Hey guys! So…I’m still on this Easter kick thing. Yes, I know that today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and yes, he was a pretty cool guy (he was a missionary, not a leprechaun by the way). But Easter just makes me SO happy! I mean really. Forgiveness! Love! Hope! Acceptance! Joy! Peace! I have all these things because of the cross. So enjoy, reflect, and rejoice this Easter because of what’s been done for you.
Happy Tuesday everyone, and happy early Easter! Because of the undeniable-yet-almost-unbelievable fact that Easter is right around the corner (despite of the three feet of snow on the ground right now), I have decided to do an Easter-themed post again. I love Easter because of what it means. I hope you find the same thing!
Many people are taught to think that God is “over there”. That He doesn’t care. That He wound up the world like a clock and then stepped away. That He couldn’t really be involved with us.
Happy Saturday everyone! Today we have a special treat. On Monday, this post will be featured on my friend Rachel Schaus’ blog, Notes From My Corner Of Creation. Enjoy this sneak peek in honor of Easter!
What does the cross mean to me?
For me, the cross means acceptance.
The cross is the place where I was counted blameless and accepted in the sight of God. Not because of what I did, but because of what Jesus did for me. He took my place in death and shame and gave me the right to be a child of God.
John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.”
I am accepted. I do not have to be perfect. I do not have to earn my way to the love and acceptance of God. I do not have to do a certain number of good deeds to be cherished by God. Because I am not accepted by what I do-I am accepted because of what Christ did at the cross for me.
All I have to do is believe in His name! Accept the love he has for me! I am a child of God. Nobody can take that away.
The cross means acceptance. I think that we’ve all chased acceptance in our lives. We want to be loved, accepted, a part of the “in” group. Because, we think, maybe that will make us better people. Maybe we will have more privileges, our problems will all go away, or we will be satisfied…But our only perfect satisfaction by acceptance can come from God’s acceptance of us. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Stop trying to be accepted in worldly terms. Accept the acceptance of God. He loves us no matter what.
He knows we are not perfect. He knows that we will fail. He knows all this, and still loves us and accepts us.
Never once will we walk alone. Never once will God turn his back on us. Never once will we lose the love of God. Rest in the embrace of the Almighty – by what was done at the cross – FOR YOU.
Another morning comes. I sit on the couch and open my Bible. Let’s see, what to read. “Okay, I could read Genesis. Or Exodus. Leviticus? No way. That book has nothing to do with me.” So I skip over it and go to the New Testament.
Leviticus has everything to do with me. No, I’m not Jewish. So before you skip to the next post, let me have a few minutes of your attention to explain some *really* important things.
Recently, I read (and am still reading) through Leviticus as part of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. As I approached it, dread filled my heart. (Wow, that was poetic.) Anyway, I didn’t want to read it. Seriously, what do you get out of learning about cleansing rituals?! Yeah, that was my mindset when I was towards the end of Exodus. And I learned some very important things that changed my feelings towards this holy book.
All my life, I’ve known that “All the books of the Bible are equally important.” But silently I added, “Except, the New Testament is better than the Old Testament, and Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy don’t really count for being important.”
Uh oh. *cringes* Big mistake there.
And I’ve been learning very important lessons from Leviticus that I wanted to share so y’all wouldn’t skip over it like I used to. Okay. Here goes.
1) Sometimes, God might have seemed picky or arrogant when He required specific things from His people. But! We cannot assume that for a few reasons.
a) He is God. Arrogance only comes from someone who puts themself in a higher position than they actually deserve. However, there is no higher position than God, and He deserves everything He is. He is “I AM”!
b) Because God is God, he knew exactly what the consequences for disobeying him would be. For example, when He commanded certain cleansing after touching dead things or refraining from eating pigs and other animals, it was to prevent the spread of disease and germs that the Israelites knew nothing about. Wow, isn’t God smart?! (The answer to that would be yes, of course.)
2) When the Bible talks about spotless animals without blemish for sin offerings, this foreshadows to Jesus, our spotless and blemish-less sin offering. Nobody else or any animal could forgive every single sin in the entire world.
3) While the Israelites were constantly making offerings to forgive their sin, Jesus’ perfect offering was a one-time-forgives-all kind of deal. Sweet!
4) Israel lived as a -slave to sin- and the law–we now live as children of God, living in grace! Thank you God!
Let me restate this. WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD. LIVING IN GRACE. NOT SLAVES TO SIN. AMAZING, RIGHT?!
5) Obedience to God above all else is the most important. He created the world, and obviously knows best. Yes, our naïvety gets the best of us many times and we live life thinking that we are in control and really know what’s best for ourselves…stupid mistakes over and over and over. I’m guilty.
See what I mean? This has everything to do with us! This book foreshadows the freedom from sin and the law that was to come. Because Leviticus has everything to do with Jesus and I live only because of Jesus, this has everything to do with me.
So the next time you routinely gloss over Leviticus, think again. Don’t think of it as just a bunch of boring rules and regulations; remember that it is the holy and inspired Word of God; an unfolding revelation, and a foreshadowing of the awaited Messiah for every person.
For a while there, I *thought* I had it pretty good.
I’ve kept straight A’s, I guess I’m pretty smart. My friends call me a genius. (Trust me, I am not.) People tell me I’m talented, beautiful, and godly. I have a lot of friends, and I guess I can be pretty popular.
At least I turn in my assignments on time. I sit in the front row of every class and my teachers like me.
I read my Bible every day without fail, I teach Sunday school and youth group, and I’m on our youth group worship team.
So I’m pretty good, I thought. (Big mistake. Pride does come before a fall.) My life had become a checklist, and I was doing well. Or so I thought.
But God changed everything.
He said “no”.
“No, AJ, you can’t be good enough for me.”
“I’m not good enough? Just show me what to do!” I screamed.
And he said, “Do nothing, Amanda.”
And I cried “WHY?! You’ve blessed me with talent! With a brain! Aren’t I supposed to use it?!”
And he said to me, “You don’t need to be smart. You don’t need to be beautiful by the world’s standards. You don’t need to do all this for me, because my love for you does not depend on what you do. You are my child, and I love you. I sent Jesus to pay the price for your salvation. And I see HIM in you, not the things that you do. (See Colossians 2:10 “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”)
“You are to do things for my glory, not for your benefit or to look good.
“Amanda, I love you anyway.”
He loves me anyway.
I’ve spent too many hours crying over feeling like I’m incomplete. But Jesus makes me complete. I’ve spent too many hours stressing over getting an A. But it’s not really that big of a deal. I’ve spent too many hours focused on me. And it’s not even about me. I’ve spent too many hours stubbornly worrying about my problems on my own…when I’m supposed to cast my cares on God because he cares for me. (See 1 Peter 5:7) What did I miss? Everything!
I’m not sure what I was trying to earn. Because I now realize that who I am in Christ has nothing to do with my performance.
And that was a relief to hear.
God doesn’t require us to be perfect. Perfection is impossible! He just requires us to abide in him.
And with his help, I can do that.