Righteous

Righteousness, being right with God. I was reading in my Spurgeon devotional this morning about how Jesus’s agony on the cross at the time God turned His face to Jesus was far more agonizing than the hardships of life we face. Spurgeon says “We distress over what feels like a slight turning away from our Father’s love from us but God actually did turn His face away from His Son.”

Spurgeon goes on to reference Philippians 3:10 where Paul says he wants to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul desires to know everything about Jesus, including his dying in the cross and the agony that went with it. I believe in order to know someone we have to know them in the good times and the bad.

The bit that caught me though was the verse just before this. Verse 9 says “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Paul realized that it was only through a real and living relationship and faith in Jesus could he be made right with God. Paul says before this that essentially nothing else mattered and that all other things were garbage compared to being found and living in Jesus.

Our pastor yesterday preached on why Jesus had to die on the cross. The first reason he gave was that we needed to be rescued. From the time of the first sin our being made right with God was taken away so there had to be a plan put in place to fix this. Also, and to the point Paul is making, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. See, the OT sacrifices just covered up sin, nothing actually took away the sin. But Jesus’s death on the cross actually took away our sins so we could be right with God and actually be in His presence. Jesus endured the agony of being outside of God’s presence so that we could have opportunity to be in God’s presence, any time we wanted and not just once a year by one person.

I remember watching the movie the Passion and seeing Jesus being flogged and thinking why are they beating Him so much, then I realized the flogging was the sin of the world on His back. My sin on His back!

I love Easter and what it means to us as believers. I love going to church on Sundays and have found my desire to worship growing more and more, but especially love going to church on Easter Sunday.

I hope this Easter you take time to really reflect why we celebrate Easter and ponder what Jesus did so we could celebrate it. And not just in Sunday, but starting on Thursday night when the passover happened and He started the process of making us right with Him.

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Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3)

I started reading through Romans as part of my morning quiet time and I read through chapter 4, which i felt at the time, and still do, is packed with so much wisdom and a lot of what Christianity is all about.  It talks about Abraham, who I believe we could count as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, examples of faith, was counted to be righteous because he believed.

Through sufferings, I believe its easy for us to start to question what we may be doing wrong and look for reasons why we may be suffering, but Scripture tells us that God causes all things to work for our good, even the bad things.  If we have faith, then this is a verse we can trust in, if we have faith that God is continuously working in our lives.

Our sermon this morning was on Mark 10:35-45 where James and John ask to sit at the right hand of Jesus.  the sermon was on greatness and the lessons we can learn from greatness.  One of the lessons was that lasting influence often comes through suffering and a point from this is that Jesus took on our sin so we could take on His righteousness.  Essentially, He traded His place in the Father’s presence so He could take on our sin, at no cost to us, so we could share in the His glory and one day have a place in God’s presence.  Another point to this is that Jesus uses our sufferings for greatness.  There are countless stories of people rising from the ashes, so to speak, to have a great testimony for God’s glory.

As we face adversity, these events contribute to and build on our legacy, which can go two ways, hopefully we chose to rejoice in the sufferings for God’s Glory.  In the next chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that we should rejoice in these sufferings because it leads to perseverance or patience, which leads to character or experience which leads to hope.  Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  We don’t always see the workings of God in our lives, but we can take rest and have faith in those workings because if we love God they are for our good.

So through the adversity, we can leave a legacy of faith through our sufferings which truly leads to greatness.  I think at times about what kind of legacy I am building.  I admit, I can get down and hang my head and get grumpy in my sufferings, as a person its hard not to.  But I pray that people would see Jesus in me, that I would be a reflection of Him and His love.  I pray that my family and those around me would be drawn nearer to Jesus because of my sufferings.

Romans 4:20-22 says that Abraham was credited righteousness because he did not waver through unbelief, but was strengthened in his faith because he believed God would fulfill His Promise.  In our sufferings, if we do not waver and keep our eyes on Him, we too will be strengthened and be made right with Him and leave a legacy which reflects who Jesus is.

Abraham simply believed God.  Abraham was obedient and trusted in Him and he was made righteous.

But the spouse in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear (Charles Spurgeon)

I was praying this morning and in my quiet time routine and the quote above jumped out at me. The verse for the day is

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth
Song of Songs 1:2 NIV

Charles spurgeon goes in to write
See how she leaps at once to him; there are no prefatory words; she does not even mention his name; she is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of him who was the only him in the world to her. How bold is her love!

I started thinking is this this true in my marriage?

