Sunday 7/1 ~ Satan pays our wages for our sins

The scripture for today, July 1 (7/1), is Leviticus 7:1f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible.

“These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy. The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be sprinkled against the altar on all sides.”

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-ThumbnailRomans 3:23 says the wages of sin is death. The earnings are paid by Satan, the author of death.  The earnings for your sins were collected by substitute deaths of substitute perfect animals over and over in the Old Testament. But Jesus nailed the Old Law to the cross (Colossians 2:14), and with his one sacrifice made it so that no more blood sacrifices were necessary (Hebrews 8-9).

In a sense, Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, laid down on the altar of the world where his blood flowed from all sides of the cross to all sides of the earth. Why would anyone want to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and nullify that horribleness Jesus went through in our place?

Jesus collected your wages from Satan for your sins in your place. We can never, ever thank him enough.  Instead of temple ceremonies, he asked you to commemorate his death with the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion each week.  Do you?  On Sundays, the day he came back to life, do you?

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Saturday 6/23 ~ God’s Boomerang

The scripture for today, June 23 (6/23), is 2nd Chronicles 6:23 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnail“Then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty and so establish his innocence.”

Did you notice here that God brings down on our head what we do to others? It includes how we treat him too. If we don’t have time for God, God doesn’t have time for us. If we put God last, he puts us last. If we refuse to forgive others, he refuses to forgive us. This is the boomerang effect. Here are several scriptures that reflect God doing to people what they do.

The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.” (Psalm 9:15-16)

“In his arrogance, the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.” (Psalm 10:2).

“The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts.” (Psalm 37:14-15)

“Let the heads of those who surround me be covered with the trouble their lips have caused.” (Psalm 140:9)

“He mocks proud mockers.” (Proverbs 3:34)

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)

“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” (Proverbs 26:27)

“Woe to you, O destroyer, you have not been destroyed! Woe to you, O traitor, you have not been betrayed. When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.” (Isaiah 33:1)

“According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes.” (Isaiah 59:18)

“I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices.” (Ezekiel 7:8)

“As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)

In the meantime, we’re to leave punishment to God. And, if you are falsely accused of anything, God will declare you innocent. His is the important judgment.

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Thursday 6/21 ~ Satan is just. God is merciful.

The scripture for today, June 21 (6/21), is Romans 6:21ff as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

Inside-AUDIBLE-Hearts-Medium“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Sometimes you do things you are ashamed of and decide God would be too ashamed of you to accept you as his child. But God can get rid of the shame, for he can forgive so completely that it is as though we never did those things.

Do you bristle at the phrase “slaves to God” or “slaves to Christianity” or even slavery at all? But we’re all slaves to something ~ a big car, high position, beauty, a hobby, chasing after the opposite gender, reading, eating, music, sports, etc.  What are you a slave to?

From the beginning of time, sin has always been rewarded with death. Death means “separation” and in the case of sin, it means separation from God. God allowed us in Old Testament times to kill a perfect animal in our place, but we had to keep doing it throughout life. Then Jesus came as our perfect Lamb of God and allowed himself to be killed in our place.

The wages were collected from Satan by Jesus.  Yes, Satan pays mankind our due.  He is for justice. God is for forgiveness.  Instead of paying us what we deserve, God pays us what is not just.  It is his love.

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Thursday 6/14 ~ Are you willing to collect the wages?

The scripture for today, June 14 (6/14), is Numbers 6:14 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-Thumbnail“There he is to present his offerings to the Lord…a year-old ewe-lamb without defect for a sin offering… “

A lot of people don’t understand what Jesus dying on a cross has to do with going to heaven. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death” ~ both physical and soul death. It is Satan who pays us our wages.  In Old Testament times, God intervened and allowed people to kill a perfect animal in their place whenever they sinned. But it was only a temporary fix because it is impossible for us to be perfect.

Finally, God the Word came to earth as a human, and John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Jesus was perfect; that is, he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Then he took the wages of sin from Satan and died as the perfect Lamb of God in our place ~ both physically (separation from people on earth) and spiritually (separation from God the Father). He even went a step further and miraculously came back to life!

Then God said, If you’ll believe and imitate Jesus, I will consider your debt paid in full and consider you perfect too (Romans 6). Then I’ll bring you back to life in heaven. How amazing! 

