Not Just Another Face in the Crowd

Just one among the multitude! There are times in my life when I feel like a “no name,” just one amidst a large busy, clamoring crowd. I can feel that I have no outstanding characteristics or status that would draw God’s eye to me. I feel I am just one mixed in among the many who seek being known, who seek God’s attention.

Today, I read Mark 5:24-34, which records the account of  a woman who suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years, and her condition was growing worse.  Her status was low in her society; she was a woman, and she was considered an outcast because of her continuous flow of blood. Actually, she should not have even been within that crowd of people, but there she was packed into the multitude.

Words that stand out to me in this passage are:  a great crowd followed Him; suffered for many years; growing worse; heard about Jesus; came up from behind Him in the crowd; touched His garment; felt the healing in her body; came before Him trembling; and He said “daughter.”

No Qualifying Status
This woman was an outcast in her community because she had the flow of blood. She had no title, position of honor or respect. She had everything that would push people away, but nothing to draw people to her.

It is an interesting contrast that the Holy Spirit records for us in this passage. Jesus was actually walking  through the crowd on His way to heal the daughter of a man of status, title and reputation, that is Jairus, one of the rulers of the local synagogue. He was not only accepted in his community but also regarded with honor. He was viewed as entitled to receive the attention and help of Jesus. Notice Jairus is referred to by name, but the “bleeding woman” is not. She is a no name, just a face in the crowd.

There are moments when I am calling out to God that I think, “who am I, what do I have to bring” that merits God’s attention to me? This story gives me a right perspective on the all-encompassing love of God, and how He views the value of each one of us, of each face in the crowd.

Down Low but Seen
This woman knew she was viewed as an outcast. She may even have identified herself as that. Yet she had heard reports of Jesus, who He is and the power He has. She heard of this Son of God healing  and restoring people’s lives, setting them free from their bondage. Her desperation, hope and faith moved her through the crowd to Jesus.

While she had faith, she approached Jesus with full understanding of her poverty of status and of spirit. Mark 5:27 states, “ she heard of the reports of Jesus and came up from behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.”

What humility! What faith! This woman did not even stand face to face to plead her cause. She did not show her face so that Jesus could see her deep desire, the desperation and sadness written on her face. She did not cling to his hand and pull on Him! She approached from behind and stretched out her hand to touch His clothing! And Jesus, God in the flesh, stopped and looked for her in the crowd.

Different Eyes
The scripture says that God/Jesus stopped! Turned around in the crowd! Asked to see and meet who touched Him (Mk. 5:30). His disciples discouraged His knowing her, but Jesus persisted.

The scripture says that he kept looking around to see her (Mk. 5:32). The woman was healed the moment she touched Jesus’ garment. She knew it; she trembled in awe and fear. Jesus knew it and turned to see her.

Jesus looked at her with different eyes. He did not have the censoring eyes of the religious community; He did not have the eyes of social superiority, even though He is God; He did not have the selfish apathetic eyes of the world. Jesus has the eyes of God, the eyes of welcoming love and kindness.

Jesus did not look for her status, the titles behind her name, her position in the community, her connections, the list of achievements, her outer beauty, or the togetherness of her outfit. He saw a woman of faith, a women in need of help and lifting up.

Up to this point in the story, the woman had no name, and was on the fringe of acceptance in her community; but Jesus addressed her as “daughter,” a term of endearment and belonging.

I see this incredible scene  amidst the multitude, the woman trembling with joy and fear, on her knees. I see Jesus turning his body fully towards her. Jesus reaching out his hand, helping her up, looking into her eyes, while tenderly saying “daughter!”

The Same Love for You
If today, you are feeling like “just” another face in the crowd, feeling uncherished, and not valued, stop because that is a lie!

Read this passage again and see how Jesus views you. Put your self in the scene as the bleeding woman. See His love. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  You are not “just a blurred face in the crowd!” you are valued and cherished by Jesus. He sees you.

God knew we would have difficulty seeing and grasping His love. I believe that is why the Spirit recorded and preserved Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3.  This is a good prayer for us to pray for others and ourselves.

“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

Leaning Into God – Magnifying God-5

Ankyloglossia is the Greek term for “stiff-tongue.” It is a medical condition that a person is born with and can affect their ability to take nourishment, as well as impact speech as a child develops.

At times when I try to express my thanksgiving and praise to God, I feel like I have a “stiff tongue.” So, as you know from previous blog posts, this January I began a journey to learn from the Word of God how to express my thanksgiving and praise to Him. I have invited you on this journey.

 Deeper Gleanings
The learning curve is high. I am discovering direction from God in His word for what to praise him and even what to say as we saw in Psalm 66:3. Here the Spirit literally tells us what to say.

  • Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! How great is your power that your enemies cringe before You.”

As the Spirit reveals in the Word the what and the how about expressing thanks to God, I am also learning about the Who.  I am seeing God, His character; who He is; how He thinks about me (us), and how He interacts with us.

Thank You for Your Faithfulness
In my search for how to more adequately express my thanks and praise to God I learn from David in Psalm 138:2 that he advocates thanking and praising God for His faithfulness.

  • “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness.”

As we follow the psalmist’s lead and praise God for his faithfulness it opens a door for us the see God and to know Him as faithful to us.

Deuteronomy 7:9 makes a clear statement about the nature and character of God as being faithful.