John tells us in 1 John 4

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I know I’ll never love my wife perfectly but there should be no fear in our marriage. We should be bold in our love for our spouse! We should have joyful liberty in our marriages. Easier said than done.

What about my kids? I believe this could apply to my relationship to them as well. Our kids get a glimpse of The Father’s love through us dads, or at least they should.

Jesus christ showed us perfect love. Loving us by dying on the cross so we could have eternal life with Him and The Father. When we dishonor Him and don’t love Him back He still loves us. He loves us that much!!

What if we humbled ourselves, put all of our pride aside and loved our spouse no matter what, truly for better or for worse. It’s a choice, difficult and intentional one, but a choice we make each day. What would society look like if we could be better at loving our spouse. What would our families look like?

Husbands, we are called to love our wives like Jesus loved the church. It’s an overwhelming and daunting task, but if we walk in the Spirit we can do it and be an encouragement to those around us.

Restoration

I recently finished reading the book of Jeremiah and then went on the read Lamentations.  In my quiet time the other morning I read the last  verses.

19 You, Lord, reign forever;

your throne endures from generation to generation.

20 Why do you always forget us?

Why do you forsake us so long?

21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;

renew our days as of old

22 unless you have utterly rejected us

and are angry with us beyond measure.

I think this is a great prayer for us as individuals, families, communities and as a nation.  At the end of Jeremiah, Jerusalem falls and is overtaken.  At the end of Lamentations, the author is asking God for restoration as a nation.

I believe we could all ask for restoration in some aspects of our lives.  I believe our nation is not far different from that of Israel.  We as a nation have put up idols in the place of God.  We have wandered away from the biblical principals on which our nation was founded.  Only approximately only half of all marriages survive.  Father figures are slowly disappearing from the family.  Prayer is slowly becoming less important in our lives.

I pray God has not utterly rejected us as a nation or as a world.  I pray revival would happen in my family, neighborhood, community, city, state, nation and world.  God has reigned forever and will continue to reign.

But it is up to us to turn back to God and include Him as the center point of our lives, families, cities, nation, world and churches.

Psalm 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the man

who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

or set foot on the path of sinners,

or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on His law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

yielding its fruit in season,

whose leaf does not wither,

and who prospers in all he does.

Are you prepared?

This morning in our Bible Study class we discussed The Last Supper in the book of Mark.  In this account, Jesus and the disciples partake in the Passover meal, but in reality, which I believe the disciples didn’t realize t the time, Jesus is starting His preparation for becoming the sacrificial lamb.

In John 14, Jesus tells the disciples that he has to go away and prepare a place for us.  In Jesus’s time when a couple were to get married the groom had to leave and prepare the home in which they would live in.  Jesus tell us there are many rooms in His Father’s house, so as part of their eternal life, and ours as well, He would have to leave and prepare our place, which meant being crucified, spending time outside of God’s presence, but returned 3 days later as part of the resurrection.

As part of the Passover, the Israelites had to prepare the sacrificial lamb and put its blood on the doorpost of their house prior to the Angel of Death coming and their exodus from Egypt and their 40 years in the desert.  Noah had to prepare the ark by building it prior to the flood for his family to live.  In order for Joseph to save his people and family, he had to be prepared which meant being sold into slavery to later become powerful in Eqypt.  John the Baptist preached about repentance and the forgiveness of sins, he was the voice calling n the desert “Prepare the way for the Lord”.  John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’s messages and ministry.

In church we talk about preparing our hearts for worship.  But what does that really look like.  In our sermon this morning, our pastor preached on the rich young man (Mark 10:17-31).  Part of that sermon made me think that in order to be prepared to be used by God we need to prepare ourselves by humbling ourselves and admit our brokenness.  The rich young man that he could do things in order to reach Heaven, which is contrary to the Gospel.  There’s nothing we can do to earn our Heavenly place in God’s presence.  Jesus did that for us.  Jesus prepared the way for us by coming the Way, the Truth and the Life.

How do we prepare for Jesus?  In our quiet time do we prepare our hearts for Jesus to speak with us?  Do we pray for the distractions to be removed as we study God’s word and truly hear Him speak to us?  Before church and worship do we prepare ourselves to step in the presence of God Himself?  The Priests had to prepare themselves before stepping into the Tabernacle.  There were quite a few steps they had to do to enter the Holy of Holies.  We should treat church and worship services the same way.

Jesus tells us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed and will be filled.  In order to be filled, we need to prepare by hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  We should prepare our hearts each and everyday for what God has in store for us that day.  We never know who will we come across and what they may need for that day.

Are you ready?

