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

Chronological Bible Reading – February 20 – Jesus touched the “unclean”

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 13-15

How does reading Leviticus heighten our appreciation for Jesus and His calling on our lives to reach the outcast?  Today’s entry should help answer this question.

This is the time of year during the Chronological Bible Reading Plan that can be a real struggle.  We’re right smack in the middle of the some of the most exciting passages in scripture…Levitical Law.  Instructions about washing and blood and oil and sacrifice don’t often provide much when it comes to devotional reading.  However, in the middle of today’s reading comes the instructions for the cleansing of women who have a discharge of blood.  This section outlines the pattern a woman would observe each month following her menstrual cycle.  She would be considered unclean for seven days following the end of her discharge of blood and then on the eighth day she would present an offering to the priests who would offer it on her behalf in order to complete her cleansing. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 18 – The Gospel in Genesis 12

Today’s Reading: Genesis 11:27-15:21

Now the LORD said to Abram,
Go forth from you country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)

In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abraham.  He calls him away from everything he knows to the ultimate unknown.  He must leave family and land to follow God who has made this promise.  The last phrase of verse 3 is HUGE!  God promises to bless all the families of the earth through Abram.  How? 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

Overwhelmed by His Love!

Psalm 71:15 – I will tell everyone about your righteousness.  All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me. (NLT)

Christian, be sure to take time each day to reflect upon what God has done for you in the Gospel.  It is in this time of meditation that God will transform your heart and develop a deep and powerful love for God that will compel you and lead you to a place of delightful obedience toward your Heavenly Father that loves you so, instead of a begrudging submission to a harsh task-master from whom you cower in fear of punishment.  It is understanding God’s love displayed in the Gospel that makes all the difference in the Christian life.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Advent Devotion 11 – An Extravagant Gift

Today’s Reading – Mark 13-16

Mark 14:3 – And while he (Jesus) was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. (ESV)

What’s the most extravagant gift you have ever given or received at Christmas?  Maybe it was an expensive piece of jewelry.  If you have seen many commercials lately, apparently there is a market in our culture that isn’t afraid to give a new Lexus to the one they love at Christmas time.  I don’t know that I’ve ever met such a person.  Though our society views gifts like this as incredible, the Bible gives us an even greater picture of true love and commitment.  The account of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus is found in all four gospels.  This incredible act of love and thankfulness should help us consider the value we place on Christ in our lives.

This past summer I wrote an entry dealing with Luke’s account of this story.  I spent some time discussing this story in detail.  That post can be found here. Today, however, I want Mary’s example of sacrifice to encourage us during the season of Advent to consider what we are willing to give to One so worthy.

Mary’s gift to Jesus was an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard with a value of 3oo day’s wages. Pretty extravagant stuff.  In fact, it was such a nice gift that some of those present grumbled about her gift being a “waste.” Jesus, however, is quick to rebuke those who held such a view.  This gift was fitting for Jesus because he knew his death was quickly approaching.

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. – Mark 14:8 (ESV)

If you were to give Jesus a gift this Christmas, what would it be? What do you give to the one who owns everything? What gift would you consider worthy of giving to Him?

  • A promise to come to church every Sunday.
  • A promise to be a better person.
  • A fat check to a local charity.

Many times, people make the offer of these gifts in an attempt to win the favor of God.  Some believe if they can just be better, that God will smile on them.  They get this idea from human relationships.  When an extravagant gift is given to a loved one, many believe this is a clear sign of their great love and expect something in return. The gift works toward making the relationship better.  Most human relationships work on the “give and take” principle.  I gave this gift, so now they owe me.  Is this how relationships work in God’s economy?  Not according to the gospel.

According to the gospel, you will never be able to place God in your debt.  There is no level of sacrifice, service, or surrender that will force God’s hand to forgive you and welcome you into his holy presence.  However, the good news of the gospel tells us the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by coming into this world, dying on the cross, and ultimately rising from the dead serves as an acceptable gift to purchase your freedom and forgiveness.  The only thing required of those who would receive this gift and desire restored fellowship with their Creator is repentance (turning from sin) and faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done on our behalf.

Therefore, any gift that we would offer God finds its motivation in response to what he has already done for us.  This is exactly what we see in the example of Mary and the alabaster jar.  She wasn’t anointing Jesus’ feet in an attempt to earn something from him. She was responding to the love that Jesus had demonstrated toward her.

So, in light of this truth, answer the question again.  If you could give Jesus a gift this Christmas, what would it be?  If we understand all that Jesus has done for us then we would be led to offer him the most expensive thing we own…our very lives.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

 

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.

The Beauty of the Gospel

Colossians 2:13-14 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (ESV)

O the beauty of the Gospel! To understand all that God has done on our behalf by sacrificing His own Son is to see the depth of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness offered to everyone who repents and believes.  I have been confronted again lately with the scandalous truth of the Gospel.  It makes zero human sense that God would do such things for sinful man.  Yet this does not change the fact that He has done it. Continue reading

The Gospel in David and Goliath

The following is a great clip from Matt Chandler that helps us understand that the entirety of Scripture is intended to point us to the Gospel. An example of this that can easily be missed is the story of David and Goliath. Hopefully after watching the clip, you will have a greater sensitivity to the Gospel in every account read throughout the Scriptures.

Rest in Jesus!

Andy

The G.O.S.P.E.L.

I came across this video recently and wanted to share it with you.  This is the Gospel presented in a very unique and talented way! I hope this encourages you.  If you feel the need to respond to the message of the Gospel or have questions as a result of what you see and hear, feel free to comment or click the envelope icon near the top right of the page and send me a private message.