to no one.

Those adversaries, those blasphemers, those who were enemies of Your name, if they repent of their sin, and acknowledge their crime—You receive them, not only to the pardon of their sin, but to the reward of the heavenly kingdom.

Who can be said to be more patient, more merciful? Even those who shed Your blood and are made alive by that blood—so great is Your patience.

“Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth; Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but gave Himself up to him that judged Him unjustly.” 1 Peter 2:21-23

Empower us, who have placed ourselves in You by faith, who have clothed ourselves with You, who are on You, the way of salvation; empower us that we may follow Your example. Cyprian (c 200-258)*

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your sacrifices and love, again and again. And more than anything, thank You for taking my sins to the Cross, forgiving me, and guiding my steps. Teach me, show me, guide me, hold me near. For You, I am forever grateful. Please take all the violence, the murders, the crimes against humanity around this world, the lying and cheating, and forgive the cruel perpetrators of their evil ways just as You forgave Your murderers at the Cross. Draw the living victims, their families and friends near to You today, giving them comfort and healing. Forgive us each and all for all that we do and say against You. In Your Precious and Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Photo/graphic: Gods411.org

Photo: Writings of Cyprian: Archive.org

*Cyprian: “Treatise IX. On the Advantage of Patience,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, eds. A Roberts & J. Donaldson (Eerdmans, 1979), p 486 with alterations by Tim Chester in Week 3 Sunday, “The Stars were Confounded,” An Ocean of Grace, A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past, Tim Chester (The Good Book Company, 2021)

Devotionals · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

The Free Gift

Resurrection Sunday will be on April 4, 2021. As it nears, I sense, deeply within, the death and resurrection of Christ once again.

But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

During seasons of Lent, I do not give up anything physical as many do during this time before “Easter Sunday.” I actually desire to dwell in the Word, Christ’s dying and His death, and His resurrection. Christ went to the Cross carrying all of my sins with Him, nailing them to that Cross, just as He was nailed there, nails through the palms of His hands, through His feet. He took my place. Although He nailed my sins to that Cross, I am still a sinful human being. I still do, think, and feel things that are of that original sinful nature.

“But Jesus took them. That is what you said, didn’t you?” you might be thinking to yourself.

Yes, He did, but that does not leave me to never sin again. I do sin still and always will…until I die. BUT…I am forgiven and have been given the gift of His mercy and His grace. I know that I have sought Christ as my Lord and Savior, receiving Him into my life. I have sought His forgiveness and He has forgiven me. I know that I am His and He is mine.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the One Who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

Jesus Christ is the Second Adam. He was the One Who was to come. And He is yet to come once again, the Second Coming! Hallelujah! He will come to take me Home if I have not already left this earth via death.

This chart below really clarified that which I sort of know but now know better:

There are two Greek words from Roman 5 that I am pondering this day: trespasses/transgressions and gift. Through these words, I see more clearly the gift Jesus gave to us by His death on the Cross.

παράπτωμα

paraptōma

(Some Bible versions use “transgressions” while others use “trespass.”)

  1. to fall beside or near something
  2. a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness
    1. a sin, misdeed
  3. a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression:—fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass.

I transgress. I fall. I offend another. I trespass upon another by not living correctly, and not being a light in this world. I sin.

Yet I am forgiven.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that One Man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the One Man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15-17

χάρισμα

charisma

  1. a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own
  2. the gift of divine grace; the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith,
  3. the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue
  4. the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith
  5. grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit

Merriam-Webster Dictionary included the following: The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” In English, it has been used in Christian contexts since about 1640 to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. (This sense is now very rare.) The earliest nonreligious use of “charisma” that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber’s work was published. Today’s English definition of charisma is: A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm; n. Personal magnetism or charm.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus came to die in my place, giving His all to save me from going to hell where I would be separated from God for eternity. Had I not accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 45 (or at any age, for that matter), I would have been living this life on earth away from God (which I truly did for the first 45 years of my life, although I did not understand that reality during those years). Then that would have extended for all of eternity. Oh my! But I have been forgiven! Thank You, Jesus.

