Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category


Hebrews 13:8-10 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, tomorrow… the way He works in the heart of man today is the same way He worked 2000 years ago. I want to talk about your heart this morning…

  • Hebrews 13:8 says “it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace…”

The KJV translates bebaióō as ‘established’, but a better way might be ‘strengthened’ like the NASB and ESV do. For the Greek word actually means:

To make firm or reliable so as to warrant security and inspire confidence, to strengthen, make true[1]

1.    How is Your Heart today?

Not the organ but your heart of hearts, your vitality, that which gives you passion for living.

Sometimes we can get beat down. We feel like we’ve been run over by a bus. Sometimes family does a number on us, or maybe a close friend. We start to lose heart, we start to feel overwhelmed. It can even affect our health. The Bible (Luke 21:26) says that in the last days, things will get so bad, that many men will have heart attacks because of the fear of what will happen. Ever heard someone say “You scared me to death”?

Things can get bad. They can get so bad that you do stupid things, like give up, take your own life. I’ve known people who have taken their own life. They lost hope, they lost heart.

God never wants us to lose heart. In fact, He has something much better:

Ephesians 3:16-17 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Now, just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t ever lose heart and give up. What happens is that you think your problems are greater than God. But God wants us to realize that it is a good thing that our heart can be strengthened by Grace.

2. Strengthened by Grace, not Food.

For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

This world tries to tell you that your heart health is influenced by what you eat. Healthy food is a healthy heart. I won’t deny that. What I will say is that if you think food is the answer to your depression, your discouragement, your loss of love for life, you are badly mistaken. What strengthens your heart is not food, but Grace!

Some of you are thinking, man, what have I gotten into. They are going to bring out an empty plate and tell me they are serving Grace, and that it is better for me. Cheap people!

No, we will serve you some great food! A full stomach may help you to feel better, but it will not help with problems of depression and discouragement, broken families, lack of employment, bills…No, you need something supernatural, something available only from God, and that is Grace!

3. How do you eat Grace?

We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

We need to see that there is a special altar. This is not the altar in the Temple of the Old Testament. That altar the Priests and the needy could eat from. The fat and select portions of meat were given to the priests for food. Other was set aside for the hungry and poor. But that is not the altar we have in view. There is another altar we must see, an altar where Grace flowed down, an altar where we can feast on Grace, an altar where our hearts can be strengthened.

  • Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
  • Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

This is the altar where Jesus the Son of God gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice. There, outside the gates, He offered Himself once and for all.

There on the altar He prepared a forever breakfast for us to feast on every day, a forever breakfast of Grace. Don’t they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well so is the breakfast of Grace if you want a strong heart to face the trials of this life.

4. Breakfast of Grace

Once a year the High Priest would offer a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. This was a very solemn day. The people were forbidden to work. The High Priest did not where his normal robe, but appeared as a common man, with dull linen garments. There were special sacrifices, offered in a specific order. The sacrifices were to be totally consumed by the fire. There was to be nothing left over to eat. The Day of Atonement was all for God. Man was not to work or assume any office of importance. Everything was in God’s hands.

The result of the waiting people was that their sins of the past year were forgiven, and now they began the New Year with the Hope of God’s blessing and favor.

“For it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Lev. 16:30).

5. We Feast at the Altar of Grace

We have great news from our Creator God. It is written in this Bible, it was put on display for the entire world to see when His only begotten son died on the upraised cross of cursing. Jesus became the cursed goat, the cursed man, the curse for us, when He took our sins upon Himself. There He satisfied the righteous demands of God, and split the veil in two, so that you and I can experience the love and Grace of our Righteous and Holy God. With the Blood of Jesus, mercy and grace came flowing down the Cross and saturated this whole earth.

At the altar of the Cross we have something greater than food to feast on. It is Grace, grace that means that no matter how badly we have messed up our lives, no matter how bad a day you had yesterday, every morning you can wake up to a breakfast of grace and tender mercies. Every day you can know that your sins, your ugly mistakes are wiped clean and forgiven, and instead of despair, depression and discouragement, you can feast on the Hope of Jesus Christ.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

What good is grace and peace when I’ve lost everything? When I’m so deep in debt that I can’t see bottom? I can’t answer that for you. I can only testify that I have been that deep in debt. I can testify that things looked so bad that my thoughts were constantly on running away, and even taking my life. But God kept reminding me that I had given my life to Him, that I was His. He challenged me to trust Him with my needs. He challenged me to give Him my desires. He challenged me with Hebrews 13:5

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I listed everything that I needed, and something’s I desired. I drew a circle, a circle of trust & hope, and gave the entire list to Him. Then I hoped and waited upon Him.

Psalm 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

It takes a lot of faith to come to the altar and feed on grace. No matter how badly you have failed, the altar is for you. There forgiveness flows from Calvary. There is the hope that we have in our risen Savior. That hope says that no matter how bad this life is, if your trust in Christ as your Savior, He will make all things good, even if it isn’t until heaven.

My prayer for you echoes Paul’s prayer in 2 Thess 3:5

2 Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

We yearn so much for physical comforts that we miss out on that which really strengthens us, really gives us a strong heart. We miss out on the Grace that Jesus can give us.

May you listen as the Lord directs your heart unto the Love of God, the Love that Calvary revealed. May He then direct you into the patient waiting for Christ.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “bebaióō”.

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Charles Ryrie opens his work, The Grace of God, with the following thought. “Christianity is distinct from all other religions because it is a message of grace. Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God’s grace; salvation is by grace; and grace governs and empowers Christian living. Without grace Christianity is nothing.”[1]

GraceLife is all about living in this wonderful grace of Jesus. I believe most churches make the Christian Life about rules and appearances, rather than about this wonderful relationship with Jesus.

We have the 11th Commandment at work in most churches. You haven’t heard of the 11th Commandment? It goes like this…”If you were a Christian you wouldn’t do that.”  Go to any church for very long, and you will discover what “that” is. It differs from church to church. You hear it most often when someone strange visits, or when people are gossiping about the trouble Deacon Jones is having with his son or daughter. Or it could be anything else that people whisper about. “Well I can’t believe he did that! How could he be a Christian!? “That” covers anything you want. So we go through our Christian life, going from valley to summit, always in the back of our mind trying to live by some man-made rule…”if I am a Christian, I shouldn’t do that.” A good day is when we meet that commandment. A bad day is when we fail. You can live that kind of Christian life without Jesus. You don’t need Jesus filling your life. You don’t need his grace. You are trying to live up to a man-made standard. That is not grace. That is law. That is following a man-made god. No wonder so many people are turned off by traditional churches. Traditional churches are all about standards and being a certain way. People don’t want that anymore. What they want is the reality of a real relationship with a real God, a God who has real power for their lives. People need a place of GraceLife.

