Thursday, March 25, 2010

So We Can Walk Free

When I meditate on the cross, I am overwhelmed.

Jesus went through hell so I could experience heaven… so I wouldn’t have to be eternally tied, hell bound by my sins and circumstances.

It wasn’t pretty. Neither was my sin.

Jesus took it all on His body. Beaten bloody beyond recognition, God’s Son suffered without speaking out for His innocence. Satan gloated over Christ’s death, but our Savior still had the upper hand, completely submitted to His Father.

Betrayed with 30 silver coins, our Jesus paid an unthinkable price for our freedom.

The value of what this uncommon Savior spent on us was more than a mine full of coveted diamonds, more than bread to feed all nations, more than wine to make many hearts merry, and more than the costliest fragrances of the world -- immeasurably more!

The precious Bread of Life, the fragrance of heaven, gave us His all.

He bought us back from the one who had entrapped us from Eden’s days. He stands before the Father upholding the repaid debt.

We can walk free. The accuser has no more legal recourse. We need to remember this when we see his accusing finger.

God paid an unimaginably steep price for our life and freedom. Such extravagant love ties our heart to Lord Jesus.

Jesus has already paid the price we couldn’t pay. Praise God!

And walk free.

For Your Consideration

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
See also 1 John 1:7-9, and Isaiah 53.

Are you counting on Christ’s finished work at the cross so you can live the life He intended for you?

Is there any place where you have slipped back into the burden of trying to be righteous all by yourself?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My People

Today, I was drawn to the phrase "My people," from the familiar passage, 2 Chronicles 7:14.

I thought of how intentionally God creates a people for Himself. The author of true life and love wants to deliver, lavish love, and form His people into a holy group. God’s love in Christ includes each heart that says “Yes” to all the King’s holy purposes. Those purposes include the joy of worshiping the one true God.

But, all-knowing, our Lord speaks a caveat.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

God had warned them … several times… prior to this occasion of the temple dedication. If they obeyed or disobeyed, they would reap consequences in the fruitfulness of their homes, land, and in their relationships with the neighboring nations.

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people... will humble themselves… and seek my face…”

God knew those times would come. God knew that His people, who were excited in their new temple, would later slide into worshiping gods of their own making though they continued their religious rituals.

We are so like the Israelites. And God's kindness and forgiveness are still as reliable as the sunrise.

Like a groom desiring his betrothed, like a father instructing his children, and like a hen protecting her chicks, the Covenant Keeper provides ways to re-establish relationship and restore covenant. If we will turn again to the Lord, He will forgive us. If we will seek His face above all others, God promises to heal our land.

Are you one of God's people?

For Your Meditation

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9, NIV).

As one of God's people, are you good advertising?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Praise Practice

I have prayed with people who weep, with folk who sing their prayers, and with people who pray through lists. At first, I did what most novices do. I compared myself with seasoned pray-ers and their various styles.

I thought, 'There's no way I can pray like her!' But my heart longed to improve. To pray better. More effectively.

So I started asking God to help me pray like the ones who seemed confident that God was hearing. They seemed to know God well. I would recognize Scripture woven into their prayers with praise sprinkled everywhere.

Praised flowed fluently from one of my friends, while I found praising God beyond 30 seconds difficult. It was just too easy to fall back into asking for things!

To replace my old gimme habit with a longer time of praise, I found the Scriptures the best tool. I'd find a psalm and make the words my own.

As I did that more frequently and for longer times, I found my heart became lighter. It was easier to tell God how I loved and appreciated Him. I started smiling more.

That motivated me to find other passages to pray: Chronicles, Revelation, Ephesians. The more I joined Biblical streams of praise, the more my heart flowed with joy. Practice praying the scriptures gave me what both God and I wanted. I was enjoying His "river of delights."

"How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light."
Psalm 36:7-9, NIV

For Your Consideration

If you've never tried practicing praise, perhaps you can ask God's help to guide you to scriptures you can turn into prayers.

Do you find that the more you praise, the more God whets your appetite for His presence? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Try timing yourself. Thirty seconds is longer than you think!