Tag Archive - Salvation

Washed Away

 Paper is such a common item today. Writing paper is inexpensive. Notepads are given away by businesses. We rarely concern ourselves with throwing away or recycling paper.

This was not always the case. In Biblical times, paper as we know it didn’t exist. Parchment was the most common used material used for writing documents. However, it was expensive. It was made from animal skins, but it was not tanned as is leather.
Because of its expense, it was often used multiple times. This was made possible because the inks of that day did not contain acid as inks today. Therefore, all one needed to do in order to reuse a parchment was to wash off the ink and let the parchment dry.

This was often done when a debt was paid. The debt was simply washed away. The record was cancelled.

What a picture of what God does with us. In Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah writes the words of God, “I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” (NLT)

And centuries later, Peter, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke these words, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, ” (Acts 3:19, NIV84)

The message is simple. Jesus took the record of our sins and wiped it clean. When we trust in Him, we are forgiven. Our sins are washed away.

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The Cross Not the Scales

Because of recent events, there has been much interest in the religion of Islam. Sales of the Islamic scripture known as the Qur’an have been record setting. Many people have wondered about the differences between Islam and Christianity. We both believe in the one God of the universe. We both claim Abraham as our spiritual ancestor. So, what is the difference?

 

 

John Stott, in his book, Authentic Christianity, states this one critical difference. “The repeated promises in the Qur’an of the forgiveness of a compassionate and merciful Allah are all made to the meritorious, whose merits have been weighed in Allah’s scales, whereas the gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.”

The Cross is the one critical difference between Christianity and all other religions. All other religions admit that the human race has a problem with sin, but none have a solution that is so complete and final as the Cross. With all other religions, one must wait until death to see if you made it. One has to wait until that final breath to see if the scales will tip in their favor. The guilt and shame are never wiped out. There is no certainty of hope in life.

But the Christian’s forgiveness was settled once and for all on that Cross. No more guilt. No more shame. Just joy, peace and everlasting life. The Cross is the difference. It is the difference between Christianity and all other religions. It is the difference between sin and forgiveness. It is the difference between life and death. It is the cross and not the scales that make the difference in not only in our future but in our lives today.

 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”  (Ephesians 2:8–9, NLT)

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Finishing Line or Starting Line?

Many people see the cross as the end. They see it as the end of a struggle. It is the end of the ordeal they have to go through or the end of a struggle they have had to endure. Too often, it is something that signifies the end so we can get on with our lives. We see it as something we must face before we get to go to heaven. It is something we have to get out of our way, so that we can deal with more important issues, more pleasant things. For far too many people, the cross is something we avoid because it signifies an end.

The fact that when Jesus was on the cross, he uttered the words, “It is finished,” seems to enforce the idea.

Yet, when Jesus spoke to his disciples about the cross, He told them it was not the end but the beginning.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34 (NIV84)

Jesus was telling them and us that life does not end with the cross. Instead, life does not, in fact it can not, truly begin until we take up our cross. The cross is not the end, but the beginning. It is not the finish line, it is the starting block for us. Until we take up our cross then we have not begun to live this life of faith. Until we shoulder our cross, we have yet to experience the fulness of life Christ promises.

Which is it for you? Is the cross something you pick up at the end or is it what you start with? Is the cross of Christ our end or our beginning?

Come Awake!

HE’S THE ONE!

The judge glared down from his bench at the prospective juror. “And just why it is,” he asked, “that you don’t want to serve on this jury?”

The man replied, “Well, judge, I’m biased. One look at that man convinced me that he is guilty.”

The judge scowled and replied, “That man is not the defendant, he’s the District Attorney.”

Did you know that the same sort of situation happened to Jesus? He had every right to be the prosecuting attorney, but He chose to be the defendant. The one who had no sin had every right to point our transgressions out. He could have convicted us of all of our failures and disobedient actions, but instead He chose to take them upon Himself and bear the guilt and shame that were really ours.

During this time of Lent, when we think about Jesus’ death upon the cross, we need to remember that He died for OUR sins. He took OUR place and He died OUR death.

I am glad that we have such a God who would give us such a Savior.

In His Place

. Maximilian Kilbe

In February 1941, Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest, was arrested by the Gestapo for harboring Jews and sent to Auschwitz. Kolbe was assigned to Barracks 14 where he continued to minister to his fellow prisoners.

One night a man escaped from Barracks 14. The next morning there was tension as the ranks of phantom-thin prisoners lined up for roll call in the square. Afterwards, Commandant Fritsch ordered the dismissal of all but Barracks 14, who were forced to stand still in the hot sun all day long. By evening the commandant would make a lesson out of the fate of this miserable barracks. “The fugitive has not been found. Ten of you will die for him in the starvation bunker!” he screamed.

As the ten were chosen, a cry rang out from one of the men chosen, “My poor children! My wife! What will they do?”

Suddenly there was commotion in the ranks. A prisoner had broken out of ranks and volunteered to take this crying man’s place. It was Father Kolbe. The frail priest spoke softly, even calmly, saying, “I would like to die in place of one of the men you condemned.” The commandant ordered it done, and the ten were marched to Barracks 11 where they would spend the last of their days.

