Mercy Me

How many of you out there have a tendancy to forget when your driver’s license comes due? Especially if you live in an area that the renewal is longer than yearly? Say, five, six, even eight years from the renewal? He. Hehe. Hehehe. Ahem….

Weellllll….

I AM getting older. AND more forgetful.

So, it finally comes to my attention that yes, indeed, I’d forgotten my license expired on said date. And you know that old adage “Ingorance is Bliss”.

Before, I was blissfully ignorant…driving along in my own little happy lane. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am a Book-Follower. I stay in the lines (maybe lanes, in this case?? Ahem.). I don’t stray outside the box. So, knowing that my license was expired…I was feeling the guilt. Our DMV office is always extremely busy. A plus, though, is the option of calling ahead and making an appointment. Well, when I called, the earliest time was a week away. Uugghhh…

Being my little Book-Follower self, driving during that time of knowing that I was guilty was terrible. I drove right on the speed limit. I wore my seat belt. I kept both hands on the wheel. I did everything I knew to do to avoid drawing attention so as not to get pulled over. *Not that I’m not usually a safe driver…but at this nerve wracking time, I was overly-overly cautious.

One particular time while sitting at a stoplight beside of a Highway Patrolman, the Holy Spirit just whispered in my heart, “You know, you can look the part right down to a tee, but if you don’t have the blood of Jesus covering those sins, you’re still just as guilty as ever.” Yep. I was doing everything to look right. I was acting the part, but I still didn’t have a valid license.

Praise the Lord for mercy! Everytime I got in the car I stood a chance of getting a ticket. Everytime I got in the car…Jesus gave me mercy. I didn’t deserve it but He gave it freely. Just as He gave His Salvation. Freely to all. And no one deserves it.

Just as I acted the part of having a valid driver’s license, there are many others acting the part of a Christian. Oh, my. So many who are filling the pews week after week, smiling the smile, saying the words, singing the songs, but who are lost as gooses. No matter what actions are taken, unless that blood of Jesus has been applied, they will die in their sins and face an eternity in Hell. My prayer is that conviction would fall on the hearts of those who are acting the part. I pray that they, too, would suffer the guilt of knowing that they need their license, and that license (to Heaven) is the blood of Jesus.

–John 3:16- For God so love the WORLD (that’s everybody) that He gave His only begotten Son (that’s Jesus) that whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have everlasting life.

–John 14:6- Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

–Rom 10:9- If thy confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (V. 10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

–Rom 10:13- For whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be saved.

–Mat 7:21- Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. (v.22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (v.23) And then will I (Jesus speaking) profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (wickedness).

So, dear reader, if you are acting the part, if you have everything down to a tee and look like a Christian but have not the atoning work of Jesus applied to your heart, I pray that conviction would overtake you and you would see that you need true salvation and forgiveness before it is too late.

Jesus’ mercy still extends. He is waiting for you, having already finished the work of dying for the sins of the world, and resurrecting again the third day victorious over death and hell. He wants to give you mercy…give you life eternal in Heaven even though you (we all) don’t deserve it.

Don’t be one of those who will hear Him say, “Depart from me, I never knew you”, because…you don’t have to…..

In the Shadow of the Cross

In the Shadow of the Cross

Our church had an Easter mini VBS to help share with the neighborhood the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. After songs and a main lesson, the children moved the festivities to the Fellowship Building and surrounding outside grounds. Various craft making porjects were set up around the inside area to help reinforce the teachings of Jesus’ awesome work at Calvary. One of the projects was making a mini cross while the craft teacher explained, yet again, just what Jesus had done for sinners.

Our next to youngest son, aged 6, was eager to show off his cross. I glanced at it, commended him on his fine cross-making skills, and didn’t really pay close attention to it until later. When we got home, he once again showed off his cross and I was struck by the mirror image of the cross that he had made with the flower pins. In the shadow of the cross……..

WOW. Six years old. Such a perfect little mirror-image cross. It spoke volumes; in the shadow of the cross. What *happened* in the shadow of the cross that day? Women weeping, gazing. Hearts ripping. Dreams shattering. Hopes dashing. Lives crashing…..

Mary, beholding the son she’d once cradled so closely to her bosom. Remembering her Son Who had been about His Father’s business so many years ago, not fullying knowing that He was still doing His Father’s business. Peter, still gazing from afar. Other disciples dazed. Blood dripping into the soil by the very Creator of the earth. Men scoffing, laughing. Sky angry, lowering, blackening. Sun refusing to shed light. The earth, heaving and rumbling at the sight of Creation’s Sculptor resculpted by scourging and torture. In the shadow of the cross……

We know, from God’s Holy Word, that He did not stay ON that cross and neither did He stay IN the tomb. Three victorious days later, Christ arose; completely and thoroughly defeating death, hell, and the grave for Eternity. It.is.finished. And I live.

