The Blood Is Still There

As an oldest child, certain stories in the Bible stick out to me. (Cain and Abel, for instance. If ever an oldest child flunked his role, Cain did!) Today I want to talk about Passover.

The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. Moses had come and requested that Pharaoh let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh wouldn’t.

So God sent plagues upon the land of Egypt, warning Pharaoh and his people that they must let the Hebrews go. And Pharaoh would say, “All right, you can go. Just remove this plague.” Of course, as soon as God had eased the suffering, Pharaoh changed his mind.

Finally, God told Moses, “This is the final plague. After this, Pharaoh will let you go. In fact, he will drive you out.”

Before, God had sent frogs, lice, hailstorms, livestock diseases, and boils on man and beast, among other things. This time, God would strike hard. No one would be able to ignore His power.

At midnight, God would kill every firstborn child in the land of Egypt.

From the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon, even to the firstborn of the livestock, God would strike with death.

I can’t help thinking: If I had been an Egyptian child that night, I would have died. Just stopped breathing.

If I had been a Hebrew child, I would have died that night unless my father followed the strict instructions to protect me.

A lamb had to die for the firstborn to live.

The father had to kill a perfect lamb and let its blood fill a basin. Then he dipped a bunch of hyssop in the blood and struck the doorposts and the lintel with the blood.

Can you imagine that wooden doorpost, dry from years of desert air and wind in Egypt? The man took a bunch of hyssop, dipped it in the lamb’s blood, and slapped it against the lintel (the beam across the top of the door). Again, he dipped the hyssop and hit one doorpost. Finally, he struck the last one.

Can you picture the dry wood soaking up the deep red liquid? This is a stain to last for decades, no matter what winds and rains scour the doorposts.

When God saw the blood guarding the door, He passed over that house. Death had already occurred there, as evidenced by the blood. The firstborn child could live.

Fourteen hundred years later, Jesus came to this earth. His purpose? To save mankind from sin.

They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

-Psalm 14:3 (NKJV) emphasis mine

For the wages of sin is death, …

-Romans 6:23a (NKJV)

Someone had to die to pay for sin. Logically, that person should be the sinner. But God did not want us to die.

A Lamb had to die for us to live.

Jesus is our Lamb. The final sacrifice. His blood is enough to erase all sin, forever. (John 1:29)

And just like the blood on the doorposts in Egypt, Jesus’ blood is never going to wash away.

Once I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and turned my life over to Him, He applied His blood to cover my sin-stains. His blood isn’t going to evaporate. It won’t fade. It won’t grow too weak to cleanse me. Ever.

No matter what Satan throws at me.

I love the way this song captures that: The Blood Is Still There by Gary Duty.

Hope you enjoy!

-Miss Darcy

Now Will Be

Being a grammar-nut of sorts, when I really noticed the grammar in John 12:31, I had to reread it. I’ll share why in just a minute. First, let me give a touch of set-up for the verse.

It’s the week of Passover. Jesus will be crucified this weekend. And His soul is troubled because of the pain. But He is determined to fulfill His purpose. So He prays aloud, “Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice comes from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

While the onlookers wonder exactly what’s going on, Jesus explains for them.

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples unto Myself.”

-John 12:30-32 (emphasis mine)

“Now” implies right at this time. “Will be” indicates at a future time. Yet Jesus says the ruler of this world will be cast out now. When?

When He is lifted up from the earth.

Typically, you hear that phrase “lifted up” referring to praising Jesus. And I suppose that applies. But it is not what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus referred to His crucifixion. Even the people who heard Him knew that. They asked (I paraphrase), “What do you mean, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? The law says the Christ will live forever. Who are you talking about?”

So Jesus’ crucifixion is the “now.” At Jesus’ crucifixion was the judgment of the world, and at Jesus’ crucifixion the ruler of this world will be cast out.

See the contradiction of time? I find it fascinating. Here’s what I think it means.

The ruler of this world is already defeated.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].

-Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

At the cross, Jesus overcame the power Satan had held since Adam and Eve sinned. On the records, Satan is listed “defeated.”

But the official casting-out ceremony is yet to be.

