black friday

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There are two Fridays that people reference frequently: Black Friday and Good Friday.

How did Black Friday get its name? “Black Friday” had an early meaning of referring to the day that normally retailers “sell in the black” or make a profit from their sales for the year. Religiously, the day after Thanksgiving, we make a mad rush to stores long before they open to get bargains before Christmas.

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More important is “Good Friday.” It was the first Black Friday. Good Friday is ironically named. It’s good because something horrific happen, a death. How can a death be called good? It’s who died and why He died. Jesus died. And when he died, on Friday, He carry the weight of our sin on the cross, bore the wrath of God, and paid the price for our sins!

Isn’t it ironic we call it “Good” when Jesus suffered incomprehensibly for us? As horrific as it is, it’s Good News! Jesus took our place! Without Good Friday we have no eternal profit, rather we are bankrupt. We would be in the red.

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Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,

make many to be accounted righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

– Isaiah 53

hell, wrath of God, and eternal judgment

When Jesus mentions hell it is not a joke, myth, or suggestion about what life is like on earth. When He speaks about hell His words are not vicious  or bloodthirsty, but chocked with tears. He loves and cares for people too much therefore He takes a lot of time in His teaching to warn us to avoid it.

When Jesus teaches about hell it is often graphic and vivid. He relates to hell as a place of eternal punishment, eternal fire, the fiery furnace, the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place reserved for those who rebel against God. Jesus shares with a story about two men who have very different ends to their lives. From this story there is a lot of insights about hell:

1.  Hell is real (Luke 16:19-23a).

Hell is not a land-of-make-believe for those who are more evil than Mr. Rogers. “Hades” is a real place. So real is hell that Jesus talks about it a lot. Sometimes more than heaven. If God the Son talks about hell, it’s real.

2.  Hell is really not fun (16:23b-24).

I enjoy Billy Joel’s music, but it is ignorant to say that “I would rather party with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Hell is not a party or place that anyone should desire. The rich man in Jesus’ story says “in torment”, “I am in agony in this fire.”

3.  Hell is real eternal separation from God (16:25-26).

It is a wonderful comfort to know that at any moment, place and time God is with us. He is our Immanuel. I could not imagine being in a place without God, but that is how hell is described, “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed…none may cross from there to us.”

4.  Hell is for rejects (16:27-31).

Hell is for those who reject God and His redemptive plans in Christ. It does not matter if you were a good person, paid your taxes on time, live by the Golden Rule or follow most of the10 Commandments. Just one breech of the law is rejection of all of it. There is no rescue for rejects postmortem. You must chose to follow Christ today, in your one lifetime. In the story Jesus shares about the rich man, the man pleads for his family who are still alive that someone would warn them. Yet he does not remember and chose to forget that many had warned him. If he or his family does not listen to the warnings from God’s teachers [i.e.  Moses and the Prophets] they will not listen to a dead man.

A parent’s have concern over their children’s safety therefore they say, “Look both ways before you cross the street,” “Don’t stick your figure in a light socket,” “Do not drink Drain-O.” This is what Jesus is saying when He speaks about hell. Jesus is pointing out the signs of clear and present danger if you continue to ignore God’s plan. He doesn’t use the scare-tactic, but speaks plainly as a parent who care often do when warning their children of matters of life or death.

Love is what motivates Jesus to talk about hell.

Jesus wants you to listen to Him and avoid it. The cross is where His motive of love led, and there He bore the wrath of God for your sin. Gods love is often misunderstood. “God is love,” (1 John 4), but just because God is love doesn’t mean He loves everything or that His love is His chief attribute. He is also holy, gracious, merciful, just and righteous. God does not love sin (Ps.5:4-6), in fact, He hates it.

God would not be loving if He left sin unpunished.

Imagine living in a world where sin, injustice, and lawlessness reigned. Imagine if police officers let thieves and rapists roam the streets free. Imagine if judges and juries let murders and molesters be dismissed without charge from the courtroom. You would not say those law enforcers were just or right. If God did not deal with sin, He would not be a just Judge or good authority.

Hell is a loving necessity.

It is a place where evil is to be locked up. God created hell to deal with evil. He made it to be a final, inescapable prison where all evil, rebellion against God will be confined never to poison men again. Given all the evil in the world today it is a great assurance to know that God notices it and has a plan to do something about it. God does not overlook evil.

Hell seems unloving when you do not have a good understanding of what sin is against God.

God is holy and without sin. Sin cannot go unpunished from a perfect God. God’s holiness and our sin are infinitely great, therefore, the greater the crime, the greater the punishment. Sin is an eternal offense against God therefore it deserves an eternal punishment. Sin against God is treason. If you were to disobey a king in the Middle Ages you were receive the death penalty. Thus it is so with the King of the Universe who seeks to care for His creation (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

Hell is real. It is no joke or laughing matter. Since Jesus was serious about its future realities, you must be serious about it today too. Rather than asking God, why He would send anyone to hell, you must ask: How can it be that you have been so merciful to a sinner like me?

sin is more than

I gathered at the Communion Table like never seen before. On Sunday, I was faced with the reality of my sin as Pastor Kenny preached on the reality of the cross from the perspective of our sin and the wrath of God.  For a majority of the service I was confronted by my darkness that once separated me from the Light. It is my sin that nailed Christ to the cross, but it is also the cross of Christ that frees me from the bondage of sin. The Gospel is so good! By the end of the service, I had my head in my hands praising a God of grace.

I went home that night and wrote a poem reflecting the passage below:

“And you who were dead in your sins…God made alive together with Him, having forgiven all our sins, but canceling the certificate of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 

 

sin is more than blood and gore
more than neglecting the poor
more than sleeping with a whore
more than being wicked to the core

sin is more than a binge on gin and rum
more than forsaking the lowly bum
more than pretending to be blind, deaf or dumb
more than being compassionately numb

sin is more than committing a vile crime
more than stealing a nickel or dime
more than a mind filled with grime
more than wasting away valuable time

sin is more than one night before the ring
more than an extra-marital fling
more than putting an enemy in a sling
more than having no offering to bring

Sin is slapping a Holy God in the face
defaming the name of His glory and grace
facing a judgement without a case
separating all from His eternal place

 

Sin is recorded on a certificate of debt,
punishable by death; an infinite loss
but Christ has taken the the dirty note
and nailed it to the splintered cross