What is Palm Sunday all about?

“His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.” John 12:16 (Read John 12:12-19)

Do you know what Palm Sunday and the events of that day are all about? Yes, you may know what happened on that day – how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt and was hailed King of the Jews, but why? What does it all mean?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t understand these things until after Jesus was risen from the dead and glorified. As John writes, “then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”

What was written about Jesus? From the Book of Zechariah, we see the ancient prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). We see these very words fulfilled; the people shouted words of praise to Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of Israel. They hailed Him as their King. And, Jesus was riding upon a donkey’s colt, just as the prophecy said and similar to the way King Solomon was made known as king of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 1:32ff.).

And what did they cry out? John tells us the multitude cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” In Matthew 21:9, we read: “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Compare that to the words of Psalm 118:19ff. Hosanna, which is a call to the LORD to save now, together with the references to Son of David, King of Israel and He who comes in the name of the LORD is an acclamation of Jesus as the Messiah and promised Savior who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16).

Thus, the events of Palm Sunday were a declaration that Jesus is the long-promised Messiah, the Son of David and King of Israel who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom. The people were calling upon Him to save them as God had promised. He was the one who would “redeem Israel From all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8). And, this, just days before He was crucified and died for the sins of the world to provide that promised salvation!

And we too cry out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” We pray that He would usher in the day of our salvation – the salvation he won for us upon Calvary’s cross. We long for Him to come again and enter into the gates of the New Jerusalem and establish His everlasting kingdom and be our God and King forevermore! Cf. Phil. 2:5ff.; Rev. 19:11ff.; 21:1ff.; 21:22ff.

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We praise You, Christ Jesus our Savior, and pray that You would come and establish Your everlasting kingdom and reign over us as our God and King. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Who Condemned Jesus?

“So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” Mark 15:15 (read v. 1-20)

Who condemned Jesus? Who found Him guilty and condemned Him to be put to death by crucifixion? Consider Mark 15:1-20.

It was, of course, Pontius Pilate. He examined Jesus, sought to release Him but ultimately commanded that He be crucified (cf. Matt. 27:11ff.). Yes, the Jewish chief priests, scribes and council accused Jesus and persuaded the people to demand He be crucified, but Pilate had the authority and issued the judgment!

But who was the real cause of Jesus’ condemnation? Jesus was innocent – without sin and righteous in His thoughts, words and deeds – but our sins cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Though Jesus, the sinless Son of God, should have been acquitted and we condemned, God released us, laid our sins and their guilt upon Christ Jesus and condemned Him in our stead – and not only to a horrible death by crucifixion, but to be condemned and forsaken of God Himself (cf. v. 34; Isa. 53:4-6,10; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; 3:18).

And because of this, God justly passed over and forgave the sins of all people who went before the Christ, and God justly has forgiven the sins of all who have lived since Christ’s atoning sacrifice (cf. Rom. 3:21-26; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 2:1-2). Because God the Father laid our sins upon Jesus and punished Him in our stead, you and I are pardoned and forgiven. We are made acceptable to God and forgiven for the sake of His blood shed for us upon the cross.

The Bible tells us: “He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

Instead of condemning us to the punishment we have deserved, God condemned and punished His own Son and reaches out to us with pardon, forgiveness, mercy. He would have us accept and receive in faith His pardon and forgiveness. He would have us look to Him in faith and believe that in Christ Jesus we have forgiveness for all our sins and everlasting life! Cf. John 3:16, 18.

Dearest Jesus, holy Son of God, it was our sins that brought about Your condemnation. Our sins cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Thank You for bearing the condemnation for our sins – for taking our place and suffering our just punishment – that we might be pardoned and have everlasting life. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

How can we cleanse our ways?

“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word … I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. …” Psalm 119:9, 15 (Read Psalm 119:9-16)

Are you looking for direction in your life? Do you wonder how you can ever get back on track and going the right way? Psalm 119 tells us how to cleanse our way: “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Jesus says it this way: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

God’s Word calls upon every one of us to repent of our selfish and sinful ways and to turn unto the LORD for His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, and God’s Word also teaches and guides us in the way He would have us live (cf. Psalm 32).

Therefore, we would be wise to read and study the Bible, to meditate on His precepts and to consider and have respect for His ways (cf. 2 Tim. 3:14-17; John 8:31-32). We would do well to hide God’s Word in our hearts that we might always walk in His ways and not forget and turn aside into sin and unbelief.