Christ, the Righteous One, the sinless One, gave Himself to die for my sins….your sins, my friend.

Hallelujah!

Romans 5:12-17

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me, for drawing me to Your breast. You have given me life through Your death on the Cross. You paid the ultimate price for one such as I, for many such as I. Thank You, Lord. By Your righteousness, Jesus, You justified me, acquitted me of my sins, pardoned me of all my unrighteousness. Thank You does not even say all that I feel in my heart towards You, for You are The Gift that God gave to me so that I may drink from the Living Water and eat the Bread of Life forever and for always. You are my life. I am with You forever. While saddened that You had to die for me, I am rejoicing in You for the hope, the love, the grace, the peace, the faith, and the life I have in You. I am decreasing in this life while You increase in my life. I cherish You for You are my Gift. You are the Light of my life. Thank You, my Lord. I am so grateful to be Yours. In the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photos and Graphics:

Romans 5:8 @ Flickr/Joshinpowers

Adam – Christ @ Bible Book Club

Purple-Wrapped Gift @ PublicDomainPictures

Cross/Romans 5:12-17 ~ created by me @ WordArt

Lighted Gift @ FreeImages/Tracey Brown

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Wisdom of the Cross

Christ crucified!

The Wisdom of God

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,… 1 Corinthians 1:22

“Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:6

From the Old Testament, we are able to look at the reasons why the Jews required signs from Jesus. The commandments, statutes, the Law was what they were taught and followed. The Jews expected their Messiah to be a deliverer, a king, a conqueror of all their enemies.

The Greeks were surrounded by philosophers, scientists, teachers who were expounding theories, knowledge, science. Thus the Greeks sought the wisdom of man, worldly wisdom.

from C. H. Spurgeon-A Sermon (No. 132), May 17, 1857: “Now,” says the apostle, “both these objections are untenable and unreasonable. If you suppose that the Jew requires a sign, that sign is given him: Christ is the power of God. The miracles that Christ wrought upon earth were signs more than sufficiently abundant; and if the Jewish people had but the will to believe, they would have found abundant signs and reasons for believing in the personal acts of Christ and his apostles.” And let the Greeks say, “I can not believe, because I require a wise system: O Greek, Christ is the wisdom of God. If thou wouldst but investigate the subject, thou wouldst find in it profoundness of wisdom-a depth where the most gigantic intellect might be drowned. It is no shallow gospel, but a deep, and a great deep too, a deep which passeth understanding. Thine objection is ill-founded; for Christ is the wisdom of God, and his gospel is the highest of all sciences. If thou wishest to find wisdom, thou must find it in the word of revelation.”

Both groups could not see past a man who was dressed in a simple robe, sandals, walked everywhere, died a criminal’s death, carried His own cross much of the way. He looked weak. He did not look, speak, or act like the person of God that they thought He should be. Thus they wrote Him off as a nobody, certainly not their Messiah.

…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

…and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2b-3

Consider the apostles who were preaching the Gospel, teaching Christ, the Cross….fishermen, dressed as Jesus, simple, probably dirty. They were hard to believe by those who considered themselves better than these men.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:17-21

