Tag Archives: saved

Whose Fault Was It?


“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (KJV). Isaiah 53:5 is probably one of the most famous prophesies in the Old Testament about Jesus. We’ve memorized it, quoted it, sang it, and prayed it. That verse generates faith and excitement as not only a prophesy, but also as a promise. I could write multiple devotions on that one verse, but that’s not the verse I’m going to write about today.

I want to look at verse 4, the one right before it. I’ve found that in most cases, many of my favorite memory verses were preceded by powerful verses that gave depth and context to them. This verse is no exception. Verse 4 says, “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God” (GNT). That last sentence is what struck me. We thought (and still think) His suffering was punishment sent by God.

His punishment was not sent by God. It was sent by us. By me. By you. You see, we like putting the bad guy stuff on God while we get to reap the rewards of what He endured, but it wasn’t like that. He was wounded for OUR transgressions. It wasn’t for anything He did to God that made Him deserve it. He was bruised for OUR inequities. He didn’t just die for our sins. He died because of them. The chastisement of OUR peace was upon Him. The burden to find peace and well being shifted from us to Him.

It was because of you and me that He suffered and died. It was OUR sins that nailed Him to the cross. It was our sickness that brought 39 stripes from the Cat of Nine Tails. He was beaten and bruised because of our guilt. And we watched thinking it was God doing it to Him. It’s sobering to think about that, but it’s also enlightening because He freely stepped in and took it knowing what was coming. He demonstrated great love showings that it was not just because of us He was tortured. It was FOR us. He took what should have been our punishment out of love. No wonder He told us that there is no greater love than a man who lays down his life for a friend. You have been and always will be His friend.

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Second Hand Religion

  
How do you know what is sin? Do you let your pastor decide that for you? Do you let your political party tell you what it is? Do you let society define it? Maybe you just go with what feels right to you. The fact is that none of these have the power to define what is right in God’s sight and what is wrong. There is only one source that defines what is sin and what is not. It’s the Holy Bible. God’s Word was written by about 40 people over the period of about 1,500 years. II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is inspired by God.

We know that even though it was written by so many people over such a long period of time, that it was all inspired by God. The beauty of God’s Word is that it stands the test of time and will remain relevant forever because human nature doesn’t change. The Bible looks at human nature, defines what sin is, but more importantly, shows us how to get forgiveness from it and how to avoid it. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).

To avoid falling into sin, we must first know what sin is to God. James 4:17 gives us a simple definition of sin. It says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” If you know what’s right and then choose not to do it, then you’re sinning. The Bible is also filled with other things that it names as sin like lying, adultery, stealing, etc. at the heart of each of those and every other sin is that basic definition. You know there’s a right and a wrong and you’re willfully choosing the wrong.

So how do we avoid falling prey to our desire to do the things we want to do, but aren’t the right things? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we want to know what sin is and also to have the ability to overcome it, we must put God’s Word in our heart. We must read it, understand it, meditate on it, and memorize it so that we can live the way God wants us to. It’s not up to other people to tell you what it says. It’s up to you to read it and to understand it. When it come to your eternity, don’t rely on second hand information alone. 

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Dress Code Violation

Earlier this week, a man came to a business meeting in shorts and a t-shirt. I at first thought he was a hotel guest who walked into the banquet room we were in. I went over and asked where he worked. He named the company and a location. It was just odd that he would know our normal work attire is at minimum a shirt and tie, yet he was willing to show up to a work event dressed that way. As I thought about it all day, I was reminded of a parable Jesus taught in Matthew 22.

The king had prepared a feast for the wedding of his son. He invited friends, family and dignitaries to come to the event. They all refused the invitation. On the day of the event, he sent word to them again saying, “Look, everything is on the table. Come to the feast!” Many shrugged their shoulders and went back to what they were doing. Some beat up the servants and others killed them. Finally the king sent the remaining servants out to invite anyone they came across on the streets.

When the king entered the feast, he looked around and saw someone who wasn’t dressed for the wedding. They refused to put on the garments provided. In verse 12 of the Message, the king approached him and said, “How dare you come in here looking like that! Get him out of here – fast.” He was upset that he wanted the benefits of being at the feast, but wanted to do it his own way. He didn’t want to accept what the king provided. He wanted to provide his own covering.

Just like at the king’s feast, the guy in my meeting stood out. In a room full of shirts, ties and suits, he walked in wearing shorts and t-shirts. I think we do the same thing and look the same way to God when we try to enter His presence with self righteousness on. When we think we’re fine, we can do it on our own and earn our way to heaven without going through the cross, we appear to God, the king, like this person at the feast. We dress ourselves instead of wearing the garment provided by God.