But mudpreacher, the Bible is full of rules. Isn’t God all about rules & commands? I will be in trouble here, but NO! God is all about life with Him. God is all about abiding in the fullness of the vine which is Jesus. God is all about falling in love with all that He is and has done for us.

One day Jesus was in the Temple, looking at all the Pharisees putting on a display of how much they loved the Word of God. They would make a big to-do about standing in front of everyone and reading the Scrolls of the Old Testament. They would do this for hours. In John 5:39 he remarked:

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

People are so stressed out today. Most people realize our government, our lives are just on the edge of chaos. Families are hurting, children are hurting, but the church of the 11th commandment offers no hope for them. Only a GraceLife Church can offer hope, because a GraceLife Church offers the reality of Jesus Christ for their broken and hurting lives.

Grace thrives in the arena of need and inability. Grace does not thrive in the church of the 11th commandment, for they have no needs, they have no deficiencies. Self-Righteousness robs a church of Grace. The church of the 11th commandment fills itself with rules and programs instead of Jesus Christ.

John 1:14-16 KJV – And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. (ESV “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”)

Charin anti charitos – grace  over against grace.

We received, not New Testament grace instead of Old Testament grace; nor simply, grace added to grace; but new grace imparted as the former measure of grace has been received and improved. “To have realized and used one measure of grace, was to have gained a larger measure (as it were) in exchange for it.” Consequently, continuous, unintermitted grace. The idea of the development of one grace from another is elaborated by Peter (2 Peter 1:5)[2],

The term “grace for grace” means that He gives grace upon grace, grace enough to meet all our needs, no matter the circumstances. It is one blessing leading to another blessing; new wonders dawning upon one’s consciousness every day; fresh experiences constantly springing into one’s life.

This world received the fullness of Jesus Christ. That fullness meant that we have available to us a storehouse of grace that will never run dry, for it is grace upon grace. Grace upon grace is GraceLife. GraceLife is life in Jesus Christ. GraceLife exists only where there is need and inability.

I don’t deserve to stand before you and preach the Holy Word of God. You don’t deserve to be in a Holy House of Worship. Yet here we are, not because we deserve to be here, but because Jesus Christ in us has made us acceptable in the sight of God. We can preach, we can teach, we can sing praises all because of the wonderful grace poured out upon us in Jesus Christ!

Even if you lived a perfect life this week, you don’t deserve to stand before God. None of us is righteous, no not one. Our only standing before God is in His Son, Jesus Christ. Christian or heathen, if you think you can be good enough to stand before God, to have a relationship with God, you are sadly mistaken. The only righteousness that God accepts is that of His Son.

Do you want to experience GraceLife?

But mudpreacher, I have experienced grace, because I came to Jesus and asked Him to be my Savior. Yes, that may be true, but are your living GraceLife? Peter wrote:

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

You have to grow in Grace and your knowledge of Jesus. Regeneration is just the beginning point of Grace.

In the letter Paul wrote to the Galatians, he could not believe how quickly they had turned away from grace, and turned to the 11th commandment. They thought pleasing God depended upon their behavior.

GraceLife is a life covered in the grace of Jesus. GraceLife is abundant and overcoming, even when you are being kicked in the ribs. GraceLife is not conquered by trials and hardships. GraceLife is a Reigning Life! GraceLife Rules! GraceLife triumphs in the midst of our needs and inabilities.

Last week I mentioned a couple ways that guarantee you will not experience GraceLife.

1. If you insist on getting your way.
2. When you make plans without God in view.

If you put yourself first, forget God’s grace. When you put yourself first, watch out, because if you are truly God’s child, there is a whipping coming. Sometimes it comes quick, sometimes God waits awhile. But if you are His child, He will get your attention. He will move you to a place where you realize you have been putting yourself first, and it’s time to repent and humble yourself to Him.

(Beware: Sometimes we clean our self off, put on a new suit, and try our best to look and act ‘good’. We try to skip that repentance and humbling stuff. I’ll explain in point #3 in a moment)

GraceLife is not a regular life with grace added. It is not fairy dust sprinkled over your life. Fairy dust, good luck charm, or a magical incantation will not take a broken life and make it useful and profitable to God.

GraceLife is grace upon grace flowing from the fullness of Jesus Christ. He must be Lord. He must be the Vine. He must be the one we rely on for our fullness, for our life.

Before we do our behavioral analysis of GraceLife, I want to mention a third way you will not experience GraceLife.

3. When you blame others for where you are in life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-18 1.But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Sufferings will happen in this life. We will make mistakes, we will face injustice. Our natural reaction is to blame someone else for where we are, or for what we are going through. And you always will as long as your focus is upon yourself. This is how bitterness enters our soul. And bitterness (or as I put it-blamedness) will cause you to fail to obtain GraceLife.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

We Must Commit to “Long-Suffering”

Suffering happens. We do not have a choice. You will suffer from time to time. But one thing we do not accept is “long-suffering”. We leave our spouse; we want a pill from the Doctor. We do not accept continual ill-treatment. Long-suffering requires an active choice. This is what Paul wanted his readers to see. Paul had made an active choice to long-suffering on their behalf. No matter how he was treated or wronged, he endured it for the sake of the lost, for the sake of other Christians. He endured it because he saw the power of GraceLife.

Long-suffering has been defined as “not having how you have been wronged or treated affect you”.

If you do not have an active commitment to long-suffering, you will live a life in a prison, continually tortured by your circumstances, continually blaming others for where you are.

Many of us have a problem with forgiveness. There are things that have happened in our life that even years later scratch at us, give us proverbial ‘indigestion’. Many Christians live in the state of “Regret, USA”. There are things that have happened in the past that they regret, and whether it was your dumb mistake or not, you usually end up blaming someone for where you are at.

Deep in every human soul is a deep desire to justify yourself. We want to see ourselves as OK, as desirable. That is why there are so many workaholics and racists. When something bad happens, it couldn’t be our fault, so we naturally blame someone else, or something else. That carries on to someone who wrongs us. We make a caricature of the one who wrongs us so that their faults will be magnified, and ours minimized. We need to feel superior, need to feel better.

That desire to justify yourself comes from putting yourself first. It will always keep you from GraceLife. When you blame someone, or when you do not forgive someone, you are putting yourself first and you will miss out on GraceLife.

