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Posts Tagged ‘Redemption’

To redeem is to save, to buy back, to make new. It always requires something of someone else for redemption to be complete.

If I want to make lemonade out of lemons, I’ve gotta add sugar.

If I want to reduce the price of an item I am purchasing, I have to hand in the coupon (redeem it).

If I love an old piece of furniture, but it is in rough shape, I will need to either pay someone, or refinish it myself.

Redemption = Effort/Cost

Redemption is more than making lemonade out of lemons. It is also foundational and the solitary solution for the reality of sin.

If someone were to ask me what the Bible is about in one word, I would say redemption.

Humankind, through the acts of the hands and heart of Adam and Eve, have inherited the sin that covers everything in our world and life. It taints our lives with an ink-like blot that stains our lives … past, present and future.

Really, sin is like one inheriting a genetically-caused blood disorder. The one who inherits it has done nothing to deserve it. The disorder is simply handed down, from parent to child. There is nothing that the parent can do to remove it, there is nothing the child can do, to rid oneself of the disorder. The only solution is a blood transfusion. Another party, though, can donate their blood, and through a blood exchange transfusion, the infected blood is replaced with the blood of the third party … saving the child.

To be redeemed, or saved, from sin (and the shame that accompanies it), a cost must be paid, an effort must be made.

This time, it takes more than just a needle in a blood vessel, this takes the very life from the third party. This is that act of redemption … the redeemer gives his very life for the disorder of sin that the infected one (and all of us who are unwittingly infected, through our birth). His selfless act saves, forgives and atones for the disorder of sin we have inherited.

The redemption of our us, from our sins is the greatest act of forgiveness, for our sins are not just forgiven, but they are also erased, wiped clean and our debt is paid by his blood.

Truly “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13) … and that was done for us.

“Oh redeemed, I’m redeemed, how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed by His infinite mercy
His child, and forever, I am”

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Recently, my son told me about a comment he made to a friend about our upcoming move.

“This move, for us all, is pushing the restart button.”

I love the visual. He nailed it, perfectly!

A different home and neighbourhood, with fresh possibilities opens the door to not just a physical, but also a mental break from the past, an opportunity to start fresh and an open door to try something new.

What a lovely way to anticipate this change … as a blank slate, a fresh (re)start.

As one who loves and sees value of understanding the past so that we do not repeat past mistakes in the future, I also love what the prophet Isaiah had to say about the past:

“Forget the former things;
 do not dwell on the past.


There comes a time when we need not just move forward, but also stop glancing back.

For anyone, clumsy like myself, knows that glancing back can be the start of a catastrophe! Yet, I do it frequently … thinking that I will be assured that I am going in the right direction if I can see where I have been. But that simply takes my eyes off the direction I am heading, causing me to not live in the gift of today, but in the room with ripped wrappings and all the worn out gifts of yesterday.

Isaiah didn’t stop at counsel on the past, for he also had something to say about what is to come:

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:18-19

The new thing that God has for our family, for all of us, had already been in the works long ago. God himself has cleared the way, bringing life to what seems dead, destitute.

That path in the darkness isn’t just about the hope for the future of my family, it is what is available to all.

In the Matthew Henry Commentary of the above verses, concerning the prophesy of the deliverance of Babylon, a reminder is given:

“there is reference to greater events. The redemption of sinners by Christ … and all that is to be done to rescue sinners, and to bring the believer to glory, is little, compared with that wondrous work of love, the redemption of man.”

Perhaps, better than I, Chris Tomlin describes the restart button best, in his song, Resurrection Power.

“I see the old has passed away
The new has come!
Now I have resurrection power
Living on the inside
Jesus, You have given us freedom
No longer bound by sin and darkness
Living in the light of Your goodness
You have given us freedom”

 

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There is much hesitancy in our world today to identify as … anything.

Gender is, obviously, much discussed, but it is not the only issue with great debate.

Interestingly, there are many people who go to church, attend youth or small groups, pray, participate in communion and practise many other activities related to Christianity … yet they struggle to identify as a Christian or Christ-follower.

The most common reasons I have heard for this lack of ability or willingness (or is it a lack of faith?) to identify as a Christian is:

  • they do not yet ‘have it all together’
  • they so not want to identify as a Christian because there are so many ways that Christians have messed up

In the early days of Christendom, identifying with Christ was very public.

