New Inside

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In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character (Phil) is stuck in a small town where February 2 keeps repeating. Phil tries desperately to get out of this town and out of this day, but nothing he seems to do gets him out of the endless loop. He becomes smarter and richer each day, but at the end of the day, everything resets to the beginning. 

It’s frustrating! 

God’s people of the Old Testament had their own “Groundhog Day”—the Day of Atonement that came every single year. This was the day their sins were confessed, forgiven, and atoned for, and had a very specific set of sacrifices and rituals. Much like Phil in the movie, they began to go through these motions almost entirely without thinking. 

Year after year, millennia after millennia “the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, [couldn’t] make perfect those who draw near to worship” (see Hebrews 10:1-4). 

Even those who were God-fearing and tried their best to live perfectly righteous lives could find in the law provision for those who “sin unintentionally” (Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:15, 18, 22, 24, 27-29). It was just another reminder that the loop of sin-confession-repentance-forgiveness-atonement was never ending. 

And as if all the requirements of the Torah weren’t enough, Jesus came on the scene and seemed to raise the bar, telling us even though our outward actions might look righteous, our inward thoughts and attitudes made us just as sinful (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). And then Jesus even dropped this on us, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)! 

Perfect?! As perfect as God?! This could easily make people throw their hands up in resignation, “I give up! Why even try?” 

Through Ezekiel, God prophesied an internal change. This wasn’t something I must do, but something GOD will do—

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) 

The solution to our endless loop of sin-confession-repentance-forgiveness-atonement must become internal. It’s no use trying to correct the fruit if the root is still evil! That requires an inside job. 

On Good Friday, the last words Jesus spoke before His death were, “It is finished” (John 19:30). 

What was finished? Our struggle to get ourselves out of this endless loop. The writer of Hebrews had this to say about Jesus: 

But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. … For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:12, 14) 

Remember Jesus told us we had to be perfect like God? The root word for “perfect” in that verse is telos. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He said one word in Greek: tetelestai. This also comes from the root word telos. Jesus perfectly finished all that was necessary for us to become perfect in God’s sight. 

Christians often use the the phrase “I invited Jesus into my heart” as an expression of their faith in what Jesus did for them on the Cross. That word “IN” is a good reminder. 

Jesus comes IN and the fear of punishment—the fear of being eternally stuck in the endless loop—has to go out. “There is no fear IN love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect IN love” (1 John 4:18). 

The word “perfect” in that verse is also from the same root word telos. 

Not only does Jesus come IN to our hearts to make them new, but He also takes us IN to His perfection. “Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith—giving the first incentive for our belief—and is also its Finisher—bringing it to maturity and perfection…” (Hebrews 12:2 AMP). 

Jesus shared a last supper with His disciples. His last supper was the first Communion. At this time Jesus told them He was establishing a “new covenant.” How do we square this with His previous statement that He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it? 

Jesus said this new covenant was IN His blood. His blood doesn’t abolish the law, but it perfects the law. His perfect blood makes out hearts new and takes us out of the external loop and IN to His prefect righteousness. 

Jesus accomplished all that was needed to make us perfect inside, and then to perfectly take us into God’s presence. As the hymn The Old Rugged Cross reminds us, “In that old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see. For ’twas on that old Cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me!” 

May we always cherish the perfection that was purchased for us on that Cross. 

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Poetry Saturday—Oh The Lamb

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In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object met my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career.

Oh, the Lamb, the bleeding Lamb,
The Lamb on Calvary,
The Lamb that was slain and liveth again
To intercede for me.

I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near the Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look,
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Tho’ not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned my guilt,
And plung’d me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.

A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive,
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die, that thou may’st live.”

Thus, while His death my sins display
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.

Oh, the Lamb, the bleeding Lamb,
The Lamb on Calvary,
The Lamb that was slain and liveth again
To intercede for me. —John Newton

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The Mercyseat

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Hear my cry for mercy … He has heard my cry for mercy (Psalm 28:2, 6).

For David, his cry for mercy was never a one-and-done action. The verb in verse 2 makes this verse read more like, “Hear my cry for mercy as I am continually calling to You for help, as I am continually lifting up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place.” 

Why the Most Holy Place? What was there? Inside the Most Holy Place was the ark of the covenant of the Lord which represented the presence of God. 

What was on top of the ark of the covenant, covering and superseding the Law that was inside the ark? It was the mercyseat (or the “atonement cover” in some translations). The mercyseat is where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificial lamb every year to make atonement for sins.

Jesus became the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb to make ultimate atonement for all who would believe in Him. When Jesus had finished His work on the Cross, the curtain separating us from the Most Holy Place was torn in two. The ark of the covenant of the Lord with its covering mercyseat—the presence of God—was now accessible to all of us! It was accessible because it was in Jesus, and when I have taken Jesus as my atonement, He is in me and He takes me in to the Father. The mercyseat of my heart has been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb (see Hebrews 9:1-5, 11-14; 10:19-22). 

