Gospel Meditations: The Life-Giving Look

10 07 2015

imageWe’ve all, at one time or another, gotten “the look.” Most of us have probably given “the look” to someone else. What is “the look?” “The look” can best be described as the “you’re about to die” look, given to us from someone who is upset with us for whatever reason. My two year old even has “the look.” Yep, I’ve seen it and I’ve been on the wrong end of it. Thankfully she’s two and with her I just laugh in the face of “the look.” The truth is that our looks often communicate to others what we’re thinking or feeling and maybe sometimes can clue others into what we’re about to do. Looks are powerful and there is a powerful look that’s talked about in the Bible. In fact, God invites us to look to Him with this certain look. Here it is,

Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭45‬:‭22‬ NKJV)

Rather than “the look” of death, God invites us into what I will call “the look” of life. This look brings salvation. For the unbeliever this look is the look of faith that brings salvation from sin and new life. For the one who is saved it can bring renewal of life and fellowship with God. For the downcast it brings salvation from our despondency. For the discouraged it sweeps away our despair and brings life-giving hope. For the lonely it brings the comforting presence of God. For the hurting it brings the sweet relief of our hurts. For the grieving this look invites the peace of God. Salvation belongs to the Lord! When we look to the Lord with the look of faith He is there and ready to meet us where we are in life.

This look is not for a select few, but there is a universal invitation to look to the Lord. It’s not just Israel that is able to look, but the invitation is for everyone. The gates are open. The path is clear. The way of salvation is made straight. The means of salvation is defined. Look to the Lord all you ends of the earth and you will be saved. You don’t have to be rich to look. You don’t have to be good looking to look. You don’t have to dress a certain way. Just look! God loves it when we humble ourselves and look to Him with the look of faith.

But why should we look to the Lord? Why not look to someone else? Why not cast our gaze in another direction? There is no question that we often do these very things. We often look in the wrong direction and to the wrong person or people. We often misplace our trust is material and temporal things to save us. However when we look the Lord we are looking to the One who is Lord of our circumstance. In fact, our circumstance passed through His hands before it ever entered our existence. So why wouldn’t we look to Him? Why wouldn’t we trust Him? After all, He is God and there is no other. This look of faith is grounded in the sovereign Lordship of our creator. We can trust Him…so look and live today!

“O God, I bless thee for the happy moment when I first saw thy law fulfilled in Christ

wrath appeased, death destroyed, sin forgiven, my soul saved.

Ever since, thou hast been faithful to me: daily have I proved the power of Jesus blood,

daily have I known the strength of the Spirit, my teacher, director, sanctifier.

I want no other rock to build upon than that I have, desire no other Hope than that of gospel truth,

Need no other look than that which gazes on the cross.” (Bennett, Arthur, “The Valley of Vision”, The Life Look, pg 54)

Gospel Meditations: The Power of God in Me

7 07 2015

romans116d-01“Outside of heaven, the power of God in its highest density is found inside the gospel. This must be so, for the Bible twice describes the gospel as ‘the power of God.'” (Vincent, Milton, “A Gospel Primer for Christians.”, pg 14)

Indeed it does. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Let’s meditate on that phrase, the power of God. I think my heart is cold to it. I think I’ve lost the sheer awesomeness of what that must entail…the power of God. The power of God is on display around us. Certainly we can see the power of God all around us in creation. God spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1). God only has to speak and His power is on display, not just in that moment, but continuously for all to see. Certainly this power of God in creation goes beyond what we see in our immediate physical realm…it extends into the vastness of the universe to place where mankind attempts to see, but even then we are limited. God’s power is not only on display around us, but also beyond us. We have made vast discoveries in the universe, but we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what God in His power has created. The power of God is on display in us, that is in all human beings. Psalm 139 is a masterful declaration of the power of God at work in the womb of a woman as God weaves together the various parts of a human being and creates life. This power is on display everyday in our world. It’s happening in every pregnant woman on the planet. Furthermore, the power of God is on display every time you and I look into a mirror and see ourselves. Yes, what many, maybe even the majority nowadays, chalk up to evolutionary chance, the Scriptures declare as the handiwork of God. That’s you and me, God’s handiwork!

