Tag Archives: good works

August 19; It’s Not About The Rags

Jeremiah 34:1-22, 39:1-18; 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 13:15-21

The king couldn’t escape God’s wrath. The most powerful man in the country had no defense against the hand of God, even with his strong army fighting for him. Zedekiah tried to run, but he was captured, his children killed right before his eyes, then his eyes were gouged out of his head, and he was thrown in prison.

God had repeatedly warned King Zedekiah, but he continually refused to repent. He ended up paying a high price for his disobedience.

However, an employee of the king, a Cushite named Ebed-Melech was saved by God. Do you remember Ebed-Melech?

We met him in Jeremiah 38. He’s the man who rescued Jeremiah out of a cistern, where the prophet had been left to die by Zedekiah’s thugs. Ebed-Melech thoughtfully provided rags to be used as cushions under Jeremiah’s armpits so Jeremiah wouldn’t be cut to shreds as Ebed-Melech lifted him up out of the well by a rope. He not only saved Jeremiah’s life, he did so with a great deal of kindness and consideration. I like Ebed-Melech.

Now here in Jeremiah 29 we hear God promise Ebed-Melech he will be rescued himself. But not as a reward for being considerate to Jeremiah. God said:

I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declared the Lord. (29:18, emphasis mine)

I am reminded that no amount of thoughtful, kind, or sacrificial deeds can buy my salvation. No one had more to offer than King Zedekiah. No one had more resources at his disposal. Ebed-Melech, just a regular guy, was saved because he trusted God.

And, dear one, trusting God is what will save you and me, too.

May 22; Spectacular

I Kings 5:13-18, 6:1-38, 7:1-12, 9:15-16, 20-23; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18, 3:1-17, 8:7-10; Psalm 127

Whenever I read the description of Solomon’s Temple I am amazed at what must have been a beautiful structure. All the gold details, the intricate carvings. I can imagine the look of the chiseled stonework, and the scent of freshly cut cedar. It took seven years of hard work, but the result must have been spectacular.

Paul, in I Corinthians 3, reminds us that we are God’s temple. You and I, as believers in Jesus are together building His Church. The foundation is Jesus Christ. Each of us are building on that precious foundation using a variety of materials: gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. (vs 12)

I’m pretty sure none of the walls in Solomon’s Temple consisted of stacked hay bales. It probably never crossed Solomon’s mind to use anything less than the best building materials for that Temple. Why would anyone choose inferior building materials for God’s Church today?

I think that if I’m trying to build God’s Church with good works: church attendance, honesty, charity, mowing my neighbor’s lawn, I’m using inferior building materials. Good works aren’t good enough. It would be like trying to build a wall using filthy rags. Really?

If I preach a gospel other than Jesus Christ, I’m building a house of straw even if I have thousands of followers.

I want my life to be built on the sure foundation of Jesus, built up by the gold of His Word, decorated with the jewels of submission and obedience. And I want to contribute to the building of His Church with the souls of people who come to Him because I invested myself in their lives for Jesus’ sake.

Solomon’s Temple must have been spectacular. It’s what he thought God deserved. I think God still deserves spectacular.

February 6: Not From Yourselves

Exodus 13-15

Every day I read God’s Word, I write my thoughts and observations in a journal. These past few years my journals have served as a rough draft for the posts on this blog. The journal I am using now has a Bible verse on each  page. Today’s verse is Ephesians 2:8-9, and it reinforces the truth found in these chapters in Exodus so beautifully!

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

The parting of the Red Sea is a familiar story to most. The dramatic rescue of the Jews from the Egyptians is nothing short of spectacular. God revealed His power to the whole world when those waters parted, and the Jews were saved.

I am reminded the Jews didn’t build a dam to stop the water. They didn’t throw together a barge to float across the water. They didn’t do a part-the-water-dance. In fact, God told them to be still.

Their salvation had nothing to do with anything they did. It was His grace that saved them. And His grace is still saving souls thousands of years later.

Someone told me recently that a friend of their’s who lived a very difficult life with health issues and heartache was in heaven now because, “She paid her penance on earth.”

Dear one, that isn’t close to being true. Your troubles here on earth – or even all the good you do – have zero to do with whether or not you spend eternity in the Presence of God.

ZERO.

There is only one thing that will save you. It’s not from yourself. It is a gift from the heart of God. It’s His grace.

The Jews walked through the waters of the Red Sea on dry ground because God alone made a way. And we can walk through this life and into the next because God made a way. His name is Jesus.

There was only one way for the Jews to be saved from their enemy. And there is only one way for us to be saved from ours. They had to go through the Sea. We have to go through Jesus.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name on earth or in heaven, no other salvation in anyone else other than Jesus Himself. No other way. And we can accept what Jesus did on the cross, because of the grace of God.

If you haven’t already, please surrender to God. Be still. Quit trying so hard. Ask God to forgive you, and He will. Let Him save you by His grace through the precious blood of Jesus.

 

Samuel 1-3; Knowing God

Samuel grew up in the church. No, really. He actually lived and grew up right there in the temple. His parents dropped him off there when he was a toddler. 3:1 tells us he “ministered before the Lord under Eli.” The apprentice priest. Samuel’s whole life was spent serving God.

I was struck today that, even after years of doing the right things, Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice when He called. 3:7 tells us why:

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

It reminds me of Matthew 7. Some people in this example were trying to talk God out of sending them to hell, arguing that they had prophesied in the name of the Lord, and had even cast out demons and performed other miracles in God’s name. Shouldn’t that earn them a ticket to heaven?

Jesus tells us that on that day when judgment is declared, God will say to those busy people, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

I hope you are an active, productive member of a Bible believing church. I hope you visit the sick, volunteer in the nursery, mow the lawn, and serve on all kinds of committees that help your fellowship make a difference in your community, to the glory of God.

But let me ask you if you recognize God’s voice. Do you know Him? Have you had that personal, one-on-one conversation with Him, and told Him your heart’s condition? Have you repented of sin, accepted His grace – the work of Jesus on the cross? Are you nurturing a relationship by reading what He wrote to you, by talking to Him, by listening for His voice very day?

Doing things for the Lord is great. But if you’re doing those things without knowing Him, without Him knowing you as His child, hear Him say that He sees you as an evildoer.

Samuel finally recognized God’s voice and said, “Speak Lord. I’m listening.”

I pray you’ll say the same.

Numbers 19-20; No One Gets A Free Pass

Not even Moses. You remember Moses, the one God used to deliver an entire nation from slavery, the one who performed miracles, the one with whom God entrusted His Law, the man who could be in God’s Holy Presence and live. Who in all of history has done more, seen more, had conversations with God more than Moses?

Yet when God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come rushing out of it, then Moses tapped the rock instead, God didn’t look at all the good Moses had done and balance that against his sin and say, “The scale tips toward good so you get a free pass.” Even Moses had to suffer the consequences for his sin.

Even Moses.

The Bible is clear that every sin comes with a death sentence. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) Every sin.

I hope you are busy doing good things in our world. I hope you are honest and kind, that you are involved in a Bible believing church, that you volunteer at the homeless shelter, recycle, and support a child in Africa.

But don’t think that any of that can substitute for accepting Jesus as your Savior, for admitting and repenting of every sin God reveals in your life. The sin you commit will be repaid with death. That’s why Jesus died.

Because no one gets a free pass.