When you are hurt and try to strike out, whether physically, or by simple gossip, but your intention is to get someone back, you will never experience grace, and you will never experience justice.

To seek vengeance is selfish. To resign yourself to the hurt is selfish.

  • Vengeance is selfish, you’re not concerned with truth, and it’s all about you.
  • Resignation is selfish; you are allowing sin to reign. You are not seeking the power of grace.

In order to transform hurts and misfortunes and sufferings into Grace, you must do as Paul did, focus on the commonality we have as humans. We are all vessels, vessels that break, vessels that are fallible. We are all weak and make mistakes. But the mistakes can be transformed by the Grace of God into GraceLife if we focus on the unseen. We can even grow into thanksgiving if we see how our suffering can benefit the body of Christ.

Your forgiveness of another who has wronged you will be a witness to Life in Christ for a lost man, or a manifestation of Christ’s love to a backslidden man.

Paul directs our hearts to understand the importance of longsuffering and forgiveness. They will always manifest Christ, and they will work to benefit others.

that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 

To experience GraceLife, a commitment to long-suffering and forgiveness must be done as Paul said in verse 15: For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant (pleonázō super abounding) grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound (perisseúō = super abound, fullness to the point of excess) to the glory of God.

In this context then, the word pleonázō, to have much, is used in contradistinction to the word perisseúō, to have left over after needs have been met because of the utilization of the abilities God has given someone (2 Cor. 8:2, 7; the subst. perísseuma in 8:14). Thus pleonázō here means to recognize that one has more than he needs as a result of God’s direct gift, and not to allow it to go to waste but to share it with others so that they may not face a problem in their lack.[3]

This passage hearkens back to the Manna which God gave the Israelites in the wilderness.

2 Corinthians 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. (He who pleonázō will never have lack, for God will always provide)

These same two Greek words are used in 2 Cor 8:2 &7

2 Corinthians 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance pleonázō of their joy and their deep poverty abounded perisseúō unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Corinthians 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound perisseúō in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound perisseúō in this grace also.

A Commitment to Longsuffering in your Christian walk means that you realize there is an abundance of Grace available to you, and as you ‘bear up’ in Christ, this superabundance will provide for others who are weak, hurting and disillusioned, so that they will have all the Grace they need, with plenty left over.

Such a commitment is to magnify Grace and thanksgiving to the glory of God. Therefore, forgiveness and long-suffering are an integral part of GraceLife.

Take away forgiveness and long-suffering from God and you have no Grace. So why should we hope to enjoy Grace if our heart denies forgiveness to someone?

Let’s point out some key points from this text:

  1. We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so the power is of God and not us.
  2. We face troubles on every side.
  3. Suffering manifests the life of Jesus in our flesh
  4. Sufferings of a few bring life to many
  5. Everything happens, (suffering, life) so that abundant grace will bring thanksgiving from many to redound to the glory of God.
  6. So we faint not, because our inward man is renewed day by day.
  7. Suffering produces eternal benefit.
  8. Suffering opens our eyes to see the invisible.
  • Grace is the power of God that brings purpose to sufferings, hurts, troubles and trials.
  • Grace is the power of God that brings life to the dead, and manifest the Life of Christ in sinful flesh.
  • Grace is the power of God revealed in our thanksgiving to God
  • Grace is the power of God which allows us to see that which is invisible.
  • Grace is power for Life. That is GraceLife

Would you love to see God in the midst of your sufferings? Would you love to have Jesus manifest Himself to you when you are stressing over a broken relationship, or experiencing hateful attitudes, or despiteful treatment from former friends? Would you love to have an overflowing supply of Grace, so much so that you can impart Grace to others?

Here is what you need to do…Realize you are a broken vessel.

Broken vessels will always have an overabundance of Grace, and that Grace will flow from your cracks to meet the needs of needy people around you. If you try to glue yourself together without God’s Grace, you may have a respectable looking vessel, but it will be devoid of Grace. You may think you are a good Christian, others may think you are a good Christian, but you are devoid of the Grace of God. You have made yourself into what you think a Christian should be.

Listen to what Jeremiah said about the Jews, who thought they were “good Jews”:

Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:21-22 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.

With God, there are two kinds of vessels. One that He can use, and one He cannot use. God can use a broken vessel, because such a vessel requires His grace. God cannot use a vessel that has been crafted by man’s standards and man’s rules, no matter how beautiful that vessel looks. Such a vessel is really full of holes, devoid of the Living Water!

God uses broken vessels. He fills them with His Grace. But we like to make our own vessels. We like to fix the cracks, make the most of them. But God says, no matter what you do to look good, you are broken, and you will have no Grace, because you are not depending upon me.

We Are All Broken Vessels

We can’t fix ourselves. We can’t put on our Sunday best and say God, now use me. We must admit our sins and our brokenness to God and to each other. God cannot multiply His Grace on pretenders. There is nothing there for His Grace to fill. Pride has overtaken your soul and pride makes no room for Grace.

  • David shared his experience of realizing he was a broken vessel:

Psalm 31:9-13 have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength failed because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed. I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

Only God’s Grace can take a broken and marred vessel and use it for His glory.

Jeremiah 18:4 and the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

The important thing is to realize the Potter is in control! He decides how to use broken vessels! We do not have a say!

Romans 9:20-21 Nay but, O man, who art thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

So, how does GraceLife apply to broken vessels?

Profile of GRACELIFE

Let’s begin to build a profile of a GraceLife Church. First we will look at the “what” of Grace. What does it do for us, and so how will a GraceLife Church appear to an outside observer?

What is Grace and What does it do?

1. Grace Accomplishes God’s Mercy and Steadfast Love (Hesed)

  • Brings Men to repentance

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

  • Imparts Faith to Believe

Acts 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

  • Brings Salvation to Sinful Man

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

  • Gives us all Christ’s riches and full acceptance.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

  • Gives Good Things

Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

  • Increases Thanksgiving

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

  • Brings Abundance of faith and love

1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

2. Grace Accomplishes God’s Design of Justice in our Lives (mishpat).

  • Made a Partaker of Christ

1 Corinthians 10:30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

  • Justify

Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

  • Overcomes Sin

Romans 5:20-21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Gives strength

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

  • Help in times of need

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  • Provides Stability

Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

  • Inspires Singing

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

3.  Grace Accomplishes the Righteousness of Christ in Us. (tsedaqah)

  • Changes Lives

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

  • Gives Power

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

  • Gives Endurance

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  • Seasons our speech

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

  • Means of Acceptable Behavior in the World

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

  • Teaches

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

  • Gives aid in suffering

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

  • Renders true service

Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

  • Brings Hope

2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

  • Visible

Acts 11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

  • Has nothing to do with works of the flesh

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

  • Gives power to witness

Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

  • Gives us the Reigning Righteousness of Jesus

Romans 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

When the mercy, justice and righteousness of God and Jesus Christ is actively working in a body of believer’s, you have GraceLife!

