God purifies (a 40-day devotional series)

(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.  I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)

wpid-devotionals.jpegIs it just me, or does this world really wear on our souls – even when we’re following Christ by faith?

It’s not just me.  God’s Word regularly encourages Jesus’ weary followers that this world is not our home. (John 14:1-4, Hebrews 11:13, 1 Peter 2:11-12, etc.)

That’s why, even after encouraging His followers that they will receive the spiritual blessings of His Kingdom (verse 3) and the physical blessings of the new earth (verse 5), Jesus encouraged them with the height of joy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

The Lord’s people will see God Almighty Himself – not just bluer skies today or better people in this world tomorrow.  His followers will enjoy the Creator of the universe and Lover of their souls, the Author and Finisher of their salvation, the Just and the Gentle, the all-powerful, all-knowing all-present, holy, gracious and eternal God, Father, Son and Spirit, who is so pure and wonderful that He cannot tolerate any sin at all.  Yet, He sacrificed His own Son and sent His own Spirit to secure their complete salvation.

There is no greater blessing than an intimate, eternal relationship with the King who loves His people as the apple of His eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8)  In a sense, all other blessings are just His stuff.

As a parent of four, I remember the great joy of taking our children to visit my parents for most summers and holidays. Because I’m a Soldier, we often had to fly or drive great distances, so it was rarely an easy trip.  Even if you’ve never stuffed your family and luggage into a minivan or a plane for a 16 hour trip, you can probably imagine some of the challenges.

They were always able to put the trip in perspective though, because they looked forward to so much at Papa and Nanny’s house. My parents still lived on the lake where I grew up, so we could fish, swim, kayak, go for a ride on the pontoon, explore the long shoreline or deep woods, build a big fire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the backyard, watch the dozens of beautiful birds that came to the feeders right outside their windows, play badminton, or just swing in the hammock on the deck.  Their place was a little bit of paradise.

But none of those things excited our children as much as seeing my Dad and Mom. The rest was just their stuff.

At this point, some of you might be wondering, “But doesn’t God’s Word say He is so holy that no one can see Him and live?”  Yes, Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16 and other passsages explicitly or implicitly say exactly that.  Yet, Scripture also records many times that people did see Him face-to-face and did not die:  Enoch in Genesis 5:22, 24, Abraham in Genesis 12:7, Isaac in Genesis 26:24, Jacob in Genesis 32:30, the seventy elders with Moses and Aaron who saw God and ate with Him in Exodus 24:1-11, Joshua in Judges 5:15, Samson’s parents in Judge 13:22 and many more.

So how were those sinful people able to be in the very presence of the Holy God and not die? By the grace of the Lord Jesus, whose blood purifies sinners. Even in His pre-incarnate body, Jesus credited them with the salvation that He had not yet purchased.  In fact, the One they saw in the Old Testament was Jesus. We know this because no one has ever seen the Father (John 1:18), God the Father is a spirit (John 4:24), and godly angels (as opposed to fallen angels) will not accept worship. (Revelation 22:9)

In John 14, the Lord also encouraged His followers with at least two important truths that you and I need to remember, too. First, Christ is our sure access to the Father. Because of Jesus, we have no reason to fear any punishment for our sins. And, second, God the Father and the Son are not at odds in their love for us. (John 16:27 and 1 John 3:1) There is no such thing as a mean Old Testament Father, a sweet New Testament Son and a neutral Holy Spirit that we can personally own to help fulfill our dreams. Jesus came to fully save His people for the God who fully loves them.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:6-9)


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