I’ve been struggling with a fever for days. Today I found myself on the floor at the foot of my Christmas tree, which happens to be a cross. As I looked up at the well-light, decorated cross tree, I considered the goodness of God.
Our God, holy and almighty, stooped down to us. Not only did He stoop down, sending His one and only Son to live life in this broken world and die on the cross, but He continues to stoop down again and again, meeting us where we are in this broken world.
This is grace. Reaching down and lifting up to where you are. No one demonstrates grace like our Father. We cannot earn salvation. We don’t deserve it. Yet He gives it freely to all who believe. When we believe, we are called children of God—and co-heirs with Christ. We go from sinner to saint, from dead to alive.
Every day, we need this reminder of His grace. You may feel down today, but you will not be down forever. You may feel pain today, but you will not feel pain forever. Breathe in some grace today, and then pour it out as well. We all need grace.
“He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.” – Psalm 40:2 [TPT]
I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.
Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.
As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]
Week 1 – The Lamb of God
[John 1:29, Leviticus 17:11]
Here is the LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world.
- Behold –to point something out
- Here – to indicate a place … John is drawing attention to Jesus
- Lamb of God – sent by God, provided by God
- Takes Away – removes, blots out
Lamb in a Sacrificial Sense: God is holy and righteous, separate from sin
Atonement – Reconciliation – wipe clean, sacrifice that cleanses from sin
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. [CSB]
Leviticus 4:32-35 – “kipper” – make atonement, make reconciliation, to purge, to wipe clean
Leviticus 4:5-6 – The anointed priest will then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting. The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. [CSB]
Leviticus 16:14-16 – He is to take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger against the east side of the mercy seat; then he will sprinkle some of the blood with his finger before the mercy seat seven times. When he slaughters the male goat for the people’s sin offering and brings its blood inside the curtain, he will do the same with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. He will make atonement for the most holy place in this way for all their sins because of the Israelites’ impurities and rebellious acts. He will do the same for the tent of meeting that remains among them, because it is surrounded by their impurities. [CSB]
Hebrews 9:11-12, 16-22, 24-28
Confession / Costly / Identification / Personal
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read John 1:29. Does John the Baptist’s statement about the Lamb of God refer to sacrifice? If yes, how can you tell?
2) The phrase “sin of the world” is bold and radical. Why? How can we live this out?
3) In what sense is God’s provision of the animal sacrifice for forgiveness of sins an expression of mercy?
4) Were animal sacrifices actually adequate to atone for sin?
5) How is the Lamb of God a more sufficient sacrifice than the previous sacrificial system?
Week 2 – The Lamb Who Takes Our Place
Substitute – a person acting or serving in place of another.
Bears Our Sin (v. 4)
2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [CSB]
Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so Christ could make us acceptable to God. [CEV]
1 Peter 2:24-25 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [NASB]
Receives Our Punishment (v.5-6)
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NIV]
Acts Voluntarily (v. 7)
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [ESV]
Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many [NLT]
Revelation 5:6, 9-10 – Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth… And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Isaiah 53:1-3. How was Jesus a man of sorrows? How is the description of Jesus that we read about in this passage not what was expected?
2) Read Isaiah 53:4-6. List every “our” phrase. What does the list say to you?
3) Read Isaiah 53:6. Are you one of the sheep? Even today?
4) Read Isaiah 53:7. How does this passage describe the Lamb of God?
5) Read Isaiah 53:10. Who killed Jesus? Who was to blame?
Week 3 – The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery
[1 Peter 1:18-19, Mark 10:44-45, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20]
Intro: Last week we looked at Isaiah 53, which promised One Who was coming to redeem from their bondage to sin and death… tonight we discuss The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery.
Free: Not bound, confined or detained; having no obligations; capable of moving or turning in any direction.
Slave: Held in servitude; completely subservient.
We were REDEEMED from the empty way of life
1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. [NIV] Redemption – deliverance from captivity by means of ransom price
With the life of Jesus given as a RANSOM for many
Mark 10:44-45 – And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” [NASV]
We were bought with a high price, so we must HONOR GOD WITH BODY
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. [NLT]
Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
How to live free?
- Accept God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [ESV]
- Accept God’s Grace – Romans 5:18 – Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [ESV]
- Accept God’s Victory – 1 John 5:5 – Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Romans 8:1-4. What does it mean that the law was weakened by the flesh? How did Jesus fulfill the law’s requirement?
2) Read Romans 8:5-9. What are the two types of people? In reading this passage, do you think it is possible for a believer to be living with the mind-set of the flesh and be hostile to God?
3) Read Romans 8:15-17. How is this passage empowering?
4) From tonight’s reading in the book of Romans, what are some of the things the Holy Spirit will help us live out if we live in the Spirit?
Week 4 – The Passover Lamb of Whom We Partake
[1 Corinthians 5:7, Exodus 12:3-14, Matthew 26:26-30]
Passover Lamb – Passover Instituted
Exodus 12:3-14 – Instructions for Passover
The Lord’s Supper Instituted
Matthew 26:26-30 – 3rd cup, Cup of Redemption
Bread – blessed, broken – “Take and eat it; this is My body.”
Cup – “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Cup of Promise – 4th cup “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” PROMISE TO COME
Handling the Leaven
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
- 3 – Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit.
- 7 – Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch as indeed you are. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.
- 8 – Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old leaven or with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of SINCERITY and TRUTH.
Remove old yeast – sin/sinner
We are to be the new unleavened batch
- Sincerity of mind & integrity of character (Pure inner motives)
- Truth – divine truth / God’s Truth
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Looking at Exodus 12, in what ways did the Passover lamb protect the families of God’s people?
