And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
In the Garden of Eden, the promise of the cross was given. As I am typing this, I am thinking of what Christ must have been thinking as He was judging Lucifer, (Genesis 3:15), I can picture Jesus looking forward and seeing a man who wasn't even born yet, whose very life was going to be affected by what had just taken place in that garden. This man would be born probably into a life of sorrow brought on by poverty as a result of Adam's sin. He would grow up from a baby into manhood would grow up into a life of hopelessness and then be found guilty of wickedness and find himself nailed to a cross right next to the very One who was standing in the garden of Eden, promising the enemy of this man's soul that He would defeat our great enemy and rescue this man from the clutches of sin and eternal death. I just wonder if that man was on the mind of Jesus in the Garden of Eden. The Hope that died on one cross gave life to one on another, and to us.
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
If you are a saint, meaning that you have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, this is specifically for you. If someone were to ask you, 'Do you want to see God work in your life?', you would say yes, wouldn't you? I would, I have, but..... do you and I understand what that actually means? I mean He is actually working in us, that is what this verse says, but sometimes we come to the place where we ask, 'is this all that there is to being a Christian?' My wife and I asked this question two years ago, you know what the answer was? No! God has more for us than what we think, but the key to learning what He has for us involves calisthenics in faith. I have never been real excited about jumping, running, lifting, ect., I like what I have seen on facebook, 'the wicked run when no one chases, that's why I don't,' but if we are going to grow strong in the faith, God has be to our personal trainer and allow us to go through or even to directly place us into situations that challenges us to trust Him. He never promised that the workout of our faith would be easy, or fun, just necessary for us to grow in faith and closer to Him. Remember this, if Jesus is your True Lord and Savior then that makes God your Father, and because He is your Father you can trust whatever He does in your life is for your good, no matter what.
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
You can read the whole story in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It goes like this:
Peter, just hours before Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, declared that his loyalty to Christ was so strong that he would die with Christ if need be, Jesus told him that in fact, his claim to loyalty to Christ in just a few hours would be proven to not be as fierce as he claimed. That prediction was proven true right in front of Christ at a time when He as a man would need Peter's loyalty. Luke 22:61 records that Jesus literally looked at Peter at the moment of his third denial and Peter saw Jesus look at him, Peter's response? He ran and hid and wept like he never wept before. We can judge Peter for his failure but how many of us as Christ's saints are guilty of denying Him even on daily basis? You may ask how or in what way? If we are truly His then whenever we do something that we know is not right in His eyes but we do it deliberately, we demonstrate a denial of being His. If we watch something that we know is not honoring to Him, but because we decide that entertaining ourselves is more important than keeping our minds holy, we are in fact denying Him Lordship in our lives. The same goes for the music that we choose to listen to, our ears and eyes are the portals and gateways to the mind, to the most holiest place within us, the throne room of the Holy Spirit. When we allow someone to entice us or our own flesh to entice us to go someplace or do something or be involved in an activity or conversation that is unholy simply because we don't want to be rejected by those around us for being 'holier than thou' , we then are denying the fact that we are holy and that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. The beauty of this story does not end with Peter's remorse, it ends with Christ confronting Peter after the crucifixion and resurrection, dealing with Peter's failure and forgiving him and then honoring him with a recommissioning service. We are called to live in loyalty to Christ, but when, not if, we fail, He is faithful to draw us back to Him, forgiving, cleansing, restoring. 1 John 1:9.
In Leviticus chapter five, if you read the rules that God gave for offering sacrifices for sin, the one thing that stands out is just how violent the death of the animals and birds are that are being offered. Why is it that a gentle, loving God who speaks of paying attention when even just one the tiny sparrows fall to the ground in death, and He does so because it grieves Him, (Matthew 10:29, Luke 12:6), is the same One who commands a bloody violent death for innocent birds and animals simply because His people sinned in some way? The answer goes back to Genesis chapter three when God clothed Adam and Eve, because of their sin, with animal skins. Where did He get those skins? An innocent animal had to die and bloody death in place of Adam and Eve so God could forgive their disobedience. The first sacrifice and all of those that followed pointed to the future when God Himself would become that final innocent Lamb on the cross. Okay most of us have heard or read this before, but I want to go back to the thought of the violent death of the sacrifice, especially Jesus'. Why the violence? Simply because the violence of the death of the sacrifice reflected the horror of God towards our sin and God loved us so much that even though it pained Him to sacrifice an innocent animal, and then eventually the Father sacrificed the Son, He did it because His love for us far outweighed the pain.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Affection for material possessions, comfort, ease, relationships; following Jesus requires the readiness to forsake all these. In the culture's mindset that is foolishness, but from the viewpoint of eternity, it is the most logical decision to make.
