All posts tagged sin

The Baby in the Manger is Our Great High Priest

My father was an officer in The Salvation Army—a sort of pastor. So, I’ve had plenty of exposure to clergy, but I have never met a priest on this earth.

But I am personally aquainted with one in heaven—Jesus.

Not only did God become man Who was born in a manger, but that same baby we celebrate at Christmas is also Our Great High Priest.

Follow me on this. In the Old Testament, priests served as “go betweens” with God. They offered sacrifices to God in order to cover the sins of the people. In fact, once a year, the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. Besides his ornate, custom-designed outfit, he also wore a rope attached around his ankle equipped with a bell in case God struck him dead because, he too was a sinner who had to sacrifice a bull for a sin offering for himself and his family. The rest is kind of complicated, but let’s just say God made a specific way that had to be followed in order to atone for sin. (Leviticus 16)

It’s the same today. God is Holy. We are not. Sin stands between us and God. First, a payment, or sacrifice had to be made. That’s where Easter comes in. Secondly, we continue to need a High Priest to make intercession for us.

Hebrews 7:23-28 states:

“The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

Here is my point…Jesus is much more than a baby in the manger we give sentimental homage as we view our store-bought nativity scenes. Jesus is the perfect, Great High Priest.

Is He yours?

 

Go Tell it on the Mountains, Christmas Meditation Day 4

When I lived in Florida, a hill consisted of six feet or greater. Our property in North Carolina is at twelve hundred feet. I walk down steep inclines to feed my chickens, and if I drive to town, the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking.

So to prepare our hearts for Christmas, I’d like us to visit the prophet Isaiah. Here are a verse to meditate on today.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah 52:7

I always wondered where that song came from.

Let’s turn over to the New Testament.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:8-12

The best news ever was pronounced to lowly shepherds on a lonely hillside by majestic angels.

What was the good news?

A Savior, a Redeemer came to rescue sinners like me. Like you.

You may wonder what sin is. It’s not just doing bad things like murder, adultery, and stealing. It is also not doing the good things you should do.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17

It’s not living a life of faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there is hope for us. A life that doesn’t fade here on earth, but a life spent with Christ that goes on forever.

Now that is something to shout about.

On a mountain. Or a computer screen. Or at work. Or in your living room.

Here is a delightful choral group performing this great Christmas song. It will definitely wake you up!

 

Are You Really Celebrating Christmas?

 

Today’s post isn’t for sissies. It’s not Christmasy. In fact, in may be offensive to you.

But some words need to be said or written.

In a post I received through my email, I learned of a man who is in prison for his faith in a place–well let’s just say, it’s not an American prison with weight-lifting or college classes. The man’s face is deformed from beatings.

What’s his offense?

Owning a Bible. That’s it.

What keeps him going? According to the ones who know him, only one thought keeps him going–seeing Jesus.

You see, people in this country know that once they believe in Jesus they make a choice between life and death.

Many in this country celebrate the baby in Bethlehem, but are they worshipping the King in heaven? Are you? Maybe I’m way off base, (to use a baseball term) but I suppose that many who buy gifts, attend church, and say prayers at Christmas, don’t really believe.

Because you see, believing in the baby isn’t enough. Understanding why He came and why you need Him is a must.

The Bible states in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Falling short means missing the mark. And friends, you need Jesus.

If there were a shooting contest with a target and we all had rifles, I’d miss the whole target, much less the very center. (In fact, if I ever do that, you should vacate the premises.) You may be an expert marksman and hit it dead center, so let me give you another analogy.

Let’s say we stood on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. The Gulf of Mexico spread out before us. We both decided to swim to Texas. You  may get farther than I could, but face it, neither of us would make it. Imagine sin on your back. Sin isn’t just not doing certain things, basically it’s living your life apart from God. Not worshiping or obeying, or caring. We all sin everyday. So that sin weight is weighing us down and we CANNOT achieve a relationship with God with a trace of sin in our lives.

We’re all disqualified.

That is where the baby in Bethlehem comes in. He came from heaven to be born to live a perfect life in our place. He died, and His blood paid the penalty of our sin.

But He didn’t stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead to show His death was enough. Enough to take our sin. He shot the perfect shot, He swam all the way. His risen life proved it.

