Tag Archives: salvation

June 16; It’s Ours

Psalms 104, 114, 115; I Kings 20

The psalmist said something in 115:16 that has me thinking. He said that the heavens belong to God. But He gave the earth to man. Sometimes I think we blame God for the condition of our planet. But in reality, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

God entrusted His beautiful creation to us, and we have failed to take care of it. I’m not talking about the Global Warming farce. Although I believe responsible stewardship of God’s creation honors Him and benefits us.

I’m thinking  more along the lines of the only thing God created in His image. People. I’m not so sure we’ve taken good care of us. We’ve allowed sin to run unchecked, and people, whole nations are paying the price of our neglect.

I read about Ahab, an evil king, who was blessed by God for one reason. God wanted Ahab to know God is who He is. Ahab got the point that aligning himself with God meant victory in battle. But Ahab never really knew God enough to fear Him. He was able to disobey God without a second thought.

I’m wondering if we Christians aren’t satisfyed with spreading the word about who God is, without going a step further and leading people to the Savior. If someone goes to church, do we think our job is done? If someone calls themselves Christian, do we rest believing they understand what that means? I don’t think that’s doing a good job taking care of those created in God’s image.

I am reminded that God isn’t done with His creation. He is not throwing up His hands, and abandoning the human race. He is still in there trying to get our attention because He doesn’t want anyone to die without Him.

I remember when I bought my first house. I stood back and, in awe, said: “This is really mine.” I had a sense of excitement, wonder, and the overwhelming sense of responsibility. I wanted to take care of it, to mow the lawn, to pull the weeds and plant flowers. I actually wanted to dust shelves and vacuum carpet. I took pride in the condition of my home.

I’d like to feel that same way about the world. The heavens belong to God, but He has given the earth to me. To us.

Let’s take care of it like it’s ours.

 

June 11; A Look In The Mirror

I Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 10:1-9, 11:1-4, 13-17

Sometimes I read accounts like the one in today’s Scripture and I find myself shaking my head. The audacity of some to openly defy God, the in-your-face rejection of Him, astounds me. Jeroboam heard God’s Word, saw evidence that God was true, then turned around and did exactly what God had condemned.

This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall, and to its destruction from the face of the earth. (I Kings 13:34)

We can obviously make a connection to our own government. We can also see examples of this in the modern church. But, as always when I look into God’s Word, it’s like looking into a mirror. And sometimes I just don’t like what I see looking back at me. It hurts when God puts a finger on my heart.

I’d like to share what He is saying to me today. Number one, He has put His rules and expectations in writing. He has given clear instructions for living. He has proven Himself to be true over and over. I can make no mistake about it, God is holy and demands to be obeyed. Period.

Secondly, God hates sin. God punishes every sin. God cannot exist in harmony with sin. He makes it clear that our choice is either sin or Him. It can never be sin AND Him.

I know these things. Yet there have been times when I, and probably when you, have chosen sin over holiness, have neglected to do what He asks of me, and times when I knowingly, with an in-your-face attitude, have defied Him.

Like the foolish prophet, there have been times when someone who claims to have heard from God, says something that sounds right. Something inside of me questions whether or not it is truly Scriptural. But this someone says he’s a spokesman for God, and who am I to question that, right?

This morning as I look into the mirror of Scripture I am reminded that the only Truth is that which is written in the pages of the Bible. Anything, or anyone who adds to or contradicts what God inspired men to write down is straight from Satan.

And, if I believe that Scripture is true, I’d better be doing what it says. Because the Bible paints a holy, fearsome, powerful God who punishes every sin with death. It also clearly paints a picture of the cross. This harsh judge who has the power to condemn all of us, came to live with us in a human body, suffered and died on the cross, condemned Himself to the death we all deserve.

And He stands with open arms to receive any and all of us who go to Him.

Today, as I look in the mirror of Scripture I see a sinner saved by grace. I see a woman who was lost, now standing there wearing the holiness of the Savior. I see a woman who chooses Jesus.

