Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: cross

Given

It’s that time of year again and I am taking part in Rethink Church’s Lent word-a-day challenge. Sometimes it will be a photo on Scamper’s Adventures blog and other days, like now, I will write a short blog post.

Today’s word is GIVEN.

I am broken,
but You give wholeness.
My life is ashes,
for which You give beauty.
My heart is heavy and I am in mourning,
You give me a garment of praise and oil of joy.
You give me comfort.
You give me peace.

When I am afraid and overwhelmed,
You are my strong tower where I hide.

Father, You have given me everything I need.
You have given Your Very Best.
Your own Son,
betrayed, abused, tortured, shamed, killed.
For me.

Because of Jesus given at the cross,
I can be forgiven,
I can be free,
I can live abundant life,
I know You.
You are my Father, Friend, Saviour, Lord, Comforter, Prince of Peace, Strong Tower, Place of Refuge.

Deny

Two people have been on my mind today, both of whom participated in the first Easter.

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. I like Peter. He frequently opened his mouth before engaging his brain and generally jumped in with both feet. Peter blurted out deep spiritual truths that could only have been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, at other times he got it badly wrong.

Peter had an inkling that Jesus was about to walk into a whole load of trouble, and was determined to stick by Him.

Yet when the key moment came, Peter bottled it. He denied he knew Jesus. Peter’s heart must have broken when he realised he’d let his Lord down. I can identify a little bit with him, can’t you?

The other person who has been on my mind is Mary of Bethany. She too was a close friend of Jesus. She, with her sister and brother, showed Jesus warm hospitality whenever He came to their village, and He spent time in their home in the week leading up to His arrest and execution.

Mary used her two ears more than her mouth. She listened to Jesus. She pondered what He was really saying and what was the meaning behind His words.

Jesus had been open with all His close friends about His forthcoming crucifixion, yet only Mary seemed to grasp what He was saying.

A few days before His arrest, while Jesus was relaxing with friends over a meal, Mary anointed Him with expensive perfume (the value was around a year’s wages). She recognised who He was, and knew He was about to die. She may not have understood everything He’d said, but she wanted to pour out her extravagant love for Him.

Jesus loves a loyal, loving heart. He insisted that Mary’s beautiful act of worship be remembered wherever the gospel is taught – even more than 2,000 years later in a blog post.

The wonderful thing is that Jesus dealt with both Peter’s and Mary’s sin on the cross. Peter may have denied Him when He most needed a friend, but Jesus still didn’t turn His back on Peter.

I’m glad that Jesus knows we are prone to stumble along behind Him at times, often getting it wrong, occasionally getting something right. I’m so very thankful that my dearest friend Jesus died so that I could call Him friend, and so that He could call me friend. He is the most magnificent person who has ever lived, and I’m thrilled I can call Him mine.

If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus, He is inviting you into a relationship with Him. Please leave a comment below or contact me via Twitter if you’d like to know how you can do that.

 

 

Rejected

I’ve been thinking about a father and son, and a garden, and rejection.

You couldn’t get a closer relationship anywhere than Jesus and His Dad. Always together, always united, never a disagreement. They loved each other, enjoyed one another’s company, were completely fulfilled in their relationship.

Their perfect love overflowed. Jesus’ Dad wanted more sons and daughters just like Jesus. Jesus wanted brothers and sisters to love just like His Dad loved Him. Not because they were emotionally needy; the desire came from an overflow of purest love.

The result was us. But the snag was also us. Because there was a snag. We were created perfect, in God’s own image. But we wanted to be God and rule our own lives without bothering about allegiance to our creator. We deserved death but that’s not what Father and Son wanted for us.

They weren’t daft. They knew we would rebel and stick two fingers up at them and turn our backs. But because of their overflowing, crazy love they wanted what was best for us: relationship with them. So knowing precisely how horrible we would be, they went ahead with creating us, having Plan A in mind.

Plan A was Jesus dying the death we deserved by rights. Plan A was Jesus becoming the Way to the Father.

Olive GroveThe night before Jesus died, He went into a garden of olive trees to pray. He knew the agony that awaited Him – physical torture, an agonising death, taking the darkness and sin of the whole world, separation from His Dad. It cost Jesus everything. I can’t imagine such perfect love as blazed in the Father’s heart for Jesus being torn apart when He was forced to reject His Son at the moment Jesus became our sin on the cross.

Father and Son looked together at the cross and saw all the sons and daughters who could only come to the Father through Jesus dying, and agreed with their whole hearts that we were worth the cost.

Because Jesus was rejected by His Dad, I am accepted by His Dad.

Because Jesus was rejected by His Dad, you can be accepted by His Dad. You only need to ask and follow Him with your whole heart.

Spirit

God sent Jesus to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law,
so that He could adopt us as His very own children.
And because we are His children,
God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,
prompting us to call out, ‘Daddy Father.’
Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.
And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

These verses from Galatians are precious. They tell me how loved I am, how cherished by God.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all 100% committed to me.

I was a slave under God’s law but Jesus fulfilled the law for me. God the Son bought my freedom on the cross.

Why?

So that the Father could adopt me as His daughter. Imagine… the King of Kings wanted me in His family. Wow…. Just wow!

Father and Son were keen that I should know this in my heart, not just believe it in my head. So God sent the Spirit of Jesus to live inside me, and the Spirit tells me that this is true. God’s Spirit in me makes my heart leap for joy that God is my Daddy. Such knowledge sets my heart ablaze and powerfully changes the way I think.

I’m not a slave. He welcomes me into His palace and I get to sit on the best chairs. I belong.

As if that weren’t enough, I am a co-heir with Jesus. Everything He enjoys, I get to enjoy.

I love the Spirit. He gives me assurance. He brings me God’s presence. He gives me spiritual gifts. This glorious third Person of the Trinity loves me!

Celebrate

Day five’s word prompt for blogging through Lent is CELEBRATE.

I’m celebrating my Father’s love. It makes me jump and sing and dance and twirl and shout. I am loved!

His love for me is overwhelming. It’s a Niagara Falls of a relentless outpouring of love. He pursues me to show me His love. It’s important to Him that I grasp it, that I know how precious I am.

He deals with my mess, He guides me, sometimes He disciplines me: He always loves me.

His love is outrageous. It’s never-ending. He’s committed to me.

I didn’t always see the Father this way. I used to think He was angry and didn’t like me very much, that I had to strive to please Him. How wrong I was!

John BentonOne of the ways the Father revealed to me who He is and what He’s really like was through my friend John. He and his wife Elizabeth announced a couple of years ago that they had decided to ‘adopt’ Adi and me. I laughed and went with it.

I nicknamed him ‘Father John’, partly because of his endearing habit of placing a hand on my head and with a chuckle saying, ‘Bless you my child.’

He brings us back sticks of rock from Skegness and is always ready with big squidgy hugs. Adi and I are welcome at their house (Elizabeth’s Sunday dinners are delicious). They have even installed a bed in their spare room so that I don’t need to drive home late at night when I visit.

Gradually, ‘Father John’ has given way to the more familiar ‘Daddy John’.

The Father has used our friendship with John (and Elizabeth) to show me the Father’s heart. The more I grasp the Father’s deep, unconditional, never-ending love, the more I love the God who pursues me relentlessly to reveal more of Himself. I love Him because He first loved me and showed me what love is.

Love looks like the Father’s beloved Son dying on the cross to take all my rubbish, rebellion and mess on Himself so that He could give me His rightness with God and bring me into His family.

Father God has become Daddy God, and so today I’m celebrating His awesome love for me.

 

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