“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
I’ll get you out of any trouble.” Psalm 90:14 The Message
Notice that God doesn’t advise us to turn to Him, or to merely pray to Him in times of trouble, but to hold on to Him for dear life. His promise carries a sense of urgency, doesn’t it?
Think about it for a moment…
Have you experienced days when a problem or circumstance was so overwhelming that you couldn’t imagine it coming to a favorable end? What did you do? Pray a lot? Tremble in fear? Get sick to your stomach? Pretend that it didn’t exist? Wait for it to solve itself? Turn to a friend?
Through it all, did you cling to God, knowing that He would deliver you from whatever it was? Was your faith in Him strong enough to turn only to Him? Did you really believe that He’d get you out of it?
Actually, God promises us much more than simply getting us out of trouble. And to receive it, all that we need do is to know Him and trust in Him.
“I’ll give you the best of care
if only you’ll get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer; be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation.” Psalm 90:15-16
Okay, could you pick anyone better suited to take care of you than God? Not only does He promise to care for us, but to give us the best of care! What more can we ask for?
But wait. It gets even better!
Not only will He get us out of trouble, give us the best of care, answer when we call, and be with us during bad times, but He’ll also rescue us and throw us a party when He’s done!
What’s that? You say that you’re kinda doubtful about the party? Check this out.
Every time that we hold on to God for dear life, and every time that we call out to Him, and every time that He delivers us from our troubles and rescues us, and every time that He picks us up off the ground so that we may continue on our journey, and every time we stand victorious because with God’s help we’ve overcome any obstacle before us…
Heaven celebrates! Every time.
Getting into heaven isn’t that complicated, you know? You accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, follow the Ten Commandments as best that you can, and go to church every Sunday, and you’re in, right?
If that’s the case, then why did Jesus advise us that there’s something else we must do to get in?
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Luke 18:15-17 The Message
Why do think that God wants us to accept His Kingdom in such a simplistic manner? Why should we view God’s Kingdom through the eyes, and with the mind of a child?
Let’s answer these questions with a few questions and answers.
Who does a child turn to for provision all of his necessities? Daddy
Who does a child look to for protection? Daddy
Who does a child look to for, well, for everything? Daddy
As we grow up, we learn to be, and in fact are encouraged to be, more independent. We’re prompted to think for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, to provide for ourselves, and to protect ourselves. It’s the natural progression of things, right?
Yes, but not when it comes to our relationship to God. In fact, what we’re called to do in our walk with Jesus is contrary to our walk in life!
Check this out: It’s when we view God through the eyes of a child, and when we surrender our lives to Him, and when we look to Him as being Daddy and in doing so look to Him for everything, that He becomes more than a God in a religion book, or in a building called a church, or in the hearts of other people. It’s when he becomes Daddy God; a God who is larger than life. A God who performs miracles. A God that provides, and sustains, and protects, and forgives, and loves his children. He becomes a God who is real, and He comes alive in our hearts.
Then following those Ten Commandments isn’t something that we have to do, but get to do. And we go to church, not because we have to, but because we want to. And we accept Jesus, not because we’re told to, but because he is in our hearts.
And the part about entering God’s Kingdom? You can count on getting in.
Forgive: To pardon someone for an offense, or to cease feeling resentment against an offender.
Forgiveness: The act of forgiving.
Funny thing about forgiveness…
If someone has wronged or offended us, and offers an apology for their wrongdoing, we aren’t always so quick to forgive them. What they did may have hurt us, embarrassed us, or caused suffering, so sometimes we’re just not ready to let go of our anger, or perhaps the desire to “get even.” “I’m sorry” just doesn’t seem to cover it. As far as we’re concerned, there should be a greater price to pay.
On the other hand, when we seek forgiveness from someone else, we expect to be forgiven immediately. After all, we humbled ourselves in offering an apology and that in and of itself should be enough, right? Besides, we didn’t do it on purpose; it was just an accident (even if our actions were premeditated and blatantly purposeful)! So why can’t we just forget the past, and let bygones be bygones?
We often seem to view situations from the perspective that best defends our position, rather than that of the other party. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we looked through a different set of eyes, we might see things differently.
Have you ever stopped to think about what a relationship with God looked like before Jesus was crucified? Before the cross? Before he paid for our forgiveness with his blood? Before he gained God’s Grace for us with his selfless submission to the misguided fears and hatred that other men had for him? Before he gave his life for us so that we may eternal life with his Father?
God’s forgiveness, which is so readily available for us today, was anything but that before Jesus died. At that time, man had to pay for forgiveness, in some form or fashion, and it was spelled out by God. For example:
God spoke to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, When a man or woman commits any sin, the person has broken trust with God, is guilty, and must confess the sin. Full compensation plus twenty percent must be made to whoever was wronged. If the wronged person has no close relative who can receive the compensation, the compensation belongs to God and must be given to the priest, along with the ram by which atonement is made. All the sacred offerings that the People of Israel bring to a priest belong to the priest. Each person's sacred offerings are his own, but what one gives to the priest stays with the priest." Numbers 5:5-10 The Message
Notice that God didn’t single out what we consider to be serious offenses, such as murder, adultery, or theft. He says “any sin.” And what was the atonement for that sin? Confession, full compensation plus 20 percent, and a ram (livestock was extremely valuable in those times). Burnt offerings and blood sacrifices to please God were a part of everyday life; that is, if you wanted to stay in His good graces. The point here is that before Jesus’ death, God’s forgiveness wasn’t a given thing; you had to earn it.
And today? If you stand before God with remorse in your heart for your actions, you’re forgiven. Just like that. Done. And get this: God doesn’t want to condemn us. In fact, He sent His only Son to die for us so that forgiveness could be ours!
Jesus paid the price with his blood sacrifice so that every sin that you have committed in the past, and every one that you will commit in the future, has and will be forgiven. No burnt offerings or blood sacrifices are necessary; just sorrow in your heart and asking God to forgive you.
On this day, Good Friday, I’m challenging you to do something for me. Better yet, I’m asking you to do this, and it’s not for me, but for you and your relationship with Jesus…
Find a quiet place in your home or office. Spend a few moments prayer, separating yourself from the world and all that’s in it. Ask God to open your eyes, your mind, and your heart so that you may fully receive, experience, and feel what you’re about to do.
In your “mind’s eye,” put yourself in Jesus’ place on that hill at Calvary. I want you to look through the eyes of Jesus as your arms are brutally stretched to the point of being dislocated, and watch in terror as the Roman soldiers prepare to drive those huge nails into your hands and feet. Feel the unbelievably excruciating pain as each is driven in with the swing of the mallet. You can close your eyes because the pain is so unbearable that you can’t bear to watch, but stay in the moment for a bit longer. Be Jesus. Imagine the sensation of being lifted on the cross and then your full weight tugging on the nails in your hands as the cross slams into the hole that has been dug into the ground…
When you reach the point to where you just can’t bear either the pain, the vision, the anguish, or the sorrow, and you have to open your eyes because you just can’t take it anymore and you’re getting sick at your stomach…
Be still. Thank him for what he did.
Look, I’m not trying to be sick or perverse. It’s just that I want you to feel, perhaps in a way that you’ve never done before, what Jesus endured for us. I remember the impact that it had then, and still has today, on my life.
It’s my prayer that you’ll never take his sacrifice, or the forgiveness that he gained for you, for granted. I know that I don’t.
May you have a Happy, Joyous, Jesus-filled Easter, celebrating our Risen King!