I recently watched Grace Unplugged, a Christian movie about a teenage girl named Grace – daughter of a former-rock-star-turned-Christian – and her struggle with wanting to live life her own way, chasing her own dreams. Leaving home to pursue a career in the music biz, she would soon discover that the glamour life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the importance of a relationship with God over the world’s empty promises.
Throughout the film, Grace sought fulfillment in a variety of places – fame, a guy whom she thought cared about her, success in her music career – only to come up empty and heart-broken each time. This is the story of many of our lives. We try to satisfy our deepest longings with that which can never bring true satisfaction, and no matter what we do, something always seems to be missing. Like Grace, it is only when we turn to God that we will truly find what we are looking for. It is in Christ that we are complete (Colossians 2:10). Only the love of our Heavenly Father can fill the void within us, giving our lives true meaning and purpose.
Grace Unplugged stars AJ Michalka as Grace Trey, whom the movie’s about, Jamie Grace as Rachel, Grace’s friend, and features a special appearance by Chris Tomlin. Rated PG, it is a great movie for teens and adults, and a good reminder that true fulfillment and purpose are found in the arms of our Heavenly Father!
Linked up this post with Thriving Thursdays at Serving Joyfully
This week’s memory verse from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is
2 Corinthians 5:17. It says that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old has past, and the new has come!
We were once sinners, caught in our own transgressions.
We were lost. Alone. Distant. Without hope, and without God in the world
Because of what Christ has done for us, however, we are not who we once were. We have been made new.
We have been redeemed. Accepted. Forgiven. Rescued. Reconciled. Perfected once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Made right with our Heavenly Father.
This is not because of anything that we have done, but because of what Christ has done for us. We are in Him, and He is our new identity. In this world, as He is, so are we
(1 John 4:17)! Next time you begin to feel guilty, condemned, or unworthy, remember that you are a new creation in Christ. The old has past, and the new has come!
Easter is the time of year when we celebrate Jesus, and all that He’s accomplished for us, in coming to earth, dying at for our sins, and rising again. We rejoice in the fact that because of all that He’s done, we can become God’s children (John 1:12), and receive eternal life (John 3:16).
We celebrate Jesus at Easter, but sometimes, throughout the year, it’s easy to lose sight of His finished work, and all that it means for us. Perhaps we get so caught up in the busyness and cares of this life that we begin to lose sight of all that He’s done for us. Maybe our friends or families, or the people at our workplace, aren’t believers, and we’re constantly surrounded by those who don’t know or haven’t accepted the good news of the gospel. Whatever the reason, once Easter is finished, we often shift our focus away from the One whom it is all about, and whose sacrifice for us gives us something to rejoice over no matter what the season.
The good news of what Christ has done for us, however, is so much bigger than just one day of the year. The gospel is power of God for the saving of all who believe (Romans 1:16), which alone contains the ability to affect true life change. It is all because of Jesus that we, who have sinned, can approach an holy God, and be accepted by Him, regardless of our actions, and qualified to receive all of His blessings. It is through the love and grace that God, because of Jesus, can now show us, that our deepest longings can be truly satisfied. It is by believing in Him, and accepting what He has done for us, that we can someday spend eternity with our Heavenly Father.
Though Easter is over, our celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and all that He’s accomplished for us, doesn’t have to be. Hebrews 12:2 bids us to fix our eyes upon Him, without specifying a particular day or time of year. Let’s continue to rejoice in our Savior’s finished work all year long!
Linking this post up to Monday’s Musings at What Joy Is Mine
John 20 speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, and Him appearing to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, as well as to His disciples. It proclaims the glad tidings that He is risen!
Early in the morning on first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb, and saw that the stone had been removed. She ran to tell Peter and John about this, then stood outside the tomb, weeping. She saw two angels who asked her why she was crying, to which she responded that Jesus had been taken away, and she didn’t know where they had put Him. At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. She went and told the disciples the good news that she had seen Him.
Perhaps you’re asking yourself the question “What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for me, over 2,000 years after it occurred?” Here are a few of the ways that the resurrection affects our lives today:
Jesus died for our sins, and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). At the cross, He took our sins upon Himself, paying the price for them, which was death (Romans 6:23). His resurrection proclaims the fact that our sins have been completely and effectively dealt with, and that there remains nothing left for us to do but to receive the forgiveness that God offers to us.
2 Corinthians 5:14 proclaims that one died for all, and therefore all died. Because Jesus took our place at the cross, His death was our death. We have been raised with Him (Colossians 3:1). We were once dead in our transgressions, but we have been made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5)!
After Jesus rose again and ascended to heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God as our high priest (Hebrews 8:1). In the Old Testament, the high priest represented the people before God. In the same way, Christ represents us before God today. Our identity is found in Him. Because we are in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17), God views us as He views Jesus – completely loved, accepted, and cherished, with unshakable right standing before Him.
This Easter, may you rejoice in the knowledge that our Savior is risen. May God give you an even greater revelation of all that His death and resurrection mean for you today. Have a wonderful and Happy Resurrection Day!
John 19 is all about Jesus’ death. He gave His life for us at the cross, that we might be reconciled to our Heavenly Father (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), and given eternal life (John 3:16).
In John 16:30, before He dismissed His spirit, Jesus utter the words “It is finished.”
The price was paid.
God’s anger against sin had been satisfied in full.
Our sins had been dealt with, and forgiveness provided for us.
The way was made open for us to become God’s children.
