At the center of a biblical worldview is this radical recognition: the most horrible thing that ever happened was the most wonderful thing that ever happened.
What could be more terrible than Good Friday? Could any injustice be greater? Could any loss be more painful? Could any suffering be worse?
The only man who ever lived a life that was perfect in every way possible, who gave his life for the sacrifice of many, and who willingly suffered from birth to death in loyalty to his calling, was cruelly and publicly murdered in the most vicious of ways.
How could it happen that the Son of Man could die? How could it be that men could capture and torture the Messiah? Was this not the end of everything good, true, and beautiful? If this could happen, is there any hope for the world?
Well, we know the end of the story. The answer is yes - there is hope!
Good Friday was not the end. Easter Sunday was yet to come. In God's righteous and wise plan, this dark and disastrous moment was ordained to be the moment that would fix all the dark and disastrous things that sin had done to the world.
This moment of death was at the same time a moment of life.
This hopeless moment was the moment when eternal hope was given.
This terrible moment of injustice was at the very same time a moment of amazing grace.
This moment of extreme suffering guaranteed that suffering would end one day, once and for all.
This moment of sadness welcomed us to eternal joy of heart and life.
The capture and death of Christ simultaneously purchased for us life and freedom.
The very worst thing that could happen was at the very same time the very best thing that could happen.
Only God is able to do such a thing!
What It Means For You
Good Friday and the Easter Sunday that follows purchased eternal life for us. That is the best gospel news of all.
But what does it mean for you and I, right here, right now, in the difficult situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life in a fallen world?
The same God who planned that the worst thing would be the best thing is your Father. He rules over every moment in your life, and in powerful grace, he is able to do for you just what he did in redemptive history.
God takes the disasters in your life and makes them tools of redemption.
He takes your failures and employs it as a tool of grace. He uses the "death" of the fallen world to motivate you to reach out for life. The hardest things in your life become the sweetest tools of grace in his wise and loving hands.
Be careful how you make sense of your life. What looks like a disaster may in fact be grace. What looks like the end may be the beginning. What looks hopeless may be God's instrument to give you real and lasting hope.
Your Father is committed to taking what seems so bad and turning it into something that is very, very good.
Taken from Paul Tripp Ministries
Anyone who has read through the book of Leviticus can’t help but notice the emphasis on sacrifices. There were prescribed animals for different kinds of personal and national offerings, as well as for occasions like the Sabbath and feasts. Why did God require this? And why was He so specific about the details of worship?
There were three lessons God was teaching Israel through His law.
• God is holy and separate from sinful man.
• Sin is costly, requiring a payment or sacrifice.
• There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.
All the laws, ceremonies, priests, and offerings in the Old Testament were a shadow of the good things to come. None of the animal sacrifices could actually take away sin. While serving as a reminder of sin, those offerings also pointed ahead to the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ came to be the final sacrifice. He gave His life at Calvary, bringing complete forgiveness for all sin.
We who live on this side of the cross may be tempted to think too lightly of our sins because we have never sacrificed an animal or seen blood flowing from the throat of an innocent lamb because of our wrongdoing. Nor did we watch the crucifixion of our Lord as He hung on the cross, bearing God’s judgment for our sins. The only cost we actually see involves the consequences we suffer for our rebellion and disobedience.
As difficult and painful as it may be, let’s seriously consider what our sins cost the Savior. If we allow our hearts to be broken, our worship and gratitude will overflow, and we’ll respond by living a holy life.
taken from https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/daily-devotions
When it comes to sex, we've gone culturally insane. Just think about how much sexually explicit and sexually driven material is pushed in front of your eyes every day.
With all of this so readily available, it's very tempting to blame sex, societal values, the mainstream media, or technology as the problem. But here's the humbling truth: sex is not the problem, nor is our environment the primary problem.
The act of sex, as God designed, is beautiful and rewarding - not evil. And we can't try to live as modern-day monastics, as if retreating from the TV and Internet would suddenly cure our hearts from sexual sin.
The counterintuitive reality is that it's only ever the evil inside our hearts that magnetizes us to the evil that's outside in our world. Likewise, it's only ever our sin that turns pure gifts from the Creator into dangerous idols.
In summary, we are the problem. More specifically, our heart, and what it asks of sex, is the problem.
If you look to something that God created to give you what it wasn't intended to give, either you get discouraged quickly and wisely abandon those hopes, or you go back again and again, and in so doing, begin to travel down the dangerous road toward addiction.
