Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

The Crux of the Matter

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

~~ Psalm 22:14-18 (KJV)

These five verses seem to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus. “I am poured out like water.+ He has become our drink offering, poured out for our sins.

We are taken through the physical traumas that the Lord experienced on the cross, through the throngs of evil men around Him, clear to the casting of lots for his garments.

God gave David a vision, the words of this psalm. A picture of our salvation.

Our salvation was sealed at the foot of the cross of Christ. Without it, we have no offering to God. Jesus became our sin offering so that we could come to God without any other mediator.

It is through Jesus, and Jesus only, that we can come to the Father with the assurance that He sees us only through the saving blood of Christ.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the price of our redemption. Make us mindful of the enormity of Your love for us and the sacrifice of Jesus. Keep us humble and unassuming when we come to You with our prayers.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 9 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.
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The Christian Advantage

I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.  ~~  Job 32:7-8 (KJV)

Older is not necessarily wiser unless the wisdom of God informs it. People have no choice but to grow older day by day. They don’t have to grow wiser. We’ve all seen the perpetual adolescents who are fifty years old and haven’t yet decided what to be when they grow up. Or even decided to grow up at all. Heedlessness, recklessness, and thoughtlessness mark their actions. And when the consequences of those actions are negative, they cry “why me” incessantly. They hurry to place the blame on someone else.

But the Christian has a distinct advantage here. Jesus sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to guide us. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God, just as God the Father and Jesus Christ are fully God. Therefore he has the mind of God, all the knowledge and wisdom of our Triune God.

It is up to us to cultivate a teachable spirit, to listen carefully for the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In our busy, loud, hurried world, it isn’t always easy to hear him. He doesn’t shout. He nudges you with a fleeting thought “I ought to….” Sometimes we have these fleeting thoughts, and then we talk ourselves out of them. “That doesn’t make any sense.” or “What would people say?” or “I don’t have time and energy to take that on.” We have rationalizations for everything.

When in doubt, we can ask God for confirmation. If we are to pursue that action, he will confirm it. He may speak in your head again – or he may provide an external confirmation. Someone will say something to confirm what you’ve been hearing in your head. We cannot lean on what we know alone. The finite mind of man is not equal to wrapping itself around the infinite mind of God.

If we are to be part of his plans, we learn to step out in faith. We learn to hear him, to follow him, to obey him. That is the ultimate joy, to be in the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to learn from you so that our days may be profitable to the kingdom. Keep our ears tuned to your voice and our hearts tuned to your will. Let us be ever faithful which is the ultimate wisdom.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

Firmly Established

And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever. I Kings 2:45

Solomon’s kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon was a wise man by nature. There were factors in the kingdom that he had to eliminate. There were other things that he had to embrace.

This is true of those who would follow Jesus as well. When we become Christians, there are things we need to cut out of our lives. We break some habits that are counterproductive. We leave off socializing with people who would draw us away from our fidelity to Christ.

By the same token, there are new things that we need to add to our lives. There will be mentors and friends from this new way of living. We need to be open to the changes that God will make in our lives.

When something new comes along, we need to evaluate it in light of our relationship with Christ. If it helps us to stay true to our faith in Christ, it is something we need to adopt. If it draws us away from our faith in Christ, we need to cut it from our lives, lest we be drawn away from the faith we profess.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see what is beneficial and what is detrimental to our faith. Give us the courage to embrace the beneficial, and help us to rid our lives of the detrimental.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Awesome, Awful Truth

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  ~~  John 8:32  (KJV)

Freedom and truth are highly prized in this day – freedom more than truth, I fear.

But without truth, there is no freedom.

So how do we know the truth? There are some clues.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  ~~  John 14:6 (KJV)

Jesus came as savior and redeemer to give us direct access to a Holy God Who will not look upon sin without righteous anger.

I don’t know about you, but the righteous anger of God scares the pudding out of me.

Yes, God is a God of love. Yes, He loves all His creation. We have ample evidence of that.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

Jesus, Himself, is the evidence of God’s love.  Look at these verses carefully. When it says the world, it means every single person in the world, no exceptions.

The daughter who takes care of frailing parents; the man who lives around the street corner under a bridge; the members of the family in the big house on the hill; the loudmouthed gossip at the coffee shop;  all of them. Each and every one of them. And not just them.

He loves the victims of crime AND the perpetrators of those crimes. The saving grace of Jesus, our Redeemer, is open to them all.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Romans 3:20-26  (KJV)

In the eyes of God, the person who steals a pen from a desk is just as guilty as the one who kills people at random. There is no  degree of sin. Sin is sin, period.

