Friday, April 18, 2014

Passion Week Devotions, Good Friday: Jesus' Death For Us Makes Us a Community for God

Revelation 5.9-10

9And they were singing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain and purchased for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nations, 10and You made them a kingdom and priests for God, and they will reign on the earth.

Jesus’ death makes a difference for us not just as individuals, but for us as a collective community. Jesus was killed. But His death was how He bought all of us. He used His blood as currency. This made us all have something deeply true about us in common. We all have been bought by Jesus’ blood.

But this purchase by His blood is not the only thing that brings us together. Instead, through that act, He also made us into one Kingdom. Even though we all come from different families, backgrounds, nations, cultures, languages, and ethnicities, Jesus made us one Kingdom for God.

And we have become priests for God because of Jesus’ death for us. This means that we can know God and serve God without anything holding us back.

However, when Jesus bought us with His blood, so He could make us a kingdom for God and priests for God, in that same act He bought us to a common and everlasting destiny. In Jesus we all have the same destiny, to rule together on earth.

So that means that Jesus has made us a community. What makes us a unified community that loves and serves God together is that through Jesus we were purchased to be a community for God.

Jesus death’ for us, made us to be for God. Jesus died for us, and through Jesus we live for God together. We are a kingdom that will reign on earth. We have a common Savior, a common King, a common God, and a common destiny. Jesus is the glue that keeps us together, a glue that begins with Him buying us for God with His Own blood.

So, let’s enjoy and celebrate the community we have in Jesus. And when there is an issue between people, we should remember how much we have in common in Jesus and how much we are worth to Jesus as a community. We should, because of our faith in Jesus and because His death was for us, do what He bought us to do: be a kingdom for God and people who worship and serve God, a community that will one day rule the world with Jesus. Because of Jesus’ death for us, our differences no longer have to divide us, they can be our strengths to do and be what Jesus paid for!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Passion Week Devotional, Day 4 (Maundy Thursday): Jesus' Death For Us Disarmed the Demons

Colossians 2.13-15

15After He disarmed the [demonic] rulers and authorities, He publically disgraced [them], by leading them as the captives in a triumphal procession with Him.

Demons. You can play as a demon in a video game. You can also kill demons that get in your way in games. We watch tv shows filled with demons or horror movies where evil spirits are at work. Some people read the horoscope, go to fortune-tellers and psychics, or even play games that operate by the work of demons.

All these things to us feel safe. We’ve tamed demons, we think to ourselves, as if some human ever could. Yet, since Adam and Eve walked the garden, men and women have failed to tame the devil. They’ve never been able to control him. He’s been the one controlling them.

The truth is demons are dangerous, threatening, and evil. And people who make demons nice, or fun, or useful have likely never faced their true evil, at least not with open eyes. In truth, demons are far more psychotic. They are our real enemy. We think that we are fighting with people or systems sometimes, when really we are up against the dark powers pulling their strings. Or perhaps we have faced their dark terrors in person while alone at night, or their sinister lies that haunt our thoughts, or their attacking bitterness against God they try to cultivate in our souls.

To be sure, we face opposition from our evil hearts and the evil world, but it also true that Paul was right when he said that we fight not against flesh and bone, but against demonic rulers and authorities, etc. But how is it that we can fight them. How is it even possible to recognize and stand firm against their attacks? How can we discern and repel their lies, their temptings of power, wealth, popularity, or health?

Answer: Jesus.  His death for us makes it possible. Because of Jesus we don’t fear demons. Because of Jesus in fact we don’t even fight fair. Because of Jesus, our war with demons is not one of standing up against their mighty battle lines. No, because of Jesus, our war with demons is already as good as done. They’ve lost. Their power is vanquished. Their lies exposed. We face demons without fear, because when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He “publically disgraced the demonic rulers and authorities!”

It is not us Christians that fear and feel ashamed of failure or weakness anymore, because Jesus’ death FOR US has stripped them bare. The demons no longer have armor to carry, weapons to hold, or hope to hang onto! Jesus has disarmed them. He has put them to shame.

So the next time, the demonic enemies tempt you to despair over your weakness or failure, you can stand and celebrate boldly in Jesus’ Name the victory won. Because for those of us in Christ, the most important failure we need to remember in the presence of demonic opposition and oppression and temptation to self-hatred, cutting, suicide, to bullying, gossiping, controlling, to defeatism, sexual surrender, avoidance, or to fear, selfishness, or anger, is not our failure, but theirs, because of Christ’s success! Christ was VICTORIOUS ON THE CROSS! He beat up our demonic bullies! He silenced our demonic accusers! He gave us meaning and value that demons could never steal!

