To Die On the Cross for My Sins

MondayDecember 25, 2017John 12:23-28

25aOne night a while ago, my mind began singing the old country music song, “Just When I needed You Most” by Randy VanWarmer. He sings of his wife who just packed up one morning and walked out, not even saying “Good-bye!” The desolation he feels really comes through as he states that she left just when he needed her most. I began to think, “How sad to be deserted in your hour of need!” How would you recover from that? And why would someone do that?! I quickly examined myself and wondered if I had ever known someone who had done such a thing. The answer was quick: Jesus’ disciples deserted Him in Gethsemane when He needed them to pray for strength to go to the Cross. They deserted Him as His fake trial dragged on through the night. They deserted Him when25s the verdict was pronounced and He endured the abuse and the long trip to Golgotha’s Hill. They watched as He was crucified, and then they failed to believe when told He had risen from the dead! I think they truly left Him, just when He needed them most! But would I do that? What about those times when I was too weak to do His will when He made it known to me, or when I was presented with a clear opportunity to share my story with someone and I chickened out? Maybe we have all been guilty at one time or another, but I do know that His forgiveness and His understanding are available when we realize our betrayal. Though “we left Him just when he needed us most,” His response that first Christmas was to “Come, just when we needed Him most.”

And furthermore, He has never left us! He came the first time long ago, He is with us in the Holy Spirit now, and He will come again to make all things new and to take us to be with Him! Forever!

This Christmas I am singing new words to that old song, and I hope you’ll join me in witness of His great love:

“Now I love you more than I

loved you before, and now

where I’ll find comfort, God knows

‘Cause He came to me

just when I needed Him most!”

Lord Jesus, You showed us all through your days on this earth that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you – and help me to stand true for you among the trials of this life until you come again and take me to be home with you forevermore. Amen.

25b

 

Advertisements

To Seek and To Save the Lost

SundayDecember 24, 2017Luke 19:1-10

So Send I You - Logo - Cover LargeToday is Christmas Eve and your friends and family have been traveling all over the country to get to a place where they can celebrate Christmas with their families. Maybe you’re traveling as well. These family gatherings, and the memories made there, will be priceless to you in the future. It may seem hectic and crazy now but that’s not what you’ll remember later on. Maybe your family gatherings are difficult because of disagreements, rivalries and old grudges. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” Strains in family relationships can make holiday gatherings difficult but we gather anyway because family is family. Maybe it’s because you can’t choose them that makes it so hard to just disengage or throw them away. You can end a friendship but ending family relationships is infinitely more painful.23s You have a different perspective when it comes to your family and, most of the time, it’s your family who is by your side when the world is coming down on top of you. They are the ones who stick with you through thick and thin. Friends who are willing to do this quickly become more than friends – they become family.

Today we’re looking at a passing moment in time as Jesus, and those following Him, pass through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. Tucked away near the end of this passage of Scripture is a moment where Jesus talks about why He came from Heaven to Earth: it’s “to seek and to save the lost.”

We’re close to the end of this journey, through Advent, we started a few weeks ago. There will be one final devotional for Christmas Day and I hope you’ve taken part in that daily part of this journey as we’ve looked at many Bible passages contemplating the reason Jesus was sent from Heaven. Maybe you’ve established anew, or re-established, a daily devotional time through this series. I hope so. Your daily time with God can bring about the changes in your heart that God wants to make. It’s worth it.

I mentioned something earlier about the different perspective we have when it comes to the members of our family. We often fight with each other but, when the world comes down on us, it’s our family that comes and fights by our side. I want you think about that different perspective for a moment. We see our family differently than we see people that we don’t know or those people who have treated us badly at some point in time causing us to hold a grudge. But let’s go even deeper. How do you see those people who are nuisances or unworthy of your time? Is there anyone who is beneath you?

