Receipt Required

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16a, NIV 1984).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”   (Hebrews 9:22, NIV 1984).

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”  (Isaiah 53:5, 10, NIV 1984).

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:24–25, 27 NIV 1984).

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Focus on these two words – “so loved.”  Two definitions of so are:

  • To such a great extent – That He would sacrifice His only Son to save us.
  • And for this reason – He sent His Son into the world.

So, such a small word, such a large meaning.

Christ had to come into the word, to become flesh, because  “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Only a blood sacrifice will do.  But not just any blood.  The blood of God.

Pierced for our transgressions,” not His.  He was without sin.  He was God in the flesh, who became sin on our behalf.  God willingly crushed Him and caused Him to suffer, exacting the price required to exonerate us and bring us peace with God.

But death could not keep Him in the grave.  God is greater our sin and greater than the death sin brought with it.  He rose from the dead to live forever.  He had already been in existence forever, for He had no beginning.  From Creator, to Savior to High Priest.  A priest is a mediatory agent.  And Jesus is “unlike the other high priests.”  He does not need to keep returning to the Father with sacrifice after sacrifice.  When “He offered Himself,” no other sacrifice was required.  Because so (there’s that word again) “worthy was the Lamb that was slain” that the penalty for all of mankind’s sin past, present and future was paid for.

My Advice – For all of mankind means that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Do you believe?  Your sins have been paid for, but you have to show the “receipt.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Not One, Not Any

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No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “No.”  A small word with a big meaning (not any, not one).  You think the temptations you face are peculiar to you, that they are more difficult to deny yourself than what others face.  In reality they are quite common.  You might think that the temptation is unbearable, but God promises that it is. Not only that, He promises a way out.

The problem is, we often choose to ignore the way out when (not if) we are tempted.  We choose to give in.  The key word here is choice.

My Advice – As much for myself (maybe more so) as for others – choose wisely.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

Think You’re The Worst?

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Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”  (1 Timothy 1:15–16, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Paul had good reason to believe he was “the worst” of sinners, for in a previous verse (v.13) he listed some of his offenses (“blasphemer and a persecutor [of Christians] and a violent man“).  If you need any evidence that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, you need look no further than Paul.  And this should be an encouragement to anyone that believes they are beyond saving.  For is God can save the “worst of sinners” He can certainly save you and me, or anyone “who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

My Advice – Typically, it is not a good thing to be made an example. In Paul’s case it was good, not only for him, but for all who might think that they are the worst.  And that includes you.  If you are among those who believe they are beyond the grace of God, think again.  If Paul could be saved, so can you. This “is a trustworthy [able to be relied on] saying that deserves full [complete] acceptance.”  Why not accept Christ now?

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Erasing Adjectives

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Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  (John 20:24–28, NIV 1978).

My Musings – Imagine your worst failure or lapse of judgement.  Now imagine that is how you would always be remembered.  Thomas was hand-picked by Jesus to be one of the twelve.  When Jesus indicated His intent to go back to Judea (when Lazarus died), a place where the religious leaders tried to stone Him, Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  (John 11:16, NIV 1984).   According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Thomas preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.  Yet, despite all this, down through the ages Thomas has been known by the adjective “doubting” (expressing or feeling uncertainty or lack of conviction).  Lack of conviction? “My Lord and my God!

My Advice – The beginning of a new year, is routinely thought of as a time of new beginnings.  A time to wipe the slate clean and start anew.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984).  If you are not already “in Christ,” there is no better way to start anew.  If you are already “in Christ,” but feel that past failures are too terrible to be wiped clean, we are promised that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9).  Either way, make 2020 and time of new beginnings in Christ.  We need not be defined or remembered by our failures or lapses. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:11–12, NIV 1984). Happy New Year!

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Want to become a Christian (start anew)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (wipe the slate clean)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

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Today’s musing was inspired by Elder Keith Miller’s sermon on December 29, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

A Father’s Point Of View

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The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”  (Genesis 6:5–6, NIV 1984).

The Musings of Others – Although “regret” is the customary translation of the Hebrew verb translated as “grieved” in the NIV, its basic meaning is to “be pained.” This is the sense here. As it hurts a loving parent to see the disobedience of his children, so it pained God to see how wicked men had become. (Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 15). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers).

My Musings – We often look at sin and its consequences on how it affects us.  Rarely, if ever, do we look at it from God’s perspective, other than it must make Him angry.  But this text suggests a much deeper affect, and reminds me of an experience I had in my teen years (old enough to drive, but still in High School).