We are not ever going to be “good enough” for God. There is no way for us to earn His favor. Only Jesus Christ can redeem us for eternity with Him.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.   ~~   Luke 13:3  (KJV

So what does it mean to repent?  Is it just being sorry we got caught in something shady? Is it just feeling bad about something we said or did?  Well, not really.  According to Merriam Webster:

Repent means — to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.

This requires a 180 degree change in thinking and behavior.

The other part is believing, believing that Jesus is Who He says He Is; believing that He is the means of our salvation; believing that obedience to His will is paramount in our lives.

Believing that He came for love of us. He loves us – each and every one of us – as if we were His only child.

The awful and awesome truth is that we make the choice. We determine our own eternity. We choose to believe – or we choose to not believe.

Please choose now. Time is running out.

Father, God,

Help us to see ourselves truthfully. Give us the wisdom to acknowledge our sins and the grace to repent of them. Fill us with a hunger to know You and let us empty ourselves of self so that Your Holy Spirit can take full possession.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

Elohim

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.   And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ~~ Genesis 1:13

Most mainline denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, acknowledge a doctrine of the trinity of God. God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).

The opening verses of the Bible contain that concept. Let’s look at it.

In the beginning, God…

There it is, God – the one and only – no modifiers as to which god – just God. He needs nothing but the name to identify him.  But the word used here is Elohim which is a plural construction, equivalent to our word “gods”.

At the end of verse two we have:

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – a second person of God, a second manifestation of God.

Then verse three:

And God said

The Word of God – the Son of God – appears. How do we know this refers to the Son of God?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. ~~ John 1:1-3

These verses in John refer to Jesus, the person of God who limited himself to human form and function to be the redeemer of each of us in this world. The Word of God created our physical world; the Son of God interacted with mankind in the physical world.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is slightly difficult to wrap one’s mind around: one God, three persons.

Early on, when I tried to explain the doctrine to others, I used this crude analogy.  I am one person, but I am my mother’s daughter, my husband’s wife, and my children’s mother. I function very differently in relationship to each of these people.  In the same way, each of the Persons of the Trinity functions differently from the others.

God created us; Jesus redeemed us; the Holy Spirit indwells us.

God is our Father; Jesus is our Savior; the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, the Paraclete, the One Who Walks Beside.

God has us covered from all sides.

Father, God,

Help us to wrap our minds around all that You are. Give us the grace to believe what we cannot fully comprehend. Open our ears to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit and strengthen us for immediate and unquestioning obedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

 

What Makes You Special?

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.  ~~  Exodus 31:13  [Emphasis mine]

Christians are both different and alike. We are like everyone else in that the same things that happen to others happen to us. We have illness, financial reverses, tragedy, death, loss, success, health and wealth by turns. Life is cyclic. We all know that old saw: what goes around comes around.

One of the things that makes us different, set apart, is how we go through the things that life hands us. When bad things happen, we are not destroyed. When good things happen, we don’t get all puffed up with self-importance.

Why is that? It is because the Lord is sanctifying us – setting us apart for His purposes.

Looking at the word “sanctify” we find this:

    1 :  to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :  consecrate
    2 :  to free from sin :  purify
    3 a :  to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
       b :  to give moral or social sanction to
    4 :  to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12 (Douay Version)>

Today is the day we remember how God arranged to sanctify us. Our freedom from sin, our purification, was purchased at a price. The price was the death of Jesus.  But not just His death.

Look at what God did. He voluntarily took a part of Himself, Jesus – the second person of the Trinity, and limited Himself to the shape and capabilities of any man.  Then He offered that part of Himself as the sacrifice to clean up our sins.

He was reviled, rejected, scorned, spit upon, scourged, and finally crucified and buried. He allowed all this to bring us to Himself – to set us apart as His children. That’s how much God loves each and every one of us.

While we remember His sacrifice, let us set this day apart for humble gratitude for His generosity and His love.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of Your love for us. Help us always to know that we’ve been set apart for Your purposes. Give us the grace to remain faithful in all things.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Light and Glory

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:   Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  ~~ John 1:11-13  (KJV)

It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings and excesses and pressures our culture imposes on the season that we can lose sight of the essentials.

Shopping, baking, decorating, gift wrapping, and parties consume our time and energy.  We do all in the name of Christmas, but we seem to forget that the basis of Christmas is Christ.

When Christ was born, he was born into the family of David. But the religious Jews of that day did not recognize him. The message was given to shepherds in the field. The Magi sought Him out.  But in the Jewish community of that day, His reception was mixed.

Some recognized him.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,   Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. ~~ Luke 2:25-32 (KJV)

“A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

In this season, let us look to the light and the glory.

Father, God,

Help us to see and to recognize the reason for this season. Grant that we may never lose sight of Your salvation for those who believe. Thank You for sending Jesus as our Savior and our example. May we extend Your love and generosity to all we meet.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.