Tag Archives: salvation

December 15; Attitude Check

Philemon; Philippians 1-2

I remember that, as an adolescent girl, I could be a bit moody. No really, I could. I could get upset over what now seems insignificant, but at the time seemed the end of the world. And I remember on more than one occasion, during one of my displays of emotion, I’d hear the stern voice of my Dad say, “Change your attitude.”

It was not a suggestion.

I hear God say the same thing to me today. I hope you’ll read Philippians 2:5-11, and do an attitude check on yourself. Paul tells us our attitudes should be the same as Jesus’.

I’ve always loved these verses which speak of what Jesus did to pay for my sins, the lengths He went to die on a cross. And these verses thrill me every time I read about the Name of the One I love.

The truth is, I have no reason to have a bad attitude. I have no reason for self-pity, jealousy, bitterness. When I get a good look at what Jesus gave up to ransom me, and I realize He never complained or regretted what He’d lost, I am ashamed to remember the times when I made a big deal of things unimportant in the light of eternity.

I don’t believe God is talking about sadness, or grief, or disappointment as being sinful. Those were emotions Jesus Himself felt. But God is speaking to me about my overall attitude when bad – or good – things happen.

Paul says IF I have any encouragement from being united with Christ, IF any comfort from His love, IF I have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and IF I have received tenderness and compassion, (I emphasized the “ifs” because of course I have received all of that and more. It’s not an “if.” It’s a definite) then change your attitude!

Time for an attitude check. May my attitude, and yours, be the same as that of Jesus.

December 11; The Danger In Gentle Breezes

Acts 25:23-28:10

I love how the experiences of people we read about in Scripture are life lessons for us today. Please don’t read the Bible merely for the information. My prayer is that you will allow the living Word of God speak to you and change you every time you open its precious pages. I’d like to share what speaks to me about Paul’s experience at sea.

Paul was a prisoner, heading to Rome for trial. The centurion in charge of Paul booked passage on a ship. There were guards on board, but so, evidently were some of Paul’s friends.

The ship landed at a place called Fair Havens after a difficult first leg of the journey. It was a dangerous time of year to be sailing, but Fair Havens was not a good spot to dock for the winter. Paul warned the centurion that there was danger ahead if they set sail.

But the centurion didn’t listen to Paul. The pilot of the ship, the one with experience sailing in all kinds of weather, the one who’d most likely traveled this way before, the assumed authority on the matter, assured the centurion they could make it to Phoenix, a great place to hold up during winter.

“Look at the calm sea, feel that gentle breeze,” he may have told the centurion. “Things are looking good for sailing if we leave now.” He may have even added, “Trust me.”

The Bible says they set sail. But it wasn’t long before the gentle breeze turned into a raging storm, and totally consumed the ship and its passengers. For days they fought a losing battle against the wind and waves.

Friends, I see a picture of sin here. Too often people, even Christians, listen to so-called authorities, and ignore what God says in His Word. Whether it’s parenting, worshiping, mental health, gender issues (the list goes on), there are people passing themselves off as authorities on any given subject, and going against what God has said in His Word. But because people, even Christians, listen to those so-called authorities, they jump into the boat. They put their faith in something or someone other than God. Their course is doomed.

People don’t normally jump into the boat while the storm is raging. They step in when the water is calm, and the breeze is gentle. They adopt one innocent sounding idea and make it their own, even if the Bible takes a different view on the subject. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

Maybe they are confronted with temptation, but someone somewhere has said if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s not that bad. One little white lie, one peek at porn, one cup of coffee with a married co-worker. It’s a gentle breeze. Besides, others wiser and more experienced than I tell me I deserve this. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

I know you know that gentle breeze turns into a raging storm pretty quickly. And you find yourself in a sinking ship, battling something you never would have had to battle  if you’d  listened to the voice of God and stayed ashore.

Let Paul’s experience serve as a warning. There is only one authority. And He has written His wisdom down in Scripture.

Let Paul’s experience give you hope, too. Even if you are caught up in the raging sea of sin, all does not have to be lost. Just like God provided one way for the sailors and passengers to be saved from that storm, He has provided one way for each of us to survive, too. His name is Jesus.

