Made right

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Today I am mulling over the incredible truths in Romans 5:1-17. Let us read the New Living Translation of these verses together.

5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

There truly is no explaining or understanding the love of God for us. There is also no earning His love. There is no doing enough to make Him love us more or not doing enough that will make Him love us less. He loves us unconditionally and perfectly. He chose to love us and demonstrated His “great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (verse 8).

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

No more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). That guilt and shame that haunts? Baseless. Total forgiveness is ours because of Christ Jesus, as is the grace to turn from sin.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

And if that was not enough to praise God unceasingly for, we also have peace with God, and stand, “in a place of undeserved privilege” (verse 2).  These blessings enable us to know there is purpose to our trials and challenges.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ. 

Thank You, Father. Thank You. Give us a fresh and true revelation of this truth so that we never again read, hear, sing, or speak of what You did for us without a sense of wonder, worship, and profound gratitude.  

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Embrace

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community for our weekly writing challenge. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Embrace.”

I imagine he left with a jaunt in his step

Well dressed body

Well shod feet

Perhaps with a servant or two

Maybe on a camel or whatever animals

The financially well endowed rode

I imagine he left without looking back

Feeling mighty

Feeling Free

But now he was returning

Penniless

Likely gaunt

Filthy

Ragged clothing

Bare, dirty, calloused feet

Smelling awful

Looking nothing like the arrogant younger son

who had demanded “his” share of the estate

and departed  

But his father who had been looking for him

Recognized him, even at a far distance

And ran to him

And embraced him

Filthy body and all

And kissed him

And welcomed him home

But my Father did more than that for me, for us

The Word became flesh

Left heaven’s glory

Walked among us

Showed us the Father

And then stretched His arms wide to die for us

The ultimate, eternal embrace

His Exclusive Claim

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As I mentioned in a recent post, I saw the movie, “The Shack,” two Sundays ago. I continue to reflect on this fictional story and have talked with several persons about it. As sometimes happens, a fresh insight came as I was telling one of my sisters about the movie and my experience of seeing it. What I noted was that the main character, “Mack,” encountered Jesus first and His words were an invitation.

I thought of John 14:6, which constitutes a part of Jesus’ response to Thomas’s question, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5, AMP). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” (John 14:6, AMP).

This exclusive claim of Jesus has been the source of offense for many. In the article,  “Is Jesus the Only Way?” the author, Paul Rutherford, identifies Jesus’ exclusive claim that He is the only Way to God as “the most offensive aspect of Christianity today.” He identifies the following objections to Jesus’ exclusive claim: “Tolerance;” “Absolutes Don’t Exist;” and, “Pluralism.” Rutherford also provides the Scriptural basis for believing that Jesus is the only Way to God.  (I encourage you to invest the time necessary to read the article.  I recognize the need in myself to further develop the discipline of diving deeper into the tenets of my faith, to know why I believe what I believe. Perhaps you see this as a need we have in common). 

I think of Jesus’ exclusive claim and how being offended by His claim can result in one overlooking the amazing and incomprehensible fact that God loves us enough to provide any way back to Him, more so this Way. This Way, which required the Word to become flesh  and suffer beyond human imagining to redeem us.

Also, I recall His loving invitations and will close this post with two of them and His promise to those who come to Him. I pray that if you have not accepted His invitations, you will this Lenten season. And if you have, pause to give Him thanks.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.  For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, AMP)

 Now on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out [in a loud voice], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water. (John 7:37-39, AMP)

“All that My Father gives Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, never reject anyone who follows Me].(John 6:3, AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempted? Our High Priest Knows

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After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”

Then Jesus was led by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, …” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written …”  (Matthew 3:16-4:11, AMP)

As described in the Scripture passage above, after Jesus was baptized by John, had the Spirit descend as a dove and light on Him, and received God’s audible approval, He was led by the Spirit. He was led, not to a mountain top, into the temple, or before the spiritual or political rulers of the era. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was tempted during a time when His physical strength was likely depleted after 40 days and nights of fasting. He was tempted and met every temptation with the written Word.

He was tempted and, although only three temptations are mentioned in Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 4:15 makes it clear that Jesus was tempted “in every respect as we are.” We have a High Priest, this verse tells us, who is able to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations. He sympathizes and understands our weaknesses and temptations because, as the Amplified Bible translation of Hebrews 4:15 states, our High Priest is “One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.”

In addition, Jesus, “… although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]” (Philippians 2:5-7, AMP). He did all this for you. He did all this for me. He did all this for us. And assures us of this truth,

“No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]” (1 Corinthians 10:13, AMP).

