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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jesus Christ the Sin Bearer (and other devotionals)

Jesus Christ the Sin Bearer


The cross is so common in our culture that most people don’t think twice when they see one on a church. But unfortunately, familiarity with the symbol can actually get in the way of understanding what it truly means. So let’s stop to consider how Jesus became the bearer of sin.
We begin with Scripture written long before Jesus was born. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, explains how man chose to disobey God. Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, their descendants are all born under the curse of death, having inherited a sinful “flesh” nature.
In Leviticus, God’s laws for the Jewish nation included observance of Yom Kippur, the day each year when the Israelites fasted, prayed, and sacrificed an animal to atone for sin. In essence, the goat would bear the wrongs done by the people and suffer the penalty that divine justice required.
Centuries later, Isaiah prophesied that a Savior would atone for transgression once and for all (Isa. 53:5, 8; Heb. 7:27). After another 700 years, John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Messiah had come, though He was totally different from what the people expected—so much so, in fact, that they rejected Him and requested His crucifixion.
In all, God gave 613 laws through Moses. But none of us can perfectly follow even the Ten Commandments. In fact, one reason He gave us these rules is to show us our need for a Savior (Ps. 19:7; Gal. 3:24). Meditate on those commands (Ex. 20:1-17), asking God to speak to your heart.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
In Touch Ministries
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Confidente in Crisis
Confident in Crisis 
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. Psalm 27:3

A crisis can be seen as an obstacle or an opportunity. Fear can creep into our feelings and begin to weaken our faith. An encamped enemy can instill as much dread as the actual battle. It is during interim times that we may fear the most.  A crisis has a beginning and an end, but the consequences can continue. It is in crisis mode that we reject our instinct to panic or become desperate. Instead we trump feelings with faith. God has brought us safe thus far—He is faithful.

Fear erodes our confidence in Christ and replaces it with anger and defensiveness. If we capitulate to our feelings we feel the need to be in control. We believe we have to take charge and corral the cause in our strength and ingenuity. However, “If God be with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). In the day of trouble He will keep us safe in His presence. In crisis, we have joyful confidence in Christ.

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

Confidence in crisis means we are collaborative, not combative. Confidence takes the high road of respect. There is no need to blame others or beat them down with verbal attacks. Persuasive people are prone to pride. They are forceful with their feelings. However people confident in Christ are patient. They seek the opinion of others. There is an invitation for intellectual engagement. Our past experience may not be what’s best for our future direction.

It is a confident and courageous leader who can give up control and trust the Lord and others with the process. Those who are collaborative for Christ are positioned to be more than conquerors through Christ. Where there is no confidence in Christ, there is no continuance with Christ. Overcome your fears by faith in Jesus. He is just what you need. Hold your family, job and opinions with an open hand. Trust Him and others in the process of crisis management. We can be confident in Christ in crisis. No fear by faith!

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my confidence is in Christ. Keep me in Your process of trust.

Application: How can I grow my confidence in Christ as I face a crisis of faith? What does it mean to have joy in Jesus?

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~
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The "All" of Belief 

"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth"   (Mark 9:23).
Our unbelief is the greatest hindrance in our way; in fact, there is no other real difficulty as to our spiritual progress and prosperity. The LORD can do everything; but when He makes a rule that according to our faith so shall it be unto us, our unbelief ties the hands of His omnipotence. Yes, the confederacies of evil shall be scattered if we can but believe. Despised truth shall lift its head if we will but have confidence in the God of truth. We can bear our load of trouble or pass uninjured through the waves of distress if we can gird our loins with the girdle of peace, that girdle which is buckled on by the hands of trust. What can we not believe? Is everything possible except believing in God? Yet He is always true; why do we not believe in Him? He is always faithful to His word; why can we not trust Him? When we are in a right state of heart, faith costs no effort: it is then as natural for us to rely upon God as for a child to trust his father. The worst of it is that we can believe God about everything except the present pressing trial. This is folly. Come, my soul, shake off such sinfulness, and trust thy God with the load, the labor, the longing of this present. This done, all is done.

~Charles Spurgeon~
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But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort.—2 Cor 1:6-7
Are there not some in your circle to whom you naturally betake yourself in times of trial and sorrow? They always seem to speak the right word, to give the very counsel you are longing for; you do not realize, however, the cost which they had to pay ere they became so skillful in binding up the gaping wounds and drying tears. But if you were to investigate their past history you would find that they have suffered more than most. They have watched the slow untwisting of some silver cord on which the lamp of life hung. They have seen the golden bowl of joy dashed to their feet, and its contents spilt. They have stood by ebbing tides, and drooping gourds, and noon sunsets; but all this has been necessary to make them the nurses, the physicians, the priests of men. The boxes that come from foreign climes are clumsy enough; but they contain spices which scent the air with the fragrance of the Orient. So suffering is rough and hard to bear; but it hides beneath it discipline, education, possibilities, which not only leave us nobler, but perfect us to help others. Do not fret, or set your teeth, or wait doggedly for the suffering to pass; but get out of it all you can, both for yourself and for your service to your generation, according to the will of God.
—Selected
Once I heard a song of sweetness,
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a cruel thorn.
I have seen a soul in sadness,
While its wings with pain were furl’d,
Giving hope, and cheer and gladness
That should bless a weeping world;
And I knew that life of sweetness,
Was of pain and sorrow row borne,
And a stricken soul was singing,
With its heart against a thorn.
Ye are told of One who loved you,
Of a Saviour crucified,
Ye are told of nails that pinioned,
And a spear that pierced His side;
Ye are told of cruel scourging,
Of a Saviour bearing scorn,
And He died for your salvation,
With His brow against a thorn.
Ye “are not above the Master.”
Will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient,
When your heart is pierced with pain.
Will you live to bless His loved ones,
Tho’ your life be bruised and torn,
Like the bird that sang so sweetly,
With its heart against a thorn?

~L. B. Cowman~
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Today's ReadingHosea 1Revelation 1
Today's Thoughts: Watch Your Stubbornness
“For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf; Now the Lord will let them forage like a lamb in open country." - Hosea 4:16
Giving my dog a bath gives me a good glimpse at a stubborn animal. He instinctively knows when I am getting ready to bathe him. Once he is convinced that I am coming to get him, he tries to hide. At that point, talking to him will not get him to change his mind. He must be dragged by the collar to the hose outside (hot and cold water, of course). It is not like he isn't spoiled and usually gets what he wants, but a bath is what is best for him, and for those around him. When the bath is over, he is the happiest, most energetic dog I have ever seen. He seems to like the after effect much more than the process he has to go through to get there.
The Lord compared Israel to a stubborn calf. They would not listen to the Lord's commands and would not obey His Word. Regardless of how much God blessed them, they still returned to their wicked ways. Regardless of how much they saw God's hand taking care of them, rescuing them, and providing for them, they had a short memory of those things. They were constantly returning to their sinful practices of worshiping other gods and pursuing their fleshly desires. Stubborn and stiff-necked is how God referred to them as He looked upon their rebellious ways.
I wonder how often the Lord looks at us the same way. How often do we rebel against what God has for us because we do not want to go through the process (or the bath we need)? For me, even though I revel in the after effects of God's touch, I still resist that necessary cleansing of the sin in my life. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves too comfortable with being unclean. Once that begins to happen, we may also find ourselves slipping into practices that do not glorify God, just as the Israelites did. When you know the Lord is coming to get you for that special time of bathing, just let Him have His way with you. The process will go much faster and you will feel so much better when you surrender to Him. I keep giving my dog the same advice even though he is not catching on. But we should.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

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