The only way you will get out of this storm, the only way you will get out of this life alive, is through God’s provision of His Son. It’s only the cross that saves.

Don’t take my word for it. I am not an authority. But let God’s Word be the authority it is. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life. And God wants you to know that for yourself.

There are those who would encourage you to feel that gentle breeze of temptation and sin. But, dear one, there is real danger in that gentle breeze.

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

November 29; Speak It

I Corinthians 14:1-15:34

Years ago I was an organist in a church with a new pastor. He came in like gang busters and began to makes changes almost before the moving van had gone. One of the first things he did was call a meeting of the music committee.

He told us he wanted a more contemporary feel to our worship service. Less hymns, more praise songs. Our music director asked the pastor if he was to pick out the songs, or did the pastor want to do that. The pastor said that would be up to the music director, he didn’t really care what we sang so long as it wasn’t all hymns.

I shared that in the past we tried to pick out music that went along with the sermon, to prepare our hearts for what was going to be shared from the pulpit. I’ll never forget the pastor’s response. He looked at me, laughed a condescending chuckle and said, “I suppose you are one who thinks the preaching is the most important thing. Well, it’s not.”

I think Paul might take issue with that philosophy. If you read this part of his letter to the Corinthians you’ll see how much emphasis is placed on the words, the Gospel, the telling. The apostle used the example of musical instruments having distinct notes and a clear call.

There are many different aspects to a worship service. Paul was addressing the use of the gift of tongues but he called that gift mindless and unfruitful unless there is an interpretation. Telling the message so people can understand is the most important thing. Paul said he could speak all day in tongues, but he’d rather speak five intelligible words of instruction.

I found out that day of our music committee meeting that indeed, I am one who thinks the preaching is the most important part of a worship service. It’s the part of instruction, of encouragement, of digging deeper into God’s Word led by someone called to do that.

And once again I am reminded how important it is for all of us to speak the Gospel. We can live our lives in such a way that people notice our devotion to God, but unless we tell them about Jesus, they can’t be saved. We can go to a worship service and be carried along by the Spirit during the praise songs, but the instruction is the meat.

Let’s continue to grow, to define our faith from Scripture so that we can share it in an understandable way. We’ve got the Good News! Let’s speak it.

 

November 26; Don’t Even Eat With Them

I Corinthians 5-7

Where do you stand on the subject of sin? Is your definition of sin in line with God’s definition of sin according to His Word? Or is it based on something else?

Dan Cathy made the news recently when he announced his company, Chick fil A, would no longer financially support the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two organizations that take a Biblical stand on homosexuality. Franklin Graham went to the source and asked Cathy personally what that was about.

I certainly don’t know all the details, but I have read that Cathy told Graham that yes, Chick fil A would no longer donate to those two organizations, but assured him that didn’t mean they were bowing to pressure from the LGBT community. Cathy told the evangelist his company will give to whoever they want, and they have decided to contribute to organizations that address homelessness and education.

You mean like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?

Cathy can proclaim all day that the LGBT pressure had nothing to do with his decision. But I find it telling that the two organizations he is dropping are the two with the strongest and most vocal adherence to God’s standards according to the Bible. In fact, from what I have read as I’ve researched this this morning, I’m beginning to see this is something that has been coming for some time. Some of the organizations Chick fil A already supports and will support now are openly pro-LGBT activists. (see CBNNEWS.COM article by Mat Staver responding to Franklin Graham for one)

I thought of this today as I read what Paul said to the Corinthians concerning a brother caught in sin. Have nothing to do with him, Paul said.

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. (5:11-13)

Now I am not saying Cathy is personally an idolater or slanderer or swindler or anything like that. But I take issue with a brother making a public stand that has the appearance of evil like Mr. Cathy has done. He can say it has nothing to do with the LGBT community, but it certainly appears that it does.

I kind of chuckled that Paul used the words, “don’t even eat with them,” considering we’re talking about a restaurant. But the reality of this issue is anything but funny. I haven’t heard Cathy say why they made the decision they made. Just that they made the decision. I just can’t imagine a God-honoring reason, though.

