The Peace of God or A Piece of God

peace-2piece-of-pie-2In his book I AM, Steve Fry says, “Peace is the evidence that we have submitted to God.” Scripture talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding. I can only experience this kind of peace when I completely trust God with everything in my life. This included the good, the bad and the miraculous. Steve Fry goes on to say, “The rule of peace begins when we no longer want answers, but only want God.”

In other words, I cannot just have a piece of peace. This concept is contrary to what I perceive when I think about a piece of fruit pie. If I had baked an apple pie that was setting on the kitchen counter and I wanted some to eat, I would cut a piece for myself and leave the remainder of the pie. A whole pie would be too much for me to eat. This is not how the Lord does things. I find His spiritual fruit pie in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I notice that Paul says it is “fruit” – not “fruits” – of the Spirit. In other words, I cannot simply cut myself a piece of peace without also having a serving of self-control and seven other things. God serves me with His sovereignty. I must not question what the Lord puts on my plate.

God wants me to understand His rulership and authority over my life. His sovereignty goes beyond my knowledge, and even goes beyond my sense of His presence. When I grasp this concept, I will be able to experience true peace. This peace comes only when I trust God and submit to Him not because of what He does but because of who He is. With this in mind, I want to share some scripture verses that describe the kind of peace available.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are
steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16

As I look at each of these pieces of peace, I see that surrendering to God’s sovereignty is significant to my experiencing the peace of God. I cannot allow my own understanding, or lack of understanding, to allow me to cut out pieces of the whole pie God prepares for me. One piece of apple pie may satisfy my hunger, but my spiritual hunger will only be satisfied when I accept without question all that God hands me. The peace of God comes when I submit to each piece of His personal plans and purposes.

So, Lord, take me into a deeper understanding of your ways. And, Lord, give me your peace. I do not want to settle for just a piece of your peace!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

Wind Empowers Windmills

windmill 3wind of HSwindmill 8

I have always been fascinated by windmills. However, they are worthless objects unless the wind empowers them. The blades of the windmills are so graceful as they go around and around under the direction of whirling air. It is amazing how much productive power they generate. According to Wikipedia, the windmill is defined as a mill that converts the energy of the wind into rotational energy by vanes called blades. Centuries ago, windmills usually were used to mill grain or pump water. The majority of modern windmills take the form of wind turbines used to generate electricity, or windpumps used to pump water. Their appearance has changed dramatically over the years and the use of their power has expanded. As my physical eye looks up to see these towers catching the air’s breeze, my spiritual eye looks up to the wind of the Holy Spirit.

windmill 5Focusing upon physical windmills brings back memories of when I grew up on a farm. There was a windmill on almost every farm and it was the source that provided water for our cattle. Our windmill pumped water from deep beneath the ground. However, it could only function when the wind was blowing. Dad made sure to fill our cattle’s watering tank to capacity on a day when the wind was blowing because there was the possibility that tomorrow he would not be able to add water to the tank if the air was still.

windmill 4Today when traveling across the state of Iowa, we see numerous modern windmills. Instead of one windmill per farm, these groupings of structures are called windmill farms. If the wind is blowing, the blades of the windmills will be rotating. If there is no wind, the three blades of the mill are stationery. The windmill can still only operate when there is wind. However, instead of being a source of water, most modern windmills are used as a source of electricity.

wind of HS 2With the structural use of windmills in mind, I now look for a spiritual application. I am the windmill and the Holy Spirit is my wind. Jesus says in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” In the natural, I cannot see the wind but I can feel it blowing against my face. In the spiritual, I cannot see the Holy Spirit but I am aware of the Spirit’s power and work in my life. Knowing that Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit descended upon the eleven apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ fifty days after His ascension, I think of another scripture. Selected portions of Acts 2:1-4 describe this occasion by saying, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit….” Here is wind and here is power! This is what Jesus promised in John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Considering how this affects me today, I look at a couple of scriptures found in letters written by Paul. When Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” he is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit at work within him,  This same power is available to me today. Then in Ephesians 3:16 NLT, Paul says, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he (the Father) will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” If the wind of the Spirit is blowing upon my life, I am promised the strength to accomplish the Lord’s will and work. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, I will not succeed.

The windmill uses wind power to create rotational energy for the use in mills and pumps and wind turbines. Similarly, I can rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to give me energy to fulfill the tasks the Lord has for me. I described physical windmills as having a graceful appearance. It is only possible for me to be the person God wants me to be by being “grace full” – full of His grace. This corresponds with the definition of grace that says it is His empowering presence that allows me to be the person He created me to be and to do what He has planned for me to do. Wind and windmills work together just as the Holy Spirit works with me.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Balmy Breeze + Peaceful Pond = Divine Diamonds

sparkling water 2diamonds 2It was a Sunday morning when my husband and I leisurely sat on the patio of our motel by a small pond. Usually at this time we would have been in a building of four walls for a time of worship but this morning we were in Christ’s chapel of nature.

