Redemption

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Chronicles 7

bibleRead 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

14If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Can we lose the gift of Jesus Christ?

YES.

Jesus Christ is not a gift you receive, store for a later date and then use to your advantage.  To view him in this way is to receive without understanding, store the gift without valuing it and use it without respect.

How do we lose the gift of Jesus Christ?

We lose the gift of Jesus Christ if we stop practicing the following disciplines in regards to our sinful nature. Daily we must:

  • Openly identify with name of Jesus Christ
  • Humble ourselves to His authority and commands
  • Pray
  • Seek the face and presence of God in our life
  • TURN FROM SIN

We cannot be ashamed to be called Christians.  We cannot be embarrassed by our association with and nature in Jesus Christ.  This central reality of the Christian life should be our strength.  Being an ambassador of Christ is not just a burden we are meant to carry.  Representing Christ is to be His light in the world.  It is an honor and a privilege to be called a Christian and to hide our identity is to reject the gift.

When we receive the gift of Jesus Christ we no longer possess any authority in our lives.  Naturally there are times when our sin fights viciously to draw us away from the presence of the Lord.  This command is not a command of perfection.  However, it is a daily decision we must all make.  We must all decide if we will use this day to serve our own interests, or His.  We must decide if today we will follow His commands or our own.  To receive the gift of Jesus we cannot claim authority in our lives or wisdom in the steps we ought to take.  Jesus is the final authority, and the Gospel to which we dedicate our lives is His.

Faith in Jesus is a relationship, and like all good relationships, conversation plays a central role.  The fruitfulness of a relationship corresponds with level of communication between the parties involved.  How can we claim to love Jesus or to receive His forgiveness and mercy and at the same time be totally disinterested and apathetic about our intimate dialogue with Him? We cannot. Prayer is not asking for things or saying sorry for things we’ve done.  Prayer is a practice in faith.  In praying we believe that we are talking with the God of Creation and that He takes interest in what we have to say.  Prayer is a powerful gesture to God that we believe Him, we miss Him, and that above all else we need Him.

The gift of Jesus IS Jesus.  The gift of Jesus is not merely rescue from our problems, peace from our strife or joy amidst the misery.  The gift of Jesus is the fact that we no longer have to search for happiness or contentment in anything else.  We no longer have to try and fail to satisfy our own hearts.  The gift of Jesus is the fact that in Jesus we have the answer that our hearts have sought to find from the moment we were born.  Therefore, if we understand the gift of Jesus and resist or even resent the presence of Jesus in our lives as our King and Savior, we are continuing to rely on the gifts that Jesus replaces, and we continue to search for satisfaction that, apart from Jesus, is nowhere to be found.

If you are carrying a box that requires you to carry it with two hands and a person asks you to carry another box, both the same size, both requiring you to carry it with two hands, you’ll have to make one of two choices.  You can either drop the first box and pick up the new box, or you can refuse to carry the new box and continue carrying the box you were carrying at first.  In the same way we have to face our sinful desires and temptations in relation to the gift of Jesus Christ.  The gift of Jesus Christ is the second box.  To receive it we HAVE to put the other box down.  Where do we get the idea that we can carry both? In order to be a recipient of the grace and promises of Jesus Christ we have to lay our lives down, pick the up the cross and follow our Lord.

 

Jesus is God in the Flesh: Forgiveness

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of “Forgiveness”

Although the Crucifixion testifies to the divine nature of Jesus, one can find enough support for the divinity of Jesus Christ prior to his sacrificial death upon Golgotha. Throughout his ministry, Jesus became popular for a number of reasons. While the number of people who believed in him as the Messiah and as God grew, the number of people simply hungry for miracles tended to occupy the daily majority. Just as people in today’s world are hungry for entertainment, so were the first-century people in Palestine.

Repeatedly in the Gospel narratives, we find people who are much more interested in the healing power of Jesus rather than his identity or greater mission to save the world and redeem all people from their sin. But Jesus always makes forgiveness of sin paramount over the physical healing alone. According to Jesus, there was a deeper sickness, a deeper problem and a deeper need for his power than any physical ailment present in a person’s life.

Repeatedly Jesus forgives a person’s sin, in response to someone asking for the healing of his or her body.

But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”  Luke 5:19-20

Jesus saw the deepest problem was sin, so he thrust himself into the center of all sins as the focal point from which forgiveness was to be given. All sins go much deeper and further than the person being sinned against, because ultimately, all sins are against God. Therefore, only God has the right and authority to forgive anyone their sins. In the context of human sin and the transformative healing power that Jesus also exhibited, the only reasonable person in human history that could make a case for having the power to forgive sin and thus be God in human form is Jesus Christ.

Tuesday Devotional: Jude 3-16

bibleRead Jude 3-16

In the world today we are taught that there is no such thing as “evil.” The world claims that to erect walls separating “good” from “evil” is insensitive, counterproductive to the well-being of society.  It is now a flaw to see flaws.  It is a sin to identify sin.  In this cultural and social climate it is increasingly difficult for Christians to contend for the gospel; if, that is, the Christians are attempting to fend off this cultural attack without the aid of Jesus Christ.  A Christian’s attempt to stand up against the tidal wave of cultural and social sensitivity that allows no room for the gospel truths will result in failure.  This is not a fight that can be won by a single person or a group of people. It can only be fought by the Lord, and by realizing this gospel truth, we will discover that this fight has already been fought and won by Christ himself.

Along with Jesus Christ’s completed mission to redeem this world, a Christian must cling to another truth in order to stand in faith.  This truth is that, although increasingly unacceptable to the world, there is a very real and definable line between “good” and “evil”, and that sin exists in the world today.  Taking a passive or naïve position toward these issues does not spread the gospel and therefore will not result in the greater healing of the world.  By erasing the lines of “good” and “evil” we allow for no standards at all.  Without a standard of righteousness, man is left to his own devices. Human history proves that man alone, with the world at his mercy, is a destructive force more terrifying than any other being or species on the face of the earth.  We are dangerous.  We are destructive.  We have the potential for great beauty but alongside this exists a great evil that lurks and waits for an opportunity to be set free.  The Church and every Christian must acknowledge the standard of the gospel of Christ if there is any hope for the life, death and resurrection of Christ to heal the sick and free the captives of this world.  Dismissing the righteous standards of God dismisses his work, and dismisses him entirely.  Ignoring the standards of Christ removes any commonality between a Christian and Christ, and along with it, any meaning or power in bearing his name as a Christian.  Holding tightly to standards that acknowledge “good” and reject “evil” resists the current of the cultural and social flow of this world and follows the spirit of God from the beginning and through to the end.