  • “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

In Acts 2:38-39, we see the fulfillment pf this promise unto us and generations after us.

  • Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off (generations to come), everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Lean On Him
In Deuteronomy 7:9 God is identified as the faithful God. The word for faithful in that text is “aman” meaning confirming, supporting, reliable. The faithful one is the one who sustains, carries, nurtures, supports and builds up. The faithful one is trustworthy and can be leaned on. The faithful one is consistent in being true and right.

God, as the Faithful One is consistent in daily applying His love, mercy grace and care for us. In Lamentations 3:22-23, Jeremiah describes this faithfulness as emanating from God’s devotion to us.

  • “Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!”

This truth about the faithful nature of God sounds a resounding chord of hope within me. It assures me that God is faithful to be forgiving and merciful to me every day.

I can lean on this truth when that accusatory voice sounds within me, reciting all the ways I failed, all the ways I missed the mark. That voice that reverberates with echoes of “you are not worthy; you are not good enough; yet again you messed up.”  It is that voice shaded in darkness that we all hear.

But, knowing that God is faithful, that He is consistent in His love and grace to us and that I can lean on Him for support in my weakness leads me to life, hope and faith. That hope explodes in praise to God for His faithfulness to me.

Facets of Faithfulness
There are many ways that God is faithful to us. As a meditation exercise, read the verses below. Let them speak to you and help connect with God’s faithfulness in your life.

God’s faithfulness is a protection.

  • “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Ps. 91:4

God’s faithfulness is eternal.

  • “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Ps. 100:4-5

God’s work is done in faithfulness.

  • “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 33:4”

We see God is faithful in His work of salvation to us . This truth of God’s devoted faithfulness is attested to in 1 Corinthians 1:8-9.

  • He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

The Faithful One is with us in the hard times.

When I am going through hard times it is difficult for me to see God’s faithfulness. Sometimes, in the fog of hurt and pain, I have to hold onto the truth of the scripture by making a choice to believe He is there. There are many promises of God’s faithfulness to us. Here are a few, add some of your favorite ones.

  • “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” Ps. 46:1
  • “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear for You are with me.” Ps. 23:4

Look for Faithfulness
Sometimes the stress and difficulties of life obscure God’s faithfulness to me. It is easy for me to recall the most wondrous act of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promise to send His Son to save us and to draw us into His presence.

I can trace this persistent faithfulness of God through the Old Testament and New Testament and into my life today.  But seeing His faithfulness as I walk through the events and relationships of my daily life takes an intentional focus.

The other day I was struggling with being hurt by a relationship that I have. Even after various steps of reconciliation, difficulties remained. I began to focus on the hurt, my thoughts produced fear and lack of peace and trust in God.

I began to look for God’s faithfulness to me in this.  I prayed for God to comfort me, to renew my thinking and faith about how He was feeling about me. Later that day I was listening to a spiritual song and it was like God himself encouraging me, reminding me of His grace and love for me.

Also, later that day I received an email from the person who is mediating this difficulty. In this email she communicated her love and acceptance for me. These were glimpses of God’s faithfulness to me.

Be intentional about seeing God’s faithfulness in your life.

  • Pray and ask God to show you, to open your eyes to see His faithfulness and open your ears to hear it.
  • Find a scripture that speaks God’s faithfulness to you. Read it as you ask God to help you see how it connects to you.
  • Make a mental picture of you in this faithfulness scripture. Mine is Ps. 23:4. In that picture I see myself a lamb walking through a shadowy valley, but I am at the side of the Good Shepherd, leaning into His leg. He has His staff in His right hand and every now and then He puts His hand on my head or back to reassure me that He is there.
  • Take time to think about all the ways God has shown His faithfulness to you.
  • Write them down, and then thank God for each one.

Chosen by God: Journey to Magnify God – 4

Mary, the mother of Jesus, praised God for being “chosen” by God to give birth to the Son of God. Jesus, the Son of God lived within Mary’s womb for nine months. Amazing to think that the majestic God who is full of glory and splendor lived within that very small space of her womb (Phil. 2:6-7).

Mary was confused and full of fear. She wondered how could such a thing happen. The angel told her it would be through the Holy Spirit that this would happen.

In the days in which Mary lived this “choosing” by God brought difficulty and suffering, possible death. An unwed mother in those days brought much shame and reproach upon herself. In Matthew we read that even her betrothed, Joseph, doubted her innocence and resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:19-20).

Yet, Mary gave thanks and praise to God for this honor, not only the honor of bringing the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior, into the world; but also, the honor of having God, the Son of God, live in her.

“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked with favor (grace) on the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation…” Luke 1:46-50

Mary: Not the Only Chosen One
Like Mary, you and I have been and are being chosen to have the presence of God inside of us, and to grow into that presence.

God is very upfront in revealing this truth to us that God, the Spirit of God lives in us.

Peter revealed this truth in Acts 2:38. This was a truth for his generation and for all the generations of true believers to come after.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs to you and your children and to all who are far off (from generation to generation) —to all whom the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38-39

Other scriptures verify this truth:

  • “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  2 Timothy 1:14
  • “. . . the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:7
  • “ But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

These are deep truths.  Do I believe them? Will I hold unto them when the evidence of my own life contradicts them? Will I let them set me free?

Christ Growing in You
As Jesus grew inside the womb of Mary, so He is growing inside each believer.