Just prior to this event involving Zacchaeus, Jesus met a blind beggar as he approached Jericho. The blind beggar calls out to Jesus for mercy and won’t remain silent even when others told him to do so. To others, this man was an inconvenience and a nuisance but, to Jesus, he was a broken man in need of the kind of help Jesus could give. Jesus wasn’t bothered by this “nuisance,” rather he was moved by him. He orders the man brought before him and asks him what his need is. The man replies, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus heals the man and he turns and follows Jesus, giving praise to God. Everyone who saw this miracle, including those who tried to get him to remain silent, praised God as well.

Go back a little further, to Luke 18:15-17, and you have people bringing babies and little children to Jesus in order for them to be blessed by Him. The disciples rebuke them. This is a nuisance. They are just in the way of more important things that need to be done.

Go back even further, to Luke 18:9-14, to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee thanks God for his own righteousness while the Tax Collector begs God for mercy, recognizing his own sinfulness. The Pharisee was the good man and the Tax Collector is just a nuisance. We throw away people like that.

Wait . . . go back a little further, to Luke 18:1-8, to the Parable of the Persistent Widow. She is in need of Justice and she comes before a judge who didn’t care. He refused justice until he realized she wasn’t going to stop bugging him. She was just a nuisance – some poor widow that meant nothing to him. We throw away people like that. We ignore them.

Now Jesus has entered into Jericho and one of the first events to happen is this little man named Zacchaeus climbing a tree to get a good view of Jesus. He’s a Tax Collector. He’s dirt. He had plenty of money because he knew how to cheat people. He was a bad man. He was a nuisance to society. He was hard to ignore but we throw away people like Zacchaeus.

Jesus isn’t staying in Jericho for long and, in verse 28, he’s heading up to Jerusalem as we prepare for his Triumphal Entry on a colt. It was in Luke 18:31-34 where it says, 31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. Chapter 18 is the backdrop to our story and the remaining story in Luke will remind us that, to the Pharisees and other leaders, Jesus was nothing more than just a nuisance. Just one more rebel there to upset their apple cart. They tried to ignore him but that didn’t work. Eventually they were left with only one alternative: to plot and kill him. To get rid of him.

All these stories are reminders to each of us that those whom we see as nothing more than nuisances in life are real people to Jesus. Maybe we should start seeing those around us through the eyes of God rather than our own because it is our spiritual eyes that are blinded by our sin. Our perspective is wrong and what we need is God’s perspective. That person you see as a nuisance or beneath you is a part of your family. You need to care about them.

Jesus cared about Zacchaeus because he saw things differently than we do. He didn’t see an evil Tax Collector who needed to be condemned and thrown away. No, He saw someone who was lost; who needed to be found. The result was a changed man

Christmas is all about the sending of Jesus to the Earth. He came to seek and save the lost. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, that means you and me. The Devil thinks you’re nothing but a nuisance, someone to be thrown away. Jesus sees you differently. He sees you as someone who is lost and He intends to find you and to save you. It’s what He came for. Now take a look at those people who are nothing more than nuisances in your life. Are you willing to look again through God’s eyes? “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” Your mission field awaits.

RCW Christmas Logo

To Redeem Us from the Curse

SaturdayDecember 23, 2017Galatians 4:1-7

23Today I was thinking about words or phrases that I would like to see disappear from our common usage here in America. The first would probably be, “congrats” in place of congratulations – for some reason that really grates on me and speaks of laziness or maybe just flippancy. (My opinion only, for those who use it a lot.) Second on my list would have to be the phrase “broke his silence.” I think that should only be used, if ever, when speaking up about a matter long kept secret. Nowadays, after only one hour or one day, we hear that “so and23s so” has broken his/her silence on whatever the newest tragedy or indiscretion is in the news. I think a better term for these situations might be, “. . . is speaking out,” or “shares.”

