Salvation

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#ConversionStory#KeepitReal

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

I’ve just finished reading the three accounts of the conversion of Saul/Paul- Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26.  Paul is efficient in each of them. Consistent in each of them. In other words, he doesn’t embellish, add to or take away a particular thought or action to make a stronger point to his audience. He doesn’t heighten emotion to make a stronger point to his audience. He says nothing more to Agrippa in chapter 26 than he does in his defense before the people in chapter 22.

Some people like to do just the opposite. In an effort to be relevant (whatever that may mean) or to present a more enthralling conversion experience, they embellish their story. I’ve read and heard some whoppers in my days. Mine is simple: I was 8 years old; fell under conviction that is what I must do; went forward on Palm Sunday; and was baptized (with others) on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960. No big sin. I wasn’t a drug user, a pill-popper, a rebel (except as a sinner against God), a murderer, a rabble-rouser, or an obstinate, extremely disobedient child. I was simply a young boy who realized he was a sinner and wanted to accept Jesus. (I also confess I wanted to take communion but that’s a whole ‘nother story).  🙂  No confetti. No big brass band. No one lining up to hear my stirring story. The only sound heard was angels singing, rejoicing, as Luke 15 says.

Every man’s experience is different. No conversion stories are the same. I did not have a “Damascus Road” experience, but that makes mine no less important or special than someone who is radically saved and tells others. Here is what I think: You tell your story. Tell it truthfully. Who knows who may be listening?


#Satisfaction#Emptiness

Friday, July 31st, 2020

The late Swiss psychiatrist and author, Dr. Paul Tournier once wrote:

It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to, to be taken seriously, to be understood.

I certainly can’t argue with that. Recent circumstances in our world of unrest should help us to see this is true. While there are bad eggs in all things, the underlying factor in many arguments or conflicts are founded in the simple desire to be heard. Sadly, rational conversation and dialogue goes by the board when ears get stopped up with anger, prejudice, unreasonable actions, and other sicknesses.

Many people are walking through life like zombies. I, for one, do not for one minute believe zombies are real, but the picture of people walking like they are in a fog or controlled by a foreign entity is real. They are empty and searching and looking for something, but tragically have no clue where to look.

My example in this week’s sermon is the woman at the well in John 4. Lost, confused, empty, shallow, and looking all over for answers, she finds her answers the only place possible. It is not a thing or an event. It is a Person, Jesus.  He promised her satisfaction for her empty soul. What also shines in this story is Jesus shows us how we should reach out to people.

Satisfaction for an Empty Soul is my title. John 4 is my Scripture. I will be making a very clear presentation of the need for salvation.  I have no clue who will be listening so I am praying there will be someone listening to realizes their emptiness and need for Jesus. So with that in mind I’d appreciate your prayers for two things: One, open hearts to hear and respond; and two, for me as I preach. I want to speak clearly and passionately.

#AllLivesMatter#NoMatterWho

Monday, June 8th, 2020

I wrote this for my Communion Thought/Mediation for this past Sunday (yesterday).  As I laid my head on the pillow last night I was thinking ahead to this morning’s Quiet Time.  This came rumbling back into my mind and when I woke up this morning it was still there. I decided I would share it with you today.

Events of the past week/week and a half have probably both sickened us and angered us. The death of someone should sicken and sadden us. The wanton destruction of lives and property is despicable and should anger us.  What I am about to say is not a political statement as you will see at the end:

Black lives matter.

White lives matter.

Chinese lives matter.

Russian lives matter.

American lives matter.

African lives matter.

Homosexual lives matter.

Straight lives matter.

Unborn babies’ lives matter.

Birth defected babies’ lives matter.

Young lives matter.

Old lives matter.

Rich lives matter.

Poor lives matter.

American lives matter.

Muslim lives matter.

The list is endless. Nowhere in the Scripture does it say anyone’s life doesn’t matter. Nor does it say anyone’s life is worth more than another.

How do I know that?  Romans 3:23 tells me “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  We are all infected with the same disease. It is called SIN. 

As a result…WE ALL NEED A SAVIOR.

And again, how do I know that? Because John 3:16 hasn’t changed. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)  There is a saying which says, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”  It does not matter who we are. It does not matter what color, race, nationality, status in life we are. We all have to come to the cross on the same level-sinners in need of a Savior.  No one group of people is singled out as being more important or more deserving of God’s love than any other.  (End of devotion)

We all must recognize our sad, sorry state of the inability to meet God’s standards and realize we are all the same. No life matters more than any other. 

#Lent#19

Friday, March 20th, 2020

A stone or a cross.

That’s one of the ways I see this time of the year.

By stone I mean the Law.  The Law’s purpose, according to Galatians 3:24, is to be a tutor, a schoolmaster, a guardian to lead us to Jesus. It was in effect until Jesus came and then we moved from there to justification by faith. The Law was a stone around our neck. There was no freedom.  No escape.  All the Law really offered was demands and condemnation.