As I give space to Jesus by dying to myself, Jesus’ nature and character are being formed within me and I am becoming more “one” with Him. Scriptures promise us this, John 17:20-23.

You may think if you knew me and how messed up I am, and even how very unlike Jesus I am; you would know how hard it is to believe this.

It is hard for me to believe this, especially when I look at myself and do not look at Jesus or the power of His Spirit to raise up and to give life. It is hard for me to believe when I try to fix or change myself and do not give myself over to the truth and the power of God’s Spirit.

When Mary was struggling with belief and trying to “reason it out” she asked the angel, “How can this be?” The angel answered her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and do this. (Luke 1:34-35)

God encourages us with the same words when we try to reason out how can this change happen. God says it is the Spirit who does this.

Meditate on these truths:

  • And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18
  • But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  • He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we would become heirs with the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7
  • Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

So then …
As you contemplate how to give thanks to God and how to formulate your words of praise to Him think about praising Him for “choosing to live inside of you.”

As you take time to praise God ,let the understanding of who God is, and what He is doing in you be magnified to you  – and reflect on these questions:

  • What does the story of Mary’s having been chosen and the scriptures of you being chosen to have God in you, say to you? What words describe your feelings about this?
  • How does this truth that “God lives in you” change your view of who you are and what your value is?
  • What are ways that you have seen Christ growing in you? List these and give thanks to God for this growth.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.        1 Peter 2:9

Stand by Me (Magnifying God -3)

The Bible is like a magnifying glass.  The scriptures have a way of focusing my sight and enlarging my understanding of God. I am reading the scriptures to see God magnified up close so I can know Him and then magnify Him to others. As I do this, I am finding truths about God’s character and heart towards us, and I am learning how to express praise and thanks to Him.

Psalm 75:1 reveals and magnifies the truth that God is near to us, and that is a cause for praise to God.

  • “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.”

The phrase “your Name is near” means that God is near to us. God’s name(s) are very important because they represent who God is. For example, in Exodus  3:14 God reveals that His Name is Yahweh – I AM WHO I AM. That term means God is self-existing and is the source of all life and existence.  God Is.

When the psalmist writes Psalm 75:1 that the Name of God is near to us, he means Yahweh, the “I AM”- the source of all existence is near to us. I am reassured to know that the “Life giving God” is near me.  This truth has given me courage and comfort as I daily walk through this pandemic.

In Joshua 22: 22a  some of the Israelites call God by the name LORD (Yahweh) and then they refer to God as Elohim which means “the Mighty One.”

  • “The LORD, the Mighty One, is God! The LORD, the Mighty One, is God!” Josh.22:22a

So, in Psalm 75:1 when the psalmist says “for Your Name is near,” he is saying, “God the Mighty One,” is near to me/you.

I am encouraged to know that God, the Mighty One who has all power and strength is near me.  When I am feeling weak, vulnerable, frustrated and overwhelmed with life, knowing that I can turn to “the Mighty One” for help gives me relief. He is by my side. I am not alone.

We could go through the list of the names for God and get the same reassurance in faith as with these two examples, that the God who is the definition of all His Names is near to us.

In Other Words
The scriptures provide many ways of conveying this truth that God is near; that He is a personal God involved in our life.  God is not just a distant power, but rather, He is a God who seeks to be close to us all the time and most especially in our times of need.

Here are some of the ways the Spirit confirms this truth.

  • Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 145:18 – The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
  • Psalm 119:151 – You are near, O LORD, and all Your commandments are truth.
  • 16:8- I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
  • Psalm 73:28 – But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 119:7-10 poetically expresses this continual nearness and presence of God who acts on my behalf.

  • “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Hard to Believe
When I am hurting, feeling  confused by the difficulties of life or betrayed by my own contrary nature which often seems to default to thinking, saying and doing things I don’t really want to,  I can struggle with believing God is near, or that God even wants me near Him.

This thinking is flawed and not based on truth.  God wants to be near us, He wants to have a deep personal friendship with us. The scriptures reassure us of this truth.

In James 4:8a we read, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” So, it is not a matter of whether God wants to be near me, but whether I am choosing to come near to Him, and whether I am making moves towards Him in faith.

In Ephesians 1: 4 and  2:13, we read how God brings all men near to Him through the blood of Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles: “ For He chose us(Israel) in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love, He preplanned for us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will. . . 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

God’s desire for us to be near Him, in a very personal relationship with Him, was not a mere “good idea,” but it became reality in sending Jesus to destroy the barrier between God and us so we could be near God.

God in Us!
God is so “near” that He is in us who believe
. The scripture speaks this truth in many forms. At times, when I am lost in my “self”  I need to be reminded of this truth. Here are a few encouraging passages for study and meditation.

  • “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27
  • “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him/her.” John 14:23
  • “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:12

 Respond with Praise
As I learn who God is and what His heart is towards me, I am encouraged, re-assured, and filled with a sense of security to know God  is near me and in me. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 75:1 describes correctly what my response should be: “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near.”

  • Meditate on this truth, that God is near to you. Consider these questions:
    What does this truth that God is near me and in me mean to my faith and my life?
  • Have I been living in the presence of God?
  • What will I do today to draw near to God?
  • Take some time to give praise and thanks to God for choosing to be close to you.

Remember, Recount, Revived!

