LIFE is in the BLOOD

I’m sure most of you have had a blood test from time to time in your life.  Not fun…but necessary to check the many aspects of your health.  It’s always amazing to me that a test from my blood sample will tell if I’m low on a certain vitamin, like B12 or D.  I just had my yearly test last Friday, mainly to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but this time they are also checking my B12 to see if I would benefit from the shots to give me more energy!  Ha!  I know my cholesterol is high…that’s a hereditary problem, and I know I should exercise more aggressively every day!  ( I guess just looking at my stationary bike doesn’t get the job done!!!)

So much about health can be gleaned from blood tests…..it is a reminder to me that “life is in the blood”.

That’s why we receive the gift of life everlasting from the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for the removal of sins.  This is another one of the mysteries of God’s ways.  I don’t understand how that works, but I accept the covering of Christ’s blood over me.  In fact I ask Him for that covering every day.  If that seems gross to you, let me explain.

God doesn’t have blood, because He is Spirit, but His Son, Jesus, was born in the form of man so He could become Emanuel, meaning “God is with us”.  Jesus was born from a virgin, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, (the third person in the God-head).  Because of His human form, His life was in His blood.

Before Jesus Christ died for our sins, sins were cleansed by the spilling of blood from bulls, lambs, and doves.  (In fact, cults around the world still kill animals, sometimes even people, to cover their sins with the shed blood.  How sad they do not know that God’s Son, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross and spilled His blood once and for all time for their sins. Hebrews 7:27)

When Jesus died on the cross, it was because His blood spilled out of Him.  He was dead, was buried, and in Resurrection power came to life again.  Now, if we believe in Him, we can have life everlasting.

This fact is accepted by simple child-like faith.  If you are struggling with faith to believe that God’s Son, Jesus, did this for you, and you need prayer or guidance, please contact us on our Facebook page by private message.

The entire book of Hebrews is Paul’s appeal to the Jews to accept the superiority of the blood of Christ over the Judaic system of animal sacrifice. Read Hebrews 7:24-27.

Romans 3:23-25 ~ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood.

Ephesians 1:7-8 ~ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

THE BIG PICTURE

Sometimes when we get photos sent to us on Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, etc. the images are not clear——-it’s like, you had to be there to really see and experience in person what was really going on, whether it be good or bad. If there is more to the photo that is cut off or not complete, or what’s going on in the background is blurry, then the viewer is deceived as to where the photo was taken for whatever reason.

But God sees THE BIG PICTURE of our lives, not a blurry distorted image of today, but a complete picture from our conception to death and beyond. In fact the scripture tells us God has always known us!!!  He knows what is going on in your life right now for your good, but also what could be for your demise down the road.

We must trust God with the discipline that comes upon us from Him. God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we are going through a difficult time and we are asking God for direction or deliverance we remember God has promised to do what is best for us. Because He knows us, our personalities, our weaknesses, our strengths, He promised that He would not allow more trials on us than we can bear. (I Corinthians 10:13)

God knows when His answer to your prayers, whether yes or no, will have the greatest impact on your life and those around you. That’s where faith comes in. I have to know that “He is perfecting that which concerns me.” (kjv Psalm 138:8)

If God doesn’t do what I want, when I want it, I think He doesn’t love me, or that He is so busy with the major problems of people all over the world He can’t possibly care about my frustrations and needs.

REPEAT……THAT’S WHERE FAITH COMES IN !!!

God allows trials in our lives so that what surfaces are those things that He is pruning in us…..things called to our attention we need to deal with. (I Peter 1:3-9)

Don’t let the limits of your understanding limit your faith. Nowhere in scripture does it say we understand God’s ways. He is Sovereign. But, His ultimate goal is to conform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and your disobedience of that equals consequences. You won’t be sinless, there was only One who was without sin but in all ways was tempted like us.