And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
Isaiah 29:13-14

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians: Ministers should consider themselves sent and set apart more especially to that service in which Christ will be most honoured and the salvation of souls promoted, and for which they are best fitted, though no part of their duty is to be neglected. The principal business Paul did among them was to preach the gospel, the cross, Christ crucified. Ministers are the soldiers of Christ, and are to erect and display the banner of the cross. He did not preach his own fancy, but the gospel-the glad tidings of peace, and reconciliation to God, through the mediation of a crucified Redeemer. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our joys. By his death we live. This is what Paul preached, what all ministers should preach, and what all the saints live upon.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The wisdom of the cross is Christ, Christ crucified, died, buried, resurrected. The wisdom of the cross is God’s unveiling of the strength and wisdom of Christ. My sin is forgiven; my foolishness becomes wise in Christ; my filthy rags become clean by the Blood of Christ. I am redeemed, justified, and sanctified (growing in holiness) in Christ Alone. I come to the Cross in humility.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians: To those who are called and saved he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Note, Those who are saved are reconciled to the doctrine of the cross,and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Father, I ask for Your guidance and covering upon me as I learn how to walk in the shadow of this glorious and horrific cross. It is both, yet the One Who died upon it rose again and lives for me, for all those He has called unto Himself. I stand before You, Lord, asking for boldness and humbleness in order to preach the Gospel, Christ crucified. I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone so please help me walk in this world as Your sheep, as Your disciple, as Yours. May the wisdom of the Cross be clearly relevant today. Soften the hardened hearts and open the eyes of those hearts…that they would see You for the Beauty and Holiness that You are. May those opened eyes see the wisdom of the Cross. In the Name of my crucified Christ, I pray. Amen.

Photo of cross: Cross-on-Hill

from C. H. Spurgeon: A Sermon (No. 132) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 17, 1857, by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens. “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”– 1Cr 1:24

“The Wisdom of the Cross” Photo with 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 @ CrossMap

1 Corinthians 1:20 photo/graphics @ Knowing-Jesus.com

God Doesn’t Call the Qualified“: Pinterest

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians

“Boast in the Lord” photos/graphics: Pursuing Holiness

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Offended

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:6

Do I question Jesus as to Who He is or what He does? Do I doubt His authority? Does Who He is offend me? Does what He say offend me?

I have answered those questions with a resounding, “YES!” before I knew Him. I knew of Jesus and during those many years (except as a child), I did question His very existence. I thought He was a good teacher, a kind and gentle man. But I certainly did not trust Who some said He was. I mean, they said He was born to a virgin! He performed miracles! He chose 12 men to be apostles who followed Him all over the place. Why would I believe Him? Why would I trust Him with my life? Besides, if I did, I might have to change…change the way I did things, or even change my thoughts. Goodness, no!!! Yes, I took up an offense!

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist was in prison and questioned Jesus:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:2-6

σκανδαλίζω

skandalizō

I. to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend

  • to entice to sin.
  • to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.
  • to cause to fall away.
  • to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority (Matthew 11:6, Mark 6:3, Matthew 26:31, Matthew 13:57-58)
  • to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Some think that John sent this question for his own satisfaction. It is true he had borne a noble testimony to Christ; he had declared him to be the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and he that should baptize with the Holy Ghost, and sent of God, which were great things. But he desired to be further and more fully assured, that he was the Messiah that had been so long promised and expected. Note, In matters relating to Christ and our salvation by him, it is good to be sure. Christ appeared not in that external pomp and power in which it was expected he should appear; his own disciples stumbled at this, and perhaps John did so;…. Note, It is hard, even for good men, to bear up against vulgar errors. **

(John’s doubt might arise from his own present circumstances. He was a prisoner, and might be tempted to think, if Jesus be indeed the Messiah, whence is it that I, his friend and forerunner, am brought into this trouble, and am left to be so long in it, …. **

(Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ with this question, not so much for his own satisfaction as for theirs. Observe, though he was a prisoner they adhered to him, attended on him, and were ready to receive instructions from him; they loved him, and would not leave him. Now, they were weak in knowledge, and wavering in their faith, and needed instruction and confirmation;….)  **

Are worldly influences persuading us that Jesus is not who we are expecting? Is there someone greater or different? I think that the world around us does draw us away from the One Who has, indeed, come to save us because the world wants Him to be someone/something else.