In Revelation 20:10, we read how, at the very end of the battle, the devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Isn’t it fun to read the end of the Book?) For now, he roams the earth “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (see 1 Peter 5:8)

Satan still exerts power, yes. It is foolish to discount his schemes and his strength. But it is also wise to remember that much of his power lies in his skill to deceive.

Jesus is the Truth. (see John 14:6) And He promises that the Truth will set us free. (see John 8:32) Free from sin. Free from shame. Free from Satan.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be a long battle–maybe a grueling, crushing, desperate battle. But victory is eventually guaranteed if you press closer to Jesus without backing down, without wavering toward the world, without losing heart. Because the foe is already defeated.

Live now for what will be.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Maybe I’m reading more into the wording than is there. Bear with me. I love to explore the richness of words.

Doubt and Facts

Sometimes I doubt my salvation. It is not a nice feeling. It’s a sick, wretched feeling.

My head knows I’m saved. Deep in my heart, I know I’m saved. But sometimes the devil fills my heart with fear, and I don’t feel saved.

Thank the Lord my salvation doesn’t depend on feelings. It is based on facts.

Fact 1: all humans sin.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, opening the worst “Pandora’s Box” you ever heard of, all humans have been born with a nature that wants to sin. Just ask anyone who’s raised children, or even worked with them a significant amount. No one has to teach a child to bite, hit, kick, or selfishly hoard his toys. He does it because that is his nature.

But if you’re looking for a checklist of sins, here’s a simple one based on the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20):

  • Lying, even “white lies.”
  • Disrespecting your parents.
  • Desiring what isn’t your own.
  • Stealing.
  • Murder, and hatred counts as murder in God’s standards (see 1 John 3:15).
  • Failing to love, honor, and serve God above all other persons or things.

Fact 2: God is holy.

He is so holy we can’t really comprehend it. His very nature is righteousness and justice, so our sinfulness repels Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

-Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

-Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

Fact 3: God loves sinners anyway.

“For God so loved the world…”

-from John 3:16 (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us…

-from Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

A holy God who loves sinners. That’s a painful position. God can’t just gloss over sin and ignore it forever. His holiness will not allow it. Yet He loves us wicked people.

So He did the unthinkable.

Fact 4: Jesus died for sinners.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and therefore part of God, wrapped Himself in human flesh and came to earth. He lived on this planet as a Man, surrounded by sin, even tempted by sin, yet never sinning (see Hebrews 4:15). He was innocent.

If an innocent person takes the punishment of a guilty person, justice is satisfied and the guilty person can go free.

Jesus died at the hands of the rulers of His time on earth. The Romans executed Him by crucifixion, one of the most agonizing deaths known to mankind. But Jesus had done nothing wrong. And He was the Son of God: He could have easily escaped. It wasn’t really the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to appease a holy God who cannot abide sin. The Lord God laid all the sin of the world on Jesus Christ, and punished Jesus for sin He never committed.

So that we sinners could go free.

who Himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in His own body on the tree,

-1 Peter 2:24a

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

-Hebrews 9:12 (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ bore our sins–our sins–in His own body on the cross, and with His own blood obtained eternal redemption. He saved us forever.

Fact 5: Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the tomb.

This fact sets Jesus apart from every other “holy man” who has walked on earth. This fact proves that Jesus is who He says He is. It proves He has the power to deliver us from sin.

This fact means that Jesus has conquered death, the ultimate consequence of sin. It’s so important that the Bible says:

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

-1Corinthians 15:17 (NKJV)

Fact 6: through faith, we obtain the salvation Jesus offers.

This gift of forgiveness of sin does not automatically apply to every person, just because Jesus died. You have to place your faith in Jesus. You can’t do anything else to save yourself.

What does that mean, “place your faith in Jesus”?

It means to acknowledge you are sinful and cannot clean yourself. To believe Jesus’ sacrifice, and that alone, pays for your sin. To accept in your heart Jesus’ death and resurrection on your behalf, and to turn your life over to Him through gratitude.

After all, if you acknowledge that your sin put Jesus on the cross, surely you will no longer want to engage in it.

Jesus’ sacrifice alone can save us. When we accept it by faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

“Not of works.” If you’ve read much on my weblog, you know I talk often about how a Christian should live. How we are to shun the world and follow Christ. How we are to hate sin and pursue righteous living.