But as I thought about breaking a silence, a positive example immediately came to mind – it is this: after 400 years of prophetic silence, God finally put into effect a plan that He had decided on long ago, when, (at just the right time) He sent his Son to be the Savior of the world and to show us the way to know Him personally. Now that is a meaningful use of the term, “broke his silence!” God has always had something meaningful to say, but the time had to be right for people to listen and to believe what He had to say. Think of this too:  Sometimes a period of “time out” works in disciplining children. God’s time-out apparently was not totally effective because “when Jesus came to His own, they received Him not” (see John 1:11). Now isn’t that just like “some people’s kids,” as we used to say?

Next, consider that when someone breaks his/her silence, we assume the news will be of some import – that it will shed some light on the matter at hand. Often this information comes at a real cost to the sharer, as in the case of family members of those who commit terrible deeds against innocent people. We all cry with the parents of these wayward children. God’s experience was somewhat similar yet opposite, in that He was sending His innocent, beloved Son to pay the price for sins committed by a rebellious world! His pain is not talked about, but when God “broke the silence” we heard about the future evil to be inflicted upon His only son. Can you imagine how that hurt?! Jesus left His Father and His glory in Heaven to come and pay a ransom He did not owe – He was totally sinless, yet He gave His life for a sinful world.

This year, be sure to send a thank-you note to God for His gift of His Son by accepting Him totally into your heart and life, and then rejoice in your new life with Him. If you have done this, then please “break your silence” and tell everyone what He has done for you. This will make the Father glad!

Dear Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus! Because You sent Him and He freely came, I can rejoice in Him as my Savior and Friend. Thank You for paying a debt I could never pay. Thank You for adopting me into Your forever family. Give me the fortitude to often tell others of what you have done for me. Amen.

 

To Call Sinners to Repentance

FridayDecember 22, 2017Mark 2:15-17

22The establishment religious leaders of Jesus day are not that much different than many in the church of today. Is that shocking to you? Well then, what would you say if I said the same thing about many of the church goers of today? It is sad to say that I have met several over my years in the church that come across as very self-righteous when they look at those who enter “their” church doors and are different than them. I’m afraid I have to say that once or twice, maybe even more often,22s that could be said of me. Thank God for confession and repentance – and forgiveness.

Jesus is found in our scripture in Mark 2 having a dinner with tax collectors and other sinners. They are together celebrating with Levi, the son of Alphaeus, who has just been called from his tax collecting duties to be a disciple of Jesus. He immediately responded and invited all his friends to celebrate with him this change in his calling. How about that! He is moving from being a hated tax collector for the Roman government so that he can be a follower of Jesus. The self-righteous religious elite are shocked clear down to their curling toes over Jesus’ action in this matter. How dare he, doesn’t he know that these people are sinners! Oh, and did I mention that the disciples Jesus had already called are there with him? Jesus came for the unwanted and undesirable.

How does Jesus handle this delicate situation? He heard the cutting remarks of the scribes and Pharisees. Probably it was reported to him by his disciples who had been questioned by those scribes and Pharisees as to why he was eating with “those” people. Our focus verse clarifies for us the position of Jesus in this regard. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Now I think those words are not only directed to the “sinners” but also to those “elites” who do not seem to realize that they are included in that pronouncement. The point is that “all are have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So, no matter how good we think we are the determination of that goodness is not ours to make but God’s alone. The truth is that everyone in the whole world is included in these words. The Apostle Paul makes this clear for us in Romans 3:10 where he writes, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” as he quotes from Psalm 14:1-3. We are to share with others the same need that we have – to repent because we are all sinners. That folks is part of our calling this Christmas as believers.

Dear God, forgive us our self-righteousness and help us to effectively call others to a repentant heart. Amen

 

To Bear Witness to the Truth

ThursdayDecember 21, 2017John 18:33-37

21This passage is about the ending of Jesus’ earthly ministry and just before He was sent to the Cross. The Jewish leaders are making all kinds of accusations against Him to cause the Roman authorities to look kindly on getting Him executed. Pilate appears to not want to be caught up in the machinations of these guys and attempts to let Jesus go as he sees through what his accusers are trying to do. The problem is that Pilate really doesn’t try very hard to set Jesus free because the accusers are also willing to contact Caesar himself that Pilate was not taking this intrusion into Roman authority seriously. So, to be politically correct (in today’s terms) he21s washes his hands of the whole thing and refuses to take responsibility either way.