Whether David was saying, “Hear my cry,” or “He has heard my cry,” the Hebrew word means to listen with interest and full attention. Whenever you pray, God listens to you with interest and full attention because you are praying right in His presence! Your very breath can be a continual crying, a continual lifting of your voice toward the mercyseat where God meets with you! 

God is not far away from us. He is closer than we usually think. That’s why David says, “My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him”! 

Keep this in mind the next time you are asking God to hear your cry: He listens to you with full attention because Jesus has taken you right into His presence.

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Poetry Saturday—Come, Thou Fount

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; 
streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. 
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. 
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love. 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’m come; 
and I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. 
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; 
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! 
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. —Robert Robinson

Poetry Saturday—The Precious Blood

Before Your Cross I kneel and see
the heinousness of my sin,
my iniquity that caused You to be
‘made a curse,’
the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.

Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.

Your blood is the blood of incarnate God,
its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt
that demands such a price.

Sin is my condition, my monster, my foe, my viper,
born in my birth,
alive in my life,
strong in my character,
dominating my faculties
following me as a shadow,
intermingling with my every thought,
my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.

Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
the air supply breath,
the earth bear my treat,
its fruit nourish me,
its creatures serve my ends?

Yet, Your compassion yearns over me,
Your heart hastens to my rescue,
Your love endured my curse,
Your mercy bore my deserved stripes.

Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humility,
bathed in Your blood
tender of conscience,
triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation. —Arthur Bennett

Not How But Who

This is part 3 in our series looking at phrases that sound biblical and then asking, “Is that in the Bible?

Statement #3—This is how you should take Communion.… Is that in the Bible? Quite simply: No, it’s not. 

Every church seems to celebrate Communion with its own unique style, typically following an age-old tradition. There’s nothing wrong with traditions per se. The only thing we have to watch out for is when traditions become the focal point, instead of the thing the tradition is pointing us to. Almost as if we are celebrating the celebration (see Isaiah 1:11-14; Mark 7:1-8). 

In 1054 AD the Great Schism occurred between the Roman church (in West) and the Byzantine church (in East). One issue that led to this schism was Communion. The West used unleavened bread, saying that sin was removed. The East said that sounded like they were adopting Judaism, so they used leavened bread, saying that the “rising” symbolized new life. 

Even today there are differences and disagreements—only administered by a priest … only certain church officials can “bless” the elements … a common cup … individual cups … unfermented juice … fermented wine … unleavened wafers … pieces torn off a full loaf of bread. The Bible never says about Communion, “Do it this way.” All of these are man’s traditions. 

Passover was first instituted in Exodus 13. This is before the Law is given through Moses (Exodus 20) and before the instructions for the tabernacle are given (Exodus 25). In the first version, the sacrifice of the lamb was in individual homes, the lamb’s blood was shed on the doorposts of that home, and the family ate the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs together at home. 

After the tabernacle was operational, there was a change (Deuteronomy 16). Now the sacrifice of the lamb was in the tabernacle, the lamb’s blood was sprinkled on the altar, but the family still ate the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs together at home. 

By the time of Jesus, there were newer traditions which weren’t prescribed in the Bible that involved as many as five cups of wine, a very specific order that the meal was presented, and the singing of Psalm 113-118 (sometimes people sang all the way through Psalm 138). 

In the last supper Jesus shares with His disciples, we see some of these later elements. We read about the different cups of wine, the unleavened bread, the supper of lamb, and the singing of a hymn (Luke 22:14-20; Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). 

I want to specifically focus on the second cup of wine Jesus used in this supper. Paul calls this cup the cup of thanksgiving and the cup of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:16, 21). Why? Because Jesus switched cups with us! 

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, and therefore we are supposed to drink the cup of God’s wrath—For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup of His wrath, and the wine foams and is red, well mixed; and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth must drain it and drink its dregs (Psalm 75:8 AMP). 

But Jesus switched cups with us. He took the full wrath of God upon Himself, and then gave us God’s new covenant of forgiveness—“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant…. This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. … For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 33:31-34). 

Jesus said, “When you drink this, do this in remembrance of Me.” THIS is what we’re called remember and celebrate! 

It’s not HOW we celebrate Communion but WHO we remember when we do celebrate. 

Let’s not celebrate the celebration, but let’s celebrate the Savior who paid the price so that we could celebrate the forgiveness of our sins under God’s new covenant! 

Poetry Saturday—Christ Jesus Lay In Death’s Strong Bands

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah.
Hallelujah! 

It was a strange and dreadful strife
when life and death contended;
the victory remained with life,
the reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
that death is swallowed up by death,
his sting is lost forever. 
Hallelujah!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
so strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
faith points to it, death passes o’er,
and satan cannot harm us. 
Hallelujah! —Martin Luther

Fight Like Jesus

God announces to the world that Jesus is His Son, but as soon as the devil has an opportunity to tempt Jesus he begins with, “IF You are the Son of God….

