Tag Archives: the plan of salvation

May 29 – I Did It My Way

I Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94

Several years ago I attended the funeral of a co-worker, a man who died of a heart attack two weeks before school started in August. He was only in his 40’s and left a wife, two daughters, and an entire school community devastated by his loss.

He and I had had a good working relationship, but I never really talked to him about where he stood with the Lord. As I sat at the funeral home before the service, my heart ached. I was struck by the choice of music playing in the background. He had been a country music fan, and all the songs were country. None of them had anything to do with God.

Then, when Frank Sinatra began singing “My Way” I could hardly hold back the tears. I am not judging this dear man on the basis of the songs played at his funeral. I don’t know what he said to God before he died. His heart’s condition is between him and the Lord. But I find it sad that, at the end of any life, the idea of living that life “my way” is even mentioned, much less sung about.

I read about Shimei this morning. He had taken sides against Solomon, and although Solomon spared his life, he put Shimei on house arrest for the rest of his life. Shimei agreed to the terms: stay within the walls of Jerusalem. Don’t leave for any reason. If you do, you will die.

Shimei was good with that, and obeyed the conditions of the agreement for three years. I don’t know, maybe he got too comfortable. But eventually Shimei took a quick trip to a neighboring town to retrieve some runaway slaves, most likely thinking his was a legitimate reason for breaking the agreement. And he was only gone for a short time. He went right back to Jerusalem with his slaves.

What’s the harm?

The harm was that he’d stepped outside the boundary. He did things his way, and it cost him his life. Solomon kept his end of the bargain.

God has given us boundaries, too. He has set out his demands, he even provided forgiveness for when we break the rules. But if we want that forgiveness, we must do it His way. We must repent, accept Jesus as our Savior, and allow Him to live in and through us. There is no other way, no other Name by which we must be saved. That’s not a popular concept for many. But God isn’t asking our approval of His plan.

We might pride ourselves on living this life our way, we might even fashion another way to the Father. But in the end, we will find that doing it our way leads to death. Solomon kept his end of the bargain.

So will God.

May 13 – Accepting Forgiveness

2 Samuel 11&12, I Chronicles 20

King David had sex with another man’s wife. Then, when he found out he had gotten her pregnant, and that her husband had been away fighting David’s own war, he had the man killed. Then he married the woman.

By all accounts, this woman’s husband had been an honorable man. He certainly didn’t deserve the treatment he had received by his king.

When David was confronted with his sin, he repented. And God forgave him.

You might be tempted to think that David didn’t deserve to be forgiven. He was king. He took advantage of this woman and murdered her husband. Didn’t he deserve to rot in hell?

The answer is yes.

But so do we. Your sins, my sins, are as loathsome to God as David’s sins. I may not have murdered anyone, but that doesn’t make me less a sinner than David. I have fallen short of God’s holiness, and holiness is what he demands.

Enter grace.

When Jesus died on the cross, his blood bought our forgiveness. All of it. We are forgiven for stealing that paper clip, or for robbing that bank. We are forgiven for lying to our moms about eating that cookie before dinner, or for having an affair with our co-worker.

Do we deserve to be forgiven? Not in and of ourselves. But no sin is too small or too great to be covered by the precious blood of Jesus.

David repented and accepted God’s forgiveness. He didn’t try to justify his actions or convince himself he deserved to be happy. He recognized sin as sin, and asked God to forgive him. And God was faithful to forgive.

You are forgiven. David still had to make sacrifices, shed more blood, to fulfill the requirements for forgiveness. We don’t. Jesus died once and for all. His blood fulfilled all the requirements perfectly. All we have to do is accept it.

No excuses. No rationalizations. No denial. No thinking your sins are too great or too many for God to forgive. You might think you deserve to rot in hell. And you do.

But you don’t have to. Oh, God will condemn you to eternity without Him, to hell, if you refuse to accept His forgiveness. He doesn’t want to. He died so He wouldn’t have to. But He won’t force you to accept what is already yours.

If you have never asked God to forgive you, to allow Jesus’ blood to cover your sins, then do it now. What’s stopping you? You are forgiven.

Accept it.

Feb 26 – And The Winner Is…

Numbers 7

I’m not sure how it started, but we have a playful competition among me and my sisters when it comes to gift-giving. If I put $25 in a birthday card for one of the kids, one sister might put $26 in hers, and another sister might give $26.50. I’ve been known to pull out my wallet and throw an additional $5 at a nephew if a sister out-gave me just so I will be the “good” aunt. One time, I was the highest gift-giver by a penny in a card to our dad.

Silly, I know. But we always get a good laugh out of it. And my nieces and nephews just shake their heads and roll their eyes.

Reading Numbers 7 is repetitious. I could have condensed this chapter to about  six verses:

Every tribe gave exactly the same thing when it was their day to bring the sacrifices to the temple: one silver dish…”

However,  God inspired the writer of the book to repeat the identical list twelve times. It’s tempting, because they are all the same, to skim over 90% of this chapter. Yet God wanted it to be written this way.

So I read every word this morning. And when I did I thought about my family’s little competition. It occurred to me that there can be no competition when we come to the Lord.

God leveled the playing field so no one can say they are the “good” child for bringing more. God says ALL have sinned. God says no one comes to Him except through His Son Jesus. God says unless a man is born again he will not see heaven.

Here’s what God expects of us, what He demands we give Him: everything!

We must all empty ourselves in humility, confess our sins, and ask  Him to forgive us by the blood of Jesus. We can’t buy our way into redemption with money or talent or good intentions. And someone isn’t more saved than another by virtue of the level of their sacrifice.

And, here is what I love about the seventh chapter in Numbers. God accepted every sacrifice equally, whether given the first day or the twelfth. It tells me that today, every time a sinner repents, even if he’s the 1,000 sinner redeemed in a day, God accepts that soul with as much joy and love as though he or she were the only one.

So the winner is us. It’s we who have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. It’s those of us who have emptied ourselves and allowed God Himself to fill us up. I am the apple of God’s eye. But so are you, if you know Him. And we both received His forgiveness exactly the same way.