“Our souls are restless until they find their rest in thee.” St. Augustine That rest we all crave is found in the person of Jesus Christ. “Come to me and I will give you rest- all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke- for it fits perfectly- and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls’ for I give you only light burdens.” Matt 11:28-30 LB There is no heavier burden than that of religion without Jesus as the foundation. Religion alone is so often the exaltation of man. O how we have all tried to meet the requirements of being a truly good person. But here is the Good News. Christ died on the cross to give us a brand new kind of life under His amazing grace. It’s called Christianity where the cross bridges the gap between our puny efforts and God’s perfect standards. The glorious power of the cross is the great universal blotter absorbing our sadness, guilt and all the wrong things we have ever done in view of a righteous God. A trip to the cross does wondrous things! O Happy day! At last there is finally something strong enough to defeat our great enemy, Satan.
At the cross we discover just how grace works. Humility serves us much better than our everlasting pride. Forgiveness wears better than the filthy rags of resentment and revenge. Returning to conscience teaches us that the God who is with us brings light into our darkness. The blessed Holy Spirit becomes our constant companion, nurturing us and warning us away from temptation and danger. Have we discovered that what we crave most is actually intimacy and friendship with a loving God who gives us what we don’t deserve? There is not a moment that passes that we cannot draw near to the One who loves us best, who is reaching out to help us find our way. What made the cross so powerful? It was there that God disarmed every evil ruler, every dark influence. “He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross…” Col 2:15 LB
Man-driven religion leaves us with nothing but our own limited resources to live life. And so every individual ends up carrying his heavy burdens alone. We use excuses and rationalizations to explain our behavior. Our feelings and thoughts are not in subjection to scripture. Christianity shows us a better way. “Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Pet 5:7 LB In His mercy God has given us the answers. The Bible offers us supernatural help to heal and renew both mind and emotions as we yield to its superior guidance. “For whatever God says to us is full of living power…” Heb 4:12 LB Under grace the believer’s life is open to an amazing transformation experienced through the power of the cross. The words of Isaiah 61:3 reveal this remarkable exchange. We can now receive beauty of character for the ashes of our life, the anointing of the oil of joy for all our sadness and sorrow. A garment of praise now enfolds us instead of the heavy cloak of depression and despair. A good exchange don’t you think?
Will you come with me to the cross where we find our soul’s best rest from the burdens and unhappiness we’ve known? God has provided an unceasing river of grace, flowing to every person who comes to the Savior, Jesus Christ. “Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us, because we belong to his dearly loved Son.” Eph 1:6 LB Christ’s invitation still stands today. Come to the water all that are thirsty. Come drink from God’s fountain of life. It is there that we find the grace to continue on. It is there that our story becomes a testimony of victory and strength. It is there we hear Christ’s voice proclaim, “You are accepted in the beloved.” A trip to the cross does wondrous things!
Click here to read another blogger’s wonderful article on the cross.
Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to be truly loving, forgiving vibrant people? As believers we are excited because “…when someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun.” 2 Cor 5:17 Entering into this new life we have been given a priceless source of grace to offer everyone we meet. It’s the Jesus life, true living resurrection taking place daily within us. It’s like bursts of resurrection power released and exploding inside. What a joy to be able to count on this great strength when we run into trouble of every kind.
God often does things so differently than we would have ever thought. For instance, when we run into problems loving others we would not have expected that the very challenges when overcome have taught us to love with God’s awesome love. Every believer has a great head start on becoming a resurrection receiver when they accept what Jesus did for them. “No you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly with all your hearts.” 1 Pet 1:22 This fervent love is the result of forgiveness explosions taking place continually. This is God’s wonderful provision for life and happiness.
Remember your position in Christ for “…you are standing there before him with nothing left against you.” Col 1:22 And this is exactly what we are asked to have toward others. “Every person should have a special cemetery lot in which to bury the faults of friends and loved ones.” Anonymous We simply don’t have to live by our own limitations or abilities. Because Jesus’ life is in us He’s done the work already. Let him bring us truly alive, moment by moment experiencing resurrection explosions of forgiveness and love.
There is nothing so painful and characterized by darkness as unforgiveness in our lives. The real truth is unforgiveness is an open door for Satan to come in to harass and torment us. The first step toward healing is to acknowledge our need. “O Lord, for the depths of despair I cry for your help. Hear me! Answer! Help me!” Ps 130:4 How we need God to show us the destruction unforgiveness is capable of working within us. We can begin to pray that God may open our eyes and “… open their eyes to their true condition so that they may repent and live in the light of God instead of in Satan’s darkness, so they may receive forgiveness for their sins and God’s inheritance along with all people everywhere whose sins are cleanses away, who are set apart by faith in me.” Acts 26:18
God has provided through Christ such overwhelming grace that we can truly bathe our lives in forgiveness. Those who have been forgiven much sincerely love God and our Savior Jesus with a special grateful love. Jesus then offers us access to the throne of mercy. “O Lord you are so good and kind so ready to forgive; so full of mercy for all who ask your aid.” Ps 86:5 And the reward of extending forgiveness to others is life-changing, bringing us into a closer more personal relationship with Jesus.
We all experience hurt, some profound, yet we should never be afraid of the hurt we have experienced. It has no power over us when we take it to God. This hurt is like a precious offering, a sacrifice given back to God. In exchange He desires to use the hurt to change us into the very image of Christ. In this transaction we are transformed to become sensitive, compassionate caring people. Let us not put off what is so liberally available. “A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.” Samuel Johnson
The Christian’s capacity to love others is enlarged through recognizing how deeply we have been forgiven. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Eph 4:32 When we offer a pardon to those who have hurt us we have the chance to see others through the eyes of Christ. Let us pass beyond the darkness of our personal pain and accept God’s life-changing forgiveness.
Hello friends, we are in the wonderful “count your blessings” holiday season. It is always time to recall our blessings but Thanksgiving brings a double measure of remembering. Charles Dickens once wrote “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” For the believer, our blessings are so remarkable it is difficult to adequately express them. However, Psalms 103:3-5 unfolds a clear record of some of these blessings. “Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with lovingkindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things.”
Of all the blessings in a person’s life none is as wonderful as the blessedness of forgiveness. Salvation from sin is a gift of such value that we could never cease thanking God for this blessing. From the depths of a grateful heart we join the Psalmist in saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Ps 103:1 Spirit, soul and body unite to bless the Lord. Miracle of miracles that crimson sins can be made whiter than snow. On one tombstone was written simply Forgiven. Each believer once again bows down in humility. We will always know the reason for loving and serving our great God. As we consider every blessing we possess let us remember from whom they come. “How we praise God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.” Eph 1:3 Just think, we can bless God by praising Him. God gives us blessings too many to count, showering us with the riches of His grace.
Time and again we discover it is only the blessings of God that truly enrich a life. “The Lord’s blessings is our greatest wealth. All our work adds nothing to it.” Prov 10:22 As we enter the holiday season will you join me in this sweet yet powerful benediction? Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Click here to read a great poem of thanks.