So indeed, Jesus’ death is FOR US! Jesus gives us fearlessness and victory over our defeated enemy the devil, just as He also gives us a true and lasting relationship with God, freedom to live for God instead of living to sin, and freedom from having to earn God’s gracious gift of righteousness and life! We are freed from a broken and indebted relationship to God, freed from sin to live for God, freed from earning grace, and freed from the power and domination of Satan! Praise Jesus! He did it all for the glory of God and our own good!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passion Week Devotions, Day 3: Jesus' Death for Us Saves us from Having to Earn Grace

Romans 3.21-31

3.21And now, apart from the Law, God’s righteousness truly is being revealed, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22And God’s righteousness is through faith in Jesus the Messiah for all believing people, because there’s no difference [between people], 23because all people have sinned and are lacking the Glory of God, 24who are being made righteous as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25Who God put forwards as a Mercy Seat through faith in His blood for the purpose of a proof of His righteousness because of the passing over of sins that already happened, 26by God’s self-control , for the purpose of a proof of His righteousness in the present time, in order that He would be righteous and the One Who makes righteous the person who is so by faith in Jesus.

“I’ve got to be utterly Perfect! I’ve got to pay Jesus back for all He did for me!” We think that sometimes. But it’s a total lie. Sometimes when we think about Jesus and all that He has done for us we think that we either have to earn Jesus’ love and salvation to accept it, or we think that we have to pay Him back for it after we’ve taken it. But from today’s passage we see that is a lie.

We don’t have to be perfect to be right with God. We don’t have to earn our salvation. Instead, we just need to trust that Jesus earned it for us, that God’s righteousness was given to us. It’s not our righteousness trying to add up to God’s righteousness that’s ridiculous! That’s why it says “And God’s righteousness is through faith in Jesus the Messiah for all believing people.” And why it says, “All people have sinned and are lacking the glory of God.”

So clearly, it is God’s righteousness that we get through faith, not our righteousness that makes us deserve to know God and have His righteousness, to have faith in Him even! This could only be possible if God gave us His righteousness.

Yet, that is exactly what happens, that’s what it says, “who are being made righteous as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We are being given God’s righteousness by God as a gift. He didn’t have to give it to us; He wanted to, which also means that we didn’t earn it—it’s not called a gift if you earned it, it’s called a payment.

In fact, it is so much about God’s righteousness and not ours that, the only righteousness discussed is God’s. It is God Who feels the need to prove His righteousness. That’s why it talks about proving His righteousness over His lack of judgment in the past and the present, so that He really can be the Righteous God Who makes us righteous when we trust in Jesus.

So, why do we feel like we have to pay God back for His gift? Because God’s gift to us is too big for us to comprehend and we don’t like taking such a huge gift. But that is how much God loves us! So, let’s not cheapen His grace, His gift by trying to pay Him back for it. It is one thing to want and try hard to live for God out of love and gratitude, but it’s a completely different thing to try to make God love us and be grateful to us for how we live!

Whether we try to pay God for His grace before we’re saved or after doesn’t matter; we’re still trying to pay for Jesus’ death, but Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to pay, so let’s love Him and be grateful to Jesus for His death and not reject His as for us by trying to earn it for ourselves!

This Passion Week, so far we’ve seen that Jesus’ death for us was truly for us in two major ways: 1) Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross connected us to God; 2) Jesus’ death for us killed the sin’s domination of our lives, and His resurrection life gives us eternal life and the power to live for God, not for sin. Today, we’ve looked at a third, namely Jesus’ death for us keeps us from having to earn our relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Love you guys,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Christ Death for Us Means We're Dead to Sin and Living for God (Rom. 6.1-11)

Romans 6.1-11

1So, what will we say? We should stay in sin, so that grace can overflow? 2It better never happen! Whoever of us has died to sin, how will we still live in it? 3Or don’t you know that as many of us as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4So, we were buried with Him through baptism into that death, so that just as Christ raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, also in the same way we ourselves walk in the newness of life. 5Afterall, if we’ve become united with the likeness of His death, indeed also we will be [united to the likeness of] the resurrection! 6Because we know this, namely that our old humanity was crucified together [with Jesus], so that the body full of sin would be done away with, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For, the One Who died really was vindicated from sin.
8And if we died with Christ, we’re believing that we’ll also live with Him, 9because we know that Christ risen from the dead doesn’t die anymore, death no longer masters Him. 10Because what He died, He died once and for all to sin, and what He lives, He lives to God! 11So also you, be considering yourselves to be, on the one hand, dead to sin, but on the other hand, living for God in Christ Jesus!

Jesus’ death was our death. That is one of the most profound truths that there is. Yesterday, we considered how Jesus’ death was for us, and for the world. We discussed how Jesus’ super-meaningful death meant we could have a relationship with God, and we considered how that death was a message for our own friends, families, coworkers, teachers, and even enemies. Jesus death solved our relationship problem; He gave us a relationship with God.
Today, we look again into the significance of Jesus’ death, what does it mean for us, since it is for us. And in this passage we see that its significance is huge! It does three things: 1)It makes it possible for us to live beyond this life; 2) It makes it possible for us not to have to live to sin; and 3)It makes it possible for us to life to glorify God.

