Category Archives: Jesus

“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

 Today, Good Friday, I have had a lot of different songs running through my head. Songs reflecting that wonderful cross where blood was shed and my soul was saved. Songs like “In Christ Alone”, “How Beautiful the Blood”, “Above All”, “Glories of Calvary”, “The Wonderful Cross”, and especially “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”. The songs fits perfectly as we meditate on the amazing grace of Jesus and all He has done for us.

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son

And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain
of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts
, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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Our Sins on His Shoulders

Surely he has borne our griefs

   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
   we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.”

 Isaiah 53 is one of my all time favorite chapter in the entire Bible. This vibrant phrophesy about the coming Massiah who will taken on the wrath of God and the sin of the world in order to reconsile men to Christ is beautiful. I could read this chapter a million times, over and over again. I especially love the verses I mentioned above, they show how Jesus took on our sins. To think that Jesus, who was perfect and holy, took on all our aweful wrong doings is so horendeous and it’s beyond our understanding. Yesterday I found a brilliant fiction article published by Next (formerly known as New Attitude) Webzine on Jesus’ death and His taking on of our sins. You can read the whole thing here but this is my favorite part: 

“The Father speaks: “Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory? You are self-sufficient and self-righteous—consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious. You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the One who created you. You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip. You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer. You practice sexual immorality; you make pornography, and fill you mind with vulgarity. You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator. And so you are given up to your homosexual passions, dressing immodestly, and lusting after what is forbidden. With all your heart you love perverse pleasure. You hate your brother and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart. You kill babies for your convenience. You oppress the poor and deal slaves and ignore the needy. You persecute my people. You love money and prestige and honor. You put on a cloak of outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead men’s bones—you hypocrite! You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world. You covet and can’t have so you murder.  You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin. You are never slow to speak. And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment. Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk. You are a false prophet leading people astray. You mock your parents. You have no self-control. You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions. You’re a drunkard and a thief. You’re an anxious coward. You do not trust me. You blaspheme against me. You are an unsubmissive wife. And you are a lazy, disengage husband. You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church. You’re a pimp and a drug dealer. You practice divination and worship demons. The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with  disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me. Now, drink my cup! “

 Isn’t it sobering that Jesus, who knew no sin, became our sin in order to make a sacrifice for our sins?! This is the Jesus that deserves our praise, honor, glory, love, devotion, servitude, and adoration forever!  So amazing this is! We all are guilty of many of those things listed, yet God no longer looks at us and sees these sins because Jesus came and took these sins from our shoulders and onto His. What wondrous news is that! We have such a great and wonderful God that would come down in flesh and bare our sins!

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Alas! How My Savior Did Bleed!

 I was sitting down to have a snack and my mom was watching TV and we found a show on the History Channel about Crucifixion. The horrors of crucifixion are gut wrenching and horrid and to think that this was how my precious Jesus died, and He died for me! It was my sins that held Him there and my sins that brought Him to His death. I deserved that cross. I deserved that death. But Jesus took it for me. He bled on that cross so that I could have life, so that I could live, so that I could be forgiven. What wondrous love that is!!! Amazing! When thinking of this, a hymn popped into my head, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”. Here are the beautiful lyrics to it:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
[originally, For such a worm as I?]

Refrain:

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

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A Different Kind of King

 “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the king of Israel!” was the loud shout from the people as Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey. The had made a path for their king with their cloaks and others were waving palm branches in the air. I’m sure that the thoughts of many minds in the crowd were thinking, “finally we have our Messiah! Freedom from the Romans is here!” Israel had waited so long, God had been silent and nation after nation had taken over the country. They had hoped and prayed for a king, and now, with everything Jesus had done, this must be the king that would bring them out from under oppression.

 Little did he know that in a matter of days this great and mighty king would be hanging lifeless on a bloody Roman cross. That this king would suffer and die for our sins. That He would endure God’s pure wrath that was supposed to be ours. Jesus didn’t come as a political king and redeemer like the Jews thought he would. Jesus came to die and His kingdom was not on earth, it was in heaven.

 Jesus was different than all other kings that ever walked the earth. He didn’t seek His own power, pleasure, and luxury but He left His throne up in heaven to humble himself, become a man, and to die. He knew that His glory and His kingdom was heavenly, one that could never be destroyed. Here are a few of the great verses about the kingdom of God.

