Why Is This Friday So Good? 

  

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 

One question she asked is, “Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation

Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT

I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me, even if he dies, will still have life ~Jesus, John 11:25

It. Is. Finished.

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Advent: It Is Finished

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Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

“No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

My Choice: My love Supremely (or how to mess up crap)

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In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus is saying that if we do not love Him supremely, more than our family and more than our own lives, we cannot be His disciple. There is no half-way measure. Not all believers bear the Cross. It is possible by living a nominal Christian life. This is called the lukewarm Christian life.

But, if we determine to be all out for Christ we must live the type of life that Christ lived when He was here on earth–a life of self-renunciation, reproach, persecution, temptation, in opposition of others, humiliation.

He wants us to understand that this living and leading like Jesus isn’t for wimps. We need to count the cost. To take up our cross daily is to expect painful situations everyday because of our allegiance to Christ.

I can certainly choose to live a nominal, lukewarm Christian life and avoid all that…..but, it would cost me so much more.

I would miss the miracles, the power, the blessings of seeing God move first-hand. I would miss this deep love affair that sweeps me off my feet. I would miss the dance and gazing into eyes of my Savior; that skin to skin closeness that leaves me speechless.

Who wants to miss that? Not me. Nothing I suffer here on earth could ever be more than what He did for me. Before I knew Him….when He was a stranger to me….He suffered and died for me. Most of us would give our lives for our spouses, or our children because we know and love them but not for a stranger that didn’t even know our names. We get goosebumps when a stranger in the car in front of us buys our coffee for us (I’m not knocking that show of kindness. I think it’s great). BUT this Jesus DIED for me BEFORE I EVEN KNEW HIS NAME. THAT deserves my life. My love supremely. My worship. Everything. No. Holding. Back.

Please allow me to speak bluntly with you:
I have heard many people say, “I feel like crap” or, “I look like crap”. I’ve probably said it myself. In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus is talking about the lukewarm Christian being useless and even messing up crap. Wow. If we stepped in crap, He would have to tell us to move out because we would be messing it up. How bad is THAT?! That is funny, but it’s not funny.

How about making Him throw up?? Take a look at Rev 3:14-22. I don’t want Him to vomit me out of His mouth! He urges us to cleanse, repent, shake off, open our eyes, to be committed. This. Is. Your. Call. Listen! He is standing at the door knocking. Hear His voice and open that door and dine with Him. Besides, the victor will get to sit with Jesus at the dinner table! I get excited about having the opportunity to sit and talk with brilliant people, but THIS! Whew, glory!

You’ve been feeling empty and seeking out your purpose. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

When we give up everything to follow Christ, guess what we find? We find everything right there in Christ. Just like salt, we have a useful purpose. We are here for more than to breath oxygen, and collect treasures of this world. I know money is important and that living life here takes money. Breathing oxygen is important to life, but we are here for more reasons than to breath. We have a purpose to live out, and that purpose is to follow Christ. Christian, its time to live a purpose driven life that lives and leads your family like Jesus. Step out from the crowd, be committed, repent and let’s do this. Together.

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Note To Self: You’ve Gotta Go

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Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

Having outlined His own future in verse 22, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross daily. Anyone who intends to come along side Jesus has to let Him lead. Nothing material can compensate for the loss of a walk with Jesus—Jesus’ disciples are not to use their lives on earth merely to please themselves; they should spend their lives serving God and others. In efforts to focus on acquiring all the worldly things, the true purpose of life is missed. What good would that do when we would only have it for a short while, then leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain! Serve Him with boldness!! And, don’t miss the excitement of His coming back….how could that compare with anything this world could possibly say to us to cause us embarrassment?!

To follow Him we must lay down our devotions to this world and live for Christ and His mission. The fact that He mentioned that we need to take up our cross tells us that we can expect painful situations every day because of our allegiance to Christ. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life that He lived. The life He lived involved this and more:

  • Opposition of loved ones
  • The reproach of the world
  • Complete dependence on God
  • Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit
  • Proclamation of an unpopular message
  • A pathway of loneliness
  • Organized attacks from established religious leaders
  • Suffering for righteousness sake
  • Slander and shame
  • Pouring out one’s life for others
  • Death to self and to the world<
  • But, it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward. Do we think of our relationship with God primarily in terms of, what’s in it for us, or in terms of what we can do for Him? Am I willing to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Him? Willingly renounce any so called right to plan or choose and to recognize His Lordship in every area of life? Surrendering to God’s will does not mean you lose. It means you win. God’s will is always best, even when we cannot imagine how!

    This life of abandonment is genuine living and brings profound spiritual pleasure. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description.

    It is possible for believers to temporarily cower in fear around unbelievers and act “ashamed” of Jesus as Peter did in his denials of Christ. Hurt people hurt people and will often try to embarrass someone for the stand they take in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” -Jim Elliot

    Prayer:
    Deny myself… oh what a challenge for us at times, Lord, but even moreso when we take our eyes off of Jesus and what He’s done for us. This I know Lord… when I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and lose my life for His sake, I am filled with such peace and contentment that can only come from Christ! God, help us to be “all in” in our relationship with You – we can’t have one foot in the world and still fully follow You. Help us to boldly live for You, knowing that it may cost us temporary comfort, but oh what joy for such an eternal reward! In Jesus name, Amen.