Which brings me to my seventh fact.

Fact 7: good works can never save us.

Nothing we do is capable of saving us. Nothing.

Faith alone saves us. So what do the good works have to do with anything?

Take the story of a woman in the Bible who believed Jesus could heal her. She told herself, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made well.”

She believed that with all her heart. But until she actually touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was still sick. The moment she reached out and touched, she was made well. (see Luke 8:43-48)

And Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.”

Contradiction? No. Until her faith moved her to action, it was useless.

Until our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice moves us to action, it is useless. Until our belief in Jesus leads us to turn our backs on this world and our sinful desires, to throw ourselves on Christ’s grace and commit to serving Him, our so-called faith is not true faith at all.

True faith is all-consuming.

And when you surrender to Jesus because of His sacrifice on your behalf, that’s what Christians call “getting saved.”

I didn’t have a dramatic salvation experience. Nor was it exactly a neat, concise prayer as happens to many. (You can read my full testimony here.)

But I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

His sacrifice alone can save me. Not my good behavior or “being perfect.” I rely on His mercy every day, and through His strength I strive to obey Him. Because I love Him, oh, so much. He deserves to own every bit of me.

I hear sermons where the preacher warns against sitting in the church, sometimes for years, pretending to be or even thinking you are a Christian. I’m not criticizing their preaching–they speak the truth. But the devil will use anything, even a good sermon if he can. And he does. Almost every time. Sometimes he’s more successful than others.

Praise God my salvation doesn’t depend on my feelings. It depends on Christ’s blood. When the devil torments me with the suggestion that maybe I’m not really saved after all, I can point to the cross and say, “Yes, I am saved because Jesus makes me clean!”

Friend, if you’re not saved, I hope this makes it clear how you can get saved. There is no shame in coming to Jesus. None!

Congratulations if you read this far!

-Miss Darcy

Unsheathing the Sword

Last time I wrote, I talked about the Sword of Truth, God’s word. Today I’m going to share four ways that I unsheath that Sword in my own life. I’m no expert, mind you, but these methods bless me.

When I use them. That’s the catch. I have to actually do it. And, short-sighted human that I am, I neglect them. So I’m preaching to myself today.

Daily Practice

If you don’t draw the Sword every day, you can’t expect to get comfortable and skillful with it. So, every day, open the Bible and dig. I like to read a chapter and see which verse or which concept impresses me most. Some days I have to look harder than others. Then I write down the verse, as well as my thoughts on it.

Somehow writing it out makes my thoughts clearer in my head. This also gives me something to read later and think, “Oh, yeah, it was so neat when the Lord showed me that!”

Some days I do Bible study “homework” for the Bible class I’m part of at my church. I have a workbook that gives Scripture passages to read, followed by questions and meditations about the passage. The important thing is to actually have a decent helping of Scripture in there. Devotions that give one verse and a little meditation are fine, but they’re not unsheathing your Sword; they are notes on Sword-technique, so to speak.

Sometimes on Sundays, I only unsheath my Sword at the two church services. I’m not sure if that is perfectly sound practice, but it sometimes happens that way.

Quote It

If you can stop a wrong thought or motive in your mind before it comes out, you’re fighting well. So memorize some verses to divert your mind when it starts wandering down the wrong trails.

Do I always do this? No. But when I remember to wield the Sword this way, it is very effective.

Read for Recreation

You know those times when you haven’t read the Bible yet today, but you’re so tired you think you couldn’t possibly get anything out of Bible study? Or you just feel “down” and you don’t want to read the Bible? Just read it. Not to mine some deep theological truth you’ve never found before. But because there is nothing more wholesome you could read.

Flip to one of the stories you liked as a kid: Jonah, David, Creation, Joseph, The Five Loaves, The Resurrection. Read because the stories are interesting.

Read because the words are beautiful. Try the Psalms or even Job, or one of the prophets. Read for the vivid imagery. If no one’s around, read aloud with expression, to discover the power in the words.

Sometimes, when you’d normally watch TV or thumb through a magazine or surf social media, pick up your Bible and just read. Try a random place you haven’t visited in a while. Or a favorite passage.

