Thoughts, Truth

Choices

Choices. We often think that our choices have no bearing or affect on other people. That our choices only affect ourselves. That is so far from the truth. I was talking with my daughter the other day about how important our choices are. We talked about the story in 1 Samuel 15 in which Saul was instructed to go up against the Amalekites and destroy them. In verse 3 Samuel instructs Saul to, “Attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” But Saul did not obey. He kept the king of the Amalekites alive and he took the best of the flock to sacrifice to the Lord. Was it wrong that Saul should desire to honor the Lord with a sacrifice? No. But his instructions were to leave nothing of the Amalekites alive.

The key to this whole passage lies in 1 Samuel 15:22 when Samuel tells Saul, “Has the Lord a great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” Samuel then prophesies to Saul that God will remove him as king, that the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to another. 20 years later, Saul is killed in battle along with his sons and the prophecy is fulfilled. The irony? Saul’s death blow was delivered by an Amalekite. Saul’s disobedience not only affected him and his family, but the ripple affect was felt generations later. Hundreds of years passed before the affects were felt by a woman named Esther. Her people, exiled in Babylon, were threatened by a descendant of the Amalekite king, a murderous man named Haman. Haman took it upon himself to attempt to annihilate the entire the Jewish nation. But for the bravery of Queen Esther, he would have succeeded where Saul failed. Our choices, good and bad, can be felt for generations upon generations.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus had a choice when He went to the cross. He said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Jesus spent all night in the garden of Gethsemane surrendering His will to the Father’s. Praying for another way to accomplish what God required of Him. If it were not His choice to make, I doubt He would have sweat great drops of blood in making it. If it were just a mindless act for Him it would not have been difficult. He had to choose to go the cross, knowing what would happen to Him. Knowing that his body would be broken for us. Knowing that He would be reviled and ridiculed. And most excruciatingly, that His Father would be required to turn his back on Him as our sin weighed heavy on His shoulders. But still Jesus chose obedience. And in His obedience the ripple effect can be felt 2,000 years later. Jesus’ decision to obey brought millions upon millions into relationship with the Father.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” Like Saul and Jesus, our decisions will continue to speak long after we are gone. Choose life!

Truth

Count the Cost

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought—I mean really thought of the price Jesus paid for your redemption? I think sometimes we tend to gloss over what Jesus went through as he hung on the cross. We forget what He had to become to secure our redemption. Jesus knew what His mission was. Not only to remove our sin but to become it. To bring His Father’s creation back into a right relationship with Him.

Jesus came. He left the glory of heaven, stripped himself of deity and became a man with a divine purpose. To give us an example of a human walking in the authority and power of almighty God. He said what the Father said, He did what the Father did. But His ultimate mission was to die. He knew that and He still chose to do it. He knew his blood would have to run down that cross in order for us to be redeemed. He knew that He would have to become every vile thing that the heart of man would ever contemplate. That the sins of every man and woman would be laid to His charge. My sin. Your sin. And He knew that would result in the most painful thing of all. Separation from His Father.

Jesus knew the cost. And as He died He felt it. That loneliness He had never known before as His Father turned His face away from Him. That feeling is something we never need know. He bore the chains so we could be free. He carried our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus saw the bigger picture. That in His death would come life for all those who would believe on Him.

We must make a decision. Do we disregard the price that He paid for us? Or do we acknowledge that He provided for everything we would ever have need of and walk in His footsteps. Laying down our lives for those who do not yet know. We must count the cost, take up our cross and follow Him. This Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” He also said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Make a decision friends. Trust God to fill you with His Spirit. That we may walk as He walked—in the grace, power, and authority of almighty God. That we would come to the realization that our sacrifice, however small in comparison to His, will be worth it.

Feelings, Thoughts

Just Like Jesus

The kids and I had a talk this morning about why today is a day of remembrance. I showed them the videos of the bikers that are descending on D.C. (I tell you, I have never really wanted a motorcycle until today. I think being in that enormous mass of patriotism and honor would be absolutely unforgettable!) Grace and Owen asked me why they were riding.

I told them about the Twin Towers and the hatred that brought them down. We talked about the people who lost theirs lives — the passengers, the building occupants, and the first responders. I told them about the Pentagon. And I told them about the plane that crashed in the middle of a field in Pennsylvania.

Four planes destined for destruction and only three hit their targets. I asked the kids why they thought that was. And then I said, the people on that flight knew what had happened in New York and they knew that wherever their plane was headed people would get hurt. So they stood up to their attackers and fought back. They knew they would probably die in the process. They gave their lives and sacrificed themselves for other people. To which Grace said, “Mom, they were just like Jesus.” Yes Grace, in that moment. They were exactly like Jesus.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends […or perfect strangers.] John 15:13