Have you ever been in this position? A position where others are willing to use almost any means to bend you to their will, even if it means twisting the truth? Remember the story of the three Hebrews who “didn’t bend, didn’t budge, and didn’t burn?” (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were their names.) It is best to be more like them and continue to have the favor and protection of the Most High God. Pilate bent. He was not willing to stand up for the truth. It was just not politically feasible for him to take a chance on losing his position under Caesar. How do we treat the Christmas season? How do we treat the Christ of Christmas? Do we bend?

Folks, we are not sent to be the Savior of the world, Jesus was. Our job is not to save but to be His sent ones to bear witness to His truth. So, how are you being a witness? Do you have a story to tell regarding Jesus as your Savior? We have been learning recently about all the witnesses to who Jesus really is as presented by the Apostle John in the Gospel bearing his name. He is the King but not now on this earth. Two thoughts regarding this are present in the lesson for today. The first is that Pilate’s question to Jesus about his kingship can be read two ways. “Are you a king?” This can be construed to literally mean that, or, it can be another way of saying, “Are you a rebel?” Secondly, Jesus states clearly that His kingdom is not of this world then goes on to clearly state that it was not NOW true that he was a king in this world. Now, meaning not at the present time. Is this a look forward to when He WILL be a King on this earth? Quite possibly that is so. Pilate seems to see the truth  that Jesus is not a threat to him and sees no reason to charge him. He recognizes that Jesus is a King, but not of this world. Verse 37 presents Jesus as a bearer of truth and urges all to listen to Him.  Jesus is more than a king, He is King of kings! He speaks truth. Remember, kings bowed down to Him!

All hail King Jesus, All hail Emmanuel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Bright Morning Star.
And throughout eternity I’ll sing Your Praises. And I’ll reign with You throughout eternity.
(Writer and composer Unknown)

 

To Show God’s Faithfulness and Love

WednesdayDecember 20, 2017Matthew 11:25-30

20At a Wednesday night Bible study session sometime in 2017, my husband was struck by the thought that when Jesus came to earth to show us God, He really changed His status from “powerful and glorious” to “lowly and human”! What a step down! What a change in identity! He had to find new ways of relating, coping, speaking, serving, showing love . . . as much as He was still fully God, He was now fully human and it can’t have been easy!

This got me thinking about several times in my life when I changed status and identity –20s and how difficult it was, and maybe still is. There was the time in the ‘80s when we were visiting my hometown and passed by the old home place, only to find it torn down, black-topped, and a used car lot in its place! I felt such a sense of sadness, like I was suddenly an orphan or that I had never existed, since all signs of my youth were gone. . . . Then there was another time in the ‘80s when for the first time I was confronted with the fact that God’s people don’t always behave like, well, like god’s people! That really confused me and was a real death of innocence for me! In 2001 my husband retired from full-time ministry for health reasons – he had to readjust his understanding of his “Call” – and I lost my 35 year identity as “preacher’s wife.” In 2006 there was his heart attack which greatly changed our lifestyle. In 2008 there was my diabetes diagnosis, which seemed to immediately snatch any sense of control that I had felt over my life and the effects are still felt today. Also, somewhere during that time we gave up our rental house (and our independence) and I was suddenly no longer “the lady of the house,” the “chief- nurturer,” the “one who held the family together,” so to speak! In retrospect, that was the most difficult change of identity of them all.

But you know what has never changed? It is my identity/status as a Child of God! I have been through tears and fears and loss of control, but these trials taught me what is really important in life. I have learned that no matter what happens Jesus is always there to intercede for me, to put words into my prayers, to continually guide me to final victory, and to prove that nothing can separate me from God’s love!