It is indeed sad that so few take the time to do this. What a tragedy to miss out on knowing the LORD and His ways! What a waste to live one’s life and not know or receive the blessings which He offers and gives for the sake of the shed blood of His only begotten Son! How foolish to neglect so great a salvation simply because do not hear, read and heed God’s very Word to us!

O LORD God, give us the desire to read and study the Bible and learn of You. Grant that we seek after You with our whole heart. And graciously make us “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Who Accused Jesus?

Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Mark 14:61-64

Who accused Jesus? Who found cause to accuse Jesus of crimes worthy of death?

It was, of course, the chief priests and Jewish council. They wanted Jesus dead and silenced because He was a threat to their religion and religious system, so they arrested Him. Then, they sought cause and accusation against Him that they might carry out their plan and rid themselves of Jesus.

Witnesses were sought, and many testified but none agreed. They lacked cause to condemn Jesus under Jewish civil law. Then the high priest placed Jesus under oath and asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus answered, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Cf. Dan. 7:13f.

Then, they thought they had cause: blasphemy! Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah and Son of God who would come again in glory and judge this world and all in it! They falsely accused Him, not recognizing the truth Jesus proclaimed, and found Him deserving of death (cf. John 8:42ff.).

But what about us? Do we bring accusation against Jesus, making Him deserving of death? The answer is yes! Every time we sin – whether in our actions, our words, or our thoughts and desires – we bring accusation against Jesus. How? Because God laid our sins upon Jesus and found Him guilty in our stead (Isa. 53:6; 1 John 2:1-2). Jesus was condemned and He died for your sins and mine! Cf. 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:18-21.

So, yes, we too bring accusation against Jesus – not for any sin in Him, but for our sin – and Jesus died on our account. He paid in full for the accusations we laid upon Him. He was accused. We are excused and pardoned! He was convicted; we are acquitted.

Dearest Jesus, holy Son of the Blessed, thank You for bearing the accusation for my sins – for taking my place and suffering my punishment – that I might not be accused but acquitted, found innocent and given everlasting life. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

So must the Son of Man be lifted up

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-15 (Read v. 14-21)

The account the brass serpent which Moses lifted up on a pole is recorded in Number 21:4-9. The people had become discouraged along the way in the wilderness. They spoke against both God and Moses, questioning why they had been brought into such a desolate land where there was neither food nor water. They had grown tired of the manna God provided them each day. Because of their lack of faith and complaining words, the LORD God sent fiery serpents among the people to bite them, and many of the people died.

Then the people acknowledged their sin and asked Moses to pray to the LORD that He remove the serpents from them. Instead of removing all the serpents, God commanded Moses to make a fiery serpent and lift it up on a pole that anyone bitten by one of the poisonous serpents could look up at the serpent on the pole and live. As God commanded, Moses made a serpent of brass, lifted it up and mounted it on a pole. And anyone bitten by one of the fiery serpents, if he looked at the brass serpent, lived.

In the same way as the children of Israel, we, because of our sinful and unbelieving hearts, fail to trust in the LORD God and walk in His ways. We grumble and complain about His commandments and about the troubles and difficulties which He permits to arise in our lives. Like Adam and Eve, who failed to trust in the Word of the LORD and ate of the tree of which God had commanded them not to eat, we fail to trust in the Word of the LORD and so often think we know better than God what is good for us.

When God says, “Thou shall not,” we question His goodness and wisdom and do those things He says not to do. When He tells us what He would have us do, again we think we know better and do what pleases us instead.

As God did not immediately remove the fiery serpents from among His people, so He has not removed from us all the consequences of our sin and disobedience. Like Adam and Eve, we must suffer sorrow and hardship in this life and finally die. But though our lives here in this world may be filled with pain and sorrow, God has provided a way for us to live and not suffer eternal death and damnation.

God promised to Adam and Eve the Seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head and save them. As Moses lifted up a brass serpent in the wilderness that all who looked to it could live, so God sent His only begotten Son into the world – the Seed of the woman, Jesus, Son of God and Son of man – and He was lifted up on the cross, crucified and condemned for the sins of the whole world, that we might look to Him and live eternally.

Though we are still bitten by the old evil serpent and have the poison of sin flowing through our hearts and veins, God in His great love for all mankind sent His only-begotten Son into the world, not to condemn us for our sin, but to fulfill all righteousness and to bear our punishment and save us from eternal death and damnation. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and as those who looked toward it in faith lived, so also sinners today can look to Christ Jesus, who was crucified for the sins of all and has risen again in victory; and those who look to Jesus in faith will not die but live!

