Until very recently, I worked as a nurse supervisor at a blood center where blood is collected to be transfused into patients at local hospitals. When I would tell people this, there would be two common reactions: curiosity or disgust. The latter often accompanied by a comment along the lines of, “I hate needles, how can you stand doing that?” I would laugh and tell them that if didn’t do my job people would die.
Okay, so that may seem a bit over the top, but none the less true. Sure, there is pain involved with donating blood, there is a needle involved after all. If everyone was too afraid to give blood we would be in trouble; people would suffer greatly and many really would die. There has to be willing volunteers to give up some of their blood in order to save others who are in need of it. Someone has to go through pain to allow someone else to experience healing.
In the Old Testament times, the Israelites had to sacrifice the best of their animals in order to atone for sin. In order to be right before God, there had to be something given up and blood shed.
These animal sacrifices are like the units of blood taken at the blood center. The blood collected helps people stay alive physically and gain health, but it is still just temporary. Everyone still dies eventually. The blood we collect and transfuse is not able to save them from eternal death. Just like the animal sacrifices under the old law were not sufficient to save the Israelites from eternal death. A better way was needed. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” Hebrews 8:7
Imagine if there was perfect blood that we could give to each person that would allow them to have permanent health and eternal life!
That is what the Israelites hoped for in Old Testament times. A Messiah to save them from the old law “because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19.
This is exactly what the ultimate blood donor, Jesus Christ, did for us (he is the “better hope” spoken of above). God knew the old way (the old covenant) was flawed; he created it that way to point to the need for something greater, a new and perfect covenant. There was need for blood that could truly save. So, God sent Jesus, the absolute perfect sacrifice. Jesus came and gave all of his blood for us. He did this to save us and allow us eternal life forever in glory with him.
Some of you may have received units of life-saving blood in the past or know of someone who has. It truly is a precious gift.
Eternal life is available to each of us also through the gift of blood. It is the gift of a gracious Savior who wants you to live forever with him. He voluntarily allowed all of his blood to flow out of his body in order to save you from death. His blood alone is sufficient to cover all the sins of each one of us “…since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:27.
Do you understand your need for a cure for your sickness called death? The penalty of our sins is death (Romans 6:23). We are guilty and therefore headed toward Hell unless we accept the gift of the blood offering Jesus has made for us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” I enCOURAGE you to allow Jesus to pay this price for you. Allow a transfusion to take place and accept this donation given on your behalf: the perfect blood of Christ, with the power to save.
Ladies, have you ever noticed how taking a walk can be an awesome attitude changer? Have you ever been in a bad mood, taken a walk and come home in a much improved state? I sure have. Take along a loved one or a friend and the benefits seem to magically multiply. Along with all the obvious health benefits, this seemingly simple activity can help you focus your thoughts, decrease anxiety, and improve your mood. Why would this be?
When you leave your home and step outside for a walk you are in a great position to enjoy a vast array of God’s blessings: his beautiful creation in the world around you, your body that he made with all of its amazing abilities, and time to commune with him as you leave your busyness behind at home. Time spent enjoying and treasuring God is always an attitude changer. God even sends feel-good chemicals to our brain (endorphins) to let us know this walking thing is a good idea.
Walking is one of my very favorite ways to spend time with a friend. In the past couple years I have had many great walks with close friends as we discuss what is going on in our lives and how God has been working in our hearts. We tell each other of areas where we are struggling and need prayer and we encourage one another to stay in God’s word and in-line with his will for our lives. We even rebuke each other if needed, in a loving way.
I have also gotten to know a few new friends this way. They may not accept an offer to church or a Bible study, but a simple walk around the block or track a few times is hard to turn down. It is very easy to carry on a conversation with someone as you stroll side by side; it is a comfortable environment to share your heart in.
Jesus put many miles on his sandals while on earth. He was walking by the sea of Galilee when he called his first disciples (Matt. 4:18), he walked up and down mountains to teach and pray (Matt. 5:1, John 6:4), he walked from town to town to preach and heal the sick (Matt. 9:35, Mark 10:32), and he took a long walk with a couple of men headed to Emmaus after he was raised from the dead (Luke 24). Jesus knew how to “walk well” and, as with everything, he is our excellent example to follow.
We are told in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Walking while sharing Christ and discussing his word is an awesome way to proliferate the gospel.
So, Ladies, my enCOURAGEment to you today is simply this… take a hike. Head out your door to enjoy the blessings of God and spend time with him in prayer. Better yet, invite someone to go along with you: a good friend, a neighbor you are too shy to ask to church events, or someone God has laid on your heart to get to know better. Lace’em up, Ladies, and let’s go... and if you ever need a walking buddy, you just give me a call!
Ladies, today I enCOURAGE you to rejoice with me in the fact that we are forgiven. If you have accepted the gift of sacrifice from Jesus Christ your sins have all been paid for long ago. You don’t need a man dressed in black with a white collar or robes or blue jeans to tell you this. The one and only man who walked this earth who could redeem you and pay your penalty did so long ago, job done. Period.
Forgiveness of sins happened at only one point on our human timeline of history and that was on the cross of Jesus Christ years ago. His blood poured out as he consumed the full wrath of his Father (the wrath we deserve), he then gave up his spirit as he declared, “It is finished!” John 19:30. This is the moment when sin died, mission accomplished. Jesus paid for your sins and mine at that exact moment. It is imperative that you understand this if you are a Christian.
Never minimize the sacrifice of our God dying in our place. If you think you can say enough repetitive prayers or do enough good works to earn forgiveness you are gravely mistaken and in attempting to do so, you are spitting in the face of Jesus. How dare you? If his act was lacking than we would have to crucify the Son of God over and over again to accomplish forgiveness multiple times. What a worthless and insufficient god that would be. That is not my God. That is not the God of the Bible.
Women, do not fall prey to a deceived way of thinking. If you have accepted Jesus, have turned from your life of sin, and now live for him, you are forgiven. Your sins have been washed away by the all sufficient blood of Jesus Christ. This is what causes us Christians to love our Savior so much and propels us to worship him with unreserved gratitude.
Is repentance needed? Oh, yes for sure. When your eyes are opened to your ugly sins and see that they are what keep you from a loving God, you will fall on your knees with a contrite heart seeking mercy and forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
After salvation will we still sin? Yes, to our shame knowing what it cost our Redeemer. It is a true daily battle, but the payment of Jesus still stands good. Once accepted in earnest, all sins have been forgiven.
Ladies, when Jesus died, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest was allowed to go once per year to atone for the sins of the people) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). No more earthly intercessor needed, full access granted to the mercy of God because of what Jesus did.
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14.
If you have not yet done so, seek this mercy today and turn to God. If you have received this mercy, you are familiar with the awesomeness of this forgiveness that I speak of. Praise him for it! Your freedom has been granted, walk in the victory that Christ has provided, knowing your debt has been paid in full!