Barrier…GONE!

I was thinking just recently, Father, how truly blessed I am. You have so generously poured Your blessings over me – work, church, home, Karen, family and on and on and on. I love that You and I are close and that You are but a thought away. Thank You, Father, for being You!

Matthew 27:45-56 (<<click to read the passage)

One of the biggest challenges we have in our relationships is barriers. Some we put up intentionally. Others are just a part of who we are. Many of us have been hurt, so we’ve shrouded ourselves with a layer of insulation in the attempt to avoid getting hurt again.

And it is a struggle, even in the best of relationships, to get past those barriers. Some we are never successful in overcoming – they are just too high and wide and thick and so deeply buried. Many go to their graves and have denied themselves the many-faceted wonders of true, deep love because barriers in their lives have overwhelmed them – they have been buried by them.

If we can think of an example of that type of barrier in our lives and then multiply that a million times over, we might get just a glimpse of the barrier that was between us and God. No matter how hard we try we cannot rid ourselves of the curse of division. We cannot do it…but Jesus did!

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. vs. 45,46,50,51

The curtain separating the Holy Place (in the Temple) [where only the priests could enter) and the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest could enter, and only once a year, to atone for the sins of the nation) was torn in two at Christ’s death, symbolizing that the barrier between God and humanity was removed. Now all people are free to approach God because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.*

Thank you, Lord Jesus, the barrier is gone!

*Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation

Dec 13th, 2018, Thurs, 8:16 pm

Nothing New

Father…I know the answer but I must ask, “How do You do it?! How are You soooo patient?!” And in this instance, long-suffering describes it much more pointedly. I know it’s because You love me but maybe the better question is, “How do I do it?!” I try to tap into Your reservoir of love but me, myself and I get in the way! Help me, Father, I need You to be “greater and greater” as I “become less and less.” (John 3:30)

Matthew 27:35-44 (<<click to read the passage)

Many things in life seem to change but wise old King Solomon really had life pegged.

That which has been is that which will be [again],
And that which has been done is that which will be done again.
So there is nothing new under the sun. 
Ecclesiastes 1:9

One of the greatest and most obvious things that has not changed one iota is the attitudes and mindsets of humanity.

39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Would it be any different today? Not a bit. As you read the text, it just oozes with self-righteousness, arrogance and an “I told you so” mentality. It may seem crass but he makes me want to vomit! They were just so full of themselves and because they now had the upper hand they reveled in their supposed victory. But nothing could be further from the truth.

They had not won…they lost and in a huge way. And it wasn’t just their conquering Jesus which was not victory what so ever. It was defeat They had not just lost the “competition”, their very souls were lost and they were oblivious. I pray that some came to the realization of the Redeemer before they passed from this life.

Lord Jesus…Savior…Redeemer, keep my mind fixed on You. May I love You with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30-31) Amen!

Dec 12th, 2018, Wed, 5:13 pm

Alone…

What a beautiful day – a clear blue sky with not a cloud to be seen! Your love shines upon us, our Great Creator!

Matthew 27:32-34 (<<click to read the passage)

I was raised on hymns and continue to feed myself and my congregations with hymns – I am sure that is why hymns so readily come to mind. This passage makes me think of the first stanza of Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone written by Thomas Shepherd in 1693and found in his contribution to Penitential Cries. It reads,

Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.

He may have been an unwilling participant in Jesus’ journey to Golgotha but Simon of Cyrene really had no choice in the matter, he was “forced…to carry Jesus’ cross.”

Though Jesus was surrounded by literally hundreds of spectators, including family and friends, as well as, enemies, the indifferent, and thrill seekers eager to witness another public execution, he, in essence, was alone.

Simon may have carried His cross. Soldiers may have pushed Him along. Some may have wept. Others jeered. …but Jesus was alone. Jesus carrying my sin…your sin… Every. Single. Person’s. Sin. …who had ever or will ever walk the face of this dusty old ball in space.

Prior to his death, He even exclaimed in anguish, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (verse 46)

Alone…

My Lord and Savior…I…am…so…sorry – for even though I love You dearly, I would have done no better than they. There are still times where I get caught up in my life and I leave You once again…alone.

Forgive my erring ways. Give me a heart that aches for You…one that yearns to see You, to touch You, to be close to You. May You never be alone again… May I readily take up my cross and follow You wherever You may lead. Amen.

Dec 11th, 2018, Tues, 12:58 pm

Change Their Tune

An old hymn comes to mind as I come to sit with You, Father:

For He is so precious to me;
For He is so precious to me.
‘Tis heaven below,
My Redeemer to know,
For He is so precious to me.
– Charles H. Gabriel

Thank You, Father…

Matthew 27:27-31 (<<click to read the passage)

I would think that if anyone would know how royalty should be treated and respected, it would be the Roman military. I’m sure that many of them were not necessarily cultured or refined but they would be very familiar with the dos and don’ts of honoring leadership.

They did pay homage to the “King of the Jews” but in mockery. If they had truly known whom they were mocking they would quickly have changed their tune – He would not have been whipped, His “robe” would have been of the finest quality and not the outer cloak of a ranking Roman officer (as a footnote in the Amplified Bible states). His crown would not have been a construction of thorns but would have been made of gold and the finest of gems – the same for the reed placed in His hand.

They may not have done those things if they had only known…but someday they most certainly will know and they will bow before the King of All Creation. And they will be mortified at the acts they committed so long ago when they come to realize what they did.

Lord, on that great judgment day many will wish they could change their tune…but their many opportunities will have passed and no other opportunity will be given. As it says in Philippians 2:9-11, every one of us will have to acknowledge that,

“God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

May my proclamation be one of great joy and may I be diligent in bringing others to meet You so that they may do the same! Amen!

Dec 10th, 2018, Mon, 8:36 pm

We Are Barabbas

Once again I am reminded our Your everlasting love! Reading through Our Daily Bread this morning was a beautiful reminder. ThankYou for the reminder and most importantly for Your love!

Matthew 27:15-26 (<<click to read the passage)

I am Barabbas. I do not say that with any joy or pride whatsoever – in fact, I am utterly ashamed to acknowledge it. But…inreality we all are Barabbas. We are guilty. We deserve death. We are the ones who sinned…and because we are guilty of sin we deserve death. But again, like Barabbas, we are pardoned because Jesus paid the price. He took our place. My study Bible* states, “Ironically, Barabbas (me…you…every single one of us) was (is!) guilty of the crime for which Jesus was crucified.” He stood in our stead.

And no matter how many times I read this passage I am always struck by verse 25:

And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children”

The Greek translates that last portion as:

“His blood be on us and on our children.”

Another ironic statement – yes, we must “take responsibility for his death” and through it may be difficult for us to grasp, the only reason that we can stand before the Father is Jesus’ blood does cover us!

18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Another Our Daily Bread article drives this home. Here’s the quote:

We say that God has righteousness and that He makes people righteous, but this can be a tough concept to grasp.

The way the word righteousness is pictured in the Chinese language is helpful. It is a combination of two characters. The top word is lamb. The bottom word is me. The lamb covers or is above the person.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for standing in my stead. I am only worthy in Your righteousness.

*Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation

Dec 9th, 2018, Sun, 6:20 am

Doing it right for once.