Posts Tagged ‘ salvation ’

September 4, 2017

September 4, 2017

EZEKIEL 18-20

Focus Verse: Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
Ezekiel 18:4

 

All people belong to God. Every. Single. One.

 

What does this mean for us? First, God doesn’t view any human being as better than or less than any other. ALL souls belong to Him. Skin color, ethnicity, race, gender, you name it…if it has a soul, it belongs to God. All belong to Him equally. God doesn’t lease souls. He doesn’t co-own. ALL souls belong to Him completely, whether that particular soul cares to recognize that or not. You can strip it down to the very essence of our being and God owns it. We quite literally owe everything to Him.

 

And for those of us who are in Christ, God owns us twice. He has always owned our souls, but through sin we have given our souls away to things to which our souls never belonged. So with the costly price of His own Son, Jesus Christ, God bought us back. Isn’t He amazing!?!

 

Another implication that comes off of this stems from the fact that God doesn’t co-own souls. With God, you’ve got to be all or nothing. Let’s stop this really foolish thing that “Christians” try to do where we live part of our life for God and part of our life for ourselves or for this world (or anything else for that matter: our family, our job, our education, our physical beauty…). Jesus Christ came to this earth and claimed He was God (check out John 8:58…one of my favorites). There are only two options at this point in the story: Jesus is who He says He is or He is a complete lunatic. But you can’t go halfway on this point.

 

Then to compound this problematic decision you now have on your hands, this Son of God or lunatic died on a cross for crimes He didn’t commit and after three days being buried, either had His body taken out of the grave or did exactly what He said He was going to do and rose from the dead. Again, only two options here. He rose or He didn’t. IF He rose, there’s a really good chance everything else He said about Himself was true. If He didn’t, then the critics were right and He was a madman trying to start a revolution.

 

Now to compound on that decision you now have to make, here are all of these disciples who claim to have seen Him resurrected. Not only have they seen Him, but they are so sure of it that they are willing to DIE for this resurrected Messiah. So not only do you now have to decide if Jesus was sane or not, but you also have to decide if every single disciple who gave his or her life for Christ was also insane or not. And if you decide that they all were indeed insane, you may want to advocate for some scientific research into the drinking water in Jerusalem that caused that many people to lose their minds. That’s a pretty high per capita rate!

 

I know that’s a long trail to follow, but it all leads to this: Jesus didn’t leave an option to follow Him half-heartedly. He didn’t make a way for you to co-own your soul or to give parts of your soul to anything or anyone other than Him. God doesn’t lease souls, He doesn’t co-own souls. He either has it all or nothing at all (insert cheesy O-Town lyrics here. For people under the age of twenty five, you may have to YouTube it). Or as Hudson Taylor says, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”

 

And one last point, then I promise I’m done. Because every soul belongs to God, His desire is that not a single one of HIS souls perish (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4). His desire is that every single person would come to Him. Part of this responsibility falls on us as His co-laborers (1 Corinthians 3:9). Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, we need to reach as many people as we can with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ.

 

Every soul is God’s. Let’s spend every bit of our borrowed time here on this earth making sure that we bring as many souls back to Him as we can!

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June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017

PSALM 86-89

Focus Verse: What man can live and not see death?
Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?
Psalm 89:48

 

One man. Jesus Christ. And because of the victory that Jesus won over death and hell, we too can avoid the sting of both when we put our trust in Him.

 

Easiest. Devotion. EVER.

June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017

PSALM 80-85

Focus Verse: Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Psalm 85:10

 

I love this verse. I love it even more because of the context of the chapter. This chapter is all about the forgiveness of God. How God’s wrath will be turned away and all of our sins will be covered.

 

The context is so vital to this verse. Do you see it? Where did lovingkindness and truth meet? Where do righteousness and peace kiss? AT THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST!

 

The cross of Christ is the perfect plan of God coming together. It is perfect justice and perfect mercy, it is perfect wrath and perfect grace, it is perfect anger and perfect love.

 

There is no forgiveness of sin without the cross; not just because the cross is necessary, but because God cannot remain true to His attributes without it! If God forgives all our sins without the cross, then He isn’t just. He allows the wicked to get away with their wickedness and allows the poor and weak to be marginalized without penalty. If God pours out all of His wrath on us (something He has ever right to do), but doesn’t make a way for us to get back to Him, then there is a point where His love for us runs out.

 

The cross looks foolish to those who don’t see God’s plan (Check out 1 Corinthians 1). It looks like weakness from a God who is supposed to be all-powerful. But God showed His power in the fact that He humbled Himself and came down to our level. He showed His power in the fact that He endured the cross, all the while forgiving the very ones who put Him there.

 

THAT is the kind of Savior to fall in love with. THAT is the kind of love worth singing about.

 

OH what a Savior! OH what a God!

June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017

PSALM 51-57

Focus Verse: Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
Psalm 51:10-13

 

Psalm 51 is the perfect summary of the Gospel. Written after David’s fall into sin with Bathsheba, it summarizes the human condition of sin and the complete dependency on God to blot out our transgressions against Him.

 

This passage hits on that dependency from even before the first step of our salvation process. Before we even ask for forgiveness, the Holy Spirit is working on us, convicting us of our sins and softening our hearts so that we will have a willing spirit, ready to give up the past and turn to God’s intended future.

 

I really love verse 13, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” Are you saved? Have you experienced God’s salvation and forgiveness? Then who are you telling about it? If you have been completely forgiven of your sins – if you truly realize how lost and broken you were – then you won’t be able to shut up about His grace and mercy in your life! You ought to be screaming it from the rooftops! I would challenge you, if you don’t feel that way about God’s forgiveness, you need a new revelation of how lost you really were. I would be so bold to say that you have too low an opinion of how bad you were really lost in your sins.

