What’s the “Good” in Good Friday?

April 3, 2015

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

If you want to know what is good about Good Friday this verse in Isaiah 53 will tell you.  This verse describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the same word: “all.”  The verse begins with what we might call “the bad news.”  Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray.  We have turned, every single one of us, to our own way.  If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, agree that you yourself are included in that first all.

The all with which this verse concludes is what we might call “the good news.” Isaiah ends this verse by telling us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own way has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus).  I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news!  If you and I will confess that we are included in the first and the last all in this great Gospel verse then we know what we need to know and we have done all we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.  And we know what is good about Good Friday.

If you want to make this Friday of Holy Week a Good Friday, believe what Isaiah has written.

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010


Absolute Eternal Value of Easter

March 31, 2015

“Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures… and on the third day, He was raised to life..”  (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived. Why is the last week Jesus lived so very important?

The obvious answer is during that one week Jesus died and was raised from the dead for our salvation. In I Corinthians 15, after clearly stating that the Gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul focuses like a laser beam on the second Gospel fact – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In 58 inspired verses, Paul shows us in a practical way what the resurrection of Jesus should mean to you and me.

Have you ever wondered why the apostles, who were all Jews, changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never called Sunday the “Sabbath.”  They called it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings rightly deserved for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.  The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says, “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value – that Jesus died for our sins – when he wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Forgetting What God Forgets

February 24, 2015

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel, which is the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.  We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers.  In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)

However, God remembers that we are sinners.  We forget we are sinners. (That is one reason we fall into sin again & again.)  After we confess our sins, we show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When the nun was summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question:  What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”  He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later when the nun requested an appointment with the Monsignor, he asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?”  She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?”  The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about the forgiveness of our sins, that is the answer we should expect to hear.

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we simply must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


Shouting “That Means Me!”

February 20, 2015

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins.  Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains…”  (Isaiah 44: 22, 23)

When one of the greatest men of God who ever lived committed the sins of adultery and murder, filled with remorse and contrition (which means being exceedingly sorry for sin), he prayed a great model prayer for forgiveness.  If you have sinned and you don’t know how to confess your sin read Psalm 51.  Make it your own prayer and you will do a great job of confessing your sin.

In the original Hebrew David actually asked God to un-sin his sin.  Any devout believer who has really sinned will resonate with this prayer petition of David.  The spirit of the prayer petition is: “Oh God! If You could only make it as if it had never happened!”

That introduces us to one of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “justified.” This word means “just as if I’d never sinned” and it means “to be declared righteous.” David uses this word in his prayer of repentance.

Sunday school children are taught a song that summarizes these Scripture verses:  “God has blotted them out, I’m happy as I can be. God has blotted them out, I’ll turn to Isaiah and see. Chapter forty-four, twenty-two and three.  He’s blotted them out and I can just shout! For that means me!”

They may be merely singing words when they’re children but when they grow up and become people who sin they may shout with tears when they read these verses and remember that song.

When you sin can you shout, “That means me?

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2013


Some Truth about Truth

May 14, 2013

“Am I therefore become your enemy,  because I tell you the truth?”  (Galatians 4:16)

We can be a philosopher and love truth.  We can be a sincere seeker after truth and never find the truth we seek.  According to Jesus when we come to know the truth by relationship, He himself will make us free (John 8: 30-36).

Jesus said in a prayer to His Father: “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17: 17)  This means we should read the Bible as a lover and seeker of truth.  Jesus made the claim that His teaching is the truth of God (John 7: 17).  He even told us how we can prove that claim.  The doing leads to the knowing. If we will personally do what He teaches we will know that His teaching cannot be the teaching of a man.  It has to be the teaching of God.

There are times when we can devastate people with the truth.  There are also times when the truth can cut through the denial of people and set them free from problems that are isolating them from reality and destroying them.  It is then that we must speak the truth in love and ask if we have become their enemy for doing so.

When we are facing those kinds of challenges we must pray that: “God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves” (2 Timothy 2: 25).  To repent means to think again and have a change of mind will and direction.

May your search for truth not only end but begin with the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through me.”    (John 14:6).

 

 


Difficult Relationships

November 6, 2012

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in meekness correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”   (2Timothy2:24-26)

We might label these words Paul wrote to Timothy: “How to relate to a difficult person.” We all need this teaching because we must all deal with difficult people.

According to Paul the difficult person to whom we are relating has been taken captive by the evil one and we cannot free them.  We can maintain three fruits of the Spirit (gentleness, meekness and patience), which keeps the door open for God.  We then earn our hearing and place before them the Word of truth they need to hear. We must not quarrel because that opens the door for the evil one and closes the door for God.

When they acknowledge the truth of God’s Word they experience repentance, and escape from the captivity of the evil one.  This is not a matter of teaching or preaching.  It is not having the last word or winning the argument.  This is becoming a conduit through which almighty God sets people free who were not free.

To repent means to think again or to have a change of mind, heart, will and direction.  It is a work of God you cannot perform.  Only God can use His Word and you His servant to make this happen.  In an attitude of prayer and in dependence upon God and His Spirit are you willing to be a conduit of this miracle?