The Abiding Satisfaction of Forgiveness

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee,
and mine iniquity have I not hid.
I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord;
and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

The Garden Tomb that fit all of the descriptions of Scripture allowed us entry via the opening in the stone. Looking to the right, once we walked in, we could see the stone bench that bordered the wall on three sides, and the walkway into the middle of the benches. Now there are metal bars that guard entrance into that sacred place, but it is easy to imagine running into the tomb and seeing Jesus’ grave clothes neatly folded upon one of the stone benches. Peter, John and Mary (John 20:3-8,11-12) each looked inside, and not only did they see the folded grave clothes, but there were also two angels sitting where the head and the feet of Jesus lay just hours before. Our guide excitedly recalled all the Scriptures that the placement and layout of this tomb matched, but he ended with the fact that it could not be proven that this was the tomb where Jesus once borrowed. His body was no longer there. He Is Risen.

This last November, my second daughter and I had the privilege to go to Israel with her senior class.  It is a trip that the school offers every year, and because my husband went with our eldest daughter, it was my turn to take this trip of a lifetime.  Immediately after leaving the tomb, we boarded the bus to the Holocaust museum.  The sadness blanketed us, and our Jewish guide choked up with tears as he explained the meaning of the trees that were planted in honor of those who helped the Jews in this horrific time.  Each display inside the buildings conveyed the harsh reality of life for those the Nazis hated, and there were many pictures and videos along with memorabilia and models of the gas chambers and trains that carried the Jews to the prison camps.

There were several videos that I stopped to watch for just a few minutes and one in particular took my breath away with the abject disregard for the sanctity of human life.  The picture in the film was a bull-dozer pushing thousands of emaciated bodies into a large hole in the earth.  The cruelty pictured sent my daughter and I to find a quiet place to process and calm our churning emotions.  And that is when the full force of the meaning of that empty tomb hit me square in the chest.  Jesus had to become that kind of sin, to pay for the sin of all mankind.  When His Father turned His face away, and the sun went black in the middle of the daytime, it was not the suffering of His Son that He had to turn away from.  It was the full effect of sin that His holiness could not bear, and Jesus bore it alone.  There is no sin black enough, no filthy deed hateful enough that He did not bear that day.  And as Jesus took it upon Himself and marked Himself amongst the worst that mankind had to offer, He offered us the gift of forgiveness once and for all.  There is nothing unforgiveable in Him.  What amazing love.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

A Longing for Deep Roots

My grandmother loved repeating stories to us from our childhood. One in particular just tickled her pink, as she would recall it for me over and over. She said that when I was very young, as soon as we would arrive at her house, I would flop across her sofa and proclaim, “I’m home!” My family moved quite frequently, but grandma’s house stayed the same, she was always happy to see me, and there were always plenty of treats hidden behind cupboard doors. Here rested the calm within an ever changing life. It was home.

Where are your roots anchored deep? What nourishes them, and keeps them strong in the midst of the cruelest season?

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

TRUSTnoun

Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Trust

There is little hope that we will ever put that kind of trust in anything or anyone we do not know well. Knowing God is essential to learning to trust Him through every season. Now here is the part where I wanted to say that knowing God is enough. That studying His character and amazing love and grace would anchor those roots so deeply in Him that nothing would ever shake us. But the Lord has been reminding me all week that knowing Him is not enough to anchor me within His roots. I do need to know Him. I do need to make it a daily habit to diligently seek Him through the pages of His Word. He promises that when we draw nigh to Him, He will draw nigh to us(James 4:8). Setting a priority on knowing God is absolutely essential to deepening my roots, but there is another necessary element.
As I was reading the commands God gave Moses in Exodus, I noted this one in Exodus 22:26-27: If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
His commands reflect His heart. They directly reflect both His righteousness and His mercy. Trusting implies that because we know Him, we are free to follow His instructions diligently. It is our obedience that anchors us deeply to the refuge of His promises. He knows the way, He knows the season, and He directs from His gracious understanding of the bigger picture.
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
There is safety within the parameters of His instruction, and there is confidence when we approach His throne of grace knowing we’ve done all we know to do. Both of these elements grow us into the steady fruitful trees that God intended us to be.
Even the largest, sturdiest trees once started as a sapling. In the same way, each of us is in a different stage of growth. Where do we start? If the Holy Spirit lives in your heart, He may already be speaking to you directly. Follow His prompting, and obey what is pressing on your heart directly. The more you obey, the easier it is to obey. Haven’t started a daily reading Bible habit? Start with one book of the Bible, and set small goals. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and teach you. Make a plan and follow through.