2) How is the Passover lamb in Exodus similar to the sacrifice of Christ?
3) Read Matthew 26:28. How could these words fill us with sorrow? Why should these words fill us with joy?
4) Read Matthew 26:29. How does the celebration of the Lord’s Supper anticipate a future celebration with Jesus? How does this give you hope?
5) Read Exodus 12:11. How is this in relation with how we approach the Lord’s Supper?
Week 5 – The Triumphant Lamb We Worship
Jesus has fierceness & fearlessness of a Lion (v. 5) and tenderness and humility of a Lamb (v. 6).
- Scroll is the action plan
- Scroll is an Action Plan to judge, cleanse, and prepare the nations for Jesus’ rule over Earth, while bringing the Church to maturity and into unity with redeemed Israel.
- Scroll is the Title Deed to the Earth
- By taking the scroll, He accepted responsibility to cleanse and rule Earth.
Jesus is the only Man found worthy, deserving, and capable to take scroll from Father.
- Who is worthy? No one.
- John wept bitterly.
- He hears – Lion of Tribe of Judah – Lion – boldness, strength, fierceness
- He sees – Lamb Slain – Lamb – humility, gentleness, weakness, submission
He alone could redeem us:
- He was related to us (Man of God)
- He was willing to do it
- He was able to pay the price
Highest government council around throne. (Living angels – angelic, elders – human)
They fell awestruck before the worthy Man and boldly proclaimed their agreement with the Father’s decree to make Jesus supreme leader of whole Earth forever.
Because of His obedience to death, God highly exalted Jesus in heaven and on earth
Philippians 2:8-10 – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Psalm 96:1-9. This Psalm speaks of the King of the earth and provides reasons to worship. What are some of the reasons listed?
2) Read Psalm 96:6-12. This passage speaks of the need to “ascribe to the Lord.” What does it mean to “ascribe to the Lord”? This passage speaks of our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness? In verse 10, it says, “Say among the nations,” which is again pointing to our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness?
3) Read Psalm 96:11-13. How does this passage describe worship? How does this description change the way you think about worship? This Psalm ends waiting for what? How does this relate to tonight’s look at Revelation?
The Bible tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. This is one small step toward God, drawing near to Him to see Him with eyes opened. But it isn’t supposed to be a simple taste. Just as we don’t sit down at a full meal and simply taste a bite of food and walk away satisfied, so it is with our life with God.
Too many people take a small bite of the meal the Lord has prepared for them. Too many people are living life okay to have the assurance that they are saved because of their belief in Christ Jesus, yet the Lord has prepared so much more.
Are you missing the fullness of God because your relationship with Him was only about salvation? Are you not seeking the Lord’s face because you did not recognize His great desire to reveal Himself to you in a personal, intimate way? Are you living life on the breadcrumbs, and missing out on the power, the peace, the joy, the love that God has for you today?
Oh, taste and see, taste and see His goodness. Partake. Enjoy His presence. Rejoice in His provision. Thank Him for His great love. Drink deep of His mercy and grace. Consume His Word. Allow Him to have His way in every area of your life – blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8 [ESV]
Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.
Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!
If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.
“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]
As I have aged, I realized the great blessing of being disciplined. When younger, the word discipline was a cruel one we tried to avoid. No one likes discipline. We do not usually request or desire discipline. Discipline is punishing someone to correct poor behavior or disobedience. Discipline trains people to be obedient people.
The Bible tells us that anyone God disciplines is “blessed” or “joyful.” The world looks at the discipline of the Lord as wrath and usually describe it as harsh and unreasonable. As a child of God, hopefully you understand that God disciplines us as a father disciplines a child. It is for our own good. Discipline helps us to grow. Discipline protects and teaches us. Discipline is a blessing.
Today, thank the Lord for His instruction. Thank Him for His discipline. Thank Him for seeking the best for you. Thank Him for His love. Praise Him for He alone is good, and He alone deserves all honor, glory, and praise. I pray that you are joyfully disciplined.
“Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions.” – Psalm 94:12 [NLT]
“Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.” – Deuteronomy 8:5-6 [NLT]
God’s timing is always the best timing. Oftentimes we consider how we don’t receive a particular blessing until just the right time when it is needed, but He also keeps us from seeing or experiencing things until it is the proper time as well. Not only can we look at His perfect timing when it comes to the blessings we receive, but we also can look at His perfect timing when He protects us or keeps us from something until the timing is more appropriate or better for His great work.
This past week was Holy Week. It was a full on week of preaching and ministering. Throughout the week, I kept myself fixated on God’s Word, continuously in prayer, and I tried to balance out things so I had rest built in within the busy schedule. But in the midst of it all, God was not allowing me to see things that would throw me off course as well. We don’t often consider how He is fighting for us, moving behind the scenes to ensure His children stay the course and run the race before them. He is a faithful God. He is a merciful, gracious God.
God’s timing is always perfect. Today, consider what you do not get to see happening—the protection of God, the hand of God keeping you from items hidden from your view. The Lord embraces you—covers you with His protective wings. It is not by chance that you missed a particular newspaper article. It is not by chance that you caught that red light that didn’t seem to go off like the normal traffic timing at that time of the day. Everything is under God’s control. Today, thank Him for His protection. Thank Him for seeing things through to the end. Thank Him for using you for His great work and for never letting you go. He is faithful! He is awesome! He is Lord of all!
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” – Psalm 91:1-4 [NASB]