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, 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!
It was one of those days… the kind where everything was out of control. The boys were either being wildly excited and loud or fighting like wildcats and even louder. Every inch of progress I would make seemed to get erased within 10 minutes by the two whirlwinds behind me. There was a reason their Grandmother called them Hurricane Peyton and Tornado Troy.
Although “chaos” would have adequately described my kitchen, I had still managed to get a decent supper on the table by the time Phil got home. My dear hubby could sense my mood as he tried to help get the table ready (yes, good Spidey senses do slowly develop as a husband matures, thank you Lord!). He tread lightly around me, trying not to do or say anything that might accidentally spark my shortened fuse.
I finally plopped the last dish on the table and sat down in a huff, feeling quite flustered and exhausted from the long day. Phil began to pray and while I breathed in Jesus (recall that blog?) I tried to remind myself that those praying with me at that moment were really gifts from God (wow is he a creative gift-giver, and with a mighty unique sense of humor I might add).
As soon as our heads lifted and our eyes cracked open, my youngest, Troy, stood up out of his chair and grabbed a huge forkful of fettucine, dripping with Alfredo sauce. He held it as far above his head as his arm could reach and slowly began to lower the long swaying strands of pasta toward his big mouth, making wild growling sounds like a hungry wolf about to eat his prey.
Suddenly the twisted wad of pasta slipped off the end of his fork and smacked him in the center of his face before falling and managing to hit his shirt, the chair and finally the floor. For the first time all day the whole house was silent. Everyone, fully aware of Mom’s strained mood, turned to me in obvious anticipation of what my reaction would be. I could see the fear in their eyes.
In my own mind (as we super-powered moms can do) I quickly assessed the fallout this attention-seeking antic would cause: the cleanup of the floor and the chair and the son, the stain removal from the shirt and the added laundry, the cost of the food he just wasted, and how this child obviously needs better discipline! Would this be the final blow that caused me to (justifiably) erupt…???
Ahh… what the heck… I burst out laughing. Seeing that fettucine bop him in the face and the look of surprise in his eyes was too much. It was seriously funny, and I let loose laughing like a crazy woman. After everyone realized I was not going to freak out, they laughed hard too. The laughs continued and from that moment on the whole tone of the evening changed.
It was a split second decision to love instead of be angry; to share joy instead of more angst. I don’t always make good choices in moments like this, but this one taught me a good lesson. Sometime you just need to SHOCK your kids with undeserved grace. It helps them and you at the same time. It is a powerful reminder of the utterly undeserved gracious gift of God that we are given in Jesus Christ. What a truly shocking reality that is.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
The love of our Father God should blow us away. He never runs out and is always generous. We should love others the same way, always being full of grace. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16.
I challenge you to find ways to shock others with this type of grace. The next time someone wrongs you, forgive them right away. When your husband puts his foot in his mouth… again (those Spidey senses don’t always kick in quick enough), don’t pout and act hurt, decide to laugh, roll your eyes and love him anyway.
And every once in a while, give those kids a break and shock them with CRAZY grace! When they know they have done wrong or made a bad decision, grab them, hug them, and tell them you love them and forgive them because God has forgiven you for all of the wrong you have done. Let them feel a small portion of the release and freedom that the power of grace provides.
When the opportunity arises, I enCOURAGE you to make a split second decision to love.
This Sunday we celebrate Easter. We will attend egg hunts, church services, and family gatherings. These events are fine, but do we realize the true immensity of what we are celebrating?
Easter is a holy holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to life, but how many of us are living as if he is still dead? Do our lives reflect the power of his triumph over sin and death?
This man who was called Jesus lived on this same earth nearly 2000 years ago. He was sinless and perfect because he truly was the Son of God. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
He fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament, he was the waited for Messiah. He came to love and to show us how to love. He healed, taught and proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God. Yet the more he loved the more he was hated by the religious rulers of the time. They cared more for their rules, traditions and order than for the truth.
They tried many times to capture Jesus, but he evaded them because it was not yet his hour. Finally, the time had come. Jesus had been eating with his disciples in the upper room, teaching them, washing their feet and preparing them for what was to take place. Jesus led them to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. What did he pray for? For himself, for his disciples, and for you and me. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you were on his lips that night, read John chapter 17.
The mob came for him, a band of soldiers and officers of the priests ready for a fight carrying “lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” John 18:3-4. When told they were there for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus replied, “’I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:7. This detachment of trained soldiers with swords in hand could not even stand in the presence of this holy man Jesus, the power of his word was too much for them to even stay on their feet.
Jesus gave himself up in obedience to the mission given him by his Father. They bound the Son of God and led him off to be judged. After a bogus trial where he was actually found innocent, the Pharisees stirred up the crowd to demand his crucifixion. Pilate finally relented, valuing his physical life over his eternal one.