Because He is risen, I know I will rise.

My friend, hear this passage from I Corinthians 15: 54-57, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable and this mortal will have put on immortality then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory, O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’”

So what now? You have a choice; believe on Him to be your Savior, or reject Him and face God’s wrath–and there is judgment coming, make no mistake.

It’s that simple.

So I have a question for you; Will you celebrate Christmas and Worship the King.

Your eternal destiny depends on it. Email me if you have questions. I’d love to chat.

Here’s a verse from one of Fanny Crosby’s most famous hymns:

“O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God. The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

Here’s the chorus:

“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the Glory great things He hath done.

Give Him glory this Christmas beloved. And just like the saint in prison with the deformed face, you’ll see Jesus one day.

And it will be worth it.

 

 

He’s Not Safe, But He’s Good

“We want a light, frothy, chipper God. But He’s not like that,” my pastor said in his message Sunday.

The passage he covered is found in Matthew 17:1-6:

“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

4 Peter exclaimed, ‘Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’

5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.’ 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.”

A true mountaintop experience. Peter talks about setting up tents for the arrivals probably because he didn’t know what else to say. Then God the Father speaks. And just like ring-around-the-rosey, all fall down.

Except Jesus.

That is because He is God. I cannot attempt to describe His power and Might and Compassion and Holiness because they are infinite.

He’s not to be trifled with.

And He hates sin. That is why He came to earth–to die for our sins.

What is sin?

Most have labeled sin as a mistake, or misjudgment, or eve an addiction.

But the bottom line is, sin is whatever our Creator says it is and He’s pretty clear about what is right and what is wrong in the Bible.

When we die–not if–we will stand before our Creator, Jesus Christ, and we won’t be able to compare ourselves to our neighbor, or the movie theatre shooter, or a drug dealer.

We will be compared to the Holy Son of God. And we will be found wanting.

Unless we believe the cross. Unless we trust the cross. Unless we take up our cross.

When the character Aslan, in the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is described, Lucy asks the Beaver if Aslan is safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus is the King. He is Who He is and what we think about Him doesn’t change Him.

But it does determine our eternal destiny.

Where are you going when you die?

 

 

Too Many Words

“So, I’ve made Isaiah 30:15 my verse for the year.” ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.’ I’m learning to be quiet and not offer my opinion when asked.” I looked at my adult son, Micah as he shoveled homemade salsa into his mouth.

“How long have you been doing that?”

“Eight months.”

He stopped mid-chip. “You’re kidding?”

So much for Scriptural application.

Just the day before, Mom’s caregiver was a no-show so I was caregiver of the day. I plastered a smile on my face and said cheerful words. By evening, I was worn out. I fell asleep before I administered Mom’s 10PM pills. Rousing, I took them in to her.

She wasn’t sure where she was and headed the wrong way to the bathroom. Again.

I turned her the correct way. “The bathroom is this way, Mom,” I said with teeth clenched.

She looked at me. “Hey, you’re kind of smart with me sometimes.”

So Sunday, when I heard a message about the words that we say, I was devastated.

I don’t know when I’ve ever been more convicted and sorrowful for my sin. My pastor taught on Matthew 12:33-37. The words Jesus spoke in verses 36-37 are the ones that sliced my soul:

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.”

David Brady went on to say some believe sound waves may never disappear. “Think about that. Your words and my words never going away. Be careful with your words. Especially you parents. A parent might say something to their child when they are six or seven years old. Maybe they were angry and said something like, ‘You’ll never amount to anything!’ They forget about it, but their child carries those words with them the rest of their lives. Your words are weighty.”

I couldn’t stop crying. All my careless words spoken out of irritability, pride, selfishness, exhaustion–all still floating around. More than that, all known by my Savior.

I left early and went to the car. I knew my words had to change. Less of them. More value to them.

I texted my son and daughter my apologies for hurtful words I’d said to them in the past. I couldn’t talk to them on the phone because I couldn’t talk.

I sat on the edge of Mom’s bed.

“Last night, I was tired and you said I was mean to you, Mom. I’m sorry.”

Her face softened. “You can’t help what you say when you’re tired, Pauline.”

“Yes I can, Mom. I don’t want to speak to you like that again. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

All is forgiven. Probably not forgotten.

But, it’s a start.