“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”Isaiah 12:2
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
Last night was a late one for me: I spent it at the garage getting my truck worked on. This was the third trip in recent weeks to take care of several routine maintenance items. And to replace, three times, a faulty sensor. As I’m sure you all know, these items add up in cost real quick but they are just a normal part of vehicle ownership that we expect to do at certain points; the owner’s manual even lays out most of the items and suggested times to do them.
Near the end of the night my wife’s cousin, who is our mechanic, began to joke about how some folks approach maintenance of the vehicles: some act like they had no idea they would have to take care of such items, and some think if it’s “broken” it’s time to get a new one, among other things.
There are people who approach the things we face in our walk of faith in much the same way, reacting as if a Christian should never face some of the things we do. And too many will turn their backs on God when the trials and tribulations come. But the Bible, our “owner’s manual” if you will, clearly teaches us to expect these very things. Paul wrote that all who would live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will face persecution. Jesus Himself said if they did what they did to Him, the world would surely do the same to us. God’s Word also tells us to rejoice when we suffer because we are in the family of God’s children.
“Stuff” happens to us all at one point or another in this life. But dearly hold to the promise that has been given us: it will all be worth it in the end. And remember if His Words about the “stuff” are true, and daily living shows us it is, so are all the other promises He has made.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 KJV)
Wednesday morning I had an appointment with my family doctor for routine blood work. For these samples I had to fast: nothing but my regular medications, water or black coffee after midnight. Soon after I woke up Wednesday morning I was hungry, wishing I could have breakfast. This is abnormal for me since I’m not one to eat breakfast soon after I awake. I knew fairly quickly that it was just my subconscious knowing that I couldn’t eat making me want to eat, missing what I could normally have.
Those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior know the sweet feeling, the joy and wonderful feeling of being saved, a child of the King. Those who’ve yet to come to saving faith, however, don’t know what they are missing because they have not tasted of the Living Water; you can’t miss what you haven’t had. But you can have a desire to taste of some thing that looks inviting: think of a photo of a tasty looking dish that made you want to try it on a menu for instance. So, the question beckons: Are we, Christians, living out faith out loud, for the lost to see and have a curious desire about? Or do we look more like the world in their eyes?
It’s not the peace and joy of the times on the mountain that unsaved folks notice, it’s the inner peace, the calm assurance from Him that abides in us during the storms and valleys that they take note of …
Pastors Corner 2-12-2012
The other day Sherlene and I watched a movie called “We Bought a Zoo” and in the movie the father shared with his son some advice that he had received from his father. His advice was that if he would let it, 20 seconds of extreme courage could change his life forever. The father went on to explain to his son how he had used this advice to meet his mother and how that 20 seconds changed the rest of his life. I know that this was only a movie and the scene had a lot of drama, but the premise is correct, 20 seconds can change your life forever. A lot of things can change our lives in 20 seconds that are out of our control, such as car wrecks and health problems, but here we are talking about 20 seconds that we have total control. When the word of God shows us the condition of our soul we are faced with a decision that will change the rest of our lives. We can either accept or reject Jesus as our savior. If we reject faith in Jesus, our lives will be changed because we will not receive the blessings, promises or Spirit of God outlined in the bible. This choice does not take very much courage, but if we have the courage to exercise our faith and except Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as gospel (repent and believe (Mark 1:15)) we shall have our lives changed forever.
Over the course of the past week I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and spending several hours with a young couple. Wednesday night, during what was probably our last conversation, the subject turned toward the Lord and His Church. I can’t recall how exactly but Billy Graham came up in our conversation. The lack of response from them prompted me to ask if they knew or had heard of him; to my surprise, neither of these young folks had. I took a few minutes to pause there and tell them about him and his ministry, even sharing a YouTube clip with them.
All day today, and most of last night, this has been weighing on my mind: How could two bright young people have never heard of this iconic man? I suppose that “we” take it for granted that the next generation knows about great people of the Faith, such as Dr. Graham. We also figure they know basic tenants and truths of God’s Word. In many instances “we” are dead wrong: they don’t have a clue.
The Bible says we are to teach the things of God to our children and our grandchildren. Just because most of the 40+ demographic grew up with at least basic Biblical knowledge doesn’t mean that the ones behind did. In fact, we dropped the ball and are seeing the results of that fumble nationwide, if not worldwide.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11 KJV)
It’s not too late. But we don’t have any more time to waste either. An untold number of souls are on the wrong side of the balance today.