Indeed, Jesus, when He was lifted up upon the cross, paid in full the just penalty for the sins of all people. His resurrection proves the price was paid and that we are absolved of our guilt and justified (cf. Romans 4:25). Those who look to Jesus in faith will not be condemned to eternal suffering in hell for their sins; for in Jesus, God graciously forgives their sins and offers and gives to them everlasting life instead. In Jesus, we who should die for sins are given the everlasting glories of heaven. O how great is God’s love toward us in Christ Jesus!

Dear Jesus, I have sinned and turned aside from loving, trusting and honoring You with my life. Do not deal with me as I deserve on account of my sin but have mercy upon me. I look to You and Your cross for salvation. Forgive my sin, cleanse my heart and grant me life eternal with You in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Who Forsook Jesus?

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” Mark 14:27

Who forsook Jesus? Who promised never to turn away from Jesus and let Him down but, in the Garden, fell asleep and then fled?

The answer, of course, is Jesus’ own disciples – those who were His closest friends and followers. Peter and the other disciples all assured Jesus they would never turn away from Jesus, forsake Him or deny Him (cf. v. 29-31). His disciples couldn’t stay awake and pray with Jesus in His agony; and, when He was betrayed and arrested, “they all forsook Him and fled” (v. 50).

But what about you and me? Like Jesus’ disciples, we boldly say, “I will never forsake You, Lord! Even if I have to die for You and Your name, I will not forsake You or deny You!”

Then comes that opportunity to confess Jesus before men – to speak of Him and His Word to people who do not believe and even oppose Jesus and His doctrine. What do we do? How often we shrink back and say nothing! We might even act as though we agree with them to avoid the ridicule and persecution which comes with following Jesus and confessing all that He teaches in his Word.

Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38; read v.34-38).

But, did Jesus forsake us? Did He deny and disown us? Not at all! In fact, He bore our sin and went to the cross to bear our punishment that we might be pardoned, forgiven and have eternal life (cf. Rom. 5:6-8; Heb. 13:5-6; Ps. 27:1ff.; 37:28). Jesus stood with us and stands for us, interceding for us before the Father (cf. Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2.

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for shrinking back and forsaking You. Pardon me for failing to always confess You and Your Word before men. Thank You for standing by me, going to the cross and redeeming me, that I might be forgiven and have eternal life with You in Your kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

 

We are all without excuse!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge … The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple….” Psalm 19:1-2,7

Does anyone have excuse? Can anyone say I didn’t know there was an almighty and all-wise God? The answer is no. Why? Because God’s creation (as well as the law of God written upon man’s heart) testifies to the existence of an almighty, all-wise creator to whom we are responsible for our lives and to whom we must one day give account.

As the psalm says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.…”

Each night the stars testify of God’s infinite wisdom and almighty power; and each day, as the sun runs its course from the eastern sky to the western, it bears witness to the strength and majesty of its maker. Who could make such a grand universe if He Himself were not wise and powerful beyond all measure!

Such testimony from creation should move us to seek out our Creator, to learn of Him and to serve Him. And, thankfully, He has with all clarity made Himself known to us in the pages of the Bible – His inspired revelation to us. Thus, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple….”

The law (Torah) in this psalm refers not just to laws and commandments but to all the Sacred Scriptures. This law tells us of God and creation, man’s fall into sin and God’s plan of salvation through the gift of His Son. The law reveals God’s holy commandments and our utter failure to live up to God’s expectations (in thoughts, desires, words and deeds), but it also reveals the salvation God provided when He sent His only-begotten Son into this world as a man to fulfill all righteousness for us and to die on the cross and pay in full for the sins of all mankind and then rise again.

The inspired Scriptures “make [us] wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

Can anyone claim excuse? Can anyone escape God’s judgment saying, I didn’t know? Not at all! For all of creation reveals the existence of God, and this God has made Himself and the salvation He provided for us known in His Word!

We thank You, almighty God, that You have revealed Yourself to us through Your mighty works and that You make Yourself and Your mercy in Christ Jesus known to us through the pages of Your Word. Grant us the wisdom to hear Your testimony and to trust in Your mercy. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Covenant is Biblical concept seldom considered

There’s one concept in the Bible that many modern-day Christian fail to grasp and understand; and it’s found throughout the Bible, from beginning to end. That concept is covenant and, particularly, the covenants established by God for the benefit of man.