 

Jesus teaches in Luke 7:47 about the woman who anoints His feet with oil “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” If you find yourself lacking in love, ask God to reveal to you how lost you really were before He called you into His marvelous light. It will rock your world.

 

When you realize how good God has been to you, you can’t help but share Him with those who are lost. But notice what David talks about sharing with them. He doesn’t start with God’s law, he starts with God’s ways. What are God’s ways? Kindness, mercy, forgiveness, patience, LOVE. We don’t jump straight to their sin – without giving God’s love first, sin is an impossible gap for us to cross – but when we open up God’s love to them and show them God’s ways in dealing with us, the HOLY SPIRIT (not us) begins to close that gap.

 

So how much have you been forgiven? And who are you telling about it?

June 17, 2017

June 17, 2017

PSALM 21-25

Focus Verse: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
Psalm 22:1
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
Psalm 22:7-8
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
Psalm 22:14-18

 

Little Bible trivia for you: Psalm 22 is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It probably won’t get you any further in life, but you’ll know now if the question ever comes up on Jeopardy or in some Christian version of Trivial Pursuit.

 

But it makes sense, doesn’t it? I’m sure I’ll address this again when we hit Isaiah 53, but how can you miss the significance of this chapter in the Bible. King David wrote this about 1,000 years before Jesus Christ was born! Are you picking up what I’m throwin’ down?

 

If you were to read this chapter to someone who had little to no knowledge of the Bible, I guarantee that they would identify this passage as describing Jesus, NOT David. That’s how prophetic it is!

 

One thousand years before Jesus Christ was born, God was already working in the hearts of His followers how His only Son would die. The plan had already been made, even down to the last words that Jesus would cry out on the cross.

 

God’s plan to win your heart back to Him has been in effect since the moment Adam and Eve fell in the garden. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”, Paul tells us in Romans 5:8.

 

You are the apple of God’s eye. Do you believe it yet?

June 3, 2017

June 3, 2017

JOB 8-10

Focus Verse: “There is no umpire between us,
Who may lay his hand upon us both.
“Let Him remove His rod from me,
And let not dread of Him terrify me.
“Then I would speak and not fear Him;
But I am not like that in myself.
Job 9:33-35

 

I love this prophetic verse from Job. In the middle of your pain, don’t forget to look for the prophetic, and here is one of many from Job.

 

Job is looking for an arbitrator between God and himself, an umpire as it is translated here in the NASB. Someone who can somehow touch both God and man. Someone who can take the wrath of God away, and leave us nothing but the loving, forgiving, merciful and gracious God. Someone who can serve as a go between, so that we can speak openly and freely to God without fear. Who exists to take on that mantle?

 

On the other side of the cross, we know that God-man is Jesus Christ – the perfect combination of both God, and man. Fully human, yet fully God, Jesus stands in that gap that Job describes here, touching both God and man. And because He humbled Himself, and despite being perfect in every way, bore the full wrath of God’s rod that should have fallen on us, there is now no fear on condemnation for those who are in Christ; we can rest in His perfect love. We can enter boldly before His throne and speak to God as one would speak to a loving Father. There is no veil between us.

 

What a Savior! What a God!

June 2, 2017

June 2, 2017

JOB 5-7

Focus Verse: “Why then do You not pardon my transgression
And take away my iniquity?
For now I will lie down in the dust;
And You will seek me, but I will not be.”
Job 7:21

 

I love this! This is such an awesome tool to keep in your back pocket for rainy days. If you are following Jesus Christ and have repented of your sin, God cannot punish you.

 

Now, for those of you who aren’t doing the whole Bible reading with each of these passages, let me give you a quick recap so you can connect the dots with how these things tie together. Job’s friend, Eliphaz, has more or less told Job that the reason for his suffering is because Job has sinned against God. So the purpose of Job’s suffering is discipline to get Job to turn back to God.

 

The problem with that, is that God is a really good mailman. He is never going to deliver your mail to someone else without letting you in on that secret. Job has confessed his sins! He’s made sure that sin is not the reason that any of this has taken place, and that’s what prompts him to ask this question of God in verse 21.

 

And any good theology student (you don’t even have to have studied a lick of theology to pick up on the answer to this one) will tell you, God has forgiven every transgression and taken away all iniquity. As soon as we ask for it, God grants grace. That is at the very core of who He is.

 

That is the blessed assurance that we have in Christ Jesus. It’s my favorite hymn of all time: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” Does it get any better than that?

 

Here is just one facet of what Jesus Christ offers those who rest in Him: you no longer face the punishment of God. All of that wrath, every single bit of it, fell on Jesus at Calvary. That means that any pain, suffering or trial that you are currently going through is NOT punishment. It’s a test designed to grow you more perfectly into the image of God! That’s not going to make it hurt less, but it will give you reason to rejoice through it. God has counted you worthy of this trial and will give you His Spirit to guide you through it.

 

If I had to give the book of Job a subtitle, it would be this: “How to suffer well, so that Christ is glorified.” That is exactly what Job does. He suffers well. It doesn’t look pretty and there are times when Job wishes he were dead, but in the end, God judges that Job has suffered well.

 

Let us learn from Job, so that when we stand before God, He can tell us that we too suffered well. And never doubt that there is now NO condemnation in Jesus Christ – your punishment has been taken care of – your trials now are for your benefit, in this life or the next.