How He Loves Us

This morning God woke me with a song, David Crowder’s song, “How He Loves Me.” As I began to do my Bible Journaling today I am finishing up a series called, “Rise Up” and today’s journaling is from Hebrews 9:27-28, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this then comes the judgement., so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”(NASB)

At first as I read this I was having a hard time finding where the idea of being risen, or we would rise up to something, was in the passages. As I was journaling, the song kept going over and over in my mind, and then I focused on verse 28, “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” I was thrown off a little in verse 27 where it talks about judgement. But then my husband reminded me that the visual of Jesus on the throne at the Judgement Seat of Christ, was not a judgement of our sinful deeds as we would normally think of judgement, but a rewarding of the Saints for their work while here on earth.

Then what popped out at me was that Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sins, He bore them all on the Cross! Then the song and the verse tied in together! Jesus loved us, and still loves us, so much that He paid the penalty for our sins completely, and we never have to offer up a sacrifice for our sins as the priests did in the Old Testament. It is finished! That is the ultimate in love!

John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV) Jesus could not show His love any better than to offer Himself as a perfect, living sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. In our church we sing a song that says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.” How awesome is that! He was the sacrificial lamb, the final sacrifice, for the redemption of sins for all mankind. I can do nothing more than praise Him and thank Him for such a great love!

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We Will Rise

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Acts 24:15, “having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (NASB) The Apostle Paul was brought before Felix in Rome, and he gave his testimony after being accused of sedition. The high priest, Ananias, and the elders accused Paul of treason against Rome, religious heresy, and desecrating the temple. They said that he caused riots and spoke against the Law of Moses. They also accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple, which was strictly forbidden.

Paul spoke in his own defense. Paul refuted the claims of which the high priest and elders accused him. Then he said, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (NKJV) What stood out to me was the phrase, “I have a hope in God”! Our hope is in Jesus Christ’s work on the Cross, and His death, burial and resurrection, without which we have no reason to hope, believe, or be confident in our salvation.

Our hope as Believers is that we will be resurrected into a new body to live with Christ for eternity. I think sometimes we have a tendency to also remember that not just the Saved will be resurrected, but also the Lost! The Scripture says, “both the just and unjust” will be raised. The take away from this is, will we rise to everlasting life or everlasting death? That is all dependent on one vital decision we must all make, and that is, what will we do with Jesus? Do we believe His Word and accept His sacrifice for us on the Cross, or do we reject it? The answer to that question determines where we will spend eternity.

The Bible says we will all live after we die. We all will have a Spiritual body. How we have received Jesus and His Sacrifice determines our destiny. Some people do not believe that Hell exists, but I believe that if Heaven exists, there must also be a Hell. God is a God of order, there is evil and there is good, there is reward and there is punishment, there is a place for all who call Christ, Lord, and there is a place for those who reject Him.

The Bible says that God can not be in the presence of evil and wickedness, so therefore, He had to create a place for evil to reside. Satan is the ultimate rejecter of God and His infinite plan. He, from the very beginning, rebelled against God, tried to be like Him, to be worshipped like God, and became so full of pride and sin that God had to banish Him from Heaven. Satan began as an angel who became so full of himself, that there was no room for God. His chief desire is to cause men to turn their backs on God and, like himself, rebel against God. Hell was originally meant only for Satan and his demons. It was not created for man. But the Devil is crafty, and woos men astray into wickedness and sin, and God had no choice but to allow men to make their choice.

Those who accept God’s wonderful plan of salvation and accept the free gift secured for us through Jesus Christ will be raised into new life. I Thessalonians 4:15-17 says, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We have a hope! We who believe in Christ will one day live with Him. How awesome is that!

I’ve heard some say they think that once we’re in Heaven we will just float on clouds, strumming harps, and do nothing. However, God has given each one of us talents that are to be used. We will have work to do, each one according to the gifts God has given us. God is a God of order, remember? During Jesus’ Millennial reign, He will govern the earth…and that also requires a governmental system. So, I’m sure we will have a part in that also. Our main focus will be, however; worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him belongs all honor and praise! We have a hope!

 

Jesus, Our Sacrificial Lamb

Today is Good Friday, and all day I have been thinking about the sacrifice that Jesus paid for my sins when He died on the Cross for me. So, I decided to do my Bible Journaling on this. I referenced Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried, Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being, fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way, But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (NASB)

While I was doing my Journaling, the thought came that Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb! Before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, a blood sacrifice of a spotless lamb was required. Because of Adam’s sin, God instituted the blood sacrifice to cover sin, and the sacrifice had to be perfect, no spot, nothing broken, no imperfection at all! The sacrifice was made in our stead. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. The Bible says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21 KJV) Jesus was that perfect Lamb!

As I write this I am playing the song, O the Blood, by Gateway Worship. This song has been running through my mind all day. It is so hard for me to understand the great love God has for me, to allow His Son to be the sacrifice for me, to take my place, and die the most gruesome, awful death, for my sins. It is such an awesome thing to think of, that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Jesus went willingly to the Cross for me!

Isaiah says we are like sheep. Have you ever seen sheep? They are not the brightest animal on the planet! They need someone to lead them, they need a Shepherd. Left on their own they can get themselves into all kinds of trouble. That’s not too unlike us! We need a Shepherd to guide us, and because of our sin we can go astray, just as those sheep. Isaiah says, “Each of us has turned to his own way.” Left to our own devices we can royally mess things up! But God … what an awesome phrase! But God had a plan! From the foundations of creation, God had a plan!