Sex will give you a short-term buzz of pleasure, and it may even make your problems seem to disappear momentarily, but you'll hate how short it is. So you'll have to go back again quickly to get another shot, and before long you've spent way too much time, energy, and money on something that can't satisfy.
Because of what it has briefly done for you each time, you're convinced that you can't live without it. You're hooked, because the thing you once desired, you're now persuaded you need, and once you've named it as a need, it has you in its addictive grip.
However, sex has no capacity to satisfy your heart. In a word, it cannot be your savior.
If you look outside of the Savior for something to be your savior, that thing will end up being not your savior, but your master. The sexual pleasure you hoped would serve you pulls you into its service. What seemed like freedom ends up being bondage.
You see, sex has never the problem; what we've asked of it is.
Is there wisdom in protecting ourselves (and others) from what we see? Absolutely. But our sex madness needs to be dealt with spiritually and theologically for us to experience lasting sanity.
I'll continue to write more about the theology of sex, but I want to end this week with this question: Are you asking sex - or something else that God created - to provide for you what only Jesus can offer?
Sex is glorious, but it was created to be a sign that points you to the one glory you were designed to live for and that can truly satisfy your soul — the glory of God.
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
Job 38:31If we are inclined to boast of our abilities, the grandeur of nature will quickly show us how puny we are. We cannot move the least of all the twinkling stars or quench so much as one of the sunbeams of the morning. We speak of power, but the heavens laugh us to scorn. When the stars shine forth in spring-like joy, we cannot restrain their influences; and when Orion reigns above, and the year is bound in winter's chains, we cannot relax the icy grip. The seasons arrive by divine appointment, and it is impossible for men to change the cycle. Lord, what is man?
In the spiritual, as in the natural, world, man's power is limited on all hands. When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad His delights in the soul, none can disturb; all the cunning and malice of men are unable to prevent the genial, quickening power of the Comforter. When He deigns to visit a church and revive it, the most inveterate enemies cannot resist the good work; they may ridicule it, but they can no more restrain it than they can push back the spring when the Pleiades rule the hour. God wills it, and so it must be.
On the other hand, if the Lord in sovereignty, or in justice, binds up a man so that his soul is in bondage, who can give him liberty? He alone can remove the winter of spiritual death from an individual or a people. He looses the bands of Orion, and none but He. What a blessing it is that He can do it. O that He would perform the wonder tonight. Lord, end my winter, and let my spring begin. I cannot with all my longings raise my soul out of her death and dullness, but all things are possible with You. I need heavenly influences, the clear shinings of Your love, the beams of Your grace, the light of Your countenance--these are as summer suns to me. I suffer greatly from sin and temptation; these are my terrible wintry signs. Lord, work wonders in me, and for me. Amen.
taken from https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/3/21/0/
"Hallowed be Thy name" (Matt. 6:9).
God is holy and deserves your highest respect and your humble obedience.
To most people the word hallowed elicits thoughts of Halloween, ivy-covered walls, or starchy religious traditions. But those are all far from its biblical meaning. "Hallowed" in Matthew 6:9 translates a Greek word that means "holy." When Christ said, "Hallowed be Thy name," He was saying in effect, "May Your name be regarded as holy." When you hallow God's name, you set it apart from everything common and give Him the place He deserves in your life.
Throughout Scripture, holiness is attributed to persons or things that are consecrated to God's service. The Sabbath day, for example, was to be kept holy—set apart from the other days (Ex. 20:8). The Israelite priests were to be considered holy because they rendered special service to the Lord (Lev. 21:8). As believers in Christ we are to be holy because we belong to God (1 Pet. 1:15).
Holiness also speaks of moral excellence and purity. God is called the "Holy One" (1 Pet. 1:15) not only because He is set apart from His creation, but also because He is pure and sinless in His character. That's why Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself when he saw the Lord and heard the angels crying out, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa. 6:3- 5). He was overcome with a sense of his own human sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.
Such a God deserves your highest respect and reverence. He is your gracious and loving Father, but He is also the sovereign, majestic God of the universe. Consequently, you must guard against thinking of Him as a buddy or addressing Him flippantly.
Additionally, He deserves your humble obedience. You hallow His name only when your life is marked by righteousness and moral excellence.
May that be true of you today, and may you seek to honor Him in all that you do!
Suggestions for Prayer
Read each of these verses, noting the specific ways you can glorify God: Joshua 7:19; Psalm 50:23; John 15:8; Romans 15:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 2:9-11; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.