Our worship team was a choir of chirping birds singing praises to the Lord. I whispered my own silent prayer of thanks to God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. The morning message I was reflecting upon was based upon the reflections I saw upon the pond. I want to share the message that meandered through in my mind that morning.

The pond was primarily peaceful but occasionally a balmy breeze would rustle through the trees and cause ripples upon the water. With the breath of God blowing upon the water, diminutive water swells were created. These tiny wavelets looked like diamonds as the sun shimmered upon them.

My thoughts turned towards diamonds. According to Exodus 28:18 NKJV, a diamond is the third stone in the second row of stones in the breastpiece worn by the priest. The breastpiece, or ephod, was placed over their heart. To me, this says that diamonds are near and dear to the heart of God.

As I looked upon the sparkling splashes of water, the Lord spoke to my spirit that I was also precious to Him. Isaiah 43:4 begins by saying that we are precious in God’s sight and that He loves us. Wow! In a sense, each individual is as valuable to the Lord as diamonds. Darlene Sala author of More Precious Than Diamonds: Biblical Meditations on a Woman’s Worth in God’s Eyes, points out that while God created many diamonds, He chose to uniquely create only one of each of us. Diamonds are among the most precious gems of all creation. They are beautiful and highly valued, but God values each of us more highly than any inanimate rock.

Diamonds are formed deep within the earth under high temperature and pressure. It has taken millions of years to develop some of these gems. They are the hardest known natural material and are composed of carbon-containing minerals. The hardness of a diamond depends upon its purity and crystalline perfection with the harder stones having less flaws. I see a similarity between how God has chosen to create natural diamonds and how He works to make me into the precious person He desires me to be. I need to remember that when I feel like the heat is on and I am under pressure, God is refining me. The value of a diamond is based upon its carat weight, clarity, color and the quality of its cut. My value to the Lord depends upon the quality of life I live according to my faith, trust, and obedience.

By the power of a balmy breeze upon a peaceful pond, the breath of God created divine diamonds for me that Sunday morning. I can still see those sacred sparkling water wavelets with my mind’s eye. The popular Christian song Diamonds by Hawk Nelson is currently swelling within my heart. I quote some of the lyrics.

He’s making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining
And in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of us

I’ll surrender to the power
Of being crushed by love
Till the beauty that was hidden
Isn’t covered up
Oh it’s not what I hoped for
It’s something much better

He’s making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining
And in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of us.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Season of Springtime

 

rainspring-flowersApril showers bring May flowers.

This is a saying I remember from my childhood. Today these words help me to endure the spring rain showers (mostly snow showers this year) that prevent the weather from being as warm as I would like. It is near the end of April, so I cling to the promises of May. The flowers will soon bloom along with the blossoming of more consistent bright and sunny days. Since I cannot yet be out in my flower garden, I think I will plant some seeds in the garden of my heart and mind. I found the following quote at THEDAILYQUOTES.com.

Your mind is a garden.
Your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers.
Or you can grow weeds.

Just as there are many packets of seeds available in a garden store, so are there many thoughts accessible to be planted within my mind. Each day I choose which packet of seeds, or thoughts, I will allow to take root within my mind. My thoughts may be positive or negative. Either choice will produce fruit. Positive thoughts grow into flowers that bring a smile to my face and to those around me. Negative thoughts are like weeds that I must pull out of my mind. Weeds of words have a tendency to grow faster than positive posies! I need to follow the advice of Paul in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Since I have trouble remembering all of Paul’s words, I like to simplify his instructions by remembering the acronym that Steve Nicholes uses for THINK. T is true – H is honorable – I is innocent – N is necessary – K is kind. I like these seeds! Proverbs 23:7 NKJV states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” This verse describes my heart as the fertile soil where the seeds of my thoughts grow producing either flowers or weeds.

If God wasn’t growing sons and daughters,
things would not take nearly as long.
But since He is more interested in our growth
than He is in our getting,
waiting becomes
a very essential and useful means toward the end.