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;” (Psalms 45:6)

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,and your dominion endures throughout all generations.” (Psalms 145:13)

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” (Col 1:13)

 I love that last one. We are no longer under the kingdom of darkness but we are now in the glorious kingdom of Jesus! Isn’t that amazing to think about?! Jesus may not of come as a political saviour or an earthly king, but He is the king of Kings and lord of Lords and He will come again and victoriously reign over the entire earth.

~_~_~_~_~

 On a different note, I’m sorry for my lack of posting. I’ve had a super busy week and I got sick on top of it! I was hoping to be posting more for my Easter series but it hasn’t worked out that way. I will try to post more in the upcoming week though. Remember that tomorrow is the monthly poetry and I’m looking forward to that! I need to get my poetry written! God bless you guys and I’ll post again tomorrow!

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Justice and Love

“If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and Die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.” John Piper – Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (p. 20)

 We can not wrap our minds around God’s complete and awesome holiness. It is beyond all human knowledge and is infinitely great. To think that someone could of never done anything wrong, never had even thought a wrong thought is too much for our frail minds. Because of God’s amazing holiness, God is also a God of justice. When we do things that are contrary to God’s holiness (sin) it’s treason and because of how big and great God is we deserve to die. The issue isn’t that a sin is “small”, it’s that the one whom we commit the sin against is so huge. The slightest bad thought earns us a place on death row.

 Yet God is more than only just. He is also a God of mercy and love. He desires that we have life instead of the death we deserve and to be in an intimate relationship with Him. He desires that we glorify Him like He created us to do. He is filled with steadfast love for us. The extent of God’s love is also far beyond human logic and knowledge.

 Though God loves us and desires us greatly, because of His justice He can’t just ignore our sins. To do that would be against His holy and perfect nature. So God sent His son, whom He loved and was a perfect spotless lamb, to take all the wrath of God that we deserve. Jesus was God-man, the only human to not sin a single time. He was the only man to walk the earth that was good enough to be a worthy sacrifice for our sins.

 So God poured out all His wrath, that which should of been ours, onto Jesus. Jesus willingly drank the cup of God wrath and died so that we could have life. What marvelous love that God has for us! What wonderful sacrifice Jesus did by taking on God’s wrath!

“Surely he has borne our griefs
   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
   smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4,5

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Easter Series (Introduction)

Easter Lily   Easter is right around the corner. The day that has been hidden by candy and fluffy bunnies still manages to shine through all of that to show the Truth, the Way, and the Light. It’s so easy to forget the reason behind the best day in history by the show that the world puts on to try to distract us. We are all busy with Easter plans, services, activities and such going on that we forget to take a deep breath, slow down, and meditate on the glory of this day where we celebrate the gospel, our salvation, and all that Christ has done for us.

 Easter was when Jesus conquered death and sin. Easter was when the whole world was turned upside down. Easter is when the most miraculous event in history happened, Jesus rose from the dead. Easter was when God saved us. There has been no better day since the dawn of time than Easter.

 This year I’m going to do a series of blog posts for the purpose of preparing my own heart and also help you as well. I’m also going to try to read Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (also known as The Passion of Jesus Christ) by John Piper in the next two weeks so I’m sure a lot of my posts will be influenced by this book (not to mention quotes galore!). I hope you all enjoy this series and the Lord will work through them to help your hearts be ready for Easter. God bless!

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The Greatest Power For Change

 I live in a tough area of the country. Drugs and alcohol abuse run strong and there are as many bars as churches, if not more. It’s the most unchurched county in the state. Teen alcoholism, STDs, and pregnancies run high. There are children as young as four roaming the streets in the town. A few years ago a girl like that was kidnapped and hasn’t been found. It’s a hard place here.

 Yet God has been changing my heart towards it… while I used to have a bitterness and an attitude of scoffing towards the depraved culture, now God has been showing me that this is a place in desperate need of the gospel. No amount of abstinence speakers, police enforcement, parental guidance, or anything else can change this group of small towns that makes up the area I live in. Only the power that can bring about change is the gospel. It’s Jesus’ blood and redemption through His grace.

