What Christ Took Up

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53.4)

For eternity, Christ had experienced only his Father’s love, delight, joy, pleasure and fellowship. But he freely took up weakness, hunger, sorrow, rejection, sin, agony and God’s wrath. Why? To bring poor sinners to God.

photo by HORIZON

Unforgettable

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49.16)

Christ can never forget his redeemed, for he’s engraved us on his palms.  And every time he sees the nail marks in his glorified hands, he thinks of us, the ones he stretched out his arms on the cross to save.

photo by Donna Cymek

The Great Exchange

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Blazing in holiness by nature, perfect in obedience. Made to be all our sin. My sin. Every vile lust, hateful thought, complaining word, laid upon Christ. Heaped upon him by the one who loved him most. Why? For our sake. Christ crushed by sin, we’re wrapped in righteousness. The gospel.

The Weaker The Better

We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 CO 4.7).

God is glorified amid human frailty.  When Christ was crucified in weakness, God unleashed redemption on multitudes.  The weaker you are, the better for God to display the gospel’s power through you.

photo by matt.hintsa

As Far As East Is From West

“…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

God removes our sins an infinite distance. Forgotten by God. Expelled by blood. Our guilt followed our sins and no longer follows us. The chasm that was once between us and God, now between us and sin. Yesterday’s sin of anger? Totally gone. Nothing left to keep me from God.

The Gospel In 50 Words…Or Less

The beauty of the gospel is that it’s so simple a six-year old can understand it, yet so deep that theologians have spent years searching it’s depths.

This week we’re going to do something a little different to help us focus on the simplicity of the gospel. Each day we’re going to post a scripture that speaks directly of the gospel, and then a meditation of fifty words or less on that verse.

We’d like you to join in too. You can do the same thing in the comments section or if you have a blog, post it there. It’s going to be cool.

What Went Wrong With My Devotions

Question: Why are my devotions wonderful one day and dry the next?

On Monday I wake at the crack of six, make my coffee, and sit down with my Bible spread across my lap. Immediately things are clicking. Passages are jumping off the pages, pulling me into prayer and leading me to worship. By the time my devotions are over I’m convinced that I’m about 95% sanctified. The proof is in the devotions.

Tuesday starts the same way. Awake at six, guzzling coffee by quarter after, Bible across lap by 6:20. But nothing happens. I read. Something about God I think. My mind drifts to the Steelers lackluster play. What’s up with Big Ben? Wait, I’m in devotions. Pray something about…somebody. Lord, help me stay focu…why is my back so sore? I glance down at the study notes in my Bible, hoping to land on something inspiring. No soap. My devotions are about as exciting as one of those finance lectures I had in college. What is going on with me? One day I’m in the third heaven with Paul, the next day I can’t even summon the focus needed for a simple prayer.

I’m not the first one to experience this problem. It started with Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1-2 they had perfect fellowship with God. What was that like? Think the best devotions ever. Multiplied by God actually walking and talking with you. It’s pretty tough to improve on that.

But the moment Eve ate the forbidden fruit, perfect harmony with God was lost. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. Fellowship lost.

Now we’re born separate from God. Enemies and haters of God. We fellowship with God like terrorists fellowship with the United States.

Which makes me so grateful for the gospel. In the gospel, God is reversing what took place in Genesis 3. Colossians 1:13 puts it this way:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

Fellowship between men and God has been restored through the death of Christ. My fellowship may be dry at times, but the point is, I do have fellowship with God! And some day that fellowship will be perfect, flawless, face-to-face.

Aren’t you grateful for the gospel? The curse of sin is being rolled back by Christ and we are brought into fellowship with God himself. There’s no better news.

Take that to your Bible tomorrow morning.

Cowboy Breakfast

For those of you looking for new holiday traditions, consider having Thanksgiving breakfast on the North 40.

Ever since my kids were little, on Thanksgiving morning I’ve gotten up early — well not that early — and prepared our annual “Cowboy Breakfast.” What is a Cowboy Breakfast, you ask? First of all, it is a breakfast that cowboys would eat: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, fried onions, fried green peppers, fried apple slices, and toast — preferably not whole wheat or some other healthy abomination. The whole thing is gloriously cholesterol-laden, and rich in saturated fat.

A cowboy breakfast has two basic rules: first, manners are forbidden. I started this rule because I was always working on manners with the kids the other 364 days of the year and figured they needed one day a year off.  (“I’ll tell you why it matters how you hold your knife.  When you’re grown up, you might just be invited to the President’s house for dinner.  If you don’t know how to hold your knife you’ll look like a bumpkin.  Do you want to look like a bumpkin in front of the President?)

So the Cowboy Breakfast no manners rule means you can talk with your mouth full, slurp, eat with your fingers, put your elbows on the table, burp, and lick your plate if you want to.  All these are encouraged.  You don’t have to say “please” and “thank you.” You can say, “Gimme them eggs.”  Everybody can talk at once. You can wipe your mouth on the back of your arm.

The second rule is you must talk in a cowboy voice and utter cowboy-like sayings, for example, (in Texas accent) “Jonny, after we’re done chowin’ down here, I want you to get up to the north 40 and fix that fence.  We got dogies (not doggies) runnin’ all over tarnation.  Man, these eggs is mighty good if I do say so m’self.  Consarn it!  I just dripped grease all over my new chaps.  Hey woman, kin I git you to clean ‘em after yer done fixin’ that leak in the barn and skinnin’ that buffalo I shot this mornin’?  I’d preciatate it a heap.”

This Thanksgiving we’ll do our Cowboy breakfast for probably the 20th year in a row.   We’ve had cousins and other families join us, and it’s one of our favorite traditions.  The kids don’t do the cowboy voices much these days, but they still want to do the breakfast.

So around 7:30 or 8 Thanksgiving morning, you’ll find me in our kitchen slicing potatoes and firing up several frying pans full of oil.  And I’ll still be talkin’ like a cowboy, consarn it, even if nobody else wants to.  Now where’s that woman got to?  I need my socks darned.

photo by anyjazz65

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