What the Cross Teaches Us… John 3:16,17

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses).  This week’s verses are John 3:16,17.

In these verses… just these 2 verses… we learn some important things from the cross…

1.  The world was (is) in a ruinous, condemned state… destined to perish everlastingly; and was totally without power to rescue itself from destruction.

2.  God, through the impulse of His eternal love, provided for its rescue and salvation, by giving His Son to die for it.

3.  The sacrifice of Jesus was the only means by which the redemption of humanity could be effected.  The sacrifice of Jesus is absolutely sufficient to accomplish God’s gracious purpose: for it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of God to have appointed a sacrifice greater in itself, or less in its merit, than what the urgent necessities of the case required.

4.  Sin must be an indescribable evil… because it required no less a sacrifice, to make atonement for it, than God manifested in the flesh.

5.  No person – man, woman, boy, or girl – is saved through this sacrifice unless he/she believes.  One “believes” by trusting/accepting for oneself what God has spoken concerning Christ, His sacrifice, the reason it was offered, and the way in which it is to be applied in order to become effectual.

6.  Those who believe receive a double benefit:

–  They are exempted from eternal separation from God – that they may not perish.

–  They are brought to eternal glory – that they may have everlasting life.

These two benefits point out the state of man apart from salvation: he is guilty, and therefore exposed to punishment: he is impure, and therefore unfit for glory.

I’m sure there are many other lessons we might learn from these 2 verses… but these will certainly do for now!

This Week’s Memory Verses… John 3:16,17

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize Scripture. This week’s memory verses are John 3:16,17.

You probably know the first verse… but do you know the second one?

It might help to memorize them a phrase at a time:

16 “For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.

17 “For God did not send His Son

into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world through Him

might be saved.”

Let’s see if we can’t memorize these great verses!

Unveiling God’s Heart… Mark 15:37,38

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a verse (or verses) of Scripture.  I hope you will join me!

This week’s Memory Verses are Mark 15:37,38.  In these verses we see God unveiling His heart through Christ on the cross…

This passage gives us a glimpse into knowing God better.  The tearing of the Temple curtain, or Temple veil, shows us God’s heart for us.  Let’s look at the miracle that happened at 3PM on Good Friday afternoon.

The Temple curtains hung down about 60’ from the ceiling of the Temple, covering an opening 30’ wide.  They were a woven fabric; threads of gold and silver braided together.  The curtains were about as thick as a man’s palm, several inches.  Technically, there were 2 curtains.

Temple worship was – more or less – based on concentric squares.  There was the outer court, the court of the Gentiles, where Jesus upset the tables of the venders and the money-changers.  This was the only place non-Jews could worship. From there was the Court of Women.  Getting closer from there was where Jewish men would worship.  Even further still was the Holy Place, where the Jewish priests would offer sacrifices.  This was separated from the outer courts by a curtain.
But, even further still was the Most Holy Place, called the Holy of Holies.  This was, in the people’s minds, the dwelling place of God’s presence.  In the original Temple built by Solomon – the Temple of Jesus’ day was actually the 3rd temple, built by the scoundrel Herod the Great, who had tried to kill Jesus as a baby – the ark of the covenant was kept in the Holy of Holies.  The ark was the box made to keep the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.  On the beautifully decorated lid of the ark was the mercy seat; there the blood of an innocent, unblemished lamb was poured out on the Day of Atonement, now called Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday in the fall.  The ritual sacrifice was for the atonement, the forgiveness of sins, of God’s people.

Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies behind the curtain.

It was this curtain, the inner veil, that split in 2 when Jesus died.  The presence of God was no longer limited to one person once a year.  This miracle unveils 3 things about God’s heart for you and me:

–  God’s Approachability

All people were now admitted into God’s presence.  Because of this, no person can stand between us and God.  We don’t need to go through a priest or church leader.  In Christ, every person has direct access to the presence of God.  The torn veil is God’s invitation to approach Him.

–  God’s Availability

In people’s minds then, God’s presence was confined to the Holy of Holies.  Worship was more or less limited to the Temple.  But the curtain was ripped in 2, from top to bottom.  That was a sign God wanted to be let out, as if anyone could contain Him to a single building anyway!

