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Grace abounded…

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20

As I look at Calvary, as I look at the Cross on which my Saviour Jesus Christ was hanging crucified, my first reaction is to turn my face away in abhorrence. Just like how repulsive the Israelites felt when they had to look at the bronze serpent, raised on the stake.

But the more I look at the suffering Servant, the Son of Man who knew grief, I realize what caused all these. My sins. My disobedience. My rebellious nature. My lustful heart. I must be the one who was punished like that. I must be the afflicted one. Then it dawns me, yes, it is true, that I must be the one… but it serves only one purpose. It serves only the Divine Justice. For I richly deserve that punishment. It would have told the world that the Lord our God is righteous.

The more I meditate on the sufferings and death of my Redeemer, suddenly the Holy Spirit whispers in me… it is not just for the “sins” I have committed… but for the “sin” that indwells in me. Jesus Christ did not just carry my “sins”, He became “sin” for me (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the Cross. Sin abounded; the Cross became an emblem of sin – the most repugnant sight on the world.. Yet, the One Who was suffering there was not guilty. Not guilty of anything. Innocence personified. Oh, the Cross is not only about Lord our God is righteous, but it also tells me that He is gracious.

In the obedience of Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds much more. Much more than I can comprehend. All I can do is humbly bow my head before God our Loving Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son and my Saviour for the grace that abounded. Amen.

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Test of Faith

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

James 1_2-4

Our faith in God may look unshakeable for us. Especially after we see the great things that the Lord has done. I have heard many a well-meaning Christians say, “Oh, hereafter, I will never ever doubt my God. How can I? HE has done great things for me and He shall do so in the future. I trust in Him completely.” I don’t doubt the sincerity of their confession. They do really trust in the Lord and their faith is also true, except within a short span of time, they are struggling in their life, because of unbelief. Why? Because when the test of faith comes their way, they are found wanting.

Exodus 14:31 says that the Israelites believed in the Lord and His servant Moses, when they crossed the Red Sea and saw how the LORD of hosts destroyed the armies of Egypt. But three days later, they were murmuring at the bitter waters of Marah.

To be honest, if I was without water in a wilderness for three days, and the guide leads me to some waters and it turns to be bitter, probably I would rile against the guide. But this is no ordinary Guide. This is the Lord Who had done great deeds before their own eyes, such great deeds that after all these years, we are still talking about them in awe. They saw the ten plagues that the Egyptians faced, they were saved by the blood of the lamb four days earlier, they crossed the Red Sea and even sang:

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

Exodus 15-11

But when the waters of Marah made their life bitter, they did not have the patience to trust in the Lord. That the Lord our God, Who was able to change the waters of Nile into blood, is able to change the bitterness of Marah. El Shaddai, the God Almighty, Who was able to gather the waters of Red Sea and made them into walls, is able to do one more miracle. Unfortunately, when the test of faith came, their lack of patience was exposed.

Faith must produce patience in us. The LORD never tests us more than we can  endure. By the bitter waters of Marah, there was the tree that would heal the waters. And, dear friend, if the test of faith brings bitterness into your life, don’t lose your faith. Instead, look at Calvary. Look at the Tree in which our Saviour died. Look at Jesus, Him crucified. May Jesus Christ be the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Amen.

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7. Word of Rest

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:46

Luke 23.46

This is the seventh and the last of the utterances of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the Cross and it is the Word of Rest.

Just like God created the world and its order and finished everything on the Sixth day, Jesus said “It is finished!” as His sixth utterance from the Cross. And God rested on the Seventh day. And the seventh utterance of Jesus is a Word of rest.

Before “It is finished!”, the cry of the Lord is, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” After it is finished, it is “Father”. Yes, dear friend, Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law and has paid the price in full. Before it was “our God”; before we felt as if He has forsaken us. Not anymore, because God, Who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is also our Father in heaven.

Before “It is finished!”, Jesus felt as if the hands of Father had let Him down. But, once it is done, it is into those same hands, Jesus commits His spirit. We can rest knowing that the eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Underneath

Before “It is finished!”, Jesus asked His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?”. But now, He says, “I commit My spirit.” Dear friend, commit your life to our Father now. Commit your future to Him. Commit your everything to Him. As Paul said, we know Whom we have believed. Believe in our Father Who gave His only Son for us. May that faith bring rest unto our life. Amen.

4. Voice of Anguish

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46

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The fourth utterance from our LORD Jesus Christ. I had uttered these very words so many times in my life. As I was struggling with depression, I had to battle loneliness so many times. 2-Corinthians-5.21There would be so many people around me, laughing with me, but the wounds in my heart would tear me apart and this would be the silent cry from the heart, and at times, there were some feral screams too.

So, when I started to meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it bothered me. I was a sinner. I am imperfect. My heart rebels against God. So, I can understand if the LORD forsakes me. But why would Jesus Christ, the only Son of God utter these words in anguish?

Because God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Oh, now it makes sense. Jesus cried out because it was supposed to be me. It was I who was supposed to be forsaken. Instead, Jesus was made to be sin for us, that the Most Holy God, Who does not look at sin, had to forsake Jesus.

Jesus for me

The love of God our Father Who was ready to hide His face from His only Son. The love of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Son of God, Who was ready to be forsaken for us. Is there any way to understand such a love? Especially when I think about the sin that has lived in me. For me. And because Jesus took my place and was forsaken, I know that promise the Lord gave me, when He brought me with a mighty hand into His fold, will never fail: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Will never leave you

HE punished us…

You showed them that You are a forgiving God, but You punished them for their wrongs. – Psalm 99:8 (NCV)

The LORD God is merciful and gracious; and in His grace, He forgives my sins. But my soul, never forget that He is also a righteous and just God. Therefore, He has to punish me for my wrongs.

