Tag Archives: Salvation

An Unimaginable Trade

An Unimaginable Trade

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.  Romans 5:14

Before Martin Luther penned his 95 Thesis, John Hus, had already been burned at the stake because of His faith in Jesus.  He was a “pre-reformation” reformer who loved the Scriptures. Speaking of Christmas, John Hus said, “Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal men may live in eternity. Rejoice, because the rich Lord of the Universe became poor, that He may enrich us needy ones.”

Jesus came to right the wrong that the first Adam had started… Rebellion, pride, sin. Because of our personal sin and our sin nature – both a result of Adam’s sin – we needed Jesus. The “one to come” in the above verse was Jesus.  He came for us and that is why we celebrate Christmas!

  • Jesus left the throne of Heaven and traded it for a lowly feeding trough.
  • Jesus left the bright light of Heaven and traded for the dark lighting of a stable/cave.
  • Jesus left the splendor of Glory and traded what many would consider the “slums” of earth.
  • God took on human flesh. He became man and walked among men for 33 years!

This is a trade that Jesus made because of love.  Jesus was sent by God the Father and He willingly embarked on a mission of mercy to seek and to save the lost.  We are lost in our sins and Jesus made the way for salvation.  He was born to die.  He came to earth to be the only sacrifice the Father would accept for the forgiveness and atonement for our sin.  Jesus traded riches for rags that we might be eternally rich!

Be thankful for Jesus.  Whatever this day is bringing your way – trouble, pain, difficulties, busyness – stop everything and thank the Lord Jesus for making this trade – for coming to this earth for us.

By the way – there is one more trade we cannot forget.  Jesus traded our sin for His righteousness.  He took our sins upon Himself and paid for them on the Cross.  He washes away the sin of the believer and when the Father sees a Christian – He sees the righteousness of Jesus.  What a great deal for us!  It really is an unimaginable trade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Gift of Himself

The Gift of Himself

I read about one boy named Alfred who “wrote a letter to Santa which read, “Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.””

Of course, us humans receiving material gifts is not the purpose of Christmas. Modern thinking tends to focus on gifts to the neglect of the reason for Christmas to begin with.

As the Christmas day approaches news reports always come in about record sales or low sales at the stores.  As soon as Black Friday hit, we heard of the large number of retail sales.  Online sales soared again on Cyber Monday.  Business owners perhaps are thinking “this is the best Christmas ever!”

When everything is said and done – the first Christmas is the best Christmas.  It was on that day, that Jesus inserted Himself into this human experience, took on flesh, and began His mission to seek and save the lost.   He gave Himself to us as a gift.

With all the busyness of the season, please do not forget the reason for this season.  God’s love.  His Gift. God’s Son. His Sacrifice. Our Sins. His Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord Jesus came to earth for us.   Thank God for the gift of His Son and the Salvation He purchased at the cross.

Philippians  2:5-8 is a good Christmas reminder: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Like Zach

Be Like Zach

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.”  On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan.  Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him.  I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.

There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today.  With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.

Zaccheus was loaded.  He had a large house.  He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer.  He was one of the richest people in his hometown.  His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.

Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth.  Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.

No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism.  Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys.  For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.

Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho.  Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold.  If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land.  During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.

Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho.  He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor.  “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire.  Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel.  In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate.  For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves.  People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.

One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho.  Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.”  As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes.  It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.

Zaccheus had a big problem however.  Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27).  Zach could not see.  He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.

Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking.  He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction.  Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.”  Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.

His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho.  The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”

The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs.  Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need the gift of eternal life.

As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission.  Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world.  “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin.  Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost.  There are others who are religious and educated, but lost.  There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.

The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus.  The first and greatest missionary was Jesus.  He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.

  • Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
  • Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
  • And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired.  Our value and worth comes from God.  God loves us.  He loves you!  God created you.  He made you and has given you life and opportunity.  Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places.  Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.

Zaccheus was a changed man.  Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.”  When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen.  He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.

Three truths to take away:

  1. Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
  2. Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
  3. Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Participate in your church missions program.  Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.

 

 

 

The Gift of God (Part 1)

The Gift of God (Part 1)

What is the best gift you have ever been given?  Perhaps there are one or two very special gifts that someone has given to you.  We normally think of large monetary or material things.  Our family has been blessed to have received the gifts of a car and van on several occasions.  Thank the Lord for loving people who have cared for us with such helpful and generous gifts.  A real need was met with a gift.

