Scare the Hell

Scare the Hell 10 2015Marcus went to bed earlier than usual. The morning would bring a special day for the 13-year old. He was trying out for his junior high school basketball team and needed to be rested and ready to make the squad.

From out of the hallway he heard the clock chime its familiar tune. It was 2 am. “So much for going to bed early if I don’t fall asleep early,” he thought to himself.

A short time later Marcus awoke to a screeching sound and the smell of smoke. In the same hallway where the clock chimed every hour hung the smoke alarm. He heard his parents yelling and his two baby sisters crying. He was scared. Just then his bedroom door smashed open. Marcus jumped hastily from his bed and followed his father through the smoky hallway to the front door. He could feel the searing heat of the flames as he rushed past the kitchen.

Safe outside, the family huddled in the street as the police arrived and then a fire truck. Now every part of the house lit up the night sky. Marcus felt dazed by what he was seeing. Everything he had … everything he knew … it was gone. He was sure he was going to puke.

The young teen turned in the street toward the sidewalk just in time to walk into the path of a passing car, the driver looking at the fire rather than the road. Marcus was dead.

Just because you scare the Hell out of someone with tales of everlasting fire, the mark of the beast, or a world war, doesn’t mean he is safe in the arms of Jesus. Threats and fears don’t convert men; only grace through faith in Jesus saves.

 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

New Every Morning

I do the cooking in our home, and I strive to never to prepare the same dish more than once every 2 weeks. We do have our favorites like 5 cheese lasagna, homemade pizza, and tacos. I’m careful to keep our menu full of variety, but it’s often a struggle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of always cooking only what we like … or worse, what’s easy.

No day is exactly like another. Little Billy is an angel today and tomorrow he acts like a devil. One day it snows and the next it’s 80 and sunny. Hey! We Oregonians can wish, can’t we? Each day makes different demands of us, and each day we need different skills and abilities to manage those demands.

My “daily bread” may change, but God’s mercies are always as certain as the new day.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

The Rock of My Salvation

dsc01260The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation! (2 Samuel 22:47).

The older we grow, the more we look back at where we’ve been instead of forward to new adventures. Our weakened vision is offered as realistic wisdom and we effectively become discouragers of others following God’s path as they walk with Him in grace and by faith.

As David looked back upon his life, he knew God as his defender and help. It’s not that he wasn’t an able warrior or king, but that God was great. He had learned to trust Him in every victory and gave Him all glory.

A man told me that God had never tested him; that man didn’t know God. It’s the tests of life which reveal the genuineness of our faith and glorify God for His faithful and steadfast character. To say God is a rock, is a world of difference from saying that God is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer.

David’s description of God as his rock doesn’t picture a stone or a boulder. The word refers to an entire mountainside; something immovable and unchanging with the winds of time or the moods of men. Jesus is the believer’s Rock and our Hope of eternal salvation. He is the firm foundation upon which we rest when weary, stand in times of uncertainty, and discover shelter in every stormy blast.

Be Reconciled

be-reconciledWhoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:15).

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus was attacked by a great multitude of 600 men (John 18:3). Peter did his best to defend Jesus, but only managed to cut off a man’s ear (John 18:10). Jesus reminded the disciples that all who take up the sword will perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52). He could have called 72,000 angels to avenge Himself, but His arrest was the necessary fulfillment of Scripture (Matthew 26:56).

Jesus didn’t come into this world seeking vengeance for man’s sin, but through His death to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Though your sins are an eternal offense against God, this is the day of God’s grace in Jesus. On Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The Touch of God’s Grace

how-i-love-your-lawI hate my alarm clock. There’s hardly a day when it ding-dongs and I’m glad. I get up because if I don’t, there’s a price to pay somewhere in my day.

Sometimes the Bible is much like my alarm clock. I read it and it screeches my failure to live up to God’s perfect standard: “You’ve failed! You’ve failed!”

Shame and guilt are ordinary responses to failing God, but they must be soothed by the grace that reminds us of what God has done for us. The law of God continually accuses the sinful mind, but we delight in His law because our failure is met in Jesus. The law isn’t a motivator to “do better”, it’s a constant reminder that we need a Saviour!

Israel’s King David wrote, Oh, how I love Your law! (Psalm 119:97). Loving God’s law didn’t mean that David kept the Law perfectly or that keeping it saved his soul (Psalm 119:136, 176). Instead it meant that David knew what God said and loved it despite his inability to obey. He knew that his failures were met in God’s grace.

