December 20, 2019
“… and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
If there was anyone in the Christmas story who had the right to an explanation of what was happening, it surely was Joseph. The angel who shared these words with Joseph expressed what Christmas is all about when he told Joseph to call the baby Mary was going to have “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sins.
The word “Jesus” actually means “Savior.” But I would like to call your attention to the reality that the baby was to be given this name because He would save His people from their sins.
Many evangelical believers seem to put a spin on this statement of the angel that was never intended. Our spin is something like “forgive His people for their sins.” However, the hard reality is the angel declared that it was the purpose on the heart of God to save His people from their sins.
In the words of Psalm 107’s redemption hymn, when God redeems us from our chaos it is also God’s plan to deliver us from our chains. That is obviously on the heart of God when the angel pronounced this Christmas Good News.
Redemption means “to buy back and bring back that which was lost.” Rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” Jesus came to forgive us for our sins, but He came to offer us much more than that. Jesus wants to save (and deliver) us from our sins.
This year have a personal Christmas – believe the declaration the angel made to Joseph!
Dick Woodward, 24 December 2009
December 14, 2018
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.” (Psalm 107:4-6)
This excerpt from the first stanza of Psalm 107’s great hymn of redemption describes how God redeemed His people when they were wanderers in a wilderness. Their way was desolate. They were hungry and thirsty to the point that their souls fainted in them. Then they cried to the LORD and He delivered them from their distresses.
Deliverance is a synonym for salvation, and salvation is a synonym for redemption. This first stanza of Psalm 107 describes how God redeems the Israelites from their CHAOS.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read several times when Jesus saw the multitudes He wept for them because they were like lost sheep that had no shepherd. They did not know their right hand from their left. In the Gospel of Luke the entire fifteenth chapter is called “The Parable of the Lost Things” because it describes the loving heart of Jesus for those who are lost. A key verse of Luke tells us that Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)
From Genesis to Revelation we are told of the great loving heart of God for those who need to be redeemed from being lost. After eloquently describing this first level of redemption, the theme of this psalm is repeated: that those who have been redeemed from their chaos should step up and thank the Lord.
Can you resonate with this first level God’s redemption, and then step up and say so?
Dick Woodward, 14 December 2009
January 10, 2014
“And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’” (Deuteronomy 25:10)
One Law of Moses stated that if a man died and had no son his widow could go to one of his relatives and ask him to marry her. If he refused to marry her she could subpoena him to court. If he affirmed that he was not willing to marry her, they had a ceremony: before the court she spit in his face and removed his sandal. He was then disgraced and boycotted in business. The man who obeyed this law, however, was called “a kinsman redeemer.”
This law is the background for one of the most beautiful love stories in all of inspired and secular literature: the book of Ruth. As a widow Ruth has the right to ask a man named Boaz to marry her. Although they meet and he shows her he loves her and would love to redeem her, she has to ask him to be her redeemer.
When we understand the ways this story relates to our redemption we will realize that we must personally ask the risen, living Christ to be our Kinsman Redeemer. To redeem Ruth, Boaz pays off all her debts and marries her. Our Redeemer pays all our sin debt through His death on the cross. Then, through His resurrection He enters into a relationship with us the New Testament describes as a marriage to Him.
We also read in the New Testament that He is standing at the door of our life showing us, like Boaz, that He loves us and would love to redeem us. Like Ruth we must have a “romance in reverse” individually proposing to Him, asking Him to be our personal Redeemer.
Have you ever done that?
February 23, 2013
“Let the one who is wise consider these things and see in them the loving kindness of the Lord.” (Psalm 107:43).
Psalm 107 is a great hymn of redemption. In each of the five stanzas this inspired hymn writer profiles a different dimension of redemption the people of God experience. Each description ends with the hymn writer exhorting the redeemed of the Lord to thank the Lord for His goodness to them and His wonderful works in their lives. He demands that if they are redeemed, the people of the Lord should step up and say so!
An extraordinary ministry to high school young people brings their year to a conclusion with a wonderful week of camp meetings in the summer. They bring that week to a verdict with what they call a “say so” meeting when they encourage young people who have come to faith to step up and say so!
In each of the five stanzas in Psalm 107 the hymn writer profiles how the Lord has redeemed His people from their chaos, their chains, their foolish choices, their crises, and their complacency. Then he writes a profound summary of the various vehicles God uses to make these things happen:
He turns rivers into deserts and deserts into flowing springs. They have very fruitful harvests. Then He diminishes them and they are brought low. At that point He blesses them. Their numbers greatly increase and God does not let their herds diminish.
He writes that spiritually wise people will observe these events and see in them what the love of God sometimes looks like.
When these “ups and downs” happen to you, are you spiritually wise enough to see in them what the love of God can sometimes look like for you?
June 27, 2012
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…” (Psalm 107: 1, 2)
Redemption means to get something back that has been lost. It is similar in meaning to the word “rehabilitation” which essentially means “to invest again with dignity.” I have quoted the first words of a marvelous hymn of redemption. A thought that is repeated at the end of each of the five stanzas in this psalm is that those who have been redeemed by the Lord should step up and say so – gratefully giving thanks for the various ways in which they have been redeemed.
Levels or dimensions of redemption are profiled and each description ends with the charge that we thank the Lord for His goodness in redeeming us in this way. God redeems us from our chaos when He finds us. He then redeems us from our chains when He sets us free from our sins.
This is followed by the way He redeems us from our foolish and sinful choices. He emphasizes our responsibility for bringing on the consequences of our sins.
He then describes the way God redeems us from our complacency by meeting us in our crises from which He redeems us when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do. He agrees with Isaiah that God creates these crises (Isaiah 45:7).
Meditate on all these levels of redemption. Ask God to continuously redeem you in all these ways. As you reflect on each individual dimension of redemption step up and join the redeemed of the Lord in grateful worship.
And say so…