When I was growing up there was a boy in my class in elementary school who stuttered. His name was Johnny. His stuttering was to such a degree that he rarely was able to express his thoughts, ideas and feelings. His frustration was palpable, you could see it and feel it in the air. I see Johnny’s face to this day, the frustration, the sadness  and shame that he could not share his ideas and his heart with us. I wish I could have helped him.

In my quest to learn how to magnify God and to praise Him, I can experience a similar frustration as Johnny did. I stutter to magnify God – to make Him big; to tell of Him in a way that brings His value and His glory to light.

What kinds of words do we use that are capable of showing how great and wonderful God is? What can I say that can enlarge God to others in such  a way that they see His nature, His power and His love in a very real way?

I was reading in Psalm 66 the other day and I realized that God actually tells us how to do this. In Psalm 66:3, the Spirit says: “Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! How great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.”

The Spirit is telling us what to say in order to magnify God to others, and what to say as we praise God in our private and public worship.

I could not help Johnny in elementary school to express himself, but today through the word of God, the Spirit helps me express praise to God and magnify Him.

Say It! Again!
When I recount or re-tell the awesome deeds of God, I am magnifying Him to others and praising Him. This thought is presented over and over again in the scriptures. Here are a few references to this way of magnifying God.

  • “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds.” Psalm 145:4-6
    (We magnify God to our children by recounting His wonderful deeds, in so doing they know God and learn to trust Him).
  • “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Psalm 107:21
  • I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High

What are the wonderful deeds of God?
They are many, we can’t recount them all. We do not know them all. But when you are meditating on the wonderful deeds of God think about what is written in the Word. Think of how he planned, even before the creation of the world, to save us through the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus, (Ephesians 1:4-7)

Think about how God created the world out of nothing, just from the power of His thoughts and words. (Genesis 1-2; Hebrews 11:3)

Think about the wonderful deeds God performed to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt, and to deeds God performed to establish His King, our Messiah in this world.

Think of the wonderful deeds Jesus did that reveal the character and heart of God. Think of how Jesus gave sight to the blind; showed compassion and healed the lepers; straightened crooked limbs; gave life to withered hands; healed the body and the souls by forgiving sins; raised the dead, and many more.

We cannot magnify God to others, or worship and praise Him without recounting His wondrous deeds, because God is these deeds.

Remembering + Recounting = Revival
Recounting the wondrous deeds of God is a way we praise God, but in so doing it also can revive our faith in Him and restore in our hearts a sense of awe for God.

This idea of recounting and reviving is described very specifically in Psalm 77. The psalmist is  experiencing hard times. He talks  about groaning, sleepless nights, and an inability to express his struggle in words.

In his personal agony he questions God’s love and care of him. He accuses God of rejecting  and forgetting him, Psalm 77:7-8. He doubts God’s love for him, and questions if there ever was love from God for him, Psalm 77:8. He feels that he cannot trust God’s promises and wonders if God has any sense of compassion for him, Ps. 77:8b-9.

I have felt some of those things at times; forgotten and pushed aside by God, and questioned God’s trustworthiness. The psalmist searches his memory and what he knows of God. As he does this he reviews the wondrous deeds of God.

So, he remembers and recounts the wondrous deeds of God, and as he does his faith is revived and he concludes:

“ I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What God is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. “ Psalm 77:11-14

Remembering and recounting or re-telling the wondrous deeds of God, revives my faith!

God’s Ultimate Wondrous Deed
We may never be able to recount all the wondrous deeds of God, because we do not know all of them. However, the greatest of the wondrous deeds has been revealed to us and that is God was sending His Son into this world in the form of a man to become the ultimate sin offering to atone for our sins that we might come into God’s presence, into a right relationship with God. And, that through His Spirit, God would live inside of us. Let’s read a little about this wondrous deed.

  • “… all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” Romans 3:24-25a
  • “Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place (the presence of God).” Hebrews 10:19 (GWT)
  • “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

This short article cannot adequately express the wondrous deeds of God, so let’s end with this prayer.

Father God, teach us about you, how magnificent and wonderful you are. Teach us how to magnify you to others by knowing and  recounting your wondrous deeds. Help us to see and understand the wondrous salvation you provided for us through the atoning blood of Jesus, through his resurrection; and the breathtaking truth that Your Spirit lives in us and transforms us to be like you.

      “Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:3

Just One

Just One
Seed pod explosionSeed pod explosions set off chain reactions of growth. I watched a slow motion video of this once and it was breathtaking. The pod explodes, seeds fly everywhere. Seeds hit other pods and cause them to explode. Keep in mind that just one flying seed has the potential to create a new plant, with new pods and more seed. Just one seed has amazing life and growth potential.
(Photo credit: ifioridelbene.com)

Just one verse in the Bible can explode with truths about God! The other day I read Psalm 4, verse one, and it produced an explosion of truth seeds in my mind. These truth seeds encourage my trust in God, and deepen my relationship with Him.

Faith Building Truth Seeds
Psalm 4:1 is loaded with truths to produce life giving/life enriching faith.
“Answer me when I call O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” (ESV)

Seed 1: Speaking to God with Force
The term “answer me” in Hebrew is in the imperative mood, so the psalmist is giving a command to God.

This verb in the imperative mood reveals how intimate I can be with God. When I am in need, I can approach God with confident strength, boldly telling God to “hear my prayer and answer me.”

Through my faith in Jesus, I am brought into a personal relationship with God. There are times to revere God with praise and thanksgiving, and times I can be open and boldly demand his help. It is comforting to know that I can express my desperation in such a real and raw way and still be accepted by God.