And, by the way, since he came back to life on Sunday, that’s what makes Sunday so special. It’s an I’m-sorry-you-had-to-die-for-my-sins Day.  It’s the “Do-this-in-remembrance-of-me” Lord’s Supper Day.  It’s a Gratitude Day.

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Monday 6/4 ~ Have you ever walked away from God?

The scripture for today, June 4, is Psalm 6:4 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 8-ComeFlyWithMe-Cover-Thumbnail-New“Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.”

Have you ever walked away from God then couldn’t figure out how to make a turnaround and get your life back on track? Are you there now?  Stop! 

Stop whatever you are thinking and feeling and considering.  Look behind you.  God is a gentleman and will never force himself on you. When you turn away from him, he turns away from you.  But, oh, how he misses you.  He wants you back so you can feel his love again. 

All you have to do is stop everything and call for him to come get you. “Turn, O Lord! Turn! Deliver me!”

Why would God be so good to someone walking away from him? Because he loves you and is always listening for your voice. His love is unfailing.

 

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Sunday 6/3 ~ Baptism? What in the world for?

The scripture for today, June 3, is Romans 6:3f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-Thumbnail“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life….because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”

Oh! Baptism does all that? Some people say no, but God says yes. Indeed, in baptism we obtain a new life ~ are born again. And in baptism we are freed from sin ~ forgiven. Look at it this way: Just as Jesus died carrying our sins on himself, we die to our sinful nature ~ the part of us that sins and doesn’t care. Then just as Jesus was buried in his tomb, we are buried into his death in our watery tomb. And just as Jesus came up out of his tomb the Savior, we come up our of our tomb the saved ~ with “a new life” and “freed from sin.

Everything works together beautifully ~ hearing, believing, confessing, dying to sin, being baptized into Christ Jesus. What an honor and privilege we have been given to imitate what he did for us!  

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Thursday 5/31 ~ Shall we rebuild the temple?

The scripture for today, May 31 (5/31), is Deuteronomy 5:31 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 5-FloodGates-Cover-Thumbnail-New“But you [Moses] may stay here [on the mountain] with me [God] so that I may give you all the commands, decrees, and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.”

Many people believe that the “Law of Moses” consisted only of the Ten Commandments. But there was much more. It took Moses 40 days to write them all down. How many? Over 600 “commands, decrees and laws.”

Some people today want to dip back into the Law of Moses to get showy types of worship ~ candles, incense, stoning for adultery, instruments of music, choirs, animal sacrifices, separate priesthood, special clothing for priests, and tithing to pay for it all. Jesus nailed the old law to the cross (Colossians 2:14) and created a much simpler New Testament/Covenant!

Other people want to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Why? So they can revert to animal sacrifices and thus nullify the sacrifice Jesus made of himself?  James said that, if we keep part of the Law, we are obligated to keep it all (James 2:10).

By calling this covenant [testament] ‘new’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear’ “ (Hebrews 8:13). Not part of it. All of it. Hebrews goes on to say that the Holy of Holies is now in heaven, the curtain in the temple is now Jesus, etc.  Rebuilding the temple would mean going backward from grace to legalism.

Thank God we do not have to keep all those 600+ commandments in the Law of Moses. They were controlling and tedious, and some were impossible to keep. Why would God give a law impossible to keep? To help us understand that it is impossible for us to be perfect. Finally, understanding that, he was ready to send his Son to earth to be perfect for us.

 

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Monday 5/21 ~ What if I only sin sometimes?

The scripture for today, May 21 (5/21) is 2nd Corinthians 5:21 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 8-ComeFlyWithMe-Cover-Thumbnail-New“God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

A lot of people do not understand what Jesus’ death has to do with going to heaven. The key is in Romans 3:23 that says “The wages of sin is death.” When Adam and Eve sinned, immediately their souls died, and the bodies gradually died. That was the wages they collected for sinning.

It’s been happening to everyone since then. But, during Old Testament times, God allowed people to make a perfect animal take their wage, shed its blood and die in their place when they sinned.

This was only a temporary fix, however. Hebrews says the blood of animals cannot truly take away (take the substitute punishment for) sins; they are remembered again every year (Hebrews 10:3-4).

Finally, John the Baptist announced Jesus was “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). In order to forever stop all the sacrificial substitute dying, God prepared his own perfect Lamb ~ Jesus, who never sinned. For 33 years, God’s Word took human form in Jesus and became one of us. Then he had to shed his blood and die in our place. In so doing, he collected our wages forever.

