Tag: cross

My Dream

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The other night I dreamt I was part of an Easter play, and I was the Christ. I was excited about playing Jesus because, after all, that is definitely a leading role. I figured all I needed to do was walk around in a robe, wear a holy look on my face, glance up towards Heaven now and then, and I’d be a real hit.

However, there were a couple of things I had forgotten. Like the beating and the subsequent crucifixion.

So, after a few minutes of healing everyone and riding a donkey into town, I begin preparing to be placed on the cross. The beating wasn’t too bad, though it wasn’t a walk in the park, either.

Climbing onto the cross was a different story. I had assumed my hands and feet would merely look as though I was nailed to it, but instead I saw the nails about to be hammered into my wrist.

I stopped everything. “Hey! This isn’t supposed to be happening”, I screamed. 

Someone said, “Don’t worry, you’ll rise again.”

I started to relax, then it hit me. I was not the Christ! I wouldn’t rise again. My life couldn’t pay for my sins, let alone everyone else’s.

Then I awoke.

Two things hit me immediately.

1. The love of Christ is beyond comprehension, but not above being experienced. It was His love and faith that kept Him on course. Love for His Father and for us, and His trust in His Father’s Word. Paul said, “Faith, which works by love” (Galatians 5:6).

2. There’s more to “take up your cross daily” than I ever thought. When Jesus said those words, He wasn’t referring to wearing a gold necklace with a shiny cross attached. No, He meant for us, for me, to be so in love with Him that I follow Him completely. Even to the cross, if necessary. To trust Him to resurrect my life, my dreams, my everything.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
Looking at the cross will never be the same.

Because of my dream.

Did God Turn His Back On Jesus?

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus spoke these words as he gasped for each breath of air; suspended between Heaven and earth. Dying on the cross.

Did the Father actually forsake Jesus, or was the pain so great Jesus felt like he was all alone? What do you think?

Does the Father God forsake you and I? Ever?

No.

Even if we’ve done wrong?

No. 

Even though we may have cursed him?

No. We’re the reason he sent his son.

But isn’t it true that God can’t look upon sin? 

Why can’t he? He’s the strong one. He’s the pure one. He can change the sinner; he’s even been known to eat meals with sinners.

Sin has a problem remaining in HIS presence. When Isaiah stood before the Lord, it was Isaiah who had a hard time looking at the Lord, not the other way around. Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips. Where can I hide?” 

Would the Father leave his son, when he was needed the most? 

No.

It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. All part of the plan. God’s plan. To allow his son to become the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The sin in you, in me. 

We were part of God’s plan, established before the beginning of the world? Yes.

For the purpose of destroying the works of the devil, Jesus came. 

Did the Father ever turn his back on the priests as they sacrificed cattle and sheep on the altar?

No. The fragrance was pleasing to him. Not the fragrance of burnt hide, or the metallic smell of blood. The fragrance the Father liked was the fragrance of forgiveness, justice, and reconciliation. 

Restoration.

The Psalmist declared, “God is my refuge and my strength; a very present help in trouble.”

Father God declared, “I will be with you in trouble, to deliver you and honor you.”

The cross would definitely qualify as a time of trouble, and a troublesome place. 

Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed him stricken; smitten by God and afflicted. But he wasn’t. It looked like it to us, and to everyone who was on the hill that notable, unforgettable day. It looked like the Father turned his back on Jesus when Jesus needed him most. But he didn’t.

No, he didn’t. 

Just as he was with Jonah in the belly of the great fish, Father was with Jesus, and he is with you. And he’s with me.

Whether we are in the fish because of our sin, or we’re standing in seaweed up to our thighs because we’re taking someone else’s place; he is with us. God is with us. We may not see him, hear him, or touch him. But he is with us.

For Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquity. Our punishment, our annihilation, he carried to the cross for us. Carried it to the One who could say, “Paid in full.” God made him, who knew no sin, to be made sin; so we, who never knew righteousness would be made the righteousness of God in Christ.

Did God turn his back on Jesus?

No.

In fact, God gave Jesus the grace to taste death for every man, woman, and child. The cry from Jesus, while praying in the garden, sweating great drops of blood, was a cry for help. Had Adam cried for help in that first garden, God wouldn’t have asked later, “Adam, where are you?” But Jesus cried for help; help so he could taste death for everyone. 

