Tag Archives: the cross

Sin and the Blood of Jesus

Jesus blood.jpgIf we walk in the light in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  1 John 1:7,9; 2:1-2

If you asked 100 people what they think our biggest problem is, you might get quite a broad range of answers.  Some might say something about politics, others about countries who want to attack, others may talk about the environment.  God tells us in the Bible that our biggest problem is sin.  When Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, we fell, separating us from God and alienating us from Him, ourselves, others and nature.

God sent Jesus as a perfect sin offering to save us from the His wrath and the penalty of sin.  This is the heart of the Gospel, the good news of salvation because of Jesus.  When we repent of our sins, asking God to forgive us and to give us a new heart, we receive the righteousness of Christ.  When God looks at us, He sees Jesus.

But after this glorious transformation, we still sin.  We still need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of the guilty stain that sin leaves so that we can stand clean before God.  The good news of our verses for today is that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness–if we confess our sins.  It doesn’t just happen automatically.  We can’t just do things that are offensive to God and everything to be okay because “it’s all under the blood.”  It is all under Jesus’ blood once you confess that sin and turn from it.

The other error that we might be prone to is to fall apart because of our sin.  It’s like falling down and not getting up again.  The good news is that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us,” as Psalm 103:12 declares.  He wants us to come and repair our broken relationship with Him, the sooner the better.  There is no sin too dark or too big that God can’t or won’t forgive.

When we sin, we have a defense attorney–Jesus Christ the righteous one.  Picture a courtroom scene.  When the judge asks “How do you plead?”  We say, “Guilty.”  The Judge delivers his sentence and then offers for his Son to pay it for us.  Though that would be preposterous in real life, that is exactly what happens when we confess our sin.  Jesus, our advocate, stands in our place.

This is made possible by the blood of Jesus.  Throughout the Bible, from the very beginning, blood had to be shed.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig  leaves after they sinned.  God stepped in and covered them with animal skins.  In doing so, blood had to be shed.  All of the way through the Old Testament, the people brought animal sacrifices and their blood spilled out on the altar to show that their sin was covered by blood.  It was a down payment until Jesus came and shed His blood once and for all on the cross.  

There is power in the blood of Jesus.  In Revelation 12:10-11 it says that the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…  Satan accuses us day and night, trying to get us to wallow in guilt and shame.   But if we stand in the blood of the Lamb, bringing those sins that Satan is accusing us of to God and confessing them, then Satan has no dirt to dig up on us.

If Satan is badgering you about certain events and sins of the past, confess them to God out loud, announcing to yourself, to God and to Satan that the debt is paid.  If there is something you need to do to make something right, do it.  Then you can stand free before God and before everyone else.  

Finally, Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He will use any open door to torment and to taunt us.  If you have been abused or wounded in spirit, that puts a hole in your heart that Satan can use to mess with you.  Perhaps you have held bitterness against the offender, against yourself or against God.  Bring that incident, or string of incidents, to God in prayer, asking Him to cover those holes by the blood of Jesus.  He will set you free from that bondage and from the torments of Satan.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.  Ephesians 1:7-8

*Image from speakthewordonly63.wordpress.com


Rescued from Hopelessness

 

abundant life.jpgKnowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways (the empty way of life)  inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  1 Peter 1:18-19

In 1978 Kansas released the song “Dust in the Wind.”  It’s kind of a fun sing along song, but yet it reflects the emptiness of life, “Just a drop of water in an endless sea…”  King Solomon kind of said the same thing in the book of Ecclesiastes.  He was the wisest man, had tons of money and wives and stuff, but yet he concluded it was all “a chasing after the wind,” in Ecc. 2:17.  

I was struck by this futility when hearing of an old friend who would go to her dad’s grave every year to pour a can a beer on his grave in remembrance of him.  On her way out from the cemetery, she got into a serious car accident.  It made me think of the futile and empty ways of trying to make life have meaning.   

But with Jesus, life takes on a new meaning, or He gives meaning and value for the first time.  Things go from black and white to color.  In John 10:10 Jesus declared, “I have come that you might have life, life to the full.”  And in John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Jesus came to give us life, meaning to life, abundant life, and a value of life that we can’t know apart from Him.  

Everyone tries to figure out life’s meaning and value, with the questions of ‘where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going?’  When you begin to embrace the Bible and its world view, you can see that you have been created by God, the events of your life have meaning and value, and coming into a relationship with Jesus gives you eternal life.  

This was made possible by the precious blood of Christ.  Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that we could be redeemed, or ransomed from the futile ways of life that we inherited.  To be ransomed is to have a price paid to get you back from a kidnapper.  Our soul napper is Satan, who took us captive in our sin to do his bidding.  Jesus paid the bounty with His blood to buy us back from Satan and to set us free to enjoy this life that is abundant and joy filled.  Jesus rose again to demonstrate that He is the Son of God,  with power to conquer sin and death.  We must claim this personally, asking God to forgive our sin, crying out in belief that Jesus came from God, died for us and rose again and living a life given over to Him.

