Shadows of Redemption

cross-shadowGod’s story begins with the creation of all things.  God completes His work in six days found in chapter 1 of Genesis and chapter 2 is marked by God resting from His work and finally creating woman as a helper suitable for the man.  All is well.

If you’re familiar with the story, you know how quickly this changes because the next chapter brings “the serpent” and his temptation into the story.  Satan came to wreck the beautiful creation God had made, and he succeeded.  As a result, God’s perfect fellowship with His creation was lost, and His perfect rescue plan was put in motion. It is in these first chapters of God’s Word that we get our first shadow of redemption. Continue reading

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Anonymity and secrecy are a myth.  The recent Ashley Madison hacking scandal made this abundantly clear as over 30 million people were exposed as members of a website whose primary purpose was to help men and women connect to have affairs.  This exposure has left millions of homes and marriages shaken, and some broken beyond repair.
These 30 million people were lured into this trap under the promise of anonymity. “No one will ever know” was the promise/lie that led them to take this step. Now they find themselves exposed for all the world to see.
But what if this hack never happened? What if today 30 million people were still “secretly” pursuing an affair? No matter how secret your sins appear, Hosea makes it very clear that secrecy is a myth.
You may be able to hide your sin from your spouse, friends, or family. You may be able to keep those things in the dark, but ultimately, you are entirely exposed when it comes to God.  “He sees them all.”  “Small” sins or the big disgusting sins like Ashley Madison are all the same to a holy God.
Though we would like to point fingers at those on “the list” the truth is all of us have been laid bare before God.  Nothing is hidden.  This is why we all need Jesus.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
None are innocent.  To know Christ is to be honest about our sin and struggle.  To turn from it and to run into the merciful, forgiving, loving arms of God.  There we can find healing, forgiveness, and strength to go to war against the devil and the sinful tug of the flesh. So before you begin pointing fingers of accusation or boldly declaring “they’re getting what they deserve” stop and realize these men and women who have had their sins exposed to the world need Jesus to cleanse them…and so do you.

From East to West

I love the Psalms.  It’s God’s song book.  It’s loaded with powerful truth about our great God and His great love, protection and provision for us.  If you find that your prayer life is in a rut, just open to the Psalms and begin praying in light of what you read there.  This has become one of my favorite daily practices.

This morning I was in Psalm 103; one of my favorites!  This Psalm is loaded with praise for our great God in light of all that He has done for us.  The first portion is a reminder of “all his benefits.”  David, the writer of Psalm 103, lists them:

  1. …forgives all your iniquity
  2. …heals all your diseases,
  3. …redeems your life from the pit,
  4. …crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
  5. …satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
  6. …works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
  7. …merciful and gracious
  8. …slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 7 – The Umpire of the Gospel

Today’s Reading: Job 8-10

Hidden within the verses of these three chapters is a beautiful Old Testament picture of Jesus and our need for the Gospel.  It is found in Job 9:30-33.

If I should wash myself with snow
And cleanse my hands with lye,
Yet You would plunge me into the pit,
And my own clothes would abhor me.
For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him,
That we may go to court together.
There is no umpire between us,
Who may lay his hand upon us both.

–Job 9:30-33 (NASB)

The Word of God makes it clear that we cannot clean ourselves.  Like Job, it doesn’t matter the amount of soap or scrubbing we do with our good works or feeble attempts to “be good.” We remain sinful before a Holy God on our own merits.  Something must be done on our behalf in order for the stain of sin to be removed.  Praise God, the stain can be removed by Jesus Christ and what He did for us.

Come now, and let us reason together,
Says the Lord,
Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
–Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)

In the immediate context of Job, this “umpire” mentioned in 9:33 would serve as one to judge between Job and God to determine who was right and who was wrong in the middle of all of this turmoil.  Job correctly reasons that such an umpire cannot exist since God possesses the ultimate authority and serves as the ultimate judge of what is good and just.  Though the immediate context points to this truth, it brought to my mind the reality that the “umpire” that stands between us and God does so, not to pass judgement, but to serve as a mediator.  The Gospel tells us the mediator I elude to is Jesus Christ.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. –1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

The Gospel declares that a great chasm exists between God and man due to or sinfulness.  However, this chasm was bridged and our relationship with God was restored because of the completed work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the umpire that stands between us and God.  Though on our own, God would see nothing in us but sin and rebellion, because of Jesus standing between us, God sees us as righteous and redeemed.

This type of redemption is what Job and other Old Testament saints longed to see.  They looked forward to the day when redemption would be available to all men.  Today, we know that the Redeemer has come.  Jesus Christ has made a way for our sins to be washed as white as snow and for us to stand before God without spot or wrinkle.  Through faith in Jesus, our sins can be forgiven and our relationship with our Heavenly Father can be restored.

As a former profession baseball player, umpires weren’t my favorite group of people.  But in light of today’s reading I say, “Praise God for THE Umpire!”

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Advent Devotion 10 – A Season for Reconciliation

Today’s Reading – Mark 9-12

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (ESV)

Do you have a cousin Eddie in your extended family? Christmas is one time during the year when extended families gather together, and inevitably there is a possibility for high drama.  Strained relationships from past hurts, differing views of what should be central to our celebration at Christmas, or how long the turkey should be cooked are all examples of ways in which this season can become highly stressful.  As followers of Christ, how do we serve as “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18) during this time of year? Continue reading

Greater Love for Jesus

Luke 7:47 – Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Read Luke 7:36-50.  In this passage, we read the story of the sinful woman with the alabaster flask of ointment.  In light of this account, I was reminded this morning what it is that creates in us a greater love for Jesus.

I believe the reason we often struggle to love Jesus well is because we easily forget how much we have been forgiven.  I have discovered that the only motivation for the Christian life that will last is love for God.  If this is true, then how can I stir my affections for God?  According to this account in Luke 7 my love for God will increase the more I reflect upon how much I have been forgiven.  The greatest affections arise not just when I acknowledge how much I’ve been forgiven, but when I reflect and meditate upon what God was willing to do to bring about the forgiveness I so desperately needed, and still need today.

Here we see one reason why God has been removed in most part from the culture in which we live.  People refuse to believe they need forgiveness.  The standard of “good” has been boiled down to comparing themselves to other people instead of to a holy God.  In light of this, there is a general feeling of, “I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok.”  Unless their eyes are opened to the holy standard that God has for His creation, and how far short they fall from that standard, they will keep their distance from God, and the gospel makes no sense to them.  Love for God will only arise when a person sees their sin in light of God’s holiness, and understands what God was willing to do in order to forgive and restore them through the gospel.

O Lord, stir our affections for you today by reminding us of our sin and all that you have done to bring forgiveness.

Weeping at the Feet of Jesus!

Luke 7:47 – Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many are forgiven — for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (ESV)

The end of Luke chapter seven tells the familiar story of Jesus having dinner with a Pharisee named Simon.  As they are seated to have dinner, a woman comes into the room and makes her way to Jesus.  This was no ordinary woman.  The Bible says that she was a “woman of the city, who was a sinner.” (Luke 7:37)  This description is understood by most scholars to indicate her position as a prostitute.  As she approaches Jesus, she is crying.  She kneels down behind him and begins to clean Jesus’ feet with her tears, and wipe them with her hair.  The account even says she begins to kiss his feet.  Finally, she breaks an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and pours it out on his feet. Continue reading