Tag Archives: salvation

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Daniel 8-12) Is It Time?

If God sent an angel to interrupt prime time regular programing with a message that the world would end in 1,290 days – what would you do? How would you spend the next 3 1/2 years? Would you live it up with partying, sex, and drugs? Would you marry your sweetheart (or maybe divorce your spouse)? Would you buy a yacht and sail around the world, or would you climb Mt. Everest?

Maybe you’d live the high life for the first 2 1/2 years, then clean up your act just in time for the end. Or maybe you’d hit your knees, repent of sin, and spend the remaining 3 1/2 years of life on earth praying that people would turn to God. Maybe you’d be more bold when speaking to your friends and loved ones who need Jesus.

Would you take the angel’s warning seriously if you were sure he really was sent from God?

Well, my friend. That angel HAS appeared. That message HAS been sent from God. We don’t know if we are living in day 1,289 and have years and years before the end, or if we are actually living day 0002. But God, through the vision he gave Daniel, wants us to understand the day of the end has been set. It’s going to happen. There is no doubt, no alternate plan.

Many people are looking for signs of the end. Many try to figure out who or what the “last days’ will look like. I mean, you don’t want to get ready too soon or too late, right? I think their focus is misdirected.

The point is: it’s time. Now. Today. It’s time to clean up your act and get busy because the day is coming when the last chance to be saved will be past. Jesus IS coming again. And when He comes, judgment will follow. And eternity will be set.

Heaven? or Hell? There is no third option. And there will be no change of address a few millennia down the road.

Quit looking for signs. Quit postponing a decision to submit to God. He has spoken. The end is much nearer today than it was last week. You have this lifetime to make a decision that will determine your eternity, an eternity where you will be conscious of your every moment. A very real heaven or a very real hell await each one of us, depending on what we do with Jesus in this lifetime.

Friend, it’s time to choose. Choose wisely. Eternity is a very long time.

(Ezekiel 29-32) I AM The LORD

Egypt was never identified with God. They worshiped idols. They were the enemy of God. Yet the Israelites went to Egypt for help instead of going to God. Big mistake.

But here’s what spoke to me today: God repeatedly sent word to Egypt, warning them what the consequences of rejecting Him would look like. Why? Why would God continue to warn His enemies about the devastation that was ahead for them?

“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (28:23,24,26, 29:6,9,16,21, 30:8,19,25…)

I am reminded that God doesn’t want anyone to die without Him, that whosoever believes on Him will have eternal life, that anyone who believes on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It reminds me how God continually works in the lives of every man, woman, and child to bring them to the realization that He is the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to God except through Jesus.

It reminds me that instead of praying God would take away the “plague” of COVID, I should pray that this virus will show the world that He is Lord. Simply praying that God will somehow say the word and the virus would disappear, might be praying against His will that we who have turned our backs on Him will humble ourselves, turn from our sin, so that He can heal our land.

Whether it is a virus, or war, or hurricanes and earthquakes, alcoholism, or cancer, or divided families and churches… whatever the consequences of sin might look like… may it do what God intends it to do.

May we hear Him say in the midst of it all:

I AM the LORD.

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.

(Jeremiah 29) No Hope

29:11 is a precious verse. I’ve even used it to encourage friends going through hard times, for High School and College graduates, and in cards celebrating a birth of a child. But I realize today I may have been wrong to do so.

Verses 12-13 got my attention:

You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

The promise in verse 11 isn’t for just anyone. It is reserved for people who go to God in prayer, people who seek God, who search for Him with all their hearts.

God doesn’t promise a future and a hope for people who reject Him. God’s plan for people who don’t accept Him is disaster.

I am convicted today. Let’s not give people false hope. Because there is no hope for people who aren’t right with God through Jesus.

No hope.

(Jeremiah 5-9) His Heart Is Breaking

People who have the audacity to question God’s love on the basis of evil in the world and judgment for those who deny Him, haven’t allowed themselves to hear God’s heart in Scripture. Reading these chapters today, I cannot help but recognize His pain as He watches His children make choices that will end up destroying them.

Yes, that destruction will come from His hand. Yes, that judgment is inevitable. But our Holy God – who can’t NOT be holy – wants us to know He will only go so far before judgment comes. He loves us enough to warn us about the dangers.

He’ll send people to speak the Truth. He’ll show Himself in nature, His power in circumstances of life. He’s given us His Word. But He won’t make you love Him. He won’t force you to obey Him.

He’s very clear to tell us if you don’t choose Him, He won’t relent and simply suspend your death sentence. You will pay severely for your rejection, and your rejection will (and does) break His heart.

If you listen, you can hear His heart breaking in the pages of the Bible.

(Jeremiah 4) You’d Be Foolish

God’s judgment is real – and without mercy. He doesn’t want to sentence anyone for crimes committed against Him. In fact, we know He Himself paid our penalty, took on Himself the sentence our sins deserve. But He will judge those who reject Him, and they will be found guilty.

As devastating as impending judgment will be, God is anxious and willing to forgive anyone at any time – if they surrender to Him. Obedience, a repentant heart, putting on the righteousness of Jesus renders my guilty sentence paid in full. Someone paid my debt!

Chapter 4 likens surrendering to God by five actions. It’s like plowing the ground to receive the seeds, like performing heart surgery, joining the army, taking a bath, like growing up. In each instance, the person is changed. And God demands we change. (from Warren Wiersbe’s With The Word, Chapter by Chapter Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 499)

God wants to be very clear – judgment is inevitable. It’s coming for you. The question is – are you going to take it on your own, or are you going to surrender to the Judge and allow His Son to take your death sentence for you? That is a decision you need to make BEFORE you meet the judge. Standing before Him after you are dead will be too late.

Don’t be foolish. You don’t want to take your own punishment. You don’t want to serve your own death sentence. That is one sentence from which there is no parole. And there is no need to serve it, if you only surrender to God and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as your own.

He’s willing to make that happen. Choose Jesus! You’d be foolish not to.

(Isaiah 60) Everlasting Light

I long for heaven. I long to be where God’s splendor outshines the sun and moon. I long to be where there is no war, no threats of harm, no illness, no hate, a place where peace reigns and righteousness describes our conduct. I long to be caressed by God like a mother holding her nursing child.

Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer by your light by day, and the brightest of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. (vs 18-19)

I long for heaven. And I know that one day I will be there, because I have repented of my sin and accepted Jesus’ work on the cross, the penalty I deserved for my sin. I am as sure of my future life in heaven as I am of my life today on earth.

I pray you can say the same. This amazingly peaceful, safe, pure, holy, place filled with love, and void of sorrow is real. It’s reserved for those who know God according to the words He inspired men to write, to those who come to Him through Jesus.

I hope to see you there, where God Himself is our everlasting light.