I just believe that if one person thinks this is a win for homosexuality, or that this is a loving act toward homosexuals, it is not a decision that glorifies God. The reality is the loving thing to do is to call sin sin, and to point all people to the Savior. Because if sinners don’t repent, their eternity is set. (6:9-11)

Being anti-homosexuality is not hate. Being anti-homosexuality and introducing a sinner to the Savior is love. Someone sexually immoral, or a greedy person, a drunkard or swindler is a sinner in need of the Savior. I was a sinner, too.

But I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (from 6:11) It’s my goal that all sinners experience that, too.

I’m not saying I’ll never eat at a Chick fil A ever again. I don’t know. I haven’t been inclined to recently. I can go to Burger King or Taco Bell. Neither claim to be Christian based. God, through Paul, says it’s not up to me to judge them. But I can judge Chick fil A. And right now I judge them guilty of selling out.

If you are a homosexual reading this, I have nothing but love for you. In fact, I love you enough to tell you that Jesus is standing ready to forgive you, to cleanse you, to give you victory over sin if you ask Him. I would say the same to an adulterer, a thief, a gossip, a swindler, a liar, a murderer, or a glutton.

But I will stand on God’s definition of sin according to Scripture, and tell you sin has a very devastating and eternal consequence. And I pray that you will accept what Jesus died to give you: forgiveness and eternity with Him!

May God find all His children standing firm on the Truth of Scripture, even in the face of opposition and pressure. And may we do it with love, without anger, representing Jesus who loves sinners enough to die for them, who loved me enough to die for even me.

 

November 19; Faith

Galatians 1:1-4:7

Does reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians thrill you as much as it does me? Salvation comes from placing my faith in Jesus.

I can’t be good enough, generous enough, even religious enough to earn what Jesus freely gives to those who come to Him. He bought the right to forgive all who believe. That in itself thrills my soul.

Receiving forgiveness is the same for you as it is for me, as it is for that murderer on death row or that sweet little old lady down the street. We all must be born again by placing our faith in Jesus, the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Consider Abraham; “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham. (3:6-7)

Abraham believed. Do you?

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised (righteousness), being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (verse 22)

Isn’t that thrilling? Believe, and receive. Then this:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (4:7)

Oh, dear one, I pray that you have placed your faith in Jesus. There is no joy greater than having your sins forgiven, no blessing better than being a child of God, nothing more thrilling than knowing you are going to heaven.

I am praying for you.

November 17; He Is Coming

James 4-5; Acts 11:19-12:25

My pastor preached from I John 2 this morning. John warned that this is the last hour, that Jesus is coming again, and time as we know it will be no more. For those who know Jesus, it is a day to look forward to!

James, in chapter 5, is saying the same thing. Except he gives a different kind of warning. In fact, he says “weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.” How could John tell us to look forward to Jesus’ return, and James tell us to prepare for misery concerning it?

James goes on to talk about those who are ok with life as it is, who live in luxury, who live by their own rules. The Judge is at the door, he warns.

I don’t pretend to know when Jesus will return. Anyone who says they do are lying. The truth is I might die before that trumpet sounds. Or the clouds may part and Jesus appear before I’m done typing this today. I don’t know. No one does because Scripture doesn’t say.

But Scripture is clear that I – and you – will one day face the Judge. Everyone who has ever lived will be held accountable for the lives we lived on planet Earth. Until the day we stand before God Almighty, we have choice.

We can either align ourselves with God through the blood of Jesus, or we can live by our own rules, then stand before Him on that day on our own. I can absolutely tell you what to expect, without being your judge.

The Bible leaves no room for interpretation on this subject. With Jesus, you will go to heaven. Without Him, you will go to hell. Standing before the Judge, wearing Jesus’ righteousness, will usher you into a glorious eternity with God. Standing before Him wearing your pitiful attempt at goodness (which is nothing more than used menstrual pads) will usher you into an eternity more painful than anything our minds can even imagine.

There is no third option.

Jesus is coming again. When He does there will be no time to change your mind, no time to accept what He did on the cross when He paid for your sin. Oh, you can pay for them yourself with an eternity of hell if you choose. But I can’t imagine why you’d want to, when that debt has already been paid.

Jesus is coming again. It might be today. It might not. You may die today and face the Judge before the sun sets on your town. Or not. But are you ready to meet the Judge? You need to decide right this minute, my friend. Because when it’s over, it is truly over.