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What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 48

48. Finale

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Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

We have seen what God gave up for Lent—His One and Only Son. Hopefully you’ve seen up close and personal what He went through, and some of the things He had done. There is no need to ask why, because you have seen over and over the reason why…was you; He did it for you. And you see that even with the last five words of the above passage which began this Lenten study: “For the sake of you”.

I would like to think after considering all the things God went through, all the things He did, and all that He gave up, you would fall on your knees and repent, and become a follower of Christ. But I’m not that naive. Some will never be moved by the love and sacrifice of our Great God. For those who have been moved by the passion and compassion of our gracious God, what is your response?

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

And since Christ lives in you, and you live by faith…

Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NLT)

So what is your response? That you no longer live for yourself, rather you live for Christ.

This study started when many of you may have had an ashen cross drawn on your forehead. I pray that the power of the cross has moved from your head to your heart; and then…

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

AMEN.

We’re back with the Psalms later this week.  – SD

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 29

29. All & Fall

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. (Isaiah 5:6)

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There are times when generalizations are used, and we need to take them seriously. When Isaiah says all here, he means all. Recall the familiar passage in Romans: As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ( Romans 3:10-18) Just as in Isaiah where all means all, in Romans, none means none.

All is a common word in the Old Testament, used over 5300 times. All is the most common of its translations, but other occurrences include: any, every, everyone, everything, whoever, whatever, and whole. Are we getting a sense of inclusiveness here? The iniquity of us all. Anyone and everyone who will come to Christ, He has already taken your sins upon Himself. As the old hymn goes: There is room at the cross for you. There are none saved, who have not had their sins taken away by the Son of God.

We must not miss the convergence here. Where as all of the iniquity of us all is dispersed amongst all of mankind, here it is focused upon The One. For Christ in His humanity to take upon Himself the iniquities of us all—and that doesn’t just mean those who existed at the time of His death; no, it means that everyone at any time throughout history past and history yet to come, every sin fell upon Him—that would be utterly overwhelming.

Fall upon can have a deadly meaning, and in most cases, the result of being fallen upon is actually to be killed. It can also mean intercede, and it is used as a geographical term regarding borders reaching or meeting one another. Christ did indeed intercede for us on the cross, and having our sins fall upon the Him had deadly consequences; but consider this as a geographical term. Heaven came down to earth, met sin, then took it upon Himself. Returning to the primary meaning, this meeting was deadly. Sin didn’t just fall; it fell on Him. Imagine the picture, of all the sins of mankind rushing down upon Christ, as an enemy would rush upon a foe, with so much violence and ferocity so as to completely devastate.

We must not think this was an exercise in gravity or magnetism; that all the evil in the world that was, and is, and is to come, was mindlessly attracted to Him. Neither should we think this was the work of the devil. No, this was the work of the Father, who caused the focus and unleashed the fall. I’m not sure we will ever understand what this did to The Father, what He was feeling and thinking; but we do know why He did it. It was for you.

Note where this comes in the chapter. Isaiah has just listed off the six substitutions of mercy and grace that only Christ could accomplish; and then—here it comes—All of us like sheep have gone astray. So immediately following the ultimate act of love and sacrifice, we wander off! Now I could see the Father becoming a bit ticked by that, as we turn from the greatest act of love ever done in the universe.  But what does He do? He caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Look behind the cross and see in the Father the same love for you which the Son had for you.

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 24

24. Crushed and Humiliated

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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. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

The Hebrew word for crushed has several renderings: break, broken, beat, bruised, destroy, oppressed and smitten. But twice the word has to do with attitude rather than action: it portrays one being contrite. Another meaning for contrite is humbled, and not only being humble but being made humble. If one is crushed, then you could say that one has not only been humbled, but humiliated.

We learn in the New Testament this humbling was an act Christ did Himself: Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ( Philippians 2:6-8)

Note the two distinct and intentional acts that Christ takes: Emptied Himself; humbled Himself.

Emptied here means to lay aside, but it also means to be drained or deserted. It also can mean being made null and void. What does it mean to become empty? Here was Jesus, Who had eternally existed as God, One of the Trinity in the Godhead, and He emptied Himself. Now we know that He did not drain Himself of all deified attributes: He still had power to heal, to raise from the dead, to forgive sins, set aside physical laws, know the thoughts and hearts of those around Him, etc. But He laid aside, He emptied Himself of the position and privilege of being God so that He could walk among us as man, and not just a man, but a bond-servant.

From purely a point of comparison, He did indeed go from all to nothing. And He calls us to the same all or nothing (albeit only on a limited, finite, human level).

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. ( Mark 10:21-22)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. ( Mark 12:30)

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26-27)

So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:33)

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. ( Gal 2:20)

And for those who still cling to broken and false thinking, we do believe He really is nothing, devoid of worth and nothing for us to even bother about. But for those who believe such, you cannot and do not understand what really has taken place, what kind of sacrifice was made, nor are you able to count the cost.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Certainly there are things that we do understand, specifically for those of us who have been given new hearts and the mind of Christ. But even with our sanctified understanding, there are distances that cannot be crossed because we would just be overwhelmed. We can never truly understand how much Christ gave up, how much He surrendered, how much it cost Him. Yet this should not frustrate us; rather it should be a matter of wonder, awe, and praise. Revel in the mystery, wonder at the immeasurable, and stare at the infinite and be lost in worship and praise.

