What GOD Has Done

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – ROMANS 5:6‭-‬8 NASB

Verse 7 is profound: “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” Would you offer your life for someone you know only by reputation? It’s easy (for me) to say I would die for a family member, but if it really came down to it, would I, really? Would you? It’s difficult to say how we would truly act in any dire situation until we are acrually faced with it. For family, I’d like to think that I would step up without hesitation, but for someone whom I don’t know, or particularly care for? Probably not – or if I’m honest, I would have to say no.

That, however, is precisely what God has done. He stepped up and died a gruesome death for me, and for that person who denies Him. Do you ever thonk about that? As a Christian, I’ve put thought into the fact that Jesus died for me. What about that person who is covered in tattoo’s and every other word is a curse word or obscenity; who delights in torturing animals and people? Think about that for a minute. Jesus Christ, the Living Lord, left Heaven behind to die for that person!

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – ROMANS 10:9 NASB

Get it?

Get it!!

Scariest Words

What are the scariest words you have ever heard? You’re fired? You’re hired? Marry me? …… We’re pregnant? Your loved one is dying?

All of those words have definite impact on our lives, but I don’t think they are the scariest you’ll ever hear. Knowing just how flawed and imperfect we are as humans, try these:

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He Who said, “do not commit adultery,” also said, “do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the Law of Liberty.” – JAMES 2:8‭-‬12 NASB

No matter how good we are, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws. ALL of them. Ever told a “white” lie? Took a paperclip that really didn’t belong to you? Shared a bit of “harmless” gossip? “Admired” someone of the opposite sex just a tad too long? Became angry or took offense at some slight? By stumbling on one point of the Law, we become guilty of breaking it all.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: “According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God’s restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.” (Emphasis mine)

According to my understanding, the Law of Liberty is the Gospel. Through the Mercy shown to us in and through Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness…… but we must accept that Mercy, that Gift, in order to receive His forgiveness, and to be freed from the final judgement of the LORD. I don’t want to be seen as a “good” person! I want people to see – and know – that I am forgiven; and how I am forgiven. That’s why we must share the Gospel. “Good” can never be good enough; only forgiveness will suffice in the end.

Are you good, or are you forgiven?

Control

Control. The one thing I think everyone wants in their life. Instead, God gave us free will. I was reading the other day and came across a passage that really says this well

“I didn’t have control over what anyone else did. And while God could control anything and everything, He had given His creation the freedom to choose. God could intervene, but then He’d be no more than a master puppeteer. A puppet couldn’t love back. And that was what God asked. His children had to choose whether they’d love Him enough to obey or whether they’d go the other way. I had to accept that God gave everyone the same freedom.” Haley, Design On A Crime by Ginny Aiken

I don’t have control over anyone else, or over what they do, and trying to control them only hurts me We can choose to follow God’s teaching, taken from His Word, or we can choose to attempt to control our lives. He allows that choice, and I believe it saddens Him more than we can imagine or comprehend when we choose the path away from Him.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12‭-‬15 ESV

Choosing to forgive someone takes the power away from them, and makes their actions weak and incapable of hurting us any longer. Years ago, I heard a song on the radio during a time of deep despair and at a time where my life was completely out of my control. These words are deeply meaningful. It’s called The Key, sung by Steve and Annie Chapman. This is just a tiny taste:

“Now don’t you know the offender

Is rarely the one in pain

Instead the one who will not forgive

Is the one who wears the chains.”

http://www.steveandanniechapman.com

Hope it helps you a little.

Undeserved Grace

Celebrating still!

Looking back at hymns and songs, it strikes me at how many songs we have that celebrate the Victory of Jesus over death and the grave.

UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE!

VICTORY IN JESUS

DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING

CHRIST IS RISEN

MIGHTY CROSS

OVERCOME

GLORIOUS DAY

WE ARE THE FREE

I WILL RISE

The list goes on and on – I’ve left many off. I am so grateful for the poets and lyricists and songwriters and composers for these beautiful expressions of our awe and gratefulness. Sometimes, all I can do is mouth the words, I’m so overcome by the emotion of realizing anew the sacrifice Jesus, Lord of everything, made for me. As if I were the only human ever to live, He made that sacrifice. As if you were the only one. That’s how much He loves us.

Pretty sobering thought.

Jesus bore my sins – every thought and every action – to the cross, and He left them there. They are gone, covered, literally, in His Blood. The Blood of The LAMB was shed for me, and I am free. Completely undeserved Grace. You can claim it anf receive it, too! All you need to do is open your heart to Jesus ❤ .

“Jesus has overcome! And the grave is overwhelmed! The victory is won! He is risen from the dead!”

“Jesus has overcome! And the grave is overwhelmed! The victory is won! He is risen from the dead!”

“And When You Are Praying …..”

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way:

‘OUR FATHER Who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [ For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.’ ]

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” – MATTHEW 6:7‭-‬15 NASB

Um, what? I have to forgive those jerks, those disgusting, bigotted, evil, unscrupulous, narrow-minded, stupid ……. (need I go on???) ……

Yep. That’s correct. I have to forgive them. They may be at fault, but the Father insists that I / we forgive them. That stinks. It falls upon us, dear brothers and sisters, to forgive not only those who have hurt us specifically and individually, but also to forgive those who hurt us collectively. It occurs to me that if I sue someone in a court of law, then I become the guilty party because of my unforgiveness. If I am spiteful to someone because they have treated me badly, then I become the guilty party. When I refuse to forgive, I become the sinner.