As the scripture in James 1:13-15 states, “each one is tempted by his own desires and enticed, then when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

So….how do we get that strong faith that God really sees the BIG PICTURE of our lives and everything will turn out for our good? By studying and knowing His Word. Faith is practical. Desire is not sin, but the seeking of it is. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it……..and that will bring victory!  We all have inclinations to sinful thoughts and  behaviors. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9-10

Expose your mind to the truth of God’s Word. God has never changed…..His Word has never changed, nor will it ever!!!  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”(Romans 10:17) And be careful not to listen to wrong voices, false doctrines and modern philosophies.

Stand on this Word in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Yay……I trust God with what He sees in the BIG PICTURE of my entire life, knowing that He only allows what is best for me!!!   PERIOD!

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The Beauty of Grace

As we come away from Resurrection Day, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead after offering himself as a sacrifice for ALL of our sins, I must share my gratitude for – His Sufficient Grace. For ALL have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23) – we are all in need of salvation which comes by His mercy (compassion and lovingkindness) and grace, and by the shed blood of Christ on the cross.

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Webster defines Grace as: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification, approval, favor, mercy, pardon.

Wiki says: In Christian theology, grace has been defined as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

And even deeper and better yet, the word in Hebrew is paralleled with several other ideas including: healing, help, being lifted up, finding refuge and protection, strength and salvation; to be rescued!

I met and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 6 years old. I spent my youth quite close to Him. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I really began to deviate from this relationship. I began to make poor decisions, and at some point I felt that I could never go back – that I had strayed so far that there was no point in even trying. Over the years I slowly drifted further and further away, trying to keep up appearances for those around me. I fought depression and isolation and eventually sunk deeply into alcohol and drug use and various other unsavory choices. I should have been dead many times over, but my God protected me despite myself. He showed me mercy even when I did not deserve it. I felt like I was too far to ever receive His Grace.

Finally, in early 2008 a perfect storm of circumstances caused me to hit bottom so hard that the only way to look was up. All I had to do was turn around and cry out – and there He was. He was there all the time. Restoration and rebuilding can take a long time, but when you call His Name, His Grace and Mercy come upon you in an instant, for you have finally stretched out your arms to accept what He has freely given.

You see, we all go through trials and difficulties in this life. That is just the human condition. We bring many of these upon ourselves, but others come from other people or circumstances beyond our control. God sees us through all trials, regardless of their origin – He extends His grace and mercy without regard to how or why we landed in our situation. He just wants us to turn to Him.

It seems to be hard for some people to grasp the simplicity of salvation. How could the Creator of the Universe so freely give His love? All I know is that He does, and that He extends that gift to ALL. No exceptions. He cried “It is Finished” from the cross, because He paid ALL our debt once and for all. Hallelujah!

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

At my time of restoration and renewal, I latched on to some wonderful songs that encouraged me and built me up.

One was “Beauty of Grace” by Krystal Meyers (a song sung from God’s perspective):

Tell me why’d you run
You say you’re so ashamed
bruised and broken
Thought if I figured out
The mess you’ve made
That I’d leave

Chorus:
But anywhere you are

Is never too far away
There’s freedom from your scars
The mistakes that you’ve made
Forgiven
The memories erased
Baby, that’s the Beauty of Grace

Tell me what is love
I’ll never hold you to
The things you may have done
You say you want new life
In my arms, there’s mercy

Another, by the greatest selling Gospel group of all time, the Clark Sisters. (Do yourself a favor and download this one!)

“Blessed And Highly Favored”

He brought me through hard trials
He brought me through tribulations
Never let a day go by and not realize
Had not been for the Lord who was on my side

Back was against the wall
He looked out for me
He heard my cry and rescued me
Never let a day go by and not realize we are blessed

Chorus:
Don’t take it for granted that we are here today
Just know that we’re blessed and highly favored
Just know that we’re blessed and highly favored

As I look back through the years,
It’s amazing how He kept me.
What the devil meant for evil,
God turned it around,
Turned it around just for my good.

I know that I am blessed and highly favored.
Just know that we’re blessed and highly favored.