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ Matthew 26:31

And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:57-58

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And He said this plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Mark 8:31-32

It seems easier for us if Jesus would look like the world, to do things as the world does. We squeeze our description, our “Jesus-likeness” from our minds, into a box filled with expectations.

The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him. Mark 8:11

Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to Him?” John 10:20

The Israelites wanted a king, a king who would conquer and save.

But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Luke 24:13

Maybe our eyes are shut and we miss Him altogether.

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. Luke 24:15-16

We want to know Who He is and to know this with clarity, intelligibility, and purity.

So the Jews gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” John 10:24

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the Cornerstone. Acts 4:11 (Psalm 118:22)

We want to know Him, yet we do not trust because we do not know Who He is.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness about Me, but you do not believe because you are not among My sheep. John 10:25-26

I see Jesus caring for the poor, the afflicted, the sick, the demon-possessed. These acts should draw me to Him, not send me away for He cares and loves the lowly and meek.

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” John 10:37-38

The Cross offends. The Cross scares people because of the depth of it’s meaning. Jesus the Christ went to the Cross. He bled for each and all of us for we are sinners. We are disobedient to the Father. He sent His One and Only Son to draw us unto Him, to teach us the Truth. Jesus went to the Cross for the sins we committed. He was sinless. Jesus died for us, nailing our sins to the very Cross from which He hung.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is a Truth that many run fast and hard away from. I did…for many years. I carried the heavy burden of my sin too and did not know what all that weight was on my back.

Rather than acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, the Jews dealt with Jesus in ways of their own:

The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. John 10:31

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:12

And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” Mark 15:13

I reached a place in my life, at age 45, when I could no longer run, nor hide, nor carry the weight of my sinful burden. I turned to Jesus. I repented of my sin. I could no longer face myself in a mirror because I saw no good in me through anything I was or did. I gave myself to Jesus. He cleansed me and made me brand new. The weight was lifted from my shoulders. Jesus has given me a new heart, a heart that loves Him and only Him. Through Him, I can live anew and love anew. Oh my! Freshened. Refreshed.

We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6

These words made no sense to me at one time in my life. Now, I can clearly see that my sin was cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

This is so OFFENSIVE to so many in this world.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Yet, through the Word of God, prayer, quiet times, the Lord calls me to be near Him. He knows me and will not let me fall back into the world. I stay close to Him in obedience. I do not want to be a stray sheep.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.” John 10:27-30

Father, I pray I am able to be true to You, to the Truth of the Gospel, to all that is of You. I want to be a reflection of You. I desire to transmit Your love to those I come in contact with, while opening my heart to others about Jesus. I do not want to be offensive yet the Cross, the Gospel, Jesus, You can be offensive to many. It is through me where some may meet up with these, thus possibly making me offensive, like body odor. They may stand back, run away, protest, deny. Reactions can be many. Lord, please guide me and show me Your ways in which to walk as I share my faith in You. I love You so. I pray in the Saving Name of Jesus. Amen.

** Matthew Henry: Commentary on Matthew 11

Cornerstone drawing: https://www.ulpanor.com/2017/11/23/hebrew-vs-aramaic/

Cross: Adam Zdebel @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/zdebel/. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Hosea 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

…over and oveR and ovER and oVER and OVER AGAIN!

God loves…

The children of Israel sin…

Hosea shows the love of God for His children, Israel. He also makes it clear just how far Israel strayed from God, from His commandments, laws and ways. I am reminded how much God loves me even though I strayed from Him again and again throughout my lifetime, especially in those years before knowing Christ as my Lord and Savior. I did not come to know Jesus until I was 45 years old. YET…no matter how often, how far, how deep the bride of Christ meanders from the Truth, the Way, the Life, God continually draws us back to Him.

Oh, God, please forgive me for the ways that I, too, stray from You, from Your Word. Thank You for loving me despite my faults, despite my sin.