[1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), 9.

[2] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 1:16”.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1169.


Death with an exclamation point

A 21-year-old University Student wrote to a forum about death: “I am perfectly fine with death myself. But, I love my father very, very much. And I cannot imagine how it would be like for him to be gone, forever, one day. To know he has ceased to exist; that I will never talk with him again. It feels like having a short circuit inside the brain; life seems so vain and entrapping. Whatever I do seems pointless as one day, he will cease to exist and only a memory of him will remain. And the more joyful the memory, the greater the pain. It makes me want to scream, cry, and run away.”[1]

There are deaths that people expect, in fact even welcome. Death for many is a welcome relief from suffering. When my mom died from cancer that spread to her liver and finally brain, it was a relief to see her suffering end. However, some deaths are followed by an exclamation point. When we came home from church and saw my brother Tim sitting on our front steps, we knew something was wrong. When he cried out “Dad’s gone!”, that exclamation point hit me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. My dad was only 63. His death was a total shock to all of us, especially Mom.

Nothing shakes our world like the unexpected death of a close friend or loved one. That exclamation point shakes our world. However, one death shook the whole world, indeed, the whole universe. This death was no surprise, for it was planned. This death came with a HUGE exclamation point!!!!

Join me in listening in to Peter as he addresses a huge crowd in the Temple, just 50 days after the crucifixion of Jesus:

Acts 2:23-28 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him(Psalms 16), “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

As we celebrate this Easter Sunday, I want us to consider three things that Peter wants us to see, for they are Life Changers!

In this part of Peter’s sermon, we see God’s PLAN, God’s PRESENCE and God’s PROMISE.

  1. The Plan of God gives US power over Death
  2. The Presence of God gives US power over Life
  3. The Promise of God gives US power for Eternity

I. The Plan of God – Power over Death

God NEVER intended for His creation to die. We are made in His image. We were meant to live forever, to enjoy Him forever. He placed the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden. After Adam sinned,

He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden, he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

Sin corrupted God’s design. Sin brought the curse of death and decay to God’s creation. Yet this came as no surprise to God. God loved His creation, and already had a plan to remove the curse of death. His plan was made before time began.

A. The Death of Jesus was no Happenstance

Verse 23 says God delivered up Jesus Christ. His own son!

  • Definite plan
  • Foreknowledge of God

After Peter and John were threatened for preaching about Jesus, they were released and returned to the disciples. They prayed in Acts 4. They started their prayer Sovereign God and they prayed to God saying that Pilate and Herod and the Gentiles and Jews had only done WHAT YOUR HAND AND YOUR PLAN HAD PREDESTINED TO TAKE PLACE.

It may have been Judas who betrayed Jesus, but Judas was doing exactly as God had planned. It may have been the Romans who crucified Jesus, but the Romans were doing exactly as God had planned. It may have been the Jews who screamed, “Crucify Him!”, but the Jews were doing exactly as God planned. Jesus had to suffer this horrible death as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. There was no other way for God to rescue His creation from the curse of sin!

B. The Death of Jesus was Committed at the Hands of Lawless men.

(Even though it was God’s plan, there is no excuse for what these people did).

Jesus had to die because of the truth in Romans 3:

Romans 3:9-19 …For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” …“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Innocent men have been murdered throughout the ages. Cain murdered his brother Abel. The prophets were stoned and ridiculed, even put to death. The 12 apostles were all murdered except John, although tradition says they tried. Every day it seems we hear news of some other psycho who starts murdering innocent people. It seems that lawlessness is getting out of hand.

Yet the truth is each one of us is born lawless. We each fail to live by God’s Law, and even our own internal law. We resist, we rebel, and we have a natural bent away from total obedience to God’s Law.

The truth is that Christ died at our hands. No one can say they would not have consented to Christ’s death on the Cross. We must admit that we put Jesus on the Cross. We drove those spikes into His hands and feet. We mocked at Him as he struggled for each breath. We are the lawless ones for whom Jesus died. We deserve as Romans says, “The wages of sin is death.”

  • We must accept God’s judgment of our sinfulness.
  • There is nothing in us that permits fellowship with Holy God.
  • We are each guilty of lawlessness before God.
  • EACH ONE OF US IS BORN WITH THE SENTENCE OF DEATH UPON OUR HEADS, FOR DEATH IS THE WAGE OF SIN.

As Peter was preaching, the people were cut to their heart, they felt the tremendous pressure of their sins, and they cried out: “What shall we do?”

C. God Had Jesus Crucified to Destroy Death.

Verse 24 says:

  • God delivered up Jesus and RAISED HIM UP!
  • He loosed the pangs of death.

Literal Translation (v 24):  HAVING DESTROYED THE BIRTH PAINS (travail) of DEATH,

Having loosed the pains of death. The word loosed, lusav, is opposed to bind, and is properly applied to a cord, or to anything which is bound. See Matthew 21:2; Mark 1:7. Hence, it means to free, or to liberate, Luke 13:16; 1 Corinthians 7:27.[2]

  • Death could not hold Jesus.

“Because it was not possible for him to be held by it”

We must face that fact that just as a the birth of a child issues from the pangs of a mother’s travail, so does the passing of each one of us follow the travail of the pains of death.

When Jesus cried out from the Cross, “It is finished” He willingly laid down His life and faced the travail and pangs of death. His heart stopped. His breathing stopped. His bodily functions ceased. His brain was lifeless. They took his crucified body and wrapped Him in burial rags and laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Jesus, the Son of God died.

If we could see with spiritual eyes, we could see Satan’s demons in that tomb, wrapping a million cords of rope around Jesus. They were doing everything in their power to hold Jesus down! However, it was no use. Satan could have used a trillion ropes and that would not have been enough to hold Jesus in the grave!

God’s Word says they could not hold Him. They had no strength! Death had no power over Jesus! Jesus raised His body up from that stony grave and those cords melted away. Jesus stood up and kicked those demons out of that tomb.

Jesus had broken the strength of death. It had no power over Him! Jesus loosed the ropes of death stood up and kicked the Devil out of the tomb! Take that you old devil, for I have defeated death forever more. Your power over my children is forever destroyed!

