“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, Lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, You mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, Wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds young men and maidens, old men and children.”
Psalm 148: 3-4, 7-10, 12 NIV
Today’s scripture is a call to praise God. Wow! What an amazing list the psalmist gives to us who are called to praise God. Yet, there is still more! This list goes on and on. In nature we find the smallest of insects, beautiful flowers, vegetation, soft fluffy clouds, butterflies that flutter, rainbows, green grassy meadows, sand and surf, lush woodlands, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Each and every God created thing is a part of God’s magnificent creation. An old hymn reminds me that “were the whole realm of nature (personally) mine, that would be a present far too small” to offer up to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is Holy Week. It will do us all well to reflect on the incredible sin sacrifice that Jesus Christ became for the sin of mankind. God said from now on there will be no more yearly sacrificial lambs. No, this year I will provide the lamb! God himself sent his one and only perfect sinless son to become that sacrifice.
The day that I accepted God’s free gift of salvation I became free from eternal punishment. My death sentence was pardoned. God washed my sinful heart with his son’s blood and I became forgiven, rescued, redeemed, and restored. You see, Jesus was sinless. He had no business being on that cross. But me, that’s another story. My ancestors blew it in the garden. They were without sin and then they chose sin. You and I inherited that sin. God’s holy presence cannot tolerate sin so the consequence was all mankind banished from God’s holy presence forever. Yet God in his amazing love for his creation made a way for us to come back home. In a nutshell, the way back home was through the death of his perfect sinless Son, Jesus. The fact is God only accepts a sacrifice that is perfectly pure and spotless, that’s why it had to be Jesus because no one else would do. But remember, it should be you and it should be me because we are the sinful ones.
This week I want to reflect on the fact that Jesus surrendering to death on the cross was not an easy assignment. In fact, he asked his Father to make it go away and find another way. But the answer to his prayer was no. And so it began the agony and dread, the sweat drops of blood, the human emotions and then accepting the will of the Father. He then moved on to betrayal, false accusations, the abandonment and denial of friends, the scourging, the mocking, the walk to Calvary, the weight of the cross, the weakness, the humiliation, the nails, the piercing of the sword, the spitting, the cursing, the taunting, the pain, the thirst, the loss of blood and breath, and then the abandonment of his Father, and then bearing the weight of the sin of the world. No, this was not an easy assignment!
Words will never be enough to tell him of your gratitude neither is there a suitable gift for you to give to him. If the whole of nature was yours, that would be a gift far too small! All you can do is let Christ Jesus know how grateful you are for this gift and then give him your heart, your life, your all. Today I pray that you will let Jesus do for you what he came to this world to do. Jesus Christ surrendered his life and became the once and for all sacrificial lamb for the sin of the world. The gift is inclusive but the acceptance of this gift is personal. This gift will not be yours unless you reach out in simple faith and take this gift as your own. Simply believe that this is God’s truth for you.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts, published 1707 Hamburg Lowell Mason, 1824 Copyright: Public Domain
When you look at the cross on which Jesus died do you count your greatest gain or accomplishment in this world as loss?
Do you hate the pride that you feel regarding anything that takes a higher position of importance in your life than Jesus Christ?
Do you find yourself boasting about eternity in any terms other than the blood of Jesus upon your life?
Have you accepted Jesus’ provision for your sin?
If not, what are the vain things of this world that are charming you and keeping you from accepting the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice?
Think about it. Have you ever seen a greater act of love displayed by any other man or any other god?
Thank you for your marvelous act of love! I cannot fathom that kind of love. I do not see that kind of love modeled by any other man, religion, or god that this world would set up ahead of you. I thank you Jesus that forgiveness and redemption is mine through your sacrifice. I accept your gift to me in faith for now and forever. I am beginning to understand that if the whole realm of nature was mine to give you that would be a shamefully small gift to offer you as payment for all you have done for me. Yet your amazing love demands that I give you absolutely nothing except my soul, my life, my all. Lord Jesus, I do.
In Your Name I Pray. Amen.