April 15, 2014

Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

 For Christ died for our sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God. 1 Peter 3:18

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, two environmentally friendly initiatives have been launched in the national parks. (And just in time for National Park Week, April 19-27, with free admission to all parks this weekend).

A new initiative, part of the National Park Service Healthy Foods Healthy People program, is encouraging private companies who operate snack bars and restaurants within the parks to emphasize sustainability. Xanterra, a major park concessionaire, has switched to biodegradable utensils and banned the use of plastic straws (they apparently are one of the top ten marine debris items). The company’s food service at Yellowstone has been using food grown within 500 miles for several years.

And JustGreen Lifestyle has teamed up with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) to promote greener travel. The company recently introduced Green Your Park Travel products so national park visitors can offset their emissions. “JustGreen will donate 5 percent of every carbon offset product purchased to support NPCA’s efforts to reduce air and climate pollution affecting America’s national parks,” says the NPCA press release.

Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Easter, reminds us that Jesus has “offset” our sins by taking on the punishment for all the wrong things we say, do and think, past, present and future. And we didn’t have to change ourselves or buy anything to receive this gift—He paid the price: “Jesus was slain, and purchased for God with His blood people for God from every tribe and language and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

I’m reading John Piper’s book, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, and he includes this prayer at the end of the chapter, “The Incomparable Sufferings: The Anguish of Jesus Christ:”

“Father, what can we say? We feel utterly unworthy in the face of Christ’s unspeakable sufferings…It was our sin that brought this to pass. It was we who struck him and spit on him and mocked him…Touch us with fresh faith that we might believe the incredible. The very pain of Christ that makes us despair is our salvation. Open our fearful hearts to receive the Gospel. Waken dead parts of our hearts that cannot feel what must be felt—that we are loved with the deepest, strongest, purest love in the universe…O God, open our eyes to the vastness of the sufferings of Christ and what they mean for sin and holiness and hope and heaven…Make us awake to the weight of glory—the glory of Christ’s incomparable sufferings. In his great and wonderful name, amen.”

And then, come Sunday, rejoice that Jesus is alive!

“The resurrection of Jesus secures all the blessings he obtained for us in his death,” Piper continues in a later chapter. “’Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification’ (Romans 4:25). All the promises of God, purchased by the blood of Christ, become ours in everlasting perpetuity because of the resurrection of Jesus.”

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew this song we’ll sing:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


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