Yeshua: Jesus Rescues His People From Sin

The angel Gabriel visited Joseph in a dream, announcing to him that the woman to whom he was engaged would give birth to a very special son.

Joseph had discovered Mary’s pregnancy and was very troubled by it.

They were not yet married. He thought she was a virgin. How could these things be?

But the angel’s visit put his fears at ease, and helped Joseph to see that much was going on here than he had assumed.

The baby that Mary would give birth to was not some child conceived out of wedlock or a secret scandal for Joseph to deal with.

The child would be the Messiah, God’s Son, and Mary had been chosen by God to deliver this baby that would one day deliver the world from their sins.

In fact, the very name for this baby that the angel gave to Joseph indicated this very thing. Notice his words in Matthew `1:21.

“She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

In the Hebrew language (the language that Joseph would have spoken), the name “Jesus” is the word “Yeshua.” In the original language, this name is synonymous with the phrase “God delivers.” It was a significant name that was used to refer to the saving and rescuing power of God and, on this occasion, it was used to indicate what God planned to do through the life of this child.

Jesus, God’s son, would be born as a human being, live a perfectly sinless life, die on a cross, and then rise from the dead again – all so that He could fulfill the very meaning of His name.

To deliver. To rescue. To bring freedom from sin to those would be His people.

And who are “His people”? Who are the people to whom Jesus would bring rescue and deliverance?

John tells us in his gospel that they are the people who believe and put their faith in Jesus. Notice his words in John 1:12.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

God’s people – the ones to whom He promises deliverance and rescue and freedom from sin through Jesus – are the ones who believe in His Son, who put their trust and faith in Him, and who come to belong to Him.

We who believe in Jesus and belong to Him have received that eternal and everlasting rescue from our sin. We are no longer imprisoned to the curse, the bondage, or the consequences of sin.

We have been set free!

That’s such good news. And the apostle Paul elaborate on that when he says this in Romans 6:11 –

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Not only have we been delivered FROM something; we have also been set free TO something.

We have been given the freedom to walk in righteousness. We have been delivered to pursue godly living. We have been freed to new life in Christ.

We are DEAD to sin and ALIVE to God now, all because of Yeshua, the Christ, the Messiah, who came to save His people from their sins.

What kind of difference should this make in us today? In what ways does God want to further deliver us from the residue of sin in our hearts?

The sinful nature within us has been crucified but, as Charles Spurgeon once said, “it is a slow death.” We have been delivered and have freedom to live the way God wants us to live. But we need His help.

Let’s ask Him for more of it as we pursue Him today.

The Renovation of Our Lives

Here at our house, my wife and I are wrapping up a home renovation/addition project, finally adding the finishing touches on a months-long adventure.

My father-in-law took our ideas and worked his magic to implement them, making our house look better and bigger, just the way we envisioned. A pretty big shift took place here, and lots of things changed in order to complete the project.

Walls came down in some places and new walls went up in other places. Windows came out and were replaced. Paint was upgraded and doors were added. The kitchen was gutted and then refilled with everything my wife had wished for.

It was a tough process, and I’m sure my father-in-law would tell you that it challenged and stumped him at certain times.

To personify the house for a moment, I am willing to bet that it felt some pain – things being ripped out and cut down and stripped away. Shaking and bouncing and noise – things that caused utter chaos and confusion.

But the end result was something beautiful. The painful process produced a product that was renovated, rebuilt, and renewed. All the hard work ended with a home that more closely resembled the vision that we had for it.

And this is what is going on with our lives as believers.

Much like a challenging home renovation project, God takes His people through a process of renewal and rebuilding, from the day they give their lives to Him until the day He calls them home.

He begins with a vision – a desire to see His people restored and redeemed and remade into His image. Remember Genesis 1:26? God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” His vision for mankind was a people who were like Him, who had a close relationships with Him, who lived in communion with Him, and who represented His character on earth.

God has a vision that His people will return to their original design – to be truly human, set apart from the evil and sin of the world, like Him in goodness and love and holiness.

He starts with this vision, and then He takes us through a process of making this a reality.

And at times this process is challenging. At times it involves tearing things down, ripping things out, removing ugliness, replacing old things with new things.

It involves God showing us the things in our hearts and in our lives that serve as obstacles to us being more like Him – sin, pride, selfishness, anger, lust, unforgiveness, self-righteousness. He takes us through the process of revealing these things to us and then actively works on removing them, in order for us to be more like Him.

And sometimes that’s painful, isn’t it? Because we have to come face-to-face with our own reality. And we have to walk away from certain things or situations or people. And we have to let go of certain desires or ambitions that keep us away from God. And sometimes we have to be torn down, all in order to be rebuilt the way that Go wants us to be.

But the process – as painful or challenging as it may be – always produces the fruit of righteousness. And all the hard work of sanctification (that’s the fancy theoogical term for this growth process) eventually leads to a person – a child of God – that more closely resembles the vision that He always had for us.

The process is hard sometimes. But the growth that God wants to produce in us is the gift at the end of the road.

Will we trust God through the process and allow Him to do a work in us to make us more like Himself? If we do, we will be rebuilt, renewed, and reformed in all the ways that make us the people of God that He envisions.

The Power of Discovering Your Passion

What is the most evident calling or passion in your life?

What is the one topic or issue that gets you stirred up the most, or that you have the most insight on? The thing that you care the most about? The theme that you have the most knowledge and experience with?

For some people it might be social justice. For others it could be adoption, or nutrition, or immigration, or mental health.

For some people, the passions are less conceptual and more concrete – like business, entrepreneurship, construction, art, cooking, or design.

As I look back over my life I can see several different things that have arisen as themes of passion or interest for me.

