The Gift That Keeps Giving!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9 NIV).

No matter how many times I read this segment of Scripture, I am constantly amazed at how much God loves us. The gift of grace, showered upon those of us who certainly have not earned His favor, but have it any way. Wow! What an awesome God!

Since He knows us and our propensity to boast about “how good we are” or a number of other things we do to proclaim our salvation, He reminds us that it is not by “our works” (what we do or don’t do) that saves, but because of His grace–the gift of the work on the cross–because of His love that we are saved. Why do we need to be reminded of this? Because of those who love to “try to control others” by constantly telling people who is or who is not saved.

Most of us know some of these people by what “they say.” If a person does not agree with them, their constant rejoinder is, “you need to be saved.” If a person has a differing view of scripture, “you need to be saved.” If a person doesn’t attend a certain church, “you need to be saved.” If a person doesn’t wear their clothes exactly right, “you need to be saved.” If a person goes to a movie,” you need to be saved.” If a person watches television,” you need to be saved.” If a person doesn’t read their bible every hour on the hour, “you need to be saved.” This list could go on and on, but the point here is–they are the ones who have forgotten–we are saved by grace, not by works. They are the ones who are attempting to get into heaven by their works, not realizing their constant misjudgment of people will certainly not bode well for them.

Since I have accepted the gift of grace from God (not man), I am saved. I honor Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and try always to do those things that please Him. I do not know what others have done at any point in their life and I certainly acknowledge the fact that we are not all going to agree about a number of things–pertaining to salvation, but that does not mean a person is not saved. That judgment call is up to God, not me.

However, we do know that when people are saved, they do good works–helping others, encouraging others, praying for others, and warning others (not judging them). They do the works because they are saved; not because they are trying to be saved. The gift of grace–God’s unearned, unmerited favor–is the gift that keeps on giving when we do the good works God inspires us to do for others.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the gift of Grace that You give us, bringing us into relationship with You so we can hear and obey all You say to us. Thank You for using us in demonstration of the gift that keeps giving.

Forgive–And Be Forgiven!

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14 NKJV).

Right after Jesus taught His disciples “how” to pray (not what to pray), He reminded them of the things they should “do” in order to please God. The very first thing He said to them was, “forgive others so our Father will forgive us.”

There are so many people walking around with unforgiveness in their hearts that it changes their attitudes and even their facial expressions.  We have all seen these people. They are envious and jealous. They seldom smile because they think frowning and appearing to be mad makes them holier than others. They are far more likely to criticize others than to pray for them. They always “see” the shortcomings of others, but never acknowledge their own. They think because of where they live or whose religion they bought into makes them superior to other people. And then they think–they are pleasing God and the rest of us are–“simple Christians.”

When the “joy of the Lord” rises up in us, we should be able to smile and laugh as well as pray and forgive others for their shortcomings and be thankful that God does not hold our shortcomings against us.

When the “joy of the Lord” rises up in us, we should be able to speak a Word of Life, enjoining others to please God and to draw them into a knowledge of Christ with loving-kindness.

But then again–The Word tells us that God will use the foolish things to confound the wise (those that are wise in their own sight). We should be careful about the things we say with regards to others so that we will not stand in the position of being judged–more harshly–by God than the judgment we use against others.

We should make every effort to seek God first–in all things–before we open our mouths or allow our fingers to hit the keyboard of a computer (or typewriter) so that what we say or write, brings glory and honor to Him through us. We will never win people to Christ with an unforgiving heart, a harsh tongue, or unrelenting fingers that constantly accuse rather than praise or encourage.

Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to be more like You every day. Help us to open our spiritual ears and hear what You say. Guard our tongues and allow us to only speak what You would have us to say. Tangle our fingers until we are only to type what You would have us to type–with love in every letter–drawing others closer to You and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Change our attitudes so our hearts sing with praises and our faces shine with the acknowledgement that we know who You are and there is always a smile for others. These things we thank You for in Jesus’ name, Amen!

We are Forgiven when we forgive! Hallelujah!

Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! (excerpt)

What happens to people who succumb to the influence of the evil one after belief and confession?  This common occurrence is known as backsliding.  For the most part, we acknowledge backsliding as a common occurrence, but backsliding should not be promoted as a way of life.  The backslider is one who after having confessed Christ, repeatedly submits to the influence of past temptations.  They become backsliders because they have yet to submit their desires to God and become delivered from their ungodly ways.

Picture this:  Children on a giant slide love to climb up the slide and usually keep sliding backwards; making getting to the top difficult, if not impossible for some.  God states, in Jeremiah 3:14, that He is married to the backslider.  Since God established the institution of marriage, surely He can determine how he feels about the backslider and the consequences.  There are indeed consequences to being a backslider.  The backslider who comes to himself and repents of his sins  retains his position with God just as a couple reconciles their relationship when problems arise.

The fate of the backslider who never repents falls into the hands of an angry God.  The bible tells us that this person can expect an even greater terror than the one who never confessed any knowledge of Christ.  On the other hand, we are told in I John 1:9, 10  “that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If God forgives us, should we care about the forgiveness of others? Who is it that we should be concerned about as it pertains to our status with God?   It is without a doubt, the most fruitless exercise in the world to try to please people.  Therefore, our only concern should be in pleasing God. According to God’s Word, we, who choose to care about what God thinks, are wise because He is the only one from whom we are seeking acceptance.

Unfortunately, many people attempt to seek acceptance from entities—church folks and institutions—who could care less about a person as an individual.  Although there are some churches and other individuals who genuinely care about people, they are too few in number to make a real difference.  Consider the following:

A young lady, who did not begin her life’s journey with any understanding of the Word or God’s way of doing things, falls short of the mark, in a number of ways.  However, once she has been shown the light and comes to a place in her life where she has now established a right relationship with God, should she not be accepted into the fold as though she has never sinned? [This example uses a young lady because females are often scrutinized more often and judged more harshly for their past sins than males.]

If we truly believe the Word, then we have to acknowledge the fact that once God forgives us, He tosses our sins into the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18, 19).  Since our sins are cast into the sea, who has a right to go fishing for them, in an attempt to bring them to the surface? We must forever be on guard against the wiles of the enemy.  We cannot allow him or his minions to superimpose their views into our lives.  Therefore, whenever anyone attempts to bring our past to the surface, we must remind them—tactfully, if possible—that our past shortcomings have been confessed and forgiven.  They do not have a right to fish in God’s sea.

 

This is an excerpt from:  Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! available on amazon.com