And God was immediately there. 

Everyone has a standing invitation from Father God: “come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The time of need is also a time of trouble.

Why is this important?

Have you ever failed God? I have. Have you ever sinned? Yep, got me again. Have you ever said things you regretted saying, just a few minutes after saying them? Haven’t we all?

Has the accuser of the brethren ever launched into one of his tirades, accusing you of the sin which leads to death, and “promising” you God has left you, never to return? Has he ever shown you his charts and photos, with “Greek and Hebrew” interpretations and explanations, trying to convince you that God’s mercy DOES have an end?  

Have you ever believed him?

That’s why this is important.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1

The psalmist kept crying out to God, praying and wailing, and praising. All the way down to verse twenty one. Note the change:

“Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!”

While Jesus hung on the cross, he didn’t just quote the first verse of Psalm 22. I believe he quoted the whole thing. He would have said something like this:

“Oh God, it looks like I am all alone! I feel like you’ve abandoned me! But I know you inhabit the praises of your people.

“Oh God, this pain is so great! It is more than I can bear. I cry out to you, but you seem so far away. Everyone around me is mocking me; claiming you, Father, are the one punishing me. Oh, I wish they all could see why this is really happening. Please, be not far from me, for trouble is very near.

“Yes, I feel so all alone. I cry to you, but you seem to have turned a deaf ear to me.

“Oh, THERE you are! Honoring and delivering me, just as you promised! The bulls of Bashan and the horns of the wild oxen will not destroy me after all. Hallelujah!” And from that point on, Jesus was ready to finish his mission.

When the Lord declares, “I will never leave you or forsake you”, please try and remember one thing…

He means it.

  

Demand Justice!

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What do these things have in common?

20140213-085226.jpgRainbow – beautiful colors leading to a pot of gold, an arch of promise arrayed in the sky

20140213-085237.jpgSalt – a seasoning, a preservative added to foods to reduce contamination and spoiling

20140213-085245.jpgGold – soft and heavy precious metal, perpetually used as money, jewelry, and one mystery use

20140213-085252.jpgDrought – long periods without rain or dew, seasons which cause famine and death

20140213-085302.jpgWhip – cat-o-nine-tails, leathery tool with long, thin leather straps for striking objects

20140213-085313.jpgNail – iron pegs used for fastening one object to another, a peg used to pierce an object

20140213-085320.jpgWorm – little creatures that are long and skinny, simple creatures that live in dirt and other things

20140213-085326.jpgLake – a large hole in the ground which is filled with a liquid like substance, a pool of liquid

20140213-085333.jpgCross – a charm on a bracelet or necklace, symbol of Christianity, the place where justice was executed

Many people today are lifting their voices and screaming, “We want to see justice! Justice in the home and the return of the father. Justice among children, and an end to child abuse. Justice among women and the end of sex trafficking. Justice within society, with racial, sexual, and gender equality.”

“Justice!” The world is demanding justice, as though justice is an answer for mankind.

Actually, it is. Justice is the answer for man, and a necessity for world peace.

Did you figure out what those things have in common?

Justice. Each one has something to do with justice.

Please follow my line of thinking: Justice requires judgment – Judgment requires sentence – Sentence requires execution – so, Justice requires execution.

Execution – Death. Justice requires death.

Everyone of the things mentioned are symbols of justice being meted out. Justice.

The rainbow, the promise of God to never destroy the earth by water, was positioned in the sky after all the earth’s inhabitants DIED except for 8 people and a bunch of birds and critters.

Salt, more specifically, a pillar of salt, signifies the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the whole surrounding valley. Everyone DIED except for 3 people.

Gold, a wonderful metal for creating jewelry, but not so great when making a milkshake. Moses, upon seeing the golden calf Aaron had made, ground up the gold and made the idolaters drink it. Afterward, the second part of justice was executed, along with the idolaters. They all DIED.

Drought, a sad weather related phenomenon. Especially when it’s used as a judgment against a group of people who worshipped the god of rain and fertility; Baal. Many DIED, but not Elijah.

