Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Gave Up Coffee for Lent…Then I Took It Back (Part II)

I wanted to do this blog in two parts. The first part, in order to really explain where I was at, was all about me. The second part I would like to be all about Jesus and what He did on the Cross…to the glory of the Father. I do want to mention that I set my alarm clock to get up early enough to spend at least an hour with my husband this morning before he left, however something else woke me up an hour before my alarm went off. Instead of being grouchy and trying to go back to sleep, I was able to connect with my husband for about two hours this morning. We were able to talk about schedules, some counseling we have been doing, some heart issues I have been struggling with, and how to work through some other issues that need confronting, all while cuddling. It really was a sweet time.

When I was weighing the decision yesterday to drink coffee, my first instinct was to go to a place of “I am letting God down” mentality. Quickly I heard the admonishment, “this does not change how I see you and do you think you can do anything at all?” My choosing to give something up for Lent is a personal decision to show reverence and honor to God. I am not big enough “to let God down”, that cheapens the cross. Although my motivation for observing Lent was not to win favor with God I do believe I fell into a prideful stance that I could somehow win favor with Him.

We are studying The Great Exchange (My Sin for His Righteousness) by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington during this Lent season. The book unpacks the atonement from every angle and perspective. Here is an excerpt from the book unpacking Galatians that I would like to share:

Legalism occurs whenever a sinner attempts to earn God’s favor by his or her personal righteousness instead of by Christ’s transferred righteousness. Legalism demands the value of Christ’s work of atonement by requiring sinners to perform activities that are man-centered and, in essence, man-exalting. Even subtle, unspoken legalism sets forth a course that inevitably leads to spiritual pride and eventual defeat under the weight of unsuccessfully attempted law keeping. By substituting man-centered performance as the basis for acquiring righteousness the very essence and foundation of redemptive truth is compromised. In this epistle, Paul shows that the atonement is the sole basis of man’s forgiveness, righteousness, and acceptance by God—nothing can or should be added.

Wow, that is truly a humbling truth. There is nothing I can do to add to what Christ did on the Cross and to assume otherwise is prideful and arrogant. Christ’s death on the Cross was magnificent, awesome, and sufficient.

I cannot win favor, earn his love, or do any good at all in my own ability or strength. The fact that I have any ability at all comes from His righteousness imputed to me. He stood in my place and fully received God’s entire wrath that I fully deserved. I am not worthy, thank God!

The Ebenezer stone is a reminder of God’s promises, His eternal covenant. 1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” We often talk about what our Ebenezer is during this season and what has been nailed to the cross. Today, my Ebenezer is that Christ’s death on the cross in place of me not only saved me from the wrath of God but perfectly allows me to stand before God, holy and right, as He imputed His righteousness to me. Today I am reminded that my performance, my ability, and my self-righteousness were nailed to the cross.

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