buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Redemption”

The Only Answer

Can I be honest with you? The things going on in this country hurts my heart. I don’t know what the answer is, except Jesus. I don’t know how to fix all the strife, but Jesus does. Why doesn’t He do it? Why has God given us this free will when it drives us so far from Him? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus?

Mark Lowry has written a new song about Jesus called What’s not to Love? “Jesus took my place. My sins have been erased. It’s about amazing grace.” Yet, in this world, Jesus’ name is a curse. People would have you talk about anything else than mention the name of Jesus. Why? I just don’t understand.

Over the last few weeks, I have been researching my family tree. I recently connected with a long distant cousin through a DNA test. The company I used for the test links DNA relatives and gives us the option to connect. One of the DNA relatives contacted me to share ancestry information. She was high on the list as far as segments matched, so I thought why not?

After connecting with her, she put me in touch with her mom who had been researching the family for years. The mother had a nugget or two that I did not have that has led me to my family roots from the turn of the 18th century. I found the link all the way back to England.

What’s really fascinating about all this (in my opinion) is that after coming to America, my family line lived in the south. Every part of the south – from Virginia to Texas. I know my Dad’s family was all southerners too. Now, I know I have southern blood through and through. I’m sure with the southern roots, someone in my family fought in the Civil War. Maybe. I don’t have any proof that they didn’t; I assume some son had to go and probably died. I don’t know what they were thinking if they did, or even if they even had a choice.

I now know my maternal side of the family comes from farmers who had lots of children. They weren’t rich. They kept moving south every couple of generations or so. I don’t know what they were searching for – maybe free land. I do believe most of the people in my family line were Christians. There seems to be evidence of it. It’s probably why the first family came over from England to escape the “state run” religion. That’s speculation. They were good, hard-working people. Again, speculation.

But this I do know, they were not perfect. They had their sins as I have my own. Sins run in my family line – both sides. Yours too. We are an imperfect, sinful people. And nothing will change that fact. We all need Jesus, whether we like to admit it or not. He is the only One who can change hearts, even now in this mess we have going on today.

Jesus said though, that He did not come to bring peace but division (Luke 12:51-53). Families will be split because of Him. Every person will have to choose for themselves whom they will serve. There are only two options. If they do not opt for Jesus, then the default is the other. Most people will not agree with that statement. They think there are many roads to heaven. I wish that were true. But if it was true, Jesus gave His life for nothing. If it’s true, He died a horrible death, not only that, but was beaten until He was unrecognizable. Jesus could have sent for angels to come and rescue Him from all the suffering. But He didn’t because He knew the truth. He is the only way to our Father in heaven. And we are only saved from our sins when we believe in Him.

Unfortunately, the ones who do not opt for Jesus will keep this world in chaos, and even more so as the day approaches when Jesus will return for His church. The signs are getting closer together to demonstrate that time is short. It might take another twenty years, but I don’t think so. I think we are about to run out of the grace period, which is what we have been living in since Jesus left us the first time. Jesus will fulfill the prophecies of His return. Count on it. Make sure of your election to serve Him as the One and Only worthy of serving. What’s not to love? Good question.

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)

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The Collision

Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah saw the throne room of God and cried out “woe to me!” He heard the angels calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah got a message from God concerning the future. The message began with the birth announcement of a baby born from a virgin who would bring great light into the darkness. He will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Four hundred years of silence was broken with a baby’s cry. Heaven came down to earth and changed our world.

Heaven collided with earth with the birth of Jesus. A star rose and lit the path to the heavenly king lying in a manager. The shepherds saw the glory of the Lord surrounding the angel of the Lord, and they were afraid. The angel announced with great joy of a new day dawning. They rushed to “see this thing that had happened.” And it was just as the angel had said. All were amazed at what the shepherds told them about this child.