Jesus did two things impossible for us to do: Live a perfect life without sin, and come back to life after he died ~ both physically and spiritually. Why? So we could do another thing that is impossible for us to do on our own: Enter heaven, the home of the perfect.

Heaven is not for people who do a lot of good works and only sin sometimes so that God will have no choice but to take them into his home. It only takes one sin to be a sinner.  God cannot exist with sin.

God invites us to his heaven if we will follow Jesus. We don’t even have to be perfect ~ just forgiven. Jesus was perfect for us. What amazing love.

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Monday 5/14 ~ Perfect love

The scripture for today, May 14 (5/14), is 2nd Corinthians 5:14a as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-Thumbnail“For Christ’s love compels us….”

On a distant hill a very long time ago, something unbelievable happened.

Jesus died both physically and spiritually in our place! (Remember when he said God had forsaken him?) He knew we couldn’t come back from either kind of death on our own, so he did it for us. Such terrible things he went through for us!

Love is powerful! It causes us to do things for someone we love that we never wanted to do and never dreamed we could do.

How powerful is your love for Christ? Do you share the love of Christ with others? 1st John 4:18 says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”

You must reach out to people who think Jesus will ruin their fun, or has too many rules, or could never forgive them, or wouldn’t stop a tragedy from happening to them. If not in person, tell them in a note, a phone call, email, even a song. There are ways. Reach out. You can and you will if you let Christ’s love compel you.

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Tuesday 5/1 ~ It stretches our mind, our heart, our soul

The scripture for today, May 1 (5/1), is Romans 5:1 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Of course, if we do not have faith in Jesus, we will not obey any of his commands. He said in John 15:14, “You are my friends IF you do what I command.”

How do we become his friends?  By obeying all his commands. But we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and the wages we earn with our sins is body and soul death (Romans 6:23).

That makes it impossible for us to live in heaven. Only the just can enter heaven. Otherwise, heaven wouldn’t be heaven. But how do we become just when the fact remains that we sin by actions, attitudes, and good things we leave undone?

Every time we sin, we come in the clutches of Satan, the originator of both body and soul death.  He holds us hostage. So, God came to us in flesh, paid our fine, our bail, and bought us out of the death prison of Satan. He got us out and declared us not guilty.

But we have to believe he did that for us.  What amazing God we have. We can barely comprehend it. It stretches our mind, our heart, our soul.

Yes, it is a beautiful thing what God did for us. That was his part. Our part is to believe it, accept it, and actively follow it.

That, too, is beautiful.

Monday 4/16 ~ Are you strong enough to forgive?

The scripture for today, April 16 (4/16), is Hebrews 4:16 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Anyone who has lived very long has committed some sin they hope no one ever finds out about. Some people have committed many such sins. Sometimes because of that one “big” sin or the constant repetition of a particular sin, do you punish yourself by putting words in God’s mouth? Do you say, “God could never forgive me for that”? Perhaps you can never forgive yourself, but God is greater than you.

Jesus told Peter we must forgive our brothers 70 times 7. If kept literally, that would mean we’d have to forgive the same sin 490 times. It is figurative for forgiving all the time. 1st Corinthians 13, the “love chapter” of the Bible, says, “Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” That means not holding grudges.

In addition to forgiving yourself and others, can you reach out to help people who cannot forgive themselves? Are you strong enough to imitate God? Are you strong enough to find enough mercy and grace in your heart to forgive?

Monday 4/9 ~ I want to do this. Help me.

The scripture for today, April 9, is 1st John 4:9f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-Thumbnail“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

How perplexing. We are stymied. There is no solution. We humans do not have the will to live perfect lives. We give in to sin. We can never get it right. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. In the Old Testament era, God let people kill an animal in their place whenever they sinned, but it had to be done over and over. But still, every time we sinned, our souls died a little more.

Then came our answer, our rescue our solution. But the cost.  It was so high.  God sent his Son to us for a while with a body so his Son’s body could be killed (collecting our wages, the cost of our sins) in our place.

Finally, God invited mankind to bring our souls back to life through him ~ that is, become Christ-ians. How do we become alive through Jesus? Of course, we know about believing Jesus was the Son of God and repenting of our sins. Also Romans 6:4 says when we are baptized and come forth out of the Spirit’s watery womb, our souls are born again and we now have a new life.