Baptism was the initial identifier of those (Jews) who were identifying as followers of Jesus, their Messiah. It was John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) who was inviting them to confess their sins, then come to the Jordan River, where they would be symbolically, publicly cleansed or redeemed of their sins.

The Jewish people could relate somewhat to this practise, as the Jewish custom of Tvilah was common. In this ancient practise, people of the Jewish faith went to be cleansed, purified, restored after having encountered something or someone (ie. a corpse) unclean, according to Levitical law.

The baptism that John was inviting the Jews, the early Christians, to was a once-for-all cleansing. It was symbolic of the forgiveness and redemption that Jesus had come to offer …

Forgiveness and redemption for our sins
yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John the Baptist did not invite people who were already purified to participate in the baptism that he was performing, but those who were dirty and who desired to be clean … those who acknowledged their sin-dirty condition, and who were choosing to be identified with the only one who could make them clean for all eternity.

For those waiting to identify with Christ until they ‘have it all together, the identifying comes before the purification … and the having it all together is a goal, not a destination.

For those not wanting to identify with Christ, because of the many Christians who have, are and will mess up … see above. They are not perfect, as you and I are not perfect “not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Paul said,
“John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
He told the people
to believe in the one coming after him,
that is, in Jesus.”
Acts 19:4

 

 

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“I know that I’ll come back to my faith, I just need to figure it out for myself first.”

I am not sure whether those words made my heart sink (for the intentional turning away from God) or start to sing (for the door is not closed).

This person had grown up in a home of faith and in the church. They had received the love, acceptance and blessings of such a life. Having a time of evaluating and reevaluating the dogma that one grows up in, is a normal and even a good process. It is a pruning of what is and isn’t absolute and a polishing of what never changes. It is a process of choosing whether one’s faith is personal, or simply hereditary.

Yet, it still can be like a kick in the gut to hear that one is choosing to turn their back on the faith, even just for a season.

Then, weeks after this conversation, as I was driving to a meeting, a song came on the radio that reminded me of the never-ending pursuit of our heavenly father for our hearts, souls, lives.

“You will never outrun my love
There’s no distance too far, that I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark, that I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are, if you need proof
Take a look at these scars, and know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never, never too far gone”

And these words are not just for those who are figuring out where God fits into their life. They are also for those who feel that their choices, their actions and behaviours are far too vile for God to forgive. God forgives. That is why his son had to die, because the debt of the sins of humanity needed a pure atonement, a propitiation, which is literally “a falling or rushing toward” (www.etymonline.com).

We will never do anything, go anywhere, that God is not rushing toward us, offering his forgiveness. It is offered, because he knows we will need it.

If you want to check out the entire song, check out Jordan Felix.

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You awake on a Monday morning, in the midst of the winter season …

got guilt?

You are a mom or a dad …

got guilt?

You are a son or daughter …

a student …

an employee …

a follower of Christ …

got guilt?

Ever feel that you will never measure up?

be good enough?

be smart enough?

be successful enough?

be strong enough?

be

enough?

 

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STOP!

Stop striving!

Stop pushing!

Stop doing,

and working,

and just …

stop!

The best thing we can ever DO, is to realize that the DOING has been done.

“God demonstrates his own love for us, in this:
while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

He didn’t wait for us to do something. He didn’t wait for us to be better, to be stronger, to be smarter. He did what needed to be done ahead of time, before we even had a chance to take our first breath.

He did it all,
all for us.

He came to do what we could never do for ourselves, be our redeemer, our savior … the eraser of our guilt …

He is the reason we no longer live under condemnation (strong and damning disapproval), the reason we no longer need to live with … guilt.

“It is by grace you have been save,
through faith-

and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God-

not by works,
so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

We cannot ever DO anything, to improve our situation. Our doing is eternally eclipsed by what has already been done FOR us.

This is love …

without works,

without guilt.

Jesus loves us, not as we should be, but as we are …

flawed, weak, sin-filled,

even guilt-ridden.

He loves us unconditionally, but he never pushes himself at us, never guilt-trips us, never demands more that what he has already paid the immeasurable price for …

How he loves us!

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
when I think about the way …
Oh how he loves us all”

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In the Pit

IMG_0001.JPGEver been in a pit?