–  God’s Affection

The Gospel of Mark is an action-packed story, telling us little of Jesus’ teachings.  But, it reveals how God felt about His Son Jesus.  Marks’ introduction says Jesus was and is the Son of God.  At Jesus’ baptism, God announced: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At Jesus’ transfiguration God said this: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!”  And, at Jesus’ death, God responded as any Jewish father would at the death of His Son.  What did Jacob do when he thought his son Joseph was eaten by wild animals?  He tore his clothes as a sign of deepest sorrow.  What did Job do when he heard his children had all been killed?  He ripped his clothes as a sign of deepest sorrow.
When Jesus bowed His head and committed His spirit into His Father’s hands, God tore the curtain from top to bottom, as a sign of deepest sorrow, flowing from His love for Jesus.  By this vivid gesture, God showed He had been nearby through that horrible ordeal.

God is not distant from your sufferings.  God mourned when His Son suffered for you.  And God orchestrated the whole thing – God allowed Himself to suffer deeply – because of His love for you.

This Week’s Memory Verses… Mark 15:37,38

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize a Scripture verse (or verses).  This week’s verses point to Jesus on the cross… as we’re getting closer to Good Friday.

Try to memorize these 2 verses with me… maybe by repeating them over and over, a phrase at a time:

37 And Jesus cried out

with a loud voice,

and breathed His last.

38 Then the veil of the temple

was torn in two

from top to bottom.

God’s Plan for Your Life… Jeremiah 29:11-14

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize a verse (or verses) of Scripture.  This week’s memory verse is a great one!

When Jeremiah passed these words on from God to His people, it was a dark time in Israel’s history.  God’s people were in exile, and the people were feeling hopeless.

And, in the midst of their frustration and hopelessness, God spoke words of clarity and hope.

God has Plans for their life.  What did God’s Plan include?

–  God’s Plan includes Prosperity.

Prosperity did not mean “financial gain”… but spiritual gain.

–  God’s Plan included Protection.

God was watching out for them… and He watches out for us.  Sadly, too many people think God is just out to get them.

–  God’s Plan includes Promise (hope and future).

LifeAPP:

So, what is to be our reaction to God’s Plan for our lives?

–  Call on the Lord (v.12) to help you find His will for your life.

–  Seek the Lord (v.13) as you seek His will.

–  Allow the Lord to Restore You (v.14) in those times you stray from His will.

This Week’s Memory Verse… Jeremiah 29:11

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize a different Scripture verse (or verses).  This week’s memory verse is another really good one… Jeremiah 29:11.

I hope you will memorize it with me.  Try to memorize it by learning it a phrase at a time…

 “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord,

thoughts of peace and not of evil,

to give you a future and a hope.”

It’s good to know God is always on our side!

All We Like Sheep… Isaiah 53:5,6

Each week this year, I have challenged myself to memorize Scripture.  This week’s verses are Isaiah 53:5,6.

Isaiah utilizes a picture of sheep going astray to describe the spiritual condition of the people.
Why does the bible, and even Jesus Himself, often use sheep as an example of people?  Because it was something relevant to their times, and also something that the listeners could easily identify with.  But, also because there are so many similarities between sheep and people!
What causes sheep to stray, as pictured here in Is. 53:6?  What causes them to wander?  What causes us to stray?  Why are people so driven to wander ?
Why is our society so filled with people bouncing from one relationship to another?  Why are some so prone to wander from career to career?  Why are people prone to move from one place to another?  What causes young people – even many adults – to wander through life so aimlessly… straying from good homes and wonderful opportunities, abandoning all for alcohol, drugs, one-night stands, etc.?
It is either because we have no shepherd… or because we have drifted too far away from our shepherd.
Why do we need a shepherd?  Why do sheep need a shepherd?

–  A Shepherd Is Needed For Provision.

David describes this in Ps. 23: “I shall not want… He makes me lie down in green pastures… He leads me beside still waters….”
A hungry, ill-fed sheep is always on its feet… it is restless… on the move, continually searching for another mouthful to satisfy its hunger.  In the same way, sheep that are thirsty become restless… and search for water to satisfy their thirst.  if there is no shepherd to lead them to a clean water source, they will drink from polluted potholes.
People are the same.  The Lord wants to be our shepherd; He wants to be the bread for our spiritual famine; He wants to be the water that quenches out spiritual drought.

–  A Shepherd Is Needed For Protection

Why do we drift?  Why do we stray?  Why so unsettled?

You’ve possibly sung the hymn that includes these lines: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love…

The Lord wants to be our Shepherd… to alleviate our fears… to bring order to chaos… to bring solutions to stress.
Sheep by their very nature are anxious creatures; they are timid… easily aggravated.  Does that sound like any humans you know?
If there is the slightest sense of danger, sheep are ready to flee at the slightest movement.  Fleeing is their only means of escape.  They are otherwise pretty defenseless.  Like sheep, people sometimes feel the only way out is to run… to hide.
Yet, the very presence of the shepherd in the fields with the sheep is enough to calm them.  They are aware of his presence… they sense his love… they know he will take care of them.
Consider our Good Shepherd, and His love for us!  He is willing to lay down His life to deliver and defend the sheep!

