Tag Archives: salvation

October 18; It’s Pretty Clear

Matthew 17:24-27, 18:10-35, 8:18-22, 11:20-24; Mark 9:38-50, 10:1; Luke 9:49-62, 10:1-20

Can a person believe in God and not believe in Jesus? Is it ok for a person to call God Allah, and his son Mohammed? Can a person be accepted by God on their own terms, without the cross?

Jesus said, as recorded in Luke 10:16, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (emphasis mine)

So, no. If anyone rejects Jesus as God’s only Son who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again for the world’s sin debt, if anyone rejects Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the only way to the Father, they are not just rejecting a man who lived 2,000 years ago. They are rejecting God.

It’s pretty clear.

October 14; Bread From Heaven

Mark 6:45-56; Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:16-59

Seriously, is there anything better than the aroma of freshly-baked bread, filling the entire house with its enticing scent? There might be something better than that. But you have to agree that smell is right up there.

On the surface, what Jesus is saying in John 6 is anything but appetizing. If you don’t understand metaphors, reading this portion of John’s Gospel can be disturbing because it seems Jesus is proposing cannibalism. That’s the opposite of baking bread, right? But take a closer look at this Scripture. Jesus is telling us He is the Messiah!

He is the Bread which came down from heaven. His body made of real flesh, will be brutally beaten and hung on a cross where He will die. His blood, as red as yours, will be shed so my sins – and yours- can be forgiven. And we who take Him in are satisfied forever.

No more hunger for peace. He is our peace. No more longing for love. God IS love. No more thirsting for joy, or happiness, or worth. Jesus is all that, and more. People who are always looking for more, have only to accept what Jesus offers, and find more than they were looking for.

There are those who will tell you that Jesus is talking to a chosen few, because He tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…: (vs 44). They use the word, “unless,” to suggest God is selective in who He draws to Himself. But read on.

Verses 45-47 says, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him come to me… he who believes has everlasting life.” I will tell you without hesitation that Jesus is talking to YOU.

Jesus is saying you can’t bake your own bread. God has sent His Son, the Bread of Life, into the world, and like a fresh loaf right out of the oven, His aroma spreads out over the whole world, drawing all people to the source. Everyone who listens to God, and believes in His Son, will have everlasting life.

That’s what God chose. He chose to save everyone who listens to the Father, learns from Him, and comes to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Jesus tells us not to work for food that spoils. Don’t try to find happiness in a spouse, or fulfillment in a job, or success by driving a BMW, or salvation in church attendance. The only “work” we can do to receive what Jesus died to give us is believe in Him. (vs 29)

Breathe in that aroma, devour that Bread from Heaven, make Him a part of you. And never hunger or thirst again.

October 3; Hometown

John 4:27-46; Mark 1:14-15, 21-45; Matthew 4:12-17, 8:1-4, 14-17; Luke 4:14-15, 30-44, 5:12-16

Many of us Baby-Boomers grew up going to church, Sunday School, Bible Schools, and often Wednesday night prayer meetings and youth groups. We were raised with at least a knowledge of God in a country that honored God in many ways. Even the shops were closed on Sundays.

For many of us, our association with all things Christian became more than church attendance. We made it personal when we repented of our sin, and invited Jesus into our hearts and lives.

Fast forward fifty years. Things have changed, haven’t they?

We didn’t give our children the same Biblical foundation. We encouraged them to find truth for themselves. We sacrificed Sunday worship for baseball and soccer games. We stopped meeting on Sunday nights and Wednesday evenings. We chipped away at the foundation that our own lives had been built on. Now our children are raising our grandchildren with no foundation at all.

I know that is a vast generalization. I hope you who are reading this are not described by it. But when I look at our country and our world, I think too many people are.

I got to thinking about this today as I read about Jesus’ ministry in His hometown. Scripture tells us He couldn’t do a lot of great things there among the people closest to Him,  people who had watched Him grow up.

Jesus reminded them that in Elijah’s day there were a lot of starving widows in Israel, but God had to go to Sidon to find a woman of faith. There were plenty of lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha. But it was Naaman the Syrian who had the faith to be healed.

I am reminded it’s not exposure to Jesus, not church attendance, or familiarity with creation, or a belief in a higher power that saves. Living in a house where believers live does not save. You can know everything there is to know about Jesus. But that knowledge won’t save you.

Please don’t assume your kids and grandkids will be saved because of your faith. They, like us, will have to decide to accept grace for themselves. Don’t assume your children know Jesus just because they know about Him. They will have to establish that relationship with the Savior themselves.

Our children can be living in Jesus’ hometown, so to speak, and never put their faith in Him. And God cannot do great things in their lives if that’s the case.

Are we giving our children and grandchildren a chance to build their faith on the Truth of Scripture the sure foundation of Jesus, the Holiness of God, and the only way to the Father? Or are we ok with them watching Christianity from the cheap seats?

People in Jesus day could say, “Yeah. I’m from Jesus’ home town. I grew up with Him.” In our day we can say, “Yeah. My Mom knows Jesus. I grew up in church.”

It’s just not enough.

September 3; Don’t Assume

Daniel 8:1-27, 5:1-31, 9:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

I’m very thankful for the truth God laid on my heart yesterday. He is such a patient God. He’s always working in hearts, always revealing Himself in so many ways every day. And He lovingly breathed His Words into what we call the Bible to encourage us, convict us, give us hope, and warn us about the price of disobedience. He laid it all out there so there would be no question.

Yesterday we saw God warn Nebuchadnezzar, then gave the king a whole year to come around. When the king still refused to repent, the events God had warned him about came true, and Nebuchadnezzar paid the price for rejecting God.

