Category: Salvation


Watch the Lamb

As we approach Easter this weekend and celebrate the gift Jesus made available to us when He sacrificed himself on the cross, I want to focus on a song that touched my heart in a profound way many years ago (and still does today).  By the end of this song, I was in tears as I deeply thought about and felt in my soul the reality of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb who covered our sins with His blood.  If we are believers, we know Jesus is the Lamb of God who gave His life to wipe away our sins so that if we believe and accept His free gift, we can be saved and be part of His kingdom for eternity.

| For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

| The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV)

Do this in remembrance of Me

We know this truth ……….. in our heads ………….. but sometimes this realization hasn’t reached down into our soul to the emotional & spiritual core of who we are.  Easter becomes a holiday …… something common place (we do this every year) …….. and less than it should be.  But Easter should be the most holy of remembrances, for it is by His sacrifice that we can live in freedom as children of the Most High God.

The song, Watch the Lamb by Ray Boltz, moves me beyond intellectual acknowledgement of Easter into an emotional and spiritual place.  The song shows the Passover experience from the eyes of a father and his two sons who have traveled to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifice (Mark 15:21) — a sacrifice that ended in a much different way than expected.  Take a listen …….

I believe this father’s experience with the Lamb of God affected his life in a profound way.   Has it affected us in a similar fashion?  From our lives as modern Christians, I think we often look at Jesus’ sacrifice almost academically — we don’t really understand the pain and agony that Jesus went through on our behalf.  The mock trials, the beatings and scourging, the ridicule, the humiliation and the excruciating pain of crucifixion — all endured willingly by Jesus as the final sacrifice for our sins

|  Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27

I have been listening to a devotion on the book of John — and with God’s timing, I happen to be at the point of Jesus’ death in my study during this week before Easter — making my experience listening to it all the more impactful.  Chuck Swindoll with Insight for Living (https://www.insight.org) describes the process of Roman justice — the scourging and crucifixion (the most humiliating, public and painful death imaginable).  It is horrific, with many not living beyond the scourging due to the blood loss and shock; then the pain and agony of being nailed to the cross and slowly suffocating as the condemned can no longer hold themselves up on feet nailed to a wooden cross.

Why would anyone else endure this for us, for me?  Because it was God’s plan from the beginning and the only way to bring sinful man into reconciliation with a Holy God!  For this reason, Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, gave His life.

He is the way

I am so grateful for His sacrifice, but there are still times when I go through my daily routine only to realize that this gratefulness doesn’t fully comprehend and isn’t fully broken by what the crucifixion meant in that day and time.  Or what He endured for me …… for me, an unworthy and sinful child …………. all because He wanted me to be part of  His family.  His sacrifice was the only way to wash away sins for all who would believe in Him ……..  once and for all!

| I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NIV)

Has Jesus’ sacrifice become personal for you?  Or do you see it as an overarching sacrifice for all of mankind?  I ask this because when I think of Jesus dying for me — and only me — it blows my mind because I really can’t fathom why He would love me that much.  I can see His sacrifice more clearly when it saves all of mankind ……. but just for me?  I feel so unworthy.  But this is the crux of our faith!  Our acceptance of His gift for our individual sins ………. and then living for Him daily ………… walking as Jesus walked.

it is finished

Is the crucifixion real to you?  But even more so, is the resurrection real to you?  I am so grateful for the cross, but I am even more grateful for the empty tomb — because our God is not dead, He is alive!!!!  Death did not defeat Him — He defeated death for all eternity.

My prayer for you this Easter weekend is for you to have a very personal encounter with your Savior ………… really let yourself feel the sacrifice He made and acknowledge the pain and agony He endured for you.  Then joyfully worship and adore Him.  And if you don’t know Him in this personal way, I pray you ask Him into your life and accept Him as your Savior and Lord.

As you celebrate this most holy holiday, the very foundation of our faith, I hope you enjoy this Easter Medley from  Anthem Lights about our risen Lord ………. then top it all off by listening to the wonderful version of He’s Alive by Dolly Parton (brings tears to my eyes every time!).

 

unfinished2

So far in this series we have talked about inspiration and being in the hills and valleys of life – we cherish the good times on the mountaintop and traverse the valleys while we learn and grow in Him.  But what about the other times – the in between times?  Those times when we are chugging along, carrying out our day-to-day tasks, and wondering if there is more to our lives.  Asking ourselves and God, “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” ….. feeling like you’re here to make a difference but just aren’t sure how.  Feeling like your life is somehow unfinished……..

unfinishedThere are times in my painting journey where I haven’t finished the assigned painting in the allotted time or I have “finished” it, but it isn’t reflective of the picture I had in my mind – in the moment, I feel like there are some details that need refining or need to be added.   I’ll step away from the painting for a day or two and re-evaluate.  Sometimes when I look at it again, I’m satisfied – I can look at it from a different perspective and see the beauty and uniqueness of my offering.  Sometimes, though, I want to make changes (touch-ups) or it is obvious (like this painting) that there is more work to do.

Just like in my painting journey, I sometimes feel the same way about my life — it’s an unfinished canvas and my life is half-written.  There are times when I either feel like I don’t have the guidance I’m seeking on which path to take or I’ve started a project or task given to me by my Heavenly Father, but I haven’t completed it – fear or insecurity or busyness or uncertainty seem to get in the way.  What about you?  Do you ever feel like your life is unfinished?