I have always loved studying, learning, and teaching the Scriptures. Helping people to discern their misconceptions about the Bible and correct their faulty theology has always been a passion of mine.

I love being a parent, and I enjoy learning about and talking about parenting strategies and ways to raise healthy and successful families.

I love helping people with their struggles. Showing people ways to overcome their battles and become healthier in mind and spirit is, for me, an important calling and it’s one of my God-given gifts.

Through all of my experiences – all of my career roles, my volunteer roles, and my ministry activities – these are the things that have risen to the top of the list for me.

These are the things that I see as my calling. And I think I can sum them all up with one clear passion:

What I care about most is helping people to discover, change, and grow.

That’s it. That’s my life message. My calling. My area of passion.

I want to help people to discover truth, to discover new realities, and to discover ways to overcome and move forward.

I want to help people to change. To change habits, change mindsets, change beliefs that hold them back.

And I want to help people to grow in ways that will lead them to greater abundance in life.

These are the things that I want to devote myself to every day. These are things that I want to be my message in life, the message that drives my actions and work.

What are your passions and interests? What do you have experience with? What comes out of you the most in conversations? What do you enjoy reading about the most? What gets you stirred up? What do you genuinely care about and want to address?

Ask yourself these questions as you contemplate your own calling in life.

I believe that God has given us all a calling. He wants to use your life in some way. He has given you passions and interests and knowledge and experience and He want to use them to speak to the world and make a difference.

How are you going to live those out today? How are you going to make the most of the passions and abilities and gifts and interests that He has placed within you?

Authenticity over production

I’m not a very “showy” type of Christian.

I prefer to pray in private rather than in large gatherings.

I praise Jesus but I don’t think it needs to be a big production with music and praise can be offered in many different ways.

I don’t tend to overspiritualize things in life. I believe that God is at work and He’s moving in me and all around me, but I try not to turn everything into a sign or something that needs to be taken from a spiritual perspective.

I believe that conversations are more effective than sermons and that speaking from the heart is more honest and powerful than giving a long, drawn out speech about the Bible.

This is new for me, really. It wasn’t always like this.

In the past, I saw all of these things as the measure of spiritual maturity. I had this belief that, to be truly mature in your faith, you needed to be able to show it in these ways.

One of the problems with this was that I so often felt like I was forcing it just so I could make myself FEEL spiritually mature. It never felt right to me, but I was driven by this conviction that I had to be public and showy with my expression of faith so I went along with it for a long time.

In my mind, my religious devotion – and my ministry “calling” – was demonstrated by how passionately I prayed, how well I preached, how loudly I sang, and how much I talked about my faith to others.

So what changed?

I began to understand that, while the Bible talks about a faith that is empowered and bold, it also talks about a faith that’s based on humility and genuineness.

I began to understand what an authentic faith was really about.

I became disenchanted by people who put on a good show of their faith, sounded really good, seemed really passionate, and talked much about their belief in God but whose lives and character didn’t really match what they were giving off.

I wanted something deeper than that. Something more real and authentic.

And I finally allowed myself to believe what I had always felt. That you don’t have to make a big show of your faith in order to be spiritually mature.

The book of James says this: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27 ESV).”

And Jesus says this in the Sermon on the Mount: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 6:1 ESV).” He then says this in verse 6: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.”

And then there’s this. The prophet Micah gives this command in Micah 6:8: “He has told you , O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

All of these verses tell me this simple truth: authentic faith and spiritual maturity are about loving God, having a real relationship with Him, serving others, and living a godly life in this world.

That’s what God wants from us and for us.

It’s not always about how public or vocal you are or how often you demonstrate your faith. What really makes a difference is God’s people living genuinely, loving sincerely, acting like Jesus, and allowing their faith to drive every aspect of their lives.

That’s what makes us more authentic. And this authenticity is what the world needs more of right now.

Photo credit: Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Sunday Devotional: Christ Who Lives In Me

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

In the verses just before this one, Paul talks about the fact that no one can be justified before God by following the Law. Obedience to God’s commands – while to some a worthy endeavor – is not able to make a person righteous.

Paul was born and raised in the religion of Judaism, where it was taught that simply obeying all of God’s laws and commands and striving to be holy were enough to make a person justified and righteous and acceptable to God. And yet, Christianity taught something radically different.

The gospel taught Paul that only God could make a person justified, and that this was not a result of good works. It was a matter of faith.

Paul highlights the fact that, as a follower of Jesus, he has “died to the law” so that he might “live to God.” And how was this possible?

Because he had been “crucified with Christ.” It was no longer him who was living; it was Christ living in him that made him righteous and good.

Living by faith in the Son of God was the means to justification, the only way to be accepted by God and made right before Him.

And the same is true for us.

As Christians, this human, earthly life that we are living is not all that there is. If we have been united with Christ through believing in His death and resurrection – believing that He “loved us and gave Himself up for us” – then it’s not what we DO that matters. What truly matters is that Christ is living and working IN us to make us who God wants us to be.

Christ lives in us. Christ is perfecting us. Christ is leading us and shaping us and making us righteous before God. And that presence and work and power and perfection is ours, not because of our good works or our obedience to His commands, but because of faith.

So, because of faith and because of His love and because of His grace, we are fully accepted by God. And, out of that, we go on to obedience and good works. We strive to obey God’s commands and walk in righteousness, not because we are trying to earn something, but because His grace is fully alive in us and we have ALREADY received something.

How can you be more fully surrendered to God’s work in you this week? In what ways do you need to be reminded of God’s total acceptance and love for you? How can you live a more “crucified” life – one that is dead to sin, dead to works-based righteousness, and alive to grace?

For further study, read Galatians 2:11-21.