God gave us good gifts on Good Friday, such as the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Jesus on the cross, direct access to God when the temple curtain in front of the Most Holy Place was torn in two, and most important, the proof of His astounding love for us.
Today I want to remember what it cost the Triune God to give these gifts to us. Jesus laid aside His glory, honor, and equality with God to become a lowly human baby and experience temptation, rejection and other struggles as a man. Finally He suffered the agony of Gethsemane and the humiliation and excruciating pain of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, beating, the torturous death of the cross, and the separation of the “Tri-unity” when our sin was laid on Him. The Almighty Father could have said, “These humans aren’t worth letting my beloved Son go through all this,” and then sent His angels to the rescue. But He didn’t. He watched it all.
And God did it all for us when we were still sinners, rebellious and determined to go our own way (Romans 5:8). Incredible love! Yet true. I’m reminded of an old hymn that includes the lines, “Why should my Savior to Calvary go? Why should He love me so?” (“Why Should He Love Me So?”—words and music by Robert Harkness.) I also think of the chorus of another hymn, “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” (“Lead Me to Calvary”—words by Jennie E. Hussey.)
Yes, God gave us wonderful things on Good Friday. May I never forget or take for granted the great love He showed at such great cost.
I failed; no, messed up; no, blew it—well, actually I sinned.
Nevertheless, I can go boldly to God’s throne of grace to receive mercy and help at the time I need it (Hebrews 4:16). I can receive mercy from God because of Jesus Christ.
When I repent and confess my sin to my Father, He casts my sin behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). Then He doesn’t turn around and look at it, so He doesn’t see it anymore. I can’t see it either because He is too big for me to see around Him.
Father, I’m so grateful, I think I’ll dance.
“‘All things are ready,’ come to the feast! Come for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary come, and [you shall] be richly fed.”
“Hear the invitation, ‘Come whosoever will.’ Praise God for full salvation,
For whosoever will.”
(First verse and chorus of hymn “All Things Are Ready” by Charlotte G. Homer and W. A. Ogden)
I recalled this song from my youth after I’d read Pastor Tom’s sermon on Matthew 22:1-14 (You’re Invited to the Feast! ). The sermon helped me understand the part of the parable in which the man without the proper wedding clothes was thrown out. From the parable and the sermon, I see that even though everyone is invited to God’s wedding feast for His Son Jesus Christ and His bride the church, we can’t come on our own terms. We have to come on His terms.
My own goodness (even if I were “practically perfect in every way,” which I’m not) wouldn’t be proper attire for the feast. I can’t come smeared with the filth of my sin. I must repent and turn from my sin to Christ.
It’s not about saying a prayer and getting a ticket to heaven and living as I please. Accepting the invitation means that daily I lay down my own way (die to self, take up my cross) and go God’s way (follow Jesus, seek God’s kingdom). When I live this way, I will experience real life and joy now. And when I am called to enter the banquet hall, I’ll be properly dressed and ready.
Thought provoking excellent sermon by Pastor Tom.
To hear many churches, the message of the gospel is this: “Jesus loves you. Now you are free to do whatever you want, as long as admit that you are a sinner, counting on Jesus to forgive you.” Brothers and sisters, that is not the message of the Gospel of Grace. That is not what Jesus preached, and it not what the apostles preached. Jesus and the apostles preached repentance and faith.
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Download Matthew Part 76
Matthew #76 Matthew 21:28-45
I want to remind all of you that we most certainly depend upon your prayers for us, in very real and practical ways. Right now we could use prayers for guidance, encouragement and for the Lord to continue to use…
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Jesus is the giver of living, life-giving water. It is free to all who will come to Him. There’s no discrimination—everyone who wants to can come. His life is real, fulfilling and satisfying—vibrant, wonderful life now and forever. Jesus offers, but He doesn’t force us to accept. Each one of us must choose. Will we go His way or our own way?
Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
John 4:14 “But those who drink the water I [Jesus] give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
I’ll come God’s way, through the blood of Jesus, following and obeying Him. That is real life. Nothing else comes close.
(Both Scriptures New Living Translation)
Mark 6:53, 55-56 Amplified Bkible “And when they had crossed over, they reached the land of Gennesaret…. and they ran about the whole countryside, and began to carry around sick people on their sleeping pads or mats to any place where they heard that He was. and wherever He came into villages or cities or the country, they would lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg Him that they might touch even the fringe of His outer garment, and as many as touched Him were restored to health.”
I wonder how many today come to Jesus and receive healing for themselves or someone else and go away. They’re content with healing and don’t go on to become His disciples. Following Jesus instead of our own interests requires laying down the lordship over our own lives, but the rewards are worth the price. Jesus offers healing because He is good and merciful, but He offers so much more as well. He offers forgiveness of sins, peace of mind, joy, fulfillment, strength, and on and on. The most important thing He gives, though, is relationship with the living, triune God—in this life and the next.
Dear Lord, please don’t let me ever settle for anything less, but remind me to take up my cross and follow You so You can give me the greatest gift—You, Yourself. Amen.
Several years ago, one friend told me how she came to faith in Jesus Christ. She had attended a church most of her life and thought her relationship with God was fine. Then she ran onto Ezekiel 18:4 (“For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.”
It haunted her. Finally someone told her the good news that “…God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”
So she prayed and asked God for forgiveness for her sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. That day she believed in and received Jesus as her Savior and Lord. The last time I heard from her, she was still following Jesus.
My own commitment to following Jesus Christ began when I was a child and involved some stumbling. My friend and I came to Jesus differently, but we have this in common—we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord and Savior, and the only Way to the Father. He is Truth and the source of life now and forever.
If your faith and trust are in someone or something else (such as your good deeds, your religion, a church, your parents’ faith, or a belief that God is okay with our doing what we please and/or ignoring Him), please ask God to show you the truth about Himself and about Jesus. Do it today. His love for you is so great, and His plan of redemption is so marvelous that I don’t want you to miss out on it. God longs for us to be with Him forever, and we can be if we choose to go His way.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
John 3:16-18 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
(All Scriptures New Living Translation)