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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” – Exodus 24:8 (NIV)

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. – Matthew 26:28 (NIV)

When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.  He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” – Hebrews 9:19-20 (NIV)

Blood dripped down from the cross.  Droplets of shed blood hit the soil.  Many had bled there before.  Countless slain criminals had hung above the earth and died there, soaking the ground with blood.  However, something appeared different that day. 

The man hanging among the thieves was innocent.  He had been tried in a religious court that had refused to accept His message.  He had put up little defense against their accusations.  Even when they handed Him over to the Romans, He stood in silence as He faced His inevitable death sentence.  He said little as He endured the cruel beatings from the Roman soldiers.  He had offered no resistance when they forced Him to march with His cross through the streets.  Even as He hung upon the cross, the few words that He offered were mumbled as he neared death.

He had been called Rabbi.  John the Baptist had called Him the Lamb of God.  Some had said that He was the Christ (the Anointed One).  He was even called the Messiah by others.  Yet, some mistook Him for one of the prophets like Elijah or Jeremiah.

No matter what He was called.  He hung high above the ground and shed His blood for the salvation of the world.  Nothing would ever be the same once His blood was shed.  No one who called on His name and believed His message would not have the new covenant presented through His shed blood and slain body.

And that day was the preparation,
and the sabbath drew on.
– Luke 23:54 (KJV)

What Moses had offered in the wilderness was hardly anything close to what Jesus offered on Calvary’s cross.  Jesus bore all of our grief and sorrow for our sake.  Jesus offered a covenant that Moses could only imitate at that point.  Moses could only offer a ceremonial sprinkling of the blood for the covenant.  Jesus offered a prophetic and redemptive covenant that showed the power of God through His shed blood.  Souls are saved continually through what Jesus offered as a supreme sacrifice on that day.

Do not believe the naysayers.  Do not accept the lies and the misunderstandings.  The blood of Jesus still saves.  The blood of the Lord paid the price for our sins for our salvation.  He stood in and paid the penalty for our wrongdoing, for our transgressions and infirmities.

Let the covering of the blood continue to work on you.  Let the blood remind you of His sacrificial love.  Never forget that the blood of the slain Savior who suffered for sakes soak into your soul like it once soaked into the soil of Golgotha.  Let the image of that blood settle into your spirit and keep you close to Him in this new covenant.  Hold dear to Him as your Lord and savior, for His blood still has power.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?
– Hebrews 9:13 (NASB)

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God.
– Hebrews 10:12 (NIV)

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How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
John Newton

We are supposed to stay with Jesus.  Truthfully, we are supposed to stick with Jesus.  In fact, we are supposed to abide in Christ as He abides in us.

Does any of this sound familiar?

How do we get so far away from the one who sticks closer than a brother? How do we find ourselves at such distance from our Redeemer?

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

Just like our sin, our wandering is not limited to new converts.  Some of us who have been at it for a while can lose our fire.  We can become burnt out and dulled.  We all, at one time or another, have to rekindle our spiritual fire.

  • Go to God in prayer.  Pray for God to show you the error of your ways and a solution to what has you spiritually stagnant.
  • Go to God’s Word.  Read His Word and seek to draw closer to Him.
  • Go to God’s man.  Talk with your pastor.  Share your concern so that he can pray with you and guide you with spiritual wisdom.
  • Go on and get back into ministry.  Start slow.  Don’t commit to too much.  Start and stick with one ministry first.  Let it be something near and dear to you so that you do not lose enthusiasm or excitement.

God can help us get back on track.  We have to submit to Him and His perfect work.  We have to be obedient to His calling on our lives.  He’ll offer us a solution.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32 (NIV)

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2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
   For the LORD has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
   but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
   the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
   my people do not understand.”
– Isaiah 1:1-3 (NIV)

 

The prophet is a messenger from God.  He shares the Lord’s message for the Lord’s people.  He echoes the words of God for His people.  He embodies the message.  He spreads the message.  He pleads with the people to turn back to God and make things right with God.

