Crucified? Really?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2.20

How many times have you read that verse? Maybe you memorized it at some point in your life. Is it possible that since we know it so well, we gloss over it when we read it or quote it and fail to be moved and convicted what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us here? As long as MY life is still all about ME, there is no crucified life. I just go on living each day as I did the one the day before. But the plea in this verse is for me to NOT live the life I want, because I am dead to that life. I am being called to live a NEW life that is found only in the substitution of His life for mine. Do you see the words, “not I, but Christ …”? THAT is the key, the pivotal point on which this new life must be lived.

The motivation for such a life is found in these words: “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christ’s love for me and His sacrificial death in my place should be all the motivation I need to live the crucified life called for here. Let’s not try to argue with God that we somehow have a better plan. Let’s not stiffen our will against His will, thinking that if we can just hold out long enough we can win. Knowing that Christ lives in me is motivation enough to allow Him to live His life through me. After all, that is what the Father wants this world to see – His Son glorified through me (and you). Just my thoughts …

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Mercy Is NOT Overrated!

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51.1-2

When I read this account of David coming to God and pleading for mercy because of his actions with Bathsheba, I am reminded of what you and I enjoy in our walk with God in this age of grace. God’s mercy is already ours because of Calvary. THAT act of mercy guarantees the ongoing extension of mercy to us throughout our earthly lives.

David describes God as a God of lovingkindness. It would be difficult to separate the gift of mercy and the quality of lovingkindness. You and I are certainly the recipients of God’s lovingkindness. We both know that we have not done anything to earn it but we could not live without it.

As we continue reading David’s words, he asks to be “washed” and “cleansed”. Washing is that which is necessary when something that is supposed to be clean is dirty. For example, we need to wash our hands before we eat. We use the word “cleanse” when we are talking about cleansing a wound. We want to make certain that everything that needs to be removed from the wound has been removed.

How should you and I look at these requests of David? We can be thankful that he came to God and did what he needed to do in order to maintain his fellowship with God. We can also be thankful that washing and cleansing are somethings that are provided for us in our salvation experience. After we are saved, when we sin, we don’t need to be saved again but we do need to confess our sin in order for our fellowship to be restored. Let’s be grateful today for what we have in Christ. Just my thoughts …

Where Is He When I Need Him?

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34.18

We have a world that is filled with broken-hearted people today. Sad to say, we have churches that are saturated with broken-hearted followers of Christ. Some have broken hearts because of life issues that have crushed them. Some have broken hearts because they think God has deserted them – left them to face whatever this issues is, alone. But the verse quoted here puts that issue to rest: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart … ” is it possible that in our pain we erect a wall in an attempt to keep out more pain? If we do, that wall blocks our sense of God’s presence. It does not block His presence, but rather our sense of His presence.

You have heard people say, “It doesn’t SEEM like God hears me when I pray.” Or perhaps, “Where IS God when I need Him most?” my answer to that is the words of the psalmist: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart … ” Please consider these words from the opening verses of this Psalm: “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear there, and be glad. 3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34.1-4) When you and I are able to understand, at least in part, how MUCH God CARES, we grasp a small sense of these words: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart … ” Our humility (our contrite spirit) before the Lord gives us far more insight into His presence, His purpose, and His power, than anything else we can display. Just my thoughts …

What a God! What a Gift! What a Sacrifice!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3.16

Before I had graduated from Bible College, I was called to serve in a church in Arlington, TX. I was the music director (we call them worship leaders today [lol]). Shortly after arriving there, one of the teachers of the 2-year-old children came to me and said, “Bro. Burton, I would like for you to visit my class this Sunday and hear something from my 2 yr. olds.” I said, “I will be there.” When I walked in, she said, “Children, let’s show Bro. Burton what we have learned recently.” And they began reciting John 3.16 – perfectly. Not only was she proud of them, but I was so thankful that they learned this powerful truth at such an early age.

How do we measure the dimensions of the word “so” here in this verse? The love of God for this world was not greater than His love for His Son, but He loved His Son so much and knew that NOTHING else but His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of the law to completely pay for the sins of the world. Such great NEED and such great DEMAND could only come together in the place we call the “place of the skull.” What the Roman government thought they were doing was putting to death someone who kept the multitudes stirred up. But what they were really doing was carrying out God’s plan to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God planned it. The Roman government thought they orchestrated it. God the Son willingly carried it out, and God the Holy Spirit became a reality to believers as a result of it. Oh my dear friend, God GAVE. Have you RECEIVED? Just my thoughts …

What Was Mine Became His!

Who his own self bare our sins I his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2.24

This opening “Who” here is a direct reference to Christ, who is mentioned in previous verses. The encouraging truth for us here is that He (Christ) bore OUR sins in His OWN body on the tree (cross). While this death was substitutionary, it was none-the-less a death that I should have suffered, BUT He took it for me. Because of His death, we are now rendered “dead to sins.” The only problem for so many of us is that we STILL live as if we are under the control of sin. 2 Corinthians 5.17 says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” If old things are passed away and all things are become ne, why do we still want to hang on to the detrimental things of the past that create failure after failure? Paul writes in Romans 6.6-7: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Now folk, that is either true or it is not! We need to LIVE like it is true because it is.

Just an observation about these last words: “by whose stripes ye were healed.” Some may want to apply these words to physical healing, but if that is the case, then why isn’t every true believer free from ANY kind of physical malady? I believe the healing here is what God does to my spiritual life because of what Christ did to give me a spiritual life. Just my thoughts …

Christ Jesus Came Just to SAVE Sinners!

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1Timothy 1.15

Sometimes when I read this verse, if I am not careful, I get caught up in the statement that Paul gives about himself. He said that he was the chief of sinners. I do not want to quarrel with him about that. He knows his past better than I do. But I do want my focus to remain on the main thought of this verse: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

On my two visits to the Holy Land, I will quickly admit that some sites spoke to my heart more than others. Among those sites were two in particular: Golgotha (the place of the skull), which was the place of the crucifixion, and the Garden Tomb that is still empty. Each time I saw them, they were both stark reminders of WHY Jesus came to this earth in the first place. He did not come to work miracles, even though He did a number of them, He did not come to be a phenomenal teacher, even though He was the best that ever was. He did not come to die as a martyr, even though that was something that was talked about then and is still talked about in some circles today.

It can’t be made any clearer than this: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ” No matter what else seems to be of major importance in my life today, I must NEVER forget that Jesus came to SAVE sinners. I am one of those sinners, but there are so many more who have NEVER even heard that Jesus came, must less that He came to die for their sin. I don’t want to ever lost sight of WHY He came and my responsibility to this lost world BECAUSE He came. Just my thoughts …

Whatsoever Covers It All!

And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3.17

The totality of each day’s actions needs to be governed by the words of this verse. The word “whatsoever” is all-inclusive. Could we approach this day with this attitude? “Lord, I want to be so attentive to the Spirit’s voice, that when He speaks to me in a whisper, I will hear Him. I do not want to argue with Him but I want to follow His leadership completely.” How different would your day be if that becomes your prayer right now?

Perhaps the greatest part of the struggle for each of us is found in this last phrase: “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Again, I’m not sure how difficult this is for you and how dramatically it would change your life. I do know this, when you and I do things each day that are NOT done in the name of the Lord Jesus, that means we are acting in a purely selfish manner and God is not glorified by such actions. When we CONSCIOUSLY think about our actions and realize that we are God’s hands, feet, and voice in this world, suddenly that things that I DO, the things that I SAY, and the places that I GO take on a new significance.

Do you think the Colossian Christians had some special need that Paul was addressing, or could he speaking to all of God’s children (including us) through his words here to the Colossian believers? I tend to think the latter is true. Our lives are as much n view here as those first century believers. May God’s Spirit have our attention from this moment on today? Just my thoughts …

Simple Observation! Powerful Truth!

Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God: for there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7.22

Most of us would NEVER publicly challenge this first statement about God, but how many times have we LIVED like there was someone or something greater than our God? God has just spoken to David in such a remarkable way and promised him a great future for his son Solomon. And David’s response was this: “Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God … ” Only God could have MADE and KEPT the promise He had just made to David. Think about this! How many promises has God MADE to you and KEPT? If you are like me, you can’t count them all. They are more than memories … they are milestones in our walk with God.

there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee … ” Do you see it? None like thee? “neither … any … beside thee … ” Not only is there NO OTHER God LIKE this God. There is no other look alike or want-to-be god who is ANYTHING like our God! Are you feeling special yet? David was!

Now for David’s closing thought: “according to all that we have heard with our ears.” Nathan, prophet of God, had just finished talking with David ABOUT God. David had seen and heard God work in his life and the life of his family so many different times. He had just been reminded one more time of Who God is and What God could do. When you and I are careful to watch what goes on in our lives day-by-day, we cannot escape seeing the hand of God at work over and over. It is SO important for us to do what David did – share with all who would listen and read, what God had done and was doing in his life and in his kingdom. Let’s be ALL ABOUT that sharing! Just my thoughts …

 

 

 

The Results Could Be unexpected but Wonderful!

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5.15

There are some people in our world who have a bent toward evil thinking, no matter what anyone else does or says. It is sad that Paul found it necessary to remind the Thessalonian believers and us this: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man … ” It doesn’t say don’t render evil to just believers, but do not render evil to any man. The inherent characteristic in the heart of every believer ought to be a heart of love for those whom Jesus loved. Never forget that we must “count no man cheap for whom Christ died.” To treat others with an evil spirit is to build a wall that we can’t get over rather than a bridge that will help guide them to Christ.

The flipside of this issue is to “ever follow that which is good … ” The supernatural response to the world around us is to “ever follow that which is good … ” When you and I do something that the world would ever expect, we are never more like Christ than at that moment. And just to remind us again of the universality of this supernatural response, we read: “both among yourselves and to all men.

What can you and I do yet today that would leave the world standing amazed at what God is doing through us? Could we SPEAK a word of kindness? Could we DO an act of kindness? Could we show Christ’s LOVE to someone who sincerely believes that God absolutely does not love them? Let God’s Holy Spirit guide you. He does that best when you and I give up OUR control and put everything in His hands. Once again, these are just MY thoughts …

Let Him Be Who He Says He Is!

 

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1.8

There are some verses that you read and you say, “I like that.” Some you read cause you to say, “I love that.” And some cause you to say, “Wow, I so believe that!” This is just such one of those verses. The God Who spoke these words became so real to me today after the message that our grandson, who had battled for life from day one (over two years ago) went to meet his Creator today. I came to realize anew and afresh that although life if filled with changes – some welcomed and some not – but our God is ALWAYS the same. THAT is comforting!

I am Alpha and Omega …” Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – starts and ends with Him. Although this baby boy will be so desperately missed, as I pillow my head tonight, he is whole and he is safe in the arms of Jesus. That old song, “Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time” became a little more real for me today. So many I have loved are already there – they are waiting for the rest of us to come.

The last two words of this verse speak volumes to me: “the Almighty.” Can you, even in your wildest imagination, think of something that God CAN’T do? Neither can I. He IS the Almighty One! Tomorrow I may face something that I can’t handle – but He can! I may face a temptation that I will struggle with greatly, because I don’t want to yield – and He will be the Almighty One to see me through it. Life is TOO short to have to go through it with a God who is Not ALMIGHTY. But we don’t have to. Just my thoughts …