Monday Music ~ From the Day (I Am They)

I am They. Are you?

 “And this is eternal life, that
they
know You the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
~ John 17:3

From the day Jesus saved my soul, I’ve sung, I’ve danced, and my heart has overflowed, because when Jesus prayed in John 17, He prayed for me.  

I have given them the words that You gave me, and
they
have received them and have come to know
in truth that I came from You; and
they
have believed that You sent Me. 
I am praying for them.”
~ John 17:8-9
 

I am “they!” 

This is the meaning behind the name of the band, I Am They.

They’re grateful to belong to Christ — to be the “they” that Jesus prayed for and died for.

They’re grateful that God opened their eyes to see the truth and believe it. Me too. I don’t deserve His grace, and yet He gave it generously. 

If you’ve had thoughts about God, that was God drawing you to Himself.

Respond to His drawing, so you can embrace all that Jesus prayed for you so passionately. (John 17)

Years ago my mom wrote me a letter telling me all the things she loved about me. It meant the world to me, especially after I lost her to cancer.

Years later, my father wrote me a similar letter. I stored it next to mom’s letter and read them often.

When we moved, I placed them into a special basket to protect them through the move.

I’ve never seen that basket again. I lost my letters.

I lost my father shortly after.

My heart has grieved over losing my parents and my letters, but I’ve not only had incredible comfort, but also joy, every day in knowing that I can never lose what’s most important — my salvation.

And because of my salvation, the day is coming when I’ll see my parents again (because they are the “they” in John 17, too.)

I’ll be able to look into their faces again and tell them how much I love them. 

I’ll look up into the face of God and truly understand love.

I’ll finally see what the Holy Spirit looks like and thank Him for never leaving me.

I’ll see the nail-scarred hands and feet of Jesus and fall at His feet in gratefulness.

I’ll live in the presence of all of their love forever, because I am “they.”

From the Day You Saved My Soul -- Great Song by I Am They!

From the Day You Saved My Soul — Great Song by I Am They!

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The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark (Part 4) — The Work

 

Click to Read: Discover Jesus Christ in Noah's Ark -- The Work (The Red Thread)

The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark — The Work

 

Because of Noah’s great faith, God could trust him to do something as outlandish as build a monstrous boat far from water over a long period of time under the scrutiny of a world whose every intention of their heart was evil. (See Genesis 6)

That had to be fun.

The Bible doesn’t say exactly when Noah began the construction project, but we do know that it had to be after his sons were born and married since God told him to build it for his wife, his sons, and their wives. (Genesis 6:18)

No doubt Noah began as soon as God gave him the plans. If God says to do something, most likely a man who’s found favor in God’s eyes is someone who obeys Him quickly, completely, and cheerfully.

(Wow, I haven’t said that phrase – “quickly, completely, and cheerfully” – since my children were little. I used to say it A LOT! But I digress . . .)

What the Bible also doesn’t say is if Noah built the ark by himself.

When you read the story closely, you realize that nowhere is it recorded that anyone ever helped Noah build the ark.

It only records God speaking with Noah, not with anyone else in his family. 

We read that “Noah did everything just as God commanded him[1],” but there’s no mention of anyone else having “done all God commanded him” concerning the ark.

The New Testament only mentions Noah as having “prepared the ark.” (Hebrews 11:7) 

Did Noah build the ark by himself? 

The task is clearly too great for one man to perform by himself, unless he were given supernatural power from God to do it.

Superman could have done it, although I still think he would have needed to have the flexibility of Stretch Armstrong or Elastigirl to hold the boards in place while at the same time securing them on each end. Wow, I’m really digressing.

So, yes, if God enabled him to do it, he could have built it all by himself.

It’s also possible — and more likely — that Noah had tons of help, but by God’s design, Noah is the only one recorded as having built the ark.

Either scenario is possible, for nothing is impossible with God.[2]

I, personally, lean towards Noah having had help, although I like the idea of his being a combination of superheroes. SuperStretch Noah?

Regardless of which scenario is accurate, it is clear that God’s focus is on Noah alone as the builder.

Why would it matter that Noah alone gets credit for the ark? 

I believe it’s a Red Thread Clue.

One of the foundational truths of Christianity is that we cannot earn our salvation. It’s a work of Christ alone.

Salvation is a free gift, paid for with His blood, which he shed as He hung on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.[3] 

Salvation is not “Christ’s death on the cross plus anything else.” It’s not Christ plus good works, or Christ plus living by certain rules.

It’s Christ alone.

Just as Noah did all the work God commanded him to do to provide the means for him and his family members to be saved from the flood, so Jesus did all God commanded Him to do and finished the work to provide the means for our salvation and adoption into His family. As He hung on the cross, Christ said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Another Red Thread Clue of Jesus (@JeanWilund.com)

Noah alone is credited with the work of building the ark — the means of their salvation from the flood. He did all God commanded him.

The work of salvation from sin is a work of Christ alone. Christ did all God commanded Him. “It is finished.”

No picture, type, or clue of Christ is ever going to be exactly like the real deal, but Noah and the Ark have given us a pretty good glimpse into what Christ would do.