DEATH WAS RENDERED POWERLESS BECAUSE JESUS DESTROYED THE DEVIL:

kratéō; from krátos strength. To take hold of, grasp, hold fast, followed by the gen. of person meaning to have power over, rule over.[3]

1.) Jesus destroyed the one who has power of death

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

2.) Jesus holds the Keys to Death and Hades

Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” One day he will throw death and Hades into the Lake of Fire!

Next in verses 25-26 Peter quotes Psalms 16, and we see the Presence of God in His Christ’s life

‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.’

II. The Presence of God – Gives us Power over Life

A. The Lord was always before Him

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

B. God was at His right hand

To have the Lord at one’s right hand signifies protection.

  • Advocates would sit to the right of their clients to defend them in court (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles [Augsburg], p. 86).
  • Bodyguards would stand on the right side so they could cover the person they were protecting with their shields and still have their right arm free to fight (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Acts 1-12 [Moody Press], p. 65).[4]
  • The right hand is mentioned because that was the place of dignity and honour. God had the place of honour, the highest place in Jesus’ affections, Psalms 109:31.
  • In our dependence on God, we should exalt him. We should not merely regard him as our help, but should at the same time give him the highest place in our affections.[5]

We Have the Promise from God!

  • TO ISRAEL – Isaiah 43:1-2 “The LORD… who created you, (says): “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
  • TO THE DISCIPLES – Matthew 28:20 “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”


Understand that God was at the right hand of Jesus every step down the Via Dolorosa. He was there through every lash, through every pounding of the spikes. He was there in the jeering crowd. Yet God forsook His only Son to the cross and to your sin, because it was His plan foreordained before time even began.

Rest assured, Jesus has promised all His children, that He will never leave you nor forsake you, that He, through the Holy Spirit, is always at your side. Does Jesus hold a place of honor in your life? Do you thank Him for His comfort, protection, and love?

God was with Jesus so that:

C. Life Did Not Shake Jesus

Verse 25 – “That I might not be shaken”

God was at the right hand of Jesus, ever before Him, so that He might not be shaken by this life. KJV says, “moved.”

The phrase pictures “to sink into calamities, or to fall into the power of enemies.” Even though Jesus was facing the most horrible catastrophe devised by man, He never lost His confidence in God to take Him through it. As He willingly submitted his back to the cat-o-nine tails, He knew God was with Him! When they hoisted the cross up and he could feel the searing pain, and struggled to breath, He knew God was with Him and would take Him through it. Jesus could rejoice with David in Psalms 62:

“He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalms 62:2

Has your life ever been shaken?

When you take your two-year-old boy to the Emergency Room with high fever and an inability to hold his head up, you are worried. When the Doctor says they need to do a spinal tap, you get more worried. When the Doctor comes back and says your son has spinal meningitis, your are literally shaking. My wife and I prayed right there, and we committed our son into God’s hands! We knew that God was not shaken! Praise the Lord, the Doctors were wrong, and our son soon got better!

Even on the Cross:

D.    His Heart was Glad & His Tongue Rejoiced

  • Verse 26 -“therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced”

Jesus could proclaim His joy and gladness because God was near Him in time of calamity. His confidence in God to deliver Him was all He needed to overcome any fear of crucifixion and becoming the lamb slain for the sins of the world. Instead of fear in His heart and woe upon His lips, Jesus said His tongue rejoiced. Tongue in the Hebrew can mean “my glory or my honor.” The tongue is man’s means of expressing honor and glory to the Creator God. As Psalms 30:12, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.[6]

Jesus used His tongue to express His Honor of His Father, for He knew that through Him, there was a “joy set before me.The Greek word actually means to “jump for joy.” Yes, you can honor God as you “jump for joy”!

One of Satan’s most successful lies is that God is a cosmic killjoy who wants everyone to be miserable. People view God as a great sadist in the sky, who gets perverse delight in making His creatures miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus wants His joy to be our joy. His joy in the midst of the worst calamities can be our joy in the worst of times!

  • Jesus tells us that His joy is made complete in us (Jn 15:11, Jn 17:13)
  • He told the Disciples when they saw Him alive again, they would rejoice, and no one could take that joy away from them (John 16:20, 22).
  • Having Joy from Jesus does not deny times of sorrow and grief. (Jesus was a man of sorrows)

Nevertheless, it does overcome such times because it rests on the sovereign God and His promises to every believer.

E.  Jesus Dwelt in Hope.

  • Verse 26 – “my flesh also will dwell in hope (CONFIDENCE)”
  • Literally: MY FLESH IS GOING TO PITCH A TENT WITH CONFIDENCE.

Like the expression “You can take that to the Bank” Jesus hung on the cross in confident expectation of the Resurrection. His earthly body was temporary, it was a tent, but Jesus dwelt in that tent in Full Confidence of His Father!

The word Greek word elpís “hope” best expresses confidence rather than hope. The passage means, My body will I commit to the grave, with the firm confidence that I will never see corruption, but arise to the Joy of my Father![7]

Jesus was confident in the power of His Father. He was confident that He was fulfilling His will. He expressed that confidence at the beginning of His ministry:

He expressed that confidence at the end of His earthly ministry: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

III. The Promise of God – Power for Eternity

A. You Will Not Abandon My Soul to Hades (vs 27)

  • NKJV For You will not leave my soul in Hades.

As Death could not hold Jesus, so Hades could not keep Him. The place that Jesus Himself described was the place souls await judgment. Those who trusted in God such as Lazarus, Abraham, and the Old Testament saints, until the resurrection, those who hardened themselves against God until the Great White Throne Judgment. Satan had no hold on Jesus, in fact, Jesus freed those Old Testament Saints who were looking for their Messiah:

Ephesians 4:7-8 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

B. You will not let Your Holy One see Corruption

Jesus is the Holy One. Hebrews 4:15 declares, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus had no part in sin, therefore His body was exempt from the corruption and decay that a dead body experiences. Instead of the stench of decaying flesh, Jesus was a sweet aroma to His heavenly Father!

Destruction in a moral sense. It refers to the change of the present constitution of the body or the change of the moral makeup of a person[8].

Jesus body never decayed because He had defeated Sin and Hell!

C. You Will Make Known the Paths of Life (v 28)

Jesus is declaring that the Cross is the Path of Life! It has Power for all Eternity. The cross towers over the train track of ruin and damnation. The unstoppable locomotive of death and destruction was bearing down on Jesus, but that old Cross stopped that locomotive cold, throwing it off the tracks. For the Cross became a new track, the track that leads to Eternal Life! Jesus is our Path of Life!