At the beginning of this blog, I admitted that I needed patience while waiting for warmer weather. Pondering the place of patience within the garden of my life, I like the above quote by Jack Hayford from Moments with Majesty. Applying Hayford’s quote to gardening and to my life, I realize that spring is the growing season. Plants and seeds are growing whether or not I yet see visual proof. Just like seeds, thoughts are growing in the garden of my heart and eventually they will produce actions and reactions. I must remember that growing is more important than getting! Sometimes the seeds I plant are the prayers I pray. God hears my prayers the moment I pray them, but His answers may not be evident as quickly as I would like. God is at work in the garden of my heart before I am aware of the answer. Psalm 40:1-2 says, I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;” The soil of my heart may be muddy and need to be dried up a little bit before His best answer can grow within me and produce the best fruit or flower. The best soil for planting needs to be moist but not saturated with water. The mud of April showers needs to dry out to some extent before May flowers can be planted.

Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

I found this quote online at goodreads.com. It is taken from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. During the month of April, there are days when I too ask if spring is coming. I like how the answer combines sunshine and rain. Both elements of weather are needed for flower gardens and gardens of the heart and mind. Spring, showers and sunshine all go together. Zechariah 10:1 says, “Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.” Most likely, I would complain if there was no rain just as I grumble if I think there is too much rain. I must think about the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I will embrace the showers and the sunshine. I will acknowledge the possibility of flowers and weeds. I will allow growth to take place. It is springtime in my life and in the atmosphere!

My Reader, enjoy the special seasons of your life. Today is April, but it will soon be May.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Decorating Heart and Home for Christmas

This is the first week of December and I am beginning to think about Christmas preparations. Because I want to be prepared spiritually as well as physically for the celebrations on December 25, my desire is to decorate both my heart and our home for the holiday. So, the boxes of Christmas decorations have come up from the basement and the book entitled His Name is Wonderful by Warren W. Wiersbe has come off my bookshelf. Now I am ready to dig into the boxes to find ornaments to put upon our tree and to dig into the Bible to find scriptures to meditate upon within my heart. For my Bible study, I am focusing upon Isaiah 9:6 that lists five descriptive names for Jesus. According to Warren Wiersbe, these names prophesied by Isaiah had two purposes. First, each name revealed who the Messiah was to be as a person. Second, each name described a blessing the Messiah would share with us. Today we claim Jesus as our Messiah and He personifies each of these names. I will refer to more of Wiersbe’s comments throughout this blog.

While decorating our Christmas tree, I carefully handle each ornament and remember where and why we purchased the specific decoration. While decorating my heart for Christmas, I ponder carefully each specific Messianic name recorded in Isaiah 9:6. I want to gain new understanding of each definitive title for Jesus mentioned by Isaiah. I want to envision each specific name recorded by Isaiah as a unique Christmas ornament.

For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

(It is interesting to note that the King James Version and the New King James Version are the only Bible translations that put a comma between Wonderful and Counselor resulting in two descriptive words rather than one. I like this distinction for my personal study.)

 

ornament-1WONDERFUL
His name is Wonderful. This takes care of the dullness of life. (W. Wiersbe)

You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
Psalm 77:14 New American Standard

During this busy season, life is certainly not dull for me but there are other times when life appears to be rather mundane. I can prevent this complacency by focusing upon the fulness of the wonder that is exhibited by Jesus and His life. I stand in awe of the revelation of not only His love, but also His power. Miracles are His wonders that fill the earth and my life.

My Reader, since Jesus is Wonderful, look for the manifestation of His wonderous works in your life this Christmas.

 

ornament-2COUNSELOR
His name is Counselor. This takes care of the decisions of life. (W. Wiersbe)

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psalm 73:24 NIV

I definitely need the Lord’s counsel and guidance each day of my life, especially before the holidays. Without His help, I may not make the best decisions regarding Christmas preparations or major life decisions. Isaiah would not have described the Lord as a counselor if I did not require a counselor to live my life to the fullest.

My Reader, since Jesus is the Counselor, seek His counsel in a specific way each day of this holiday season.

ornament-3-mfTHE MIGHTY GOD
His name is the Mighty God. This takes care of the demands of life. (W. Wiersbe)

for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.
Luke 1:49 NIV

As the Mighty God, not only has He done great things for me but He continues to do great things for me. This gives me the assurance that I will accomplish everything I need to do before Christmas Day. It may not be all I want to do but it will be all I need to do. I must remember the availability of the mightiness and power of God on a daily basis. However, He is concerned about much greater purposes than my Christmas plans.

My Reader, since Jesus is the Mighty God, rely upon His power for your strength during the days of Christmas and every day.

