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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’s sacrifice’

Quiet and overweight, the new girl in school was an easy target. She’d shuffle down the hall in nondescript clothing, her unkempt hair hanging across her face as if it knew she longed to be hidden. A year younger than she, I don’t recall her name although I remember the caustic words the pretty girls spewed as their victim sidled toward the row of lockers.

Something stinks.

Daintily waving their hands as if to ward off a stench, the two friends screwed their petite features in disgust and groaned. The boys and girls in the hallway began to titter in agreement and follow their lead. Something stinks.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to cry, but the quiet girl feigned ignorance and continued the long stretch toward class alone.

The silent, brown-haired tween moved away from our school as quickly as she’d arrived. There was no going away party and no opportunity to say good-bye.

I’ve often thought of her. I’d like to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t befriend her. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave. I’m sorry even children can be cruel, unkind, and uncaring. That even the most innocent of us judge others based on the world’s shallow standards of beauty, charm, and status.

Perhaps we can excuse away childhood callousness with psychobabble about pro-social behavior or not knowing any better. In adult circles, discrimination may be dressed up as inappropriate jesting as well as more overt practices. Lack of inclusion. Failure to hire. Avoidance. Sadly, those ruled by hatred may resort to violence-an occurrence with which we’ve become far too familiar.

...there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever. 
#theywillknowusbyourlove #discrimination Click To Tweet

But there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Using scripture to interpret scripture, we can learn more about God’s attitude toward discrimination. Let’s take a look at the following verse.

Matthew 22:15-16 (NIV) Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Oh, how I would love for God to say the same of me! Wouldn’t you?

Daughter, you are a woman of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others because…of who they are.

In the 90’s, country singer Shania Twain lent her voice to the tune “Don’t Impress Me Much”. Although the song’s message is worldly, it caught my attention as it poked fun at a woman’s self-consumed love interest and ended with the lines,

Okay, so what do you think, you’re Elvis or something
Whatever
That don’t impress me.

Christ lived a don’t-impress-me-much attitude.

Religion didn’t impress him. Power didn’t impress him. Wealth didn’t impress him. He gave up heavenly glory for earthly poverty in order to rescue you and me; in order to rescue the unimpressive.

Instead, Christ seeks after a life surrendered to Him.

Paul shares this powerful passage in Galatians 3:28 (NIV), “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are no differentiations in God's kingdom. No VIP sections. 
Only Emmanuel will receive our adoration. Click To Tweet

There are no differentiations in God’s kingdom. No VIP sections. No special boarding passes or red-carpet moments. Paparazzi won’t chase after Elijah or Esther; only Emmanuel will receive our adoration.

In the same way, we are to remember “we are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Reconsider the words of James 2:1-5.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Both the rich and poor man described in the situation above are unexpected guests and neither is treated any differently than if they attended any other gathering. Let’s assume these men are unaware of Jesus’ saving grace. Will either of them be swayed by judgmental people within the body of believers? Will they come to know Him through me? Or you?

Christ’s people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and, if we remain in Him, we will live differently. We will see, treat, and love others through the eyes of Christ. Oh, Friend—how often I fail when I live and walk in the flesh, but when the Spirit is in control of my heart, mind, and soul then transformation happens.

I care less about how others perceive me and more about how I can meet their needs. I’m less impressed by status and more interested in salvation. I look beyond race, creed, or color and see the tears, the pain, and a heart that pounds out the question, “Who will love me anyway?”.

James continues in verse 8, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

Love.

We are living in world that throws love around until the word seems to have lost its worth.

I love chocolate. (True.) I love dogs. I love sleeping in on Saturday. I love…fill in the blank.

But the love James refers to is sacrificial, life-giving love—the soul-deep, Christ-shaped love people long for without even realizing it. Pure, beautiful, unadulterated love flowing from the throne room into our living rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms. Spanning the invisible boundaries of white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, and Korean churches.

Christ’s love is greater and more powerful than anything you and I will face individually, locally, nationally, or globally and we can be part of the answer. In Him, we are persevering, love-offering, Christ-sharing believers.

Reflect

What action step can you take today to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

In what way is God asking you to move beyond the invisible boundaries of status, color, or race in order to break down the barriers of favoritism within the church, your neighborhood, or community?

Are you struggling to find hope in this unsettling time? If so, I have a free gift for you today. Each month you will receive a Bible study article like the one you read today from my book, The Persevering Believer: Hope in Every Season. The first several days are already available and you can download the excert

Quiet and overweight, the new girl in school was an easy target. She’d shuffle down the hall in nondescript clothing, her unkempt hair hanging across her face as if it knew she longed to be hidden. A year younger than she, I don’t recall her name although I remember the caustic words the pretty girls spewed as their victim sidled toward the row of lockers.