Stay tuned for the next Red Thread Clue in Noah’s Ark

Had you ever thought about if Noah had help building the ark? Leave a comment. Thanks!

Tweetable:
The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark — The Work of Noah & Christ (Click to Tweet)

 

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[1] Genesis 6:22

[2] Luke 1:37

[3] Ephesians 2:8

 

 




What Was So Wrong with Cain’s Offering?

Poor Cain!

Poor Cain!

Poor Cain.

That’s what I thought for the longest time.

What was so wrong with Cain’s offering that God would reject it? Poor Cain!

I hear that thought from others, too, until they take a closer look at what happened – what really happened – and they see Cain has no one to blame but himself.

It’s right there in Genesis 4.

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits
of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” ~ Genesis 4:3

Cain and Abel bring their offering to God.

The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor…Genesis 4:4-5

The Bible doesn’t record the moment Cain learned about bringing an offering to God, but we know that conversation happened, because we see him bring an offering to God without any questions. 

Since Cain was a farmer, it makes sense to us that he’d bring some of his crops as an offering.

“And Abel also brought an offering—
fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.”
~ Genesis 4:4a

Since Abel was a shepherd, it also makes sense to us that he brought an offering from his flock.

Surely God wanted them to bring the best of what they had. Right?

Wrong.

“The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” ~ Genesis 4:4b-5

Here’s where we jump to Cain’s defense. Why is God playing favorites? What’s so wrong with Cain’s offering?

Look closely at this next verse, and we’ll see our answer:

"I will come to God any way I want, and He'd better be ok with it!" ~ Cain's heart

“I will come to God any way I want, and He’d better be ok with it!” ~ Cain’s heart

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” ~ Genesis 4:6-7

(Of course God knew why Cain was angry. He asked these questions to help Cain realize the true reason for his anger and what he must do about it.) 

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”

The Truth: Cain didn’t do what he knew was right.

He knew he wasn’t bringing the right offering. He brought what he decided he could bring and God should accept.

I don’t want to keep paying these high gas prices, but if I put water into my gas tank, my car won’t run. It’s not the right fuel for my car. The car manufacturers decide what makes my car run, not me. 

Cain brought the wrong offering.

Even if Cain had brought the best crops in history, it wouldn’t matter. Champagne in my gas tank wouldn’t work either. It’s not about bringing our best. Our best is worthless. (Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that our very best deeds are no better than filthy rags in light of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 2:8 confirms we are saved by grace alone, not by anything we do.)

God accepted Abel and his offering, not because God liked Abel better, but because Abel brought the right offering.

Simple solution! Go get the right offering and bring it.

It wasn’t too late for Cain. God lets him know that If he’ll go and get the right offering, he will be accepted just like Abel was accepted.

How did Cain respond?

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. ~ Genesis 4:8

Cain, Cain. If only you'd done what was right!

While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.                    ~ Genesis 4:8

While they were in the field together, Cain could have chosen a firstborn of Abel’s flock, but he chose to kill Abel instead.

God had offered Cain grace, but he rejected God’s grace and refused to bring the right offering.

Cain didn’t want to bring the right offering. He wanted to decide for himself what is an acceptable offering and what is not. He wanted to be in the place of God. (Where have we seen this before? The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. — Sorry. I couldn’t resist that cliché.)

A good friend of mine once told me, “I’ve lived the best life I can live, and if that isn’t good enough for God, then oh well.” My friend also rejected God’s grace. He wasn’t interested in coming to God the right way — the only way.

My friend’s heart reflected Cain’s heart:

“No! I do as I please. You’re not the boss of me. I can come to You any way I want, and You’d better be ok with that.”

Cain never repented. He was never sorry. So tragic.

But why couldn’t the offering be from the ground and not from the flock?

I see at least three reasons:

  • The ground was cursed, and thus it cannot cover sins. Therefore, it can’t point to Christ. (It can’t give us, what I call, a Red Thread Clue.) God accepted grain offerings for thanks and praise, but not for sin.

“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat from it,” ‘Cursed is the ground because of you;'” ~ Genesis 3:17

  • The animal from the flock was sinless, thus it gave us a picture of Christ

“For we do not have a high priest [Jesus Christ] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” ~ Hebrews 4:15 [Brackets mine]

  • Abel’s offering reflected the penalty and payment for sin, thus it points to Christ, whose death would pay for our sin. 

With His own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” ~ Hebrews 9:12

Bottom Line: Abel brought the right offering  the offering that points to Jesus, who was the Right Offering.

Abel chose to come to God the right way with the right offering, looking forward to the day when God’s Son would come and be the right offering — the perfect offering — for the sin of the world.

Cain chose to come to God his own way, and when given the chance to come to God the right way, in the stubbornness of his heart, he refused. If my way isn’t good enough for you, God, then fine! Forget it!

If that’s our attitude, we will pay the same steep price Cain paid:

So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. ~ Genesis 4:16

Please, don’t miss this:

There is only one way to come to God and that is through Jesus Christ. All other ways lead us out of God’s presence forever.