Joseph was once in a pit … actually it was a well, but really, once you are in one what it is called does not matter anymore. It is dark, cold, full of creepy crawlies, and you’re alone.

Joseph had been thrown into the well by a band of angry thugs … his brothers.

Ever felt thrown into a well by someone you loved?

He was just a young man, the eldest of his mother, Rachel, the pride and joy of his father Jacob (Israel). Joseph had done nothing to deserve such a violent act of thoughtless sibling abandonment.

Ever felt that you were an innocent victim?

He was a good son, followed all the rules, even reported to his father when his older half-brothers were not. He had won his father’s favor, simply by being the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved Rachel.

Ever felt like you were being punished for the heartache of another?

He was a dreamer. Joseph dreamed of things to come, dreams that made the eyes of his brother roll, and confirm their ire for he and his superiority complex.

Ever feel like who you are created to be pushed you into the pit you are in?

Did Joseph’s rule following help him in the dampness of the pit?

Where were Joseph’s grand dreams when he looked up from the darkness he had been thrown into?

Where was Joseph’s protective and loving father, as he realized he was being hoisted out, not to end a cruel joke, but because his very own brothers sold him into slavery?

Sometimes, like Joseph, stuff happens in our life and we feel as though we have been thrown into a pit. Sometimes, having the best of intentions, the best of behaviors, the joy of being loved by family and friends, the greatest of gifts and abilities, are not the insurance of being able to live our lives in the light that we might have hoped that they would be.

Sometimes, we fall into the pit.

Sometimes, we are pushed.

Sometimes, the extended hand that lifts us out, is one that lands us in slavery.

That can all be rather dire.

But Joseph was never alone, not in that pit, not as a slave, not in an Egyptian prison.

God was there, and God’s stories are always centered around the theme of redemption, re-making, renewing.

After Joseph had provided opportunity for his brothers to prove that they had changed, after he was reunited with his father, Jacob, and after his father had died and was buried, redemption came for Joseph’s brothers.

Genesis 50:20 tells us that Joseph said to his brothers, “you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good …”

When we are in the pit we need to remember that we are not there alone, and we need to remember that God has a plan … for good to come from evil.

 

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I love to know what is next … how the movie or book ends, what is planned for tomorrow, where our next vacation will be, what renovation we will do next on our home. I am into certainty. I plan our meals for a couple of weeks in advance, I countdown to holidays, I scour home stores for ideas to duplicate in our home (I rarely have any time to actually do them), and I sometimes read the last page of the novel before starting it (although I always find it is pointless, because it never seems to tell me anything anyway).

Life, though, is not full of certainty, but uncertainty.

There are hiccups to plans, there are changes in schedules, there are twists in the road, and there are surprises around every corner. The only thing I am truly certain of is that nothing in life is for certain.

I learned this a few years back, on our anniversary. As the days grew closer, our daughters were talking up ‘the gift’ hubby had gotten for me. There is nothing worse for adding pressure, than your kids excitedly telling you that you will love what their dad got for you! I mean, this meant that how I responded could disappoint not only hubby, but our kids too.

I knew that I had to plan my response. And so I went into constant rehearsals … in the van, in my backyard, in the kitchen, in the mirror … everywhere I went for a week I was practicing my response. By our anniversary I was a well-oiled machine (with a rumbly in my tumbly, from the anxiety).

When ‘it’ arrived at the house, I was sequestered to our daughters room, until ‘it’ and our family were all in place. Then I was beckoned to the living room, where they were all excitedly awaiting (and I was hoping I would faint before I got there, and had to act out my response). And there ‘it’ was … I was shocked, I was excited, I was unable to act … I was naturally thrilled! Hubby had taken an old chair that I had paid a dollar for at a junkyard (over twenty years ago), to be refinished and reupholstered. It was beautifully redeemed, and I loved it.

Now that is the kind of uncertainty I can handle!

I was recently in church singing along, and an example of certainty hit me in the face, and caused tears to flow from my eyes.

“No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

As I read and sang those words … no power of hell, no scheme of man … that means nothing on earth, or beyond the earth … nothing, can ever separate me from Christ. There is nothing that any man or woman can do to me, there is no demonic pressure that can sever the tie that exists between my redeemer and me. There is nothing that even I can do to break that tie.

This is certainty! And this is what I hold on to till He returns, or calls me home.

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