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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

Matthew 27

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 27

Why did Jesus have to die?

It’s a valid question. Why did the Son of God have to come to earth and die? Was there not another way? He is God. Could he not have found another way to save the world?

We are all sinners (Romans 3.23). Sin is rebellion against God, and it separates us from him. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6.23). Therefore, we deserve death and eternal separation from God.

But that presents a problem. God is love (1 John 4.16), and he created us out of love. He doesn’t want any of his children to die (2 Peter 3.9). In the Old Testament, God came up with a plan to save his people. They could use an animal as a substitute. The animal would pay the price of death so that the person wouldn’t have to die.

However, since the animal didn’t die voluntarily, it wasn’t a perfect sacrifice. Therefore, the people would have to make a sacrifice each year. This was all to foreshadow God’s ultimate plan.

The only way to have a perfect sacrifice, was if an innocent person (someone who had committed absolutely no sin) willingly died for the sins of everyone else. But how is that possible? We already know that we are all sinners, so how can there be a perfect sacrifice?

There is only one way. God himself had to die in our place. He had to become human and become our sacrifice. And that is exactly what he did.

That’s good news, right? We have been saved from eternal death because our God loved us enough to die in our place. Spend some time thanking God for his sacrifice, and let others know about this good news.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, thank you so much for loving me enough to become my sacrifice for sin. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for me. Thank you, Jesus, for going through that horrible death so I could live. Thank you for taking my place. I cannot thank you enough, and I can never repay you. But I want to give my life back to you as a sacrifice. Help me to live for you. I love you so much. Amen.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16

Matthew 26

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Jesus prayingMatthew 26

Jesus was worried to death.

Have you ever been worried? I mean REALLY worried? We often say things like “I’m worried to death.” That is usually an exaggeration. Most of the time we say that, we don’t really feel like we are about to die. But perhaps you have been extremely worried about something in your life.

Jesus was worried to death.

Look at what he says in Matthew 26.38: “My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death.” Jesus was scared, no, he was horrified. He knew that he was about to be ridiculed and publically humiliated. He knew that he would be tortured. He also knew that he would suffer the most horrible death imaginable.

Jesus was worried to death.

He didn’t want to go through it. He wanted a way out. And he prayed to God all night long to get him out of it.

However, what he wanted more than anything was to please God. He wanted to do God’s will above all else. Look at what he prays: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26.39).

If someone you knew were going to be executed, and the only way to save them would be for you to go through hours of being whipped and beaten before being stripped naked and nailed to a rough piece of wood, where you would experience an excruciating death lasting several hours, who would you do it for? A friend at school? A girlfriend or boyfriend? A sibling? A parent? Would you do it for anyone?

Jesus did it for you.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you! It is hard to believe that you could love me enough to go through what you did for me. I didn’t deserve it. I am so unworthy of your love. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. You are so amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you so much! Amen.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5.8.

 

Listen to “Not My Will But Thine” by Acappella:

Matthew 21

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 21Donkey

This is a strange episode from Jesus’ life. It’s a little weird to think about Jesus riding a donkey down the street, while people throw their coats and palm branches on the ground in front of him. It’s like a spontaneous mini-parade.

But a donkey? Really?

But Jesus did this to fulfill a prophecy. Zechariah prophesized hundreds of years earlier that Judah’s Savior and King would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9.9-13). Sure, Jesus could have ridden in on a majestic white horse, towering over all the people. But that’s not Jesus’ style. He rides in on a humble donkey. He’s riding what any other person would ride. He’s on their level. It’s like Jesus is saying, “Yes, I am your King, but I’m also one of you.”

That is so amazingly awesome! This is a perfect example of how Jesus is 100% God yet also 100% human. Jesus is God Almighty, but while on Earth, he chose to limit himself and be completely human. Any supernatural miracle he performed was only because he asked God, and God allowed him to do so.

Again, Jesus could have ridden in on a Clydesdale, a Rolls Royce, or a space ship. He could have flown into Jerusalem like Superman. He could have had the angels carry him into the city on a kingly platform. He could have had fireworks and lasers. He deserved it. But he chose to limit himself. He chose the donkey. He chose to be like us.

He did this so we could relate to God. God is huge. He is beyond our comprehension. Saying that God is complex is an understatement. But in Jesus, we can better understand God. He doesn’t seem so far off. He becomes tangible (that means something we can see and touch).

God doesn’t want to be far off. He wants to be near to you. He wants a real relationship. He wants you to know him, because he is so in love with you. That is why Jesus came. That is why Jesus died. That is why Jesus rose from the grave.

God wants to be in your presence. Will you let him?

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, thank you for coming to Earth as Jesus. I don’t want you to be far off. I want to be in your presence every day. Your love is amazing. I can’t understand how you could love me so much, but I thank you that you do. I love you. Thank you, Jesus for choosing to become like me. Thank you for your life, your death, and your resurrection. Amen.

