Jesus Cleans Us From Our Sin

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Celebrating the “Rescuer”

A few days ago I received the monthly newsletter from one of the churches that we stay in touch with.  Each month, the pastor writes an interesting article that touches upon some life experiences, and then he brings home an important spiritual truth from Scripture.  I hope you enjoy this article, and that you get the point that he brings out at the end.

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“This may appeal more to dog lovers than anyone else, but I think you will see the significance in the end. Occasionally we catch a story in the paper or on the news about a fire-fighter saving a pet’s life. The image is moving for most as the animal receives oxygen and in some cases mouth to snout resuscitation. No victim is too small or unimportant in eyes of some rescuers.

During my days on the ambulance, I was dispatched to standby at a house fire. When we arrived, we found the fire-fighters “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.” Thankfully no one was home so there were no victims (or so we thought), but we noticed the fire-fighters carry several small items from the burning house.

The homeowner arrived and was in tears as she watched the rescuers carry out her three pure-bred, show dogs. They were small dogs, but held a big place in the owner’s heart. She immediately called her veterinarian who arrived minutes later. What happened next was amazing to watch.

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The animals were wet, black with soot, and barely moving or breathing. The vet took one in his hands and began to rub it vigorously. Next, he cradled its head in one hand, held the body in the other, and began jerking its head downward forcefully. Its world was tossed upside down, but soot stained fluid began to run from the dog’s mouth.

The vet deep suctioned the animal and moved to the others. After the flipping and deep suctioning, he gave each one a fluid bolus and a shot to stimulate the heart. Within minutes these nearly dead, lethargic dogs began to whimper, shake, and walk. They were brought back from near death.

Maybe you identify with this story because you have lost a dog, experienced a house fire, love dogs, or are interested in medicine. I hope you identify with this story because in many ways it describes each of us. Sin smothers us and chokes the life out of us. Each sin fills our body with death and decay, and pushes righteousness out.

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Sometimes we become so filled with sin that we become lethargic lumps of spiritual mess. Sometimes God turns our world upside down, whirls around, and knocks the wind out of us to get our attention. Even the most difficult times we endure are opportunities to draw closer to the Resurrection and the Life, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, our Rescuer, Jesus.

This Resurrection season, commonly referred to as Easter, is a reminder that Jesus gave his life to pay our penalty. His world was turned upside down when his disciples scattered, he was tormented and brutalized, and then finally killed on a cross. But what we celebrate is that the story does not end there.

He was dead. He was buried. He was mourned over. He was raised. He is at the right hand of God full of life, and freely giving life to those who respond to his rescue attempts. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ (John 11:25-26). Do you?” *

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I thought it was appropriate to post this article now for two reasons.  This coming weekend is Easter Weekend, and it is always good to think reflectively upon what Jesus did for all of us so long ago when He died on the cross for us.  And secondly, I have just finished doing a verse-by-verse checking session on the Gospel of John with some national translators here in Papua New Guinea.

It has taken us six weeks to do this Advisor Check, where I go over the text with the national men and look for ways to improve the translation.  There may be errors or misunderstandings in their text, or there might be something important missing that needs to be put back into the translation.

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During the course of these six weeks, it is easy at times to forget the bigger picture of why we are going to such lengths to improve this translation.  We need to always remember that the single most important message of Scripture and the reason for what we do, is the message of God’s love for people expressed through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

So during the checking sessions, I try to make sure we summarize what we are translating.  I want to make sure The Message does not get lost in the process of translation.  So I will now end this posting in the same way that I started it.  I hope you enjoyed the story about the fire-fighters rescuing the dogs.  But more importantly, I hope that you understand that all of us are in need of a “Rescuer”, namely Jesus.

* Used by permission.

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God Will Bring Us Through

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The year 2010 is almost over.  I can almost hear some people saying, “Well, we made it through another year!”  Have you heard this being spoken?  Have you perhaps said something like this?  But what is really being said in an expression like this?  I want to briefly look at this saying, and then take a look into my own life.

By saying, “Well, we made it through another year!” it makes me wonder if the people who say it doubted that it would actually happen.  It even makes it sound like they were surprised.  And I suppose in some instances, this may be a fact.  Given the bad economy that we still have around us, I believe that there are some people who do get to the end of the year and are surprised that they did survive financially.  And medically, I know there are people who thank God that they have survived physically to see the end of the year.

But what concerns me is not the people who have experienced or are experiencing a genuine crisis, be that physical, emotional, financial, or what have you.  My concern is for people who are simply trudging through life, who see the world constantly through the lens of negativity, who appear to be joylessly enduring life rather than seeing the positive and rejoicing in life, regardless of what circumstances they may be finding themselves in.

This is especially true for Christians.  Five days ago, we celebrated a Day that changed all of human history, the fact that Jesus, the very Son of God, took on flesh and was born among us.  And with that miraculous birth came the announcement of Good News for all the world.  This event of Christmas Day, coupled together by the astounding event of Easter, when Christ rose back from the dead and showed he had conquered death, and Hell, and the Devil himself, has given to us who believe a reason to hope and grounds to live each day in victory.  Upon us, the Son is always shining.  (Pun intended.)

Now let’s get practical about all this.  It would be my hope that all Christians would be filled with joy knowing that Jesus came to earth as a baby in order that one day He would die as a man and through this means offer new life to all who believe in His name.  And I’m sure all Christians all yearning for the day when Christ shall come again and make all things new, and we will live with Him forever in the new Heaven and the new Earth.  But what about all the days between, when we live our lives here on earth as mortal men and women.

I think that it is a fact of life that while we are mortal, we will worry for our lives, such as: what will we eat, where will we live, how will we live, etc.  Even though Jesus tells us through very picturesque stories that we have no need to worry.  God, he says, will take care of us and our daily needs if we will trust Him to do so.  Read Matthew 6:25-34 to see what Jesus said.  And Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

In principle this sounds great.  But I still hear some people saying that this kind of faith does not match the reality of life.  There is still sickness and death.  There is still poverty.  There is still emotional pain and disappointments in life that beat down this faith, and condemn us to just accept things as they are and to continue our weary trudge through life.

No my friend!  Do not accept this message which the world would preach at us.  Scripture tells us that we are “more than conquerors“.  Read Romans 8:28-39, which begins with the love of God for us, and ends with the love of God we have through Christ our Lord.  And the key verse here for me has to be in verse 28 which says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”  The real truth is that not all things are good, as mentioned above, but rather that in everything that happens to us in live, God can bring good out of the situation.

Now believe me when I say that this is not some intellectual truth I am holding on to, but in fact, I am seeing this to be true in my own life daily.  Not everyone who reads this will know that I have been hit with a muscle disease that runs in our family genetics that severely restricts my ability to walk and causes me to experience significant pain on a daily basis.  So how do I handle this?  I take life at a much slower pace, and I look for what is positive in each situation, and trust that God will bring good out of this experience, for me and for those with whom I come in contact with.

So no matter what life gives us, and no matter what others may say about that, I want to encourage all of us to believe ultimately in the goodness of God.  Our life story is not over until it is over.  In the meantime, hold on to the belief that God has not abandoned us, even if we are in a “valley of the shadow of death.”  Live by the words of this chorus from an old song written and sung  by The Imperials:

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn’t build His home in us to move away.
He didn’t lift us up to let us down.