Simeon had been waiting for the Lord’s Messiah – the consolation of Israel. He saw the child, and praised God saying “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and rested on Jesus. God declared from the heavens: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus went to the temple as was His practice and stood up to read from the book of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And the miracles began to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Jesus taught the multitudes and called the ones who would become His disciples. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus got into the boat of Simon Peter. He instructed Peter to go fishing. It was the wrong time and place for fishing, but Peter did it anyway. When Peter saw the large catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” Jesus called Peter to be His disciple anyway. Towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus asked “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” Life is transformed by revelation.

Peter, James and John were taken up a high mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them. A voice came from the heavens stating “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. The ears that hear are obedient to the call of God.

The disciple John wrote down some of the amazing things he witnessed. John began his testimony with his version of the birth: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And he summed up his testimony with this theme: God is Love. Love came down so that we could have a full relationship with God through His Son Jesus. And when Jesus’ time on earth was done, He proclaimed: “It is finished.” Nothing else needs to be done, but believe. John wrote these things down so that we may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name.

It’s no ordinary birth we celebrate at this time of year. The light came into the darkness. A new day dawned. A life of peace and joy was born so that we could be reborn into it. Jesus is the way to the Father. Through His resurrection, we are given life. As a vine gives life to a branch, Jesus gives life to those who believe in Him. He is our good Shepherd, and the gate to eternal life. He will lead us through heaven’s gate. And He nourishes our soul with the eternal bread from heaven.

When we see God’s glory for ourselves, like Isaiah and Peter, we will recognize our woeful condition. But God reaches down to us, takes us by the hand and leads us to the foot of the cross. Pick it up and let Jesus transform you to become the one you are meant to be in Him; obedient to the call; amazed by His love; and in awe of His glory. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen!

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3: 13-15

*Footnote: Scripture is not noted in the above text but inspired by the Books of Matthew, John and Isaiah 6-9.

The Cornerstone

My church has just finished “The Story” published by Zondervan. It’s the Bible in a story form. From beginning to end – it’s all about the Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone – the perfect point of a foundation. Nothing can be built on an imperfect foundation. It will not stand. The Story walked us through God’s story of redemption through Jesus. The Word is the foundation of our lives. It’s the seed that takes root and becomes a fruitful tree. The root is long and keeps the tree from falling during the most difficult storms. When things get shaken, it’s the only thing that will keep us grounded.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t read the Bible. I didn’t understand that it was living and breathing. I didn’t understand that it was God’s inspired word. I didn’t have a basic understanding of the most foundational aspect of a Christian’s life. They say that when the Bible is falling apart; the life of the one reading it isn’t. It wasn’t until my life was falling apart, when I found the Word was the answer I was seeking. My life was off track and it’s the only thing that brought me back. The more I read the Bible, the more I want to learn.

On Monday, I was listening to James MacDonald speak about the foundations of our faith. He called this sermon “Back to School.” It’s getting back to the basics to truly live a changed life. The Word is the instrument that causes the change. We saturate our minds with God’s truth, and it will develop a foundation that will never be shaken. We have to get back to believing in the Word.

The Word is beautiful in its complexity and its simplicity. It has so many layers that we just don’t get! I listened to a snippet of a messianic rabbi speak about Holy Communion. He opened up the Word and talked about the significance of the wine. The wine has two representations: one through the Passover wine and the other as the betrothal wine given to the woman before the engagement.

In Jewish customs for arrangement marriages (back in biblical times), the dowry was paid by the potential bridegroom for the one that was chosen. After the payment, a cup of wine was brought to the woman to consummate the engagement. If the woman accepted the wine and drank it, then the engagement was set between the pair – they were officially married. The man did not drink the wine. It was only for the future bride. The bridegroom left the woman with her family while the husband went to prepare a place for them to live. Once the bridegroom had made the necessary arrangements, He came back for the bride. When the bridegroom came back, a celebration began. The bridegroom would then be given a cup of wine to drink at the celebration. Jesus gave the illustration of the end of times concerning ten virgins waiting on the bridegroom’s appearance. Five were ready; five were not. Jesus’ words were recorded in Matthew 25:13 saying “keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” of the bridegroom’s arrival. No one knew how long it would take the bridegroom to prepare that special place.