Unless one studies law, he may rarely even hear that word covenant today. Another word often used interchangeably and with similar meaning is testament. The usual Hebrew and Greek words are “berith” and “diatheke.” Basically, a covenant is a binding agreement and promise made sure by certain pledges and guarantees – sometimes by property but in the Bible covenants often included an oath and, in many cases, the shedding of blood (thus, the expression to cut a covenant).

There are many covenants in the Bible. Most notable are God’s covenant after Adam and Eve fell into sin; His covenant after the flood; His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; His covenant renewed at Mt. Sinai; and the new covenant promised in the Old Testament (Covenant) Scriptures and put into effect by the death of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.

And these covenants and promises of God were connected to the shedding of blood. Animal sacrifice began immediately after the fall into sin (Gen. 3:21; 4:4; 8:20) and continued through the Old Testament era, pointing ahead to the promised sacrifice of God’s Son.

As the covenant maker, God Himself passed between the pieces in Genesis 15. He, Himself, provided a substitute ram for Isaac in Genesis 22 and promised in Isaiah 53, Psalm 130, Psalm 22 and elsewhere a substitute who would, by the shedding of His blood, make atonement for the sins of all mankind and establish a new covenant – that covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 and explained in great detail in the New Testament – especially in the Book of Hebrews.

And there was a sign and mark that a person was made a part and recipient of God’s covenants. The rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant with all mankind not to again destroy the entire world and all living creatures by a flood. Circumcision was a sign and mark that Abraham and his descendants were God’s own people and recipients of God’s covenant with Abraham to bless them, give them the land of promise and through Abraham’s Seed to bless all other peoples of this world (cf. Gen. 17).

There was a covenant meal which assured to recipients the blessings promised in the covenant. The people ate the Passover lamb who’s blood was shed and put upon the lintel and door posts of their houses that they might be spared God’s judgment upon the Egyptians (cf. Ex. 12). The people partook of their sacrifices under the old covenant worship laws and, in Exodus 24, were even sprinkled with the blood of their sacrifices.

As promised throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, God kept His promise to send the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, His only-begotten Son in human flesh, the virgin-born God-man Savior, to fulfill all righteousness in the place of fallen mankind and then to bear on the cross the full and just punishment for the sins of all mankind. By dying for the sins of the world and rising again on the third day as our substitute, Jesus has put into effect a new covenant of God with man, a covenant which no longer requires continual sacrifice of animals for sin because Jesus by His one sacrifice has paid the debt of all sin for all time. Read Hebrews 9-10. This is a covenant in which God forgives all our sins for Jesus’ sake and remembers them no more (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb. 8:1ff.), a covenant in which He again writes His laws upon our hearts and will one day restore all things to perfection.

And as circumcision was a mark and sign that a person was a child of God under the old covenant, baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the way God has appointed to bring us into this new covenant He has made with man through the shedding of Christ’s shed blood. That’s why baptism is called the circumcision made without hands (Col. 2) and why making disciples of all people in this world is done through baptizing them in the name of the Triune God and then teaching them all that Christ taught and commanded (Matt. 28:18-20). It is why all of us who have been baptized in to Christ are called children of God and heirs with Abraham of God’s eternal promises (Gal. 3:26ff.). It is why the apostle Paul, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, was commanded by Ananias: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” (Acts 22:16 NKJV). When He was baptized and brought into the new covenant established by Jesus’ blood, all His sins were washed away and remembered against him no more.

And the same remains true today. Baptism is not some insignificant thing we do in obedience to God’s command. It is what God does in us, bringing us into His new covenant in Jesus’ blood and washing away all our sins! Why would people put off baptism or deny its benefits to their children? Indeed, why would anyone wish to delay becoming a covenant child of God through Jesus’ sacrifice!

And yes, Jesus has established a new covenant meal in which we are given to partake of the very sacrifice for sin that made this covenant possible! As God’s people, under the old covenant, continued to partake of the Passover lamb each year in remembrance of that first Passover sacrifice and God’s saving of His people, so we are invited by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to partake often of the body He gave into death when He died for our sins and the blood He shed when He established this new covenant in which we have forgiveness of sins, life in fellowship with our God and eternal salvation. In the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s atoning sacrifice for all sins and are given to partake of it that we might be assured of God’s covenant promises.

