Posts Tagged ‘new life in Christ’

Joshua 5:2-12 (Part 2 of 3)

Israel Reestablishes Covenant Ceremonies

Have you ever thought about your salvation and what it means to your life? How it changed the course of your life? We need to start celebrating our salvation like we do our birthdays. It is, in essence, our spiritual birthday and is as important as our chronological birthday. My chronological birthdays began at the day of my physical birth on August 25, 1962. My spiritual birthdays began December 23, 2001. I will be 16 years old, spiritually speaking, in December 2017. I need to not gloss over that day as I have for the past 15 anniversaries of that date. I barely notice it until I am reflecting on my salvation and it is usually for some reason always months after the date and I go “Oh man! I should have celebrated that in some way!” We need to celebrate our salvation dates with the due respect that we give the eternally less meaningful chronological birthdays. Our salvation dates should be celebrated with the same importance that give to chronological birthdays, our wedding anniversaries, significant year work anniversaries, class reunions, and so on.


For some there are the parting of waters that came on their salvation date. Their external world changed as much as their internal spirit did. For me, yes, I knew that I had changed in my heart. I looked at the world and at myself differently from that day that I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord at the altar steps at Abundant Life Church in the Berea area of Greenville, SC that December morning.


However, the world outside my soul only slowly began to change. I began to slowly see that I had made my second wife my idol, my god. She knew the control that she had over me and exercised it when necessary for her. I would do whatever she asked of me, including basically ignoring my own kids. I had for the years since we had been married done only what was absolutely financially necessary for them, according to legal documents. But, just as bad, I had to not express love to my children like I was used to doing. Just as bad, I would hardly talk to them when my second wife or her children were around. I felt as though my second wife made me choose between her and her kids or my own kids. The consequences of choosing my kids over her and her children was always detrimental to my relationship with her. It was her or them. I more often than not chose her. I don’t know now if I had been a better man and stood my ground against those attitudes would it have made any difference. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had been less interested in making sure that I had access to sex and more interested in doing the right thing by my children during those years. Would it have hastened the divorce or would it have changed the course of the marriage? Since God was never really a part of that marriage, I tend to think that it would have hastened the divorce.


It was through my salvation that I began to see that my children were missing half of what they could have had. I began to see that they needed an active dad in their lives. I had abdicated this role to their stepdad. It wasn’t one of those OK things are going to be different after this kind of moments. But gradually I began to make choice to let me children know that they were important to me. With a kid in college, you can’t do just the basics for them anymore. There is more cost to them being away at college that just room and board and tuition. There is all this other stuff like car payments, dues for this, dues for that, books, game day weekends, clothes, and a host of other things that a child attending school full-time just can’t afford on their own. All of my assistance to my daughter was a showdown moment between my second wife and me that blew up our marriage. She thought that since my oldest daughter was 18 that it was time to cut her loose completely. That was the end. I knew that this was not of God. I could not stand for it anymore. I knew that I would be alone and without a steady woman in my life (my greatest fear up to that point), but it no longer mattered. I had to do the right thing by my child in college. That was the end of the marriage and the beginning of all the changes that my salvation has brought me.


When I look back on the second marriage with fondness for a moment, those fond memories are always crashed in by the reality that I was a puppet on a string. I was at the whim of my god or goddess as you might call her. I had made my second wife my god. I worshipped her figuratively and literally. I was so insecure without Christ as my Savior that I would do anything to keep that relationship alive. Anything! I lost my soul in that marriage. My salvation began the slow recovery and reclamation project for my soul. Who knows where I would be this day in 2017 if had continued to appease my goddess. I don’t blame her anymore for me trying to suck up to her the way I did. I made that bed myself. Where would I be and how stone cold would my soul be? How lost would I be? How would my relationship with my children be? So scary to think about.


It is in these reflective moments that I thank God for loneliness that came after. I thank God for learning that He was sufficient for my needs. I thank God that I no longer worship being in a relationship with a woman no matter how detrimental to me that it is. I thank God that He taught me that the world would not implode if I was not in a relationship. I thank God for the gradual changes that have brought me to this place that I am today. Because of my salvation, my life is so much better today than it was before my salvation. Things did not change overnight but when you look back over 16 years now, the changes that were not so perceptible at the time are now drastic in the cumulative. Sure, I know that trouble may come but I have a good life now that is immeasurably blessed. Great wife who is a believer. Great life. Great church family. It’s not all wine and roses every minute but I celebrate this life I have today. I stand on the mountain top after years in the valley. I celebrate God’s miracle in my life, my salvation.


That idea of celebrating God’s deliverance once they reached the Promised Land was poignant to me. It reminds us that we need to celebrate God’s miracles in our lives, his deliverance of us from death into life. Let’s read this passage for second time this morning with that in mind:


2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.[a]


4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.


9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal[b] to this day.


10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after[c] they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.


