Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Last Week, Part 3

When Jesus was tried and "convicted," Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, released a man named Barabbas in His place.  Luke puts it like this: "[Pilate] released him who had been imprisoned for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to [the Jews'] will." (Luke 23:25)
So Pilate and all the Jews released a murderer and crucified an innocent man.  In fact, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, and had Him crucified anyway, to satisfy the cries of the crowd.
While this was a major miscarriage of justice, and is rightly condemned (Peter:  "You have taken Him by wicked hands and crucified Him...), it is also an explanation.
The innocent dies, and the wicked go free.  That is a parable of the Gospel.  Jesus, the innocent Son of God, allowed Himself to be murdered so that all people could be released, as if they were innocent themselves.
The great message of the Gospel is that it is "the power of God for Salvation, to the Jew first (!) and also to the Gentile.
When you read the New Testament, it's clear that every person who has ever lived partakes of a sinful nature that drives him to do evil things, except for Jesus.  It is a somewhat long theological argument, but the summary is that God promises that everyone who believes in Jesus participates in  an exchange similar to what occurred on the day Jesus was crucified.  Someone guilty goes free, and someone innocent (Jesus) has died in his place.
How is this possible?  It's possible because God counts YOU righteous in exchange for Jesus' voluntary sacrifice of His life.  As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "[God] made [Jesus], who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
You can participate in this exchange.
All you need to do is turn to God, ask His forgiveness, and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.
Need more information?  Read the New Testament.  Email.  Comment, and ask.
God is love, and He loves YOU.  That is, He loves you enough to send His Son to be your Lord and Savior.  When you turn to God, you receive all that His love offers.
Now is the best time to turn to Him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Last Week, Part 2

For those of us who love and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, this is of all the weeks of the year the greatest. This week is a solemn reminder of Jesus' greatest gift, of His greatest mercy, of His greatest victory, and the example of His greatest love.
For all of us who think of Him dying on the Cross, and wonder why He would even consider exchanging His life for ours, His righteousness for our sins, His power for our weakness, this week is a wonder.  It is true that nobody can fathom the mercy and kindness of God in offering us humans eternal life, and then giving us the ability to choose that life, offered to us for free, but we CAN understand that is what God meant to do. It has been His intention all along--to offer us everlasting life that we can actually choose, and have for our very own.  It's not as if we have to do something for it (what could we do to earn it, anyway?  It's the greatest gift imaginable), or in some way get it at the end, after God deems us worthy...instead, He says, "I know you're not worthy," but tell you what:  "I'll give this eternal life to you, free of charge, and you can accept it or reject it."
Don't believe me??
Then consider these verses:
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him may...have eternal life..."
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (faith is simply believing--believing is not "work," and does not earn wages.  Try that with your boss some time--"I believe I'm going to get double my paycheck this week!" You and I both know that will never happen; you have to have greater value to get more money).
In the last week before Jesus' death and resurrection, Christians think about these things, because it's His death and resurrection that secures eternal life for us, and makes us part of God's family.  We believe in the free gift of God and accept His offer of everlasting life through His Son Jesus Christ, and then it becomes ours for the "nonprice" of believing.  There is nothing so free as this gift, no act so simple as believing in Jesus Christ, and no gift so universally offered as this.  Are you white, black, some other color? No matter.  What about wealth? You don't need it.  Are you smart? Jesus loves smart people.  Are you a skeptic? That's ok, just taste and see that the Lord is good (a metaphor for believing); are you an evil man or woman? that's fine. God loves sinners,and came to give them eternal life--there's more joy over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who need no repentance.
In short, whatever your station in life, your social condition, your intelligence, your past deeds, God is on your side, and He sent Jesus His dear Son to bring you into the "forever family of God."
Jesus put it this way:
"Whoever hears my word, and believes in Him who sent me, HAS everlasting life, and shall NOT come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
So how's that for a free gift?? NO STRINGS. Just believe and receive what He holds out to you.  
It's yours the moment you do that, and nobody and nothing can take it away once you have it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Last Week...

It is what we Christians call "Holy Week," or "Passion Week," or "Easter Week;" it's the week all of us celebrate the amazing love and mercy of the Almighty in sending His Son to exchange His life for ours, His righteousness for our sin, His love for our hatred, all His promises for all our incapacities.  We do well this week to meditate on the last couple of chapters of each of the Gospels, and also on Psalm 22, 69, 102, and then Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
One verse I especially love, and often meditate on, is Isaiah 53:8:
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
In this verse, the LORD tells Isaiah that the people of Jesus' day did not understand the purpose of His death, that they instead didn't even consider that He might have died because of them, that He willingly gave up His live to free them from their sins and give them everlasting life.  This is why in Acts, Peter says, "I know you did this ignorantly..."  
AND THEN,
"Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away, and times of refreshing come to you from the Lord..."

In other words, the very thing that should lead to the most awful judgment imaginable, the murder of God's own dear Son, is for you and me  the gateway to eternal blessing and harmony with God.  
We celebrate the death of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, not because we have some weird appreciation of His suffering and death, but because He did this for us, to free us from our horrible sins, from our pasts, from our brokenness. 
As the song says, 
"We were the reason He suffered and died..."
Study Jesus this week.
Turn to Him.
Love Him.
Serve Him.