Lifeblood

A precious woman in my circle passed away this week. She lived a long life and was ready to go home to her Creator and Savior. I remember hearing her say that we do not talk about the blood of Christ enough anymore. “It’s all about the blood,” she told me. The conversation stuck with me and ever since I have noticed Bible verses, songs, and messages that directly reference the blood of Christ. I am writing this post in remembrance of that dear woman and her desire for the sacrifice and power of Jesus’ blood to be known, respected, and celebrated.

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Leviticus 17:11, NIV)

God emphasized the importance of blood to the Israelites; blood contains life. It carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells. It carries waste to organs that filter and expel it from the body. Blood also fights infection and delivers regulatory hormones. It contains living cells and is essential to our well-being. Blood is powerful!

God has also chosen blood to be the vessel of atonement. Starting with the first human sin, innocent blood was shed to pay the penalty:

Then the Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for the man and his wife. (Genesis 3:21, CEV)

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they became aware of their nakedness and felt ashamed. To cover their bodies and assuage their shame, God killed animals and used their skins to make clothes. The penalty of human sin has always included the shedding of innocent blood.

Centuries later, on the night of the first Passover, God used the blood of a lamb to mark the homes of His children and save them from death:

The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  (Exodus 12:13, NIV)

In this case, the blood of innocent lambs was used as a protection; it marked a home where the occupants were obedient to God. The firstborn sons and animals of the household were spared physical death through the sacrifice and blood of one lamb. God instructed His people to remember this through a special celebration every year.

The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22, NIV)

Sacrifices were God’s prescribed way for His people to make amends for their sin — whether intentional or unintentional — and indicate their commitment to Him. Most of these sacrifices, as outlined in Leviticus, required the blood of an animal without blemish or defect. The shedding of blood and sacrifice of the animal restored a person to good standing with God. It paid the penalty for their sin and state of being spiritual unclean before God. Of course, this foreshadowed the sacrifice Jesus would make. The New Testament repeatedly references the life-giving power of the blood of Christ:

…After the supper [Jesus] took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20, NIV)

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood. (Romans 3:25, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  (Romans 5:8-9, NIV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13, NIV)

The only way we can experience far more life is by acknowledging that Christ gave up His life — His blood — to pay the penalty for our sins. Being sinless, He was innocent before God and in the position to sacrifice Himself for our benefit. His blood is the perfect sacrifice, more spiritually powerful than any animal sacrifice:

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14, NIV)

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  (Hebrews 7:27, NIV)

With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9, NIV)

The blood of Jesus purifies us completely from every sin we commit at any time in our life. He does not need to die over and over again. Knowing we are forgiven of every sin clears our conscience so we are free to live for God instead of being afraid of being punished by Him. And Jesus’ sacrifice applies to people of all cultures, races, and ethnicities; anyone can accept His offer of forgiveness.

Most of us do not like to focus on our sin or on blood. It is easy to minimize our wrongs or take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted. But as I remember my friend today, I also remember her challenge to pay proper respect to the blood of Jesus. To remember the high cost He paid so we could have far more life.

Sisters,
What life-giving aspect of blood is most meaningful to you? Why?
Imagine you are Eve and watch God spill an animal’s blood to clothe your nakedness. How would you feel? How would it change your obedience to God’s commands?
How has the blood of Jesus cleansed your conscience? Has that impacted your eagerness to serve Him?
Thank Jesus for sacrificing His blood and offering you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay


Words of Life

Words. Most of us find them necessary in daily life. We use them to understand what is happening around us. We also use them to express what is happening within us. They enable us to communicate ideas, feelings, dreams, facts, desires, and needs. They can cause connection or division among people. They can hurt or help. They can be powerful or empty.

God’s spoken words brought much of what we know into being. According to Genesis 1, each day “God said…” and something new was formed. Light. Space. Sea and land. Sun, moon, and stars. Birds and sea creatures. Land animals. God’s words are powerful!

The Bible is God’s Word. Although we cannot talk with him face-to-face or audibly hear His voice, His words are recorded there for us to study, understand, and heed. Psalm 119 is filled with references to the value of His Word and its impact on our lives. I remember being inspired by this verse as a child:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

The Bible offers us a precious gift: the opportunity to know God’s heart, purpose, and ways. It offers words of life that enable us to join His family and His work. We are wise to pay attention to it. Jesus affirms the value of His words as well:

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation had been laid on rock. (Matthew 7:24-25, NET)

God gives us freedom to choose what we will do with His words. Taking them seriously and acting on them leads to far more life. It brings us safety and security when problems enter our lives. Following His words provides us with a spiritual foundation that will not collapse when the storms of life come against us. As our Creator, He knows what is best for us and what will devastate us. He knows our deepest needs as well as our strengths. Although some view them as restrictive, His words are intended to provide a boundary within which we can thrive, finding far more life as we pursue a relationship with Him.

It should not be surprising that the LORD’s words have power and authority since He is all-powerful and the ultimate authority. He does not make empty promises or idle threats. His words are backed by His character and provide trustworthy instruction. He even communicates how we should use our words:

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].(Ephesians 4:29, AMP)

You must mean “Yes” when you say “Yes”. You must mean “No” when you say “No”. (Matthew 5:37, WE)

With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! (James 3:9-10, GW)

Our words are powerful, too. They have the power to build others up or tear them down. They have the power to praise God or curse Him. They can bring hurt or healing. They reveal our character and the hidden contents of our heart. Our words can be life-giving or life-destroying. Far more life speaks words of life.

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (Ephesians 4:15, NLT)

Words of life speak the truth in love. God wants our words to speak life to the listener. He wants us to speak truth rather than flattery, boasting, or outright lies. God also wants us to speak in love, with the motive of building up the listener and revealing His character. Sometimes speaking in love is firm and direct, but it is never hateful, defensive, or vengeful. Love for God compels us to speak words of life to the people around us, whether or not they acknowledge His lordship.

The life-giving words are not just for others; far more life speaks the truth in love to ourselves as well. Our internal dialogue can build us up or tear us down. God wants to lovingly mold us into His character through words of life. He offers His children grace, help, and hope rather than condemnation, criticism, and defeat. God sees beyond our actions to understand the motives of our hearts (I Samuel 16:7). We are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27) and justified before God (Romans 5:9). God — who is perfect and aware of every secret sin we commit — does not condemn us (Romans 8:1), so surely we have no reason to condemn ourselves! God wants us to confess our sins (James 5:16) and pursue righteousness (Romans 6:13), but out of gratitude and love, not guilt and shame (Romans 10:11). Embracing these life-giving words brings far more life!

But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. (Matthew 15:18, CEV)

If you want to think and speak life-giving words, you must first have them in your heart. Study God’s words of life. Wrestle with them until you understand them so you can wholeheartedly believe them. (It is okay to ask for help; we will spend the rest of our lives growing in our understanding of His Word.) Then share far more life with others by sharing words of life with them!

Sisters,
In general, do think of words as good, bad, or neutral?
What about God’s Word makes it valuable to you?
Are more of your words to others life-giving or life-destroying? To yourself?
What helps you speak the truth in love?
Thank God for giving us His Word to help us find far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso