We’ve all been there. We’ve known our weaknesses since we were children. We’ve struggled with temptation for as long as we can remember. We’ve given in, struggled to avoid it, or done our best to resist it. We’ve wrestled with it because of parents, maybe teachers, or even God. However, somehow the temptation Continue reading
Tag Archives: sin
After a seeming lifetime of belief in God, I was stopped short one day as I read this verse in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith (Hebrew: moral conviction of religious truth, the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), 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.” (NIV) I always believed that He existed, but I had somehow missed the rewards part. How could I have overlooked that part of the verse? For years I had embraced the mindset that salvation from my own sin was reward in itself. On this day, however, I was reminded that there is more to the salvation that my Savior provided than an escape from Hell.
As I became convinced of God’s consistent love, truth and grace as it is reflected in His Word, I was able to develop a deeper relationship with Him, and better reflect His Image to others. This portion of the verse made it clear that my pursuit of God, my desire to truly know Him, carried rewards. Some may call these rewards blessing, favor, or promises from God. Whatever term you use, God is the One doing the rewarding. We do nothing but seek Him… not for the reward, because intimacy with God is reward enough, but because we want to respond to His love for us.
This is not about working to earn salvation. That is impossible! This is about a loving God who doles out gifts that cause us to smile and know that He loves us. He is the One who is pleased when His Creation wants to know Him. He is the One who rewards those who truly believe Him and His Word. He loved us while we were yet sinners, according to Romans 5:8, so how much more does He appreciate those who have received His plan of salvation and become His children!
When we really want to please God, we find out what His Word says and then believe and DO it! Jesus paid for a great many things by His death and resurrection. Healing, for instance, was never needed before Adam and Eve made the wrong choice in the Garden of Eden, so Jesus restored divine health with the stripes He took on His back.
God always wanted a prosperous and healthy life for His creation, so don’t believe for a second that God would give you something less than wholeness in your body. James 1:13-15 says, When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (NIV) So, if that “something less” shows up, surrender it to the God who heals, and watch Him do what He does best… create, sustain and restore life as we walk with Him. He created the universe with His Words. We do the same with our words. so speak His Word to remind yourself, and those around you, of all that Jesus redeemed in that ultimate act of love for humanity… for you! That undeserved love is just one of God’s rewards.
Remember, God always tells the truth. His very essence is righteousness and holiness. “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19, KJV) So let’s trust Him when He tells us He wants to reward (Heb. ~ deliver, give, pay recompense) us, and be thankful as His blessings flow our way in every area of life. Have faith (Heb.~persuasion, conviction, belief) in God and His goodness! It’s what really pleases Him!
… I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim… And one cried to another and said; Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3) This is the God of the universe Who came to earth for you and me!
Have you ever really thought about the sacrifice that was made for your sin*? Have you ever contemplated what it might be like for you to have to pay for your own sin? Has the thought ever crossed your mind?
If we put it in today’s terms, we have no real frame of reference, but we can use the military as an example of this ultimate sacrifice. Each time a loved one enters into battle, there is an amazing sacrifice made. These special men and women, serving our country, give up the touch of each loved one for the loneliness and isolation that comes from separation. They give up face-to-face communication for the occasional, letter, verbal contact or webcam. They give up the peace of a quiet night with loved ones for the sounds of weapon fire… or worse yet… the deadly silence of the unknown. They give up the security of home and hearth for the bed-roll or the trench.
Oh, they soon “bond” with those brothers and sisters who have also left loved-ones behind, but that bond has much to do with survival as they fight a mutual enemy. A different kind of love is formed… one created out of need and loyalty and a love for “God and country.” These wonderful, brave soldiers battle the enemy of our freedom every day… on our behalf! They lay down their lives every minute that they are on the front lines for your freedom and mine!
May we never forget that!
Now, let’s go back to the original scene and try to understand what the Creator and Sustainer of this and all universes gave up for each of us…. This Creator of all things, Jesus, spent about nine months in a cramped space waiting to be born into a world that would misunderstand, mistreat and misrepresent Him. This world, made up of the men and women He created, would ignore Him, slander Him, hate Him, spit on Him, beat Him, crucify Him and try to forget Him. As His creation was doing these things, the Creator was spending every minute of every day choosing to love us, choosing to refuse the temptation to sin, choosing to stand against His enemy, choosing to listen to the voice of His Father as He healed us and loved us and taught us the Truth of God’s heart by His Word and His example. And every second He spent from the womb to the tomb, He was aware of the purpose for which He came… to do for us what we could never do for ourselves!
He stepped out of Heaven and into earth because He loved us… even while we were misunderstanding, mistreating and misrepresenting Him! Would you do that for anyone? Would you, honestly, sacrifice all that you had, knowing that your life would be constant sacrifice and your end would be death?
But Jesus saw more in the vision of His future than the sacrifice and death! He had the God-given vision of life-after-death, victory for all mankind and eternal reward as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His success meant sitting at the right hand of His Father… forever! His victory meant sharing that Kingdom with all who accepted His sacrifice for their sin… forever! But it also meant that all who accepted His sacrifice would be covered in the righteousness and holiness that He redeemed for us, so that God would no longer see the sin, but the pure and holy blood of the only Lamb that was perfect enough to restore the fellowship with the Father that had been broken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus was that Lamb! The added bonus is that God no longer remembers our sin AND He showers us with all the blessings He created in the sinless Garden of Eden, before the choice to disobey was made.
God is full of Grace… His undeserved favor! He blessed us, forgave us, created a plan to set us free, came to earth to do the job Himself, suffered immeasurably when He never did anything wrong, gained the victory, then gave all the presents to us! He adopted us into His Family, shared all the benefits of being a part of His Family and has already prepared a Home with Him… forever!
SO… if you think that Santa, tinsel, lights and presents are what this season is about… think again! God gave us a Gift that is beyond all others! He gave us the Gift of undeserved and unconditional love. If you haven’t already, receive it! If you’ve already received it, share it with others. God’s Gift is free. Jesus paid it all!
Make this Christmas the most joyous of all… give, or receive, the Gift of Jesus! There is no greater gift…
*The word “sin” is an archer’s term meaning “missing the mark” or the bulls-eye.