The prophet’s assignment may be for a season or a lifetime.  The prophet may see the people undergo countless tests and trials that can bring him to tears.  Or, he can pronounce the coming of judgment on the horizon.  The prophet might remind or rebuke.  He might offer hope or damnation.  It’s not up to the prophet.  It’s all in the hands of God.

The prophet stands before the people, but He is God’s man.  He calls upon the people to live holy lives dedicated and devoted to God.  He is heard by some, but he surely is hated and despised by many.

Ask Jeremiah.  Check with Isaiah.  See what Ezekiel or Joel would say.  Go to Haggai or Zephaniah.  Each one of these and others will share the challenge of being the prophet of God.  Obviously, there is nothing minor about being a prophet in biblical times or nowadays.

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In 1967, our vision was to reach Los Angeles. This vision broadened to include California, then all of America, then the entire world.  – from The History of Victory Outreach International

As Christians, we are to be in a position of ambassadors of Christ to others.  We can be a bridge between people and the Savior.  We need to be messengers who share the message of the Good News about the victory that is complete in Christ.

Victory Outreach started with a novel concept.  They sought to reach the city of Los Angeles with the gospel.  That grew and expanded since 1967. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (ESV)

What if you simply set your focus on reaching a city or region for Christ, spreading the news about the victory that is available through Him? It is possible.  It is doable.  It provides us with a focal point for the work of the ministry.  We can do more for the Lord with a focus that can help us grow from there.  We can be voices of His victory on the street corners of metropolitans like Los Angeles or we can speak loudly about His victory in a rustic church out in a rural area.  Location matters as a starting point.  Location should not stifle us from doing the work of the ministry.

Where is your Jerusalem? What serves as your home base or headquarters? Start right there.

What is your Judea or Samaria? Identify surrounding areas near your locale to spread the news of Christ’s victory.  Use these as key points on your map of ministry.  These will serve as the points where you have identified the need for both the presence and preaching of gospel-believing people.

. . . and to the end of the earth

God will send you where He has for you to serve Him.  He may start you out in one place, but He may send you further and further away from “home.” He wants to use you.  He start you out right where you are and grow you right before the eyes of your family and friends.  He could also send you away to develop you far away from all that you have known.  He just wants you to serve as a voice of His victory and the victory that you have in this life through Him.

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 6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. 7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity[a] and will rebuild them as they were before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9 Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’- Jeremiah 33:6-9 (NIV)

Imagine what the Lord can do for you.  Put it this way: Imagine what the Lord could do for you based upon what is in His will for you.

He is able to do all.  That’s why we call Him the Almighty.  He has power and dominion over everything.  It’s just part of who He is to us.  He is Lord.  He is Jehovah Jireh.  He is our Provider.  He provides what is within His will and what is necessary to confirm His Word.

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. – Psalm 115:3 (NIV)

But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. – Psalm 115:3 (KJV)

The rationale is simple once we have the proper perspective on who god is and how He operates based upon His revelation through His Word.  Our theology must be based upon His holy revelation through the Scriptures.  When we accept Him in faith, we believe all that is said about Him in His Word.

Such a God as this is awesome.  He is powerful.  He is wonderful.  He causes us to give pause and wonder if we could ever manifest such goodness in our own lives.  We question whether we can ever love in the true sense that God offers love.  We know that we fall short and stand in the need of grace, but we are certain that God has called us to be better than we ever do in this life.

This is the type of God who forgives Israel for its rebellion against God.  This is the God who can love a nation full of harlotry and idolatry.  Here is God who provides by the might of grace and supplies by His own mercies.  He called Israel out on all of their stuff, but He still said that He could and would bring them health and healing, even cleanse them despite them having sinned against Him. 

He can provide through His power.  He can forgive .  He can love.  He can heal.  He can cleanse.  He can do all of these by His own power.  He is a powerful provider.  He can provide more in restoring us than we ever could imagine that we could ever deserve.  He is powerful.  He is our provider.  He has all the power that we need to provide us with all that we need.