Something stinks.

Daintily waving their hands as if to ward off a stench, the two friends screwed their petite features in disgust and groaned. The boys and girls in the hallway began to titter in agreement and follow their lead. Something stinks.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to cry, but the quiet girl feigned ignorance and continued the long stretch toward class alone.

The silent, brown-haired tween moved away from our school as quickly as she’d arrived. There was no going away party and no opportunity to say good-bye.

I’ve often thought of her. I’d like to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t befriend her. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave. I’m sorry even children can be cruel, unkind, and uncaring. That even the most innocent of us judge others based on the world’s shallow standards of beauty, charm, and status.

Perhaps we can excuse away childhood callousness with psychobabble about pro-social behavior or not knowing any better. In adult circles, discrimination may be dressed up as inappropriate jesting as well as more overt practices. Lack of inclusion. Failure to hire. Avoidance. Sadly, those ruled by hatred may resort to violence-an occurrence with which we’ve become far too familiar.

...there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever. #theywillknowusbyourlove #discrimination Click To Tweet

But there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Using scripture to interpret scripture, we can learn more about God’s attitude toward discrimination. Let’s take a look at the following verse.

Matthew 22:15-16 (NIV) Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Oh, how I would love for God to say the same of me! Wouldn’t you?

Daughter, you are a woman of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others because…of who they are.

In the 90’s, country singer Shania Twain lent her voice to the tune “Don’t Impress Me Much”. Although the song’s message is worldly, it caught my attention as it poked fun at a woman’s self-consumed love interest and ended with the lines,

Okay, so what do you think, you’re Elvis or something
Whatever
That don’t impress me.

Christ lived a don’t-impress-me-much attitude.

Religion didn’t impress him. Power didn’t impress him. Wealth didn’t impress him. He gave up heavenly glory for earthly poverty in order to rescue you and me; in order to rescue the unimpressive.

Instead, Christ seeks after a life surrendered to Him.

Paul shares this powerful passage in Galatians 3:28 (NIV), “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are differentiations in God's kingdom. No VIP sections. Only Emmanuel will receive our adoration. Click To Tweet

There are no differentiations in God’s kingdom. No VIP sections. No special boarding passes or red-carpet moments. Paparazzi won’t chase after Elijah or Esther; only Emmanuel will receive our adoration.

In the same way, we are to remember “we are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Reconsider the words of James 2:1-5.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Both the rich and poor man described in the situation above are unexpected guests and neither is treated any differently than if they attended any other gathering. Let’s assume these men are unaware of Jesus’ saving grace. Will either of them be swayed by judgmental people within the body of believers? Will they come to know Him through me? Or you?

Christ’s people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and, if we remain in Him, we will live differently. We will see, treat, and love others through the eyes of Christ. Oh, Friend—how often I fail when I live and walk in the flesh, but when the Spirit is in control of my heart, mind, and soul then transformation happens.

Living Out a Christ-Shaped Love in Opposition to Discrimination Click To Tweet

I care less about how others perceive me and more about how I can meet their needs. I’m less impressed by status and more interested in salvation. I look beyond race, creed, or color and see the tears, the pain, and a heart that pounds out the question, “Who will love me anyway?”.

James continues in verse 8, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

Love.

We are living in world that throws love around until the word seems to have lost its worth.

I love chocolate. (True.) I love dogs. I love sleeping in on Saturday. I love…fill in the blank.

Living Out a Christ-Shaped Love in Opposition to Discrimination Click To Tweet

But the love James refers to is sacrificial, life-giving love—the soul-deep, Christ-shaped love people long for without even realizing it. Pure, beautiful, unadulterated love flowing from the throne room into our living rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms. Spanning the invisible boundaries of white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, and Korean churches.

Christ’s love is greater and more powerful than anything you and I will face individually, locally, nationally, or globally and we can be part of the answer. In Him, we are persevering, love-offering, Christ-sharing believers.

Reflect

What action step can you take today to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

In what way is God asking you to move beyond the invisible boundaries of status, color, or race in order to break down the barriers of favoritism within the church, your neighborhood, or community?

Are you struggling to find hope in this unsettling time? If so, I have a free gift for you today. Each month you will receive a Bible study article like the one you read today from my book, The Persevering Believer: Hope in Every Season. The first several days are already available and you can download them here.  I pray they are a blessing to you.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

I pray they are a blessing to you.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

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Love is when

My pastor calls it the Great Exchange; the way God gave everything in order that you and I might gain from His loss. As I read the scripture about Christ and the thief on the cross, I’m struck by the truth of the Great Exchange and the scandalous love God has for people.