Franciszek Gajowniczek was the prisoner whose life was spared. He survived Auschwitz and for 53 years—until his death at age 95—he joyously told everyone about the man who had died in his place.

As we go through this time of Lent, we must remind ourselves that we were once under a death sentence. Yet, one came forward and offered to take our place. Jesus Christ died in your place. He gave Himself on the cross so that you could go free.

Franciszek Gajowniczek joyfully told everyone about the man who died for him. Could we do any less.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8, NIV84)

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Because of Him

. Roger Maris

On September 8, 1998, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire made history by hitting his 62nd home run of the baseball season. It was an emotional moment for four people sitting in the VIP section of the stadium. They were the grown children of Roger Maris, the man who hit 61 home runs in 1961 to establish the record.

The children of Roger Maris were an important part of the celebration that night. Yet none of them had played a Major League baseball game in their lives. Maris’s children did not receive special attention because of what they had done, but rather because of who their father was. He had made it possible for them to be present and honored because of his achievement years before.

There will be a day when we will sit with the saints cheering on the faithful. (Hebrews 12:1) There will be that day when we will sit at the heavenly banquet feast that God has prepared for us. (Matthew 8:11) And not a single one of us will be there because of what we have done. We will be there because of another’s accomplishment.

Years ago, Jesus Christ made it all possible because He died upon the cross for our sins. He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice for us. Because He shed His blood, we live. We will be there, not because of what we did, but because of what He did. We will be there, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

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New Blood, New Life

. Demi-Lee Brennan

In January, 2008, a story made the rounds about a 15-year-old girl in Australia named Demi-Lee Brennan. Brennan became the world’s first known transplant patient to change blood types from O negative to O positive, taking on the immune system of her organ donor. Her body’s ability to accept a new liver – and then produce new blood cells on its own – has left doctors mystified.

The rare phenomenon now means Demi-Lee no longer has to take a cocktail of anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

The blood stem cells in Brennan’s new liver invaded her body’s bone marrow, taking over her entire immune system. She now has an entirely different kind of blood—blood that welcomes life, rather than carrying death.
“It’s like my second chance at life,” Brennan says.*

Demi-Lee’s doctors call her change “a miracle.” A transplant not only extended her life, but changed it. The transplant transformed her basic source of life.

There is another miracle of which we need to be aware. As human beings, we are under a death sentence. We have broken the holy law of God and we are condemned to consequences of our actions. Yet, because of the cross of Christ, we have hope. His blood has been applied to our lives. His sacrifice was not just a legal transaction that sets us right. It is even more. It enters in to our lives and changes our very being.

His blood not only is exchanged for ours, but his blood transforms the very DNA of our lives. He didn’t just fix us, He changed us.

That’s truly a miracle.

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.”   (Hebrews 9:14, NLT)

*sources:
 
 

 

www.reuters.com and www.news.com.au

   

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Saved by Another’s Blood

 

   On November 26, 2008, a gang of terrorists stormed the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India. After the carnage had left 200 people dead, a reporter interviewed a guest who had been at the hotel for dinner that night. The guest described how he and his friends were eating dinner when they heard gunshots. Someone grabbed him and pulled him under the table. The assassins came striding through the restaurant, shooting at will, until everyone (or so they thought) had been killed.

 

Miraculously, this man survived. When the interviewer asked the guest how he lived when everyone else at his table had been killed, he replied, “I suppose because I was covered in someone else’s blood, and they took me for dead.”*

As we go through Lent, we need to remind ourselves that this life of faith we live is a gift because someone else shed their blood. Because of our sin, all of us deserve to die. But because we are covered with the blood of Jesus our savior, we live. We live, not because of our goodness or even because we try to be good, but simply because His blood is on us.

How is that blood get on us? By faith. The Scripture is clear that if we believe He died for us, then His blood is on us.

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! ” Romans 5:9 (NIV84)

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*Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan, 2010), p. 42;

 

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The Punctuation of Advent

In Russia, a period actually saved a man’s life. The Czar had condemned the man to death and sent this telegram to the jailer: PARDON IMPOSSIBLE. TO BE EXECUTED. The Czarina, who felt sympathetic toward the prisoner, intercepted the note and changed the punctuation as follows: PARDON. IMPOSSIBLE TO BE EXECUTED. The jailer released the prisoner and he fled the country before the Czar discovered what had happened (mrcoward.com).

That is what Christmas does for us. God moves the period of our lives and brings grace into our lives. What was impossible for us to do ourselves. Is now reality through Christ.
Through the history of the human race, we human beings have tried to find pardon and forgiveness for their lives. We have tried everything from trying to be good enough to belittling others to make ourselves look good. The end result is always the same. Pardon is impossible.
But what is impossible for us is not with God. He moved the period in our lives. Not only with our pardon, but in every aspect of our lives, God can move the period. He can bring not only pardon, but hope, joy, peace and life.

This Advent, start letting God move the periods of your life. Let Him decide what is possible or impossibe. You might just be surprised at just what is possible.

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ” (Matthew 19:26, NIV)

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