“This is the bedrock of EVERY temptation. If satan can cause us to reject, doubt, or forget our original identity as beloved sons and daughters of the King, he can get us to fall for any number of tricks and non-satisfying pleasures.” —Honoring Christ In Human Rights (a YouVersion reading plan)

The devil has always been a slanderer and a prosecutor—always leveling charges against God’s children, trying to get them to feel unworthy of God’s love. He still does this today. 

Don’t let him. It’s time to fight back!

How?

We read in Revelation: “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:10-11).

Jesus—the Lamb of God—shed His blood for you. You have been purchased with an amount that is incalculable. You have so much worth to your Heavenly Father! You did nothing to earn this payment of blood, you just receive it by faith. 

But we also need “the Word.” Notice that every time the devil attacked Jesus, He responded by saying, “It is written,” and then He quoted the Word (see Luke 4:1-12). We must do the same. 

When the devil says you’re unworthy of God’s love, you say, “It is written, ‘There is no condemnation for me because I am covered by the blood of Jesus’” (Romans 8:1).

When the devil says God can’t or won’t help you, you say, “It is written, ‘If God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for me—how will He not also graciously give me everything I need?’” (Romans 8:32). 

When the devil says you can’t resist his temptations for very much longer, you say, “It is written, ‘Greater is He that is in me than anything you’ve got. I have submitted myself to God and I will not give in to you, so you must flee from me!’” (1 John 4:4; James 4:7).

When the devil says you’re all alone in this world, you say, “It is written, ‘God said He would never leave me, and His Spirit is inside me right now and forever’” (Hebrews 13:5; John 14:16-18).

Dear friend, the blood of the Lamb covers you. Now use His Word to refute every single charge the devil tries to use to slander you. 

Poetry Saturday—See How The Patient Jesus Stands

See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood
Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A prodigy of injured love!

Hark! how His doleful cries affright
Affected angels, while they view;
His friends forsook Him in the night,
And now His God forsakes Him too!

Behold that pale, that languid face,
That drooping head, those languid eyes!
Behold in sorrow and disgrace
Our conquering Hero hangs, and dies!

Ye that assume His sacred name,
Now tell me, what can all this mean?
What was it bruised God’s harmless Lamb,
What was it pierced His soul but sin?

Blush, Christian, blush: let shame abound:
If sin affects thee not with woe,
Whatever life is in thee found,
The life of Christ thou doest not know. —Joseph Hart

8 More Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

“A man of humble spirit loves a low seat; he is not ambitious to tower above the thoughts of others; and while he stoops in his own opinion himself, the same bullet flies over his head which hits the proud man in the chest.”

“The reason so many Christians complain about the power of their corruptions lies in one of two roots—either they try to overcome sin without acting on the promises, or else they only pretend to believe. They use faith as an eye but not as a hand; they look for victory to drop from heaven upon their heads but do not prayerfully fight to get it.”

“Despair, more than other sins, puts a man into a kind of possession of hell itself. As faith gives substance to the word of promise, so the cruelty of despair gives existence to the torments of hell in the conscience. This drains the spirit and makes the creature become his own executioner. … Faith quenches the fiery dart of despair. … Only faith handles sin in its fullest strength by giving the soul a glimpse of the great God.”

“Christ does not ration out His blood, some to one and some to another; but He gives His whole Self to the faith of every believer. … A man’s faith in Christ is accepted for righteousness; that is, at the judgment he will escape the sentence as if he had never strayed a step from the path of the law.”

“Christian, you have no more effective argument to defeat temptation than hope. … The Christian’s choice is inferior when he must use the wicked man’s argument to cut through temptation.”

“The devil deprives some people of this scriptural relief by mere laziness. They complain about doubts and fears like sluggards crying out of their poverty as they lie in bed. But they will not get up and search the Word for the satisfaction of their need. Of all others, these sell their comfort most cheaply. Who pities the starving man who has bread before him but refuses to move his hand to take it?

To some Christians, satan presents false applications of the Word and thereby troubles their spirits. The devil is an exceptionally bright student in theology and makes no other use of his Scripture knowledge than to lure the saint into sin—or into despair for having sinned. He is like a dishonest lawyer who attains legal skill merely to force an honest man into serious problems by the tangled suit he brings against him.”

“If we spend all our thoughts on our unworthiness of heaven we shall never realize we are among the chosen ones who will enjoy it. But when we believe the pleasure God takes in demonstrating His greatness—making miserable creatures happy instead of allowing their misery to continue in eternal damnation—and the cost He paid for His mercy to reach us, we see Him as the Most High God! When we weigh and meditate on these truths they open our hearts, though fastened with a thousand bolts, to believe without question all that He has said.”

“It is absurd to think of being a Christian without knowledge of God’s Word and some skill to use this weapon. This weapon is both defensive and offensive. The rest of the apostles’ armor are defensive arms…. But the sword both defends the Christian and wounds his enemy.”

You can check out my review of this book by clicking here, and you can read the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter or Tumblr for more inspirational quotes posted every day.

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