In the Shadow of the Cross.

Where is Life (I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life-John 14:6), and that abundantly (John 10:10).

In the shadow of the cross I find peace, whereas Mary found heartache. I take my cares and heart breaks *to* the cross. She wanted to flee far far away from the cross, no doubt taking her Son with her. Away from these cruel persons who had condemned her precious innocent Son; away from the mocking and jesting. Away from the stench of death mingled with blood–the air, heavy-laden with cursing, swearing, laughing. Just A.WAY.

I get the honor of running to that cross. To that precious bleeding side. To the sin-cleansing flow of blood. The joys to be had in the shadow of the cross can’t fully be expressed while the carnal is still encasing the spirit. But this I do know, in the shadow of the cross I find peace and comfort. Joy unspeakable. Rest for this troubled weary soul. Come unto me…and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).  Nothing and no one can steal His presence from me as I bask in the shadow. Turmoil and sorrows may compass me about while I travel through this world but as long as I humbly stay bowed in the shadow of the cross, He will give me whatever is needed on my journey (Phil 4:19). In the shadow of the cross we are transformed from

 

VICTIMS into…..

 

VICTORS.

Are you hidden in the shadow of the cross????

How’s Your Inside?

This morning I grabbed this banana that I’d just bought yesterday. Good thing I looked at it first before taking a bite. Reminded me of becoming a new creature in Christ.”Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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Sometimes roots of bitterness spring up and causes rotteness to invade our hearts. On the outside we appear to others as wonderful, God-fearing, God-honoring Christians when in reality, our hearts are eaten up with the blackness and death of sin. The last part of James 4:8 tells us to purify our hearts (cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double-minded). In Psalm 51:10, the psalmist says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”. When we fail to root out those little seeds of bitterness, anger, strife, envy, jealousy, anything that is contrary to the fruits of the Spirit, those not of God, then our hearts are subject to being consumed with the blackness and deadness that sin always brings. Yes, ALWAYS. 1 Corinthians 15:56-The sting of death is sin… James 1:15-Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Romans 6:23-The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. For those who are not saved by the marvelous work of Jesus Christ, it is simple to “cleanse your heart”. Ask him to come into your heart and make you that new creature in Him, believe that He is the only begotten Son of God, crucified unto death and risen victoriously to sit at the right hand of the Father (God), and He will come in and save you from the curse of (spiritual) death and an Eternal Hell. How wonderful and how easy! For those already confessing the Lord Jesus as Lord of their lives and are harboring the blackness of unconfessed sin, it is also easy to “cleanse your heart”. 1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and JUST to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. What wonderful promises and truths the Word of God holds! How’s your inside????

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*Same banana, with the peel pulled away.

Step Into the Light

Not long ago, when we were having more coyote visits that we are now (let’s hope I don’t jinx anything), husband got up during the night and went out to check on things. When he came back, I asked him if he’d seen anything. I know coyotes are quick and doubted to myself that he HAD seen any even before I asked the question but it just seemed as if it needed asking. He replied no, he hadn’t seen any but he’d been in the light. We have an outdoor light from the power company close to the barn, and he’d been “in the light”. He said, “They’re not going to stick around when they can see you in the light”.  ‘Course I knew that but it was all in the way he said it…

Well, ya’ll know me by now. I thought, “Yep. One needs to stay in the light”. Our enemy seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He does his best work undercover- undercover of darkness, undercover of ingnorance, undercover of deception and deviousness. He does not want to be uncovered because, just like the coyotes, he will flee. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Husband was in the light, clearly visible to predators; they were afraid to advance towards him.*  That’s the way our enemy works, too. When we are in the Light of Christ, we are fully protected. Nothing comes to us but what it must first come through the Father. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that He knows the thoughts He has towards us; those thoughts are not of evil but of peace, and to give us an expected end. He wouldn’t let me be devoured as the enemy would love to do (1 Peter 5:8). His Word also tells us that we are children of the light (John 12:36, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Jesus called Himself the Light of the World and said that whosoever followed Him would not walk in darkness (John 8:12).

In Ephesians 5:11, God tells us to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but to reprove them (reprove-to find fault with, correct, to reprehend severely, chide, admonish).

In preparation of the summer garden, I recently planted some seeds. The sprouts just came up and I’ve placed them in the light to continue to grow and get stronger so that I can set them out in the garden. Life comes from light. Step into the Light that ye might have life and that life more abundant (the rest of John 10:10. The first part, remember, tells us of the theif [Satan] who comes to kill, steal, and destroy).