I am not saying we have to forget the wrong. Whenever I hear someone advise to “forgive and forget,” I have to (respectfully) disagree. In many, if not most, instances of wrong, I think we need to remember what happened in order to prevent the situation from repeating itself. Punishment is different from judgement, just as remembering is separate from forgiving. I don’t have to like the person to forgive them, and it isn’t necessary to become their friend – although it is possible.

When it becomes necessary to forgive, remember that our Father doesn’t expect us to do it on our own or in our own human strength. He has provided us with a Helper, One Who can take the weight of forgiving the unforgivable off our human shoulders and shifting it onto His infinitely stronger, supernatural shoulders. There are times when the only words we can say are “Oh GOD” or “Jesus, help me.” In fact, we are told in Paul’s letter to the Roman church, “….. for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words …..” – ROMANS 8:26 NASB

Thank GOD. Amen!

Perfection!

I am the middle child. Actually, I share that spot with my next younger sister, because out of 6 kids (poor Mom!) I am third and she is fourth – 2 ahead of me, and 2 after her. I am the baby of the first 3, and she is the eldest of the last 3. We have also concluded that most (all!) of us are ADD, and some are ADHD as well, starting with my parents- and it really goes back further than them. My life is an oxymoron 😎 …. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with us!

Whatever spot I choose for the moment, baby or middle-child, I must admit that I have been guilty of pride and perfection much of my life. Is that an affliction? Perfectionism stems from many things, both internal and external. I think that on a subconscious level, we make the choice to be prideful and conceited. I chose both, to hide the damaged, broken parts that I am comprised of. Whatever I did, I did with the attitude that if I did it, it was the right thing to do. Whatever I decided was the right decision, the only logical conclusion in my mind; therefore, anyone else was obviously wrong. I had the attitude that I was invincible, hard and sharp-edged – and I was hard and cut people like a knife with my words and actions. I sound like a bad person! If I was told I had a heart of ice, or that I was hurtful or mean, well, guilty as charged. I was full of pride and could do no wrong because I was perfect. Seems like we all have the tendency to judge others based on our own perceived perfection. For years, I was really good at being perfect, at least on the outside. My ‘inside’ was pretty messed up!

Even now I will find those feelings of pride and perfection, perfectionism and judgementalism, stealing back into my life. I cry out “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, in the Name of JESUS!!”

When I came to be under the Shining Bright Light of my LORD JESUS through His saving Grace, all of my cracks and brokenness were illuminated. His illumination shows everyone who looks what a messed up person I am, but the LIGHT also shows how He has put me back together. My prayer for us today:

LORD, show us our brokenness. Shine Your Great Light on us and let the world see YOU in that Light. Use my brokenness to illustrate how beautifully You can put us back together, if we just ask You. No matter how shattered we are or how much ugliness we contain, help us to see the beauty of Your Handiwork in ourselves. You alone can take all of our messes and all of the junk we accumulate in our hearts, and create something beautiful.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD JESUS, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.” – Acts 20:24 ESV Amen.

And the ONE who was seated on the throne said, “See, I Am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 NRSV

Standing in His Love

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

What a beautiful reminder to wake up to! “Stand In Your Love” is a new song by Josh Baldwin, and he sings about the power and strength of GOD’s absolute Love for us, and how His Love breaks anything that binds us to sin. JESUS spoke to His disciples after choosing them and told them this – and I believe He intended this for everyone, throughout the ages, who accepts Him as SAVIOUR.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the SON of Man. ….But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ….If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. ….But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the MOST HIGH; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your FATHER is Merciful.” – Luke 6:22‭, ‬27‭-‬28‭, ‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NRSV

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….”

When we attempt to follow our LORD JESUS, but we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, our fears tend to take over and rule our lives. I know this, because I often struggle to love my enemies – instead of standing in GOD’s Love, I keep trying to do it on my own. I don’t have it in me to forgive my enemies. If it were up to me, they would pay for their transgressions in a long and painful way. My judging would have no mercy – and I thank GOD it isn’t left up to me! I have been given freedom from the chains and baggage of sin, and that forgiveness came completely and undeservedly from JESUS. Shouldn’t I then forgive and love on those who really don’t deserve my forgiveness?

I can’t forgive if I am standing frozen in my fear. If I forgive them, aren’t I somehow condoning* their abuse? (*Empathetic NO, it is not.) When we stand in GOD’s Love, HE forgives for us – and He will judge them according to their deeds. The only way to shed fear, to lock the enemy out, is to turn to JESUS and allow His Love to hold us up to bask in His Light. Fear is a liar; it is a jail of our own creation, and it all comes straight from the enemy.

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

Can you claim the Promise of Salvation today and let our LORD throw the fears out of your life? “Likewise the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very SPIRIT intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And GOD, Who searches the heart, knows what is the Mind of the SPIRIT, because the SPIRIT intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NRSV