 We are Christ’s ambassadors. We have the light of the world inside of us and it’s our job to let that light shine. In James is says that whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, he is sinning. We keep the good news of the gospel locked up inside of our hearts, letting it out a little at church or on a missions trip. But if that’s so, do we really value the gospel? The gospel is the power of God, our salvation, hope, water for the thirsty, strength. Do we truly value the gospel if we don’t share it?

 One of my favorite stories about a man who truly valued the gospel was pastor John Harper. He was so in love with the gospel that he jumped into that ice cold water from the ship Titanic so that he would share the gospel to the dying souls drowning in the water. He cherished and prized the gospel enough to tell everyone he could instead of only worrying about his own life and wellbeing. That is how we should be.

 We should be madly in love, infatuated, captivated, enraptured, obsessed, and head over heals for the gospel that we should have a passion to see others find that love too. I know full well how hard it is to break down our pride, to be willing to make things socially awkward, risk friendships, or our reputations to share the good news of forgiveness and life in Christ. I’m still learning how to do it and do not do a good job of sharing the gospel yet. But I pray that God will work in my heart to make His truth so treasured in my heart that I can’t not share it.

 It’s so easy to just hate the sinful culture instead of changing it. Though we are to hate sin, we are to love sinners with a pure heart, one that desires to see sinners lead to repentance and regeneration and ultimately to God. We can’t do the saving on our own, we aren’t even the one that does any of the saving. We are simply the preachers of the good news, the rest is God’s job, not ours.

“Wake Up” Leeland

The nation lost and dying
Searching for You
Creation waits
Children with the word of God
Written on their hearts
Show love to the world

We need to wake up, wake up
Live like God
Pour out love
We need to wake up, wake up
Live like God
Pour out love

I know it’s sad
That the gift we have
We keep it for ourselves
Most of the time
The world is looking
For a love that’s locked up
Inside these four walls
Break the door down and shine

Our face is set
Our goal is heaven
Jesus, You are the well of love
We’ll pour You out
We’ll pour You out

(Note: My dad has some excellent posts on evangelism and the gospel on his new blog Gospel2Live. Go check it out!)

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Joy in Trials

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV) 

 

 I find so much comfort in this verse. Earlier this week I took a brake from my normal devotions to just take a look at the great promises that the Bible has about suffering, giving thanks and praise to God through everything, and the like. I found such encouragement from the words of the Bible, it is my very strength. As I write this I am pressing on through my current trial of pain in my joints. But I am reminded to count it ALL joy, not just a little bit of joy, not just taking it for what it is or just accepting it. No, it goes far beyond that. It’s taking joy in the fact that the trials God puts in our lives are merely tools for our holiness.

 The tough things are only momentary, even though everyone can tell you they don’t seem that way at the time. They seem hard. We ask God with raised fists, “Are you a fool? I can serve you better with this, I thought it was a gift that was good!” When we should be having the spirit of the author of Laminations, who when faced with the destruction of his beloved city, the death of his people as well as their rebellion, and his own health in a sorry state along with other horrible things, yet he rejoiced in the Lord! He uttered the words, “Therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””(Lamentations 3:21b-24)

 I am in amazement over what God has already done with the trial of my joint pain. He is teaching me so much through it and I have this deep, deep peace that I am not sure I have ever experienced before. Though my body is falling apart right now my soul is being gently comforted and clothed by the grace and mercy of my King! It’s just wonderful! The joy that you receive when you let go of those trials is so much better than having the trials go away. I am not specifically praying for healing anymore, I am praying that God will do HIS will, not mine and that my will shall be conformed to His perfect one.

 I know that God is using this for my good, to conform me to His holiness, and to make me lacking in nothing. I can’t say too much how great this is. This is true joy, knowing that God is faithful even when it doesn’t look that way, truly knowing that “in faithfulness He afflicted me”. (Psalms 119:75) Words don’t even begin to describe this, I believe that’s because the language of joy is a foreign tongue that is learned as instructed and it’s truly belonging to heaven. Perfect, complete joy will only be found when we are in the wonderful arms of our Savior. He is good and He is faithful!

“Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did
not recycle to bring me gain. I can’t
remember one single regret in serving
God only and trusting his hand”

(Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful)

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Lessons From Life: My Everything

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
  Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
  My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73: 23-28 )

 These verses have been ones that God has been putting on my heart lately so heavily that they are not ignorable. He keeps asking me the question, “Olivia, am I the strength of your heart? Am I your portion forever? Am I your all?” I wince as I respond to Him, “Lord, I love you, you know I do.” He gently yet sternly asks again, “How much do you love me?” I wince again. “God, I’ve given you my life, what more do you want?” He is persistent. “Are you willing to give me those little parts of your heart that you’ve kept back? Those places in your life that you want to hold on to?” I start to panic… He knows about those things?! “God, what do you mean? I’ve given you my dreams, I’ve given you my heart and life.” He shakes His head. “Not all of your dreams. Not all of your heart and life. There are still those things that you want to be in control of. Give them to me. I wont let you down.” We continue on. Me in my hesitation to surrender these parts of me and Him in His gentle and yet strong pursuit of me and my everything. Until finally I came to my breaking point.

 A few nights ago God got through. I’ve been having some daily joint pain in my hands and fingers that has been concerning me because it’s been going on for about three weeks. The things that seem to make it worse are typing (though only sometimes) and playing piano and violin (again this is only sometimes) which really worried me. The use of my hands and fingers are pretty much my life. I’ve always said that I could never live without my hands. The very idea that the pain in my hands could be an actual reason for concern (and not just my wild imagination) scared me. The thought of not being able to use my hands as easily as I would like made me scared. God gently yet firmly kept telling me to surrender it to Him. I complained, I protested, I objected, but in the end I had no choice but to let go. I had to put my hands into God’s hands.

 Earlier this week He had me weeping over the above passage. In more areas than just my hands, He has been showing me that I need to surrender, that HE needs to be my everything. He needs to be my strength, my beauty, my portion, my all, my desire, my life, my everything. I have been begging God for months to show me that. To let my heart truly know the words of this Psalmist and be able to sing the words of “Enough” by Chris Tomlin or Barlowgirl’s song based on Psalms 73 and know that I mean them with my entire being. Though in my brain I might of realized it would mean me coming to a breaking point first, it really didn’t set in until it was happening.

 In the last two weeks God has just been blasting me with the message of faith, surrender, and His wondrous sovereignty everywhere. From a theological note in my study Bible, to the Jerry Bridges video we watched for Sunday school, it’s been everywhere. God has really been trying to get His point across… that just shows you how thick sculled I am most of the time. I am so glad He finally got through to me. Wrestling with God isn’t enjoyable, and you don’t win, so it’s time to wave the white flag. I will leave my ramblings over what God is showing to me with the words of the song “Let Go” by Barlowgirl. These words mirror my heart so perfectly that it almost scares me.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down
But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own
And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

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Where to Set Our Eyes

So many things are constantly vying for my precious time and attention. So many things that, even if they themselves are good, are pulling me away from Christ. So many sins that love to cling to me and temptations that are strong. We live in a world where it is not easy to live lives of true devotion to Jesus, but has it ever truly been?

Last week God convicted me or something in my life that I had not been doing a good job of doing and needed to change. I felt horrible for ever letting things get that way and I felt like I had failed. Then a verse I had memorized came to mind and hit me stronger then ever before. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I realized that it was setting my eyes on Christ that I needed to do. Not just become determined to not do it again or try to change on my own accord, but to focus on Christ. To rest in His arms and to be given the strength that I so desperately need from Him. Only through pouring myself out for Him and remembering the blood that He shed on my behalf, only then can there be any progress and holiness.

We can’t be setting our eyes on the sin that clings or to the temptations that surround us. We need to acknowledge them, yes. But we can’t be dwelling on them and we can’t be fixated on them. As my mom tells me, “We can’t always dwell on our problems, because when we do that we just keep spiraling down into a pit and we stay in that pit. What we have to do is deal with it and move on.”

Jesus Christ and the wonderful cross, which is our life and salvation, is what we need to be fixated with. We need to totally be caught up in Him, and that should overflow into every area of our life. As we seek the Lord with all of our hearts, our entire lives will be effected by that. The key to everything is the gospel. It is the answer to all our problems. I think that is just wonderful. That God gave us the blood of Christ and through Him we have not only salvation, but He has also given us the power to face anything through the cross! It’s such a wonderful reality!

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