What The Cross Means to a Believer

Posted by Dan Borchers on

The Cross--an instrument of cruel death--was used by God to bring life to all. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Jesus fulfills those words at the cross. There, he paid the...

Tempted Again

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It was happening again. I am never quite sure what is the triggering factor. It may be lack of sleep, a stressful situation or boredom. Whatever it is, it is real and can be life shattering. It is a call from the depths of my soul whispering that something isn’t quite right.

What is calling is a desire, a temptation, for just a small step. A step that my mind says will not hurt anyone. The lie grows. I am convinced. I will stop later. There will be no negative consequences. The temptation becomes more appealing. I peer into the abyss. I step off the edge. I regret what I have done, greatly and deeply.

This is not a new phenomenon for me. I have lived on the rollercoaster of sin - repentance - forgiveness for my entire life. It has nearly destroyed me. The pattern became so prevalent, so unstoppable, it lead to constant anxiety and a dread of life. My rock bottom was when I realized I had to tell someone about that temptation, about the sins. If I did though, it meant I had to face the fears of shame, possible scorn and rejections. More so, it meant I would have to find an avenue of change.

As frightful and painful as the step toward redemption was, the consequences were far more damaging and far reaching than I realized at the time. Until I looked back, I didn’t see the trail of failings I was leaving behind. I couldn’t look back until I was able to stop being solely focused on the present.

I find comfort in knowing that many of God’s “greats” have been caught in the same rollercoaster of sin - repentance - forgiveness. One of those “greats” being King David.

David was anointed as King of Israel when he was teenager but it would be 25 years of preparation before he would finally rule all of Israel. These years were filled with many challenges yet David relentlessly pursued God, even when he failed. Even as King he fell into sin and he fell hard.

One infamous story is found in 2 Samual 11. It is likely one of the most widely known stories of David and sin. Mention to just about anyone the names David and Bathsheba and instantaneously their mind goes to adultery and murder. But that’s only the 30,000 foot view. David’s temptation began long before he strolled onto that roof top and allowed his eyes to gaze upon the beautiful woman next door.

Have you ever thought about how many wives and concubines David already had? We may not know exactly but we know it was many. David had a lust for woman that was the first “small thing” that had drawn him into this precarious situation.

We read in Genesis that God created a partner for man. This was a woman. As time went on, polygamy however became a commonly accepted practice of the day. We also read in Deuteronomy 17:17 that the standards for a king were different. A king was not to take many wives for himself. Why not? We are told because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. In other words they will be a distraction.

Distractions often become a vice we use to fill our soul. Only God can truly fill our soul. With many woman in David’s life, temptation now had a foothold and literally the story went downhill from there. You  can find all the messy details in 2 Samuel 11:1-27.

What happened to David is not dissimilar to what happens to us. Just a small opening, a crack in the “everyone’s doing it” door that soon leads to another larger door. From there a bigger door, until we’ve gone through an opening the size of a barn door.

When this happens, there is hope, redemption and an opportunity to change. That was the case with David. This is the case for me. It can be for you too.

Today I have found that those big balls of messiness I had once travelled down unchecked no longer have the same appeal. I am able to recognize early on when the lies begin, who the source is and who I should turn too.

We know David was one of God’s greatest kings and a man after God’s own heart. These are great and wonderful qualities. This is not what makes him my “great” in the linage of Jesus. 

I love the story of David because I can relate so fully to his failures and sins. It is his redemption and forgiveness that strengthens my heart and brings me to a place where I know I too can be forgiven.

God loved David relentlessly. David knew this and was drawn into temptation anyway. When he finally and fully acknowledged what he had done, he held himself accountable for his action and asked for and received forgiveness. I am like David.

Even with forgiveness there were consequences for David and there were for me too. But even so God stayed with David through it all. He has been with me every day, every minute. He will do the same for you.

Are you hearing the call of temptation or have you already responded to it and desperately want to get out of the stronghold? God is waiting and willing to forgive and bring change to your life.

Go to God.

Acknowledge your sin.

Be forgiven.

Stay with God.

Like he was for King David, God is there for you. Never forget that it was through David, one of God’s “greats” that Jesus was born into this world even though David was a sinner - just like you and just like me.

God redeemed David.

He redeemed me.

He can redeem you too.

 

 

 

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To Receive Father's Forgiveness Means That We Must Forgive

Luke 11:4 says, "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."

Now, this is a difficult thing to do. It's one of those things that sound easy but is very, very difficult. It's been said that forgiveness is kind of like drinking poison to punish someone else.

We all have people who hurt us. We all have people who have been unjust toward us and in our heart of hearts, we demand justice for them! But we don't want justice for us -and there's the rub. 

Our Father of grace has offered us unimaginable mercy in letting go of our sins. And so when we come to Father, and we come to Him in the name of Jesus, and the blood of the cross is our appeal, we're acknowledging the super high cost that God has paid to provide our forgiveness. 

It is a cost higher than anyone has cost us, and so to receive Father's forgiveness it means that we must forgive!

In Matthew 7:7, the scripture says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." 

Well, I want then to use a very generous measure of forgiveness toward others, that Father might use that same measure toward me! It is impossible to follow Father, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus with bitterness, with anger, with malice and an inner demand for justice. 

