Practical Proverbial, from 1 Peter, 10 June 2020

 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV).

You’ve been here before.   You understand this verse highlights the basic principle of Christianity.   You understood it when you first said, “I believe,” and meant it.   Jesus died so we may live.  So why do we need to keep repeating it?   Why is it that we the people keep coming back to this basic, first principle over and over again?

Got skin, got sin.   Take out that “k” and, within your skin is sin.   Cliché, I know, but it’s also so true.  We keep coming back to the cross because, despite our belief in what Jesus did there, we can’t help ourselves.  We need constant reminders that He forgives us, that we have overcome the world because He overcame the world of sin.

We need to be reminded that God raised Jesus back to life after people no different than us had Him murdered.   The sins of every person from Adam to Caiaphas put Jesus on that cross.   The sins of every person since, including me and you, put Jesus on that cross.   He died that agonizing death and experienced the spiritual banishment we deserve because of our sins that put Him on that cross.   And yet, through it all, God the Father was both apart from Him and with Him.   And on that following Sunday, God breathed life back into Jesus’ dead heart and made it beat again.   No matter what disease or injury plagues us, at that moment, He healed us from within forever.

We need to be reminded that we died to sin on the cross with Jesus.   He bore our sins there when He didn’t have to.   He took on the guilt and anguish we feel, then He took on the spiritual punishment we earn with each transgression.   He submitted to God’s holy justice there and pulled our sinful life out of us in doing so.   When that was done, even before we were born, He had made us ready to be re-filled again, only this time with His life-giving Spirit. 

Last, we need to be reminded that we’re waiting for Him to come back and bring the physical redemption He promised centuries ago.   It’s been a long, long time and the world of common sin still siren-calls us to fall back, to slide back into the muck of ordinary rebellion.  “It won’t be so bad,” sings the song, “it’s natural.”   Jesus has been gone for so long; just give in this once.   We need the reminder that, because all His words were honest, His final promise – to abide with us, then return – is honest as well.   He’s coming back, and soon.

We’ve been here before.   Thank the Lord for that.

For further reading:  Acts 5:30, Romans 6:2, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 2:25

Lord Jesus, I need You and Your reminders today!

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Peter, 30 April 2020

He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  1 Peter 1:20 (NIV).

Have you ever considered what it would be like to live in a world without Christianity?

Peter did.   He lived a large chunk of his life without knowing Jesus.   Judaism’s special bond as God’s chosen people had tarnished long before.   It wasn’t God’s fault:   it was humanity’s.  God still revered the Jews, all people in fact, and so He put into motion the plan He had designed since before He spoke it all into existence.

So, have you ever considered what our world would be like if God hadn’t done that, hadn’t sent His Son, Jesus, to live, die, and live again for our sake?   It’s a historical fact that Christian monks preserved the ancient knowledge from Egypt, Greece, and Rome through the Dark and Middle Ages.  Almost definitely, what we know as western traditions, respect and reverence for children, universal human rights, women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and representative republican democracy wouldn’t exist (at least not as they do).   Most likely, there would be more tyranny because, before Jesus, that was the norm.   Quite possibly, our world would be far more carnal and violent and more attuned to our most base human instincts.  It’s even very possible that methods of western hygiene and medicine would not have developed as they have.

This faith called “Christianity” is responsible for preserving most of the things that we hold as good and true in our twenty-first century world.  It’s true there are many who think the world would be much better without religion, stating that religion is responsible for so many of the world’s woes and wars.   They miss the point:   people are responsible for that, not faith in God.    Indeed, live in a place where Christianity is banned, say in Iran or North Korea or Communist China, and you’ll find the human spirit to be crushed and debilitated.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.   Before this world was even created, God knew what we would eventually do and that we would need a Savior.   Before you or I were even born, God knew we would be both His very good creation and that we would reject Him time and again.  In what may be the last epoch of our world, God revealed Himself to us personally, through His Son and through His Spirit so that we might not live apart from Him.

If He hadn’t done that, imagine the world as a North Korean gulag.

Pretty dire prediction?   Maybe.   None of us knows what the world would be like without Jesus.   All we can know is that we wouldn’t be saved from our own self-produced damnation.

For further reading:  Matthew 25:34, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 9:26, 1 Peter 1:21

Lord Jesus, thank You for looking ahead to see we would desperately need You, then for dying and living again to save us from ourselves.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Peter, 29 April 2020

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV).

Today is my wedding anniversary.   31 years ago today, the most wonderful lady on Earth said the words to become Mrs. Terry.   Through so many up’s and down’s, rights and wrongs, and changes, and family, and all the world has thrown at us, we’ve made it this far.   We’re half way to 62, which is a good place to start.

Through these 31 years, we’ve come together because of being believers in Jesus.   We’ve known sin; we’ve known blessings.  Faith in Him is our foundation.  In our marriage, that has become a real thing, an enduring bond, what keeps us as one as a couple, as Kim and Dave, as Mom and Dad, and as Mimi and Pops.   She and I were both raised in Christian homes but Christian homes with varying see-saw degrees of Christianity.   That’s probably true for most people.   Our faith ebbs and flows over time, but it, like a river, it generally flows towards its ultimate destination.

