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...
Do we live in a Godforsaken world? It feels like that sometimes, but I pray that we can lay a foundation that will help you connect the dots to give you a framework to accurately interpret life in a way that is real and not a part of a grand elaborate lie. The truth is, there is this reality...
To reconcile all things means to make life work, to make life fit! That longing inside of you for the good, that's what this reconciliation is talking about. We are a people who were torn from the heart of God by our own sin like a baby ripped from her mother's arms and we have been kicking and...
In the kingdom of this world, we see by eye, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, we see by faith. That’s why the scripture says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” So often we live moments in which we are unconscious of God. In the kingdom of this world, we reason by the logic of this...
When God acts in our lives and works to rescue us, there is a purpose for that. The purpose is that we get to live in His presence. We get to be with God; God rescues us to be with Him! When you are with someone you love, it’s a joyful thing and God’s joy is you! God’s heart...
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)
Do we live in a Godforsaken world? It feels like that sometimes, but I pray that we can lay a foundation that will help you connect the dots to give you a framework to accurately interpret life in a way that is real and not a part of a grand elaborate lie.
The truth is, there is this reality that is the core of the Bible - that God actually became a human being! The word incarnation is a word that talks about the wonder of God becoming one of us! Only in Christianity is there the claim that the infinite God, the one who began life, became human. That He occupied flesh, and that He was broken with us. The reason this matters is because it answers the question - 'Am I alone in a God-forsaken world?'
There are many of you that have started your journey of faith, but the truth is that you and I need to connect the dots of the reality of the incarnation as well. Because it's not just the atheist or the agnostic who lives in a God-less, or Godforsaken world, there are far too many of us who claim to believe and yet we act as though our God were absent!
The most important thing that I can tell you about Jesus is that He is the son of God! John 1 makes it very clear "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God, through Him all things were made." Now pay attention to that, I'm going to give you a framework as we talk about: Creation, The Fall, redemption and restoration. "Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing that has been made was made."
"The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." The word became flesh - "The Infinite" - inhabited time and became just like us. He became broken with us and He made His dwelling with us. God chose not to stay distant in Heaven, but to come and live with us on earth and to be with us! With is the key word here because the reality is that we have to make a choice about what we are going to do with this Jesus!
The beginning Christmas story, we all know this story, but do we really understand its impact? In Matthew 1:22 the scripture tells us, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us.')"
God - not with the deserving, not with the unbroken, not with the great- but God with us!
In real time, in real life. God with us, not against us! God not hurling our sin in our face. God not mocking our brokenness. God just with us!
Some people will co-opt Jesus, but they will de-deify Him and say He's not God, He's a teacher! Well here's a suggestion, don't follow teachers who lie because Jesus claims to be the very son of God - the incarnation of God!
Jesus was asked point blank by the elders of the law in Matthew 26, The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said this, no ambiguity, "Yes it is as you say." This is what got Him crucified, these words claiming to be God in the flesh were just so offensive and unfamiliar with the Jews that He was with. Jesus went on to say "But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robe and shouted blasphemy! Do we need to hear anything else? And the people around said no, he's worthy of death!
This outrageous claim that the God of the infinite mystery of the universe had skin, had a face, had a voice! That this God of infinite time and power and majesty became one of us, is the central claim of all of the scriptures. You and I need to decide what we believe about the incarnation and what it means and we need to connect some dots.
Let me give you a big picture framework of how we can connect the dots and make reality of a God who loves us, understandable, in a world that breaks us. How God could be with us and bad things and loss still happen? How is that possible?
In the beginning, the Bible frames life to tell us that God really did create us. "In the beginning was the word," the scripture says in John 1. In Genesis 1, the scripture says that "In the beginning (at the head of all things) God created the heavens and the earth. That everything was without form and that God brought it into being." Now don't get tripped up on how this happened because the truth is I don't know and the simple truth is you don't either!
We Christians are always missing God just like the Jews did because we think we know more than we know and we're not just going to sit in mystery with a little bit of humility and say, "God you are infinitely more complex, infinitely wiser, my three pounds of gray matter will never be able to wrap around all of your infinite bigness." Now, that doesn't mean I'm not going to use my mind, it just means that I'm not going to pretend that God will fit in it!
We try time and again to fit God into our current understanding of science and the simple truth is, in 100 years our understanding will be different. God created the heavens and the earth, and you were created by Him, but then we have "The Fall." The Fall is more than just some mythical story of two people in a garden with fig leaves - it's the story of us all!
It's the story of a God who, in the beginning, created life good and joyful and purposeful - with Him! Every day Adam walked the garden in the cool of the day with God Himself, but we looked around and we wanted more, we wanted other, we wanted us! And so we chose our own way and in choosing our own way, we set off a mushroom cloud over all of humanity! Everything was shattered and broken. We caught the virus of sin. We got soul cancer. We hated God, we hated each other, we hated ourselves! We've been trying to work our way out of this brokenness since and we can't!
Death came into the world, death came into your world and you know deep down inside of you that there is the possibility for more than we have. You know deep inside of you that everything is broken and the scripture tells us that what was broken in the beginning is going to be restored in the end and the way that is going to happen is through the redemption.
In the fall you were alienated from God and even alienated from yourself and even your best efforts to 'connect' will never succeed without God! More sex, more money, more positions, nothing will connect the dots for you in a way that will make life work and whole. But God loved and so he sent His one and only son Jesus.
God became a broken human being, sinless, but broken on the cross for us...
...to be with us.
...to redeem us.
...to save us!
