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Crowned with Thorns

April 13th, 2017

A crown of thorns testifies to His suffering and your salvation

“Twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head.” Matthew 27:29 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, crowned with thorns.”

Good Friday is a day unlike any other before or since. On this day, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Sovereign of Heaven’s Kingdom, died for the sins of all the world. On His head was a crown, but not one you would suppose the Son of God should have worn. He wore a crown of cruel thorns, not a gold, bejeweled crown a Sovereign would wear. Heaven’s royalty was subjected to earth’s worst cruelty. Those thorns were twisted together by the hands of mocking soldiers who saw nothing more than a common criminal who would die for his crimes. To them He was no more than another day’s work in a troublesome province of Rome’s conquest.

Some years ago, while in England with my friend, Andrew took me to tour the Tower of London where the spectacular, British Crown Jewels are kept. The priceless Crown Jewels are displayed in a collection of such incomparable beauty and incalculable value, being worn only by the monarchs and royal families of Great Britain across centuries. In cruel contrast, the crown Jesus wore was common not priceless, of pain not beauty, imposed with rejection and ridicule not recognition or honor.

Anyone familiar with this part of Texas knows about mesquite thorns, an inch or more long, hard as a nail, and sharp as a needle. They can puncture a tire or shoe, and never break. The thorns of Palestine were much like that. And that cruel crown was painfully forced deep into Jesus’ scalp where the nerves and blood vessels are closest to the skin, resulting in immediate and immense pain and profuse bleeding. It was our sins not His that pressed them into His brow.

From where did those thorns come? Thorns came from the original sin in the Garden of Eden. To Adam and Eve, God said, “The ground is cursed for your sake . . thorns it shall bring forth for you.” Genesis 3:17-18. Appropriately, His crown of thorns represented the consequence of your sins and mine. Isaiah wrote, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him . . and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Read Isaiah 53:3-6 NKJV.

But Jesus wore that crown of shame and pain that would have been yours, and mine. In the great exchange of redemption, Jesus wore your crown that spoke of sin and judgment, to give you His crown, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. But Easter – His resurrection – promises a greater day will yet dawn when God shall have “crowned (our Lord) with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5 NIV.

His crown of thorns that spoke of our sin has been exchanged for a crown of glory that testifies of our salvation. “We see Jesus . . now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9 NIV. Read Psalm 21:3-6 NLT. No wonder we call this Friday good!

Today, I pray for you to reflect on the awful, awesome price Jesus paid for your salvation.

Christian Communications 2017-4210

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Appetites

June 28th, 2013

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Matthew 5:6 NIV

Your passions foretell your direction and destination.

My thoughts and comments today are about “appetites.”

Everyone is hungry for something at some time. Here’s what I’ve learned: hunger insists on attention, resists attempts to ignore, and persists until satisfied. Original sin resulted from Adam and Eve’s appetite for something God was accused of withholding. Read Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV. They were tempted and sinned when they would not trust God to be enough. 2 Corinthians 9:8/10 NIV. If you are not wise and careful, physical desires can displace spiritual values.

My thoughts today are about far more than physical appetites. There is a God given desire in your spirit that is stronger than any physical hunger, yet can be overlooked if your priorities and preoccupation are on physical desires alone. How you satisfy your natural desires can foster appetites that become more controlling as you indulge them. Right appetites ennoble behavior; wrong appetites cause unproductive conduct. Guard your inner life carefully. Avoid the whim of momentary desires, and you will choose well and live prudently.

Appetites you allow determine choices which impact your life, for better or worse. Those lesser appetites produce strong passions, difficult to control if not scrutinized and rightly directed. Wrong appetites can easily become addictions, which are increasingly insatiable when gratified without constraint. Be careful what you want, because you just might get it. Lives have become shipwreck, and too many remained so, simply because they neither deliberately chose nor conquered the cravings that drove their passions. Apart from God, the heart is “Deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? But I, the Lord, search the heart . .” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV. Expose your heart to God. He knows you better than you know yourself.

Your passions foretell your direction and destination. Consider the power of centering your heart and passions on God. Outside of Jesus Christ, satisfaction is illusive as well as elusive. Jesus was crystal clear about where your soul finds satisfaction, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be [satisfied].” Matthew 5:6 NIV. Jesus chose words that were not casual; His words are extreme, desperate even, about strong yearning, “hunger and thirst.” Jesus spoke of intensity and focus on a clear and noble objective, “Righteousness.” Right desires produce right results. I love Paul’s description of people whose whole heart was on serving God and others: ”The house of Stephanas . . have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 16:15 KJV.

Here’s what your passion for righteousness would look like. Love and obey the Word of God. Job 23:12 NIV. Prioritize quality time in God’s presence. Psalm 16:11 NIV. Observe quiet times of prayer and Biblical meditation. Psalm 1:2 NASV. Cultivate the spirit and practice of worship. Psalm 29:2 NKJV. Practice the discipline of fasting. Matthew 6:16 NIV. Fellowship with others who mentor your spiritual growth. 1 John 1:7 NIV. If you are going to run with a crowd, run with people who are going the direction you want to go.

My prayer for you today is that your strongest desires are directed toward righteousness.

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