I am praying for you!

Longing for a Friend?

Photo by Jaime Reimer on Pexels.com

FRIENDnoun frend.

“One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.”

http://www.webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Friend

Friendship can be hard to find, and even harder to keep. Moves, life changes, and tragically, death, can separate lifelong friendships and leave you starting over again. And then there are those who may be like me, more of an introvert, desperately wishing to be invisible, while at the same time hoping someone will notice them. It’s a terrible malady, I can assure you.
But there is a Friend who overcame every obstacle to offer friendship to every person who has ever lived. Even death could not prevent Him from offering a hand of friendship; in fact, it enabled Him to do so! If it sounds confusing, then let me start from the beginning. His name is Jesus, and even if you’ve never heard His name, He knows yours. He created you. He knows all about you. He knows everything you have ever done. And here is the most astounding fact, above all of that, He loves you.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1
I said we would go back to the beginning. Before any of this world was created, God was. The world is much too intricately designed to have been haphazardly put together, or to have made itself better over the course of millions of years. God clears it up for us in His Word. He is eternal, and He created all. But God was not the only one there, or rather, that was not the only Name He is known by. There are 3 parts to Him: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. They were all present here at the beginning. And in this beginning, in the six precisely organized days of creation, they created man and everything he would need to live in this world.
God said everything was good, except for one minor detail. Man needed a woman. So God created her too. He named them Adam and Eve, and He placed them in a flourishing garden with every tree and plant and shrub you can imagine. He gave them freedom to eat of anything they desired, except for one tree. This tree would open their eyes to evil, something they had never experienced before. If they chose to eat of this tree, it would change everything they had ever known. And they did choose. You can read the story in Genesis 3. The friendship they had with the God who created them had been broken, and they were sent away clothed in skins of innocent animals slain on their behalf.
As their children had children, and their children had children, men discovered more and more ways to practice evil. God gave them His law to follow in Exodus 20, but they found out very quickly that they could never keep all of the law. Though God gave provision for their sin, by offering animals as sacrifice, it was not a permanent reconciliation. Each sin had to be paid for by each person, every time they transgressed His Law. And it never ended….
Until Jesus came. He came as a baby, born to a young virgin named Mary, exactly as He was promised to come throughout the Old Testament prophets. He was completely human and completely God, and the only One who ever fulfilled every law for His whole life. He came, He taught all who would listen of His Father’s love, He healed, He pointed out man’s sin and their need for cleansing for that sin, and then He suffered. Men hung Him on a Roman cross on the edge of Damascus Road, and He gave His life there. He died to pay for your sins, and to pay for mine. All of man’s sin for all time was paid for on that cross that day. Some friends took his body down and placed it in a borrowed tomb. The soldiers guarded his grave and sealed it with an impossibly heavy stone. But they couldn’t stop Him from rising again. Three days and three nights in the tomb, and He was risen from the dead. Death was overcome that day, and to this day, He offers LIFE to all who will believe.
If you haven’t accepted His offer of friendship to you, you can right now. Once you recognize that your sin has separated you from God, and believe that He’s done all that He can to pay for that sin, you can call out to Him and ask Him to cleanse your heart from your sin and live there forever.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
He never fails to do anything He promises, and He will never leave you or forsake you ever. Please let me know if you take this wonderful step. I would love to know about that!







And the journey begins…

“So, I have a lot of words.” My husband laughed when I said this, because I rarely speak them out loud. But give me a pen and paper and I could write for days. This blog is just an outlet for all that I’m learning from my time at the well with my Friend over a cup of coffee every morning. Join me whenever you can and say hello. I’d love to hear from you!