In Jesus’ last Passover supper, He passed the cup of wine to His disciples and told them to drink it. Jesus said the wine represented His blood. In Scripture, we are told that blood contains life. Jesus’ blood is the covenant of everlasting life. When we take that cup, we are agreeing to His proposal of marriage. We are to consider this cup very careful. Jesus told the disciples that He would not drink of it “until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). Jesus said that He was going away to prepare a place for us, and He would return one day (John 14:2-3)! When He comes back for His bride, there will be a mighty celebration on that day! The marriage will be complete, and we live with Him for eternity!

Jesus paid the dowry for His bride (the Church) by His death on the cross. Jesus said that His body was the bread that was broken for us. Jesus’ declaration was written in John’s Gospel: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Manna came from heaven while the Israelites were in the wilderness. But the Bread of Life that came down for us; is a life-giving bread that when we eat of it, we will never be hungry again.

Layer upon layer as we take this Word and devour it, it transforms us into a beautiful bride for Jesus our cornerstone – the foundation on which we stand. We will never be unsatisfied with the life given nourishment of this Holy Word. From beginning to end, it is the everlasting covenant that we can trust for eternal life.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:5-6

Blank Page

Over the last several weeks, I have been staring at a blank page. I am not feeling very inspired. I have started out with a few thoughts and have ended up tossing it in the “garbage” can. I don’t know why I am blocked right now, but it’s a bit disconcerting. I know that I am called to write about my story, but I have yet to get down to it. I keep waiting for the words to come but nothing. Not one word seems to be flowing. I have prayed about it – seeking guidance about the blockage. Everybody keeps telling me that the timing will be right when I finally get it written. I just don’t want to be disobedient by not doing what I know I am supposed to be doing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been greatly distracted. My Dad had a few episodes of illness that hasn’t quite been resolved. It has weighed upon me. My Dad is very special to me. My Mom died about six years ago. She asked my sisters and me to take care of Dad, but since he got remarried about four years ago it’s been more a “spirit” of taking care of him instead of a “physical” task. About the time my Dad came down with his illness, I started having house issues that needed my attention. I listen to the news and the overwhelming issues that catch my attention just gives me even greater distractions. It seems that one thing just leads to another. It has given me the sense there are multiple plates spinning, and they are all about to come crashing down.

I have managed to get the blog posts and newsletters written in a timely manner. But that’s just because God is gracious to help me even when I can’t seem to focus. Somehow it all comes together. It would seem that He would do that for the book as well, if I tried to sit down and just start the process. But my head is just a jumbled mess right now. Does anyone relate? I keep thinking that when the weather is bad, I will have ample reason to write. I can’t do anything outside – but the snow needs to be removed from the driveway. The dogs aren’t barking to keep me from writing either since the owners have kept them inside on these snowy, cold days. But I get distracted with doing my taxes, budgeting expenses for the month, reordering supplies, etc; it just seems to be endless with distractions.

When it comes down to it, I think I just have a problem with the subject matter – me. Telling my story isn’t that complicated. The problem is I don’t want to be that vulnerable – to be that open before the world. I know God would like to get the glory of what He’s done in my life, even if it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal to me. He has asked me to share so that it may help someone else who struggles in the way that I have struggled. My story is part of the larger story – the restoration of our relationship with God. He began a good work in the beginning, and He will complete it in the end. My story doesn’t seem to be that great unless I truly look at it from His perspective. There was nothing I could do to restore my relationship with Him. I was far from Him, but He drew me near by the cross of Jesus.

The Bible seems to be just a mass of stories from the first page to the last. But there is only one theme throughout each page – Jesus. I never really contemplated how my story fits into His story, but it does. Every person has a story that fits into God’s story of redemption. We all fall short of God’s perfection, but Jesus redeems us so that we can fit into His story. One day, the distractions will no longer distract me, and I will start the work. The blank page will be filled with the work of Jesus in my life. One day, He will get all the glory. One day, it will be finished, and the work that was started will be completed. The page is blank right now, but it is all going to come together at the right time and in the right way!

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3

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