The first thing Jesus’ death and resurrection for us does is that it gives us a promise and hope and sure outcome of a resurrection just like Him. This encourages us in the face of death and other deadly fears, because know that no matter the immediate outcome, in the end we will live resurrected like Jesus!

However, as Christians we often despair that we will never be able to overcome our sinful tendencies. We look at our lives and it feels like sin is alive in us, like a hungry power eating ravenously from the goodness, joy, and purity in our lives. We think to ourselves, “How will I ever get free from this wild animal that is eating me alive!?”

However, Jesus’ death for us did something awesome. It connected our sinful life to His death on the cross, so that when He died for our sins, our sinful life died with Him. If you are a Christian, it’s awesome, because our sinful life is dead! We don’t have to sin anymore. Sin is no longer our master!

Sin is trapped on the other side the bridge, a bridge that Jesus destroyed when He died for us. Sin can’t ever enslave us again. Sure, it can shoot at us from the other side of the bridge, but God connected our sinful life to Jesus on the cross, and Jesus’ death was the bomb that blew the bridge. We’re free!

And the last awesome thing that Jesus’ death did was make it possible to share in His Resurrection Life! However, not only does this mean that we won’t died, it means that we can now live a life that matches Jesus’ kind of life. Everything Jesus did, His life, it was all for God. Being united with His resurrection life means that we are now united to His way of life. We now have this forceful life in us, Jesus’ life. Jesus lives for God in us. This means that for us Christians, if there is anything that we have to do, it is live for God. For us, it is easier to live for God, than to live for sin!

So, consider yourselves dead to sin and consider yourselves as people living for God in Christ Jesus.

Much Love,


Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus is the God-Connector for Us and for the World, so Let's bring Him to Them (1 Tim. 2.3b-6)

I Timothy 2.3b-6

3bGod our Savior, 4Who wants all human beings to be saved and to come to understand the truth: The truth being,
            There is Only One God
            There is also Only One Mediator of God and human beings,
            A human being, the Messiah, Jesus,
            The One Who gave Himself as a ransom for all people
            This is the official statement of facts for our own times.

As we move towards Good Friday and Easter, we can prepare our heart to enjoy and be transformed by this special period of reflection. There are two sides that we should be thinking about: 1) What Jesus’ death and resurrection means for us; 2) What Jesus’ death and resurrection calls us to do.

What it means for us is simple: salvation, a true knowledge and relationship with God. Jesus’ death is the way we are saved. God wants us to know that, but He wants us to know more than just facts. He wants us to truly understand and cling to Person those facts reveal: Jesus.
Jesus fixed the problems we didn’t even know that we had. We didn’t know that we were knowing lies not the truth, and we didn’t know that our relationship with God was garbage, that actually we owed God a debt greater than we could ever pay, that we were in a sense prisoners of a war we didn’t even know we were fighting in, slaves who thought we were freed.
We didn’t know God, and couldn’t really know Him. So Jesus stepped in. He connected us to God. He was the friend that introduced us to our Father. He is our Connector, or Facilitator. He is the One Who makes our relationship with God possible.
How did He do that? He became a man. Jesus, God, to be our Relationship Facilitator became a human being. And He paid our debt. Our debt to God. See, we were marked for hell, in chains, heading there with no freedom in sight, but Jesus paid our debt. He took our place. He paid the fee. He did it for everyone. Jesus, just like God the Father, longs for all people to be saved. And it fact is because they are in agreement that Jesus came to save us from the hell God was going to imprison us in forever.
However, what it calls us to do, is to share this official statement with the world. A lot of times, we tell ourselves, that people don’t want or don’t really need to know the truth, to understand the Good News that Jesus connects us to God because He paid our debt to God. The passage says this is “an official statement of facts for our own times.” It is an official statement for our times. Our times means that people today still need to know Who God is, Who Jesus is, and what Jesus did and does for them.
No matter how much it looks or feels like people don’t need or want to know, it does not change that at the most profound level they NEED to hear and embrace this official statement for them. It is for them. It is for us. It is for all human beings. We have to take it to them, or they will not be saved. Jesus is the Mediator, but He only works on behalf of those who embrace Him with full faith for all He is and has done for them. So, let’s take it to them. Easter makes it easier to talk about Jesus, because it provides opportunities for discussion and even invitation.
So let’s embrace this truth today by remembering Who Jesus is and What He has done and is doing for us, and by sharing this truth with everyone as God provides opportunities, because they need to be saved, and because God wants to save them.