I read a quote today from Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough”. This stirred up my mind about salvation and the things of God. It seems to me that all too often we make these subjects way more complicated than they really are.
I’m thankful that one needn’t be a scholar to understand God’s Word or His plan of salvation. I’m thankful that there is nothing that I can do to make myself good enough in God’s sight. I’m thankful that He takes the broken, the low, the heavy burdened and makes them in to a new creature in Christ Jesus. I’m thankful that Jesus did every thing, completely, that needed to be done so that we can be brought back into a right relationship with the Father. I’m thankful that it only takes our faith and belief to be a part of the family of God under the wonderful covenant of Grace. I’m thankful for all this because otherwise I would be staring into an eternity of what I justly deserve, not what has been lovingly imparted to me.
I’m so very glad that it is so simple, by faith in Christ Jesus alone, that we can receive forgiveness and know we are His and He is ours.
James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
You probably remember the incident last fall when Jack, our dog, ran away and fell into a swimming pool, nearly drowning. Of all the ways for a dog to die I thought that one was about the least expected way for it to happen; in case you don’t remember he didn’t die and other than being cold and exhausted was fine. Well, Jack has just about out done himself and my imagination.
On Saturday morning Billie and I were having a cup of coffee on the back deck. Our two dogs, Gypsy and Jack, were playing in the yard. Suddenly we heard a ruckus in the yard adjacent to our’s; a young deer was stuck between the fence and some vines growing the neighbor’s yard. The deer managed to escape the tangle and jump into our yard, where the chase was on!
After all the excitement died down (Gypsy chased it into the fence, three times it bounced off, and out of the yard while Jack ran for cover with “mom and dad”) we realized Jack had been stomped by the deer; he was sporting a nasty scrape, the hair literally cut from his side. He was, and is, very sore but no worse for the wear thankfully. So, I have to admit that a dog being stomped to death in his own fenced in yard would definitely top the list for odd ways for an animal to meet his demise.
Just in the blink of and eye Jack was almost dead (again). There is no difference in how fast he could take his last breath and how quickly our earthly end could come.
God’s Word warns us to be ready to leave at any moment; we aren’t guaranteed one more breath. Think about it…
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
The other day I received an email about the healthcare debate. The writer obviously disagrees with the whole idea saying:
“Let me get this straight: We’re going to be “gifted” with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t?”
While healthcare or politics are not the subject of this email the author quoted above brings up one good point: If you have go pay for something it isn’t a gift.
In today’s verse Paul tells us that our salvation is a free gift. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by God’s grace, nothing of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We cannot earn salvation; we don’t deserve it to begin with. We cannot pay for it; Christ Jesus has already done that. It is open to all who will receive it through and by Jesus. But we have to be open to the Gospel and receive the gift; there’s no other way (John 10:9; Acts 4:12).]
Mark 10:27 … with God all things are possible.
One day a man was watching his young son struggle with the zipper on his coat and thought “What if there were a zipper without teeth? How much easier that would make it for children to dress themselves.”. And thus the “zipper-less zipper” was born, or Velcro as we now call it.
Of course this isn’t exactly how Velcro came to be but it serves our purpose. And you can look it up of you really want to know the true story of the invention. Nevertheless, the invention of Velcro revolutionized many products: every thing from cables ties to medical devices use it now.
I believe that our Father knew how desperately we would need help to make it through this life. I think that is one of the reasons He gave us the Bible, to guide us along life’s path as He would have us to go.
Now, lets look at our own “what if” questions: What if we all went back to Scripture for our guidance? What if we all believed God’s Word to be just that: the Word of God? What if we all lived each moment by the precepts that Scripture teaches? What if we prayed in trusting faith like Jesus taught? What if… we could go on and on but I think you see where I’m going.
Do you know folks that you long to see saved? I do, plenty. What if we shared these truths with them? What if we let them see us living our faith, crying out in prayer, walking the walk Christ walked? Maybe, just maybe, we would see more folks saved, stronger disciples, greater fellowship and love. By doing these very things the early church, a relatively small group if folks, revolutionized the world. Maybe we could revolutionize some lives for Jesus.