What about gifts that are non-tangible?  A good name and reputation?  A good work ethic?  An education? A Christian upbringing?

Eight times in the Bible the phrase “Gift of God” is used.  Let’s exam these “gifts of God” and make a personal application to our life.  Here they are:

  • The Gift of Work: Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

One person wrote about Princess Anne and said: “She is getting married this Saturday…. Her new fiancée could be a real embarrassment to the royal family—Turns out he has a job and works for a living.”  Work is honorable!  Even in retirement, we can find work to do and be productive.

While not everyone can work or accomplish the same production, quality, or have the same skills as another person, everyone has some skill they can excel at.  Work and the ability to work is rewarding.  It is a gift from the Lord.  It could be work for a living, or work to help others, either way – we honor the Lord in our work.

Do the best work you can while you are able.  At the same time realize, once a day is over, we still need to rest, and prepare for worshipping the Lord in other spiritual ways.

Some people “play at their work and work at their play” while neglecting their worship.

  • The Gift of Wealth: Ecclesiastes 5:19 informs, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.”

Working hard and working smarter, not harder are both good qualities to have.  Again, the ability to work is a gift of God.

While finances and big wallets or bank accounts are not the goal of the Christian, a side benefit of the hard and smart worker is that he will gain in tangible ways.  Most people that have a job should be able to have money in the bank and live better than merely pay check to pay check.

Part of the reward of work is the power to but his own food, and buy his own portion, or place to live.  Other lessons could be learned then about proper stewardship.  When we apply Bible principled stewardship to the finances God has entrusted to us, we will have more than we need and accomplish more for the Gospel than we can even imagine.

Don’t be a miser with the money God gives you to manage.  Do you know what a miser is?  “A miser: one who experiences a dollar’s worth of frustration when he loses a dime.” Be sure that you do not love money, nor are pre-occupied with the things that money can buy.

  • The Gift of Water: John 4:10 relates, “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”

Jesus is answering the questions of the “Woman at the Well.”  Jesus revealed to her every sin she ever committed.  When this woman was seeking physical water, the Lord Jesus offered her spiritual water.

She was thirsty and Jesus was able to give to her something that no water, Gatorade, or other drink could ever satisfy: peace with God and the knowledge of forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is the “water of life.”   While many people try “Religion” and “good works” to gain salvation, Jesus offers salvation freely to all who will come unto Him.

You can repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and receive the gift of eternal life that Jesus made possible when He shed His blood, died on the cross, and then rose to live again.

  • The Gift of Wages: Romans 6:23 teaches, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In the same vein as the “Gift of Water” The Lord gives eternal life – only through Jesus.  As humans, we earn a wage for our sinful actions – death.  Death is what we truly deserve.  Jesus however does not want us to die.  We will die physically, but more important than that is spiritual life and death.

Jesus rose again so we could live forever with God.  It takes being born again.  Jesus completed the work on the Cross.  He paid the wages of our sin.  HE had no wrong and no sin of His own.  He took my sin and paid the price – death with what I earned in wages.

When a person repents of sin and receives the gift of God (Salvation) then he trades his personal wages (death) with Jesus for eternal life.  It is an amazingly good deal for us – because we do not deserve life.

  • The Gift of Workmanship: Ephesians 2:8-10 speaks plainly and directly, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

The hand of God (grace) reaches to us and we take our hand (Faith) and place it in the hand of God.  Grace and faith are how a person is saved.  God’s grace is extended and we reach up in faith.   We cannot do enough god to earn maintain or keep our eternal salvation.  Salvation is a gift.  Good works, being baptized, and joining a church can be good things, but they are not good enough for salvation.  No human work could ever earn the person perfection so they could enter Heaven.  It is the work of God that He performed on the Cross.  By God’s grace, we accept through our own volition of faith to receive His gift of eternal life.  Have you been born again? Saved by Jesus?

When a person gives you a birthday gift- you reach out and take it.  The giver presents it to you and you can either accept the gift or say “no thank-you” to the giver of the gift.  The choice is all yours.

Once a person becomes a Christian (When they repent of sin and place faith in the Gospel) the Lord begins a new work in them.  They are now a “Christian” which means = “little Christ-like ones.”  We are to look more like Jesus.

