The Greatest Heist

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men identifying themselves as Boston police officers arrived at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They said they were responding to a silent alarm that indicated the museum was being robbed. The guard on duty checked the officers’ credentials and let them into the museum.

The two uniformed policemen assembled all the private security officers in the museum, handcuffed them, and locked them in the basement. The police then roamed through the museum, stealing 13 works of art, including a Rembrandt, a Manet, and a few paintings by Degas. The estimated value of the paintings was $500 million dollars!

The next morning, when a new private security detail arrived for duty, 13 empty picture frames were discovered hanging from the museum walls. The theft remains unsolved.

When Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age (Galatians 2:4), the Bible says that the greatest heist of all time took place. At the very moment Jesus died on the cross, all whom God the Father elected to salvation were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

In broad daylight, under the noses of both Heaven and Earth, Rome and Palestine, angel and demon, Jesus rescued us from Satan’s kingdom unto Himself. It wasn’t some sneaky deception carried out by impostors, but an instant deliverance out from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of Heaven by the King of Glory.

Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 11:28).

For more information on the greatest heist of all time, consult your local Bible and return to this website for additional daily updates.

 

Saved by Love

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The preacher’s message was brimmed with sentimentality as he talked about his visit to a dog shelter. As he and his little girl peered into each kennel, they were overcome by the number of dogs waiting to either be adopted or euthanized. His daughter petted and called to each animal one-by-one. Crying, she begged her father to be allowed to take them all home. Just as tearfully the pastor explained that it was only possible to save one of her furry friends.

As he reached the conclusion of his sermon, there was nary a dry eye in the congregation. Reaching the height of hopey-changey theology, he quoted John 3:16. He reminded us of how his love for his daughter and compassion for the dogs moved him. He could only save one dog, but God’s love reached down out of Heaven to save everyone present.

Asking for every head to be bowed, he invited all those who wanted to know God’s love to raise their hand. Several raised their hands, and after repeating a prayer, the congregation applauded these new Christians.

But the Bible doesn’t say that God saves anyone by His love. John 3:16 says that God so loved that He sent His Son. His love sent Jesus; His love doesn’t save.

The salvation offered by God in Jesus has only ever been realized in one way: For 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).

John 3:16 describes God’s motivation for sending His Son; it was the death of Jesus as your Substitute that saves.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

innocent-until-proven-guiltyThe American judicial system deems every accused person “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.” Everyone accused of a crime is automatically declared innocent of every accusation until the government proves otherwise. You do not have to prove your innocence.

The Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Are you guilty of sin? or has God falsely condemned you?

Jesus set the standard of righteousness very high. He said, You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Are you perfectly sinless like God the Father?

Jesus gave a few examples of such perfection. He mentioned murder and explained that murder is not just an act of violently taking the life of another person; murder includes the thought and intention of being angry with his brother (Matthew 5:22). Ever been angry toward someone? You’re guilty of murder.

How about adultery? Again, Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

Sin dives far deeper into you than your outward actions. Sin includes your thoughts, motives, and intentions. For example, if you have considered taking something that doesn’t belong to you, you are guilty of stealing.

Jesus also said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Do you love God with all of your being? Does He come first in every decision and choice? Is pleasing Him your only goal in life with never a hint of selfishness?

The Bible not only declares that you are guilty of sin as charged, but also declares your sentence: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

In His mercy and grace, God also provides this great hope: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Jesus died in your place. He took your sin and guilt upon Himself as your Substitute before God. Trust Him as your only Lord and Saviour.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

What About Sin?

what-about-sinAnd you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Everyone has a belief about their own sin. There are three possibilities:

(1) sin doesn’t exist and you are spiritually well.  If sin doesn’t exist and you are spiritually well, there is no need for repentance, forgiveness, salvation, or a Saviour. If there is a God, your status with Him is a-okay.

(2) sin is only a mistake and you are only spiritually weak or sick. Your situation isn’t hopeless. You just need to use your will-power, exercise faith, make better choices, and work harder to be good.

(3) sin means you are spiritually dead. Dead people have no free-will and dead people can’t choose to be saved. As a spiritually dead person, you are fully unable to do anything to make yourself spiritually alive. Salvation is wholly a work of God by grace.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God (John 1:12-13).

So, what do you say about sin?

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Our Refuge

our-refugeWhen Israel conquered the land of Canaan, six special cities were chosen as cities of refuge (Joshua 20:1-9). Each city was spaced throughout the land so that it could be reached within a day.

A city of refuge was a place where anyone who accidentally killed another person could flee and be safe from vengeance by the family of the deceased. As long as the guilty man remained within the city of refuge, the city elders were obligated to protect him at all cost until a fair investigation and trial could be held.

If after investigation, the fugitive was found guilty of premeditated murder, he was executed; if innocent, he was given a place to live within the city where he would be protected from the avenger. When the sitting high priest died, the fugitive was free to return to his home.

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We each are guilty and deserving of the just wrath of God. However, the Father has appointed Jesus as the Saviour of mankind (Acts 4:12). Every sinner who comes to Him by faith will be saved and Jesus will by no means cast out (John 6:37). The guilty who have fled for refuge (Hebrews 6:18) in Christ are saved.

Christians don’t deny our guilt of sin. Instead, we throw ourselves upon the mercy of the Judge. We run to Jesus, our city of refuge, who took our sins upon Himself so that we might be declared righteous before God (Romans 4:24-26).

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

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.