Why? It’s like mindlessly hearing a song over and over: you eventually memorize most of the words. If you read the Truth over and over, it washes through your mind, refreshes your soul, and makes a difference.

Pray It

If you don’t have the book, Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore, I highly recommend it. The principle is to find a Scripture verse that applies to your need, and pray it to the Lord. I’ve found this to be so effective personally that it astounds me. (And then, getting short-sighted again, I slack off and start losing ground I gained.)

And you may ask, “Why? That sounds a little odd.”

I don’t completely understand the power of this method. But I think it may be this: When I pray God’s Word, I know I am praying according to His will.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

-1 John 5:14-15

When I pray God’s truth, I don’t waver around in my prayers. I pray with confidence and power. My favorite chapter in Beth Moore’s book is “Overcoming the Enemy.”

But you don’t have to get the book. I have some Scriptures that I’ve looked up to help me guard my mind for Christ. And when I remember to use them, I have much less defeat. Its effectiveness still amazes me.

The references are 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Rom. 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 51:10, and Psalm 55:22. I have them written on a piece of paper, and I might pray something like this:

Lord God, the weapons You have given me for warfare are not carnal but mighty in You, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of You. I can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Lord, don’t let me be conformed to this world, but transform me by renewing my mind, that I may prove what is Your good and acceptable and perfect will.

Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, help me to meditate on these things.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I’m casting my burden on You, LORD, knowing that You will sustain me. You shall never permit the righteous to be moved. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

In whatever area you want victory, I promise the Bible has verses for it.

(Disclaimer: I once heard a televangelist preaching that this method may be used for “financial victory” which sounded very much like “gaining wealth.” If you study the Bible enough, you’ll find the Christian life is way deeper than material security.)

So, do I use all these methods every day?

No. One of them every day? Usually.

See, I know all these wonderful techniques for my Sword, yet I don’t always use them. It’s hard to write about it when I don’t practice it perfectly. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I hope by putting it up here, I’ll challenge myself to faithfully use my Sword every day.

-Miss Darcy

Servant or Child?

Last week I wrote about how Christians are slaves of God. Jesus summed up the attitude we should hold.

“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ “

-Luke 17:10 (NKJV)

This is supposed to be our attitude. But it is not our identity.

Our identity is child of God.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

-Romans 8:14-17 (emphasis mine)

Children of God.

Children of the King of kings. Royalty.

That adds another dimension to our service for Jesus. Royalty has great privilege, but royalty also has great responsibility.

Ideally, royalty embodies the highest and noblest of the country.

They uphold law and justice.

They exhibit kindness.

They speak graciously and thoughtfully.

They present themselves with dignity.

They evaluate what is important and what is mere frippery.

They fight for what has value.

Though they may retreat, they never surrender.

It’s no easy standard.

If we are servants of God, we are obliged to follow His laws whenever anyone is looking. But if we are children of God–princes and princesses of His kingdom–then we must whole-heartedly uphold His law, even when no one is watching.

We don’t obey from fear or obligation. We obey because we love our Father; our deepest selves are devoted to Him; and we fully identify with Him.

It is even more demanding than calling ourselves His slaves. So why does the Bible call us slaves of God?

Because the heart-devotion of the royal child is so much harder to achieve than the rule-following of the slave.

Sometimes our hearts grow tired–exhausted, really. We can’t feel our love for God. We can’t understand why His laws are better. We can’t see why we shouldn’t act like everyone else.

And right then, we can remember, “God bought me with His Son’s blood. I am His slave. If for no other reason than that, I will obey Him.”

In the book of Romans, Paul puts it this way:

I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented you members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

-Romans 6:19 (emphasis mine)

Yes, true heart devotion is better. But when you can’t muster that, cling to the Word of God. You know He loves His children. So choose to obey, blindly, if need be.

This is me. My heart gets so weary–for whatever reason, doubtless of my own making. I go through dry periods, when I know I love the Lord, but my passion is asleep.

But my mind remembers what I owe to Jesus Christ. I understand that “the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

So I obey as best as I possibly can.

I am the daughter of the King of kings. But when the wonder of that fails to move me, I am still a slave of the King of kings. And He is a good, worthy Master.