Seed 2: God of My Righteousness
The psalmist through the inspiration of the Spirit refers to God as “the God of my righteousness.” This is a truth expressing who God is and who the source of my righteousness is. I can only approach God with an “imperative” when I understand that my righteous standing with God is his and is gifted to me.

God gifts me His “righteous” status through the redemptive work of Jesus, and therefore I am  able to approach God. Scripture bears witness to this.

  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
  • And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:22
  • It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30

This “seed truth” that God is the God of my righteousness gives me security. My relationship with God is anchored in Jesus, the Son of God. It doesn’t depend on my up and down feelings or my up and down performance.

Knowing that Jesus is my righteousness makes me able to cry out “answer me. O God” even when I have messed up and don’t measure up.

Seed 3: God Gives Relief from Distress
Relief and distress in this verse are opposites.

  • In Hebrew the term for relief means “to expand; to provide a large space.”
  • The word for “distress” means “a narrow, tight place; pressed down.” This is similar to expressions we use when hard pressed like: “between a rock and a hard place,” or, “the walls are pressing in.”

Distress referring to those tight and pressing circumstances, come in many forms; inner struggles to trust God; frustrations with family members, friends, people; tasks at work; physical health challenges; failures; lost dreams, and so on.

The psalmist states that God has given him relief from his distress. There are many accounts in the Bible that describe what such relief looks like.

Psalm 23 provides a visual of this truth. God, our Shepherd, brings us into green pastures, leads us by quiet waters, restores our soul, provides safety in the dark/tight places, comforts us and follows us with His goodness and mercy.

Again, we see this truth in Psalm  18:19, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

The truth that God relieves my distress gives me hope! God is going to bring me out from under the oppressive weight of my distress to a spacious place of inner peace.

Seed 4: God Listens to Us with Grace
The psalmist asks God to hear his prayer with ears of grace. The word “hear” in this verse means “to listen carefully.” God listens with attention and with the intent to help us.

Isaiah 65: 24 attests to this truth: “Before they call, I will answer, while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Even though Isaiah is referring to Israel, this passage reveals a truth about the character of God, which is His readiness to hear us when we turn to Him in faith.

Psalm 34:15 states this truth, “ The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are inclined to their cry.” The apostle Peter may have been thinking of this very Psalm when he speaks this truth in 1 Peter 3:12a, “ For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”

It is reassuring to know that God hears my prayers with attention, a readiness to listen, and intention to act.

Truth Feeds Faith
The Word of God is amazing. The Spirit uses the Word to bring us into a deep, intimate, knowledge of God.

Studying and meditating on just one verse can reveal many truths that bring life to our faith and  deepen our heart connection to God.

I encourage you to read verse by verse, word by word and ask God to show you wonderful things in His Word.

           “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Word.” Psalm 119:18

In You!

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “ Try not to become a man of success, but rather become a man/woman of value.”

Being a person of value is something we all seek at some level. Unlike Einstein I do not believe that I can create my own value, although that is something each one of us has endeavored to do.

God’s Truths Reveals Our Value
As a believer in God,  I am finding that the value I have comes from my connection with God. In fact, my identity and  my value come from God “in me.”

I have not always known this. In the past I have tried to create my own value  through attaining levels of education; seeking  titles and positions; and pursuing relationships /associations and things that make me feel valuable. I found that much of my value was dependent on other people’s  system of valuation.  I can still fall into this thinking from time to time.

As I walk with God and take in the truths of the scriptures, I see that God gives you and me true and lasting value by what He brings into us. 

God’s Love in You
The other day I was reading John  17:26 which is a part of the prayer Jesus prayed for his followers. In that prayer Jesus states that he has made God known to them so that God’s love will be in them, and so that Jesus, himself, will be in them. Romans 5: 5 repeats this truth.

  • “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:26
  • “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:5

The scriptures tell us that God is love. Jesus is praying that as we know God, His love will be in us. Wow, talk about value.  God loves me, and his love lives in me.

It is an astounding truth, even though I do not always feel God’s love or act like his love is in me, that feeling does not negate the truth of God’s love being in me. God’s love in me is value!

God’s Glory in You
Again, in the prayer of Jesus that is recorded in John 17, we see a truth about the amazing value God places in us. In this prayer Jesus refers to God’s glory being in us.

  • The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me”
    John 17:22-23

We see the same truth in Romans 8:29-30, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The glory of God is in the believer through Jesus Christ. The concept of the “glory of God” is complex and has several meanings,  but in basic terms, in this verse, it refers to  the divine nature. The divine nature of God is in us through Jesus in us.

2 Peter 1: 3-4  further explains this glory in us.

  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

In John 1:12-13,  Jesus reveals that through our faith in Him we become true children of God, born of God.  God’s spiritual DNA , so to speak, is in us, and as it unfolds in my life I am participating in God’s divine nature.

On my worst day when I am feeling like a total failure, with no splendor and  very little value I turn to this truth. The truth of “ God’s glory in me” contradicts that feeling. That is value!

God’s Light in You
God places His Light in us. This truth is revealed in 2 Corinthians 4:6

  • “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

This verse connects with those written above and solidifies the concept of God’s glory in us through Jesus in us. Light is a beautiful thing; without it our lives would be very challenged.

As one who is slowly losing my physical eyesight, I am learning to value light and the clarity it provides, but spiritual light is even more vital.

