Monday, July 2, 2012
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. Revelation 5:9
The cross was the moment of ultimate atonement for all sin and judgment, revealing Christ’s identity as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. “The life is in the blood,” (Lev. 17:11) and Christ’s life was poured out in blood. Every act of compassion and grace, every moment of righteousness, every defeat of the devil, every healing and miracle, every moment of love that was the life of Jesus Christ was poured out in payment for the world. This life and blood bought us back from the power of darkness and sin and brought us into the light and life of Christ. It was an inordinate price that revealed the Father’s love and the value of His creation.
Christ’s blood did not purchase sins; it purchased human beings. It purchased us, and in that exchange it cleansed us from our sin. It paid our ransom, and it paid it completely. We have been bought spirit, soul, and body and we must give ourselves to God, spirit, soul, and body. If all you’ve given Christ is your sin, then you haven’t received Him and He hasn’t received you, because you’ve only given Him something extinguished.
Our inner being was bought with blood. Our mind, will, and emotions were bought with blood. Our body was bought with blood. Our worship was bought with blood. Our devotion was bought with blood. Our ministry was bought with blood. Every aspect of our life and being was bought by the life of Christ which He poured out in blood as a sacrifice for us. He redeemed us from chains and darkness, pain and sorrow, sickness and hurt, death and damnation. He bought us for love, life, glory, and service. He bought us for obedience. He bought us back from rebellion that He might be Lord of all.
Our Father is a jealous God (Deut. 4:24). His Spirit yearns and longs for what He created. He covets the breath of life that He placed in us (Gen. 2:7) and the Holy Spirit who lives within us (1 Cor 6:18, James 4:5). He deserves the focus of every moment, the motivation of every action, and all glory, honor, praise. His word and His Spirit urge us on into this single minded pursuit of glory for the one who redeemed us. This is the life Jesus paid for us to have, not a life of drudging slavery, but a life of love and pleasure in the presence of God’s favor and glory.
Christ’s blood has paid for all of humanity. He paid the price not only for us, but for every living being. Jesus purchased people from every tribe and language and people and nation. He purchased our families, friends, and neighbors. He purchased those who are foreign and strangers, small and great. He deserves all of us and all of them. The mission for His blood-bought church is to go in the authority of Jesus and the power of the Spirit and acquire what He paid for. When I look at the men and women of Hamtramck, I see the purchase of God, the price of His blood, and the mission of the body of Christ. They are the mission. They are the goal, and well over 10,000 in my city have never heard the message of Jesus. They have no knowledge of His life, His goodness, and His sacrifice to purchase us from death and bring us into the life of God which has no end.
May God receive His blood-bought creation.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
No artist creates without purpose or meaning. Michelangelo did not fling paint at the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and then shrug his shoulders in surprise when the result was complex beauty. He made choices and decisions based on reason and purpose and significance. He was deliberate. Every color, every line, and every shadow was infused with a reflection on the beauty of God.
God made man in His own image, in His own resemblance, from His own life. He breathed vitality into humanity and set man over all His works (Gen 1:26, 2:7). He had work for humanity to do. He had a plan for him to accomplish (Gen 2:15). He had a reason for him to work, to love, and to be. In the fall of man and the corruption of sin, that reason was obscured. But Jesus has restored and redeemed humanity and has lifted us to sit with Him. He revealed man’s place in the Kingdom and in the love of God. He gave reason and purpose to our suffering and pain by taking it upon Himself and giving us life.
It is good news that God created man. It is good news because it means that each person has a design and a purpose. Each person has a reason. Each one is significant and meaningful and in the image of God who is love. It is good news that God has work for us to do. He has a job, a task, and a calling for our lives. No one has to be idle, bored, unemployed, and useless because Almighty God has use for us. He has a calling in mind that we were made to do and that He planned for us to do from the foundation of the world. It is good news that man was made to have dominion over all the earth (Psalm 8:6). In God every human being is free from the rule of this world, its influences, its kingdoms, and its powers and free to obey God. We can walk as men and women under authority. We are invested with the Spirit and born again into the authority of Christ. We are empowered to perform God’s will on the earth and to set things right in a world full of wrongs.
