Sunday, September 20, 2015
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?
Do you ever live in fear that the hammer could drop on you at any moment? Or that God is just waiting to catch you in some sin so He can pummel you into submission?
I lived that way for many years. Mostly battling fear that somehow my sins would catch up with me. But lately, I have been meditating on the fact that Christ died for me when I was ungodly. I think many Christians are confused about what constitutes saving faith. Is it a promise to be better, to do better somehow? Or is it looking totally away from yourself in the realization that you can't be good enough, no matter how hard you try?
The gospel really is good news. Why do I say that? It is because I know that the only One who can make something good out of my life is God. It is knowing that Christ willingly stood in the gap for me. Today I was driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike and I came past a bridge under construction. I wished I could have gotten a picture, because it represented man in his spiritual state without the gracious gift of Christ's death for us and as us.It went so far and then abruptly stopped. Kind of like if someone was driving along and there was a huge earthquake and and one of the bridge's spans got completely knocked away. One minute you are driving along and the next minute you are descending downward to your death. I remember the 4 Spiritual Laws booklet we used when I was in Campus Crusade many years ago. One of the laws said that there was a gap between us and God and no matter how hard we try on our own, that gap just cannot be spanned by human effort. But Christ willingly, by His sacrificial death made that span, made that bridge, so we would not have to descend downward at the hour of our death.
That verse from Isaiah 53:8 came into my head and the phrase "to whom the stroke was due" entered into my thoughts. Just what did Isaiah mean by the stroke? The Hebrew word for "stroke" is #5060 in the Hebrew Lexicon, and is the word "nega." Here is the outline of Biblical usage for that word:
stroke, plague, disease, mark, plague spot
stroke (metaphorical of disease)
mark (of leprosy)
and the definition reads: נֶגַע negaʻ, neh'-gah; from H5060; a blow (figuratively, infliction); also (by implication) a spot (concretely, a leprous person or dress):—plague, sore, stricken, stripe, stroke, wound.
Christ was actually afflicted in that way for us to the point where God had to turn His face away from Him. But He willingly did it and God was forever satisfied with it. Because of that, I come to God in the standing that Christ alone gave me, never in any work that I have or have not done.
I am reading a wonderful book called Romans Verse by Verse by William R. Newell and though it is a meaty book, I am taking my time and underlining a lot. I just got to chapter 4 (one of my favorite parts) and Newell said something that hit me so profoundly, I underlined nearly all of it. It said:
"If God announces the gift of righteousness apart from works, why do you keep mourning over your bad works, your failures? Do you not see that it is because you still have hopes in these works of yours that you are depressed and discouraged by their failure? If you truly saw and believed that God is reckoning righteous the ungodly who believe on Him, you would fairly hate your struggles to be "better"; for you would see that your dreams of good works have not at all commmended you to God, and that your bad works do not at all hinder you from believing on Him,--that justifieth the ungodly.
Therefore, on seeing your failures, you should say, I am nothing but a failure; but God is dealing with me on another principle altogether than my works, good or bad, --a principle not involving my works, but based only on the work of Christ for me..."
p. 129 Romans Verse by Verse, William R. Newell
To me, this is huge! God is pleased with me today and I look to Him confidently knowing that He is pleased because I am in His Son, totally covered with His very own righteousness. I was a Christian for a very long time before I came to this realization. It is the one thing that makes me happy, because every day I have a fresh slate before Him.
I have been encouraged by my pastor to get the foundation of Romans within my soul. I encourage you to do it too, and rejoice in the great standing we have before God as a totally free and unmerited gift.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
“For this reason I say t1o you,
her sins, which are many,
have been forgiven, for she loved much;
but he who is forgiven little,
loves little.” Luke 7:47
Christ lives inside of us! Have you contemplated what that really means lately? I know that I for one, need to meditate on that thought until the Lord takes me home.
When we accept Him as our Savior, it is only the beginning of our lifetime of faith, and much, much more than "fire insurance."
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Colossians 2: 6-7 It is all "in Him!"
How did we receive Christ? By doing something or receiving something from Him, a gracious gift, totally free? It was Christ who did all that was necessary to achieve my eternal life and home with Him in heaven forever. Somehow, after walking with the Lord for many years, I became too familiar with what it means to have Christ living inside of me and often just overlooked it, trying to do something good for God on my own.
Have you discovered yet that we can't, in and of ourselves, do anything good for God?
Recently, a dear friend of mine, Mrs. Judy Seligman, gave an amazing ladies message about Mary Magdalene and how Jesus was her everything, her all in all. Judy said she represented someone who loved the Lord with all her heart, soul and strength. (I am having trouble linking it here but if you go to sermonaudio.com and type in Judy Seligman as the speaker it will pull it up.It is her latest one.) Mary Magdalene had the privilege of being the first person to behold the risen, ascended Lord.
John 20:11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him,fn “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
Before His resurrection, Mary Magdalene had no one else to go to, had nowhere else to turn, so she weeped at His grave. But now Jesus was her all in all. In my modern life in Laodecia, I have a choice daily. I can be distracted by the million and one things I see all around me, or I can be like Mary, and let Jesus be my all in all too.
Before I came to know and understand His essence and character, I had only a small amount of motivation to do that. But the more I learn of Him in His precious Word, the more valuable I see that it is to have Him be my all in all. For He is "altogether lovely." I only have a short time left on this earth and I still need to know Him more and more. If I became the most successful business woman or became famous before all men that would mean nothing, nothing, in the light of knowing my Lord and Savior.
Philippians 3:10-14 12 "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Ahhh, but the world is always there to tempt. The enemy whispers something like this: "You don't need to get into the Bible so much! You are really kind of an odd duck if you do." And like a fool, I will often receive that accusation and back off a bit from my Bible study. But press on I must, when I remember how much He loves someone like me, who could not deserve it in a million years. To think that the King of the Universe lives inside of me to do all that He wants me to do, that is my hope, today and forever.