This is why Jesus came at Christmas – so we could have a relationship with God that will never end; and I am passing that message on!

Heavenly Father, when all is said and done it is only You that is important. You have given me identity in Yourself so that I am never alone, never forgotten, never forsaken and ALWAYS a CHILD OF THE KING! I praise You, O God, for all Your blessings toward me. Thank you so much! Amen.

 

Not to Be Served – But to Serve

TuesdayDecember 19, 2017Mark 10:35-45

19In a way, it seems that everything in Scripture is either pointing to the coming of the Messiah or to the reasons for His coming. Because of the coming of Jesus we too are being sent to fulfill His Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. If we are to emulate Jesus in our words and actions here on this earth then we must act out also how He lived among us.

I remember well how I struggled with what my role was as a pastor. It always seemed19s that the emphasis I noticed most of all at the Christian colleges I attended was on the preaching ministry of the one called by God. I discovered that while that was an important part of the pastoral role it was not the most important part of it. My favorite definition of a pastor is one who serves on behalf of God. The servant model became my focus and still is to this day. We do need to preach the Word but preaching is done in many ways and a lot of it is not done from the pulpit. Also, all believers are called to serve.

Jesus’ life and ministry, which we try to emulate as believers, is one of servanthood. He was always “helping” in some way. Sometimes it was through His teaching. Most often it was in His attitude and actions. Jesus is remembered most for what He did and not for His preaching only. In fact, He did more teaching than preaching. I think we often refer to our pastor as “the preacher” thus assigning him his role in the church. Jesus did not come to have all eyes on Him (not this time anyway) as He preached. Preaching is actually proclaiming who and what Jesus is and proclamation is done in many different ways. Actual preaching is a rather small part of a pastor’s duties.

Our focus verse is really a two-part thing. The first is about Jesus as a servant and the second is about His coming to be a ransom. He redeemed us. He didn’t come and spread a lot of wealth around to save us from our troubles but came instead to spread His blood around to save us from our sins. He paid with His life and blood so we did not have to pay our debt with our life and blood. He paid in our place.

Our place as believers is to serve others as Jesus did and to proclaim the day of the Lord’s favors because he gave His life on a cross for the sins of us all.  We can emulate Him in serving others and serving God BUT we cannot redeem anyone. The best we can do is to tell them about what Jesus has already done for them on that cross. Are you serving? Are you telling? It’s your story to live and tell. Our show and tell, if you will. This Christmas season we recognize the One sent by the Father. Will you?

Grant us Lord the wisdom and strength to serve You wherever you may place us at any given time. Help us to be real servants who only want to glorify You in our actions and words. Amen.

 

To Give Abundant Life

MondayDecember 18, 2017John 10:7-10

18The “So Send I You…” theme is being used to two different ways through these devotionals. One is focused on what Jesus was “sent” to do/be and the other is on what we believers are “sent” to do/be in this world. Today’s devotional is centered on what Jesus came to do/be with regard to “the sheep.” The overall thought in the first 21 verses of this chapter in John’s Gospel is about Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

We have this idea in the church that pastors are shepherds of the flock (the church) and18s also that there can be under-shepherds, if you will, that work under the direction of the shepherd of the flock. Of course, the pastor/shepherd is in turn supposed to be under the great Shepherd (as are we all) who is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. Shepherds have the care of the flock. They make sure they are fed, watered, kept safe, tenderly cared for not only when they are ill but at all times. Above all else a shepherd needs to love the flock he tends. The years of pastoral ministry given to me have definitely proved that aspect of being a pastor/shepherd. There is very little good you can do for a flock (people or sheep) unless the Lord has also given us a love for them. Otherwise you are just a hireling. You are doing it as a job and not out of love. That is something which will quickly become apparent to the flock and to you as well.