The whole world is waiting to hear that they mean something. God has commissioned you and me to tell the world, lost in their sin as they are, that God is searching for His creation who bears His likeness. He made them in the image of love. He made them with value. He made them with purpose. He made them with a job in mind, and He has provided a way out of bondage, oppression, and sin. He has made a way into the rule and kingdom of God where sinners become saints, crowned as kings and anointed as priests. This is good news to all who believe.
This month I spent a lot of time with young immigrants, helping them apply for jobs, sitting and talking about college majors, career tracks, giving them advice on English pronunciation and American culture. They are searching for their identity in a culture that isn’t their own. They’re searching to make a life, for work to do, and for importance in their world. They’re searching for friendship and significance, people who will affirm that they matter. In the midst of their search for significance and meaning, God is searching for them, calling to them with our voices, befriending them with our time and touch, caring for them with our love. As Jesus has given our lives value and meaning, He has given us His Spirit who bestows value and meaning on others through words of love, acts of compassion, friendship and brotherhood. This is part of the Good News to Hindus and Muslims in America, that God has prepared a place for them, friends for them, men and women of love and grace who will be the gospel in word and deed and power. And through us He speaks His love. He tells them that they have meaning, that He knows them and cares for them, and that Christ has come to enter their lives, take their sin and suffering and receive them for His own.
Read the rest of the June 2012 Newsletter
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Luke 19:5
Jesus was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). He was not just friendly; He was a friend. He gave His time to sinners. He invested Himself in sinners. He interacted with them and entered their lives. He took pain, suffering, and evil from their lives. On the cross He took on their identity and gave them His: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This is what He has done for us. This is infinite mercy and kindness, unfathomable love and goodness. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16). This is the goodness that has led us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Zaccheus was a chief tax collector, a chief extortionist, a chief liar, and a chief traitor to his people. He was small in stature and morality but large in notoriety. Yet this was the man Jesus chose to invest His time in and single out for a personal visit. To the crowd’s eyes Jesus was the rabbi, the healer, and the prophet of the hour, but He picked a dishonest, disreputable sinner to honor with His presence. Zaccheus “received Him joyfully” (Luke 19:7) and as he dined with Jesus, Zaccheus was changed. “Look Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8). This true repentance was motivated by an encounter with the goodness, kindness, and love of the Lord Jesus. Kindness did not produce an anemic commitment. It produced a revelation of Jesus as Lord that inspired a man ruled by wealth to give away fifty percent of his bank account and to give a fourfold restitution to those he had wronged. Zaccheus did not simply modify his ways. He didn’t adapt his behavior to the Christian message or the Christian culture. He repented of his sin. The direction and motivation of his heart was reversed. He cast down his idols and made Jesus Lord of his life. He didn’t simply ask for forgiveness from his actions; he reversed his ways. Jesus came into his home, into his life, and into his brokenness with a revelation of love and grace. Jesus gave him attention and kindness. Jesus was a friend to a man who knew he didn’t deserve it. He was good to Zaccheus for no reason, and this motivated a deep repentance and a personal revolution of righteousness with Jesus as Lord. This was not the response of the righteous, but the response of a disreputable, dishonest sinner. “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9).
Today Christ is not only finding sinners and calling them friends, He stands knocking at the heart of the lukewarm church, asking for entrance, saying boldly before all “today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). So often we imagine we have already had our encounter, our repentance. We are bored with the goodness and kindness of God. We think we know it. We think we’ve experienced it. Yet we have only modified our ways. We have adapted ourselves to a message or a culture or an appearance, but in our hearts we say, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). We deny Him as Lord because we have hardened ourselves to His goodness. But even now Jesus is here to seek and to save that which was lost. He is walking the streets in the hearts of His Servants, reaching out to a lost and dying world with His love and grace and humbly knocking in the hearts of His Church seeking to enter and reign over all the kingdoms of our heart. Every knee must bow. Christ must receive all that He paid for. Repent and believe the good news that Jesus is the Lord who is good to all.
Posted by Jonathan Ammon at 1:13 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2012
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
The new Hindu temple has a sign now. It's been operating for a couple of months. Within this building men, women, and children bow to statues. Please pray for our city. People are desperate for God and for the things of the spiritual world. They need to know the love, goodness, and truth of Jesus Christ. He entered the world as a servant, took on our suffering, died for the sins of the world, rose from the grave and is soon returning to judge the world. May all the world hear and believe.