And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
Hosea 4:9-11

I will return again to My place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face,
and in their distress earnestly seek Me.
Hosea 5:15

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with Me. Hosea 6:6-7

Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against Me.
They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow; their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Hosea 7:16

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.
Hosea 8:7-8

But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
Hosea 9:10b

You have plowed iniquity;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed,
as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle;
mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.
Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israel
shall be utterly cut off.
Hosea 10:13-15

…a useless vessel….detestable…utterly cut off… Israel has shown itself weak in the sight of the Lord. He loves them, yet He turns His back upon them until they choose to return to Him wholly. I know God has wondered over me year-upon-year as I lived for myself, dependent on no one but me. I thought all was fine. Upon looking back at my life, I truly was lost. I did not know Jesus Christ. I worshiped false idols, betrayed the One Who created me, looked to my own self for the answers. In the Scriptures from Hosea here, do you see God’s love woven into the lives of His children? into their hearts? how He draws them back even when disciplining? God is so merciful. Even when we stray, He wants us to draw near to Him.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:8-10

Father God, I pray that I humbly follow Your ways, Your commandments, Your path for my life. Thank You, Lord, for loving me when I did not. Thank You for guiding my path so that I would meet Jesus. God You are so beautiful. You care for me in the worst of times, the best times, and all the in between times. You are stern, yet gentle. You care so much about the bride of Christ, Your children, that You must discipline us so that we can come to our knees, seeking Your forgiveness. I am so thankful that You sent Your Son, Jesus the Christ to take my sins to the Cross for eternity. You drew me to You and rained Your forgiveness, love, and peace over me. I am grateful and love You for always. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Thanks to:

Graphic: Hosea 4:6 – http://stepintothestory.ca

Graphic: Hosea 5:6 – https://biblepic.com/hosea/5-6.htm

Graphic: Hosea 6:3- https://biblia.com/bible/images/640×480/Ho6.3?extension=png&fallbackOnFailure=false

Graphic: Hosea 7:10 – https://www.pinterest.com/cinnersaved/hosea/

Graphic: Hosea 8:7 – https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/898-hosea-8/

Graphic: Hosea 9:10a – https://calvarydayton.com/sermons/hosea-09_01-11/

Graphic: Hosea 10:12 – https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/hosea-10-12-break-up-your-fallow-ground-it-is-time-to-seek-the-lord-black-4118

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

God So Loved…Me…You

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Oh! What a promise John 3:16 is! God is Love. He loved His creation so much that He sent His Son…to live amongst His children…to teach and to heal, to love and to die.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.   This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10

Jesus showed the world that the love of the Father was in Him by loving those He touched, physically and spiritually. Even today, Jesus loves. He loves me and He loves you. The sacrifice that Jesus made over 2,000 years ago still affects us today. He came to save us and draw us to Him so that we will be with Him for eternity. Hallelujah!

The word love in these verses is the word agape:

ἀγαπάω

agapaō

pertaining to people: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

pertaining to things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

This is one of four Greek words in the Bible which differentiate between the various meanings of love in the New Testament. Agape is the one used most often. It is the kind of love that God has for us and which we are commanded to have for one another. Jesus called us to love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  
1 John 4:7-8

“Love” appears in the Bible (depending upon the version) between 310 times in the KJV to 551 times in the NIV. No matter what version you are reading, the word “love” is scattered often in the Word of God. God is love and wants us to know that. His Word is beautifully rich with LOVE! I praise You, Father. I praise You.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.   1 John 4:11-13

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.   This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:14-19

I am humbled dearly by the way God drew me to Him and took a hold of my life. I can look back and see years passing while He patiently waited for me to seek His face. Oh, my! I have read these words in John 3 and 1 John 3 many times and sense just a wee bit of how much He loves me. Just a tiny percentage of God’s love for this one creation. He loves us each and all…yes, not just me, but all of us. My heart is overflowing with gratitude that He would do this for me, for you. And then…

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8

While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. He did not ignore me or leave me to my own ways and problems. He came to me. He waited at the door until I knocked. He was there for me. And He went to the Cross for me where He was horrifically crucified on that Cross and my name was upon that Cross. My sins took Him there. He did not sin. I did. He did not utter a word, but it is my words and my actions that nailed Him to that Cross.