20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

 

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“The perfect church is not on earth.” – A.W. Tozer

What keeps some people from coming back to church?

I would dare say that it cannot simply be the church’s mission statement.  The church has a God-given mission that includes restoring people as well as reaching and receiving people.  The church makes a whole lot of fuss about the reaching and receiving stuff.  The church may not be so great at the restoration business.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
– Galatians 6:1 (NLT)

No matter what someone goes through on the outside of the church, we who are spiritual should restore that person both gently and humbly.  That is the ministry of reconciliation that Paul spoke of when he wrote the believers in Corinth.  We, as the church, represent Christ.  Therefore, just as He restored us into a right relationship with God, we have the obedient obligation to the Lord Himself to accept those returning to the church based on God’s acceptance of them.  We just have to accept them, not appraise their sincerity.   

What keeps people from coming back to the church?

It’s us.  It’s us on us when we fail to live up to the ministry of reconciliation.  We are at fault when we act as if we are the gatekeepers of God’s house.  We fail to follow the Lord’s example and leave a brother or sister wondering if the Lord really forgave them or even saved them.  When we fail to act like Christ, we truly fail Christ.

 

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3Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
4Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

Truly, this psalm hits home for a lot of us.  Let’s keep it real.  We can do that.  Right?

Keeping it real, we know that we have some deep-rooted contempt for certain folks.  You know, we may have it in for rich folks, other-colored folks, same-sex folks, can’t-get-enough-of-whatever folks, and countless others.  We just may not be able to identify well with them or all of the baggage that they bring. 

It’s really not about them.

Yep.  I said it.

It’s really about you.  I guess I should say us, but let’s stay on you for a minute.

. . . we are exceedingly filled with contempt. . . exceedingly filled with the scorning…and with the contempt

Why ask someone else: “What’s your problem?” when some reflection and examination will reveal the problem-holder in a second? Look at our language when we speak of ourselves.  We tend to come up short when it comes to coming clean about our stuff and owning our own issues.  Let your “I” message be about how you will handle your problem with others and deal with your own contempt for others.

This psalm pointed out that those who were at ease and the proud were targets of the contempt of the faithful.  The faithful sought the right resource.  They called upon God to have mercy upon us in a repetitive phrase in both verses 2 and 3.  It demonstrates the realization that God who sits high in the heavens is watching over his own children. 

Let us go to God and seek His mercy upon us as we seek to be delivered from our own contempt.  We want God to purge and purify us.  We want God to cure and cleanse us.  We ought to know that we cannot deal with this on our own.  We need His mighty hand.  We need His awesome power.  We need God to work on our behalf.

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 Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity,  A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.- Isaiah 1:4 (NKJV)

God shared a vision from above.  God revealed His vision of Israel with His prophet.  He showed Isaiah exactly what He thought of this “sinful nation.”

How the faithful city has become a harlot!…- Isaiah 1:21

For Jerusalem stumbled,     
And Judah is fallen,     
Because their tongue and their doings     
Are against the Lord,     
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
– Isaiah 3:8

And so it shall be:     
Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench;     
Instead of a sash, a rope;     
Instead of well-set hair, baldness;     
Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth;     
And branding instead of beauty.
– Isaiah 3:24

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;     
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;     
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!     
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,     
And prudent in their own sight!
– Isaiah 4:20-21

What is the view from above today? Does God look down upon us and smile pleasantly as we sit passively and await change to come about by osmosis? Is God delighted as we watch and sit by silently as man and woman go on with earthly merriment and continue to move towards eternal damnation?

Imagine if God were to grant a vision to those who lead the body of Christ today.  Just think it over for a moment.  Let the thought of God’s view from above sink into your mind, heart and spirit.  Thoroughly think through and over what words might fall from heaven as the Lord describes His views of the Christians on earth below.  Let your thoughts wander to the multiple metaphors and various visual images God’s words would conjure up in your mind.

Just take a moment and imagine the view from above.