When God the Father laid His punishment for our sins upon Jesus, He also promised not to condemn us whose faith rests only in Jesus (Romans 8:1-2).

You know what I love? I love to be awakened at 6:10 on Saturday morning because I forgot to turn off the alarm! Of course, there’s that initial shock of being awakened, but then there’s relief that I can go back to sleep. The screeching obligation has been fully met and I can rest.

The Good News of Jesus doesn’t end once we’re saved. That screeching alarm continues to make the “Good News” forever precious to those who know the touch of God’s grace.

Look What I Did!

Look at MeWe talk about salvation being a gift from God, but then we describe some act we performed making us worthy of salvation. Grace becomes a reward for something we’ve done.

You say a prayer … but if you have to ask for salvation it’s not a gift.

You decide to change your life … however, if you have the ability to change your life apart from God, you don’t need Him.

If you must exercise your free-will to believe … what’s the point of God’s grace?

You are the one beginning the work of salvation and all He does is reply. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that even believing-faith is a gift from Him.

Prayer, repentance, and faith are but human responses to what God does in saving someone, they don’t originate God’s work or add to it. Anything I might add or do to be saved makes me my own co-redeemer.

No flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31).

Why Should I Take You to Heaven?

Why Should I Take You to HeavenHow would you answer Jesus if He asked you, “Why should I take you to Heaven?”

  • I was baptized as a baby, even though I could be a Buddhist today.
  • I wear a cross around my neck and feel like I’ll be going to heaven.
  • I grew up in church and my parents were pastors.
  • I said a prayer to ask Jesus into my heart when I was 4-years old.
  • I go to church on Easter and believe the stories in the Bible.
  • I do good things for others each day and try my best to live by the Ten Commandments.
  • God loves everyone.
  • I was dead in my sins, but Jesus died to give me eternal life. I was wretched, but He lifted me from my sin and set me firmly upon Himself. I was miserable, but He became my Hope. I was poor, but Jesus gave me the wealth of Heaven. I was blind, but Jesus opened my eyes to see His beauty. I was naked, but He graciously clothed me in His own righteousness. I was rebellious at heart, but He drew me to Himself by a grace I couldn’t resist. I was unbelieving, but He gave me the gift of faith to believe that He alone is my Salvation.

 

 

 

What is your answer?

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see (Revelation 3:17-18).

By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Gospel of Jesus

JesusIt is significant is that it’s not Christ’s teachings, His goodness, His miracles, His stories, nor even His life which is despised. The unsaved mind has no argument with any of these. What they find appalling is the gospel message that Jesus alone is the Saviour of the sinner.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) is found in acknowledging one’s inability to save himself, and trusting exclusively in the work of Jesus who died and was raised from the dead on the sinner’s behalf. This is the Jesus rejected by the world.

I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1, 2, 3, 4).

A Last Will and Testament

WillI sat in the leather chair with my trembling hands holding the single sheet of paper. I didn’t understand. One more time I read the words, “The Last Will and Testament of Jesse G Goddard.”

Nearly all of my 52 years of life I’ve lived next door to “old man Goddard.” The man had always been the focus of name-calling and ridicule from us boys growing up in the neighborhood. We even made up jokes about him and his name. Frankly, I can’t ever remember speaking to the guy about anything serious or even kind. There were a few times my brothers and I would accidentally toss the baseball into his yard over the fence. He’d always toss the ball back to us, but I’m not sure I ever said “Thanks.”

“Why did Mr Goddard pick me?” I asked the attorney behind the paper-buried desk. “Why would he give everything to me? What did I do to deserve this inheritance? Why would he be so kind? There must be someone else … someone else more worthy.”

All he would say is: “Mr Goddard willed it this way.”

God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Sour Notes

sour-notesSomeone has said, The sweetest songs are those which tell of saddest thoughts. Those sweet songs are only sweet because of the difficult experiences of life.

Imagine the phony sound of Psalm 23 apart from David’s personal experiences in needing a Shepherd in the valley of the shadow of death and the presence of his enemies; or Psalm 27, which David wrote after he fled from King Saul into the wilderness.

Never discount any of the sour notes in your life; they are orchestrated by God to build the sweet and poetic hymn of His song in you, each note penned with love by grace.

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).