WEEK 22, Day 4, Thursday, 31 May 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 31 May 18:

1. 1 Kings 9:4 — “If you will walk before me… with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you…” God’s blessings are conditional. Even in a love relationship with God, David and Solomon were subject to blessings or curses based upon their faithfulness and obedience. This conditional “if you obey” statement appears a multitude of times in the Old Testament; however, Solomon, the wisest man that lived, failed to obey, resulting in terrible consequences. Today’s readings address Solomon’s splendor and the tremendous wealth he acquired (much through his relationship with Pharaoh). In Solomon’s pursuit of success, he directly disobeyed God: Deut 17: 16, 17 — “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” Surely the wisest man on earth was aware of God’s commands, yet he disregarded them, exemplifying our sinful nature and our complete reliance of the mercy and grace of God. Despite the beliefs of the secular humanists, no amount of education or economic prosperity can overcome man’s condition. Fortunately, as we learn in 2 Corinthians today, God has reconciled His people to himself, through Christ, “not counting people’s sins against them,” so that, “in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God has given us the message and ministry of reconciliation as “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” And how does Paul say we should live our lives as Christ’s Ambassadors? “So we make it our goal to please him…. that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Today, we will all go on mission with the message of reconciliation at Christ’s Ambassadors — glorify God today.

2. 1 Kings 9:5-8 — “I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever…. But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you… then I will cut off Israel…. And this house will become a heap of ruins.” Once again, throughout the Bible, God gives His people choice and points out there are consequences to choices – blessings or curses (see Deuteronomy 30:19). Today’s NT readings also warn that we will all face final judgment before The Holy God. More on that below:

3. 1 Kings 9:7 — God can reveal Himself and His truth to others through your relationship with Him either in a positive way or a negative way.

4. 1 Kings 9:11 — “King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.” This was very bad; the land of Israel was given to Israel by divine decree. Solomon surrendered God’s blessings for what he thought was a shrewd business deal. Solomon did not have the right or authority to give parts of the Promised Land to an unbeliever. The men of Israel paid for the land with blood and lives, but Solomon sold it to a foreigner for gold. What about the people who lived in those towns? Solomon turned them over to be ruled by a pagan king. There are many socially accepted and preferred business practices, customs, and traditions that are practiced by Christians as a way of life that are contrary to God’s will and commands. Take a close look at all that you do and all that you have taken for granted from the standard of God’s word. Don’t just do what the rest of the lost “sheeple” (people) are doing. What hard-earned Liberties is our nation giving away in treaties to foreign rulers?

5. 1 Kings 9:20, 21 — “All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites… whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction—these Solomon drafted to be slaves, and so they are to this day.” Another compromise by Solomon. These people were to be driven out. They were not.

6. Proverbs 31:1 — “An oracle that his mother taught him…” A wise mother wants nothing more for her son than a wise, godly wife. A wise mother carefully instructs her children on God’s plan for marriage.

7. Proverbs 31:6-7 – “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” Various forms of escapism are for the weak and not appropriate for a Christian who faces the responsibilities and opportunities God has set before them with courage and strength.

8. Proverbs 31:1-9 — Leaders take responsibility and defend the weak.

9. Proverbs 31:11 – “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” A marriage requires trust which comes from good character.

10. Proverbs 31:10-31 — Mom’s biggest concern was that her son marry well.

11. Proverbs 31:13-19 — People of noble character are hard workers, not people of leisure who live for pleasure.

12. Proverbs 31:20 – “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” People of character give to the needy.

13. Proverbs 31:23 – “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” A loving, godly couple make each other look good.

14. Proverbs 31:30 — “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” There is no one more beautiful than a woman of godly character.

15. 2 Corinthians 5:6 — “We walk by faith, not by sight.” God’s ways will defy our perceptions. If we walk by sight, we will miss the power of God in our lives.

16. 2 Corinthians 5:6, 7, 11, 16, 18-20 — “So we are always of good courage…. we walk by faith, not by sight…. knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…. the love of Christ controls us…. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh…. Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…. entrusting to us the message of reconciliation…. we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

If you are a Christian, you have been given a life mission, a ministry, and specific marching orders. Your vocation is merely how you resource your mission; what you “do” is not the measure of your life. If you are asking, “What does God want me to do?” here it is: You are to courageously serve as Christ’s Ambassador on a mission of reconciliation.

To accomplish this task, you must first truly “know Him” in a real, saving relationship. Leaders “know the way and show the way.” Jesus is The Way! Be a real leader and lead people to Him because you are following Him so closely.