This properly means the path to life; as we say, the road to preferment or honour; the path to happiness; the highway to ruin, etc. See Proverbs 7:25, 27. It means, Thou wilt make known to me life itself, i.e. thou wilt restore me to life. The expressions in the Psalm are capable of this interpretation without doing any violence to the text; and if the preceding verses refer to the death and burial of the Messiah, then the natural and proper meaning of this is, that he would be restored to life again.[9]

D.    You Will Make Me Full of Gladness With Your Presence (Countenance).

There is nothing that Satan could throw at Jesus that could steal His joy! Not torture, not crucifixion, not even death!

Jesus knew that God would raise Him from the dead before His body would undergo decay. He knew He would once again enjoy the Presence of His Father.

1.) The Resurrection Assures us that Death will never hold us.
  • Sin is Forgiven
  • NO PAYMENT DUE.
  • NO CONDEMNATION!
  • Our body will experience decay, but our soul will be with God the very millisecond we die. Death will never destroy us, because Jesus conquered Death!
2.) The Resurrection Assures us that Life doesn’t have to Shake us.
  • We have Power over Life through Jesus Christ. We can know Gladness and Joyfulness in the midst of the worst of times.
3.) The Resurrection Assures us we will Spend  Eternity with Christ
  • We can rejoice because we have an unshakeable confidence that because Jesus defeated sin, death and the Devil, even so we will conquer death and sin and the devil because we are in Him by faith!
  • To absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!

However, our bodies await that great moment when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

We Have a New Victory Cry!

1 Corinthians 15:51-57. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We can Jump for Joy!

  • We can cry out “Thanks be to God for the Victory He gives us through our Jesus Christ!”
  • We have a New Exclamation Point for our Life! He is Alive! He is Alive!!!!!!

How is your gladness this morning? Are your rejoicing? WHO IS YOUR TRUST IN? Jesus was rejoicing even on the Cross. His behavior was so unbelievable that a cursing thief had a change of heart and confessed Jesus was a righteous man. A roman soldier declared that truly this was the son of God!

You do not have to settle for a trickle of joy now and then. You do not have to be shaken by what life throws at you. You do not have to fear tomorrow. You do not have to fear death. Give you life to Jesus Christ. Trust Him and Him alone for your salvation.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • The pangs of childbirth turn into the Joy of parenthood.
  • The pangs of death turn into the Joy of life with our Father forevermore!

Through the Resurrection we have a Legacy

John Newton calls our legacy, “solid joys and lasting treasure.”

What is the Key to Knowing His Joy and Gladness?

  1. Spend time often with God in His Word and in prayer. Even if it is a short time, get up early enough to meet with God before you head out the door. Start keeping an ongoing dialogue with God.
  2. Relate everything, even little events, to God’s Hand. Learn to say thank you God! See everything from His loving hand. Nothing happens by chance. Even the bad things, we thank Him for!
  3. Take time often to enjoy God in His creation. Take time to garden, grow flowers, feed the birds, and take a walk. Turn the TV off, stop watching the news, and make time to see God’s creation! If you cannot sense God’s presence and glory at a time like that, you may not know God!

The key to joy and gladness is to walk and work and play with a constant sense of God’s presence. Then, even if you go through trials, you will keep your joy because it is coming from God and His presence with you.

I Dreamed I Stood at Calvary

I dreamed I stood at Calvary
And saw three crosses there;
On left and right were nailed two thieves,
The cross between was bare.

A soldier took his sword in hand,
Then pointing it at me;
He said, “You there, prepare to die.
That cross is meant for thee.”

I quickly fell upon my knees,
For mercy did I cry;
As strong hands grabbed my hands and feet,
I shouted, “Why, oh why?”

And then a voice both soft and sweet
Was heard above the din;
“Let this one go, take me instead.
I’ll pay his debt of sin.”

With his body torn and bleeding,
And thorn marks ’round his head;
With face bruised where they beat him,
He stepped into my stead.

Then Jesus laid upon the cross,
His life to freely give;
That all my sins be washed away,
And through his death, I’d live.

He stretched his arms out open wide,
No struggle did he make;
As they prepared to nail him there,
His life to gladly take.

They drove the spikes in hands and feet
And slammed the cross in place;
His bones were shaken out of joint,
And blood flowed down his face.

“Forgive them, Father”‘ was his cry,
They know not what they’ve done.
They do not realize that you,
Have sent your only son.”

Deep darkness filled the noonday sky
And trembling shook the ground;
As God, the Father, turned away,
While God, the Son, gazed ’round.

“It’s finished now”, the Saviour said.
“The door stands open wide;
Into thy hand’s my spirit comes.”
And then they pierced his side.

The graves were bursting open,
And dead men walked around;
The temple veil was rent in twain,
And I fell to the ground.

When I awoke, the night had passed
And sunshine flooded in;
I cried, “Dear Lord, forgive me please,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For you sent down your only son,
A ransom for the lost;
And I see you included me,
When counting out the cost.

Take o’er the reins that guide my life,
Remove my wilful pride;
Sweep clean my heart and enter in,
Forever, there abide.”

Yes, I dreamt I stood at Calvary
And saw those crosses three;
Yet no longer do I look with fear
Where Jesus died for me!

Are you living Life with an Exclamation Point! Are you jumping for Joy regardless of the circumstances?

The Death of Jesus was the greatest Exclamation Point this world has ever known, for it was followed by His resurrection! HE IS ALIVE! HE IS ALIVE!

  • Because He Lives We have Power over Death!
  • Because He lives we have Power over Life!
  • Because He lives, we have Power for Eternity – Life with Him!

Is there an Exclamation Point in your Life? Is Jesus in your Life?


[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 885.

[8] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “διαφθορά”


Jesus Christ is our Good Samaritan-He was forsaken that we might be loved

One of the hardest verses to understand is in Matthew 27…

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” Matthew 27:46-47

Martin Luther could not understand. He said “How can God forsake God?”

We can see more insight into this as we peer into its Old Testament source:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalms 22:1-11

Jesus Christ became the most God-Forsaken Man ever born.

I suggest we will never grasp the full meaning of what Christ experienced when he cried out “Eli Eli lama sabacthani.” To fully understand would be so horrible, so frightening, it would make anything you’ve seen in the movies seem tame. That moment was the blackest of the black, the most terrifying of the terrifying, the most awful of the awful, the most horrible of the horrible.

Jesus was forsaken of God, His father, the one whom He had depended upon all His earthly life, the one He had communed with all eternity.