I recently watched the movie The tip of the spear. I cant explain all of the movie here but if you’re not familiar with it, it’s based in a true story of some missionaries trying to reach a tribe of native South Americans. They finally make contact with the people and four of the missionary men actually meet up with some members of the people, but they end up killing the missionaries during this encounter. The people were very violent and constantly at war against neighboring tribes. A couple of things struck me as I was watching this movie.

When one of the men goes to meet the people for the first his son asks him if he is going to fight back if he gets attacked. He responds by saying no because the native people aren’t ready for heaven and that he and his family are.

This got me thinking, am I really ready for heaven? Thinking about dying, I would be sad to leave my family and have my kids raised by just my wife and or without me as their their dad. I want to see my kids grow up. Plus, is my family ready for heaven? Are my kids ready for heaven? I still have discipling to do. I’m sure I still have purpose to fulfill for God.

Another part struck me. When the son grows up, he eventually goes back to see the people. The man who killed the boy’s father was a chief in the tribe and he takes him to where he killed his father. When they come to the place where his father was killed, the son becomes so angry and actually takes a spear to the chief’s chest as to kill him but doesn’t. The son says in narration that it was easy for people to identify with him in the death of his father, but from that moment of almost killing the chief, people couldn’t identify with the life he gained from that moment of forgiveness. The chief says they all saw what appeared to be angels when they were killing the missionaries and from the way the movie portrayed it the chief lived with an unresolved anguish from the time he killed the missionaries. I guess the son also had closure on how his dad died but I also guess he could rest in the assurance that his dad died and went to heaven and giving his life up for the sake of the gospel.

So do we really appreciate the meaning if the gospel and what it means that Jesus died on the cross for us. What about the forgiveness he grants us? Do we equally extend that same forgiveness and grace and mercy to others?

I’ve posted this before but it reminds me of the Return to Mogadishu movie bu Jeff Strueker. In that movie he tells about life and death becoming a lot less significant because of that event. Jeff does another video called Bulletproof Faith it’s in the link below. I pray that I can have the bulletproof faith Jeff has.

Bulletproof Faith – Jeff Strueker

Pray that you will not fall into temptation

We had a huge emotional fall out with our son last night as a result of a couple plays in his baseball game. He’s a very emotional child as it is but when things are starting to turn bad they can spiral so quickly. As a father, it’s my job to try and pick up the pieces and try and encourage him to get him back on his feet. Easier said than done most of the time.

Adversity tends to shed light on true character. I was reading this morning in my Charles Spurgeon devotional Matthew 26:56, “Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” As Jesus is being arrested His disciples ran away after some said they would fight to the end. They left Him on His own out of fear for their own lives.

As a father, husband, shepherd of the family, leader of the household, it would be so easy to check out and move on and distance myself from the responsibilities of the role and life God has called me too. In fact, I can identify with those dads that do. I’m not condoning that behavior at all, just saying I can see where the weight of a father’s and husband’s responsibilities outweigh the perseverance of the man. I believe its forgotten that God never promises to not give you too much to handle. I think He allows too much adversity in our lives to draw us nearer to Him and continue to help us understand our dependance on Him. Yes, I wish at times God would allow a break in thise time when I want the break, but it’s not my will but Thy will.

Paul prayed for his thorn to be removed, yet God reminded him that His grace was sufficient. God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus when He most needed it. God kept David safe in the wilderness while he was running from Saul. I think Jesus knew the things the disciples would face, and I think that’s why He told them to pray, so they wouldn’t fall into temptation.

The world so much wants to pull us husbands and fathers into temptation and away from leading our families when things get tough. Even when they aren’t tough many temptations are there. I believe its what Satan wants, take down the head of the family and the family will fall along with it. I also have a daughter. I read a book a few years ago and it wrote about how as dads we model for our daughters the kind of husband our daughters will marry. I’ve not done any scientific research on this but if I reflect on the women I have known and look at their relationships with men, whether just friends or boyfriends/husbands, it gives us a peak in to the relationships with their father. If they had a good relationship with their father then they will make good choices in their relationships with men and vice versa. There are exceptions, but I believe this is generally true.

A lot of times I pray what Solomon asked of God, ” So give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” In his humility, Solomon knew and was aware of the task at hand in leading Israel after his father David passed away. He knew he needed help, so he asked for it.

As husbands and fathers, we can’t lead and shepherd our families, the family God has given us, on our own. We need and understanding or hearing heart. One that is in tune with God. We also need to be strengthened, we need God’s strength. If God sent an angel to strengthen His son in His darkest hour, would he not do that for us?

Husbands and fathers, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”