Amazing Love

From the song Amazing Love[1]:

I’m accepted, You were condemned.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NASB)


[1] Amazing Love by Billy James Foote

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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Recalculating

I’ve had a Garmin GPS for the happier years of my driving life.  I remember when they were still vogue, but not inaccessibly expensive anymore, and for some reason my mother immediately bought me one.  It was almost as if she didn’t want to be called 150 times a day to give directions anymore.

One of the first things I learned about my Garmin was what happens when you make a mistake.  The Garmin would say something like, “In point two miles, turn left” . . . and I, having not a spectacularly acute sense of distance (although I pride myself in being able to measure with a ruler–inches or centimeters), would sometimes turn too soon or occasionally not soon enough.

There would be that pause from my Garmin machine and then,

“Recalculating . . Recalculating . . . . In point four miles turn left.”

I came to learn that recalculating meant I hadn’t followed the original plan, but the GPS was finding a new way for me.

There have been a few times when I have changed my mind about where I wanted to go, and so ignored my GPS, leaving it on.  The GPS will say over and over,

Recalculating.  Recalculating . . .

And keep finding new roads that lead back to the place I’d selected to go.

But, eventually, if I’d go too far in the opposite direction the GPS would say,

“When possible, make a U-turn.”

Over and over again, until I made the U-turn or turned the GPS off.

Then came the time when I bought a different brand of GPS.  I discovered that rather than saying Recalculating, it sat silently during wrong turns and then recalculated automatically.

In theory, this sounded less intrusive and more relaxing.  But what I found was that I didn’t always know when I had missed a turn, and because I didn’t, and the GPS would silently figure out another route around, I could easily go on without realizing I’d lengthened my route.

I couldn’t learn routes to places in this way and, more than this, I was left wondering, Did I make the right turn?  Or the wrong turn and not even know it?

And what if I just drove on and on making wrong turns?  At what point would the GPS intervene and tell me rather than silently figuring out how to get me to my destination . . . ?

I took that GPS back and got a Garmin again.  I realized I needed to hear,

Recalculating.

Only then would I learn efficient itinerary to the places I wanted to go.

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I have a confession to make.  Sometimes when I read the Bible, I don’t want to hear that I need to recalculate my life.  I want to just go on with the attitude, “What wrong turn?  Let’s pretend I didn’t make one.”

The problem is, if the Bible doesn’t teach me about the gravity of my sin, I would never know what’s at stake.  We’re not talking about going a few miles out of the way.  We’re talking about my eternal destination!  And if I’m a follower of Christ, I don’t want to waste my life doubling back from dead end alleys, serpentining through streets, heading off on highways to the middle of nowhere.  No!  There are too many drivers out there who need to know they can be rerouted to Heaven for me to be meandering about.

When I take a wrong turn, I need to know it immediately.  God’s Word, His Spirit, convicts me of my sins, so that I can turn away and get back on God’s path immediately.

God can and will recalculate my route when I confess my sin, directing me back to the right path, but it will never be the same as if I had gone on the right path in the first place.  This is why I must keep my listening ears on for God’s directions.  There is no time to waste in telling others about Jesus.  And I need to be on the right path as I tell others how about the perfect navigator, Jesus Christ.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3, ESV)

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Photograph by Miguel B., profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mig/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Intercession

And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them. (Hebrews 7:25, NLV)

And yet am I to go to Jesus and have the audacity to say that I cannot intercede for my fellow brothers and sisters in the human race, for what little bit they may do to harm me?

One of the most famous Bible characters from the Old Testament, King David, murdered a man to cover up his affair with the man’s wife.  When he was confronted with his sin, he made this statement:

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight (Psalm 51:4, AKJV)

Ultimately, sin is between the person who committed it and God, not between the person who committed it and me.

But I can pray for God to open their heart so they will know to ask for forgiveness.

If you see another believer committing a sin that doesn’t lead to death, you should pray that God would give that person life. (1 John 5:16, GW)

We also need to have a heart of forgiveness towards lost people, who are not our brothers and sisters in spirit, but are our brothers and sisters in flesh.

Christ Jesus prayed this for the very people who crucified Him:

And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. (Luke 23:34, DR)

While Jesus is praying for the people, they are gambling to see who gets his clothes.  Jesus is stripped of His clothes, stripped of His flesh.