It is easy to recognize the desire to do something we know is wrong, as a temptation; however, a temptation, is also a strong desire or urge, the Merriam-Webster dictionary informs us, to do something that is unwise. Whatever form a temptation takes, we can be sure that our compassionate Father, who has declared us to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), has provided a way out. Also, He works in us, giving us both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13, NLT). Thank You, Lord.

Musing on His Plan and His Timing

As we approach the period known in Christianity as Holy Week (which begins this year on Sunday, March 20th), I continue to reflect on God’s Plan and His timing.

The first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, documents the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah, beginning with Abraham, the father of Isaac. Verse 17 states, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” Forty-two generations.

Even without counting the generations from Adam to Terah, Abraham’s father, 42 generations represent a large number of people, living life in all its dimensions. And, encompassing all these numerous people and all their living, was the Omnipotent One, existing outside of time, but diligently, patiently, lovingly, meticulously working out His eternal plan of redemption, through humans and in time, to bring us back to Himself.

4 “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7, NLT)

These verses are worth reading again and again until they sink deep and indelibly into our beings. Why wait for a later time? Let us read them again at least once now. Shall we?

He made us His very own children at an incalculable cost. You. Me. As such I find it impossible to muse on His Plan and His timing and not think of His incomprehensible love, which has been and will always be His motive for all He does for us.

In his classic hymn, “The love of God,”* Frederick M. Lehman eloquently speaks of God’s love.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Refrain

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Refrain

What is our response to His love?

*Lyrics taken from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/o/loveofgo.htm

 

 

Saturdays

For Jesus’ disciples, what we now call Good Friday was a horrible, awful day, and the Saturday after, which can be considered the “in between” day, was not any better. On that day, they woke up to the reality that Jesus was dead. You know how it is… something terrible happens one day, you go to bed, and in the few seconds just after you wake up the following day, all may seem well again … just like a regular day. You may even stretch, then the reality of the loss or whatever made the previous day very difficult, even traumatic, hits you again and you feel the wrenching pain, the loss, the despair as if you are experiencing the loss for the first time.

Good Friday was the worst day of the lives of His disciples and all who loved Jesus, and Saturday must not have been much better.

For us on this side of the Cross, Saturday, the “in between” day, between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, is different. It is filled with anticipation because we know what they did not know on their “in between” Saturday … We know Sunday, Resurrection Day came! HE AROSE! Yes! Yes! Yes! We anticipate attending church, the anthems of worship and exultation, hearing the Word read once more, celebrating His resurrection with family and/or friends.

But, like them, we all have our “Saturdays,” those “in between” days when the only thing that looms, dominates our thoughts, is the “Friday,” that is, the day when the loss, the heartbreak, the betrayal, the rejection, whatever devastated us, occurred. On our “Saturdays,” we do not know what will happen, can be unsure if we will survive what we experienced.

On our personal “Saturdays,” it is essential that we remember, it is an “in between” day. Sunday is coming. It always comes for the child of God. Death, whether it is of a person, a dream, a relationship, is never designed by our Father to be our final dwelling place. We really can still say, even with the snot running from our noses, our eyes red from weeping with tears still flowing, through the hiccups and exhaustion, “Sunday is coming. Sunday is coming.”

At first we may only be able to whisper this truth but we need to hear ourselves say it. Even if there is some doubt. We are not being delusional when we do so because our Father has promised “Saturday” is not all there is and will be. Say it as much as you need to until the truth changes your perspective and, if necessary, restores your hope, strengthens your faith. Sunday is coming! As it was for Jesus, there is a resurrection day in store for you.

Note: This post was first published in 2011 on christianblogsites.com

Five Minute Friday: Good

Good, the adjective

“to be desired or approved of
Having the qualities required for a particular role
Appropriate to a particular purpose”

Its synonyms:
Suitable
Appropriate
Fitting

Fitting, the adjective
Defined as “Suitable or appropriate under the circumstances”

“For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

It was fitting, good, appropriate, suitable for God, the one for Whom all things exist and by Whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory – this includes you and I, to make Jesus, the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings.

Hear Isaiah

He is despised and rejected by men…. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. He was oppressed and he was afflicted…. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him. He put him to grief

For me, for us.

Joining Kate Motaung and a community of courageous writers for Five Minute Friday (to learn more about Five Minute Friday click here). This Friday’s prompt is “Good.”

Playlist: The Power of the Cross

“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.” (1 Corinthians 1:18; ESV)