In the verses of our devotional for today we find Jesus describing what His duties are regarding the sheep. Then in the very first verse after this description He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Just how does He describe Himself in verses 7-10? The key words are: door, saved, pasture, and life abundant. A door allows entrance and exit from the sheepfold. Not only that but it denies entrance or exit when necessary. Sheep are allowed in and out under the direction of the Shepherd/Door but thieves are not allowed in so they can never have access to the sheep. Saved has to do with safety for those who are allowed entrance and exit under the direction of the Door/Shepherd. Pasture speaks of sustenance and care of the sheep under the direction of the Shepherd/Door. They are quite apparently taken to where they can be fed and watered and kept healthy. Life…abundant speaks of the good life the sheep have under the care of the Shepherd/Door. It is an abundant life and not just an existence. The Shepherd takes total care of his sheep. They could not ask for anything better. Are we paying close attention to The Good shepherd who loves us and wants to take care of us? I think we need to allow the Shepherd to BE the Shepherd and not attempt to break away from His flock to “do our own thing.” That is how to have abundant life. This Christmas, are you as devoted to the Shepherd in the usual manger scene as the animals all seem to be? Let’s faithfully follow our Good shepherd.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus our Good Shepherd. Help us to be obedient sheep because we are well cared for by our Shepherd. Help us to realize that all He does for us and allows for us is for our own benefit. Help us to realize just how much our Good Shepherd loves and cares for us.  Amen.

 

To Enable Holiness In Our Hearts

SundayDecember 17, 2017Romans 8:1-4

So Send I You - Logo - Cover LargeMany years ago I worked for a company that had a very large million dollar computer. The computer was called an AS400 and it was made by IBM. This computer took up a lot of space and required a lot of power to run it. When it ran correctly, it served the needs of around 200 smaller computers and workstations connected to it in several locations all across the country. The company couldn’t run well without it so it was protected in all sorts of ways. There was a large air conditioner installed to blow cold air directly on it to keep it from overheating and there were two huge battery backup units to keep the computer running properly when the power went out.

One day we had a terrible storm with tornadoes and plenty of lightning strikes. One of16s these strikes killed the power substation that supplied power to our offices. Another strike hit the building and took out the power protection units. Several more strikes and surges proceeded to cause great damage to the computer itself.  When the boss arrived in the morning he discovered the computer was no longer capable of performing even the littlest of tasks. It needed to be repaired and only its maker could accomplish the repairs needed.

This Advent Season we have been looking why God sent His Son, Jesus, into this world. There are many scriptures that help us to understand the purposes of sending Jesus and we’ve been focused on them in our daily devotions. Our Sundays have been looking at the sending of Jesus from a different standpoint. Jesus said “as the Father has sent me, so send I you.” Since we have been sent, by Jesus, to continue His mission in this world, it would help if we understood better what His mission is. Today’s verses come from Romans 8:1-4 where we discover that God sent Jesus to do what the Law was powerless to do by becoming a sin offering, condemning the sin in us.

Now let me tell you another story. God created everything, including a pair of human beings named Adam and Eve. They were just the way they were supposed to be: completely innocent, holy and good. They were designed to live forever without fail. Then one day a sort of storm hit. They faced temptation and made a choice that corrupted their perfect design. That which was never meant to fail, no longer worked right. It needed repairs that only the Maker could accomplish.

So God, the Maker, set out to repair the Human Race. He carved out a tribe of people and gave them a special set of Laws that exposed the sin inside of them. This Law couldn’t fix the sin, but only showed what the original design was for Humanity and clearly pointed out the needed repairs. The Law had requirements but a broken humanity was unable to meet those requirements. Without these repairs the corruption was fatal. The Maker knew that the only way the repairs could happen is if He came down to fix it Himself. He was the only one who could do it. So that’s what He did.

Paul spends most of Romans 7 telling how the Law exposed our sinfulness. The sinful nature within us was opposed to the holy nature of God and holy nature He created us with. We were broken and that sinfulness kept us from living as God intended. In fact, that sinfulness was a fatal corruption for us. The Law required complete obedience but we were unable to fulfill that law.