The perfect Son of God is praying that those who have made Him unrecognizable as a human (see Isaiah 52:14) will be covered in His sacrifice.

Surely I can pray for forgiveness for anyone who might do what little harm they can do to me.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. (1 Timothy 2:1, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

I don’t believe in atheism, for an infinite number of reasons . . .

. . . I want to spend every second with God.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:6, KJV)

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Photograph by Martin L. (Euro Magic), profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/euromagic/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Baby Story

Have you ever seen one of those baby books that expecting mothers sometimes fill out?  In the book, they write down information about their pregnancy, things their baby could never know otherwise about his or her beginning in the world.

God has written our baby story!  He cares!

God has written our baby story. Have we read His words to us?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

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Photograph by Melc24, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/28730236@N05/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

How do I get to Heaven?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34b-36, ESV)

I am a

slave to sin

and

The slave does not remain in the house forever

I am in the position to be kicked out and spend my eternity in Hell.

But Jesus is no slave.  Jesus

remains forever

1. I am a slave to sin, ready to be kicked out of God’s house.

2. Jesus is the Son of God, always to stay in God’s house.

So can I figure out the last part of the verse from these first two truths?

Not at all!  It sails far beyond the limitations of my logic and lands in the grasses of God’s mercy:

So if the Son sets you free

Jesus wants to set us free!  The first two facts could not in our wildest imagination draw us to the third: Jesus is willing to set us free.

And what does He say about this freedom?

you will be free indeed.

Not that I will be free when I’ve served my sentence.  Not that I will be free when I’ve served “half” my sentence (if such a thing is possible).  Not that I will be free when I realize the full plague I have exposed myself to by my sin.  Not that I will be free when I learn how to carry the immeasurably heavy burden of my sin.

Only that, if Jesus shares His freedom with me, I–me–

will be free indeed.

Christ Jesus goes on my behalf to His Father and asks for full forgiveness for my sins.

This is because, if Jesus accepts me, He intercedes (makes payment for my sin and purifies me) eternally.

Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:24b-25, NIV)

If my eternity as a child of God rather than as a damned slave of sin depends on Christ Jesus’ acceptance of me, then I should spend the rest of my life searching for the way to earn that acceptance, right?

That kind of quest would make sense except for two truths.  First, I am not able to find truth when I am a sinner.  That would be something like a tree trying to figure out how to do algebra.  The Bible describes sinners as dead to the ways of God (see Ephesian 2:4-5).  We can’t be smart enough or good enough to figure out how to earn Jesus’ approval.

Second, I don’t need to go on any quest anyway, because Christ Himself plainly tells the only way we can receive acceptance from Him:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls, because my yoke is pleasant, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, ISV)

All I have to do is come to Jesus and He will give me employment in His Kingdom as an heir of God, pulling me out of my life as a slave to sin.  And Jesus gives me the only kind of employment that gives rest!  (I don’t think any of us would say that about the jobs we do for earthly employers . . .because if we did, we would feel more refreshed after work rather than less!)

Even though I work for Jesus, it isn’t in my working that I find His acceptance of me.  It’s in my coming.

Jesus promises that if I will come to Him, He will make me fit for the kingdom of God by His blood spilled for me (see Mark 14:24 and Luke 22:20).

And Jesus promises that if I come to Him, He will make me skilled for the kingdom of God by His teaching freely given to me (see Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the entire Word of God, see John 1:1-14).

And as long as there is day left (as long as we are alive on earth), Jesus will accept us and give us employment in His kingdom–even if we feel our life is mostly or almost entirely all spent up and wasted (see Matthew 20:1-16).

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart.” (John 7:37b-38, ISV)

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35b, NASB)

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:37-40, NASB)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Bitterness

Bitterness becomes someone in Hell.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. (Ephesians 4:31, NLT)

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Photograph by John Look, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/johnloo/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on September 17, 2011 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rather Hear

I would rather hear about the grace of God than the failure of man.

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:15, NLT)

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Photograph by Kelsey (Love Fusion Photography), profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/supersonicphotos/, website http://www.facebook.com/lovefusionphoto

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on September 17, 2011 at 11:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Inarguable

Mercy is inarguable.

Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13b, NIV.)

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Photograph by Bob Murphy, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/25908390@N00/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.