April 23; The Lord Be Exalted

Psalms 31, 56, 40; I Samuel 27:1-12; 28:1-2; 29:1-11; I Chronicles 12:1-7,19-22

I hope Psalm 40 is your testimony. David waited on God, and God heard him, lifted him up out of the depths of sin, and put a new song in David’s mouth. David knows how blessed are we who put our trust in God, who hide His Word in our hearts, who obey Him, and tell others about Him.

David is honest to say life was still hard for him. But even in that, he proclaimed God’s mercy, God’s love, and God’s saving power. Knowing God was in his life gave David reason to rejoice.

It does the same for me. God is our help and deliverer.

The Lord be exulted!

That’s my testimony. I pray you can say the same.

April 11; Ebenezer (Not Scrooge)

I Samuel 6-9

Do you remember what it was like the day you gave your heart to Jesus? Do you remember the relief, and that overwhelming sense of love? Can you recall the purity in your relationship with God, that precious gift of salvation that Jesus died to give you?

For some of us, that day has been decades ago. Some of us were saved as children, and our encounter with Jesus Christ kept us from living ungodly lifestyles. Some of us were saved later in life, and realize the pain that comes from living life without God. Either way, the choice to surrender to Jesus was a decision that changed our lives. Do you remember it?

Israel had won a victory over their enemy, and the Ark of God was finally home. They were saved, and God’s Presence was among them once again. Samuel didn’t want them to ever forget what God had done for them.

So he built an Ebenezer. He set up a stone to mark the spot, a reminder for generations to come about the salvation of the Lord. “Thus far has the Lord helped us,” he said in chapter 7.

It wasn’t something to worship. It was to remind them why they worshiped.

I sometimes wear a cross around my neck. I guess that could be an Ebenezer in that it reminds me what Jesus did for me on a cross. My nephew’s wife has a tattoo on her wrist that says, “Agape,” to remind her how God’s love changed her life.

An Ebenezer is a tangible reminder of God’s blessings, a way to go back and appreciate what God has done. What is that for me? Even now, as I sit here thinking about this passage, I find it hard to remember the day Jesus saved me. I don’t often think about that moment when my sins were washed away, when my Savior wrapped me up in His righteousness.

But maybe I should. Samuel thought it was important. God must think it’s important or He wouldn’t have inspired this passage to be included in His Word. So let me encourage all of us to consider putting up an Ebenezer to remind us what God has done for us, what He has saved us from, and how He has helped us get this far.

When was the last time you sang Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing?” It’s been a while for me, so I looked up the lyrics. So powerful! Look at the second verse:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;

Here by Thy great help I’ve come.

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God.

He, to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood.

All four verses are so amazing. I hope you’ll take time to read then. It might take a bit of effort to understand the outdated phrases from the 1700’s, but it’s so worth it.

Let’s not forget what Jesus did and what He saved us from. Let’s raise our Ebenezer and praise His Name.

March 21; Do You Want The Good News First, Or The Bad?

Deuteronomy 27-28

So the first thing the Israelites were to do after they’d crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land had to do with the Law. Moses instructed them to erect the equivalent of a modern-day billboard, and carve God’s Commandments clearly enough for everyone to see. Their occupation of that land came with conditions. Their future depended on them obeying God’s Law.

God gave them the good news first. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commandments… all these blessings will come upon you…” (28:1-2) Then He proceeds to describe what life would be life for God’s obedient children:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (vv 3-6)

It doesn’t even stop there. Victory over enemies, full barns, nations recognizing the fact they are God’s holy people, abundant prosperity…

I’d pick door number one!

Because beginning in verse 15, God describes in gruesome detail what life would be like if they chose disobedience over obedience.

You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. (vv16-19)

Oh, it gets worse. Much worse. From devastating losses in battle, to awful diseases, to broken relationships, barren land and famine, such suffering that cannibalism would be the only means of survival.

There’s more. It’s just too awful.

God spent fourteen verses talking about the blessings for obedience. He took 53 verses to warn them about the consequences for disobedience.

I’m reminded God does not want ANYONE going to hell. He takes no delight in the death of an unrepentant sinner. He is desperate for us to know the truth about what is ahead.