The truth that God’s light is in me is astounding. I cannot even say I really understand it. But on those days when my thinking  and vision of myself is dimmed by shadowy accusations, guilt or misperceptions, I am glad for God’s light in me that leads me, that removes the shadows and illuminates truth. I hold on to that truth.

Reflections
There is much to say about the value God places in us through Jesus and the Spirit of God in us.
At the moment, these few scriptures are rich with truth and can provide hours of meditation, prayer and deeper study.

What I love about these truths is that I don’t have to construct or conjure up my own value. I don’t have to toot my horn and draw attention to myself or my achievements to show people I have value. I don’t have to meet the ever-changing standards of people in order to have value.

Even on my best day, I cannot make my own value.  Trying to construct my own meaning and value is wearisome. It is chasing after the wind. God loves me and puts true value in me.

I encourage you to study the truth about God in you.  Let it redefine who you are and give you a true sense of your value and where it comes from.

Living Your Inner Reality

I have read books and articles about my identity, and an equal number of books on changing and growing or becoming a better person.  As a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, I want to be like Him.

One of the first things I did as a new disciple was to study all the passages in the epistles that talked about “putting on and taking off,” and adding to your faith.

However, I have learned that in all my efforts to “be like Christ,” that my greatest need my/your greatest need is to know  who I am already in Christ.

A Crucial Truth
Reading and studying about growing in Christ-likeness is not wrong, but could put our focus on performance and achievement. A more lasting and effective change or growth comes from knowing who I am, whose I am and who God is forming in me!

Transformation by Degrees
The transformation of my  nature and identity begins as I emerge from the waters of baptism.
Through this new birth, I am a new creation; saved; un-condemned; standing blameless before God; Spirit filled; and a child of God in the kingdom of light.

2 Corinthians 3:18 emphasizes the ongoing nature of our transformation. The “process of transformation” does not negate any of who we are as a new creation, but rather, it further develops the character and nature of Christ in us.

  • “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

Transformation Through All Things
Romans 8:28-29 reveals that our transformation into the image of Jesus is a direct result of the desire, good pleasure, and action of God. He is using his Spirit in us, His Word and “circumstances” of our life to work “the good” of being transformed into the image of His Son.

  • “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son … ” Romans 8:28-29

Truth About Transformation
The word translated as “transformation” is the Greek word “metamorphoumetha.” Strong’s Lexicon defines the word transformation as a change in form. There are two important aspects of this change in form.

 Transformation from Association
The first characteristic indicates  a change in form after being with.” Now for a disciple of Jesus that would imply we are changed through being with Jesus. We are changed as we believe in Him; as we receive His Spirit; as His Spirit works in us; and as we go deeper in our relationship with Him.

It is important to note in 2 Cor. 3:18 that this transformation process is initiated and maintained by the Spirit through our relationship with Jesus. This is not something I do myself, or even can do myself. We have all tried to effect change in ourselves with very limited success. This transformation occurs through my relationship or being with Jesus.

This is a truth. There were 12 men who “hung out” with Jesus for three years and they soon were defined by their relationship with him. We read that their close relationship with Jesus changed these men.

  • When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

As I reflect on this amazing truth, I have to ask myself, “Am I hanging out with Jesus, or just visiting from time to time?”

Transformation in Keeping with Reality
The second characteristic involves “changing form in keeping with inner reality.” This facet of the definition of transformation encourages my faith and gives me hope.

This aspect of transformation is at the core of who I am. It involves a change of form inside of me. It does not involve my heritage, education, appearance, achievements or performance. It is all about the truth of who I am in Jesus, and who he is forming me to be.

This truth is seen in  1 John 3:2 and Ephesians 2:6-7.

“Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2

  • Our nature and identity are changed and we are becoming more transformed in Him.

“ … God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 2:6-7

  • Here we see our transformation from dead to alive in Christ and that we are already seated with him. This is an amazing truth, we need to think about the implications of this.

Our True Inner Reality
What does this transformation, this change in keeping with reality” mean to me? It means I am currently exactly what God says I am in Christ. I am what God states in his Word whether I feel like it or not; whether others approve me; and whether I think I am living up to it or not. I am who He says I am.

Truths of Our Reality
For further study and meditation below are some passages that reveal who we are in Christ and who we are becoming. It is helpful to read these in the first person.

I am: a friend of God – Romans 5:10-11
I am: known by God – John 10:14
I am: no longer dead but alive in Christ – Ephesians 2:4-6
I am: no longer guilty but forgiven and blameless – Ephesians 1:4
I am: a partaker of God’s nature – 2 Peter 1:4
I am: a child of light – Eph. 5:8; Col. 1: 12-13
I am: the righteousness of God –  2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24
I am: a member of the household of God and a citizen of heaven- Eph. 2:19; Phil. 3:20
I am: a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am: chosen by God; a royal Priest -1 Peter 2:9
I am: an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ – Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:4-5
I am: approved by God, not condemned -Romans 8:1-2; Romans 5:16
I am: filled with the Spirit of God – Romans 6:18
I am: fashioned God – Ephesians 2:10
I am: becoming like Jesus – 2 Cor. 3:18

 *******************
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

God’s Love Is in the Details

When I first learned that God loves me and wants to be in a relationship with me, I was astounded! This closeness to God is what I have been searching and longing for all my life.