But it does not stop there. We must try the best we can to live as Jesus lived, speak as Jesus spoke, love as Jesus loved. With Jesus living in us, we are his mouth, his hands, his feet. It is then that we offer our own bodies as daily sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

Oh, Lord God.  I want to do this. Help me.  Help me.

Wednesday 3/28 ~ The Holy Spirit is what?

The scripture for today, March 28 (3/28), is Mark 3:28f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-HS-592 VersesExamined-COVER-Thumbnail“I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

This is confusing to many because we aren’t sure what it means to speak against the Holy Spirit. Jesus clarifies it in John 14:17 where he said he was going to send to us another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. And in John 17:17 he said God’s Word is Truth ~ the Bible.

If we refuse to believe what is in the Bible, then we are going to refuse to believe in a Savior and refuse to repent of sins. These things are unforgivable because we have no belief in Jesus or sin, and no remorse.

Have you ever tried reading the Bible through in a year? If it’s too much for you, the Old Testament half was written to the Jews and the New Testament half was written to the Christians; choose one. It will fill you with an amazing amount of knowledge and understanding, all from the Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit that communes with your spirit.

Thursday 3/15 ~ Rise up and sing!

The scripture for today, March 15 (3/15), is Colossians 3:15 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-Mefiboset-KINDLE Thumbnail“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Paul was encouraging the Christians at Colossae to get along with each other. After all, they were all members of the one body ~ the one church. In the next verse, he gave them a way to help it along:  Sing.   

Today, let us sing. Sing to each other. Sing in unison to unify your heart with others. Sing in harmony to harmonize their lives together.  Sing to show thanksgiving for your brothers and sisters.

What a wonderful way to mend a rift. Sing.  Sing with the person you are not getting along with. Watch the smile on your face drift over to them. Watch the smile on their face rise up out of a heart that really does want to love you.

Let not little things interfere with your love for others. You do not want to cause pain to your heavenly Father when his children do not get along. Let us join each other ~ and sing!

Friday 3/9 ~ Open the door to the mystery and step inside

The scripture for today, March 9, is Ephesians 3:9f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

07-SHADOW-ChildsCartoonSmall“To make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ever wonder why God created the world? Here it is:  The “mystery”.  The” mystery” can be discovered by making a chart each time “mystery” appears in the Bible along with who understands it and who does not.

The “mystery” as expanded upon in this letter to the church in Ephesus, is Jesus paying the ransom for us sinners and setting us free from Satan.  It is complete and full forgiveness.

Who does God desire to explain this “mystery” to? Rulers and authorities in heavenly realms ~ angels, demons, and Satan. You see, angels don’t seem to get it, and Satan does not want anyone to be forgiven.

Satan spends a lot of time and energy convincing people good is bad and bad is good. He doesn’t want to be the only one going to hell. And he wants to prove he is stronger than God. But even when Satan is successful and we sin, God just negates it and forgives us. There is nothing that Satan can do that God cannot undo. That enrages Satan.

Oh, the grand “mystery”.  It is God’s love demonstrated by the death and resurrection of his Son so we can be set free. This “mystery” is revealed through the church who has believed it. Open the door to the “mystery” and step inside. God is there waiting for you.  And he is smiling.

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Wednesday 3/7 ~ Even if they do it over and over?

The Scripture for today, March 7 (3/7), is Titus 3:7 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-Thumbnail“So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Being “just” means being correct, being law abiding, being perfect. No one is. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

But God wants you to live in his home so much, he was willing to overlook your sins and pretend you are correct, law-abiding, perfect ~ just. When you follow God and obey the few commands he has for you in the New Testament to become a Christian and stay a Christian, in his eyes, you become just.

Not only just, but God has put you in his last will and testament, what we call the New Testament. It contains his guidelines and what you will inherit. Your inheritance is explained in large part in Revelation ~ God’s heaven. And what an inheritance!

But, back to the overlooking part.  God does so to the same extent you overlook the sins others commit against you.  Yes, even if they do it over and over, just like you commit the same sins over and over and expect God to forgive you.  Now, where is your inheritance?

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Sunday 3/4 ~ Are we giving up paradise?

(Since we did today’s yesterday, we shall do yesterday’s today. Hmmm…  No one caught it. Usually, someone does.)