 

ornament-4-mfTHE EVERLASTING FATHER
His name is the Everlasting Father. This takes care of the dimensions of life. (W. Wiersbe)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 New American Standard

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
John 19:10 New Living Translation

I like the wording of both of these translations and each one gives me a little different understanding. The thought of an abundant life is very appealing but I also like the description of life being rich and satisfying. “The dimensions of life” was a difficult phrase for me to understand. As I looked for some clarification, I found the word “magnitude.” I came to realize that life has a greater magnitude than the demands of preparing for the holidays. Warren Wiersbe says, “We live in time, but we live for eternity.” During this time of year, I might be tempted to think of abundance in relation to the number of gifts purchased or the amount of money spent. However, the abundance that God provides extends to eternity and has a much richer and deeper meaning. I do not want to get caught up in the materialism and commercialism of this holiday.
Jesus offers a dimension to my life that go beyond the natural realm to the supernatural realm. In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, “Father” meant “originator of” or “author of.” As Father, Jesus is the source of everlasting life because it is by accepting Him as our personal Savior, that we have the assurance of salvation.

My Reader, since Jesus is the Everlasting Father, see the baby in the manger as the source of eternal life as you celebrate Christmas this year.

 

ornament-5-mfTHE PRINCE OF PEACE
His name is the Prince of Peace. This takes care of the disturbances of life. (W. Wiersbe)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27 NIV

Peace is a gift from God for the holiday season as well as all seasons of life. All of us have a legitimate concern for peace throughout the nations of the world but this is not the kind of peace offered by the Prince of Peace. God’s peace transcends even my request for sanity during the busyness of holiday preparations. It is a spiritual peace, not simply an emotional peace. I must strive to be at peace no matter what the circumstances are around me. The best way for me to experience this contentment is to fill my mind with scriptures that will allow the Lord to fill me with his presence.

My Reader, do not let stress overcome the peace of the Lord this season.

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JESUS
His name is Jesus. This is the name at which every knee shall bow. (Philippians 2:10)

“You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you are to call him Jesus.”
Luke 1:31

Isaiah prophesied about him as the Messiah yet to come. He gave names that described him. However, Luke recorded the revelation given to Mary by an angel as to what His name was to be. Jesus – the name above all names.

Today I have taken time to embellish my mind with spiritual reminders of who Jesus is as well as to adorn our Christmas tree with decorative ornaments. The true meaning of the season will be more prevalent for me when I remember who I am honoring this season. I want to celebrate Jesus’ birth by commemorating who He is as a person and what He desires to do for me and all people. He is Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!

My Reader, take time to decorate your home for the holiday but also take time to meditate upon God’s Word so that your heart and mind will be filled with the message of Christmas.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Sixth of the Seven Last Words

It is finished. It is finished. It is finished. It isfinished. It isfinished. It is finished. It is
John 19:30
 

cross-11-mfWhen he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit
John 19:30

The sixth saying expressed by Jesus from the cross is the third phrase recorded in the gospel of John. I note only three words (It is finished.) in the English language and these words give me the impression that something is completed and is now a “done deal.” However, in Greek only one word is needed for this phrase: “tetelestai.” The tense of this verb in the Greek language implies that an action has been completed in the past with the results continuing into the present and even into the future. This lets me know that these words of Jesus still affect me today!  “It was finished in the past, it is still finished in the present and it will remain finished in the future.” I read an insightful sermon regarding this from Keep Believing Ministries. For me, this explanation exemplifies Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Previously when I read these words, I would ask myself, “What is finished for Jesus? Is it his life on earth? Is it the pain of the crucifixion? Is it the physical separation from his Father?”  “It” includes all of these plus so much more. It means that Jesus did exactly what he was sent to earth to do and he has now fulfilled his obligations. It is a phrase of victory! The words shout of Jesus’ obedience to the plan of God.

This saying is known as “The Word of Triumph.” When I hear the echo of the words, “It is finished” in John 19:30, it is as if I also hear God the Father responding “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as recorded in Matthew 25:21. There is no longer a need for animal sacrifices to be made to cover sin. The price of sin has now been paid by the Son of God. Jesus walked the road to Calvary in order to pave the road of redemption for me and everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The phrase “the end is the beginning” seems to be applicable for these words of Jesus. Soon after he spoke “It is finished,” Jesus would leave this earth. However, he still is active on behalf of me and all believers today. Some scriptures come to my mind. Jesus says in John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” He continues to say in John 12-13, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Another scripture I think about is John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Jesus said, “It is finished.” He did not say “I am finished.” Neither must I say that I am finished with whatever plans and purposes God has for me. Just as Jesus’ work on the cross continues to be active today, so must I continue to be obedient to fulfill the work God has for me according to Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” If my life is to be Christ centered, it must be cross centered.