Why does a Christian do good works if good works cannot save him?  Why should a believer in Jesus do Christian service and be a good person if it cannot gain eternal life?  The answer lies in verse 10.  We are God’s Workmanship.

The Lord has called all believers to “walk in good works.”  We do not work for our faith, but “we have a faith that works.”  The Bible, the Christian life, the Holy Spirit, and the church services we participate in all assist us in becoming more like Jesus.  Our thoughts, words, and actions begin to reflect His love, compassion, purpose, and effectiveness.

The following antidote from the life of Mark Twain can help: “A businessman well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, ‘Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.’

‘I have a better idea,’ replied Twain. ‘You could stay in Boston and keep them.’”

By God’s grace, live the Christian life to the glory of God so others will see Jesus in you and will then place their faith in Him for their salvation.

 

Lord willing, the next post will continue our study of the phrase “The Gift of God.”  Thank you for reading the pages on this site.  Please feel free to add a comment or tell others about it.

 

 

 

 

Giving A Testimony

Giving a Testimony

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day… Acts 26:2

A man named Don was faithful in every testimony service to stand up and say “I thank Jesus for my salvation.”  I do not remember a time when Don would not say something good about Jesus when given the opportunity.  His testimony encouraged several preachers I know to serve the Lord in ministry.  Perhaps you enjoy hearing people give their salvation story.  Sometimes church services are blessed when people rise and vocalize what God is doing in their lives.

A Testimony is evidence given in court from an eyewitness accounting details of a case.  It is proof that supports a claim or a fact.

A Christian Testimony is when we are telling others what God has done for and in our lives.  It is giving evidence that God is working in our life.  What can you say about God in your personal testimony?

Concerning testimonies John Stott wrote: “So much so-called “testimony” today is really autobiography and even sometimes thinly disguised self-advertisement, that we need to regain a proper biblical perspective. All true testimony is testimony to Jesus Christ, as he stands on trial before the world.”

What does your testimony say about Jesus?  Testimony is more than reputation.  Reputation has to do with how you are known to other people.  Testimony has to do with how you live and what you say about God to other people.

Here are 4 ideas to help you share your Christian testimony.

Talk about Jesus with Appropriate Answers.  1 Peter 3:15 tells us: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Perhaps an entire life story is needed to be told to let others see Jesus in you, but generally, the most meaningful parts of what God has done in your life is all that is needed.

Essentially what you are saying with a salvation testimony is: “This is what God did for me.  Jesus saved me.”  In a service testimony, you are conveying: “This is how the Lord answered prayer. He can help you too.” Or “The Lord helped and enabled me.”

Give Insight with Considerate Conversation.  Colossians 4:6 teaches, Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Be careful not to pour salt on somebodies wounds.  Others who hear your testimony may be grief stricken about sin or a circumstance.  Be careful to consider their thoughts.

Others are in the middle of a similar lifestyle you used to live.  As you speak, they may be battling the same depression, drunkenness, or abuse that you endured.  Great details of sin need not be given.  When the apostle Paul gave his testimony, he did not include the gruesome details of Stephens death, or of the families that he tore apart.  Paul spoke in general terms.  We must avoid magnifying the depth of sin.  Exalt the forgiveness of God.

Show Thoughtfulness With Godly Preparation.  Proverbs 16:1 instructs: The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

You may have witnessed a similar story: “It was testimony night in the church. A lady got up and said, “We are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week.”  Where upon her husband, who was sitting glumly by her side said, “It’s not all my fault either; she’s tough to get along with.””

It is a good idea to ask the Lord to help you prepare your testimony beforehand.  Not every occasion for verbalizing a testimony will be formal, but for those formal settings, you should be prepared with what you will say.  Let God help you prepare ahead of time.  Of course, He can give you the words before and even during the testimony.

Think about your story of God working in your life.  Know how to tell His story in your life.  Rehearse the story.  The more you tell it– the easier it is for you to recognize you are blessed and it is easier to tell others.

Many Christians who battle depression are simply not “practiced up” at telling others about God working in their lives.  Be rehearsing what God has done.  It will help you in many ways.

Be Happy Using Joyful Expression.  Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!  Giving a testimony, the right way and the right time is a wonderful thing.  Recalling forgiveness of sin, victory in Jesus, and the power of the Gospel is terrific.  Remembering our future with Jesus is inspirational!