On the other side of the coin is the cross. Whereas the Law brought demands and condemnation, the cross brought love and freedom. The cross was far superior in every way to the Law. Instead of outside works being associated with righteousness, we are now declared righteous by the blood of Christ.

You could say a stone was used in judgment of someone when thrown; the cross was used to take away that judgment and placed on Someone else. I’ll take the cross.

#Lent#13

Friday, March 13th, 2020

There are different reason why people make professions of faith. Some are dubious like “My friends were” or “My parents wanted me to.” Some are religious-sounding: “I want to go to heaven” or “I don’t want to go to hell.” None of the above mentioned reasons are the right reason for coming to Christ.  In my years of being a pastor, I’ve heard all those and more.

But John Piper puts it into perspective:

But what is the ultimate goal in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God Himself. All the words of the Gospel lead to Him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God.  Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn’t bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in His arms. (p.62)

We should embrace the gospel not to stay out of hell, or even to go to heaven, but because we are overwhelmed by the amazing love of God, the Good News. This Good News cost Jesus His life so we can be enthralled with God’s presence, and yes, spend eternity with Him.

#Lent#4

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

It is common to talk about the blood of Jesus as we come to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. As it should be. I mean, the whole Good Friday thing is about the death of Jesus and the shedding of blood. The whole resurrection three days later is about victory over death.

John Piper wrote:

When the Bible speaks of the blood of Jesus, it refers to His death. No salvation would be accomplished by the mere bleeding of Jesus. His bleeding to death is what makes his blood-shedding crucial. (p.26)

A couple of pages later he writes:

What the shedding of blood shows is that we deserved divine punishment, not divine sacrifice. (p.29)

Two actions were in the works- death and resurrection.  His death paid for our salvation; His resurrection confirmed it. His death took the punishment which was ours; the resurrection said, “Victory!”  It’s like a two-fer. You can’t have one without the other.

#Hangover#GoodOne

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Every Sunday I go through it. I call it a hangover. I’ve never had the other kind.  Kind of hard to do that when you don’t take a drink to start with. 🙂

I had one yesterday. I went to the Y early (8:00) to work out and when I was done I had the hangover. It was the good kind. You know…the adrenaline is pumping and you feel like something good happened.  I even joked with someone who was just getting there about feeling good I was done. I had reached my limit physically for that workout and there was a settled feeling that came over me. Shower. Eat. Study. Nap. Oops where did that come in? 🙂

I’ve have one when my bike ride is finished. An a-a-a-a-a-h feeling.  A sense of accomplishment. An adrenaline rush from having spent myself. Shower. Eat. Work. Nap. Again, where did that come from?  🙂

I get one every Sunday. I expend myself emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Eat. (No shower needed). Study. Nap. Well, sometimes but not today.

I’m a bit melancholy right now. I’m not sad from any event. I’m not down from life. I expended a lot of spiritual energy this morning after preaching twice and I think I know what it is.

The subject matter. Heaven is fine to preach on. I’m not a fan of preaching on Hell. It isn’t because I pound the pulpit and scream and froth at the mouth. I don’t. But I’m melancholy because I have this sneaking suspicion there were some there today who needed to come to Christ but will keep putting it off.  It’s days like today that I wish I was like the Hulk when he grabbed Loki,  slammed him back and forth a few times, and then said, “Puny god.” Loki just whimpered. That was after Loki tried to tell the Hulk he was a god.

There are people I just want to grab and say, “What are you waiting for? Don’t you realize you are playing with your life, taking a risk that you really don’t want to gamble on?”

When I feel like this I can only imagine what God must be feeling after waiting and waiting.  The Bible says that God desires all men to repent and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His heart must break when time after time people reject Him.

I’m not concerned about my eternity. I know where I will be. I do get melancholy over others. May I never lose that fire for the lost. May I never lose that desire to see people come to Jesus. May I never lose that hunger to feel God’s pain.

I closed the sermon with this song. Hope you enjoy it.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post23

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

I read the following quote:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ  brings us to God.

Growing up you really only think of Christmas-besides the whole Santa Claus and gift thing-as the occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We like the story of the baby in the manger. It fits our “meek and mild” picture of Jesus. It fits our Away in a Manger and Silent Night theme.

But as C.S.Lewis says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I just finished reading again), “There is deeper magic here.” What is seen on the surface is just that: the surface. There is so much more to see and learn. There is so much more at work than just the birth; there is also the vision of the cross. Without doubt Jesus came with the specter of the cross in His sights. Phil.2 even tells us that. Jesus reminded His disciples over and over that the Son of Man must suffer and die.  The cross of Christ is always there. It is through the cross, and the cross only, that we find our way to God. It is only through the blood of Jesus that salvation is found.

But it is through the birth of Jesus as a baby, as God made flesh, that it all begins.  The quote again:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ brings us to God.

“Father, thank you for that truth. May this Christmas season take on extra meaning because it is more than a baby in a manger. It is also that baby on a cross giving Himself up for us.”

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!