In that black moment on the cross, God the Father turned his back on God the Son.

The word “forsaken” is very strong. It means to abandon, to desert, to disown, to turn away from, to utterly forsake.

Please understand. When Jesus said, “Why have you forsaken me?” it was not simply because he felt forsaken; he said it because he was forsaken.

Literally, truly and actually God the Father abandoned his own Son.

In English the phrase “God-forsaken” usually refers to some deserted, barren locale. We mean that such a place seems unfit for human habitation. But we do not literally mean “God-forsaken” even though that’s what we say. But it was true of Jesus. He was the first and only God-forsaken person in all history.

What about people in Hell? Of course, God abandoned them, but it is not the same as what happened to Jesus,

“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”. Romans 1:19-21

God did not abandon them first, it was their choice to ignore God.

No one can ever know what Jesus experienced in that moment, for no one was ever so united with God as Jesus.

Jesus was wailing the fact that He had been abandoned by the one whom He so depended upon. He had even proclaimed that “I and the Father am one”

People condemned to Hell will curse God for all eternity. They rejected Him all their life, and they will reject Him for all eternity!

My prayer is that no one here will smugly say, “I still have time. I’m not done living my life my way. I know Jesus died on the cross for me, but I’m not ready to turn away from my way and give my life to HIm. I have plenty of time for that later.

You are playing with Hellfire-you are rejecting God even as I speak, and you do not know what will happen in the next hour. If you continue to reject God, and he should take your life on the way home, you will spend all eternity cursing God, because you forsook Him. You rejected that still small voice. You rejected His grace. You rejected the Savior’s love.

Jesus said, “My God,” because the Father-Son relationship was broken at that moment.

That is what God did when Jesus died on the cross. He abandoned his own Son. He turned his back, he disowned him, he rejected the One who was called his “only begotten Son.”

Jesus Became Cursed

Why would God do such a thing? Something happened that day that caused a fundamental change in the Father’s relationship with the Son. Something happened when Jesus hung on the cross which had never happened before.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” Galatians 3:13

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, at that moment became cursed for us.

Why did God turn away?

Imagine that somewhere in the universe there is a cesspool containing all the sins that have ever been commit-ted. The cesspool is deep, dark and indescribably foul. All the evil deeds that men and women have ever done are floating there. Imagine that a river of filth constantly flows into that cesspool, replenishing the vile mixture with all the evil done every day.

Now imagine that while Jesus was on the cross, that cesspool is emptied onto him. See the flow of filth as it settles upon him. The flow never seems to stop. It is vile, toxic, deadly, filled with disease, pain and suffering.

When God looked down at his Son, he saw the cesspool of sin emptied on his head. No wonder he turned away from the sight. Who could bear to watch it?

Think of it. All the lust in the world was there. All the broken promises were there. All the murder, all the killing, all the hatred between people. All the theft was there, all the adultery, all the pornography, all the drunkenness, all the bitterness, all the greed, all the gluttony, all the drug abuse, all the crime, all the cursing. Every vile deed, every wicked thought, every vain imagination—all of it was laid upon Jesus when he hung on the cross.

When God looked down and saw his Son bearing the sin of the world, he didn’t see his Son, he saw instead the sin that he was bearing. And in that awful moment, the Father turned away. Not in anger at his Son. No, he loved his Son as much at that moment as he ever had. He turned away in anger over all the sin of the world that sent his Son to the cross. He turned away in sorrow and deepest pain when he saw what sin had done. He turned away in complete revulsion at the ugliness of sin.

When he did that, Jesus was alone. Completely forsaken. God-forsaken. Abandoned. Deserted. Disowned.

There’s an old Southern gospel song called “Ten Thousand Angels.”

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

Jesus, as the Son of God, could have called 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross. He didn’t do that, and the chorus ends with these words, “But he died alone for you and me.”

Jesus was Altogether Alone

When Jesus bore the sins of the world, he bore them all alone. Christ is now abandoned, the Trinity disjointed, the Godhead broken. The fact that we do not know what those words mean does not stop them from being true. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was really and truly forsaken by God.

Have you been redeemed?

By your faith in Jeus Christ, and by turning from your sin to Him, all that vileness, all that stench, all that putrefication of sin is removed. The curse of God’s Law is taken away by Him who became cursed for you.

If you have been redeemed, you have a Blessed Gift that is too Huge to Keep all to yourself.

This is what Jesus read when He began His public ministry:

“THE SPIRIT OF THE Lord IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

Jesus has given us the gift of

  1. The greatest “Good News” anyone could ever receive
  2. Total Freedom and Release from those who have been captured
  3. New Sight to those who have been blinded
  4. Total freedom and release from those held under a oppressing, bruising weight.

Jesus came to touch the abandoned, the forsaken, the captured, the imprisoned, the broken hearted, the beaten, the abused, the blind.  Jesus was willing to be forsaken and cursed so that we could enjoy forever the comfort and presence of God our Fther.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

Jesus is our ultimate Good Samaritan.

Jesus not only became cursed so that we could be freed from being forsaken and abandoned, crushed and bruised under a weight of sin, He came alongside us, and proclaimed His constant sympathy and support in any and all of our trials.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

“There,” says he, “see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! these are the scars that prove my commitment to you. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever.

  • They are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you.
  • Look-I have suffered. Has your heart been broken? Has your heart suffered betratal?
  • These scars show that my heart too was broken. I was betrayed. You have my sympathy.

The Sympathy of Christ sustained the martyrs

One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot irons, when they were putting him to agonies so severe that I can not even mention them lest some of you would faint,

“My soul is not insensible but it loves.” “For my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up to him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, and this makes me strong.”

The martyr St. Procopius thus spoke to the tyrant who tortured him: “Torment me as you like; but know at the same time, that nothing is sweeter to the lover of Jesus Christ than to suffer for his sake.”7

St. Gordius, Martyr, replied in the same way to the tyrant who threatened him death: “Thou threatenest me with death; but I am only sorry that I cannot die more than once for my own beloved Jesus.”8

In your suffering beloved, think of Jesus

  • When you are sweating, think of his bloody sweat.
  • When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh.
  • When you are hampered by aches and pains, think of Him falling under the weight of the cross.
  • When you are suffering from some life-threatening disease, think of Him on the cross, gasping for each breath as he feels the agony of the nails against his bones and flesh.
  • When it seems that God has hidden His face from you for a little while, think of Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”

This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with everything that you go through. If by faith you have been born again, you will never ever face this life alone. You will never ever be forsaken. The risen Son of God dwells in you. He is your Elder Brother. He is your comforter. He is your King. He is your High Priest!