–  A Shepherd Is Needed For Peace.

Sheep, because of their make-up, will not lie down until 4 conditions are met:
1)  Freedom from Fear
2)  Freedom from Pests
3)  Free from Hunger
4)  Free from Friction

Those needs must be met before a sheep finds peace enough to lie down.  Sheep are continuously in conflict.  Sheep seem to always be on edge… tense… disoriented… restless.  They lose weight and become irritable.
But the very appearance of the shepherd will cause the sheep to quickly forget their foolish fighting… to quit their rivalries.

We live in a world filled with violence and unrest.  There is contention.  There is strife.  There is war.
Why?  The major problem is we need the presence of the shepherd to help us resolve our conflicts; those within us and those outside.
Negotiations won’t do it.  Peace conferences won’t do it.
A right relationship with God is the only answer.

Are you trusting God for His provision?  For His protection?  For His peace?

The Message of the Cross… Isaiah 53:5,6

The Scripture verses I am memorizing this week are Isaiah 53:5,6.

Isaiah wrote these words, concerning the Messiah, about 700yrs before Jesus went to the cross.  And, though Isaiah didn’t know the name of this future Messiah, he described Him and His ministry as though he had transported into the future and was looking at Him with his own eyes.

When Isaiah describes the cross, he does it like this…

1.SINS…  “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;”  (v.5)

2.SICKNESS…  “Surely He took up our infirmities…”  (v.4)

3.SORROW…  “and carried our sorrows;”  (v.4)

4.STRESS…  “the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,...”  (v.5)

5.SCOURGE…  “and by His wounds we are healed.”  (v.5)

6.SHAME…  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”  (v.3)

The cross is the message of hope for mankind.  The ONLY real message of hope.

We will look closer at Isaiah 53:6 in our next blog.

This Week’s Memory Verses… Isaiah 53:5,6

Each week, I am attempting to memorize Scripture verses.  This week’s verse are Isaiah 53:5,6.

It might help if you break these verses down, and memorize a phrase at a time:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.

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.”

Yet another reminder of the importance of the cross… and Christ’s sacrifice for us all!

What Does God Want?… Micah 6:8

Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a different memory verse.  This week’s verse is Micah 6:8.

What does this verse mean for us?

It is fairly easy to search the scriptures and find verses about the will of God; it is far more difficult to actually DO the will of God for your life!  So, what does God want you to do?

I.  Do Justly

–  This means to do the right thing.

–  This means to do the fair thing.

–  This means to live for an honorable cause.

LifeAPP:

If Heaven wasn’t real… and Hell wasn’t real… Would you still choose to be a Christian?  Would you still choose to live as a Christian?  Would you still go to church?  Would you still love Jesus?  Would you still act with justice?

II.  Love Mercy

Mercy is defined as ‘kindness’… ‘favor’… ‘good deed’… ‘compassion’.  The word “mercy” is used nearly 300 times in the Bible; “grace” 176 times; “forgive” 112 times; and the word for “hell” 54 times.

To fully understand “mercy“, we must remember it was “grace” and “mercy” that saved us… and keeps us in Christ!
“Grace” is getting from what God what we do not deserve; “mercy” is not getting from God what we do deserve.

LifeAPP:

It is God’s will for His people to LOVE “mercy“!  We do this by sharing His grace, not our judgment.  We do this by sharing His forgiveness, not our blame.  We do this by sharing His patience, not our irritation.  We do this by sharing His kindness, not our harshness.

III.  Walk Humbly With Your God

–  To do this, both parties have to be going the same direction.

You will never learn to walk with God until you know which way He is going… and then you change YOUR course to match HIS.

–  To do this, both parties have to be going at the same pace.

In order to walk humbly with God, you must match His pace (speed, tempo)… without getting ahead of Him or falling behind Him.

–  To do this, both parties have to be going to the same destination.

If you want true fellowship with God, make sure you’re going to His final destination.

–  To do this, both parties have to be going for the same purpose.

Why are you walking humbly with God?  This speaks to motive.  The purpose for this action is to get and stay in His perfect will for your life.  The moment you start “walking with God” for any other purpose, you are no longer doing His will.

CONCL:

You cannot 1) do justly, 2) love mercy, and 3) walk humbly with your God if you have unconfessed sin in your life!

God’s will for your life CAN be known… and SHOULD be known.  But, then, it must be lived!!  So, attempt – today – to live this verse!