The blessings speak for themselves. You know what I mean, if you’ve given your heart to the Lord, and are careful to follow His rules. The blessings are there! It’s the bad news God wants to make clear.

If you think what we read in chapter 28 is bad, you’ve seen only a glimpse of eternity without God. Only the first day of eternity in hell.

The good news is that God is so desperate, so driven to have us with Him, He came to earth Himself and paid the price for all our sin. When we accept His gift of grace, when we follow Him and choose to obey, He opens the floodgates of blessing. Our enemy is defeated, our sins are forgiven, we experience love and joy and peace like never before. And we know for certain that no matter what happens in this life, what comes next will knock our socks off.

And because God is so desperate that no one die without Him, He wants you to know what it is you are choosing when you choose to deny Him, As you read what God said to Israel here in chapter 28, put yourselves in their shoes. Feel the pain, the humiliation, the fear. Feel what it would be like if God removed Himself, no longer tried to get your attention. Realize the desperation, the anguish, the abandonment that comes from disobedience.

Then understand that without following God, there is no hope for mercy. No possibility of relief. Ever.

The bad news… the really bad news is…

Eternity is a very long time to be without God, my friend.

 

March 20; A Relationship

Deuteronomy 23-26

Religion is full of rules. If you do this, this, and this, and don’t do that or that, your god will accept you, won’t punish you, or will at least tolerate you. We read about religions that advocate sacrificing children, or killing the infidel to appease a god. We hear about religions that require X-number of prayers, abstaining from certain food and drink, or wearing veils and head coverings as part of their religion.

Now I’m not saying Christianity doesn’t have rules. God gave us the Ten Commandments and holds us accountable for obeying them. The Bible, especially the Old Testament like the chapters we read today have pages and pages of rules, often repeated several times.

But there is a reason I believe Christianity stands out from all the rest. The rules God gave His people were given so that He, a Holy God, could fellowship with us. The rules we abide by were given because God loves people.

It’s not about rule-following so we can get Him on our side. He’s already on our side. It’s not rule-following so that He’ll forgive us. He’s already forgiven us by the blood of Jesus. The God of Christianity put down rules so that He can:

“set (us) in praise, fame and honor high above all nations he has made and that (we) will be a people holy to the Lord (our) God, as he promised.” (26:19)

The God of Christianity doesn’t look at people as something to dominate, or control. He looks at His children as “his treasured possession.”

When the followers of most other religions follow their rules, the only thing they can hope for is a god that might let up on them, and maybe promise them some kind of eternal peace. The God of Christianity promises Himself, His Spirit living in us, blessings and joy, as well as an eternity in His Presence.

It’s for that reason I agree with those who say Christianity is not a religion as much as it is a relationship. Here’s God, awesome in power, Holy, Holy, Holy, creator of the universe, wanting to hang out with me. Here is God, knowing that I cannot obey all the rules, that I am a sinner by virtue of the first sin I ever committed, paying the penalty Himself that my sin deserves. Here’s is that same God, knowing I can’t come to Him no matter how many rules I follow, coming to me.

And I, as His child by His grace through Jesus, will demonstrate my love for Him by obeying Him, cherishing Him, walking with Him. It’s not about the rules. It’s about the person of Jesus Christ, a Holy God who came down to my level so that I can have a relationship with Him.

It’s about a God who actually loves me. And I love Him, too.

March 1; No More, No Less

Numbers 7

Every time I read this chapter I am blessed. It may seem repetitive and boring to read each word. But the truth it represents gets me every time.

The fact this chapter so beautifully portrays is: we are all on equal footing before God. Every tribe came to the Presence of God with the exact same things. Big tribes weren’t required to give more, small tribes didn’t get away with less.

And that’s how it is today. Every one of us is on equal footing before our Holy God:

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

We are all sinners. None of us has anything more to offer God than the next guy:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Every one of us is saved in exactly the same way:

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Because, and this is the kicker:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven give to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And Jesus tells us exactly who that Name is:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me(John 14:6)

That’s it. That’s what the Bible tells us in the Old Testament and the New. We can’t be good enough, generous enough, spiritual or religious enough to approach God on our own. Everyone is required the exact same thing. No more. No less.