To accomplish your mission and purpose, you must stop walking by sight and walk by faith, beyond your understanding. The invisible must be more real and relevant to you than what is visible. You must know the “fear of the Lord’ which gives you the passion to “persuade” even “implore” others to be “reconciled with God.”

You can no longer regard anyone “according to the flesh.” As Christ’s Ambassador, you have to see others from His perspective, not yours, and you must treat them as He would. When you talk to them, you must not represent yourself or use your own words. You can only represent Christ and use His words. Every encounter you have with every person should be intended to lead them closer to Jesus, not to get something for yourself.

Jesus told us that one of the secrets of success is to live one day at a time. So, it is a good practice to begin each day with a review of your mission and end each day with an assessment of your performance. So, yesterday, who did you implore to be reconciled to God? If you answer is no one, why? Perhaps you lack confidence (courage). Perhaps you don’t feel capable (walking in sight); perhaps you were too busy (worries of the world); perhaps your negative feelings (anger, bitterness, jealousy, prejudice, etc) are getting in the way (flesh, pride). Whatever the reason, today is a new day. Focus on the mission.

Here is a challenge: resolve to reach out to one person each day for Christ. If this has not been your practice, it will be very awkward at first. Isn’t that the case with anything? Did you ride a bike like a pro the first time you got on it? I don’t think anyone ever learned how to ride a bike without getting a bit scratched up. If you are not ready to crash several times, you will never ride your bike. Start riding today. God is holding the back of that bike as you learn, running alongside of you, encouraging you and protecting you from too much injury. It takes faith to trust that Daddy is with you as you learn how to ride – isn’t it thrilling?

17. 2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Having you been asking God to reveal Himself to you in a ‘real and powerful way?’ He wants you to walk by faith. Throughout the Bible we have many accounts of God revealing Himself to His people miraculously. Reading quickly through the Bible might give you the impression that this is the norm. However, God rarely revealed Himself miraculously through the Bible but commanded His people to obey Him without need for of ‘signs and wonders.’ In fact, Jesus pointed out that generally it is the weak in faith that need special revelation in order to trust and obey – “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign.” (Matthew 16:4) “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29) What does it take for you to trust and obey Jesus? Without special revelation from God, some seek the approval of others for validation. This too is a sign of weakness. Faith is willing to walk faithfully on the hard, sacrificial road though unnoticed and unsung. Still others require some clear indicators of success in order to continue their journey. But they are then no longer walking by faith – it doesn’t take faith to do what you know you can do or to do what is obvious. Faith is willing to step out beyond your own abilities to rely on God’s abilities, trusting God with the results, regardless of how hopeless things might see from the human perspective. And others, in a world of doubt, proclaim the merits of self-confidence, but God’s people are confident in God, not self. “We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to ‘walk by faith.’ How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, ‘I cannot do anything else until God appears to me’? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, ‘Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!’ Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.” (Oswald Chambers)

18. 2 Corinthians 5:9 — “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” We are not saved just so when we die we will go to Heaven. We are saved to know, glorify, and serve God on earth. God has given us an earthly mission to fulfill. (Read James 17 to learn how to experience eternal life today)

– From Oswald Chambers: “’We make it our aim….’ It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.
Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?”

19. 2 Corinthians 5:10 — “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” We all face judgement. You will either be judged by your righteousness or Jesus’ righteousness credited to you – your choice.

– From Henry T. Blackaby: “There are many motivations in the Christian’s life. One is our awareness that one day we will give an account of our lives to Christ, as He sits in judgment upon humanity. It is much more comforting to believe that Christians will be ushered into heaven with no questions asked about our faithfulness upon earth, but that is not what Scripture says will happen. Paul cautioned that in the final day of judgment every Christian will give an account for his or her actions. This expectation terrified Paul and motivated him to strive to please God in everything he did (2 Cor. 5:9-11). Paul knew that although he might ignore the Spirit’s quiet voice during His life on earth, a time of accounting would come when he would have to explain why he had rejected God’s instructions. Paul never carelessly assumed that, because of all he had done for God’s kingdom, God would overlook his sin. Instead, he understood that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). God does not force His will upon us. He will ask us to answer for the way we responded to Him. Christians have been pardoned by the sacrifice of Jesus. We are not condemned. But because God is absolutely just, we will be called on to give an account of our actions. The Christian life gives a tremendous freedom, but it also brings a pervasive sense of our accountability to God and to others. We can learn from Paul that accountability is healthy; it gives us a powerful motivation to please God.”

– From Oswald Chambers: “Paul says that we must all, preachers and other people alike, ‘appear before the judgment seat of Christ.’ But if you will learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ’s pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work God has done in you. Live constantly reminding yourself of the judgment seat of Christ, and walk in the knowledge of the holiness He has given you. Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess, ‘Oh, Lord, I have been guilty there.’ If you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin. ‘If we walk in the light as He is in the light…’ (1 John 1:7). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.”

