Archive for April, 2013

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It seems like forever that I’ve heard this:  As Jesus was dying on the cross of Calvary, His Father turned His back on Him. Is this true? A lot of you may be thinking – “Uh… didn’t Jesus say ‘My God My God, why has hast Thou forsaken Me?'” And I would say – yes – He did say that in Mat. 27:46.

So why do I question that the Father actually did forsake His son?   If you read the verse again, you will notice that is was not a statement but actually a question being asked.  Jesus, while He was fully God, was also fully man. He, at this moment, was carrying the weight of the world’s sin, sickness, depression and a host of other undesirable things that keep us in bondage. At that moment, it is worth noting that this is the first and only time Jesus addresses the Father as my God.

This, my friends, is what sin, sickness, and disease does to us. It makes us feel as though we are far from our heavenly Father. But let’s get back to the question at hand:  Did the Father forsake His only begotten Son?

I think the answer is found in Psalms 22. Jesus was actually quoting this Psalm on the cross. Let’s look at it now.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

As you can see, this was what Jesus was quoting on the Cross.  But if we continue to look at Psalms 22, we see that the whole chapter is a prophetic view to the crucifixion. Let me pull out a few more obvious verses that will show you what I see.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.  16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

T0his is clearly about the crucifixion. But wait – we are looking for answer to the question that Jesus asked.  For too long, we have made our own interpertion of what the Father actually did.  Remember, Jesus asked a question.  So where is the answer?  If the Father raising His Son on the third day after they had defeated hell, death and the grave wasn’t a good enough answer for you, let’s finish out Psalm 22 and see if we can find the answer (this time from the NKJV in verse).

21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth ad from the horns of the wild oxen! YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME. (capitals are mine for emphases)

So what’s the answer? If we continue to read down to verse 24 we find the answer – and yes, my friends, this is good news.

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affiction of the afflicted; NOR HAS HE HIDDEN HIS FACE FROM HIM; BUT WHEN HE CRIED TO HIM HE HEARD.

My friends, this is the answer to the question that Jesus asked. The Father did not turn his back on Him. He did not hide His face from Him because of all the sin that was on Him, but when He cried, the Father heard Him. If we continue to look at scripture  we find that the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them 2 Cor.5:19.

This is good news! Really it’s great news.  The Father never left His Son – not even the moment He carried the weight of the world’s sin. You see, He promised never to leave us or forsake us.  Nothing can separate us, and nothing could ever separate the Trinity. NOTHING.

You may ask, “Why does this matter?” It matters because Jesus was the expressed image of the Father. To think Jesus loves us one way and the Father  loves another, or that He might turn His back on us when we sin, is something I think needs to be corrected in our thought process towards our Heavenly Father.  Sin, my friends, has been dealt with at the cross.  It can no longer keep you from the love that your Father has for you. The only thing that will keep you from that love is a refusal to receive it. Grace is on the table.

It’s time to eat!

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The New Covenant in a nutshell.

Well honestly, I don’t think we can fit it in a nutshell, but I’ll try to keep this as short as I can. We all know that Jesus’s blood was the blood that forged the New Covenant.

Matt. 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

It’s all about the blood of my Savior. But what are the terms of the New Covenant? The word covenant is simply contract, and if there is a contract there must be terms to this deal. And this is were the Good News begins.

You might ask, “Why did we need a New Covenant with God if we had an Old Covenant with God?” Was something wrong with the first one? No, there was nothing wrong with the contract itself, but God had found fault with the people (Heb.8:7-8). The Law couldn’t make anyone perfect, but it left us tired and worn out trying to please God. My friends, God is much more interested in pleasing You than He is about you trying to please Him.

So the New Covenant has come. It is the Covenant that the blood of Jesus has made for us. The terms of this contract are found in Hebrews 8:10-13.

10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Notice the underlines I will, I will, I will, I will. It seems God has done all the work in this new contract. So if God has done it all, if it really is finished, what is our part? Our part is trust. Trust that He is who He says He is, that He has forgiven our wickedness and our sins He remembers no more. Read that again slowly. He has forgiven our wickedness, and our sins He remembers no more. That is just plain Good News that is the what the Gospel is all about. God says “I will,” and we believe.

David said:

Romans 4:7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

It is finished! The Lord is not counting, keeping track, taking score, or watching for every sin you commit. You do not have to hide from Him because of sin. Because of His forgiveness and because of His grace, we now have the ability to overcome sin by boldly approaching the throne of grace and receiving the love, mercy, and grace that is available to all who believe.

Grace and Peace,

Chad

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Todays blog is from Heather Lidwell. For more from Heather check out gracepluszero.com

The man stood in front of the children and pulled out a long, gleaming, golden chain. Attached to the end of it was a thick, round pocketwatch engraved with a black railroad engine. He grinned big as the children looked it. One boy, in particular, reached out to grab it. The grubby, 5-year-old fingers ran almost reverently across its surface as the man asked, “Do you all know what this is?”

The boy nodded enthusiastically, and one cried out, “It’s a pocketwatch!”

“Yes, it is!” he affirmed. He turned the pocketwatch over and said, “Right here, it reads the words, ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ Guess whose watch this is? It’s mine!”

The kids grinned, and a few chuckles popped up like the beginning of popcorn from the crowd that had gathered on Sunday. Each week, right after the choir sang, the kids all gathered around while someone from the congregation, usually someone in children’s ministry, told the children a story or taught them a lesson in front of everyone. Every Sunday, without fail, one of those kids would say something off-the-wall, touching in its innocence, or mesmerize all the folks with wisdom beyond their years. It had become a favorite of everyone, the short 15 minutes it took to show us all how the kids were growing up in the Lord.