In those first days, weeks, months, even years of my walk with God, I was able to clearly see His love in Jesus the Savior. However, as I have moved along in my walk with God, I find that there are times when I do not have this clear sight of God’s love. Maybe this happens to you too.

Different trials and challenging events, such as: the slights and hurts received from others; disappointment at my own weaknesses and failures; chronic illness, and the weariness of the daily spiritual battle can blur or block out my ability to see God’s love. In times like this, I search for truths to hold onto.

I believe the Spirit has preserved, in the scriptures, various accounts of interactions between God and people. These interactions give us insight into God’s thinking and how he relates to us. One such story that has helped me recently is  the story of God and Elijah in 1 Kings 18 and 19.

God in the Low Points
In 1Kings 18 and 19, I read an account of God interacting with love at a low point in the prophet Elijah’s life. Reading this interaction reminded me to look more closely for God’s love in the details of my life.

This story prompts me to change my focus in difficult or challenging times, and  make a deliberate effort to see God in times when I have: “messed up;” am hurting, being hurt or failing; in times of frustration and anger; defeat and giving up.

Sadly, I am often late in associating God’s love with these times because I am so focused on the problem or my failure to respond the way I think a believer should.  From the story of Elijah, I see that it is exactly in those times of hurt and challenge that God is bringing His love to me.

Elijah and Us
The Bible tells us that this man, Elijah, was just like us. You say, “No, he was a man of God. He was a prophet. He did great deeds of faith.”  Yet, when James talks of Elijah, he says Elijah is a person who is like us. Elijah believed in God, like you and me. He prayed fervent prayers, like you and me. He serves God, like you and me. He helped others grow in their faith in God, like you and me. As believers in God and Jesus, we do these very things.

  • “Elijah was a person just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth yielded its crops.” James 5:17-18

This is a truth, revealed by God, that Elijah is a person just like you and me. Therefore, we can learn from God’s interaction with Elijah.

Background to the Story
Here is a quick overview of 1 Kings 18-19, but I encourage you to read it.

  1. The people of God were unfaithful to God.
  2. God worked through Elijah to call the people back to Him.
  3. In faith Elijah sets up a contest between God and the Baal worshipers. Both groups prepared a sacrifice to their god. The God who answers their prayers by lighting the sacrifice, is the true God.
  4. Yahweh, the God of Israel lit the sacrifice with a bolt of fire from the heavens. It burned  up the sacrifice, and the altar. (1 Kings 18: 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”)
  5. Elijah then got down on his knees and prayed for the rain to return, and it did. (1 Kings 18:44-45)
  6. Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, heard all that happened, and she threatened to kill Elijah.
    (1 Kings 19:2: “… by his time tomorrow” Jezebel says she will take Elijah’s life as he did the prophets of Baal).

Elijah’s Response to A Threatening Situation
Upon hearing Jezebel’s threat, Elijah became full of fear and anxiety. After having been partners with God, that very day, in an amazing display of God’s power, and love for the people, one would think Elijah would have trusted God to deal with Jezebel.

In facing the reality of the threat, Elijah gave in to fear and anxiety, and he ran away. Fear clouded Elijah’s thinking and blocked his faith. He turned inward and despaired. In fact, he gave up and wanted to die.

  • 1 Kings 19:3-5 describes Elijah’s state: “ Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. . . . He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”

Elijah’s fear blocked out his ability to trust God. He turned inward, withdrew, and wanted to die. His thinking became distorted, believing he was the only faithful one left to take a stand for God.

God’s Loving Response to Elijah
One would think that God would be angry at Elijah’s fear and inability to trust God in this challenge. But, God did not get angry. He did not punish Elijah. God did not make a point of telling Elijah that he was messing up, failing to meet his expectations. Instead, God shows his love in the details of caring for Elijah.

In 1 Kings 19:5-9, we read of God’s compassionate and loving response to Elijah.

  1. God restores. God provided for Elijah to lay down and rest, and he gave Elijah food to strengthen him (1 Kings 19: 5).
  2. God comforts and supports. God sent an angel to minister to Elijah. The angel gently touched Elijah and directed him to eat and sleep. (1 Kings 19:5b-7).
  3. God speaks truth. God lovingly corrected  Elijah’s distorted perspective of things. God told Elijah that he was not alone, that God had reserved 7,000 people who have not bowed to Baal. So, Elijah had access to the fellowship of faithful people to encourage and support him. (1 Kings 19:18)
  4. God has a plan and a purpose. God continued to trust Elijah even when Elijah did not trust Him. God gave Elijah a mission: to anoint a king in Aram and a king in Israel, and then to anoint Elisha to be his predecessor. (1 Kings 19:15-18)

 Look for the Details of God’s Love
Elijah’s response has some elements of familiarity. I can see the pattern of his response threaded in some of my responses to trials and challenges. I can slip from faith to fear, or usually from faith to insecurity, and then turn inward and withdraw; but, meditating on this story in 1 Kings 18-19 reveals to me that God is there in the details.

We are like Elijah and God is the same to us as He was to Elijah. From the relationship of God and Elijah I am learning to ask myself these questions during the challenging times.

  • How is God restoring and comforting me?
  • What angel did God send into my life to help me?
  • What truth is God telling me about Himself, or myself?
  • What purpose or plan of God’s do I see? How did /will God use me?