Jesus suffered greatly as he was ridiculed, tortured, whipped and finally raised above the crowd upon a cross. Held to rough wood by large metal stakes driven through his flesh. He hung, he bled, he died. Why? For you. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5
There was no other way. Sin has to be paid for, the price is death. We sin, we die, separated from a holy God forever who cannot tolerate sin in his presence. What hope do we have then? Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus is our hope, our only way (John 14:6). Jesus stepped in to take our place and died for us. A sinless, perfect sacrifice bearing the wrath of God against the sin of the people, our sin. That was his mission on earth, to pay your penalty and redeem you to be his own.
The lifeless body of Christ was laid in a tomb and sealed, but nothing has power over God. Not soldiers, ropes, a cross, or a sealed tomb. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day just as he told his followers he would. He defeated death and remains alive today and forever.
This is why we celebrate; we have hope of eternal life through Jesus if we accept what he did for us on the cross and fully surrender to his kingship in our lives. This event of death and resurrection was witnessed by hundreds and is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 27 and 28, Mark 15 and 16, Luke 23 and 24 and John 19 and 20. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself. Read it to your children!
The tomb is still empty today; don’t live as if Jesus is still there. He remains alive and is seated at the right hand of his Father God (Luke 22:69). Are you living as if Jesus is King and has full authority? If we belong to God, our lives should reflect this truth.
Happy Easter, I enCOURAGE you to truly celebrate Jesus this weekend. We can be full of hope because the tomb is completely empty!
Ladies, as I grow older (and wiser, I hope) I realize how much we have in common with each other. Oh, we like to think our lives are vastly different than that of those around us. But let’s face it, I bet each of us did at least a few of the following already today: groaned when the alarm went off, flinched when you looked in the mirror, rolled your eyes when you saw your husband’s dirty socks on the floor next to the hamper, washed dishes and laundry, reminded the kids to brush their teeth, told your kids to wipe the toothpaste off the sink and walls, made a to do list and a shopping list, thought of a dozen areas of your house and life that need better organization, told your fighting children to knock it off, wished you had listened to your husband and stopped at two children, okay you get the point. I think you can agree we have a lot in common.
One other item every single one of us has in common is sin, we all struggle with it. It may take on different shapes in each of our lives, but it is still there. It could be in the form of envy, lust, gluttony, dishonesty, idolatry or any other type. Often it is not visible for others to see; sin loves the darkness and hates the light. We keep it hidden due to shame and a sense of self-righteousness. We don’t want others to know about it; we don’t want to be judged by anyone! We would rather keep on letting others think that everything is great and that our lives are sparkly clean, or at least as clean as our friends’ lives are. The Bible puts it this way:
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21
I used to be very touchy when asked about sin in my life for all the reasons above. However today, if you sat down with me and asked me about my sins, I can readily admit to the ugliness that is in my life. I can promise you it wouldn’t be pretty, especially if I confessed all the thoughts that run through my head in 24 hours. You may have to finally ask me to stop talking. Why is this? When you get to know Christ more deeply and recognize how holy he is, the sin in your life becomes much more apparent. You begin to see the darkness much easier and you hate it.
Those I worry about are the ones who have a hard time recognizing sin in their lives and often rationalize it as being a “normal” part of the American life. My primary concern is that their view of God as Lord is less than it should be and that their value of his holiness is diminished. If I sat down with you today and asked you about your sin, what would you have to say to me? Would you confess it and ask for prayer or try to make excuses as to why you do what you do? Do you hate your sin or is it something you are fairly comfortable with? Can you recognize it easily? These are serious questions each of us should be asking ourselves.
God hates sin and God is 100% without sin. We can only be in his presence if we are also without sin, completely without a single blemish. This means only those who are perfectly righteous can go to Heaven and live there for eternity with God, everyone else is sent to Hell. Whoa, wait a minute…I said above that all of us have sin in our lives so is there no hope?
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) God has given us a way through the one who lived on Earth and was (and is) completely perfect and without sin; Jesus Christ. He took our sin upon himself and bore the wrath of his Father as he died on that cross for those who will receive the gift of life he offers. For those who accept Christ, our sin was killed on that cross over 2,000 years ago…all of it. Perfectly righteous and holy Jesus stands in our place when we are before God and allows us to enter into his glorious home of Heaven. What a gift it is and how anyone can reject it is beyond me.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
We need to hate sin as much as God does. We need to bring it out of darkness and expose it to light so it can die. Don’t go easy on yourself and explain it away or try to justify it. There won’t be others around you to make you look better on judgment day, only you before God. Unless you accept Jesus as the savior of your soul and make him Lord over your life. If you do, he will be right there, saying, “I died for this one and took away all her sins, she belongs with me.”