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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

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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Truth Conquers Sin

February 2nd, 2017

The harder you run from your wrongs the faster truth pursues

My thoughts and comments today are that “truth conquers sin.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9 NIV.

As a young teen, more than once I was reminded by my Dad, “You may be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 NIV. I never felt his words threatening, nor did my Dad mean them to be. He wanted me to understand the folly of sin; he succeeded in doing that. I was sobered by his words and probably behaved better than I might have otherwise. When you live everyday life with a deep conviction of the holiness of God and the inherent sinfulness of your own flesh, you will subject your decisions and plans to a more careful scrutiny. Doing so is a healthy and spiritually beneficial exercise.

Sin will not stay a secret for long. The harder you run from facing your wrongs the faster truth pursues you. Covering what you have done never succeeds. Why even try? Denial doesn’t make your wrong disappear. Jesus warned, “Beware of hypocrisy.  The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have . . whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” Luke 12:1-3 NLT. Eventually, wrong is exposed. Ever wondered why?

The enemy of your soul wants your transgression to become a permanent and fatal flaw, so he tempts you to deny and hide it. Doing so never works out well for anyone but your spiritual adversary. The devil wants to torture you with your wrong doing and allow him to eventually rule over you. If the accuser of your soul can succeed, he can keep you in the prison of your own guilt and shame. The Bible describes him as, “The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night.” Read Revelation 12:10-11 NIV. His scheme is to control you by the threat of exposure. Never give him that leverage.

How much more plain could anything be? Adam and Eve tried blaming, denying, and hiding in the Garden of Eden. How did that work out for them? Read Genesis 3:6-13 NIV. God will not let that work for you any better than it did for Adam and Eve. God loves you too much to allow that to happen. Because of His love, God will not allow the strategy of denying and hiding sin to succeed. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV.

What then is the righteous response to sin? My dearest of friends, Campbell, often said, “There is only one way that sin leaves a life – through the mouth in confession.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Read 1 John 1:5-10 NIV. Honest and humble repentance before God and man is the only cure for sin. David wrote, “When I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Read Psalm 32:1-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know that honesty about sin is always the best policy.

Christian Communications 2017

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Coming Home

March 7th, 2016

“In returning and rest you shall be saved.” Isaiah 30:15 NKJV.

Repentance is radically more than regret.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “coming home.”

We so misjudge the nature of God. You know God is the Father of our Lord Jesus, but Jesus definitively said that His father is your Father. When you believe and understand that, it is liberating truth. After Jesus’ resurrection, He said, “I am returning to My Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17 NIV. In the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly described God as, “your Father.” Jesus did not say that His Father would be like a father to you; Jesus said that His Father would be your Father. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name . .” Read Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV.

Jesus devised stories to make truth understandable and personally applicable. In the most beloved story Jesus told, He described a loving, gracious, and forgiving father to reveal the nature of your Heavenly Father. Read Luke 15:11-19 NIV. Jesus told of a wealthy father and his two sons, a story usually presumed to be about a younger, “prodigal son,” and his elder brother. In reality, the two sons are subordinate to Jesus’ focal point. Jesus’ accent is really on the father, extravagantly selfless and sacrificially gracious to a fault. Prodigal is a word that can positively describe lavish generosity that typifies the father in Jesus’ story, or negatively describe the wanton wastefulness of the younger son.

The younger misspent what his father had given to him, and was soon left penniless, desperate, and far from home. Inevitably, however much you have will be inadequate apart from your Father. The only questions are how and when, and what comes next. “After he had spent everything . . he began to be in [desperate] need . . when he came to his senses” Reality reoriented his thoughts to his father and home, and a simpler, better time in stark contrast to his present circumstances.

Returning home was his best and only alternative. His resolve was clear, his humility sincere, his repentance real. “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I will go back to my father and say to him, ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your servants.’” His journey began with demanding, “Give me my share.” He returned with humble request, “Make me like one of your servants.” Repentance is radically more than regret; “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NIV. In love, your Father will allow past choices and present struggles to turn your heart homeward.

Picture the scene, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Read Luke 15:20-24 NIV. With urgency and abandon, the father ran to embrace his long absent son, smothering the prodigal with his forgiveness and rapturous joy. His reception exceeded even the remorse of his penitent son. Fear was banished, shame discarded, forgiveness spontaneously granted. Home is where you belong.