It coulda’ been me,
It shoulda’ been me,
It woulda’ been me if it wasn’t for the blood.
Grace, mercy.
Grace, mercy.

Not only does God extend grace to all of us by the power of the shed blood of Christ on the cross, but he also extends forgiveness and separates our sin from Him as far as the East is from the West. Since space is infinite, that means there is no ending point in the East or the West. So this means, as in the song “Beauty of Grace,” that He erases the memory of all that you have done. Think of all the times another human being has hurt you. Have you been able to forgive? Hopefully you extend the same grace to others as God has extended to you. But, if you are like me, you don’t easily forget that hurt. It can be hard to forgive others and yourself. And it is certainly almost impossible to forget. We harbor hurt feelings, and we condemn ourselves sometimes to the point of spiritual paralysis.

Imagine the kind of Grace that God is extending to you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. He has offered atonement and covering for your sin through the Cross. All you have to do is accept it. You can never earn it – it is a GIFT. And not only has He offered this gift, but He has also promised that once you have repented of your sin, He will cast it off into infinity and beyond!

If you are waiting to “get things together” before you turn to the Lord, let me advise you that you will NEVER be ready because your efforts will always fall short. Cry out to Him and accept His gift of life. There is no greater thing than a relationship with the One who created you just as you are. He knows everything about you and loves you unconditionally anyway.

And that’s the Beauty of Grace.

Psalm 103:1-12 NIV
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.  He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Complete Coverage

I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. We rarely get snow here, and when we do it is usually 1/4 of an inch to an inch. Maybe once or twice a winter we will get a “dusting.”

However, last week, we got a winter storm unlike anything we have had in decades. I ended up measuring almost 7 inches of snow and ice piled up on my back deck!

I suppose when you live in a place where it snows regularly in the winter, the site of such a build up of snow isn’t so spectacular. But, when you rarely see it, it is staggeringly beautiful.

I am blessed to live on the outskirts of the city and I have deciduous forest as my back yard. I have hundreds of old, tall, majestic trees on my 1.6 acre plot, and a valley with a creek prevents anyone from building anything behind or around me. Let me tell you, when heavy wet snow falls and sticks to all those trees, my yard looks like Narnia. My cousin DeeAnn saw a photo on Facebook and pointed that out to me. She is right – it is like a fantasy wonderland of sorts, and it is awesome.

Some of my trees are American Sweetgum Trees, and in the fall and winter they drop thousands of gumballs that contain seeds. The gumballs have spikes, and they cover the ground. In the center of my back yard there is a huge Sweetgum tree that I call “The Queen.” She is the oldest, mightiest tree on my property. She is gorgeous when she provides shade in the heat of summer, and when her leaves turn in the fall, but she is a big pain when she drops her thousands of gumballs and litters my entire yard with them in the winter. Every year I shake my fist at her when I have to rake those piles of leaves and piles of gumballs.

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So, below “The Queen” in the winter lies a blanket of leaves and gumballs rotting in decay. Just walking through the yard is unpleasant because you cannot avoid trampling over the thousands of spiky spheres. This year I have not yet gotten around to raking them up.

One of the most obvious things to me about the 7 inches of snow and ice was that it covered all that mess so completely, that there was no trace of those prickly gumballs and rotting leaves. Even walking through the snow, and forging sledding trails down the hill did not reveal the blanket of unpleasantness that lay beneath.

What if those prickly nuisances represent my flaws and my sin? Thousands of messy, nasty mistakes and deliberate choices to follow my flesh rather than The Word. And what if that snow represents the infinite Grace, forgiveness and love of my Savior who covers all my sin and flaws to make me blameless and perfect in the sight of my Heavenly Father?

Full, complete coverage. Flawless forgiveness that blankets my entire being and renews me day after day.

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Jesus paid it all. What a picture of complete restoration. It is there for the taking, for every single one of us. We just have to accept it, take His hand, and follow Him. Love has already won. We are covered. We are new. We are His. Grace is not deserved, it is freely given, and it is beautiful.

Be refreshed today, and know:
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18