I bet you find this law at work within you as well. You know the right thing to do but you feel a pull, deep inside you, to do the wrong thing instead. Maybe, in general, you do a lot of good things and, surely, the good will outweigh the bad in your life on the whole. Is that good enough to fulfill the requirements of holiness God set forth in your original design? You see, it’s a corruption within you that makes it so hard for you to live the way God intended. You keep failing and the original design was made to never fail – not even a little, not even once. You need repairs only your Maker can make.

That computer I talked about earlier was able to be repaired. Several components were permanently damaged in the lightning strikes and power surges. If they were left inside the computer, it would never have run right again. It could never fulfill its purpose with broken parts inside. So the maker, IBM, came and replaced the damaged components with new ones and the computer was able, once again, to fulfill its original purpose.

Just like that broken computer, you and I need repairs from our Maker as well. That’s just what He did. God sent Jesus “in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” He paid the penalty for our sin and he has begun repairing the broken parts of us that keep us from finding and fulfilling our purpose. One day those repairs will be complete because God sent His Son so our hearts can be holy once again.

Are you having trouble with sin? If you believe in Jesus you are now living according to the Spirit of Life. He dwells within you and is the source of a vast well of power to help you defeat sin in your life today. I know sin is frustrating but the answer isn’t to get mad or give up – no, the answer is to get repaired. Seek power, through prayer, to defeat the sin in your life and don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away. God often uses the struggle to perform even greater repairs in our lives.

RCW Christmas Logo

To Be a Ransom for Many

Thursday – December 14, 2017 – Matthew 20:20-28

14This theme based on the words, “So Send I You,” has been a challenging one. It is not so much in having difficulty finding things to say as it is in choosing the correct words to say them and also dealing with the “fallout” of the thoughts that are presented to our minds and hearts. We find ourselves not only writing to or for you, the readers, but also to us the writers. As I write I often find myself having to stop and think (and pray) about the thoughts the Spirit is bringing to my heart and mind. “Can I honestly write about that?” “Ouch! That thought is hitting close to14s home!” “Father, forgive me for being too shallow!” Those are just a few of the thoughts that occur. Sometimes, it is just a “Wow!” We do have our “Wow!” moments also.

The focus seems to be on the phrase, “…and give His life a ransom for many.” However, you need to also understand the first part of the focus verse which speaks of the servanthood of Christ Jesus. Here he is, the Son of Man, who asserts that he came “to serve” and then sort of as an afterthought come the words – “…AND give His life a ransom for many.” It was this “servant” attitude of Jesus that took Him all the way to and through the Cross. The “ransom for many” was the result of His whole attitude of not only serving the Father but also in being our servant as well – even death on the Cross! In all of this Jesus is not only the Redeemer of all men but also the Example for all men.

“Sent” indicates the purpose of God, or the reason why Jesus came. He was doing the bidding of His Father. He was an obedient servant. His was the example we are to follow. What kind of “servants” then, are we? How far will we go to fulfill God’s will? Jesus went all the way, full circle. He was sent, he did, he went back – He completed all that was asked of Him by the Heavenly Father. Did He do the bare minimum? Did He do enough? Actually, He did it ALL! No one could have done more than Jesus did. He RANSOMED mankind! He accomplished what we could not do for ourselves. His perfect sacrifice was more than sufficient to allow us to come into God’s presence. All of what Jesus did through His incarnation completed God’s will. Is the ransom price He paid sufficient for you? Yes, it is; and still more. So, have you responded to that ransom? It was paid. Have you received it for yourself and know you are now free in Christ Jesus?

Father, I know I could not have paid the price for myself and have gotten to You in any other way than through what Your son did on my behalf. Thank you for this gift and I accept it as the gift of love it represents for me and all mankind. Help me to now live in your love as a Child of God.  Amen.