Wherever you’ve wandered, whatever you’ve done, however long you have lost your way, come home to your Father now. I remember words of an old hymn – “I’ve wandered far away from God, Now I’m coming home; The paths of sin too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home. Coming home. Coming home, Nevermore to roam, Open wide Your arms of love, Lord, I’m coming home.” William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921.

Today, I pray for you to know there is a place for you in the bounteous grace of God.

Prodigal's Father

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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A Place for You

February 27th, 2016

A place for you Puzzle

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek.

My thoughts and comments are about, “a place for you.”

Too many people spend a lot of life looking for the right place. Some eventually succeed; many never find that place however long and hard they have looked. They never find the friends they wanted, the marriage they assumed would be theirs, the city they love, or the job for which they dreamed. If you look for the wrong things, you invest a lot of time and energy on a fool’s errand. Some look for right things but in wrong places.

My friend, Dick, describes the Gospel this way, “Jesus left His place, to come to your place, to take your place, to take you to His place.” To His worried disciples Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there shall you be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV. God’s plan has not changed; God has a place prepared for His people, and that begins here and now as well. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

Here’s some special things about that sacred, secret place in God. There you will find, “a large place [of deliverance]” Psalm 18:19 KJV, “a hiding place” Psalm 32:7 NIV, “a place [of abundance]” Psalm 66:12 NIV, “a broad place [without fear]” Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV, “a place [of one accord]” Acts 2:1 NKJV, and “a place of inheritance” Hebrews 11:8 NIV. Is there any better place? Find the place God has just for you. He knows the spouse to complement you, the friends you need, the job you’ll love, and where you will find the greatest joy and fulfillment. Before God created Adam, He prepared a wonderful, perfect place for him, a garden of beauty and plenty. Read Genesis 2:8-17 NKJV. He would not do less for you.

If you know all that is good that is in God’s place for you, why would you look for sustenance and satisfaction elsewhere? Sin may at first appear appealing, but it brings only temporary happiness. I have observed some consequences about sin. Sin costs you more than you expected to pay, takes you further than you meant to go, keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and leaves you where you never expected to be. That is not where you find life more abundantly. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave with the crowd, Peter got it right, “Too whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Find your place in God’s grace, will, and purpose, and be settled there with unwavering confidence, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to abide where grace and goodness abounds.

Christian Communications 2016-9217
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Image and Identity

October 6th, 2015

“You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11 NIV.

Inner tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess.

My thoughts and comments continue today about, “image and identity”

People often confuse image and identity; they may seem similar but are distinctly different. The first is an inadequate imitation of the latter. Image is what you project to others, what you prefer others believe about you. Identity is who and what you really are. Emotional and spiritual tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess. Any disconnect between image and identity creates confusion and dissimulation.

It is significant that at Jesus’ baptism before His public ministry began, the Father affirmed Jesus’ eternal identity. An audible voice from Heaven was heard, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV. Imagine the strength of the Father’s testimony when others would later dispute His identity and deny His authority.

Image confines you to less than you are; identity frees you to be all God intends. Sin and self conspire to substitute image for identity. They are not interchangeable to God. Jesus evidenced the freedom of identity and humility when He washed the feet of the disciples. John 13:1-17 NKJV. In four statements, John defines Jesus’ identity and the secret of His humility.

(1) Sure Knowledge. “Jesus knowing . .” Jesus had unshakable conviction of unchanging truth. When you know Who God is, you believe what God says.

(2) Sufficient Resource. “. . knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” When you do God’s will, you will have all you need to succeed.

(3) Sacred Origin. “. . knowing that He had come from God,” When you know where you came from, you can always find your way home.

(4) Secure Destiny. “. . knowing He was going to God.” Your destiny in Christ is irrevocable. Read John 14:1-3 NIV. When your future is sure you are freed to live life fully now.

As was the Jewish custom, a basin of water and towel were at the door when the disciples gathered for the Passover. Apparently, not one of them considered the basin and towel were there for their use. As Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter remonstrated against Jesus washing his feet. Was his refusal from pride or shame? Peter, like the others, never thought to wash the Messiah’s feet, let alone the feet of his fellow disciples.

Peter’s image of himself and his image of Jesus were radically less than the identity out of which Jesus ministered. “Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself . . to wash the Disciples’ feet.” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NIV. Humility is the byproduct of a Godly identity. Solomon’s wise counsel is this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will not settle for anything less than God created you to be.

Divine Servant , Max Greiner Jr Designs (c)

“Divine Servant”

Max Greiner, Jr. Designs (c)

Christian Communications

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