Eternal life was made ours, if we would believe in Him.
Jesus’ death put an end once and for all to mankind’s need to struggle and strive to gain acceptance before God. He bore in full the penalty for all of our wrongdoings, and God’s fiery judgement and wrath against them, and declared that it is finished. From that point on, salvation has been freely offered to us, belonging to all who will receive it.
When Jesus said that it was finished, He meant it. There’s nothing left for us to do, no price left for us to pay. Instead of living under the old covenant of the law, we now live under the new covenant of God’s amazing grace. Let’s rest in His finished work!
John 18 is all about Jesus being arrested and tried before the high priest and Pontius Pilate, as well as Peter’s denial of Him.
In John 18:4, Jesus asked the chief priests and Pharisees, who had come with Judas to arrest Him, who is was that they wanted. When they responded that they had come for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus told them “I am he (John 18:5).” Upon hearing Him say these words, they drew back and fell to the ground. Again He asked them who they wanted, and they replied the same. Jesus told them that it was him that they were looking for, and to let the others go. When Peter chopped off one of the men’s ear, Jesus stopped any more such doings. He was then arrested, and taken before the high priest.
Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and nailed to the cross out of His great love for us. He is the good shepherd, who laid down His life for us, His sheep (John 10:15). John 10:18 says that He laid it down of His own accord. He willingly gave His life for us, that we might be saved. Because of His amazing affection for us, He paid the price to redeem us. For our transgressions, He was pierced. He was chastened for our peace. We are healed by His stripes (Isaiah 53:5). He became poor that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Through Him, we have been reconciled to our Heavenly Father
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Let’s praise our Savior for willingly laying down His life for us!
“I lay down my life for you. This is the moment when all will be made new . . . Arms stretched out upon this tree to show true love, to set you free.”
In John 13, we read the story of the last supper, during which Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He got up from the meal, wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a basin, and began to wash the feet of His disciples.
Mark 10:45 says that Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. The Son of God took on the nature of a servant (Philippians 4:7). Throughout His ministry, we constantly see Jesus, the King of Kings, serving those around Him – healing the sick, showing God’s grace and love to sinners, and taking time to bless children (Matthew 19:13-15). He always made time for all who came to Him, ministering to their needs. He ultimately committed the greatest act of love and sacrifice at the cross, dying for our sins, that we might be made alive with Him (Ephesians 2:4-5).
John 13:3-4 says that Jesus, knowing that all things had been given into His hands, and that He had come from and was returning to God, got up and washed His disciples’ feet. He knew who He was, and His position before the Father, and He served out of that knowledge. In the same way, God doesn’t want us to serve to try to gain position before Him, for it is a thing that can never be earned. Rather, He wants us to serve out of the knowledge that we are His children – completely loved and accepted – showing to others the love that we have been given. Before we can truly serve others effectively, we must first understand the incredible love of our Heavenly Father, and be confident in our position before Him.
Jesus, the King of Kings, came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). He served others, knowing who He was in His Heavenly Father’s eyes. In the same way, let’s serve others, filled with the knowledge of who we are in Christ. Let’s demonstrating His love and grace to those around us!
Over the next week, we will take a look each day at a chapter of John’s account of the Easter story, beginning with the triumphal entry, and ending with Jesus’ resurrection. We will be reviewing the chapters as listed in Week 15 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan. Today will be John 12, Tuesday John 13, Wednesday John 18, Thursday John 19, and Friday John 20.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday – the Sunday prior to Resurrection Sunday – when we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John’s account of this story is listed in John 12:12-19. These verses state that upon hearing that Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem, the crowds came to meet Him, waving palm branches, shouting “hosanna,” and proclaiming Him the king of Israel. Jesus found a young donkey which He rode on, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which speaks of the king of Zion coming seated on a donkey’s colt.
The crowds who greeted Jesus as He entered Jerusalem called Him king. He was their king, but not in the way that they thought. Instead of becoming a prominent political figure who would liberating them from Roman rule, the Son of God – the true King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15) – came to save all who would believe in Him by giving His life for them at the cross. He came to redeem us, paying the price for our wrongdoings. He came that we, through Him, might be reconciled to our Heavenly Father (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), and given true freedom in Him.
Jesus, the King of Kings, laid down His life for you, so that you could enter into relationship with God – with you as His child, and Him as your Heavenly Father. Though equal to God in His very nature, He was made in the likeness of man, and gave His life for us at the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). What an honor that the true king, the Son of God, would do such a thing for each and every one of us!
This week’s memory verse from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is 2 Corinthians 5:21. This verse says that He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
At the cross, the greatest exchange in all of history took place – Jesus, the spotless, sinless, perfect Son of God, took our sins upon Himself, that we, through faith in Him (Philippians 3:9), could be made right with with God. He took our place of sin, that we might receive His place of righteousness in the eyes of the Most High.
God’s love for us is matchless, yet He is just, and must punish sin. Because of His great love for us, He sent His Son to take upon Himself the punishment merited by our wrongdoings in its entirety. All of God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Him. Because the price for our sin has been paid in full, God is both just and the justifier of all who have faith in Christ (Romans 3:26). We are made right in His eyes not because of anything that we have done, but because of what Christ has done for us.
God wants us to receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) that He has made available to us. He wants us to know that He no longer sees us through the lens of our transgressions, but rather through the lens of His Son’s finished work. He wants us to view ourselves that way as well – as made right with Him. Believe that you are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21)!