He will save

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Matthew 1-4.

The angel of the Lord explained to Joseph, and to us, why Jesus was given that name.  The name means, “the Lord saves.”

And that is exactly what Jesus is willing to do for each of us……..save us.

Many hear that line and wonder, “Save us from what?”

We are all sinners.  By the way, there aren’t various sizes of sinners.  We are all sinners.  We have broken His commands.  Ever taken something that didn’t belong to you?  You’re a sinner.  Ever tell a lie?  You’re a sinner.  Ever look at someone with lust?  You’re a sinner.  Have I covered everyone of this to include everyone reading this or do I have to go through the other seven of the Ten Commandments?

Because of our sinfulness we are not fit to spend our after-life with a sinless God.  He just won’t have us there.  So what we need most is to be “saved” from the consequences our sins have rightly earned; eternal separation from God.

And God has provided for our “saving.”  How, you ask?  By sending Jesus to take on Himself all our sins.  Think of it this way, if our sins are gone then our consequence for them is gone also.  We are okay with God because we are sinless.

When Jesus died (Good Friday) He took everyone’s sins with Him.  Because He was perfect He was the perfect sacrifice for them.  And we know that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus because God raised Him from the dead (Easter) into a new life without those sins.  And since our sins are gone we also have a new life freed from sin’s consequences.  We are completely in the clear.

Sadly, there are those who either see themselves good enough for heaven on their own terms or they aren’t concerned about the after-life.  Also sadly, they are NOT saved from the consequences of their sins.  They are living according to their faulty beliefs and God will send them to eternal separation from Him.

The Gospel is really simple.  It’s good news: Your sin problem has been taken care of.  Believe that you have a sin problem and that God took care of it.  Then live accordingly.  You’re “saved” if you do this.  Do it, I beg!

“Lord, I thank You for ending my sin problem.  For eliminating the consequence I deserve.  For loving me enough to die in my place.  I love You, Lord.  Empower me to live as one who has new/clean life because of You.  You are my God.”

I have attempted to explain what “getting saved” means.  It requires steps on your part.  Get them done and be saved.

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Be weak so He can be strong

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Psalm 124, and 2 Corinthians 11-13.

God is omnipotent.  I am none of the above except in my own mind.

God is in charge.  I need to surrender to His direction.

I love Him, and I am certain that He knows what is best for me.  I must learn to act accordingly.

I am constantly cold and today I am visiting where it is colder than I am used to.  Perfect time to whine about it BUT God has brought me here.  Why would I have the nerve to complain about a place He has enabled me to be at?

I must not create for myself a sense of the way things SHOULD be.  I want things to be His Way, whatever that may be.  Therefore, when I think things are tough, they aren’t if they are the way God wants them to be.

If I go my own way, then I am moving away from God.  I can’t do that.  How wonderful it will be to be completely, for better for worse, in His Will.

“Lord, I need to be tight to You.  I want to please You in everything I do.  Forgive me for my acts of independence.  I love You, Lord.  Prick my conscience when I am off course.  I do NOT want to displease You.  You are my God.”

I must be willing to do whatever God wants me to do.  I must trust Him and please Him where He places me.

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Words for a believer to live by

“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.”  2 Corinthians 8:21.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; 2 Corinthians 7-10.

Paul is writing about appropriate giving in this verse, but I believe that I can apply to how I live in general.

Having a job puts me into the public eye.  I have a boss.  I have students, of various ages, that I’m teaching to drive.  I need to be sure that I am working in a way that pleases my boss.

However, I also have a higher Authority that I am striving to please.  I must be actively pleasing God at work.

My experience has been that if I am pleasing God, then my boss is regularly pleased with the way I carry out my work assignments.

Both bosses (I’m including God) are positioned, however, to let me know when I’m messing up.  I must be ready to take the criticism (and it has happened at work) and make the needed apologies and corrections.

Note at the beginning of the verse that Paul is “taking pains” to get things right.  He’s not just rolling along.  He’s alert to what God would have him do.  He’s tuned in to the ways of the society he is mixing with.  This is no part-time job!

I need to see that I must be full-time in seeking to please God/man this day.  It is essential that I get that mix right.  Obviously, I need all that help at it that He can give me.

“Lord, simple truth in today’s verse: I must get things right with You and right in the places I am today.  I must rightly represent You most of all.  Help me to discern Your Way this day.  Open my eyes/ears to the way You see things in my midst.  Please give me those divine assignments.  I thank You for the one I had yesterday. I love You, Lord.”

God has a right way for me to live in this world.  Will I seek His counsel and then follow what He tells me?