So, my soul, as you rejoice that your sins are forgiven, do not forget that the punishment for your sins have fallen on Your Saviour Jesus Christ. Never forget to look at the Cross at the Calvary. Never forget how much it cost God, the Creator of Universe, to forgive your sins.

It cost Him His only beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Never ever forget that, my soul, never forget that.

Jesus Christ. My Lord, my Master, my Saviour, my Redeemer. I love You, Lord. I love You.

Psalm 99_8

Except in the cross of our LORD Jesus Christ

In what do you seek your glory?

  1. Prayer: Do you seek glory in how much you pray every day? Are you proud that you spend more time in prayers than others?
  2. Faith: Is your glory based on your faith? How strong you are no matter how difficult the circumstances become? How you can praise the LORD even in the midst of all the hardships?
  3. Sufferings: Is your glory based on your suffering? On how much you have suffered for Christ, compared to others? That no one you know have suffered as much as you have?
  4. Blessings: Do you glorify in the blessings that you have received from the LORD? Is this something that you are proud of? How your prayers are answered immediately?
    These are the few common things, IMHO, that the Christians boast often. But, these are the few things that I have seen Christians murmur against the LORD too.
  • When their prayers are not answered quickly, they are upset with the LORD.
  • When their faith does not bring victory to them, they quickly question their faith or God in Who they trust.
  • When their sufferings are beyond what they can bear, they start to question the righteousness of the LORD.
  • When some blessings are denied, they are very upset with the LORD.

But, there is something that I boast upon. Something that would never ever disappoint me. That would never make me upset with the LORD. That would always bring joy to my mind.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Galatians 6:14 (NIV)

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In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I look at Calvary and see what the LORD has done for me in the cross.

  • I know my prayers are heard by God our Father, because Jesus Christ, His Son and my Savior, was torn into two, so that I can draw near to the Throne of Grace fearlessly and with confident.
  • I know that the LORD is pleased with my faith, because my faith is not based on my self-confidence or my self-will. It is based on the One who died for me on the cross, Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
  • Oh, there is nothing, nothing that can be compared to the suffering of Christ on the cross. So, when I think I am suffering, I look at the cross. I look at the sufferings that He endured for me. There is nothing to boast from my side.
  • And, all my blessings, all my success, everything that could be considered a blessing in my life came to me, only because Jesus Christ Himself became a curse for me on the cross, so that I receive the blessings of Abraham. (Galatians 3:13-14)

Now, I look again. There is nothing in me that I can boast. Prayer, faith, sufferings, blessings… everything came to me only through the cross of Christ. So, there is only one thing that I boast in. There is only one thing that I glory in.

The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What about you?

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  • Matthew 28:18-20“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

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Achan and giving glory to the LORD

The Book of Joshua talks about the sin of Achan. Some translations say that Achan took of the accursed things. But did he really take those things that were cursed? The Literal Translation Version (LITV) says that Achan took things that were devoted to God. Previously Joshua had instructed the Israelites that the gold and the silver were holy to the LORD.

Many times we think of Achan and wonder how could someone be this stupid – stealing from the LORD Himself. But when we look at few things that are holy to the Sovereign God, we will realize that deep in our heart, we also bury them, just like Achan did.

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Worship belongs to the LORD. Revelation 4:11 clearly mentions this:

“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion…” – Rev. 4:11 (AMP)

Yet, there are times we worship the LORD for yet another reason. A promise of the LORD Himself.

“Wherever I cause My Name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.” – Exo. 20:24b (NIV)

Keeping this promise in our minds, we worship and honor the LORD, hoping that He will bless us. Deep in our hearts, there is a desire to be blessed which causes us to worship. Yes, there is a Achan hiding deep inside our heart.

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Another thing that belongs to the LORD is praise. The Bible mentions why God created us. The LORD proudly declares this about us:

“… the people whom I formed for Myself, that they might declare My praise.” – Isa. 43:21 (ESV)

Yes, we are formed for one purpose: that we may declare the praise of our Father and His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. But there are times we praise the LORD for a different reason.

At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. – 2 Chr. 20:22 (NLT)

So, now we praise the LORD, but our eyes are focused on our enemies. We are wondering when will they start fighting among themselves. When they don’t, we start to praise louder, hoping that will sow confusion among our enemies. Still nothing happens, we lose our heart and start to wonder whether praising the LORD is even worth it. Yes, there is a Achan hiding deep inside our hearts.

So, how to get rid of this Achan from our heart? Joshua gives us the way to get rid of this Achan from our heart.

“Give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth.” – Jos. 7:19 (NLT)

Yes, admitting the truth that is hidden deep in our hearts is also a way of giving glory to the LORD. Yes, the LORD desires truth in the inner being. (Psa. 51:6)

But, we may ask one thing: didn’t Achan get killed along with his family when he told the truth? Yes, that’s true. But, there is a good news, dear friend. Jesus Christ, our Savior, has paid the cost of all our sins in the Calvary.

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So, dear friend, let us admit the truth before the LORD, let the Achan in our hearts die, and may be the LORD our God be glorified in our life. Amen.

Psalm 46:10“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.””

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