Thursday, October 20, 2011

Trees ~ Part 3

Sin separates us from God. But God in His great love and mercy sent His only Son to redeem us. In the book of Romans chapter 6 verse 23, it says, "The wages (or payment) for sin is death, but the gift of God (Jesus) is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord".
What does the Tree of Life represent? I think it represents Jesus, the source of forgiveness and restoration to God our Father. In John 14:16 Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through me."
This leads me to the next tree that changed my life. The Cross of Christ.
I was born a sinner. Yes, innocent, baby me. I was born a sinner because of the nature of our human existence. Adam and Eve got the sin ball rolling for the rest of us. I knew at an early age what was right and what was wrong. I knew when I disobeyed my parents. I knew when I lied, cheated, was selfish, hurtful...
I needed forgiveness, atonement, and restoration. I needed a savior; a way back to God.
I am the youngest of five children and born a distance of 18 years from my oldest brother and 10 years from my closest sister. I enjoyed a safe and happy childhood. I played alone a lot. My favorite thinking spot was our big rubber tree in our side yard. I would climb up to my favorite spot where the tree branches had created a little chair and sit and think my childish thoughts. One thought that kept creeping back was about a sermon I had heard about "the rapture of the Church". It was preached by an old minister in the church our family attended. I remember him telling us about how God would carry away all the believers from the earth.
One day, while I was rollerskating on our driveway, I fell and scraped up my knee. I went into our house calling for my Mother. She did not answer so, I called for my oldest sister Teresa. She didn't answer either. Then I realized that everything was quiet. I couldn't hear the birds singing or the traffic on the nearby busy street. I began to wonder if the Rapture had occurred and I was left behind. I went to our medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink and got a band-aid. I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and put the band-aid on my scrapped knee.

 I called out for my Mother again. I called out for my sister again. All was quiet. I began to worry. What if the rapture had really happened? I had not called out to God to save me. I knew I really wanted to be with Him. I knew all my family had prayed to Him but, I hadn't. I began to pray a simple prayer. "Dear God, I love you. I want to be with you. Please, can I be with you too?" I imagined His strong hand reaching down from the sky and picking me up. Of course I could be with Him. It was that simple. All I had to do was have the desire and ask.
At that moment, I heard the normal sounds of our household, my Mother's voice, the birds chirping, the busy street, and I knew I was different. I had been transformed from sinner to forgiven.
When I was a young teenager, I was in Texas with family friends. It was nighttime and I was sitting in the very back of their station wagon on the rumble seat next to my best friend Caroline and it dawned on me that I had not said the typical "sinners prayer". I worried a little and then in my mind made sure that God knew that I knew what He had done for me. I wanted to make sure I had dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's". I sat back and watched the telephone polls drift by and the road we'd been on sail under us and I told Him that I knew I was a sinner and that I needed a Savior and that He had sent His only Son Jesus to die on a cross for my sin. That Jesus took my sin on Himself; that He took my place and that I accepted Him as my Savor. I asked God to forgive me of my sins and to come into my life.
I knew in my heart that I was already saved but, it was good to verify it.
Why did Jesus have to be crucified? Why did there have to be a sacrifice? It goes back to the Garden and the Curse. Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us, for it is written 'cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'". In the book of First John 4:10 it says, "God sent His son to be the atonement for our sins" and I Peter 2:24 says "He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness".
Crucifixion was one of the most horrible forms of death ever devised. It was designed to be a lingering death. The guilty was first beaten with a whip of braided leather with bones and metal at the tips. Jesus was stripped naked, secured with ropes and beaten. A crown of thorns was smashed upon his head as a symbol of the curse ("you shall have thorns"). He was forced to carry the cross beam to the site of execution and became too weak; another man had to carry it some of the way for him. Jesus was nailed to a tree for us. He was cut and opened before all. Holy Scriptures tell us that he was so badly disfigured that his face didn't even look like that of a man. Jesus took our punishment on that cross. He was the perfect sacrifice because he was God in the flesh. He was holy and pure and blameless.
How do we obtain God's righteousness to be in right standing with Him? How do we become forgiven? When we accept this gift of salvation, of forgiveness, through faith in Jesus. We are no longer condemned. We now can eat from the Tree of Life. Jesus is our Tree of Life.
After Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after he was crucified, the apostle Peter said, "There is no other name under Heaven, given to men, whereby you must be saved."
In my next post I will write about faith.
What is faith? What does faith mean to you?


A Magical Whimsy said...

Bless you, my sister
Hoping someone, somewhere, will accept Jesus as their savior with this sweet post of yours.
your sister

rebecca's rainbow kisses said...

that's my prayer. planting seeds...
my next post will be about seeds.
xo, bex

Anonymous said...

i love your post! thanks for sharing... God bless you loves soraya