Peter was sleeping. Herod was over the local government, James had been martyred, Peter had been arrested and placed under heavy guard with the understanding that public humiliation, torture, and death awaited him. In verse six we find Peter in the cell, bound with two chains to the two guards, asleep. Peter was sleeping. The angel that God sent to rescue him had to wake him. The kjv says that the angel smote Peter on the side indicating that Peter was in a deep sleep. The point is that for Peter to have been that deep in sleep he must have been at peace. This is a type of peace that can only come from being at peace with God, knowing that you are right with Him and that He loves you and is in complete control of what is happening.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
There is no more wretched words in all of human language as these. To be forsaken by God means no hope, at all. There is only one man that could rightly say that He was truly forsaken by God, that Man is Jesus. He was forsaken by God on the cross, He experienced the deepest of all pain for one reason, He was forsaken by God so we would be embraced by God. But when Christ cried out these words, they were not original with Him, He was quoting David's words from this psalm. David was expressing great distress in the middle of a great trial, I honestly do not know what this trial was, I just know that he was in great suffering. If you read the next twenty verses you will find just how deeply he felt forsaken by God, but,,, he shows later on in verse twenty four that he knew God hadn't truly forsaken him, and God was hearing his prayers, but because of his circumstances, he was having a hard time recognizing the caring hand of God. If you go back and read verse twenty two, you'll find there is a dramatic shift in attitude or mindset. David begins to look forward to God's deliverance, knowing that God was going to bring him out of this suffering. The fact of this psalm is this, for those who have a relationship with God, meaning that they have understood that they are sinners facing God's wrath on their sin, which is Hell, and they have responded to the loving grace of God by trusting Christ to save them because He lived a sinless life, died on the cross in their place being judged by God for their own sins not His, and rose again the third day, if they have surrendered to Christ as Lord and Savior, this psalm holds for them the promise of hope no matter how great the difficulty. The promise of hope found in this psalm does not mean that one will never face painful times, but it does mean that within those painful times, they will have a Companion who will be the source of grace that they need.
Romans 5:1-5 -- Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulations worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
I am a Christian. Not trying to boast, just stating a fact. What does that mean? Well it means a few things, first, I have a relationship with God because at six years of age, He showed me His holiness and my sinfulness and that He loved me enough to suffer on the cross in my place and invited me to ask Him to forgive me of my sins, I did and He did. Secondly, it means that from that day Jesus has been my Lord, meaning that because His bloody death paid for my sin, and He rescued me from the effect of my sins, (which was going to be Hell), He now is the One who is to be directing my life. Thirdly, it means that my life is to reflect Him, because He is holy, and then because I am His child by the new birth of the Holy Spirit or Ghost, I am holy and am to live out that holiness. Fourthly, because l am a Christian I have hope, hope that no matter what I face, no matter how bad things get in this life, my circumstances will never be able to separate me from God's active, passionate love. And fifthly, I have hope, which is actually a promise from Truth Himself, that because I am His and He is mine and that He knows me on a personal level, I am guaranteed a life in a place in His presence for all eternity where there will be no reason to be afraid of anything, no pain, no suffering, no stresses, no pandemics, no anything but His continuous love. This is a beautiful promise isn't it? Why am I sharing all of this? The other day I was struggling with some discouragements amid all of everything that is going on and I asked that one worded question that we all ask God at some point in our lives, "why?" He gave me this thought, 'you state that I am your hope, do you really mean that?" We claim that our hope is in Christ, we sing songs that make that claim, but so many times when we go through difficult times, we tend to allow the stresses of our circumstances to rob us of the joy of our hope. I really believe that part of the reason that God allows or even directs these difficult times is simply to open the eyes of His saints to our own need to grow in faith, so that we can sing with sincere passion and state with all conviction that our hope truly is in Christ.
10 April 2020
March 27, 2020.