And then there's Mathew 16:15 which kind of seals the deal in terms of the absolute non-negotiable, uncompromised demand of Father -that we forgive if we want to walk in His forgiveness. Jesus said very, very clearly, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

So why in the world would we want to carry the poison of hell when we are offered the grace of Heaven? 

Believing that we serve an infinite God means that we can give our deepest wounds and unjust experiences in life to God in Jesus' name and know that He can redeem. That He will redeem and that in all things, He will work for good! Dr. Drew Shofner

What The Cross Means to a Believer

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The Cross--an instrument of cruel death--was used by God to bring life to all

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus fulfills those words at the cross. There, he paid the penalty for all of our sins.

Here is what the Bible says about Jesus on the cross:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

And it is there where we find him to receive the gift of everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

It is a free gift when we repent in faith.

Jesus actually predicted the manner of his death in the words preceding his great promise. In John 3:14-15, we read: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Notice that verses 15 and 16 end with almost identical words. Why? Jesus was drawing a parallel between a spectacular Old Testament event with his coming sacrifice on the cross.

As recorded in Numbers 21:4-9, the ancient Israelites rebelled against God in the wilderness. God punished them with “fiery serpents” who bit them, killing many. After the people repented, God provided a means of salvation:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

In similar fashion, whenever anyone who has sinned looks at Jesus in repentance and faith, they shall live

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself” (John 12:32). The next verse expressly states, “This he said, signifying by what death he would die.”

Just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole to save all those who looked at it, God lifted up Jesus on a cross to save all those who put their faith in Him.

Let us all turn to Jesus, who beckons us with arms wide open.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

Accept forgiveness and live courageously toward joy!

Hebrews 12:2

I probably don't need to tell most of you that life isn't easy. That it is a challenge. That it is hard and that it hurts. But still by grace we have been given a choice.

So I want to ask you: how are you going to live the next part of eternity?

Broken down and giving up or rising up and trusting God? 

Right now, where you are may seem so long and hard and overwhelming, but I just want to remind you that it's just one part of eternity. It's just one next in a long series until we begin the next part of eternity in the presence of God, or apart from God if we didn't want His love.

In Matthew 9:1-8, we read the story that took place in Jesus' home town. Here's a picture of Jesus, on the road, out in life, going after people and revealing the love of The Father in His own life in the power of an unseen Spirit in a way that changed everything!

Jesus stepped into a boat and crossed over and came to His own home town. Some men brought him a paralytic lying on a mat, and when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic something unexpected and something strange. Jesus said, "Take heart son, your sins are forgiven…" then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home!" And the man got up and he went home. No longer stuck in dead religion, no longer stuck in the realities of life, now the Kingdom of God had come and now the unpredictability of the love of God was let loose on planet earth - and everything changed!

What if, more than we need everything that is frustrating us in this moment. What if, not having them is what depresses us and discourages us? 

What if we just needed to celebrate our forgiveness and from this point forward, just live joyfully toward home knowing that this earth isn't it? 

What if we trusted that God is giving us, from His goodness, all that we need and that we can live joyfully on our way home? 

We've basically got a choice, we can follow sin: Sin means that we're all deeply broken like the layers of an onion at successive and concentric ways. We're all deeply broken all the way to the core of our being. It's all fractured, it's all broken, it's all leaking life! And you and I can live our lives in ever-increasing sin and brokenness to where the darkness continues to increase and the sadness is growing and the loss is adding up for the rest of this part of eternity - or we can follow forgiveness all the way home to joy! 

You see, that's what Jesus did.

We just celebrated Easter, and the scripture gives us an insight into what Jesus was thinking every step of the way. With every blow to His jaw, every time the whip was laid on His back...and every time the hammer drove the nails in...the scripture tells us what was on Jesus' mind. The scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross scorning it's shame." He was heading home and in spite of that agony of the moment, He trusted God and lived courageously toward joy!

You and I need to live courageously grateful for the forgiveness of our sins, and if nothing ever happens in our life that we call good, we have the gift of the forgiveness of everything that leaks life, that tears us apart and destroys us in this part of eternity! We're coming to a part of eternity where there is going to be joy, if we will have it. But in this part of eternity where we're still on the ground and where it's hard, we are called by God to live courageously grateful for the gift that matters more than all the other stuff that we demand from God and put before it, and it's all found in this one phrase, "Take heart my child, your sins are forgiven." 

Despite what you believe, God does not have a bad attitude toward you. No, He says, "Take heart my child your sins are forgiven." -Matthew 9:2 (Take heart- The Greek word here means to have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of adversity or testing.)

I want you to imagine the man paralyzed in Matthew. His day began bad like every other day...but in the presence of the freedom of Jesus, everything changed. I want you to follow my forgiveness in a way that transforms your sorrow into joy and I want you to live gratefully from this point forward and be courageous so take heart my son get up off of the broken place where you are and walk home! 

Can you imagine the joy his parents felt? Guys, that's you and that's me!

How many of us are laying on the ground and letting life pass us by? You don't have to hate yourself - you're free! We gotta make a decision. We gotta ask for forgiveness and until that day we gotta head home healed and live courageously. This is the life that we are invited to - accept forgiveness and live courageously toward joy! -Dr. Drew Shofner

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