Whip, used for motivating horses and cattle to move along. Also used for punishment, making the recipient of such a lashing wish they had DIED.

The nail was used for building things, piercing ears as a sign of ownership, and attaching a sinless savior to a cross. He didn’t die directly because of the nail, but it held him there long enough until he DIED.

The worm? Along with its friends and family, consumed the insides of a proud king until he DIED. An angel of God used worms to mete out justice.

This lake isn’t one most people would choose for a vacation. Hardly. This lake is filled with fire and brimstone, into which everyone whose names aren’t written in the Lamb’s book of life are thrown. In THAT lake they will forever WISH they could no longer exist.

The cross is where justice was executed for all mankind. One man, Jesus, DIED, for the sins of us all.

The penalty for all sin, big or little, is DEATH. But Jesus took our sin, our punishment; and justice was served!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16 – 3:17 NASB)

Do you want justice? Are you screaming for justice?

Come to Jesus and find it!

The Tree, The Pole, and The Cross

20130909-223215.jpgIt was around 6000 years ago that God created the Heavens and the Earth. He also created mankind, as well as a Garden in which man was to live. In the Garden there were many trees; trees of all kinds. And among them all, there were two special ones. One, the Tree of Life; the other, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Adam and Eve were told they could eat of any tree EXCEPT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, that’s the tree they chose to eat from.

The tree of life represents God’s way to life. Though His way may appear to be restrictive and slow, it always leads to life.

Always.

“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.” (Psalm 68:20 ESV)

The second one, the forbidden tree, represents man’s attempt to gain all God has and is; without Him. It always leads to death.

Always.

“Why wait for God to help me, when I can help myself and get what I need quicker,” seemed to be the mindset of Adam and Eve.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25 ESV)

Later on, some 4000 years ago, there was a pole erected in the wilderness. Upon the pole was the form of a serpent molded out of bronze. The children of Israel had attempted to, once again, find a quick way to God’s promises; without God. God’s ways bothered them. They were restrictive and slow; and the people couldn’t stand His ways, His provision, or His leaders any longer. So they murmured and complained and started planning a return trip to Egypt.

Remember, man’s ways always lead to death.

Always.

Their rebellion, for that’s what it was, opened the “door” for the fiery serpents in the land to attack the camp. They began biting the people, and those who were bitten died.

Well, it didn’t take too long for the people to “get religion”, and beg Moses to ask for the Lord’s help. The Lord told Moses to erect a pole with a bronze serpent on it. He then instructed Moses to tell the people to “Look and Live”.

“And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived.” (Numbers 21:9 AMP)

The serpent on the pole reflects man’s total disregard for God’s way, AND God’s willingness to heal and restore wayward man. ALL they had to do was “look”.

But notice the wording in Numbers 21:9 (Amplified); attentively, expectantly… How easy would that be with a bunch of poisonous snakes crawling around and up your legs? Keep looking at the pole? Are you kidding?

No, God wasn’t kidding. You see, man got into trouble, originally, by not believing God’s word; instead he believed the serpent. Again, in the wilderness, the children of Israel got into trouble by not believing God. So it would take faith in His word to bring restoration and healing.

Repentance must always include faith; whether with people or with God. If one does not believe someone else was right, while they themselves were wrong, they cannot truly repent. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” So the children of Israel had to believe, and follow God’s instructions.

Finally, 2000 years ago there was a cross. Placed on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, there the Son of God, who had never disobeyed His Father, died for the sins of the world. The cross reveals, once again, man’s desire and attempt to live their lives free from God’s influence, demands, and restrictive ways. And it screams to all who’ll listen, mankind’s capacity for evil.

In all three examples, the tree, the pole, and the cross, man cannot get rid of God! Man cannot be so evil that God won’t provide a way to be restored. As long as people have an opportunity to repent and believe, God will always have a remedy, a Way out.

Always!

Yes, those three things show man’s desire to be free from God; but they also reveal the heart of God to bring true freedom to all who will believe.

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:14-16 AMP)

You and I can’t get rid of God and we can’t live without Him. We can not shut out His love or our need to repent and believe. The tree, the pole, and the cross all speak the same thing; man’s ways will not bring God’s life, but God’s ways will.

ALWAYS!

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