God designed our salvation from the very beginning. All we need to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us, repent of our sins, ask Him to forgive us, and promise and endeavor to live for Him for the rest of our lives. We must make Him not just Savior of our lives, but also Lord and Master. Then from that moment on, live for Him, the evidence of our salvation must show through in our lives. Salvation isn’t complicated. God made sure that it was so simple that a small child could come to Him.

I encourage you, if you have never asked Jesus into your heart, the Bible says, “now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2 KJV) It will be the best decision you will ever make. Just talk to him, just like you would a friend, and that is what He is really, a friend.
Then on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, you can rejoice even more, for He is Risen and has completed the work He came to do!

 

The Keys to Pleasing God

 

The past few Sunday’s my Pastor has been on a series called, “The Keys to Pleasing God”. Our focus Scripture is Hebrews 11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (NLT) Pastor has been showing us steps to real revival in several sermons he’s done this year, and this is also part of it.

Real revival is not just a series of meetings we call a revival, but it is a complete change in us. Part of that revival is knowing what pleases God, and the prime key is REAL FAITH. The keys to real faith are as follows:

1. Real faith is not just something you say. Pastor referenced James 2:14, “What is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (NLT) When we go around talking like a King James Bible or quoting Scripture all the time but don’t show our faith in the things we do, then it’s a lot of being all talk and no action.

2. Real faith is not just something you feel. Feelings can be deceiving, they’re fickle. If we are depending our faith on how we feel, we will be full of faith when we are up and lacking in faith when we are down. Real faith is strong regardless how we feel.

3. Real faith is not just something you think. Real faith shows itself in our everyday lives. We can not be all holy and sanctified within the church walls and then go out into the world and act just like the world with no inkling that we are even Christians. Do those who see you KNOW you are a Believer just by watching you? James 2:18 says, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds,’” (NLT) We cannot hide God and the effect He has on our lives, we must show Him to the world in our everyday lives. What we believe should show up in our lives and in our actions.

4. Real faith is not just something that you believe. Real faith is something that you live! James 2:19 says, “If you say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (NLT) Satan knows full well that God is real, but just because he believes this, doesn’t make him a Christian. The Bible says he is a liar, a deceiver, and there is no truth in him. He will not submit to the leadership of God. Just because we believe there is a God doesn’t make us a Christian, it is our total heart surrender to Him and the evidence of that is our faith and how we live it out in our everyday lives. We are to be committed to Him, not to be just a Christian, but a CHRIST FOLLOWER! Many say they are Christians just because they believe there is a God, but they never open a Bible, go to church or act in a way that reflects that belief. To be a Christ follower requires a relationship with Him.

5. Real faith is something you do. Real faith is about our lifestyle! James 2:20 says, “How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (NLT) Real faith requires us to be Christ-like! Our actions prove that we are living for God. Works are not a requirement for salvation, rather they are a proof of salvation, they are a fruit of salvation. My Pastor pointed out that works don’t make us a Christian, but they show that we are one. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through grace, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” (KJV)

The important thing to remember is that the basis or our salvation is God’s grace! Pastor said that the proof of our salvation is our ministry, and that ministry is to serve God by serving others.

For me, I feel God has given me the ministry of music mainly, and more recently He has given me this blog as an avenue to also minister to those who read it. That avenue can be just by what He lays upon my heart and I put on paper, or through my Bible Journaling. My hope is that when people read my blog that it will always point them to Jesus as the answer for everything.

Free Because of Grace

In today’s Bible Journaling I was reading my Just for Today devotional that I get from my former place of work, TCT, which is a Christian Television Network that airs nationwide and in several countries. Today’s devotion focused on Luke 23:18, “And they cried out all together, saying, ‘Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas.’” The devotion writer spoke about how Jesus took Barabbas’ place and was crucified. Barabbas was guilty, there is no doubt of that, but Jesus willingly took his place and Barabbas was set free. The devotion writer sets up a similar scene whereby we are the accused and are sitting in a cell awaiting the final judgement. We hear the executioner as he comes to pronounce our sentence. We expect him to say, “You’re guilty and the punishment is death.”

But instead he says, “You are free to go. Jesus took your place.”  He opens the cell door and we are able to walk away free!

What an awesome description of salvation! We are all sinners and guilty before a Holy and Just God, but because of His great love for us, He provided a way for us to go free and escape the penalty of death that sin requires.

If we do a little digging, we find that Barabbas was one awful dude! Not only was he guilty of causing an insurrection, but he also was guilty of murder. Not a nice guy to be around. According to Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary, Barabbas means son of shame, confusion. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that the name means, “son of the father. i.e. of the master or teacher.” So, it is possible that he was a Rabbi’s son. And yet, he became a notorious criminal. From what I read, he was the worst of the worst. And yet, God in His mercy and grace, allowed Barabbas to go free and sent Jesus to take the penalty for Barabbas, and not just for him, but for all of us because of our sin. Barabbas deserved the death penalty, but God stepped in!

We, like Barabbas, deserve the penalty of death for our sins. However, God’s grace steps in, and the prison doors open up and we are set free! Because of God’s great love for us, He has provided salvation and grace, unmerited favor!

But sometimes we think that we must change in order to receive salvation. No, the Bible says that we are to come, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21 KJV) A “whosoever”, that means you, without any fixing up or getting cleaned up before you accept Christ. He wants you just as you are!  He will do the work of cleansing and renewing.

God’s grace allows us to go free because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin by dying on a Cross, shedding His blood as a sacrifice, then being buried and rising again three days later, then ascending to the Father where He intercedes for us! All He asks is that we come to Him! He will take away our sins, declare us “not guilty”, and bring freedom into our hearts and lives. We are made right with Him when we ask for forgiveness, accept Christ’s death on the Cross as payment for our sins, and endeavor to live for Him to the end of our days. All we need do is pray and ask Him!