A friend of mine was restoring an old (vintage) pick-up truck.  One front  fender was in much too bad of shape to restore, so it needed to be replaced.  Due to the age of the pick-up, not something you could order through a parts store.  My friend had located one at a junkyard miles away and asked if I could help him pick it up.  But we did not enter or leave through the front gate.  At a remote spot we went over the fence, retrieved the fender, hopped back over the fence and headed back.

I suppose I probably rationalized it in a number of different ways from my perspective (you can’t steal junk can you?), but deep down believed none of them. I was already feeling pretty guilty about it, but when I got back home I was confronted by my dad. He had found out what my friend and I were up to, and in no uncertain terms reinforced my guilt.  There was no yelling.  My dad had a presence about him that you knew when he meant business. He didn’t need to yell. I remember asking him if he was mad, which is what I expected.  His response was much worse.  “No Steve, I’m not mad, I’m disappointed in you.”  I would have preferred mad.  If you’ve read any of my blogs about my dad and our relationship, you can probably understand why his disappointment in me was the worst type of punishment I could have received.

When the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become…[t]he LORD was grieved…and his heart was filled with pain.”  I hurt my dad that day, and I’ve never forgotten how it made me feel, and how I knew I never wanted to disappoint him again like that.  It meant that much to me.

My Advice – Wouldn’t it be nice if we always felt that way about sin and How God is grieved every time we give in to sin?  Now that’s a relationship!

Bouncing Back

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My Musings – Outside the Garden of Eden, Peter’s denial of Christ was perhaps the greatest recorded failure in the Bible (although David was a close contender).  And yet it was not too long afterwards that Peter and John astonished the religious leaders by boldly proclaiming Christ, causing them to take note of the impact that being with Jesus had made in their lives. Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”  Peter had fallen far, but through the power of the Holy Spirit bounced even higher.

I am sure Peter remembered his betrayal of Jesus all the days of his life and wished he had never denied Christ at all.  He could have wallowed in shame and guilt for the rest of his life, but he chose to learn from it and let it go.  And unlike the comic above, God’s “pencil” has a giant eraser that never wears out.  He erases them from our record (as far a the East is from the West), but not from our memories. “The real test is not whether [you avoid failing again], because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” (Barack Obama).

My Advice – When you fail, and you will, ask yourself two questions.  What can I learn from this?  What can I (in the power of the Holy Spirit) do to prevent this from happening again?  “Let’s face it, we’re all imperfect and we’re going to fall short on occasion. But we must learn from failure and that will enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes. Through adversity, we learn, grow stronger, and become better people.” (John Wooden).

What Seems Right?

Screenshot (1441)My Musings – In the movie Hondo (one of my favorites), John Wayne plays a scout for the U.S. Calvary in the old west.  A man with a clear sense of what is right, honest, and just and having little tolerance for what is wrong, deceitful or unjust.  There are many memorable lines in the movie, but one in particular stands out to me.  “A man ought to do what he thinks is right.”

Unfortunately, what we think is right is not always the best guide.  In a society where right is relative, the truth is tentative and justice is just “if”, what we think might not always be the best guide.  Sad that it has come to this.  But when we think about it for awhile, it really has been like that since the garden.  The forbidden “fruit” seemed so right, but was so wrong.

For a long time now, what has seemed right to man is, if the “good” in one’s life outweighs the “bad,” then things should work out okay for the afterlife.  But in many cases, what was once considered “bad” is now considered okay or depends on the circumstances.  So what standard should one use for determining if the “good” outweighs the “bad?”  Is it a different standard for different people depending when they lived and the standards that seemed right then?  Is it a different standard for different people depending on what seems right to them?

The reality is that there is only one standard.  We are all playing in God’s “sandbox” and He made the rules.  What’s more, the rules never change.  What was right, truthful and just in the garden is right, truthful and just today.  What was wrong, deceitful and unjust when God handed down the laws, are still wrong, deceitful and unjust today.  We couldn’t keep one rule in the garden and we can’t keep a multitude of laws now.  In fact, breaking one law, even the most “insignificant,” is the same as breaking all of them, even the most “egregious.”  How could that possibly work out for the “good” outweighing the “bad?”

The reality is they never could.  They were never intended to. There is “no one who does good, no not one.”  No matter what seems right to man, it will always lead to death.  What then is the answer?  It has always been about grace, extended to man only through Jesus Christ.

My Advice – Go for the grace.  You’ll never have to wonder if your “good” was good enough.  You’ll never have to worry if Christ’s good was good enough.  If it wasn’t He would never have risen from the grave.  But He conquered the grave, He conquered death.  As a result, He can offer life to all who will believe and receive.  Now that seems right to me.