Last night I was reminded of the truths of 1 Peter 1:18-19 as I sat with women from our County jail in a Bible study.  Two women cried in despair as they described the troubles of their lives, of the struggles of addiction and of how they didn’t think that life has any purpose to it.  They listened as we talked about the hope that God proclaims that comes from finding life in Him.  

Oh God, may they find their hope in You, and may they be rescued from their empty way of life that has brought such pain.  Thank you that you have saved me from a hopeless life and that You have given me meaning to life, with the glorious hope of eternity with You.  Thank you Jesus, for redeeming me with Your precious blood.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14


A New Citizenship

kingdom of light.jpg

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

Renunciation is the voluntary act of giving up our citizenship.  Naturalization is voluntarily acquiring a new citizenship.  Jesus has made us a naturalized citizen in a new dominion, or kingdom.  We voluntarily renounce our affiliation with the dominion of darkness, our old citizenship.  We now serve a new king.

The NIV words it that we were ‘rescued’ from the dominion of darkness.  This conjures up an image of Jesus making a daring Tom Cruise-like rescue from some foreign, dark, rat infested prison cell, like in “Locked up Abroad.”  It’s a drama that was played out on that dark Friday 2000 years ago on Mt. Calvary.

In Colossians 2, Paul describes what happened when Jesus died on the cross.  In verses 14-15, we find that Jesus “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the demonic rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them on the cross.”  Jesus won the battle for our citizenship on the cross of Calvary.  He made a public spectacle of Satan’s minions, announcing to the spiritual realm that He won the battle.

In doing so, Jesus took our rap sheet, the record of debt that stood against us because of our sin,  and nailed it to the cross.  We lay claim to this by giving our lives to God.  It begins somehow by admitting that we are sinners that cannot save ourselves, trusting Jesus for what He did on the cross to pay for our sin, and consciously living a different life by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And when we do so, we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son Jesus.

Philippians 3:19-20 describes the contrast of those whose “destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in Heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The connotation is that our lives are to be dramatically different because of this great rescue and redemption.  Our destiny is not destruction, but Heaven with eternal glory.  Our god is no longer our stomach, with its fleshly desires, but Jesus is now Lord of our passions.  Our glory now lies in making Jesus’ name great, because He is the king of our domain.  Our mind is set on things above, where Christ is seated at the right of God.  We eagerly wait for the return of our King, who has gone on a long journey and will some great day come back for us in the clouds.

I can’t wait.

 

*Photo from angeloakcreative.com

 


Jesus Came Forward

Jesus' arrest.jpg

So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees went there with weapons and torches.  Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to Him, came forward, and said to them, “what do you seek?”  John 18:3-4

In reading Greg Morse’s blog on April 12, 2017 from “Desiring God,” I was struck with these thoughts:

Jesus had just finished His final words with the disciples in the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as His big prayer with the Father.  “He knew His hour had come,” as John 13:1 states.  For most of the last three years Jesus had been saying, “My hour has not come,” like in John 2:4 and John 7:6, 8.  Judas brought the band of soldiers to arrest Him.  Jesus knew the Old Testament, so He knew what was going to happen.  Isaiah 53 could have been playing in the background.

Jesus was fully human (a mystery) and knowing what was ahead, He still came forward.  In the Garden He had prayed, “Father if You are willing, remove this cup from Me.  Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done,” from Luke 22:42.  In verse 44 we find that “He prayed so earnestly that His sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground.”  Jesus knew that He was going to be the Passover lamb and that,  in taking on the sin of the world, He would be separated from the Father.

Yet He came forward.  I would want to either hide or to fight.  Not Jesus.

  • He came forward with boldness. “‘Whom do you seek?’  They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’”  John 18:4-5
  • He came forward willingly: “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down on My own accord.”  John 10:18
  • He came forward doggedly: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”  Hebrews 12:2
  • He came forward at the right time: “For while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6
  • He came forward for us: “Since therefore we have been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.”  Romans 5:9-10
  • He came forward in love: “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

In light of this, it is our time to come forward:

  • To no longer live for ourselves: “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…for the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this: that One has died for all…that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised…therefore we are ambassadors for Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:11-20
  • To deny ourselves and to be bold for Jesus: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever would save His life would lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in glory.   Luke 9:23-26
  • To proclaim His excellencies: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

*Photo from lds.org


Being United With Jesus

carrying crossThat I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.   Philippians 3:10

If you marry someone, you take on the other person’s life.  You adapt to your spouse’s work, sleep, and eating  patterns.  The more time you spend together, the more you take on each other’s personalities and preferences.  Now think about that marriage union in regards to us being “in Christ.”  It is a union that glues us together with Jesus and brings us multiple benefits, such as the ones listed out in Ephesians 1–being adopted, chosen, redeemed, lavished with God’s grace and being sealed by the Spirit for redemption until the end of time.  May I understand and know these benefits of my salvation.  Open my eyes, God.

We also get the power of His resurrection.  Paul wrote about that in Ephesians 1:19 when he prayed that we would know God’s incomparably great power that rose Jesus from the dead and utilize it because that power is working for us.  In Ephesians 3:20 Paul again prayed, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think according to His power that is at work in us.”  May I know that power and see it at work in and through me.  Show me Your power, God.