Isaiah 61:10 says, “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with a robe of righteousness.” Those garments are provided by God and are required to be worn at the great feast. It’s His righteousness that clothes us, not ours. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Our good deeds don’t get us to heaven. We think they’re good enough, but when compared to the righteousness that God provides, they look like filthy rags.

God’s righteousness and salvation are a free gift through the work that Jesus did on the cross. They cannot be earned through righteous acts or good deeds. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith…not by works, so that no one can boast.” The garment of salvation and entrance to heaven is only given to us through our faith in Jesus. If you’re trying to earn your way to heaven, you can stop trying today. You’ll stand out like the guy in my meeting or the person at the feast. Rely on God’s grace, accept what Jesus did through His resurrection and wear the robe of righteousness that He provides.

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The Push for Paradise

One of my favorite stories in the Bible that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention happened on mount Calvary. As Jesus was being executed on a cross, there were two other men who had committed crimes worthy of being crucified beside Him. As people came by to look at the crucifixion of Jesus, they yelled at Him and insulted Him. They called Him names. Even the two men who were being crucified with Him began to taunt Him.

As the day went on, one of them noticed that Jesus was different. After a while he went from scoffer to protector. He yelled back at the other criminal, “Don’t you fear God even when you’ve been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” He knew he had lived a life that was worthy of dying on a cross. He wasn’t denying that he deserved to be there.

Instead of using his pain to lash out at Jesus and take the spotlight off of himself, he took another road. Facing death, and in earshot of the people who were mocking Jesus, he decided to reach out for forgiveness for his sins. He looked over at Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus looked over at the man who had earlier mocked Him and said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I’m sitting in front of a hospital right now. I have a friend inside who sent me a text last night. She has surgery this morning and told me last night she wasn’t sure she’d survive it. She told me she knows she hadn’t been a good person. That’s ok. God doesn’t let “good” people into Paradise. He lets those who call on His name and believe in their heart that He died for their sins in. If “good” was a requirement, we’d all fail the test.

Jesus isn’t looking for good people to save. He’s looking for anyone who will believe. He doesn’t care if you’re a child or if you’re about to die. What He cares about is if you believed in Him and asked for forgiveness of your sins. I knew someone once that said, “That’s not fair. Why should someone who lived a terrible life be allowed to convert before they die and go to heaven when I’ve lived right my whole life?” I replied, “How is it fair that Jesus had to pay for your sins?”

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Jesus told of a man who hired workers early in the morning to work all day. He told them what he’d pay them at the end of the day. All through the day he continued to hire workers offering them the same pay as the early ones. Even at an hour before quitting time, he hired more for the same price. The early ones were mad when they got paid. They felt they deserved more, but He reminded them that they agreed to the price and that it was his money to do with what he wanted.

Whether you accepted Christ early in life or late in life, the reward is the same. You get to go to Paradise. God doesn’t want anyone to die without accepting His son. He allows us to accept Him no matter how bad we’ve been or at how late in our lives it is. His offer to you is salvation even if you’ve mocked Him or other Christians. You may not feel like you can forgive yourself for things you’ve done, but you aren’t the one holding the keys to Paradise, He is. He’ll forgive you no matter what. I’m walking into the hospital this morning with Him to give a final push for Paradise for my friend.

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Driven by Love

I watched several episodes of “The Bible” on the History channel. I know they took some dramatic liberty in some areas and they admitted it. As I watched the final episode on Easter, one of the things that stood out to me was when Simon dropped the cross on Golgotha and they forced him away, they beat Jesus as he crawled to the cross. That’s one of those things that I don’t know if it happened that way, but I’m glad they portrayed it like that.

Think for a second if you were innocent and about to be killed for something you didn’t do. Would you willingly get on the cross? No. You’d be kicking and screaming and they’d have to get an army of people to drag you onto it and then to hold you down while they nailed you to it. You’d be acting like a crazy person even if you were guilty I think. That’s why I loved what they did.

Jesus left Heaven willingly to come here. His sole purpose was to die for your sins. He knew what He was going to endure and did it anyway. I loved that they had Him crawl willingly on the cross. Against what you or I would do, He was driven by love to endure the beating, the shame and the nails for you. In John 10:18, Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily.” We often think that it was the religious leaders or Pilate who had Jesus killed, but that’s not the case.

He not only voluntarily laid His life down, He even called out to God on behalf of those who killed Him. Jesus cried out from the cross in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He was willing to forgive them while He was still in pain. While He was still hanging on the cross. To their faces. I don’t know about you, but I know I couldn’t have done that. Most of the time we don’t forgive others who have betrayed us at all or we wait years until the bulk of the pain is gone.