That is why Jesus says, in each of the four Lord’s Supper accounts: “This is My body … This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (quoting from Matt. 26:26,28 NKJV; cf. Mark 14; Luke 22, 1 Cor. 11). When Christians partake of the bread and the wine in the Lord’s Supper, they are also given to partake of the sacrificial Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and of the covenant-establishing blood He shed for the sins of the world. And why is this so important? Because this is a means God has appointed in order to offer and assure to us the blessings of this new covenant; namely, the forgiveness of all our sins and life eternal as a child of God in His kingdom.

Some might ask how God could bring us into this new covenant through the waters of baptism or how he could give us to partake of Christ’s body and covenant-establishing blood in the Lord’s Supper. No, I can’t explain it, but I certainly am not going to question the words or wisdom of the One who created all things by simply saying, “Let there be….” Why would I doubt or try to explain away His Word?

And what is the benefit of considering what it means to be a covenant child of God? Let me speak personally. It means that though I am a sinner, God has graciously brought me into a covenant (a binding agreement and promise) He has established through the shedding of Jesus’ blood to not remember or hold my sins against me but to forgive and accept me as His own dear child. It means I have the promise of an eternal inheritance in heaven and can live and die in the confidence that I will not be condemned for my sins and failures but have forgiveness and the certain hope of life everlasting for Jesus’ sake. He gave His word on it and it is promised and guaranteed to me through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, my Savior! There’s nothing more sure than that!

Who Betrayed Jesus?

“Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” Mark 14:18-21

Who betrayed Jesus? Who is responsible for handing Him over to His enemies that He might be condemned, crucified and put to death? Yes, it was Judas. But are you and I also guilty?

The Scriptures tells us: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9).

Judas ate bread with Jesus at the Passover meal and probably numerous times before. And he, for 30 pieces of silver, betrayed Jesus into the hands of his enemies that they might try Him and condemn Him to die. But what about you and me? We partake of Jesus’ body and blood in His Supper. We sit at His feet and hear His Word. We worship Him as our God and Savior and call ourselves Christians and disciples of Jesus. But do we betray Jesus?

What about when we live in such a way that gives opportunity to the enemies of Christ Jesus to speak against Him and His disciples? When our life, instead of bringing to Jesus praise and glory, makes it easier for the enemies of Jesus to speak against Him and call His followers hypocrites? Cf. Ezek. 20:27; Rom. 2:24; 2 Pet. 2:2; Phil. 3:18-19.

Could our words or actions have caused others to sin or turn away from Christ and His Word? If so, haven’t we betrayed our Savior, who gave His life to save the lost? Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matt. 18:6-7).
Yes, you and I have often betrayed Jesus! But Jesus did not betray us and hand us over to be condemned. Instead, He willingly went to the cross, suffered and died for our sins and rose again. In Him, we have forgiveness and life!

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for the many times I have betrayed You by my words and actions. Grant that I turn from my sins to You in faith and received the blessings You won for me and all by Your sufferings and death and glorious resurrection. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

 

How do you want the Lord to look upon you?

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.” Psalm 25:6-7

How would you have the LORD God deal with you? On the basis of your sins? Or, on the basis of His mercy promised of old and made possible by the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son in our stead? How do you want God to judge you on the last day?

David clearly knew he was a sinful man who was deserving of God’s wrath and punishment. Read Psalm 25. How many times does David acknowledge His sin and request God’s mercy and forgiveness? Count them.

We look to the LORD God to have mercy upon us and save us for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. With David, we acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God to have mercy upon us and forgive us rather than dealing with us as we justly deserve. Cf. Psalm 130; Psalm 32.

And God provided a substitute for us to be sacrificed on the cross in our stead for the sins of the world! Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God in human flesh is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; cf. Gen. 22:1ff.). He took our sin upon Himself and suffered our punishment that we might be pardoned, forgiven and have everlasting life (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:1-2).

While many would turn away from Christ and go it on their own, we with David pray that the LORD would remember us in His lovingkindness and with His tender mercies for the sake of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for sin. We pray that God would not look upon our sins, but look upon the holy and precious blood of Jesus shed for our sins and remember us in mercy and with forgiveness.

Indeed, it is the only way to stand in God’s sight. Apart from Jesus, we stand condemned by God to the fires of hell. In Christ Jesus, our sins are pardoned, forgiven and no longer remembered against us. In Christ Jesus, God deals with us in lovingkindness and mercy. He brings us into His covenant of forgiveness and assures to us life everlasting!

According to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]