Today God is reminding me another aspect of His Holy judgment. Nebuchadnezzar’s son was king now. Belshazzar, like his father, defied God, worshiped idols, and “set (himself) up against the Lord in heaven.” (Daniel 5:23)

So God warned him in a very direct, very dramatic way. God wrote the writing on the wall. “You are going to lose, Belshazzar.” And that very night, Belshazzar died. The end. The beginning of a devastating eternity without God.

Here is where God has directed my thoughts this morning; He has revealed Himself to every one of us whether or not you want to acknowledge that, so that no one has an excuse. No one can say they didn’t know He is God. He has even put in writing His demands and His plan of rescue. God is very clear: it’s His way or we pay severe consequences. Let there be no misunderstanding. He will be worshiped.

And as patient as God is, there comes a time when He gives people what we want. You want an eternity with Him? Accept His Son and you’ve got it. But if you want life without Him, He’ll give you that. And you’ll be without Him for eternity, too.

Here is a stark reality: God did give Nebuchadnezzar a year to humble himself after the warning. Belshazzar wasn’t given a year to obey. He died that same night God wrote the warning on the wall.

Friend, you aren’t guaranteed a year, a month, a day, not even a next breath. The fact is God has been tugging at your heart, maybe shaking your shoulders trying to get you to look at Him, to hear and accept Him on His terms. You have been warned about what is ahead.

Don’t assume you have time to listen to Him later. You have this minute. Right now.

I certainly don’t know your heart. But if you have been putting off obeying God, hear Him today tell you how much He loves you, that He died to save you. Hear Him tell you you are lost without Him, that there is no other way. No other way. Humble yourself. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent of your sin and invite Him to be Lord of your life.

Don’t assume you have tomorrow.

August 20; Sin’s Debt

Jeremiah 52; Psalms 74, 79, 85

Today’s Scriptures continue with the Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God’s disobedient children were being punished. The psalmists asked God for mercy because the hand of God was heavy on them.

God will always punish disobedience. There has never been a time, nor will there be a time, when God gives His creation a free pass. Every disobedient thought or action, every sin committed comes with a death sentence. Every sin.

I think sometimes people think that when a person becomes a Christian, God cancels our sin debt, somehow erases the ledger so we stand before Him guilt-less, just as if we’d never sinned. But I don’t think that’s the case.

When I look at the cross I know my sin debt wasn’t just canceled. It was paid for by the Savior who painfully shed His blood, and died to pay the price my sins deserve.

I love Psalm 85. God forgave us and covered our sins, but He did it with Jesus’ blood. He set aside His anger toward us and directed it to His Son instead. His unfailing love granted salvation – but it cost Him a great deal.

His peace is ours, but not because we are sinless. It’s ours because we are forgiven. The sin I committed yesterday doesn’t just disappear when I ask God to forgive it. It’s a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

If I can tell myself God simply erases my sins when I ask for forgiveness, I don’t feel quite as bad about sinning. I mean, I use erasers all the time. No big deal.

But if I remember that sin cost Jesus great physical suffering and death, that lie or that jealousy or that dirty thought takes on a different meaning. It becomes a very big deal. It makes me ashamed to have contributed to Jesus’ suffering, and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. (Ps 85:10-11)

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (verse 7)

But may we never forget what that salvation cost Jesus, may we never take for granted that our sin debt was paid for us on the cruel cross of Calvary by Someone who wasn’t guilty.

I pray you know Him and have accepted what Jesus died to give you. He took the punishment you deserve for every sin you’ve ever committed. You sin debt is paid in full. Please accept it.

 

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.

August 5; On Fire

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17; Obadiah 1:1-21

I will confess I was a bit down yesterday after my time in God’s Word, thinking about the persecution of believers in our world, and what that means for the future of the sweet children in my life. I pray that they will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, believers in Jesus, and His through His precious blood and the repentance of sin. I pray they will be strong to face whatever the future holds.

I read the passages for today and, honestly, my mind kept wandering. I got to the end of it and realized I hadn’t gotten a thing out of it. So I prayed and asked God to speak to me as I read it a second time.

Sigh. There is a lot of destruction and judgment in these verses. Is that what God wants to say to me again today? I wasn’t sure I could handle another day of gloom and doom.

And, because I’ve made a 10 day commitment to keep my commentaries on the shelf, I started to read these passages a third time. This time I prayed, “God, if you are wanting me to address your fierce judgment again I will. But if there is something else you want me to see, I want to see it.

“Jesus,” He seemed to say.

There it was. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Jesus, the righteous Branch, wise, and just. The One who will protect His children. The Lord our Redeemer! Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there is hope. His name is Jesus.

Then, in Obadiah 1:15-18 I heard God speak of that hope. The day of the Lord is near. There will be deliverance – AND IT WILL BE HOLY.

God’s children will receive our inheritance: eternity with Jesus. And not one of those who reject Him will survive. Not one.

So, yes. Things are heating up in the world. Satan is on a roll. But we who know the Savior have hope. Nothing that snake can do needs to cause us fear, because God is on our side. Jesus will destroy His enemies.

It occurs to me there are two ways God eliminates His enemies. One is death – physical and eternal. But that’s not His first choice to destroy His enemies.

The other way God eliminates His enemies is by making them His children. When they repent of sin and accept His grace, they are enemies no more! That’s His plan. That’s why Jesus died. That’s what He did for me and you who were once His enemies. He saved us and made us His beloved.

So, dear Christian, let’s be that fire Obadiah spoke of. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with passion and love and boldness. Let’s defeat Satan by leading people to Jesus. Let’s do our part to turn God’s enemies into His children.

Because if we don’t, none of them will survive.