In this passage, you will note that the Israelites celebrated Passover for the first time in the Promised Land. It was the only the third time that Passover had been celebrated. The first time, of course, was night before they left Egypt (when the angel of death passed over their houses because of the marking of the blood of the lamb on their doorways). The second time was at the foot of Mt. Sinai during the year that they were camped there. Now, they are celebrating it in the Promised Land, some 40 years after the first celebration. The celebration reminded the Israelites of God’s mighty miracles that had delivered them from Egypt. In Egypt, they had to celebrate in fear and in haste. Here they ate in celebration of God’s blessings and promises.


How do you celebrate your day of salvation? Do you mark it well? Do you celebrate it well? It is our second birth. From death in sin and its consequences to life anew in Jesus Christ. Nothing could be more important to celebrate. Remember your salvation day. Celebrate it. Mark that date. Celebrate it! Then, on that day you can tell others your salvation story, about your birth into new life in Jesus Christ. About how He delivered you from your own selfish destruction. How He set you up on dry ground. How He changed your life forever. How He set your foot on the Promised Land.


Amen and Amen.

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 — We can go through the motions of many things in life without thinking. However, there is one thing that we cannot let become routine. What is it?

It is the central ritual of the church of Jesus Christ. It is the Lord’s Supper. But what does it mean when we participate in it? Jesus told us to do this in remembrance of Him. It is an important and symbolic gesture done to express appreciation, honor, and thanksgiving for what Jesus Christ has done for us and our renewed commitment to serve Him.

When we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we must remember that the first one occurred on Passover. The Passover celebration of the Jews was to celebrate their protection from the angel of death and their deliverance from Egypt. Jesus represents that same idea to us. When the Israelites sacrificed the young lamb and placed its blood over the door frame of their homes, the angel of death of the final plague on Egypt passed over them. They were spared. Jesus is the lamb whose blood was spilled and painted over the doorways of our lives. We deserve the death and separation from God, but we who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior have been spared through the sacrifice of the life of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Old Testament sacrificial system was instituted by God to allow for the repentance of sin and restoration of a right relationship with Him. Jesus on the cross dying for our sins is the completion of the OT sacrificial system. The perfect sinless sacrifice for sin from the perfect man who was of the one and same essence with the perfect God. No longer were sacrifices necessary. It was complete on the cross. Let us not forget that coming together of Passover and the Lord’s Supper. It connects us to our past in the Israelites and it points us to the future in Jesus Christ. It is symbolic of Jesus being the the Passover Lamb for us. Through the joining of Passover to the Lord’s Supper we see the continuity of the Bible and the completion of the Old Testament in the New Testament. In the joining we see that by believing in Jesus Christ, we have become part of God’s chosen people.

The bread represents the body of Jesus Christ. Bread represents life. Bread represents nourishment that sustains life. Jesus said in John 6:35 that He is the bread of life. It is a reminder to us that we should be focused on Jesus Christ, the eternal one. We should not be wasting our time on vain pursuits that mean nothing in eternity. It is a reminder of how far Jesus went to give us new life. He sacrificed His body for us. When we eat the bread of communion, it is a sobering reminder of our service to Jesus Christ. It is a reminder that we should be willing to sacrifice it all to serve Him. We must be willing to lay it all on the line to follow Him. We must take up our cross daily and follow Him no matter the cost. He did no less for us. When we casually serve Jesus Christ when it is convenient for us, when we never dare to go outside our comfort zone to serve Him, the Lord’s Supper reminds us of just how far Jesus was willing to go for us. He could have stayed in heaven but, no, He set aside His glory and came to earth as a man and then died on the cross that we might be set free. When you think of your service to our Savior and when I think of my service to our Savior, it kind of pales in comparison. Jesus gave His body in sacrifice for us. Beaten and crucified. He took it to the limit for us. Let us examine what we do for Him!

The wine represents the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus Christ was spilled as the final sacrifice for sin. It began with the Passover lamb’s blood as the first sacrifice that saved and it is completed on the cross with the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood so that all can be saved. Why is Jesus’ blood and his death on the cross the sacrifice for sin and restores us to God? Because God said that is what it was for. God had established the system of sacrifices beginning in Egypt, formalized at Sinai, and completed in Jesus. Blood is important to life. Life force is in the blood. Without blood we all die. Blood is that which ensures our continued existence. Jesus spilled His blood and died so that we may have eternal life. So, the spilling of His blood that ended His earthly bodily life is the blood that gives us our eternal life. Jesus’ blood thus sustains us. It is life giving. Through Jesus’ blood, we live eternally. Without His sacrifice, without His blood, we die eternally. Just as the Passover Lamb’s blood protected the Israelites from certain death, we are protected from eternal separation from God which is death in hell by the spilled blood of Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Supper is thus the most symbolic testament of our faith that there. The meal itself does not impart anything. It is a symbol. It is symbolic of what Jesus has done for us to make us right with God. It is to honor Jesus for what He has done. It is done in thanksgiving for what He has done. It is therefore not to be taken lightly. It’s not just something you do occasionally at church where you can get a quick snack and little something to drink during church. It is about honoring our Savior. Tomorrow, we will talk about how we should approach this meal.