Father God, thank You for loving me so unconditionally that You sent Your Son to that Cross to die for me. He took my sins with Him. He carried my burden to that Cross. He loves me so that even today, He draws me near to Him so that I can and will know the way to walk each and every moment of this day. Lord, I pray I listen and discern Your way in which I should go. I pray for those around me who do not know You. Oh, how I pray for repentance, for that turning around toward You so that they will be spending eternity with us. Oh, how I pray this, Father God. I thank You for loving me so tenderly and sweetly, Lord. You are such a gift to me each and every day. I lift my hands in praise to You, giving You all the glory, Precious Father. In the powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

graphics:   https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/john/

graphics: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/1_john/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Burden of this Cross

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.   Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

disown, abstain

Jesus’ words strike a hard cord in me.  I am called to follow Jesus because I have chosen His way over mine, yet I still want to do things my way, guide the direction of my own life, take my own chances.  Then I hit a wall and it hurts.  I run on empty, unable to go anywhere in life except down by the pull of gravity.  In order to follow the Lord, I am to deny myself, releasing my desires and hopes for His, His alone.  When I am in step with Jesus, all that He desires for me are those things I need.  An interesting piece of God’s puzzle for my life is His desires for me are often just what I desire for myself.  I’m not losing after all.  The relationship with Christ is far more important so that I walk rightly with the Lord.

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

My burdens can be worries, anxieties, physical pain, other people’s lives and their concerns, hurting people of this world, and so much more.  All can weigh heavily upon my heart.  The Word tells me not to be anxious, not to worry.  He is faithful and is with me.  He feeds and clothes the birds; He will do the same for His children.  So I lift those weights and take them to Jesus.

σταυρός

stauros

a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)

figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

The cross is what Jesus was placed upon for His crucifixion.  It is a horribly cruel punishment and eventual death.  Scourging comes first.  The one being crucified must carry his own cross.  Jesus did this part of the way until Simon was compelled to carry it the remainder of the way.  Jesus would hang upon the Cross until death.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  Luke 23:26

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

h07-cross_sunset-10

I carry a cross, laden with burdens.  I place it there at the feet of Jesus.  He died for my sins.  Why do I continue weighing myself down?  Jesus has taken it all to the Cross.  Part of the definition of cross, in Greek, is self -denial.  I deny myself, being exposed to death, reproach, suffering, trials, punishment.  I am no longer mine, but His.

I am learning as I do that which Jesus asks of me: denying things of the self, lifting up that which weighs me down, carrying the cross to Jesus Who has already taken my burdens upon Himself.  It is in the doing, the actions of denying, lifting, and carrying to Jesus that I begin to find a clearer, deeper meaning to all that He is asking of me.

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

to be or become the disciple of another as to faith and practice

to follow his teaching

Following Jesus is key to my walk in this Christian life.  When I am His, I desire to be near and to know the path upon which He leads me.  I release all burdens, knowing that He is caring for me.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

As Your child, LORD, I depend upon You.  When I feel alone, or struggling with concerns, You are right here.  You are yoked with me.  You know my physical pain, the concerns that touch my heart regarding others, my anxiousness over provision for this earthly life.  Your grace is truly sufficient, Sweet Jesus.  Sometimes I feel wrung out and worn out.  The Word says in Matthew 27, verse 39-40: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’  But You hung on that Cross, LORD, and paid the ultimate price for me, releasing me to walk with You always. You have given me eternal life.  How much more could I ask?  What else is there to ask?  Forgive me when I am selfish.  Often, when I deny myself, I must turn around and deny myself again, LORD, because I am selfish.  I just am, but am also very sorry.  I carry my cross to You so that I may follow You.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  (Matthew 10:38 ESV)  I do not want to be called “unworthy,” LORD.  Thank You for walking with me on this journey even when I fail You.  Your forgiveness, Your love, Your gentle nature give me the hope in this life that my physical eyes cannot see, yet the eyes of my heart know hope for You are the Hope.  I love You, Jesus.  I pray gently in Your Name.  Amen. 