Jesus Christ wears His wounds to show us that suffering is an honorable thing.

  • To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, “It is glorious to make others suffer.”
  • It is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer.

This is hard to learn. But we see it in our glorified Lord. His wounds are his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal robe. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of “Masters in tribulation.” If you would be one of God’s nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with a blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us princes of the kingdom of heaven. We are dukes and lords in the kingdom of God, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. (with thanks to Spurgeon)

The Jewels of a Christian are our afflictions!

  • Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
  • that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 3:3

The Crown of a Christian is to share in love the afflictions of those around you. The challenge before us has been to Love our Neighbor. And to Love our Neighbors, we must be willing to take up their afflictions and sufferings as our own!

We do not close our eyes and pass them by!

We get close enough to look them in the eye and say Jesus Loves You! I will help you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life for me when I was afflicted!

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, Colossians 1:24

Becoming a Good Samaritan simply involves getting close enough to people to see their hurts, their pains, their afflictions, their struggles. Then you make those struggles your own in the name of Jesus Christ!

Jesus was afflicted on my behalf. When I abandoned God, He was there for me!

There are thousands of people in our neighborhood who are struggling under the weight of their sin, that are blinded, that are bruised and broken, that are imprisoned by their own selfishness and rebellion from God.

Do we forsake them. Do we abandon them? Do we say a prayer for them and walk on?

Did Jesus do that for you? Did He simply say God bless you and walk on by?

No! No! He looked into the deepest blackest crevices of your sinful heart and said “I Love you!” I willingly gave my back to the Roman soldiers on your behalf. I willingly laid my hands and feet upon the cross for you! I gave my life for you!

Who will you pass by today that inwardly is bruises, inwardly held captive, inwardly is lost and feeling abandoned?

Will you get close enough to se their needs? Will you get close enough to share their afflictions? Will you get close enough to show them the scars of Jesus Christ!

Please remember that the Good Samaritan did not view the man by the side of the road as a project; he viewed him as a son of God in need of help. The relationship was key in that situation, and I pray that it remains key for us today.

I read the story of a father whose young son was killed in a tragic accident. In grief and enormous anger, he visited his pastor and poured out his heart. He said, “Where was God when my son died?” The pastor paused for a moment, and with great wisdom replied, “The same place he was when his Son died.”

This cry from the cross is for all the lonely people of the world. It is for the abandoned child … the widow… the divorcee struggling to make ends meet … the mother standing over the bed of her suffering daughter … the father out of work … the parents left alone … the prisoner in his cell … the aged who languish in convalescent homes … wives abandoned by their husbands … singles who celebrate their birthdays alone.

This is the word from the cross for you. No one has ever been as alone as Jesus was. You will never be forsaken as he was. No cry of your pain can exceed the cry of his pain when God turned his back and looked the other way.

  • He was forsaken that you might never be forsaken.
  • He was abandoned that you might never be abandoned.
  • He was deserted that you might never be deserted.
  • He was forgotten that you might never be forgotten.

Are you determined to continue to be a Good Samaritan? Then allow the crown of Christ’s sufferings to puncture the bubble wrap which insulates your life from the forsaken people all around you. Jesus himself became forsaken that they could hear the Good News! Jesus Saves!

Then seek out the forsaken, the captive, the downtrodden. The message of Jesus is for them. That is the message that brought you to new life, for you once were forsaken!

Now, go and walk as the Son of God!


My daily reading brought me to Jeremiah 23 and suddenly it seemed that God was speaking directly to ME through these verses. Something has been bothering me lately about the state of the Gospel message in the United States. It seems that there is a consistent ‘theme’ being presented by Christian radio stations (KLOVE) and by media preachers, that God loves us no matter where we are at, that He is always there for us, and that He will get us through whatever problem we are facing. After all, God is a caring loving God. It seems we have switched our preaching and our gospel message to a man-centered appeal. After all, it is all about ME, isn’t it.

We all need a god who is on our side, who is there for us, to help with our problems.

KLOVE had a gal call in with a real heartbreaking story about being young, pregnant, and her boyfriend dumping her. She was in church feeling all alone and abandoned. Then the pastor seemed to be speaking directly to her when he said, “God will be a husband to you. God will love you better than any earthly husband.” She felt so encouraged and touched by that message. Then she proceeded to tell how she had met someone new, a great guy, had become pregnant AGAIN and had been dumped, AGAIN. But sure enough, while sitting in church, another pastor said the same thing, “God will be a husband to you!” Now she is with another ‘great’ guy.

I am not questioning her sincerity, nor her love for God, but the thought ran through my head,”if God is your husband, why did you cheat on Him?” Are you going to keep going back to him every time some jerk gets you pregnant and dumps you? When will you learn to stop having sex before marriage?

Smooth talking preachers want to tickle the ears of their listeners. They don’t want to explain that God is a God of Justice as well as mercy. Sure, He loves us unconditionally, but when God’s love touches someone, it will always change them! God will always work to bring His justice and righteousness into our lives! God’s mercy and love is ALWAYS given with the intent of bringing righteousness and justice into our lives.

God’s mercy and love is ALWAYS given with the intent of bringing righteousness and justice into our lives.

“Do not listen to smooth talking preachers”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord! They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this very clearly. “I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord. “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces? “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken! Jeremiah 23:16-32

“Am I a God who is only close at hand?”

We hear preachers say that God is always there, always ready to forgive, but God asks the question here, “Am I a God who is only close at hand?” The answer is NO!, God can be far away at the same time! We may confess a sin here and there, but our life and the intent of our heart still denies the Word of God. Our confession is only because things are not working out. Absent is a heart felt desire for God’s Lordship of our life!

How long will this go on?

“Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?”

Preachers, instead of pleasing our people with futile hopes, and heart wrenching stories, God calls us to spend time in His presence. Instead of modeling your messages after the latest ‘popular preacher’, isn’t it time we spend time in God’s presence, hearing from His Word what we should proclaim to our people?

We need to preach a God-centered Gospel. We need to proclaim mercy, righteousness and justice, for in these God delights (Jer 9:23-24) We need to stop preaching “God in the Box” sermons. God is not just someone we can call upon every time we need some help. We can’t carry God in a box. He is close, but He is distant as well. Sometimes everything won’t be alright.  Sometime God will work what He wants. And what He wants is our total devotion and obedience to His Word! He is God, and we need to spend time trembling before His mighty power!