Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Redeemer’

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.

 

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Rest, Sweet Rest

The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

~~  Psalm 116:6-8  (KJV)

I keep remembering the words of the old hymn:

There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the heart of God.

In a world where sin seems rampant and sovereign, I like to reflect on the fact that God keeps a small corner of stillness for our retreat. Some days that retreat is the only place of serenity in the entire universe.

People disappoint us either by accident or by malice. Circumstances frustrate us whether it is technology glitching or traffic jamming. And we let ourselves down by being less that we could or should be.

Most exasperating to me are the times when I come across something I intended to do and didn’t.

Those are the times I need to remind myself of my worth in God’s eyes. If there had been only one person in the world, Jesus would still have come as Redeemer. If it had only been me, He would still have gone to the cross. He’d have done it for you if you were the only one as well.

When we look at the price God paid for our salvation, we are reminded that we are not important because we are who we are – but because of the value He placed on each of us.

There is another old hymn:

Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow.

Look back at some of the older hymns and recognize the validity of the theology contained therein. When we forsake all the old hymns in favor of only new choruses, we lose part of our roots. Find an old hymn this week and think about the words and thoughts it sings.

Father God,
I thank you for this place of rest and healing near to your heart. Help me to see through all the miscellany of life to the reality of the one thing that is most important — my relationship to you.

 In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published here 13 September 2008

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.

 

 

Making Things Right

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. ~~ Jeremiah 23:1-6

Reading this passage, I am struck by its similarity to our times.  We have preachers and teachers who dilute the scriptures and preach a social gospel which is not the word of God. Many of our traditional congregations are dwindling because our church leaders want to be popular in order to garner the gifts of the congregation.

Other congregations are springing up – some of which are true to the Word and others are true to the quest for money.

When we water down the words of God, we are feeding the flock plastic Easter grass, not the nourishing fresh green shoots of a verdant pasture. The Lord promises to let us reap the consequences of our actions. “…behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

There are multiple adages that echo this truth. “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.” “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” “Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.”

We know this truth, but we behave as if it weren’t so.

Do not despair. God has promised a faithful remnant. We may have to endure many faithless shepherds and dedicated charlatans, but there is a Redeemer.  We know Him as Jesus Christ. We just celebrated His victory over death and destruction. We have the benefit of the Paraclete that He has sent to dwell with us personally.

If we listen to the whispers of that Comforter, examine everything in the light of God’s word, and obey His directions from the Scriptures, we can be sure that we are in God’s will, doing His work, and reaping His rewards for the faithful.

The word “righteousness” as used in our text for today carries the meanings of justice, virtue and prosperity. Can we be surprised that justice and virtue lead to prosperity?  I think not.

God is clear in His directions. In His world there are no shades of gray. It’s yes or no, right or wrong. Our choice is also clear. But it is our choice to make. Will we be part of His faithful remnant?

Father, God,

Even as You give us clear choices, help us to make the right decisions. We would hear Your voice only. Grant that we may filter out the din and cacophony of this world and enter into your quiet place where we can hear Your words distinctly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

Grace and Truth

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  ~~ John 1:14

Jesus came! He became man. He came to redeem us. He set aside the fullness of His deity and constrained it in humanity, just like our humanity. He understands our human limitations and makes allowances for them. That is grace.

He is God. God with us. He is the standard of Truth, all truth. When we are confused or perplexed, He will lead us to The Truth. With that truth, we can grow towards His perfection. Towards the plans He has for us.

Grace and Truth, the doorposts of a life with God.

Father, God,

Thank You for Your generosity in sending Jesus as a man to be our redeemer, our example. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for sharing Your Truth with us. Fill us with Your grace that we may extend that same grace to all we meet in order to help them understand Your Truth.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Keeping The Kept Promises

Focus verses: Joshua 21:43-45

Today’s verses chronicle the mapping of the new territory of the Israelite clans and the division of that territory to the individual families. The meets and bounds descriptions of each parcel delineate each family’s land specifically. Cities within those territories are enumerated.

And the ownership of those territories was decided by casting lots in the presence of the Lord.

Even after God gave them the territory, there was much to do. The land had to be tended by the new owners.

Do we forget that even though God provides something for us, the upkeep is left to us? God has given us salvation, but we are to work it out in fear and trembling. God has given us His son as our redeemer, but we must come to Him. He will not invade us.

God has given us a vision for our lives, but we don’t get it on a silver platter. We must roll up our sleeves and do the next thing. Most of all, we need to spend a portion of each day with the Lord.

Our faith is unable to support us if we fail to feed it regularly with substantive portions of the word. We need to map our territory, and then we need to hold it.

Father, God,

Help us to be faithful stewards of the faith You have given us. Teach us to set our boundaries and defend our territory. And give us the wisdom to do all that You would have us do.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

A Place of Rest

I keep remembering the words of the old hymn:

There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the heart of God.

In a world where sin seems rampant and sovereign, I like to reflect on the fact that God keeps a small corner of stillness for our retreat. Some days that retreat is the only place of serenity in the entire universe.

People disappoint us either by accident or by malice. Circumstances frustrate us whether it is technology glitching or traffic jamming.

And we let ourselves down by being less that we could or should be. Most exasperating to me are the times when I come across something I intended to do and didn’t. Those are the times I need to remind myself of my worth in God’s eyes.

If there had been only one person in the world, Jesus would still have come as Redeemer. If it had only been me, He would still have gone to the cross. He’d have done it for you if you were the only one as well.

When we look at the price God paid for our salvation, we are reminded that we are not important because we are who we are – but because of the value He placed on each of us.

There is another old hymn:

Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow.

Look back at some of the older hymns and recognize the validity of the theology contained therein. When we forsake all the old hymns in favor of only new choruses, we lose part of our roots. Find an old hymn this week and think about the words and thoughts it sings.

Father God, I thank you for this place of rest and healing near to your heart. Help me to see through all the miscellany of life to the reality of the one thing that is most important — my relationship to you. In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.