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And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families. – Genesis 47:11-12 (NKJV)

The Prince of EgyptJoseph assisted his family.  He advised his family on what to say when they entered into the presence of Pharaoh.  He approached Pharaoh with news of his family’s arrival in Egypt.  He advocated for his family.  He made allowances for his family to survive by giving them bread.

In the land of Rameses, Joseph’s family was better off for the time being than they had been in the land of Canaan.  Based upon how God had favored Joseph, his family was able to benefit.  They were blessed based upon Joseph’s favor and blessing.

Grace: Gods Unmerited FavorThink on that for a moment.  Joseph’s blessing allowed Joseph to provide for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household.  Joseph’s favor helped his father and his family. Picture that happening today.  What if you used your blessing to bless others? What if you used your favor to grant others favor? Imagine how much of a blessing that would be for others.

We need to see Joseph’s character coming alive right here.  Joseph, the same dreamer that his family had despised and questioned, was now living the dream.  However, Joseph’s dream did not just benefit and bless Joseph.  The Bible makes it obvious that Joseph did not simply sit in a position of power and prestigeHis heart allowed him to forgive and give to those who had even sold him into slavery

Forgive to Live Devotional:: 8 Weeks of Daily Readings on Forgiveness That Could Change Your LifeJoseph depicts the epitome of forgiveness and favor in a man.  He obviously could have let his family live without any contact or consideration, still being okay with it as many Christians do so daily.  He could forgive and never allow himself to forget how they wronged him and set him up for failure.  No, that is not the path that Joseph took.  He did not allow it to harden him.  He did not allow it to turn him sour.  He forgave.  He gave to his father and his family.

How to Forgive...When You Don't Feel Like ItDo you need to forgive someone? Have you made the first move beyond saying so? How have you shown that person that you have truly forgiven them?

Praying the PsalmsLook at Joseph.  The Bible doesn’t say he had to fast for 40 days to get ready to forgive.  It doesn’t say that he needed to meditate on verses in Psalms to prepare to forgive.  He showed his forgiveness.  He said it.  He demonstrated it.  He did it.

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>Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
Genesis: Translation and Commentary– Genesis 42:6 (NIV)

Did you remember that Joseph had a dream? Yeah.  I am talking about the dream that he shared with his brothers.  That’s the one.  In verse 4, it says that they hated him and couldn’t find a good thing to say about him.  then, in verse 5, it escalates a notch and it says that they “hated him even more.”  Yet, when you get to verse 8, it ends with these words: So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1992 Canadian Cast)Their hate went so far as to hate the dreamer, his dreams, and his words.  These were his blood, his family, and his brothers.  Yet, they hated him.  Imagine the unsettled hostility at the dinner table.  Think about how their seething hatred towards him must have kept growing as he talked among them.  They truly hated Joseph.

Fast forward some years and enter into Genesis 42A famine strikes the land of Canaan.  No Burt Lancaster cannot come into the land of Canaan with his dividing rod and find water buried beneath the earth.  Jacob directs his sons to do something to preserve their family, seeking grain in Egypt.  So, when this band of brothers arrive, minus their “dead” brother and Jacob’s other favored son Benjamin, the find the man who has charge over all of the grain in the land.  They come to that man and bow their heads.

What Dreams May Come
Joseph’s dream came true.  He may not have been ready for it, but it came true.  He may not have thought that his day would involve an interaction with those who had told his father that he was dead, but it came upon him in an instant.  Joseph’s dream came true as he stood over his brothers who bowed and prostrated themselves with their faces to the ground before him.

 

He Restores My Soul: A Forty-Day Journey Toward Personal RenewalTake note that others may despise and hate you all that they want to, but you don’t have to buy into it.  You don’t have to do the same.  You can uphold the Golden Rule, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Set yourself apart from the fray and the ruckus of low level thinking and behavior.  Be a model of patience and obedience for others.  Surely, as we see with Joseph, your day will come.  Hopefully, you will be able to say like Joseph: So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

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