_Because he loves me,_ says the lord, _I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my

Fortunately for my paintings, there is an SOS class where I can bring it back and finish it with the help and assistance of the experts.  The “real” artist will provide guidance and actually step in sometimes to provide hands-on fixes.  This support and one-on-one attention is so helpful and gives me confidence that over time my painting will become a work of art touching other’s lives.

So the question is, how can we get an SOS class for the unfinished areas of our lives?   

 

| “…. let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2, NKJV)

We need to turn to the “author and finisher of our faith” for that support, love, and guidance — through prayer, reading His Word, fellowship with believers, and in many cases, moving outside our comfort zone to step into obedience to His direction.  I’m working through that right now — I want to be obedient to His guidance related to starting a business and a ministry, but it’s scary and I doubt that I have the talent, experience and reach to make it happen.  But what I have to remember is that “the reality is that the Lord never calls the qualified; He qualifies the called.” (Henry T. Blackaby).   I need to allow the “real artist” to guide me and by doing so, I can trust that “He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion”!

Camping

Isn’t it wonderful that the “real artist” of our lives, Jesus Christ, provides guidance and support as we navigate through life’s journey — as we seek Him and abide in Him, He will help us finish (or keep moving toward) our calling.   

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6 NLT)

He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalms 23:3, NLT)

As we seek Him, we may be making minor touch-ups to a painting (refining) or we may be completing large areas (major steps to finish a task) — and even though it may not be easy and it may be scary, we can have strength in the knowledge that He is with us along the journey, helping us to create a masterpiece — impacting lives in a positive way and growing in faith and trust.

finished

I am working on touch-ups and some major overhaul on the masterpiece of my life – through more daily abiding in Him and stepping out into the unknown with my new venture.  Sometimes I wonder if I am too old to be starting a new business/ministry, but my life isn’t finished so neither are the tasks that God has set before me — as long as I have breath, I am serving God in whatever way He leads!

 

While my life isn’t finished, I can have such joy that Jesus followed through to completion.  We’re coming up on Easter when Jesus gave His life for us to wipe away our sins and bring those who believe into his family forever.  His last words upon the cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30) – while we know our journey to become more like Him and walk as He walked won’t be finished on this side of heaven, we do know that because He finished His task, He will be with us “until that day” and we will be with Him for eternity!  What a comfort and encouragement!

What task from Him are you finishing?  What help do you need?  What  has helped you?    Share with the community so we can encourage and build each other up…..

Remember, our tasks may not be easy, but “He started something good and He’s gonna complete it” — as you finish up, take a listen to Mandisa’s story and her song “Unfinished” about a time when she felt unfinished and in need of the “real Artist” to complete her masterpiece!

Mandisa’s “story behind the song

 

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give thanks branded

God has an amazing way of changing our plans and pointing us in the direction He wants us to go — if we are willing and open to Him.  Even though it is Thanksgiving weekend, I hadn’t planned on writing a post about gratitude and thanksgiving – I was actually planning to talk about a Christmas song as we are heading into that season.  But my plans aren’t always God’s plans and He had another idea…….

I was listening to my church service this morning and the topic was on gratitude toward God and thanking Him for his blessings – for the good blessings and the darker things in our lives.  I was cruising along with the service, nodding at each point, confident I had been thanking God for these areas in my life – in fact, I had thanked God in my prayers last night for these very things – family, faith, friends, daily provision (new job), health and healing, my salvation, and His strength to get through the hard times.  This was the good blessing section of the sermon.

Then the pastor moved on to thanking Him for the darker things — “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 5:20  and that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  I felt like I was still on track – I mean I had thanked Him for my challenges over the summer after I was laid off and my job was eliminated because I knew He had a greater purpose for me and He would “give me a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  I knew God was growing my faith and a new depth in my relationship with Him during the challenging time.  So check.

But then whammy!  The pastor started talking about a verse we normally consider during the Lord’s Supper (and typically more around Easter).

luke 22-19 branded

As the pastor talked about this verse and Jesus’ suffering, God broke me right there.  The Holy Spirit touched my soul and I just wept.  When Jesus was talking to His disciples during the Lord’s Supper, He knew the depth of the suffering He was going to be facing and He knew He was going to make that sacrifice to pay the debt of sin that we all carry.  I know this — I have known this for all of my life — but today, with the touch of the Holy Spirit, it took on a fresh significance.

Remember the 3 hours of total darkness that descended when Jesus hung on the cross?   Jesus was in hell — he was separated from His Father and suffering the torments of the damned for us — for me.  He suffered an eternity in hell for our sins — for my sin.  I am so humbled and so grateful that Jesus would do that for me.  I am about to start weeping again as I write this.

There have been many times in my life where I have felt unworthy, unattractive, and even unloved — but Jesus, My Savior, loved me so much that he suffered and died so that I could join God’s family and be with Him for eternity.  “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be  holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT.  

As I was thanking God with tears flowing down my face because of what He gave to me, I thought about a song that I used to sing as part of the worship group.  We don’t sing this song much anymore in the churches I have attended or visited but it sums up what I was feeling and how my heart was overflowing with gratitude.   I hope you can sing along and praise the Lord God for His many blessings.

I wasn’t planning to write a post about thanksgiving — but how could I not write about my thankfulness for Jesus’ sacrifice?  How could I not overflow with gratitude that the God of the universe so loved the world (me) that He gave His one and only Son so that I would not perish but would spend eternity with Him (John 3:16)?

I did weep.  I did feel my salvation again in a fresh way.  I am so thankful for the many blessings God has provided.  My prayer is that you also know Jesus’ salvation and His provision and feel God’s loving touch on your life — in the good times and the bad.

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart…..