“I want to tell you a story about this watch. When I first got it, it was the best gift ever. I wore it every day. I wore it to work. I wore it to church. I wore it to special events. Everywhere I went, the watch went. Then, I started getting worried something might happen to it, or that it wouldn’t look as nice if I took it everywhere. I didn’t want to wear it out, so I decide I would just take it out and wear it on Sundays and on special occasions. So I put it up on the shelf and only wore it to church on Sunday morning and to family reunions, things like that.”

The kids nodded. They didn’t really know where he was going with this, but I did. I felt the pit of my stomach sink, because I knew this story all too well. I knew what conclusion he was going to draw, how wonderful he would think it was going to be, and what an impact it would make on the children. My throat tightened, and I looked down as he continued.

“Have you ever had a toy you really loved, and then just kind of stopped playing with it as new toys came along? Well, that’s kind of what happened to this watch. It got too hard to remember to take it out on Sundays and special events, so I decided only really to take it out for Christmas and Easter. I decided it would keep looking really well if I only took it out those few times a year.  It would keeping it look brand new, even years later.”

He then raised it up, gave it a shake, and held it up to his ear and shrugged, “But guess what?” He asked.

The kids all asked. “What?”

“Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this watch?”

He held it out for them all to see, and one by one, they listened for a sound that never clicked. A moving hand that never moved. A spinning wheel that never spun.

“It don’t work!” one girl said and shook her head.

“No, it sure doesn’t,” he said gravely. “It was a prized possession, but because I neglected it… that means, I didn’t take it out when I was supposed to, I didn’t check on it every day, didn’t polish it, didn’t watch after it, didn’t care for it… well, it stopped working on me. I could hardly even find it to bring it to show you all.”

And, of course, that’s when he said what I’m sure those children will remember forever.

That’s how Jesus is.”

One little boy turned his head. A tear welled up in my eye and slid down my cheek as I endured again in silent frustration and anger as my Savior and King was described in the most hopeless, worst way possible to eager ears and young hearts for whom He is fighting, whom He has spilled His blood, who He longs to save and love, rule and reign with, protect and dwell within.

The man nodded sadly, “That’s just how Jesus is. You accept Him into your hearts, but then you just go about your life, and you forget. You don’t read your Bible, you forget to come to church. You don’t pray like you should to Him. Then, one day, when you really want Him, when you really need Him, you won’t hear Him. He’ll be silent, because it won’t work for you anymore. Just like this watch.”

He put it in his pocket and then pointed a finger, admonishing them.

“You may not even be able to find Him. You’ll look everywhere, but He won’t be where you left Him. Don’t let that happen to you.”

And then it was quiet, as many of the “righteous” nodded their sanctimonious heads in agreement.

Those same fears were instilled deeply into me when I grew up believing in this kind of “relationship” with God. It took so long, with so many years of humbling, of learning about His unfailing love and mercy, of His abiding grace, to learn the truth about my Savior. Still, it is all I can do sometimes to sit back and listen while this kind of unbelief and fear is perpetuated in our children. In grown-up children too, sitting in the pews still, after all these years, searching for their pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when young Bobby is hooked on crack one day, and, sitting on the toilet, with a needle shaking in his hand, getting ready to put it in his vein, he cries out in desperation, “Oh, Jesus, please help me!” as he searches for his pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when Gayle sobs when she sees the little double line appear, confirming her worst fears that she’s pregnant. She puts her hand on her still-smooth, young belly, and wonders if, just fingerbreadths above the little baby growing in her uterus, if her pocketwatch is still there in her heart, when she accepted Him so long ago?

I wonder what will happen when Darren lays wide-eyed, in bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to reconcile whether or not a pocketwatch even exists, this idea competing with all the worldviews he’s learning in college. Who to trust in. What to believe. I wonder if he will even go looking for something that must be maintained every day to be real.

The day will come all too soon when there will no longer be men in suits with broken pocketwatches, ladies in flowery dresses giving admonitions, and concerned members of the local church to turn to with their theology. The day will come when each of these children will need to listen for the voice of the Lord. The ticking of the watch. The hand of the King.

And I wonder how the King feels about being described in such terms, having given His life’s blood to pay the price so that they might hear Him in their darkest hour. I can only imagine. If someone ever told my sons or daughters that “Mommy loves you now, but if you forget to call her for awhile, or if you forget to do nice things for her, or if you get wrapped up in your life, and you don’t come to her birthday parties, forget it, kiddo. No more mom for you. She just won’t pick up that phone when you call if you really need her,” I would be filled with so much rage and hurt that I’m not sure I’d be able to respond in a godly way.

Because of this root of fear, I had at one time forgotten about important scriptures such as these, when it was my moment to seek. “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me,” He says again, “If you seek me, you will find me.” “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him,” “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who seek God.” “You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” “Blessed are they who … seek him with all their heart.” “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “Seek and you will find.” “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” “He rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Thankfully, when I cried out to Him, when I looked for my pocketwatch, I heard it ticking loud and clear. Full of life. Full of safety, assurance, love, reception, and reconciliation that would have been denied me, had I believed the “pocketwatch dogma.” I thank my Savior, who is Christ Jesus, who is able to save children even such as myself from the legalistic lies that are taught to them that might keep them in bondage. Whatever you might ascribe to my King, please do not forget that He is real and will demonstrate in the power of the Holy Spirit His reality, majesty, and Lordship over what is His. Be sure your theology and what you teach others is in agreement with that. It is an awful thing to be on the wrong side in the matter of reconciliation of Jesus and who the Father has given to Him to hold in His hand. This is His kingdom. The pocketwatch does not stop.