Healed by His suffering

Jesus said He came to this world for one thing: to give us life.

I am the good shepherd…My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life … So I sacrifice my life for the sheep

What kind of love is this? A holy, holy God looks on us and knows that we will always be afflicted with wandering and rebellion. And yet He wants us to know Him and love Him.

And so He heals us by suffering Himself, taking the punishment that would bring us peace.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
     he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
         was upon him,
and by his  wounds we are healed.

How can we ever grasp the depth of such love?


Scripture: from John 10; Isaiah 53: 5 (NLT)

Chosen. Loved. His.

God has had to break down some barriers between us. One of those barriers was my perception of Him as a stern and demanding authority whom I had to please with my thoughts and actions … or else!  

I began to understand His love for me when words like this began to break through: 

I have called you by name; you are mine.

He goes on to say that I am precious to Him, honored and loved. He created and formed me for His glory. And because I wandered and got myself in deep trouble, He paid a ransom to get me back. He says,

You have been chosen to know me,
     believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.

Wow. How those words from the Almighty have changed my relationship with Him!


Scripture: from Isaiah 43 (NLT)

Steadfast Love

Well. Yes. I did have a grand 35-day plan. But already yesterday, on Day 3, I fumbled and dropped the ball.

So I was kicking myself around a bit for that. Then, before I went to bed, I flipped over my daily calendar to March 8, and here was this reminder from my Father:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Aren’t you glad we can always trust, always depend on His love and His mercy? We will never be disappointed when we go to Him. Surely goodness and love and mercy follow us every day.



Scripture: Lamentations 3:22-23 (NRSV)

Knowing the Love of Christ

March has arrived. During a short 20-minute drive home yesterday, I drove alternately through spring and winter, under blue sky and sunshine and then through whirling showers of big, wet snowflakes.  

The state highway that approaches our village from the east snakes around curves, climbs hills, and descends into valleys. Still several miles away from home, if I look at just the right time, I catch glimpses of our little town crowning a long ridge. At night, the town’s lights always remind me of a city set on a hill that cannot be hid …

But driving home yesterday afternoon while I was basking in momentary sunshine, that glimpse of our town and hill was shrouded in a snow shower. I could barely make out the smudged lines of buildings on the hilltop; the school, the water tower, and a string of houses were all just pale shadows miles away.

That’s a picture of our journey home. Sometimes we get a clear and sharp glimpse of the home where all our pilgrimages will end. At other times we cannot see so clearly, yet beacons shine along the way and we are certain of the direction we want to travel …

This is also true of our growth into the life that Jesus died to give us. We read Scriptures on the incomparable power available to us; we hear the Spirit whisper that we have so much more yet to understand and discover; we read the most astonishing words that we are being changed into the image of God Himself. I don’t know about you, but often I feel as though I only see those things faintly in the distance.

One of those Scriptures hit me forcefully last week, and now that it’s taken hold of my mind and heart, I want more, clearer glimpses of what it might mean for my journey. Listen to these words from Ephesians: 

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Two things to ponder: What does it mean to experience the love of Christ?

Now I know that’s a phrase that we toss around a lot in our churches and Bible studies … but tell me, what does that mean for you, in the moments of this day? 

I have a feeling that experiencing the love of Christ is like catching glimpses of a city on the hill or seeing it vaguely through a snowstorm. It is too great to understand fully. Yet, somehow, we can experience this love; and the glimpses we’re given captivate us.

I want more glimpses. Because — look at that second statement. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Wow. Savor that promise! To be made complete. With all the fullness of life and power that God gives His children. Wow.

I have no idea how that all works. Experiencing Christ’s love makes us complete? Fills us with life and power given by God? How do we explain that?

I don’t think we can explain it. I think we can only “know” it by experiencing it. And I do know that I want more of this experiencing the love of Christ.

So we’ll try something new, from now until Easter. Each day, we’ll have one short meditation from Scripture on the love of Christ. I have no idea if I can pull that off or not, but I do know that I want to see this more clearly, know and experience His love even though it’s too great for me to understand.

Focusing on the love that gave us a new life will be fitting preparation for Easter. Easter is all about Christ’s love.

I promise to keep the meditations short. (I know, I know … that’s a tough assignment … but just watch me!) On some days, it might only be one or two verses, words from God to contemplate that day. I have no idea how it will all work out, but for the next 35 days, I want to focus on His love for me.

May the Spirit teach all of us, and …

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.


Scripture: Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

Transformation in the Sanctuary

Take a look at Psalms 73. It opens with a verse about the pure in heart.

You might immediately hear that voice in your head saying, “Well, I would not fit in that category.”   Or perhaps you’re remembering some of your definitely un-Christlike moments this weekend. Maybe already this morning you’ve blown it, yet again.

If so, you’ll identify more with verse 2:

But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.

The writer of Psalm 73 knows his heart is not pure. He’s bitter and envious; the bad guys are not getting the punishment they deserve. They seem to be living trouble-free lives and have everything anyone could ever want, while I seem to have nothing but pain and trouble. Where’s the justice, God?

So he takes his questions and complaints to God. Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

Psalm 73 is about a cleansing of heart, and here’s the key: Then I went into your sanctuary.

In the psalmist’s time, all kinds of regulations determined how and when one could approach God. When Christ died, He ripped all barriers away. Not only did He give us access to God, but now God comes and lives with us. The sanctuary where we meet God, where He opens our eyes and transforms our hearts, is no longer a literal building. It’s where you are sitting right now. Immanuel!

But back to this sad soul who knows his heart is not right and that he’s not doing so well in his walk with God.

In His sanctuary, God does have some answers to the writer’s questions about the wicked. But we’ll leave that for now. Something even more important happens: in God’s sanctuary, the psalmist sees his own heart: 

Then I realized my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant —

Sound familiar? How many times I have said that about myself!  How many times I have denied myself inclusion in the “pure in heart” category. How many times my feet have slipped.

And that brings us to the good news. Yes. Good news in spite of what we may think about our failures. Good news, my friend, that you will hear in the sanctuary when you go to your Father. 

Yet still I belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.

Wow. I belong to Him. He knows I am dust, and still He claims me. This is a look at God’s heart.

And because I belong to Him, He continues to hold me by the hand, guide me with His counsel, and — doesn’t this just take your breath away? — lead me on toward a glorious destiny!

When we hear those words in the sanctuary, when those words picturing God’s love for us settle into our hearts, we are transformed. We go from feeling as though we are almost gone (v. 2) to knowing this:

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

The psalmist opened by saying, “But as for me … I’m slipping and almost gone.” Now, after that transforming meeting with God in His sanctuary, he says, “Yes, I see that anyone who deserts God will be destroyed, will perish …

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

What comfort it is to be near God, to take shelter in Him, to know that we belong to the Father and He does not desert us.  We come into His sanctuary, and we are changed.