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


Lord, Save Me!

September 19, 2014

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who ever walked on water.  Yet millions of us only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that his magnificent faith was flawed.  He saw the wind.  Since we cannot see wind this actually means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and he was afraid.  The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus he walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that he prayed the prayer that is a model for us all.  Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by our ‘much speaking.’  If Peter had prayed a longer prayer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub! When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little faith” and I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of what is called “Celebrate Recovery.”  When asked why, he responded: “Because we are all in recovery.  What do you think the word ‘salvation’ means?” When we truly understand the meaning of “salvation” we will frequently pray this model prayer.

Pray this three word prayer of Peter often and don’t think twice:   Lord, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012


A Kinsman Redeemer

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?


What is Your Life?

December 31, 2013

“It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  (James 4:14)

Have you ever considered these questions about your life: what it is, how much life you have, and why it is so valuable?  I challenge you to study all the metaphors the Bible uses to answer these questions.  According to James, our life is a little thing like the vapor of smoke that appears and then disappears.  Now you see it – now you don’t.

Moses tells us that we spend our years like a tale that is told and forgotten (Psalm 90:9 KJV).  In his culture people would sit around a fire and tell tales.  After a fourth or fifth tale was told nobody would probably remember the second or third tale told in that setting.  That is our life according to Moses.

Biblical metaphors tell us that our life is brief, short and like a dream when we awake.  We are given 70 or perhaps 80 years and they are full of trouble.  We are to learn to value our days and receive wisdom from God about what we should do with them.

Another metaphor tells us our life is uncertain.  Our life is like a thread that is about to be cut by the scissors of the Weaver.  God is the one with the scissors and we do not control when He will cut that thread.  So, for us life is uncertain.

Jesus tells us He can join our little, transitory, uncertain life to Him and to God by faith and make our life eternal and everlasting.

What is your life?  It is the opportunity to make that transaction with Christ and live for Him.  Have you made that faith transaction?

 


Look and Live

December 10, 2013

“… Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)

When the children of Israel complained and griped about Moses God showed how He felt about the gripers.  He sent snakes to bite them.  (Some pastors may wish they could do the same.) Then God in His mercy directed Moses to erect a pole at the center of the camp with a bronze serpent on top of it.  The good news was proclaimed: If any of the snake-bitten gripers would get to the center of the camp and look at the bronze serpent they would be healed of their snakebites.

Some of them said that defied all the laws of medical science and they died of their snakebites.  Others said it didn’t make sense but it was the only hope they had.  With help they somehow got to the center of the camp and looked at the bronze serpent on the pole.  When they looked, they were healed and lived!

This story takes on much greater meaning when Jesus makes His most dogmatic declaration: He is God’s only Son, God’s only Solution and God’s only Savior (John 3: 1-21).  As He told a Rabbi named Nicodemus about Moses lifting that serpent in the wilderness, it is a picture of something in the future.  If we will look to Jesus on His cross with faith we will be healed of our sin problem.

Jesus made it simple.  Just look and live.  When you want to solve problems that demand a supernatural solution, look and live.  Have you ever done that?  Why not do it now?


The Level of Decision

December 6, 2013

“… the Lord will not be with you!” (Numbers 14:43)

When pilots are landing a large commercial passenger jet they reach a point where they must commit to their landing.  They call that point of no return the LD, or the “level of decision.”

God is very patient and full of mercy and grace.  However, the chapter quoted above tells us there is an LD in our journeys of faith.  There is a point where we either do, or do not, commit to doing the will of God.

God will lean on us like an elephant to get us to see and do His will.  However, He reaches a point where He will let us have it our way.  When God lets us do our own thing we suffer great loss.  For starters, we forfeit the present purpose of our salvation.  We all know we are not saved by good works but we can lose the opportunity to do the works for which God has saved us (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Israelites chose not to do the will of God, Moses said: “The Lord will not be with you!”  Perhaps the saddest word in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word “Ichabod.” It means “the glory has departed” and teaches that God sometimes withdraws anointing power from His people.

There is such a thing as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life and mine (Romans 12:1, 2).  The book of Numbers solemnly presents two options: after being delivered from our “Egypt” we can go around in circles for 40 years, or we can commit to doing the will of God.

Are you making a wise commitment in your spiritual LD, or are you waiting for the glory to depart?