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ~ Jesus

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ~ Jesus

 

If you’ve decided to come to God through Jesus, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or email me privately at jwilund(at)me(dot)com.

If you haven’t decided yet, and would like to talk, I’d love to hear from you as well.

For more articles in The Red Thread series, click here.

TWEETABLES:
What Was So Wrong with Cain’s Offering? (Click to Tweet)

Did Cain Get a Raw Deal? (Click to Tweet)




God Still Pardons Murderers

Would you rather a cold-blooded murderer walk free on your streets or a physician? 

But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One
and asked for a murderer to be granted to you”
~ Acts 3:14

Barabbas - God still pardons murderers

“No, not Him. Give us Barabbas!” (John 18:40)

The Jewish leaders demanded that Pilate release Barabbas, a convicted thief and murderer, instead of Jesus, the Man who’d fed over 9,000 people and healed the sick and raised the dead.

They wanted Jesus crucified, not the murderer.

Did they think about what they were asking?

They wanted the murderer free, not Jesus.

Did they consider the consequences? 

 

...asked for a murderer to be granted to you...

…asked for a murderer to be granted to you…

On October 26, 1974, Willie Horton and two accomplices brutally murdered a 17-year-old boy. Willie was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole—but apparently not without the possibility of a weekend holiday. 

On June 6, 1986, the Maryland prison released Willie on “weekend furlough.”

What could possibly go wrong with that idea? 

Willie didn’t report back to prison.

Wow! Never saw that coming.

On April 3, 1987, Willie displayed his evil nature again. Fortunately, he was recaptured.

The sentencing judge refused to send Willie back to Maryland fearing he’d be given another weekend holiday. The judge said, “This man should never be allowed to draw a breath of free air again.”[1]

So, now I ask you to reconsider the scene when Pilate asks the crowd who they want released:
Jesus or Barabbas?

They asked Pilate to release a cold-blooded murderer into their streets; to let him be free to approach their children.

They preferred a murderer in their streets over the Holy One. They wanted the One who did only good His entire life to suffer and die.

But’s it even bigger than that.

Look at the murderer’s name. Barabbas.

Barabbas means “son of father.[2]

Barabbas, the son of his father, is released
instead of Jesus, The Son of the Father.

But that’s not all.

Think about who Barabbas’ father is.

I’m not talking about his biological father, but his spiritual father. When they say, “He looks just like his dad,” who would you say he looks like?

“You are of your father the devil,
and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth
because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie,
he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.
~ John 8:44[3]

Barabbas may not have had his father Satan’s eyes, but he certainly had his father’s heart—dark and evil. 

It was out of the evil of their own hearts that the Jewish leaders and the crowd demanded Barabbas be free and Jesus crucified, but this was also God’s plan.

Satan meant it for evil, but God intended it for good.

God CHOSE for Barabbas, the son of his father Satan, to be pardoned instead of His own Son—and He did it for us.

 God would not allow His Son to be pardoned,
so that we—murderers, liars, sons of Satan—could be.

Don’t get offended that I’ve just compared us to Barabbas or Willie Horton.

Hopefully you’ve never done anything compared to what these men have done, but had you lived the life they lived, can you honestly say with absolute certainty that you wouldn’t have done what they did?

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

~ Romans 3:10-12

This includes you—and me.

Let this reality soak in and refresh you.

We are ALL guilty, but God still pardons Murderers.

I’m one of them. No, I don’t have anyone buried in my back yard, but I’ve hated people (not you, of course—others), and Christ likens that to murder.[3]  And trust me, I’ve done much worse than murder people in my heart.

Makes me thankful for Romans 8:1:

“Therefore there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

~ Romans 8:1

That’s a full pardon, not based on merit, but on grace.

Extravagant grace!

The next time you think about Barabbas, or Willie Horton, or you see a murderer on the news, let that remind you of when God would not allow His Son to be pardoned, so that we—while we were still His enemy—could be pardoned.

Have you accepted His pardon?  

If not, Romans 10:9 teaches how to receive that full pardon:

Romans 10-9

If you have accepted His pardon, walk worthy of your extravagant reprieve. You deserved death, but received life. AMEN!

I’m so glad God still pardons murderers. Whew!

red thread

(Thanks for joining me here on my journey through God’s Word.
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.)
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my 
When Life Explodes Series 


[1] Wikipedia: http://ow.ly/u8KZO

[2] Barabbas [N] [H] [S]  i.e., son of Abba or of a father, a notorious robber whom Pilate proposed to condemn to death instead of Jesus, whom he wished to release, in accordance with the Roman custom (John 18:40 ; Mark 15:7 ; Luke 23:19). But the Jews were so bent on the death of Jesus that they demanded that Barabbas should be pardoned (Matthew 27:16-26 ; Acts 3:14). This Pilate did. (These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.)

[3] In this passage, Jesus is talking with the Jewish leaders who were seeking to kill Him. The truth in this passage can also be applied to Barabbas, as anyone who does not believe in Jesus as the only way to the Father, is not in the family of God. There are only two families/two kingdoms: God’s and Satan’s.

[4] Matthew 5:21-22