Three simple words, yet three powerful words! Or in the Greek, one simple word, yet still so powerful! For me, it is even more compelling when I consider the magnitude of the meaning in Greek. It is a word or phrase that I want to appropriate by living a life of faith – the kind of life available to me because Christ died on the cross and proclaimed these words.

My Reader, have you accepted the fact that “it” is finished for you since Christ was crucified? What is “it” that you are called to complete today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Fourth of the Seven Last Words

My God,my God, why have you forsaken me? My God,my God, why have you forsak
Matthew 27:45 and Mark 15:34

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From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.
 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Matthew 27:45

 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

 Mark 15:34

 I want to begin today by making a list of things I notice about the Fourth Saying, “The Word of Abandonment,” spoken by Jesus.

  • This is the only phrase found in two gospels, and it is the only one noted by Matthew and Mark. (3 others are in Luke and 3 in John)
  • Part of the saying is recorded in Aramaic, Jesus’ native language.
  • There is now a shift in Jesus’ words to focus upon himself rather than the people around him.
  • The specific time of day when Jesus spoke these words is documented in the scriptures. (from noon until 3 o’clock in the afternoon the sky was dark!)
  • Here is the only Word of Jesus that asks a question. (and the question is never answered)
  • This is the only place in scripture where Jesus refers to his Heavenly Father as God. (all other times it is Father)

Since Jesus’ words take the form of a question, it puts me in a questioning mood. I think my blog is going to take the form of a question and answer debate because I have some questions of my own.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 Although Jesus had lived as God incarnate for the last 33 years, here is where I see the genuineness of his humanity. When Jesus asked this question he was experiencing sorrow, grief and pain to the fullest extent physically and as well as being forsaken by his Father spiritually. He was feeling the full impact of God’s wrath toward sin. This created a separation he had never experienced before and it caused him to ask a question he had never needed to ask previously.

Why did Jesus feel the need to ask this question?

 This is not a question I have found answered in any commentaries I have read. I am totally thinking on my own right now! I know Jesus knew he came to this earth to die in order to save me and all mankind, but I wonder if he thought about his need to be separated from his Heavenly Father. Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” As Jesus talked with his disciples shortly before his arrest, he emphasized this fact in John 14 and 15. Also, in John 16:22 Jesus said, “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” Jesus had never known what it was like to be separated from his Father even though he was living on the earth and his Father was in heaven. I suspect Jesus was counting on his Father to help him spiritually encounter the physical pain he would endure. It is interesting to note that this is the only reference in scripture where Jesus calls out to God rather than Father.

Why didn’t God answer Jesus’ question?

 I find it interesting that God did not answer Jesus’ question of “Why?” It had to be an extremely difficult time for God to look down from heaven and see His Son suffering so greatly and not be able to do anything for him. However, because He is a holy God, He could not answer Jesus’ question even if He had wanted to explain. In Habakkuk 1:13, it is said of God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” However, once the penalty for sin had been paid, God turned back to His Son and he was no longer forsaken. Jesus may not have had his question answered at the moment of suffering but his time of abandonment was limited and he and the Father were again one.

Do I know why Jesus was forsaken?

 Today I find the answer to the question Jesus asked on the cross over 2000 years ago. Paul states in II Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” and II Corinthians 5:15, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” How valuable the Bible is to help me gain a deeper understanding!

What happens when I ask the “Why” question?

 Like many believers, I often ask “why” when something happens. Sometimes the reason is revealed and other times it is not. If God did not give Jesus an answer to the why question, why do I think He should give me a direct answer? Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” To know God is more important than to know why. Knowing God alleviates the need of knowing why.

Have I ever experienced the need to ask,
 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Yes! I must begin by identifying with Paul in Romans 7: 14-25. I quote verse 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I have no ability to comprehend the utterly horrific experience of having all the sins of the world put upon me as did Jesus! My own sinful nature is more than enough for me. However, I do want to try to personalize these words of abandonment felt by Jesus. There have been times when I have wondered where God was at in the midst of situations I have encountered. I have wondered how and why God allowed me to struggle with particular things. However, I can always cling to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Yes, the fact that God had to turn His back upon His son on the cross makes me very aware that God will turn His back on those who are covered with sin. However, because Jesus endured this for me I know I can be assured of His presence and help in my life. That is why He is called Savior. Jesus cooperated with God the Father to save me from my sinful nature by taking my nature upon himself so He could in turn give me his sinless nature. I never need to experience what Jesus experienced on the cross!

Do you ever feel forsaken?

My Reader, have you ever felt like you could identify with these words of Jesus? Do you ever cry out to God asking why He has forsaken you? Do you ever ask Him why you are enduring a specific trial? Embrace the cross and embrace the reality that God is always with you. You are not forsaken!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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