Iniquities in the Hebrew also means guilt and punishment. Irony abounds here: He was punished for our punishment; He was pronounced guilty for our guilt.

This is the fourth of the substitutions: For our iniquities, our guilt, and our punishment, He was crushed.

Singing with the King (99) – One Stop Shop

You alone are God. (Psalm 86:10)

Last time we looked at this Psalm with a more or less theological approach. We considered this verse the way David was seeing it, the way he was seeing and knowing the LORD. But then we continued on with more verses from this Psalm to understand why David knew this to be.

Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (vs. 2-5, 15)

Notice the couplets:

Protect me— I am devoted to you.

Save me— I serve and trust you.

Be merciful to me— for I am calling on you.

Give me happiness— I give myself to you.

Then David lists off a string of characteristics about his God, who alone is God: good, ready to forgive, full of unfailing love, compassionate, merciful, slow to get angry, filled with unfailing love, and faithfulness. Who wouldn’t want to come to a God like that?

I mention all this again because God being the “one and only” is more than just a theological truth, it’s a relational truth. What I mean by that? Not only is He God alone, He’s all you need. Consider these following verses:

In heaven I have only you, and on this earth you are all I want. (Ps 73:25)

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (Ps 23:1)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)

The apostle Paul picks up on this theme in in his letter to the Philippians: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (4:19)

So now we have in effect, a double-edged sword. The LORD, he is God alone. And he’s all that you need. God does not call you into an exclusive relationship, just to exclude you from all else. Your salvation need and you relational need are one.

Your salvation is both eternal (John 6:40), and to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Your heart has more than you can ever ask or imagine:

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The greatest need for your heart? The greatest need for your soul? Jesus Christ… Only.

Singing with the King (35) – All That I Want

Needs vs. Wants – Psalm 23:1

Girl in a field 4The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
I’ve pretty much been taught my entire life that God will supply all my needs, but NOT my wants. And there is a very famous passage which everybody quotes to prove that point: And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) See? Needs.

But don’t forget the other phrase from that first line; and consider what the LORD, your shepherd has done for you:
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul
He guides me in paths of righteousness
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me
You anoint my head with oil
My cup overflows
Goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life
I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

This is far from an exhaustive list, but note, He has even ushered you into eternity. Now if the LORD has done all those things for you, what else do you want? And speaking of want, the Hebrew word has several close relatives as translations. They are empty, some form of lack, and decreased. All those translations work in this verse. With the LORD as my Shepherd, I shall not be empty; I shall not lack; and I shall not decrease.

So many times we’ve had to compared the thought of God supplying our needs vs. God supplying our wants. But here it says wants, not needs. And that particular word is here, because it answers that very fundamental question: What do you want? And the answer is… the LORD. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 73, which sadly is not one of David’s, but it is still my favorite. And the one verse that ties directly into Psalm 23:1 is verse 25—Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. So you can see why David has no other wants— he has the Lord. Can you say the same? I hope so.

Singing with the King (32) – Confession & Forgiveness

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Interrogation

 

If you’ve watched a lot of crime shows (like I have) the word confession is not very pleasant. In fact the goal of every detective in an interrogation is to get a confession out of the guilty party. Now obviously there is no need for the innocent to confess. But the problem is, is there anyone who is NOT guilty?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”  And hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:16-17)

So, we’ve all sinned, and we’re all sick—and that is we need to confess if we want to be healed by Jesus.

There are four parts to a heartfelt and Biblical confession:

  1. Agree with God you’re a sinner
  2. Acknowledge that God KNOWS you’re a sinner
  3. Admit your guilt (and be specific)
  4. Repent (change your mind, then change your direction—turn away from your sins and return to God.)

I was surprised at the different translations of the word confess in Hebrew, but they are consistent with the joy one receives from confession, and glory given to God. Most often the word is translated as thanksgiving or praise.

So what happens when you confess?

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!  Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! (Psalm 32:1-2)

But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. (1 John 1:9)

Confession is not about the weight of penance or guilt. It’s about the joy of being forgiven by a loving God.

 

Singing with the King (30) – The Whole Earth

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.                     (Psalm 98:3b)

Jesus WorldGod could have done a quiet work of salvation, He did after all, chose a small, even insignificant, people, in a remote part of the planet. They had many huge and notable empires nearby: Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, etc. But there was tiny Israel, always with another conqueror breezing through, and making them a (remote and inconsequential) part of an “intergalactic” empire. But one of the reasons God chose a small people was to ensure that they would never (try though they must) get the credit for their salvation. This salvation was very much a God-thing, and must not be confused for anything else. So when All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God, they were seeing the salvation of our God.

Now the question needs to be asked: Why? If this was an “Israel only” to-do, why should all the earth see it.

Well, Israel may have been God’s Chosen people, but all earth’s peoples were made by Him—all had His image stamped upon them.

There were those who were aliens who would recognize that the God of Israel was indeed the Lord of all. In the context of this Psalm, it was because they had seen the salvation of our God.

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. ( Lev 19:34)

So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)

God had spoken to Israel on many occasions, reminding them they too were aliens; Perhaps the greatest thing about the New Covenant—all of us aliens can now draw close to the Lord God through the shed blood of Jesus.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

After all, We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)