– Paul warns us that we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and Paul encourages us to “make it our aim to please him” and “knowing the fear of the Lord.., persuade others.” However, I think (contrary to some comments above) the “fear” that motivates Paul is not fear of what God will do to us on the Day of Judgment, but rather it is shear awe and gratitude for what God has already done for us through His Son, Jesus. How can Paul face both life and death with such “good courage” knowing judgment awaits? Because, at the Judgment Seat, thanks to Jesus, Paul will be viewed, not by what he did in the flesh, but rather he will be seen as the very “righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).” Paul’s obedience is driven not out of fear of punishment any longer but rather, “the love of Christ [which] controls [him] (2 Corinthians 5:14).” Paul has, through Christ, been reconciled, and now Paul has no choice (compelled by love) but be on the mission of reconciliation (v 18), motived by love, gratitude, and joy. No longer judged by God for works of the flesh, Paul no longer regards others “according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16).” We, like Paul, have been saved by Grace from God’s judgment and wrath; we have been made righteous (right with God), not by anything we did or will do but by what God did for us and the price Jesus paid on our behalf. With our trespasses no longer held against us, we are now free to approach God with complete confidence, to be united with Him, and to serve Him as He intended, without the burden of guilt, shame, and fear of punishment. With our trespasses no longer held against us by God, we are in no position to hold against others their trespasses against us. Rather, we need to see others the way God sees them and dedicate our lives to reconciling others to God. We are to invest ALL of our passion (“implore”) into proclaiming the Gospel, “on behalf of Christ.” The importance of a task is directly proportional to the importance of the one directing the task. How important to you is a task from God Himself? “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (1 Corinthians 5:20).”

20. 2 Corinthians 5:11 — “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” Those who truly love Jesus and others are compelled to share the Gospel with others. If we don’t really know the fear of the LORD, we cannot persuade others. We can only bear witness to what we have heard or read (that is just hearsay), only what we have experienced personally.

21. 2 Corinthians 5:11, 12 — “But what we are is known to God…. Answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.” Reputation is what others say about you; character is what God knows about you. God knows who you really are. The world boasts about outward appearances; Christians boast about what is in the heart.

22. 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 — “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” Jesus’ sacrifice of love for us, dying on the cross for us though we did not deserve it, forces us to see everyone else completely differently and leaves us no choice but to forgive and love all. Be controlled by the love of Christ. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not the product of willpower, which always fails ultimately.

– From Oswald Chambers: “Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by ‘the love of Christ.’ Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. ‘The love of Christ compels us….’ When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life. When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…’ (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, ‘…you shall be witnesses to Me….’ Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me….’ We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane— he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of ‘the love of Christ.’ This total surrender to ‘the love of Christ’ is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness.”

23. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

– “What understanding do you have of the salvation of your soul? The work of salvation means that in your real life things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you? If you still yearn for the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above— you are deceiving yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought. And when a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing change that is the very evidence that you are saved. What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I squirm and evade the issue? True salvation, worked out in me by the Holy Spirit, frees me completely. And as long as I ‘walk in the light as He is in the light’ (1 John 1:7), God sees nothing to rebuke because His life is working itself into every detailed part of my being, not on the conscious level, but even deeper than my consciousness.” (Oswald Chambers)

– “Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. We tend to think that God has some special interest in our particular prejudices, and are very sure that He will never deal with us as He has to deal with others. We even say to ourselves, ‘God has to deal with other people in a very strict way, but of course He knows that my prejudices are all right.’ But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is nothing remaining of the old life. Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and ‘all things are of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:18). How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that ‘is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil’? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see.” (Oswald Chambers)

– From Henry T. Blackaby: “You do not become a Christian by asking Jesus into your heart. You become a Christian when you are born again. Jesus said, ‘Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3). Saying a prayer or making a public commitment or signing a decision card will not save you. Only being born again will do that. The apostle Paul said that when you are ‘in Christ,’ the old things pass away. In the moment of your salvation, every sin you ever committed is forgiven. Healing for every hurt you have ever suffered is available. Love and acceptance are yours despite every failure you have ever experienced. Your past, no matter how difficult or painful, is completely and thoroughly provided for. Some will seek to diminish the awesome reality of your spiritual rebirth. You will hear them say, ‘Even though you’re now a Christian, you must still undergo years of counseling to overcome the hurts you’ve experienced’ or ‘You may be born again, but you’ll continue to struggle with your sin, and hopefully you will eventually gain victory in areas of your weakness.’ The problem is that we seek changes by our own will rather than by turning our lives over in faith to the One who has given us new life. The profound testimony of Scripture is that the blood of Jesus Christ and the death of the Son of God is sufficient to completely free you from your sin. Satan will seek to convince you that it is not. Whom will you believe?”