* I know; technically they probably wouldn’t have advanced towards him even if he were in the dark, but for the sake of the spiritual lesson here, just humor me. 🙂

Shedding a Little Light on Things

This morning I heard the birds excitedly feeding at the feeders outside our bedroom windows. I wanted to sneak over to the blinds and carefully peek out to see them but knew that with it being early and the sun not quite up, I wouldn’t be able to tell much about them. You see, one needs light to see clearly. Have you ever noticed how the trees seem to lose their color when the sun sets? I noticed it with stark contrast one evening driving on the interstate. One side of the interstate was alive with the colors of the trees. It being fall of the year made it very noticeable. The trees on the opposite side of the interstate were grey where no sunlight was shining on them. They all looked the same.
When we have The Light of the Savior living and shining within us, we “look” different. The Light shines on us and also “thru” us. We take on a whole new appearance. Behold, old things are past away, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
So, are you carrying the light within yourself? Do you shine forth as a new creation in Christ Jesus, or are you blending in with the lightless ones around you?

The Fine Line Between Saved and Unsaved

By Gene Lawley*


The road to righteousness is a narrow one, Jesus reminded us. But the road to damnation is a broad, crowded one. On the first road we see that the Holy Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way, according to the Bible. That’s really narrow, some folks say. But that’s the way truth is. However, on that other road, the choice is very broad, like, “any old god will do”—just believe in a “higher power” or “your god is as good as mine”.
A person can decide to be baptized. He can decide to become a member of a church. But a person cannot decide to be born again. That’s God’s doing. Jesus explained it in John 3:5-8—“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”The well-known passage of Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” “Not of yourselves” tightens that fine line and effectively rules out that “any old god will do” philosophy. It even takes away that claim of “I was baptized when I was sixteen”, or “I joined the church when I was a junior in high school”. As a matter of fact, God spells it out even more specifically in John 1:13, after having told us that receiving Christ (in our lives) authorizes us to be called a child of God: “…who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Not being born into a Christian family, not by personal effort, not by the decision of another person, such as clergy, but being born of God! How narrow is that?!

Peter makes an interesting observation in I Peter 4:18: “Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (He states this in the context of a discussion on judgment beginning at the house of God.) He says, “if the righteous one is scarcely saved…” Is Peter, writing for the hand of God, also indicating that there is, indeed, a fine line between saved and unsaved? Perhaps the most clearly stated requirement for salvation is Romans 10:9-10: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” In the heart, man’s inner being, is where the spiritual transaction takes place, and voicing that commitment confirms it in the first act of faith. But just a couple of verses later is a statement a lot less specific. What about it? “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved “(Romans 10:13). Does this widen the fine line between the saved and the unsaved?

Titus 1:2 tells us “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…” God does not change His plan of salvation—it was settled before time began! There are two unique examples of that fine line between saved and unsaved recorded in Scripture, where traditional “steps to salvation” seemingly are not apparent, yet God’s conclusion is a positive one.

The example of the thief on the cross next to Jesus is a prominent one, where he had no chance to be baptized or join a church, yet God is no respecter of persons. The plan was in place before time began. Remember Titus 1:2, above? Numbers 23:19 was recorded in a different context, but the character of the Lord God does not vary with the context: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” So what did the thief do?

Here is the account, from Luke 23:39-43: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”

The thief did two things: 1) he acknowledged his own sinfulness, and 2) he asked the Lord to remember him (likely in reference to his current and future judgment). And Jesus responded with that marvelous open-arms acceptance of his plea! The two acts of the thief are heavily flavored with humility of heart, as that of one who realizes he is in the presence of the living God of the universe. It is interesting that he had no time to do any good works, nor did he even pray the prayer to invite Christ into his heart. But he was saved. Jesus said so. Just like He says to the rest of us, “…and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Another incident of seemingly narrow, thin-line entry into a blessed relationship with the Lord is related by Jesus in Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

If we thought about it a few minutes, we Christians could come up with several more accomplishments and comparisons than the Pharisee listed, as he prayed with himself! The body language and attitude of the tax collector captures the attention of those whose hearts are longing for and hungry for that intimate fellowship with the Savior. It brings to mind two of the “blessed attitudes” in Matthew 5:3 and 6: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Do you see humility in the tax collector? Jesus did. Do you see repentance there? He turned to the Lord for mercy, acknowledging his sinfulness. It is a Biblical truth that God demands repentance, but repentance cannot occur unless there is the recognition of personal sinfulness. And in this case Jesus declared him justified. That means saved. We often quote Romans 3:23 alone, yet verse 24 completes the “so what’s next” question: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”

It appears then, that the fine line between saved and unsaved follows a path of recognition of personal sinfulness, humility and repentance, and calling upon the Lord for His mercy. And that, beloved, brings us back to Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

*- This and many more articles may be found at www.raptureready.com .