Jesus wasn’t like that. His desire was that not one person would perish, but that all would have everlasting life. Even those who killed Him. None of us deserve it really. Each of us have done something, or in my case, many things to offend God. We are not perfect, nor can we be. That’s why God’s love and grace are so amazing. He knows we can’t do it on our own so He shed His own blood to cover our sins. All we have to do is accept that act of love to cover our sins. The lyrics to “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” say it all: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

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Your Soul Purpose

I heard the story of a rich man who was very ill. He was intent on taking His wealth to Heaven with him when he died. He cried out to Peter and begged him if he could bring his wealth to Heaven. Peter finally relented, but told him he could only bring what he could fit in a suitcase. The man bought the biggest suitcase he could find and converted his wealth to gold. As the time came near to his death, he loaded the suitcase with his gold.

When he died, he took the suitcase with him to the Pearly Gates. An angel saw him with the suitcase and stopped him. He was told he couldn’t bring anything to Heaven. He replied that he had spoken to Peter about it and assured the angel it was all right. The angel was curious what he could possibly have that was so valuable that he needed to bring it to Heaven. He asked the man if he could see what was in the case. When the man opened the suitcase, the puzzled angel asked, “Why did you need to bring these street paving stones to Heaven? We have plenty.”

We often put our value on things that are of no value to God. We forget that we are not of this world and allow our minds to be transformed into the thinking of this world. The world says, “Make as much money as you can as fast as you can.” Why? You can’t take it with you. It has no eternal value. The money you make here will be left behind for someone else to spend.

I’m not against making money. I’m against that being the sole purpose of our lives. Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” What was the Father’s business? Making sure that none would perish. Jesus spent His entire ministry helping the poor, the sick and the oppressed. He was concerned about the souls of men rather than getting wealthy. Winning the lost should be our soul purpose not accumulating wealth.

In Philippians 3:8, Paul says, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (NLT).” Everything else. Not some things. Everything else is worthless compared to knowing Christ. This kind of thinking doesn’t make sense in the eyes of the world. In fact, I Corinthians 1:18 says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” It is opposite of their thinking.

We need to be about the Father’s business and increase the knowledge of Him in others. In truth, a soul lasts forever, not your bank account. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What do you treasure? Do you look at the lives and souls of others as a treasure worth investing in or do you look at the stock market and accumulating wealth as worth investing in? Do your actions show that? I’ll leave you with Romans 12:2 from the Message to think about.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. (Romans 12:2a MSG)

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The Debt

In September 2003, I incurred a debt that I have been unable to pay. I was unable to keep my promise and people who depended on me paid the price. My goal is to pay that debt one day. In fact, I keep a paper in my wallet with that debt on it so that every time I open it to spend money, I see it. It is faded, worn out and tattered. Even though it is nine years old, it still weighs on me and will until it is paid.

Each one of us also has a debt we must pay. We incurred it on the day we were born. I like how King David put it in Psalm 51:5. He said, “I was born a sinner- yes, from the moment my mother conceived me (NLT).” Because Adam was unable to keep his promise to God in the Garden of Eden, we are all born with sin and owe the price of that sin. Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through one man and spread to all men.

Sin is what separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says that it is your sin that has cut you off from God. Just as Adam was cut off from daily fellowship with God, so too our sin cuts us off from having a relationship with Him. When someone has offended you, the last thing you want to do is hang out with them. When Adam sinned against God, he hid himself from God because he knew he had offended God. He didn’t want to face the consequences of his actions and neither do we.

The consequences for that sin and for our sin is separation from God for eternity. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Each of us will die one day. At that point, we receive the payment for sin which is spiritual death or separation from God for eternity. We owe a debt to sin. Our wage that we collect at death is the payment for that debt. No matter how long we live with that debt, it will always weigh on us until it is paid. There is nothing we can do on our own to pay for that debt. Ephesians 2:9 says that salvation (having our debt paid) is not a reward for doing good deeds or being a good person.

The good news is that your debt has been paid. Jesus came to the earth as God’s only son in order to die on the cross to pay that debt for you. Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. It is not in God to leave us with a huge debt like that. He wants you to live debt free so He paid the price for you. All you have to do is claim it.

Romans 10:13 says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. In order to claim His payment for your spiritual debt, you just have to pray. In Romans 10:9,10 it tells us how. It says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

I know a lot of people who think they have sinned so much or so badly that God wouldn’t want them or that He wouldn’t forgive them. That is the farthest thing from the truth. II Peter 3:9 says that the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish (including you), but everyone to come to repentance. Your sin is no worse than anyone else’s and He wants to forgive your debt.

To prove that your sin is not too great or that He wants you no matter what, we have to look no farther than the cross. While Jesus was hanging on the cross and the men who beat Him, mocked Him and drove the nails into His hands and feet stood there watching Him die, Jesus looked up into Heaven and said, “Father, forgive them.” I’m sure you haven’t done anything worse than killing God’s only son. If He can forgive them and make a way for them to go to Heaven, He can forgive you and pay your debt.

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