Archive for the ‘Atonement’ Category

  “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts  and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love;  my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me (Psalm 13:1-6).”

I walked out of my job today. I literally went and got my next contract from the boss’s secretary and left.

What I did was either one of the most stupid things I have ever done –or the smartest. Only time will tell.

The truth is, I am exhausted. Thus, when an “incident” was brought to my attention by my new supervisor,

I had no patience to deal with it. When I asked “is there anything else?” and the reply was “no”, I  flew the coop.

The “incident” was just the tip of the iceberg related to an ongoing problem on my job. I have tried to get the attention of people in authority to do something about it for months, but to no avail.

Therefore, when I was being called on the carpet for my handling of an issue directly related to the problem, I just did not have the inner resources to respond with aplomb.

This begs the question,”Why not?”  You might ask,”Why didn’t you just rely on the capacities of Jesus instead of your own?”

These are very good questions for which I do not have a ready answer. The issues are complicated; one might even say “thorny”.

What I mean is what Jesus said when he told a parable concerning different ways a person can respond to the message of his kingdom.  Jesus, using the image of a farmer sowing his seed, said: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).”

The situation with my heart is not right these days. It is full of worries and trying to make ends meet. 

I am not doing very well at handling the distresses and agitations produced by my concerns, nor am I producing enough wealth to support my family.

I am in a vicious cycle of bad cause and effect. I am too busy at work to fix the problems in my life and at home. The intended effect of my work i.e., the money needed to support myself and my loved ones, is also not there. As a result of these negatives, I guess you could say my life is a mess. 

 Before I die, I would like to be a fruitful Christian.  I haven’t been very productive since I came to Christ at the age of 17.  My thorns always get in the way.

Jesus had a crown of them at his crucifixion. He carried my problems in those thorns with Him on the cross.

Indeed, the Scriptures say He is a “lily among thorns (Song of Solomon2:2)”. He can take my smelly, ugly issues and make them aromatic and beautiful.

Like any human, I suppose I have developed an “enemy’s list” (a term made famous by Richard Nixon). They are thorns in my way, but they are not a problem to God.

The biggest enemy, my largest thorn in the side, and obstacle to my frutifulness for God, is Satan. He is apt to destroy me if I let him. If I get behind God and let Him fight the Evil One and his cohorts for me, I won’t.

I am tired of The Monster having his way with me and mine. God struck him down in Christ, and I don’t have to succumb to him anymore. The Scriptures say so:

“In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent,Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea. In that day—

   ‘Sing about a fruitful vineyard: 
  I, the LORD, watch over it;
   I water it continually.
I guard it day and night
   so that no one may harm it…

 I am not angry.
If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!
   I would march against them in battle;
   I would set them all on fire. 
Or else let them come to me for refuge;
   let them make peace with me,
   yes, let them make peace with me.’

 In days to come Jacob will take root,
   Israel will bud and blossom
   and fill all the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:1-6).”

Instead of God’s Word not hitting paydirt as in days gone by, I can see a future which includes good soil and fruitbearing for me and my own. I dont think I am fantasizing when I write this, even though I just quit my job.

On the surface, I have put myself and my family in financial jeopardy by floating out of my workplace today. However, there are more important things in life than money.

In the next few months there would have been more of the same: constant work. With the issues facing me and my wife and kids, the workplace is not where I need to be, I think. There are things from God which money cannot buy:

1) The ability to listen to Him in peace (Isaiah 55:1-3) AND

2) Time to seek God and His Word, and let Him and it bear fruit in my life (Isaiah 55:6-11).

This is a worthy saying:

 “You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands. 
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
   and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
   for an everlasting sign,
   that will endure forever (Isaiah 55:12-13).”

My heart has to date has produced nothing but thorns and thistles, that prickly plant that hurts those it comes into contact with. I am tired of my life, and the pain. Really tired.

I know I am in danger and ruthless action is needed:

“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned (Hebrews 6:7,8).”

When the writer of Hebrews wrote the words above, he added a positive note to his readers, which I trust will apply to me as well:

“Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation (Hebrews 6:9).”

 Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the mob. John paints the scene:

 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’  When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ “.

Jesus is my King and He bore my worries and anguish. I don’t have to deal with them anymore.  For me, here and now, Jesus is “The Man”.

Maybe now I can trust him with my future. I am banking on the truth that He remembers that I am a ball of dust and subject to mistakes, like losing my composure today.

God, come in and fix them, and me, too.

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


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“I will exalt you, O LORD,  for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help  and you healed me.  O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit (Psalm 30:1-3).”

I am not a big fan of the horror genre. In fact, I am no fan at all.

I do occasionally remember seeing the beginning of a TV show called “Tales from the Crypt”, with some sarcastic, grotesque figure introducing each episdoe. I had no interest in it, and don’t recall ever watching the program.

Stil, the moniker “Tales from the Crypt” is quite novel and I thought I would do a little research to learn something about this series. It IS Halloween!

It turns out the broadcast originated with a comic book series from the 50s. In fact, there was a film of horror anthologies made in the 1970s, each introduced by this ghoulish character.

Each stories main characters are flawed people looking out for themselves. The stories all end horribly for them. (What else would you expect in a horror film!?).

At the end of all the stories, this grotesque emcee, the Crypt Keeper, reminds all the characters of their various sins and their endings. The door to Hell opens and the characters all enter.

“And now… who is next?” asks the Crypt Keeper, who then turns to face the camera and says, slowly and melodramatically, “Perhaps you?”

Christians have approached the concept of Hell differently. Some of us see it as quite real, but are divided as to its nature. Others ignore its existence and go on about their lives. Finally, some deny Hell’s existence altogether.

This is not the place to carry on about the doctrine of Hell. However, the plausibility of its existence should at least make us think of the consequences.

If indeed Hell exists, we need to make sure we are not heading their outselves. Furthermore, we need  to rescue as many who are willing from entering its gates.

There’s only one way to avoid Hell. It’s to except the atonement of Jesus Christ.

What He did on the Cross for us was illustrated in a scene from the Old Testament.  It involved an offering.  Moses was instructed by God to collect some money from each Israelite when he took a census.

The people formed up and, when they were counted, paid the money. They then stood apart from the others. As each person gave the offering, he passed over to the “paid in full” group.

This scene was played out as a remembrance of God providing the means of forgiveness of their sins. With this “atonement money”, God was satisfied and the people were reconciled to Him. Without it, they would endure a plague (Exodus 30:11-16).

Today, if we trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we are reconciled to God.  God isn’t satisfied with money now. He will only accept our faith in His Son, who has already paid our fee once and for all. If we were an invoice, we would be walking around with a big “paid in full” on our foreheads.

At Halloween we are reminded of the things pertaining to Hell. They are all over our pop culture.

One reason we can have peace and not fear during this “celebration” is that we know we are not affected by it. We have passed over, from death to life.

We won’t be a character in “Tales from the Crypt.”  The only door opening for us is the one to Heaven and eternity living with Jesus Christ. For us, Halloween ought to be a time of praise that we have been delivered from darkness. 

But there are those still stuck in the twilight zone, fearing death, and as a result, life. Thus, Halloween also ought to be a remembrance to reach out and grab those folks and let Jesus pull then to the other side.

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