Smile, have your eyes open; speak confidently and joyfully about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ask the Lord to help you have the joy of the Lord evident in your testimony.

With these testimony ideas in mind, I encourage you to rehearse your salvation testimony this week, and then relate the testimony to someone soon.

You Can Make a Difference!

You Can Make a Difference!

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”  Psalm 2:11

Believe it or not, the Lord can use you in His work here on earth. You can be an important part in someone’s coming to Christ in salvation or a believer’s encouragement for Christian Service. Each of us can determine to “serve the Lord” as the verse tells us. As we serve, we can know that rejoicing is soon to follow.

The following story I read years ago illustrates how the Lord can use you this week for the furtherance of the Gospel and to make a difference in another person’s life!

“D. L. Moody was known as “Crazy Moody” because of his zealous approach to evangelism. He resolved to speak with at least one person each day regarding his or her relationship to Jesus Christ.  Most Christians recall at least something about this evangelist who dominated the last four decades of the nineteenth century.  When a fellow minister told him, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him,” Moody resolved, “By the grace of God, I will be that man.”  He and Ira Sankey shook two continents for God, but what if Edward Kimball hadn’t been obedient to God on April 21, 1855?”

“On that day, Mr. Kimball led Moody to Christ. This very timid man was Moody’s Sunday School teacher at the church where Moody’s uncle forced him to attend. Mr. Kimball determined in his heart that he would go speak to his student at the shoe store in which he worked. With tears in his eyes, Kimball approached the seventeen‑year‑old shoe clerk. “I asked him to come to Christ, who loved him and who wanted his love and should have it,” said Kimball. The surprised Moody opened his heart to Christ, and thousands of lives were transformed by his forty years of ministry. Only God knows what he has planned as a result of our obedience in sharing the gospel.”  (Source Unknown)

You could be that Sunday School teacher. You could minister to another future preacher of the Gospel. Today you may be the co-worker, class-mate, leader, and witness that the Lord uses to bring another person to Christ! Just think what the Lord would do, if we wholly consecrated ourselves to serving the Lord!

A Costly Excuse

A Costly Excuse

Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Years ago, I served alongside a Godly deacon who would frequently say: “Everyone has an excuse – what’s yours?”  Many times we can offer up weak reasons for not doing the right thing.  Excuses have cost men their families, workers, their jobs, and Christians their faithful service to the Lord.  In fact, some people are not in Heaven today because they offered an excuse as to why not accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

In Acts 24, we find Paul under a type of house arrest. He is permitted visitors and is able to move around in his home. A guard is with him at all times. We know Paul became a great witness to those who were given the task of guarding this “prisoner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” Felix is the Roman Governor of Judea. In the verse above, He brings Paul to his governmental hall and allows for him to plead his case. He lets Paul expound on the faith in Christ that Paul is so willing to be persecuted for.

As the story unfolds we find that Felix really wants to let Paul go – only if he receives a large sum of money in the form of a bribe. That of course does not happen. Was Felix only interested in the money he thought he could possibly get – or was he moved by the message of Paul? Many times we read over the verse above and look at how Felix wants a bribe in verse 26, but verse 25 makes it clear – the message Paul spoke was working in Felix’s life!  Notice: “as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Felix trembled.  What Paul was saying was the truth and the truth started to convict Felix of his need of salvation! Wow – what a moment – Paul may have thought that Felix was about to be saved and then….

Then Felix offers an excuse. Any excuse is costly when we reject God’s truth. Felix was rejecting God’s Word, Jesus the Savior, and the Servant of the Lord. He suddenly says, “it is not convenient for me to listen to you anymore.” What happened? When Felix was confronted with the truth, he was convicted and made a choice to “Excuse” himself from the facts of the message that Paul was proclaiming.

If you are not sure about your eternity – STOP – consider, listen to the message of the Lord.  God loves you so much, He gave His Son to die on the cross for your sins.  You can be forgiven because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  The blood of Jesus was shed so we could be forgiven and given a home in Heaven.  Don’t make an excuse – trust the Lord Jesus to forgive and save your soul.  Place your faith in Jesus alone for your salvation.  Any excuse will be a sorry and sad excuse in eternity.

Christians, let’s not make excuses – when we hear the Lord speaking to our hearts – let’s respond the right way. Let’s not obey the Lord only when it is “convenient” to do so. Any excuse for obeying the Lord is a costly excuse when we stand before him one day!