Exploring Friendship with God- 2: Blood Brother

Two young girls sat on the back porch. They pricked their fingers with a pin and cemented their friendship with their blood in hopes of becoming closer.  It was an act to solidify their friendship and create a deeper bond.

As we explore the idea of “friendship with God,” we will see that the foundation of our relationship with God is the blood of his Son, Jesus. It is that blood which enables us to come into God’s presences and have a deep relationship with Him.

A Little Review
The concept of a friendship with God first caught our eye in the story of Abraham, not because Abraham was the first friend of God, but because Abraham was the first person that the scriptures actually say was a “friend of God.”

In the previous article, “Exploring Friendship with God – Part 1I,” we looked at the three scriptures that literally say that God considered Abraham his friend.

  • Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 2 Chronicles 20:7
  • But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend… Isaiah 41:8
  • And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God. James 2:23

The word for friend in 2 Chron.20:7 and Is.41:8 is “ ’ahab” and it means to desire, to breathe after- to long for, therefore,  implying a very deep and personal aspect of friendship that goes beyond the idea of companionship and takes into the realm of a deeply personal, intimate relationship. A relationship that involves sharing of inner thoughts and feelings leading to a “heart” knowledge of one another.

As we looked at several scriptures where the word “ ’ahab” was used, and we saw characteristics of God as a friend.

  • A friend of God is loved, beloved, and has God’s devotion and heart. Even more amazing is that God longs for me and longs to have a close personal relationship with me.
  • God’s friendship is characterized by a valuing and sacrificing. God values the friend, the beloved (us). He values us and so, he sacrifices what he must to make a way for the friendship to be reality.
  • God is humble and vulnerable in this friendship. He is willing to confide deep truths about himself and his will to me (us). God deems me (us) trustworthy of that confidentiality.

Really?
When I first heard someone talk about being “friends with God,” I thought this is preposterous. I was sitting in a co-worker’s living room. The people gathered there were freely sharing about their relationship with God. They made it sound as though they had some kind of special connection with God, an intimate relationship. I was shocked to hear people describing their experience with God as if he was their most adoring friend and closest confidant, but secretly I wanted that.

Yes, It’s True!
These claims of a close, personal friendship with God seemed far-fetched, but the more I read the scriptures the more insight I gained to this “friendship with God.”

Psalm 25:14 is a verse that clearly states  friendship with God is available to us. When we look closely at the word some scholars translate as “friendship” we will see it is no ordinary friendship but a mutual deeply intimate sharing of love and heart.

Look carefully at the rendering of the Hebrew word  ס֣וֹדcowd or sode” in the following versions of Psalm 25:14.

  • The friendship (cowd) of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. ESV
  • The LORD confides (cowd) in those who fear Him, and reveals His covenant to them. BSB
  • The secret (cowd) of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. NASB
  • The intimate counsel (cowd) of the LORD is for those who fear him so they may know his covenant. ISV

The word “cowd” comes from a primitive root meaning couch, a cushion, a triclinium, or a divan. It is a place where friends gather to share intimate conversation. It is, so to speak, the symbol of friends sitting together conversing, sharing the deep thoughts of their hearts. It extends to consulting with, counseling, and familiar conversation. The personal sharing of hearts. Each version above connotes this meaning. (See other passages indicating friendship with God: Proverbs 3:32; Job 29:4; 2 Chronicles 20:7; John 15:15; 1 Corinthians 1:9).

Also note, that the second part of each verse above makes a point to state that this close relationship leads to deep inner knowing of the heart and will of the other, in this case God.

Throughout the gospels we see Jesus in familiar conversations with his followers. At the Passover supper before Jesus’ death, we can picture him sitting on a divan or triclinium eating and talking with his friends, actually sharing deep things on his heart such as his upcoming death, the covenant of his blood, and even his betrayer.

The Basis Is Blood
I thought the people in my friend’s living room who were freely talking about their friendship with God seemed odd, and it was definitely foreign to me, but I wanted that. I wondered what would I need to do to have such a personal friendship with God.

As I began to study the scriptures, I realized that God opened the door for me to come near to him through the blood of Jesus.  And, what is more I did not have to stick my finger with a pin, feel pain and bleed in order to achieve a true and lasting relationship with God. It is Jesus who suffered and bled to bring me into the presence of God.

There are many passages in the Bible that explain the truth about the atoning blood of Jesus.
I isolated this timeless truth from a few passages. As I read and consider this truth in each passage, they reaffirm my belief and understanding of the basis for a friendship with God.

  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
  • Hebrews 10:9 – He (Jesus) did not enter (the presence of God) by the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.
  • Hebrews 10:19 –“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…”
  • Romans 3:23-25a – “. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” (See: Romans 3:19-26)
  • 1: 19-20 – “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.” (BSB) (See: Col. 1:18-23)

Reflections
The blood of Jesus is the foundation of our relationship with God. This thought is very reassuring to my faith. It is a clear and specific truth that shows us the extent of God’s longing for you and me to be His friend.

This truth brings a sense of relief and peace to me, in that I don’t have to be perfect, or sinless to come close to God. The blood sacrifice of Jesus makes me blameless and able to confidently approach God. I am not relying on myself, my knowledge, my achievements, or my personal righteousness, but I am relying on the blood sacrifice of Jesus.

This truth is especially reassuring to me as I walk under the shadow of death in this pandemic, I rest confidently on the blood of Jesus and know that He has secured for me an eternal friendship with God no matter what happens.