But, oh, when my heart awakes, then the joy of being a child of the living God springs up again, full-force!

-Miss Darcy

America and “Lord”

There’s a story about a British man who came on business to the American West in the 1800’s. He arrived at his destination, a ranch, and wanted to see the boss. So, employing common phraseology from his country, he asked a cowboy, “Can you tell me where your master is?”

And the cowboy, employing one of the Old West’s favorite bits of profanity, replied that the man hadn’t been born yet.

Americans are raised on the ideal of independence.

The government exists to serve us and has no right to exert overbearing influence in our affairs. Authority can always be questioned. If we don’t like the way the government or authority behaves, we’ll fight it.

(In order the keep this post to a reasonable length, as well as prevent a tedious diversion from my subject, I will refrain from further comment on the previous paragraph.)

Most of all, Americans hold that no one has a right to call himself our “master.”

Then, if we become a Christian, we readily call our God by His well-deserved title of “Lord.”

In the original language of the New Testament, Lord is kurios (pronounced KOO-ree-ohs).

It is the same word translated master, as in

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh . . .

-Ephesians 6:5a (NKJV)

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in Heaven.

-Colossians 4:1 (NKJV)

Lord means “master.”

But in our American culture, the word master historically referred to a slave-owner, not an employer as the innocent Englishman meant it. And slave-owners are bad, right?

Well, not when the slave consented to the arrangement for his own benefit.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in you body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

-1Corinthians 6:20 (NKJV)

Bu now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

-Romans 6:22 (NKJV)

We are God’s slaves. And every time we call Him “Lord,” we acknowledge that.

But often we don’t take it seriously. After all, we are Americans. Americans are independent; we submit to no one.

And we are all too quick to carry this mindset into our relationship with God.

That is something we can’t afford to do.

Jesus is Lord.

Jesus is Master.

By submitting to Him, we get the best end of the arrangement–joy, peace, and everlasting life.

-Miss Darcy

A Seventy-Year Captive

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time in America, you’ve probably heard someone quote Jeremiah 29:11. You may have even heard a sermon on it.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

What you may or may not have heard is the context of this promise. The LORD had finally brought judgment on the land of Judah for their rebellion against Him. But He sent, through Jeremiah, a comforting letter to the Jews who were exiles in the pagan land of Babylon. Here’s the verse which precedes the much-quoted one:

For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

-Jeremiah 29:10 (NKJV)

The promised blessings come after the captivity.

So that may not be earth-shattering to you. But a couple years ago, after I heard a sermon on this topic, I got to thinking.

What if the seventy years could symbolically refer to our lives on this earth?

Consider this from the Psalms:

The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

-Psalm 90:10 (NKJV)

 Seventy years. That’s all we can really expect.

When Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, they were bound in captivity to sin. They could no longer enjoy full communion with their Creator.

Now Christ can free us from the power and consequences of sin, but we still dwell in our physical bodies, unable to have full communion with our Creator.

We are captives. For seventy years. And at the end of that time…

I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

-Jeremiah 29:14 (NKJV emphasis added)

Death in these physical bodies will deliver us from our captivity. We will be “brought back” to the place of perfect fellowship with our Creator.

Meanwhile, how shall we conduct ourselves in the land of our captivity?

Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.

Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters–that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

-Jeremiah 29:5-7 (NKJV)

Build houses to dwell in (not to make a status statement).

Plant gardens so that you may eat of them (not grow rich by them).

Have children and encourage your children to have children (nothing wrong with increasing the population of Christians through raising godly offspring).

Pray for peace in the city where you are captive (for me that is Huntsville, and by extension, the whole state of Alabama and country of the United States).

And cling to the hope of your future.

Not some perfect life on this earth, but perfect restoration of your relationship with the LORD.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. I believe that the Bible’s books of prophecy are very deep. Sometimes a given passage may have two, or even more, applications. Jeremiah 29 may very well refer to seasons of trial in our lives, as well as our lives as a whole, as well as the plain-and-simple promise to the captive Jews in literal Babylon all those centuries ago. My main point is that the captivity often comes before the good things. I hope you enjoyed exploring with me.