befuschiasig

 

Graphic:  by American/Dutch web designer Catherine Reijans, founder of KATINK web design; https://thinkingmuseum.com/2013/10/30/thinking-museum-on-think-katink/  (but the actual think-Katink web design site is no longer connected, but I want to give her credit where it is due)

Cross:  http://www.themescompany.com/2012/04/17/cross/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Why, oh Why?

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A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.  Isaiah 42:3 (+ Matthew 12:20)

He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Isaiah 40:21

Jesus cares about me. He loves me more than I can even fathom.  He does not break me.  He gathers me into His arms.  He leads me into the way I should go.  He gives me strength and power.  

YET…I doubt…I worry…I fear…I mistrust.  WHY?  Why do I doubt Him?  Why do I question whether He will provide for me?  Why do I lack the trust to know that He is always…ALWAYS…with me?  WHY?  

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”  Jeremiah 31:25

He heals me and rains compassion upon me.  He refreshes me. 

Over and over again, the Bible tells me that I can place my trust in Him completely.  I do not need to feel the scars and holes in His body to know Who He is.  I know Jesus gave His all as the most beautiful Gift possible for me, for us all and each.  I know this, yet I doubt. 

I fall by the wayside and wonder why I feel so alone.  Yet, I am not.  I am held in the Savior’s arms and know that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He will not drop me on my head or tail. 

I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.  I will feed them in justice.  Ezekiel 34:16

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

He gives me rest.  He gives me justice.  He carries my heavy burdens and looks for me when I am lost.  So much Jesus does for me.  He cares for me. 

I seek Your forgiveness, LORD, for my doubt, my lack of trust, my faithless spine.  I am sorry, my LORD.  I have fed myself so much self-doubt that I forget just Whose I am.  I have allowed my ears to hear lies about myself.  I shout to satan to get behind me and he does because You are with me.  I want to trust You in Your care for me.  Precious Jesus, I love You.  May my walk be along the straight and narrow pathway with You…and You alone.   Jesus, You prayed for Simon Peter and You have given the Holy Spirit to be my Intercessor.  He knows the prayers I want to utter but cannot.  He prays for me. 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32

I read the many ways that God cares for me, all of the time, in so many ways, in every kind of way.  Where do I read this?  In His Word.  The Word of God is the pivotal place from which I know.  I KNOW that He loves me and cares for me because He tells me through His Word.  I KNOW His care because I feel it in my heart.  I can see it too.  I KNOW it in my head.  His Truth speaks volumes to me when I doubt…when I fall…when I mistrust…when I feel alone. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

LORD, I thank You for loving me so perfectly.  I want the hard places in me to soften and know that You are LORD.  That this body of mine is Yours and made perfectly.  That this mind was woven by Your hands in my mother’s womb and continues to function well.  That this heart is knit with the Love of Your heart for You loved me first.  That trust, faith, love, hope all come from You.  I believe.  I truly do know that just in this one heartfelt acknowledgment…belief in You…I am so filled with all of Your gifts.  Can I trust and walk in faith?  Can I love without conditions and be loved without conditions?  Can I be filled with hope?

“It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

You are my Hope, my Peace, my Love.  May the hard and broken parts of me open up to You for Your loving touch, for Your gentle and tough molding so that I know that I am the one You created me to be.  I want to be a gift to those I encounter as You were and are for me.  For me!  You love me and care for me.  The Bible tells me so.  Thank You.  No more whys, LORD.  I believe and I trust in You.  In the loving Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

befuschiasig