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Seeing but not really seeing

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; 2 Corinthians 3-6.

Unbelievers do not see well.

O they think that they see just perfectly, but they don’t.  They cannot see who Jesus is and what Jesus did.

Many guess that Jesus has something to do with Christmas and Easter.  The specifics on either are unimportant to them or just plain unbelievable.

Paul say his job as one of helping unbelievers see who Jesus is and why His death and resurrection are so important.

How do I do as Paul did?  I engage unbelievers in conversation.  I have mentioned this before: There are 100 million people in the US who have NEVER heard the Gospel!  They live among us but no has ever enlightened them to who Jesus is and what He did.

IN HIM, I must be open/prepared to share the Good News to anyone. Their blood will be on my hands if I don’t do it.  (That thought is a troubling motivator for me.)

“Lord, I beg for the lives of those in my midst.  Many have not even heard details of You.  They consider You irrelevant when You are Almighty.  Help me to be willing and able to enlighten those I am with this day to Your Gospel.  I praise You, Lord.”

I must be willing/able to share the Good News.

St. Lucia

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God hears my prayer

“My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.”  Job 42:8.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Job 41-42, and 2 Corinthians 1-2.

Hardship did NOT come to Job because of his sinfulness.

Job was a righteous man.  Job’s friends were certain that there was some sinning by Job that was the reason for his troubles.

His friends were persistent and eloquent in their assertions……but they were wrong.

God tells them as much but as New Testament Scripture tells us, “The prayers of a righteous man are valuable.”  Job was going to intercede for his friends in prayer to God.  He was going to ask God to forgive them for what they had done, AND God was going to accept, and carry out, Job’s request.

God’s lesson for me: I can pray for others.  God hears me, and He can respond to my request in line with the way I asked it.  This is encouraging.

I have folks in my midst and in my family who need to hear the Gospel and/or have the Gospel explained to them.  I MUST request that from God.  If He heard Job and responded to Job’s request, I know that it is within God’s power to respond to mine.

“Lord, thank You for the story of Job.  So many great truths.  So many role models of both persuasions.  I pray for the salvation of my neighbors and my family.  I ask that You will intervene in their lives so that they hear and understand the Gospel.  I ask for divine appointments.  I beg You for Your Words in those endeavors.  You are a great God!”

God heard Job’s prayer and did what he requested.  He can do the same for me……and you.

 

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If He wasn’t raised I won’t be either

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-19.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Psalm 149, and 1 Corinthians 15-16.

Christ was raised from the dead.

That is part of the foundation of what I believe.

If my sins weren’t taken care of then I am unworthy of an after-life with God.  I’ll be going to the other place!

But Christ was raised and my sins lost their eternal consequences.  I have a new life and I have the assurance of an after-life with a holy God.

The after-life is the key to trusting God.  Granted I crave to be filled with Him here but the ultimate prize is the life after this life.  This life is a mere drop in the bucket compared to eternity.

The resurrection is a part of our beliefs that we cannot concede anything on.  It is essential.

Those who claim to be believers and doubt the resurrection are not true believers.  It had to happen or our faith is futile.  Thank God it did happen!

“Lord, I thank You that You rose from the dead and made me clean in the process.  I can face death without fear because I know that I am right with You.  Thank You, Lord.”

The resurrection cleared away my sin problem.

St. Lucia

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Worthless noise

“I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Job 39-40, and 1 Corinthians 13-14.

You read through 1 Corinthians 13 and think about the various gifts.

I, however, chose to attach myself to the very beginning of the chapter because the rest of the chapter falls flat without starting with love.

It is real clear: I must love as God loved me.  There is no substitute for it.

I can impress one and all with my assorted gifts, but they are worthless.  “I did this, Lord.”  “I never knew you!”

The heathens worshiped with gongs and cymbals but all they were doing was making noise.  If I am not loving as God defines love, my “noise” goes worthless.

I cannot be comfortable with God unless I am loving others.  Because I have His Spirit, I am very much tuned into my sinful behavior.  When my attachment to Him is loose, I have trouble confronting unloving behavior at once.  It drags along, and I find myself gaining more and more separation from Him.  Finally, I reach a point where the dam breaks and I admit my sinfulness to God and to others.  Restoration to Him follows and love for Him and others returns.

“Lord, thank You for pricking my conscience today.  I thank You for Your forgiveness.  I love You, Father.  Saturate me with Your Love so that there is a Godly overflow.  Give me those divine appointments today.  I love You, Father.”

I was real “noisy” recently.  God opened my heart to His displeasure with it.

 

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