 

“Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2.5a-11

Matthew 18

October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 18

A man is forgiven an enormous debt, one he could never hope to repay. Immediately after, he grabs a man who owes him a small amount of money. The man is unable to repay the debt at the moment and asks for more time. But the other man has him arrested.

We easily recognize that this wrong. A man is forgiven a huge debt but is unwilling to forgive someone else a small debt? What a jerk. No, this guy is beyond just a simple jerk. He’s scum. He’s dirt. He’s heartless.

Yet, are we any different?

The price to pay for our sin is death. We deserve to die because of our sins against God. But he forgave it by taking the punishment for us. Jesus died a terrible death on the cross so that we could live. There is no way we could ever repay that debt.

But how many times do we fail to forgive people? Someone treats us badly, and we hold a grudge, talk bad about them, or do something to teach them a lesson. What they have done to us pales in comparison to what we have done against God.

We are the unmerciful servant in that story. How can we expect God to forgive us of everything we have done to hurt him, when we can’t forgive others for the few things they have done against us? It is not easy, but we need to forgive like Christ. Even when he was being crucified, he asked God to forgive the ones who put him there (Luke 23.24). Seek that same attitude of forgiveness.

Who do you need to forgive?

 

Prayer for Today

Father, you have forgiven me so much, and I thank you. Thank you for allowing Jesus to die in my place. Help me to forgive others like you forgive me. I need your help to forgive. Amen.

 

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11.25

Matthew 3

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 3Jesus Baptism

John is out in the wilderness baptizing people who wanted to repent of their sins. Then here comes the Son of God asking to be baptized. Just as I would be, John was confused. He asked Jesus why he needed to be baptized. Jesus simply responds “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Did Jesus need to repent? No, he had no sin (1 John 3.5). But he did it. It was part of his Father’s plan. And when he came out of the water, something very special happened. The Holy Spirit came upon him, and the voice of God spoke: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

What is really cool is that Christians get to participate in this very same thing. When a person is baptized, he or she unites with Jesus in this very special event. We participate in this same ceremony, but we also unite with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6.3-4).

And I imagine God saying the same thing when we are baptized. I imagine as a person comes up out of the water, the Holy Spirit comes down and God says, “This is my child who pleases me.” How awesome is that? God is pleased with you! And it doesn’t stop when that “first sin” happens. No, God is pleased with you because you are his child.

You can’t be perfect. If you could, Jesus would not have had to die for your sins. God wants you to not sin, but he doesn’t stop loving you when you do. You are still his child, and you bring him great pleasure! God loved you enough to give his Son to die for you (John 3.16). There is no greater love than that. Today, reflect on God’s amazing love and the union you have with Christ.

 

Prayer for Today

Father, thank you for making me your child. I do not understand your incredible love for me, but it is amazing to know you love me enough to give your Son to die for my sins. Thank you for that sacrifice. Help me to never forget that. And help me never to forget that I am your child. Amen.

 

“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Romans 6.5

Matthew 1

September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

NativityMatthew 1

It is easy to just skip through a list of names like in Jesus’ genealogy. But if you take the time to read it, you might catch something interesting. When I read this, there are five people who stand out: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba), and Mary. What is so interesting about these women?

Well first of all, they are women. They are the only women mentioned in Jesus’ family tree. Women were not well respected during this time, but Matthew includes them anyway. But if you know who these women are, then it really becomes interesting.

Tamar (Genesis 38) pretended to be a prostitute in order to sleep with her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab (Joshua 2) was a prostitute. Ruth (check out the book of Ruth) was a foreigner (as was Rahab), whom the Israelites were not to marry. Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, committed adultery with King David. And Marry, the mother of Jesus, was not married when she conceived Jesus. (Though it was a miraculous virgin birth, you know how it must have looked to everyone.)

Jesus was born in to scandal. His family wasn’t the shining, happy, church family. They were sinners. They were cheaters, adulterers, murderers, outsiders. Jesus didn’t have a perfect family, and neither do any of us. Maybe you’re ashamed of your family. Perhaps you’re ashamed of your past. But Jesus did not let any of this slow him down, and neither should you.

You see, Jesus’ identity was not tied up in his family, the past, or anything else besides his Heavenly Father. He knew he was loved by God, and that is all that mattered.

You too are deeply loved by God, and he has special plans for your life. Don’t let the past weigh you down. Forget the past, turn from any sin in your life, and walk the follow God down a path of righteousness.

 

Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am far from perfect. I have sinned against you. Father, please take away my sin and let me see the amazing things you have planned for me. I thank you for loving me enough to send your Son to this earth. Help me to learn from Jesus so that I may honor you. Amen.

 

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3.13a-14