Are you in a moment of temptation right now, or have you experienced temptation recently? Are you experiencing some type of sexual suffering right now, or have you recently?
(If not, I'm sure you are close to someone who is.)
As sexual beings with sinful hearts, we should anticipate attraction to things that God prohibits. Similarly, as residents of a fallen world, we should expect to suffer, and at times, that suffering will impact our sexuality.
Despite these inevitable discouraging realities, there's an encouraging promise in Scripture that surpasses whatever we will face.
I love the words of Romans 8:31 - "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
There are many ways in which I could communicate how God is for you, but I want to focus on three foundational principles that come from the same discussion in Romans 8.
God Is For You … With Uncomfortable Grace (vv. 18-25)The sexual struggles you face are not a sign that God has forgotten or abandoned you. He has placed you in a fallen world and in a broken body because he is delivering to you redemption, not your ideal situation of comfort and pleasure.
In the hands of our Redeemer, this groaning world becomes a tool of his transforming, refining, heart-changing grace. God uses the sexual brokenness around us to expose our wandering hearts. No, he won't ever tempt us to sin, but he will use the chaos to drive us to more deeply and consistently follow him.
God Is For You … With Supplying Grace (vv. 26-32)At times, the battle with temptation is so great, so discouraging, and so emotionally taxing that you don't even know how to pray. In these moments, God does not turn his back on you. In fact, the Holy Spirit carries your cries in words of grace to the Father.
Beyond that, the Cross of Jesus Christ is our guarantee that in all our struggles with sex, no matter who we are and what those struggles may be, God will give us everything we need. If he willingly gave us his Son, we can rest assured he will gladly supply what we are not able to supply for ourselves.
God Is For You … With Inseparable Grace (vv. 33-39)I've had countless people say to me in counseling sessions, "I think I’ve fallen so much that God has given up on me." It's a cruel lie of the Enemy that God would ever give up on one of his blood-purchased children.
The end of Romans 8 famously assures us that we will never encounter or struggle with anything that has the power to separate us from the love of the One who so generously blesses us with his presence and his grace.
You see, this world, with all its sexual distortion, confusion, and seduction, can't separate you from God's love. Your darkest moment of sexual wandering and defeat can’t separate you from God's love. His love for you is eternal.
So if Romans 8 is right about who God is and what he has given us in Jesus Christ, then we should be the most honest community on earth, because we know that whatever is known or exposed about us has already been fully covered by his amazing grace.
Why don't we talk honestly and hopefully about our sexual struggles and suffering!
Taken from https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/is-god-really-for-you.
I will guard my ways.
Psalms 39:1Fellow-pilgrim, do not say in your heart, "I will go here and there, and I will not sin," for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very muddy; it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a dirty world, and you will need to stay alert if you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father's power.
Be on your guard. When a man carries fireworks in his hand, he should be careful that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you do not succumb to temptation. Even your everyday activities are sharp-edged tools; you must mind how you handle them.
There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian's piety, but everything to destroy it. How concerned you should be to look up to God, that He may keep you! Your prayer should be, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe." Having prayed, you must also watch, guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are called to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your armor, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Although you cannot be killed, you may be wounded.
Be sober-minded; be watchful--danger may befall you at a time when everything seems to be secure. Therefore, pay attention, stay alert, watch and pray. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways, so they shall always please the Lord.
taken from https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/3/14/0/
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
No doubt the reader has been tempted to rely upon the things that are seen instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and advice, and so spoil the noble simplicity of their reliance upon God.
Does this evening's passage meet the eye of a child of God who is filled with anxiety? Then let us reason with you. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation; then why are you troubled? "Because of my great care." Is it not written, "Cast your burden upon the Lord"? "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."1
Can you trust God for your physical needs? "Ah! I wish I could." If you cannot trust God with the physical, how dare you trust Him with the spiritual? Can you trust Him for your soul's redemption, and yet not rely upon Him for a few lesser mercies? Is God not enough for your need, or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for your wants? Do you need another to watch for you when you have Him who sees every secret thing? Is His heart faint? Is His arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if He is infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why do you run around seeking another confidence? Why do you scour the earth to find another foundation when this is strong enough to bear all the weight that you can ever build on it?
Christian, do not mix your wine with water; do not tarnish the gold of faith with the dross of human confidence. Wait only upon God, and let your expectation be from Him. Do not covet Jonah's gourd but rest in Jonah's God. Let the sandy, shaky foundations be the choice of fools; but you, like one who sees the approaching storm, build for yourself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.
Taken from https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/3/7/0/