24. 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” From Henry T. Blackaby: “The world abounds with people whose sin has alienated them from God. Christ’s sacrificial work has restored Christians to a love relationship with the heavenly Father. As Christians, we are appointed as ministers of reconciliation. Once Christ dwells within us, we become His ambassadors, and we entreat others to be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:20). We are God’s messengers of peace, urging others to return to God (Matt. 5:9). Sin breaks our relationship with God; it severs relationships with others as well. Broken relationships are the epidemic of our day. Sin alienates family members, separates friends, divides churches, and destroys marriages. Sin creates mistrust, jealousy, hatred, and greed, all of which devastate relationships. Only Christ has the remedy for the disastrous effect of sin on human relationships. As His ambassadors, we are to take the message of reconciliation to a broken, divided world. We urge reconciliation first with God, and then with each other. How tragic when God’s messengers of peace harbor enmity toward each other. It is a travesty to carry a message of love and yet be filled with hatred. If there is someone whom you refuse to forgive, your message of reconciliation is hypocrisy. The evidence that you are a disciple of Jesus is that you love your fellow Christian (John 13:35). In each of your relationships, make certain that your actions share the love and forgiveness that reflect what you received from God. Then you will not only speak the message of reconciliation, but you will live it as well.”

25. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” From Oswald Chambers:

– “Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power. The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son ‘to be sin’ that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…’ and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross. A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.”

– “The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was ‘made…to be sin….’ Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the only explanation for His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us. We are acceptable to God not because we have obeyed, nor because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and for no other reason. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the fatherhood and the lovingkindness of God, but the New Testament says that He came to take ‘away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). And the revealing of the fatherhood of God is only to those to whom Jesus has been introduced as Savior. In speaking to the world, Jesus Christ never referred to Himself as One who revealed the Father, but He spoke instead of being a stumbling block (see John 15:22-24). John 14:9, where Jesus said, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father,’ was spoken to His disciples.
That Christ died for me, and therefore I am completely free from penalty, is never taught in the New Testament. What is taught in the New Testament is that ‘He died for all’ (2 Corinthians 5:15)— not, ‘He died my death’— and that through identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have His very righteousness imparted as a gift to me. The substitution which is taught in the New Testament is twofold— ‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ The teaching is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed in me (see Galatians 4:19).

– From Henry T. Blackaby: “This verse should startle us and cause us to tremble. It is not a verse to be read quickly and passed over. As Christians we are grateful to be forgiven of our sins. We are thankful we have been adopted as God’s children. Yet we will never comprehend the awesome price that Jesus paid to cleanse us of our sin and to give us His righteousness. How abhorrent was it for the sinless Son of God to have every sin of humanity placed upon Him? What love was required for the Father to watch His only Son bear the excruciating pain of our sin upon the cross? The prophet Isaiah summarized the human condition: ‘We are all like an unclean thing, / And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags’ (Isa. 64:6). Even the high priest, Joshua, in his exalted position among God’s people, was clothed in filthy rags before God (Zech. 3:3). The apostle Paul, who labored arduously to be righteous before God, realized that his most strenuous efforts to please God were no more valuable than rubbish (Phil. 3:4-10). The plight of humanity is that nothing we could ever do could satisfy God’s desire for righteousness. But the miracle of God’s mercy is that God exchanges our ‘filthy rags” for “rich robes’ of righteousness (Zech. 3:4). In this awesome exchange, God placed the sin of humanity upon His righteous Son. Jesus became so identified with our sin that Scripture says God made Him to be sin on our behalf. The holy Son of God could not possibly do more for us than this! Experiencing the Father’s wrath upon the sin He carried would have been more painful to endure than any human rejection or physical suffering. Never take the righteousness God has given you for granted. Never take the forgiveness of your sin lightly. It cost God a terrible price in order to forgive you and make you righteous. Walk in a manner worthy of the righteousness He has given you.”

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 31 May: Give to the poor in a specific and meaningful way – today. Share the message of reconciliation directly, one-on-one, to at least one person today. Be bold and come out of your comfort zone. (1 Corinthians 5:19; Proverbs 28:27) Evaluate your mission accomplishment every waking hour today. Intentionally stop at the top of each hour and ask yourself, “Did I lead the people around me closer to Jesus or not?” This is your life’s mission, nothing else. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

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