For sinful, hell-bent, hurting people. For the blind, the bleeding, and the broken. For the promiscuous, the pompous, and the prideful. For the self-proclaimed righteous and the down-in-the-dregs criminal.

Christ exchanged his existence in the presence of the Divine for exposure to the depraved because of His overwhelming love for people in need of mercy.#hope#salvation#mercy Click To Tweet

Christ exchanged His existence in the presence of the Divine for exposure to the depraved because of His overwhelming love for people in need of mercy. His riches for poverty. His home for homelessness. His robes of righteousness for our redemption. His unblemished life for our salvation.

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me inParadise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

In His last moments on the cross, the mercy of Christ's salvations ushered a repentant man into the arms of heaven.#thegreatexchange#mercy Click To Tweet

In His last moments on the cross, the mercy of Christ’s salvation ushered a repentant man into the arms of heaven. Oh, the beauty of this ultimate exchange! Christ’s own final, holy breath for the eternal redemption of a thief.

It was not by accident the criminal hung in agony by the Christ. There was a plan for his salvation from eternity past and it was death on a cross that brought him close to the heart of his Father.

The Great Exchange of more than 2,000 years ago fulfilled God’s design to invite you and me into the Kingdom, too. But, there are others. Others who are waiting to hear the name of Jesus in far off lands. Others who are familiar with His name, but only as a curse word. Others behind bars or self-made prisons of sin and sensual living.

The world is in need of hope, friends, and we must be the ones to share Him.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8)

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following: LMMLinkupPorch StoriesTea and Word Tuesday, Blogger Voices NetworkTea and Word TuesdaysWorth Beyond Rubies WednesdayLet’s Have CoffeeSoaring With HimPurposeful Faith, Encouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsImparting GraceDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementFaith and FriendsFaith on Fire, anitaojeda, Dance with Jesushttps://www.rachelmarielee.com/  www.instaencouragements.com, Fresh Market Friday

 

 

 

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The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I read the child’s name and my throat constricts.  The words seem detached from the page and I wish I could wrap my hand around each letter–crushing the message they bear.  Dead.  Eight year old.  Mother attempted to revive.

Pausing, I think of my own children and something like guilt washes over me.  My children have been spared death.  They have escaped from the clasp of pneumonia…the rebellious actions of desperate youth…and the threat of childhood illness.  My daughter survived when she was resuscitated–and the memory of unmatched pain still lingers within.  And my heart aches for this mother.

Then, I think of the little boy–thin and frail when I knew him as a preschooler–and marvel at the way God used him to touch the lives of so many.  On Christmas Day, the boy drewMP900438983 his final breath.  And because of that boy several other children received an unimaginable Christmas gift–the gift of hope.

A blind child awakened to the colors of an undiscovered world while another now touches tender flesh marred by stiches–proof that much had been sacrificed for hope.

And my thoughts are of the boy–and of Hope.  The one who fully restores the brokenhearted mother…the dying child…the blind and desperate.  And I Ask for the grace to accept Hope’s promise for today.

 

Scripture for Reflection

“Put your hope in God and know real blessing.” Psalm 146:3-9 MSG

“Blessed are those…who have made The Lord their hope and confidence.” Jer. 17:7

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Forgotten memories– filtered long ago by a child’s fear and need for normalcy–have begun to emerge from the dark and hidden places of my mind. It’s as if a veil is being slowly removed and I see more of the landscape. Vision is no longer as limited.
So I wander back through time to revisit those dreaded places to be freed from their hold on my today’s and tomorrow’s. Fear settles heavy in my stomach, churning until my body releases it in desperation and I wish mother’s arms would seal the false promise that things are fine.

And today, I hear the words “to live courageously is to believe in God’s Grace.”

Do I believe? Honestly? Not always. But through and because of His grace on the cross, I choose to live as if I do. Circumstance never did –or ever will–force the absence of the One who is the Beginning and the End, mercy personified, glory revealed.

Are you the newlywed abandoned by your beloved? Are you the parent kneeling in prayer, wondering what you might have done differently? Do the faults of the past grasp at your heels with the tenacity of hell? There is freedom in His grace, Friend.

We can choose to live courageously–for Him and through Him–because He chose to die courageously for us.

Scripture for Reflection–“Courage, daughter.  You took a risk of faith and now you’re well.”  (Matthew 9:20-22 MSG)

 

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