But for the believer in Jesus Christ the Bible tells us that there is yet a more powerful display of God’s powerful working at hand. Yes, there is a special grace that is at work today in my life and in yours if you know Jesus as your Savior…it is the power of God in the gospel at work in us. You see, it is a gross miscalculation that we make if we say that once we’ve believed that we are done with the gospel and the gospel is done with us. A thousand times, NO! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the believer, and did you catch what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, the gospel is the power of God to us who are being saved. That’s right…on that Sunday in January of 1991 the power of God saved me, but practically speaking it began saving me. It is at this moment saving me. The power of God will be saving me right up until that moment when it finally delivers me into the presence of Christ and I am forever free from the presence of sin.

There is unspeakable power at work in we who believe right now. I think this must speak to a couple of things about you and me. The power of God in the gospel must speak to just how weak and powerless I am by myself. How utterly sad we are that we are not strong enough to deliver ourselves and yet this true, we are in a sad and weak condition. It always takes a great deal of humility for anyone of us to come to God and confess that we are weak. I was too weak to save myself before I met Christ and I am too weak to keep myself saved now. Yes, I need Him. The power of God in the gospel must also speak to just how sinfully depraved I am in my rebellion against God. Oh, how wicked I was before I met Christ, and if it were possible that Christ were to abandon me today and leave me without His power I know that I would be even more wicked today. We humans have a great propensity to underestimate our sinfulness…to gloss over our sin. We do this through many avenues of self-justification and comparing ourselves to others who in our minds seem worse than us. However in doing this we also greatly diminish our ability to see the greatness of the power of God in the gospel to deliver us. Aren’t you glad that God sees us exactly how we are and still extends grace in the power of the gospel? I know I am.

Think about it: the power of God is at work in you and me right now, delivering us to the end. The gospel is not not done with us Christians, and we are not done with the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation for those of us who are being saved. Let’s yield to His power in us today.

Gospel Meditations: My Crucifixion with Christ

6 07 2015

image“The gospel is not simply the story of ‘Christ, and Him crucified’; it is also the story of my own crucifixion. For the Bible tells me that I, too, was crucified on Christ’s cross (Gal. 2:20). My old self was slain there (Rom. 6:6), and my love affair with the world was crucified there too (Gal. 6:14). The cross is also the place where I crucify my flesh and all its sinful desires (Gal. 5:24). Truly, Christ’s death and my death are so intertwined as to be inseparable.” (Vincent, Milton. A Gospel Primer for Christians, pg. 40).

I remember the day well. It was a Sunday evening in January 1991. I had taken my post faithfully in the Publix Supermarkets Data Processing Distribution Center where I was making a living running printers and distributing reports to programmers. On the outside it seemed like just another normal day in my life. I was 19 years old. I was in love with my High School sweetheart and later to be wife, Robin. I had a good job. I was attending community college with an eye toward my future. It seemed that all was set for my life moving forward.

There was only one major problem in my life that day: I was dead inside. While everything on the outside said I was a normal 19 year old in America, on the inside I was teeming with an unsettled heart and a spirit that unbeknownst to me was being stirred by a much higher power. Truth be told, I couldn’t stand who I was. In my heart there was a pool of bitterness toward others. My mind was filled with lust. My mouth was a fountain of filth that sprang forth from my heart at the smallest frustrations. I was completely unsettled and unhappy and joyless. That evening while I was at work there lay on the counter top a book by L. Ron Hubbard called, Dianetics. I was searching. I was attempting to reform myself. I was longing for me to be different. In that moment of my life I hoped that my answers were in that book. I planned to read it and get those answers and begin to change myself. 

Little did I know that day that true life was about to come to me in a much different way than I anticipated. I started the day dead inside, but by the time I would go to sleep that night I was cruciified with Christ (Galatians2:20). By that night I was no longer the one living, but Christ was living in me. My crucifixion didn’t occur by reading Dianetics. No, it happened by hearing and receiving. At this point I can hear, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭4-10‬ ESV) In a moment on that day Christ intervened in my life. Instead of reading that book I turned on the radio and put on a Christian radio station, which I don’t really remember ever doing before in my life. That night I heard how Christ was sinless and yet died a sinners death that I, the sinner deserved, but He did not. I heard how He died and was buried and then on the third day rose from the grave to conquer sin and death, my two greatest enemies. That night I confessed my sin to God and turned to Christ as my Savior and simply received Him and His free gift of salvation through faith in Him.

That was the day of my crucifixion, the day my old life ended and God created in me new life, abundant life. Since that day I’ve never been the same.

“I once was lost but now I’m found, I once was blind but now I see.” I once was a sinner but now a saint, not because I’m sinless because I ain’t, but because He died for a wretch like me, and the day I received Him He set me free. To Him be the glory both now and forever, by His power I’ll live as His eternal treasure.

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