The scripture for today, March 3, is Genesis 3:3 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-LUKE-KINDLE Cover-Thumbnail” ‘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.’ “

This is a conversation Eve is having with Satan in the Garden of Eden. She was a little put out by God that he would withhold even one item from her. So she misrepresented God. What God actually said was…

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Eve had added to what God had said: “You must not touch it.”

Do we do that? When we get put out by someone, do we embellish a little and add a few little things to an event in order to make the other person look worse than s/he really is? Are we in the habit of making ourselves a victim so we can get other people’s sympathy and maybe get other people to act on our behalf? Or perhaps we do it to “brag” how great our adversity it over and above all others’ adversity, thus gaining admirers?

1st Corinthians 13:5 says love does not keep a record of wrongs. If you have a feud going with someone, try breaking the cycle. 1st Corinthians 13:7 says love protects, always trusts, always hopes. Had Satan convinced Eve to stop loving God? 

It’s easy to do when God is made “the bad guy”.  It’s easy to stop loving others if they are always the “bad guy”.  What are we missing by not extending love even to those who are not nice to us? Who knows? Are we giving up paradise?

 

 

Saturday 2/24 ~ I don’t do big sins, so I’m going to heaven

The scripture for today, February 24 (2/24), is 1st Peter 2:24 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-BK 7-ShadowOfDeath-Cover-new-Thumbnail“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Many people do not understand what Jesus dying on the cross has to do with us going to heaven. After all, if we don’t murder, steal, abuse others and only lie a little, God has no choice but to take us into heaven.  But God is perfect, so cannot co-exist with imperfection ~ even one tiny sin.

Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. So, all through the Old Testament era, whenever we sinned, God allowed us to kill/sacrifice a perfect animal and spill its blood to collect the death wages in our place. Notice, the animal had to be perfect and this was a temporary fix.

Eventually, God sent his own Son to come to earth and live in a human body and be tempted in every way that we are (see Hebrews 4:15). Jesus resisted all temptations and lived his entire life sinless. He was perfect morally, just as the sacrificial animals were perfect physically.

Then as the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), Jesus became the final sacrifice. He took the blame for all our sins and died in our place. He took the terrible wages of death for our sins. On the cross, he died spiritually (forsaken by God) and physically with blood dripping from the wounds in his hands and feet. Then God basically told the world, “I will consider you perfect too; all you have to do is believe in and follow my Son.”

It is explained further in Romans 6:3-4. Just as Jesus died bearing our sins, we die to our sinful nature ~ the part of us that sins and doesn’t care. Then just as Jesus was buried in his tomb, we are buried in the watery tomb of baptism. And finally, just as Jesus rose up out of his tomb the Savior, we rise up out of our watery tomb the saved ~ born again to a new life.

He left heaven to do all this for you and me. Indeed, by Jesus’ wounds you and I can be healed. We fall at his feet and say, “I am a sinner and so unworthy. Thank you.”

 

Tuesday 2/20 ~ After the insult, take a deep breath and…

The scripture for today, February 20n (2/20), is Galatians 2:20 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-The apostle Paul wrote this. He had been an angry, spiteful, and hateful man in his younger days. He had been a terrorist and had even declared holy jihad against Christians.  He had gone around the country rounding up Christians and sending them either to prison or to their death. He hated Christians.

But once Jesus got his attention and Paul realized he was persecuting those who could tell him the true way to heaven, he switched sides. Jesus had to do it himself because all the Christians were afraid of him. Then Paul, so to speak, crucified his old self, and let Jesus and his words live in him instead.  All his tremendous energy that he had used for hate was now used for love, and he turned his part of the world upside down for Christ.

Is there someone in your life or that you know of who is angry, spiteful, and hateful? Dare to talk to that person and tell them how much God loves him/her. S/he will argue with you and maybe even be meaner to you than ever. But when things calm down, try saying something else, perhaps about what Jesus did or said once in his life.

It may take you months or years. S/he will be curious why you keep coming back when s/he is being so mean to you. And eventually, this same person who uses all his enormous energy in a negative way, just might turn that same enormous energy around and use it for Jesus in a great way.

Give it a try. If you are crucified with Christ, then nothing anyone says can hurt you because your ego is dead. Keep trying to reach this enemy of Jesus. Keep trying to help this person become Jesus’ friend and defender.

You may be the only one in his or her world with the courage to do it. Keep trying. Cry in private after the insult, then take a deep breath and try once again. And once again. And again. Never stop. Who knows?