But then Paul takes a turn away from the “bless me Lord,” portion of our Christian life.  It is about sharing in His sufferings and becoming like Him in His death.  Oh no, wait a minute!  Do I want that in this marriage union with Him?  In Mark 14:50 it says that, just as Jesus was being arrested, “everyone deserted Him and fled.”  Then Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:16, says the same thing:  “ At my first trial no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me.”  He shared in Jesus’ sufferings and death, just like he prayed.

Would you be so bold as to pray, “Lord, I want to complete my union with You by suffering for You”?  That is is where we find God’s resurrection power–through death to self.  John 12:24 says it: “ Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.  But if  it dies it bears much fruit.”  How do we do this?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Endure hardship, harsh treatment, rejection and scorn for the sake of Jesus’ name.  Don’t stay silent because you might get grief for it.  Do this joyfully and willingly.
  • Die daily, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31.  Die to flesh, die to self, die to your own ambitions and agenda, die to self absorption and self promotion–and then present yourself to God to live for Him, humbly seeking His will each day, and obeying HIs voice.
  • In Luke 23:18 the crowd yelled out “Give us Barabbas!” in exchange for Jesus.  Yell out each day to God, “Give me Jesus!”  Don’t exchange the hard way for the easy one.

Work Your death in me, O God that I might know your life.


The power of the cross

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

Jesus was hung on the Roman’s instrument of torture.  It was a bloody, criminal, shame-covered pathway to our forgiveness and eternal life with God.  To the unbelieving,  Jesus’ death was inconsequential, not worth focusing on or exalting in.  But to us, it is the heart of our belief system and power.  The cross is the power of God and the glory of God.

It seems that many Christians don’t really believe that the message of the cross contains power.  I was just listening to a sermon online where the preacher spent seven minutes on an opening illustration that led into his unfolding of the passage of Scripture.  It seemed that he thought his power came through telling a good story to hook the interest of the listeners.  Others rely on emotion evoking music or even in their own charisma.

Our power in daily life comes from the message of the cross, not just in sermons.  It is what we stand on and where we find our identity.  I am who I am by the grace of God, demonstrated by Jesus’ work on the cross.  He made me the way I am, from the family line I am from, with the strengths and weaknesses I possess because of God’s plan for my life.  My self esteem must come from that, not from what I can do or what I look like.  It places the spotlight on God and not on me.

Rely on God to be your focus, your ability and the source of your strength.  You no longer have to be competitive to prove yourself worthy.  1 Corinthians 1:20-31 tells that God chooses the opposite of what unbelievers would in a schoolyard pick.  The world goes for the flashy, the strong, the smart or the beautiful people.  God chooses the weak, the not-so-smart, the plain Jane and the felon to be carriers of His grace.  Why?  So we won’t boast in ourselves, but in God’s saving grace that comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It might make us less self conscious.  Instead of focusing on what you can and can’t do, put your trust in what Jesus is doing in and through you.  This will overcome fear or the things you lack.  And when you need power to get through the day, to succeed in some way, look to Jesus to pull it off through you.  And as 1 Cor. 1:30-31 puts it, “Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus… so let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord .”

God, thank you for the cross.  May the death and resurrection of Jesus be the focal point of my life.  Teach me how to center my identity on who I am because of You.  May the power of the cross be at work in my life.

 


So long self

Power Verses: Matthew 16:24-26

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

The Daily Diet…

This is the call of discipleship.  The prediction here is not one of an easy life once we turn to Jesus.  Our culture is caught up with the opposite of denying self and dying to self.  Most people champion all of the “self’s”:

so long self.png

Self gratification, self determination, self esteem, self satisfying, self actualizing…the list goes on.  We even have “selfie sticks,” to get better pictures of ourselves.  But the Gospel calls us to something quite different, as Jesus described here.

 

Picture instead the words self denial and self sacrificing.  That’s what Jesus calls us to.  This is life on the narrow road.  Jesus has many promises for those who follow Him, including hope, peace and joy.  He promises that if we seek His kingdom first He will take care of all our needs.  But He also promises that those who follow Him will suffer because of His name.  

Jesus didn’t hide the tough part of following Him.  In fact, He told it right away to the rich young ruler in Luke 18: “Go sell all that you have.”  In Luke 9:57-60 someone came and said “I will follow you wherever You go.”  Instead of Jesus saying, “Great, I can use as many people as possible to get the word out,” He said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay HIs head.”  He told another, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus would tell us the same thing today.  He bids us to come and die.  If we purpose to be like Jesus, that means that He suffered and so will we.  This life of taking up our cross looks different from person to person, depending on God’s individual call on lives.  The early Christians knew that it meant death, as the cross and beheading were realities for those who preached in the name of Jesus.  In countries where it is illegal to be a Christian or have a Bible, taking up the cross means being willing to suffer and to die for Jesus.  

For us, dying to self can look like being the one that listens instead of talking all of the time, or giving up time and energy to serve in some way.  It means saying ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to God and being willing to go where He wants you to go, regardless of the cost.  Are you ready to die?