But together we’ve come to understand that the precious blood of Christ that purchased us from the emptiness of life without Him is the blood that both washes us clean and holds us together.   Without Him, there’s no protection for us.   Without Jesus, there is no reason to be married, or have a family, or even to try to live happily here on the Third Rock.   Without Jesus, we’re just unsaved sinners, lost souls in a hopeless world from which the only escape is oblivion.   Without Jesus, none of this makes any sense.

Especially during hard times.   Our world is going through some now.  Mankind 2020 doesn’t know how to handle this, at least not in progressive America.   It doesn’t really matter how we all got here.   We’re here now.   What are we going to do about it?

If you don’t know what to do, come join Hunnie and me in devotions.   First go to the cross and get rid of your sins there.   Embrace them, confess them, then really let them go.   Jesus died to atone for them so they won’t matter anymore.   Then come with us to the empty tomb.   Peek in, gaze, then walk out of it.   Jesus isn’t there.   He’s alive; He’s risen; He’s doing things now more than ever.   Come join us as we join in with Him.   Great things are in progress.   Come be a part of them.

We’ve learned these things in 31 years of being blessed together.   Happy anniversary, Hunnie.   Our best is yet to come.

For further reading:  1 Peter 1:20

Lord Jesus, thank You for blessing my marriage and my life with this wonderful lady.   Keep us close to you as we venture again into this world of Yours, together.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 26 September 2016

For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  Hebrews 2, verses 2 and 3.

What does that mean?  It sort of seems like two different thoughts ‘smushed’ together.

My NIV concordance says that “the message spoken through angels” references God giving the Commandments to Moses at Sinai.  Some reading from Deuteronomy tells that “myriads of angels” accompanied God in giving Him praise when He revealed His law to Moses (who then shared it with the world).  A little online research corroborates that opinion.  What about the rest of the verses?

Yesterday at church the theme was “good enough.”   Pastor Mark talked about how we, as people, constantly strive to prove we’re good enough.   Every religion on earth is a choice between following Jesus or not.   If you aren’t following Jesus, then you’re doing something, anything, to prove you’re good enough.   Good enough for Allah, good enough to reach nirvana, good enough to prove your worth, good enough to make up for things you’ve done, just good enough:   that’s the point of all faiths other than following Jesus.  You’re either a following Christian or you aren’t.

I don’t say this to denigrate other faiths.   It’s just a fact.   If your faith isn’t put in Jesus, you aren’t putting your faith in the only one who can save you from your sins.  You’re striving to do something, most likely to prove you’re good enough to rise above the wrongs you’ve done.   And be real:   everyone does something wrong.   Wrong equals sin.   We all sin; we’re all thick with sin.  There’s nothing we can do to undo the consequences of those sins, both against other people and, as believers, against the righteous justice of God.   If you aren’t following Jesus, you’re doing something to overcome those sins.  THAT point segues directly into verse 3, where the verse talks about salvation.

Only Jesus has atoned for your sins.   Only Jesus can save me, you, or anyone from the eternal consequences of our sins.  God is perfect and just and righteous and all love.   He made us to love us and for us to live in perfect harmony with that love for all time.   Yet, to maintain that just, righteous, perfect love, God can’t tolerate our sins.   He gave us the free will to follow completely or sin.   Being a loving parent, He allows us to choose what we do, including the consequences.  But to maintain His perfection He can’t allow our constant imperfections to taint Him.   If He did, He wouldn’t be perfect, He wouldn’t be God.  That can’t be allowed, and let’s keep it real:   we wouldn’t really want it.

I am not perfect and I’m not just or righteous on my own.   I can’t atone for myself.  I can make some amends for the wrongs I’ve done to God and other people, but in truth I can’t atone for everything.   As an absolute, if I can’t atone for everything then I really can’t atone for everything.   I’m not God.  Neither are you.  We can’t save ourselves from the punishment we deserve:   damnation and separation from God.

Jesus did.

He did and He did it as fully man and fully God all at the same time.   It’s a mystery, THE mystery of the ages, how Jesus lived, died, and atoned for all sins.   He took on Himself the eternal damnation that even the least of my sins deserves and He made it right.   He made unclean man right and righteous again so that we can again live in the harmony with God that God originally intended.   The truly good news of all history is how He saved us from the eternal consequences our sins deserve.   All of Scripture is God testifying through men how He did this.   Those twelve men who Jesus taught during His ministry here inspired dozens, then hundreds, then millions of others to share this good news with others.   The Bible does this.   Pastors, ministries, whole lifetimes do this.   Even our words here together do this.   It’s all because of what Jesus did those thousands of years ago.   On my own, I’m not good enough.   Jesus is and with Him, He made me good enough.

What do two verses really mean?   As it turns out, quite a lot.

For more reading:   Deuteronomy 33:2, Romans 11:22.

Lord Jesus, I follow You.   Thank You for saving me, for forgiving me, for doing what I can’t.   Help me to live in ways to share this message with the world.