Here is where the choice has to be made, at the redemption level. In the redemption story, you have to make a choice to see your need and your sin and accept the redeemer - Jesus - or to reject Him. If you accept Him, then God's redeeming love and power will come to life in your life and He will begin restoring. Then He will lead you to the ultimate restoration - all of life as it was in the beginning. So shall it be in the end and that is the picture of Heaven. The other path of not needing a redeemer, not needing a savior is the path to eternal loss and the scripture calls this hell.
So let me just say this, the incarnation matters because you were created in love for relationship! You are not junk! You are not a mistake! I have known victims of rape who've wondered if they should even be here.
Listen, you were created out of the Father's heart on purpose! God created you and loves you, you are wanted and God considers you worth knowing!
Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." So King David was able to say (not that I'm all that and a bag of chips) but God, you are so great, I can see that you made me on purpose! Guys, I'm telling you, in sin and brokenness, we are alienated from ourselves. The truth is everything is broken beyond repair, that's the fall, but when you understand the beauty of what God did in creation, you understand that you really were created by Him, for relationship, and bear the image of an infinite God!
If we live in a God-forsaken world, then our experience of the world is going to be a God-forsaken experience! It's going to be an experience of loneliness, of abandonment, it's going to be an experience of self-centeredness because everything is up to us. But what if God really did become a human being and what if there really is an answer to the reason of the brokenness of the world? What if our greatest call in life is to trust the love that became flesh and to let God connect all the dots? -Dr. Drew Shofner
To reconcile all things means to make life work, to make life fit! That longing inside of you for the good, that's what this reconciliation is talking about. We are a people who were torn from the heart of God by our own sin like a baby ripped from her mother's arms and we have been kicking and screaming through life trying to find happiness, trying to make this puzzle fit and work together and we cannot succeed without the hand of God on and in our lives.
Whether on earth or in heaven, God is bringing all things together. How? By making peace through His blood shed on the cross. Jesus invaded planet earth with the heart of God and he brought light to a dark world. Guys, I want to share with you that by shedding his blood on the cross, Jesus raised the value of every human life!
God so loved the world...that he sent his son Jesus to be not merely a moral example, but to be a personal savior for everyone who would believe. Believing is so much more than religion, believing is so much more than checking a church box on Sunday. Believing means seeing the value of Jesus and seeing him as the center of your story! -Dr. Drew Shofner
In the kingdom of this world, we see by eye, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, we see by faith. That’s why the scripture says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” So often we live moments in which we are unconscious of God. In the kingdom of this world, we reason by the logic of this world, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, we reason by the power of God and from the promise of God. It is a completely different way of living; it’s transforming and we see life differently.
In 2 Kings 6:16 we hear Elijah the prophet, through the Holy Spirit, say something to the servant that we hear angels say every time they show up. What does an angel say every time they show up? “Fear not or Do not fear.” Now, when an angel shows up on earth, where did they just come from? They have just been in Heaven with the power and the glory and the eternal majesty of God.
Surrounded by the enemy, Elijah said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elijah prayed a prayer that I have already prayed for The Church at Severn Run. Elijah prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elijah.
So, here is Elijah standing on the wall, he is calm cool and collected, because he is living God aware and he is seeing by faith, not what the kingdom of the world can see, but he is seeing the kingdom of Heaven revealed around him. When he prays that prayer and the servants eyes are opened, then he too can see that the enemy surrounding them is also surrounded and that the army of the Lord was already there before they even saw it!
This is true with us, and my prayer for you is that God would open your eyes that you might see. Just because you don’t see it or feel it right now or you don’t believe there is a way forward; that God is going to win in your life and that Christ can use you. That there is redemption and forgiveness of sin and there is new life and new creation and there is love and grace.
God has made you a winner in Christ! He will never leave you in a dead end. He will never lead you to a place of hopelessness or despair. At every step along the journey, there is a win for the Kingdom of Heaven to be had! That is the promise of God. Over and over again in the Bible, every time an angel shows up, you see panicked human beings who need to hear what happens when Heaven breaks through; Fearlessness and new vision. Fear Not! –Dr. Drew Shofner
When God acts in our lives and works to rescue us, there is a purpose for that. The purpose is that we get to live in His presence. We get to be with God; God rescues us to be with Him! When you are with someone you love, it’s a joyful thing and God’s joy is you! God’s heart is for you, and so He acts, always in history, to bring us to Himself.
The Laws of the Old Testament (the law of the first covenant) taught us that holiness is impossible to achieve in human effort; we couldn’t do it! We are rule breakers, we’re rebels and all that keeping rules does is keep us self righteous when we manage to keep a few rules that somebody else isn’t keeping. Nevermind the rules that we’re breaking, that they don’t know about.
In the New Testament, (the New Covenant) we have a movement from law, to the Gospel (the Good News) and the good news is that holiness is a gift we receive by faith. It is a love gift of God so that the Old Testament story is still true, (that God rescues us to be with Him) but that in the New Testament, He rescues us by the blood of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says that "God sent His one and only son that anyone who believes in Him would not parish, but would have everlasting life"; if they would just believe!
It is such good news to know that none of us have to fake it ‘til we make it. It is such good news to know that we are all broken inside and that none of us have all the answers, that none of us have to pretend that we’ve got this, because the truth is “we don’t got this!”
If you don’t want to be changed by God, you won’t be, but if you want God, you’re going to get God in abundance. If you have no intention of walking with Jesus and listening to what He says, than stay away, but don’t stay away because you think you’re unworthy or broken. We’re all unworthy and we’re all broken.
Get it right today, don’t try to be right on your own. Just let Jesus rescue you so that you can be with Him. Be broken, be honest, be humble, be repentant; the only sin that is unforgivable is the sin that is unconfessed. –Dr. Drew Shofner