What A Wonderful Savior!

For January 24, 2021
Our Lord’s last evening on earth has always fascinated me as I wonder what He may have been thinking and feeling, or what the Disciples may have been thinking and feeling. In the Book of Romans, there is a commentary on our Lord’s actions that yet is beyond belief,

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6—8 NIV).

The first Adam’s disobedience introduced sin into God’s perfect world, which resulted in our spiritual and physical deaths. Spiritual death or sin, which separates us from God, happened instantaneously while physical death came gradually. In other words, Adam did not die instantaneously, as Genesis 5:5 records indicate he died at 930 years of age.

In essence, God created us to be holy (sinless) beings to live forever in His perfect world. But because of Adam’s disobedience, our world is full of sadness, sin, pain, disease, trouble, and death. Thus as the Bible teaches, all of us will sin, and all of us will die.1

In addition, since we are sinners by nature, our “good deeds” are sin-polluted. A splendid illustration would be how years ago when men wore white dress shirts. Carrying a fountain pen in the shirt breast pocket was a common practice. Unfortunately however, the ink pen leaked often so that the slightest ink spot on the white shirt ruined the shirt—completely.

As the ink spot polluted the shirt, sin pollutes our righteousness. On our best day, we are yet depraved, and our righteousness is worthless before a holy God—who is not sin polluted—and we fail when we try to compare our righteousness (filthy rags) to His,

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind (Isaiah 64:6 NLT).

However, this is not the case with Jesus Christ. He was without sin and fully aware His death would redeem all fallen humanity from sin and restore us to a loving, eternal fellowship with God,

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous (Romans 5:18-19 NKJV).

It is truly unbelievable how Jesus freely chose to offer Himself to redeem the entire world whether Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, believer or non-believer. All of us can vicariously receive the full benefit of His perfect sacrifice—without preference or distinction.

No longer do Satan, sin, and death bind us. From the moment we accept God’s gift of grace and love that covers our sin forever through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; from that day forward, our faith in His perfect, work determines our righteousness (or lack thereof) before our Heavenly Father.

Ultimately, we will all have to stand before our Maker for our thoughts, words, and actions performed in this life. My question is: Why not stand before Him in His righteousness freely given in Christ? Otherwise, we stand in our pride and self-righteousness to our own eternal peril as Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) implies, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

It is truly inconceivable how—based on our fallen human nature—Jesus would choose to redeem those people who love Him as well as those who hate Him equally. His amazing grace, abundant mercy, and enduring, all-encompassing love remains available to everyone everywhere; to those who choose to believe in Him, and even to those who choose not to believe in Him.

However, only those of us who respond positively, by accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior, will ever experience the abundant life He promises for us today and receive the eternal life He promises for us tomorrow.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Look Up…Jesus Is Coming!

For January 17, 2021
Although we live in a world of specialization and fragmentation, it’s amazing how so many of us take the Lord for granted by trying to compartmentalize His access to and influence over every aspect of our human interactions. To some, God has been confined to the church—locked inside four walls—used only at designated worship times.

Far too many of us act as if we do not require His services. We are in full control of our lives, this world, and the lives of others. Unfortunately, these deluded people have bought into the flawed notion they are “the creator” while God is “the created.” Pompously and self-righteously, they think, speak, and act in ways that are detrimental to the wellbeing of others. What a pity.

Human beings are not God. Case in point, try stopping earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes; try stopping the sun or moon from emitting light; try stopping the rain from falling or the wind from blowing.

Similarly, we came into this world naked, and we will leave it in the same manner. In addition, we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we will not carry anything out of it.1 Moreover, we did not create the galaxies or the earth, and although it is our home at this time, it is not our final destination.

It is essential that we realize the brevity of life, so that we can grow in His wisdom (Psalm 90:12).  We who trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior understand the critical importance of living for Him daily. Especially since He has promised us everlasting communion through the Spirit and has promised to return for us soon,

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am (John 14:1-3 NLT).

Of the circumstances surrounding His glorious return, Jesus makes this observation,

When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26—30 NLT).

Sound familiar? Jesus also adds the following observation regarding tragic days preceding His glorious return,

Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven. And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near (Luke 21:10—11, 25—28 NLT).

Human beings are temporal and finite while God is eternal and almighty. Our death is certain, and we will see Him face-to-face. For some, this will be a time for judgement, accountability, and eternal punishment in Hell. But for His precious children, we will experience His complete grandeur and splendor in Heaven forever in the company of departed loved ones, and those precious saints who have gone before us. Until then, we continue to walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We are merely transient pilgrims traveling through this world quickly. For some, our pilgrimage will be thirty, forty, or fifty years or less while others of us will far exceed the seventy-year benchmark set in Psalm 90:10. Whatever time we have, as Job 14:5 tells us, the Lord has established end of life boundaries beyond which none of us can pass.

With our humble, reverent, and sincere faith in Jesus Christ, we are certain to experience the pinnacle of His redemptive work—glorification—where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest (Job 3:17). There, we will experience God’s holy, eternal presence fully. Free from sin, pain, and disease, and we will see Him “as He is” and are like Him (1 John 3:2).

Therefore, whether we depart this earth in death, or we depart when He returns for us, our time on earth is short. Now is the time to live for Him, giving Him access to every area of our human interaction—especially since we must give account for it all. Look up…Jesus is coming and very soon!

What a Wonderful Savior!

Then Pie Is My Favorite Dessert!

For January 10, 2021
Over the past two months, much pie has been consumed during the truncated Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. For many of us, losing the weight we’ve gained from the various meals and celebrations—even though modified—is a perennial New Year’s resolution. Pie is a culprit! Although it is customary to have pie or any dessert following the meal, I tend to have it with the meal to be enjoyed simultaneously!

Speaking of pie, there are those who characterize the Christian faith as merely a “pie-in-the-sky” religion. To these people, all we Christians have is eternal bliss in Heaven. But we have nothing to look forward to receiving in this life. For them, God is dead and the Christian faith is irrelevant.

I beg to differ, because our Christian faith produces a life of abundance (John 10:10), which begins the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and it continues for all eternity. In fact, we who embrace the Christian faith have considerable treasures to gain in this life and the next,

The incentive to win is in the glorious perspective we have because we are “looking unto Jesus.” “Looking away from all else, looking at that which fills the heart.” We are going to run, not because of the prize at the end and not because so many illustrious saints have run the course in the past and have been gloriously crowned, but because the vision of Jesus thrills the soul.1

One of our most treasured possessions—given exclusively to Christians—is the gift of the Holy Spirit. He inhabits and keeps us through the good times of bliss as well as those unfortunate times of uncertainty. He never leaves or forsakes us; cheering our hearts with unspeakable love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control as Galatians 5:22—23 teaches.

Did someone say peace of mind? We Christians are blessed to have the Holy Spirit provide incredible peace of mind—even during uncertain moments—that provides us with comfort and fulfillment that never ends.

This alone, makes our Christian life more valuable than any commodity on the earth, and it certainly makes the Christian life worth living “in real-time” in 2021 as Jesus teaches,

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be (Matthew 6:19—21 NLT).

The joy He sustains within us is never whimsical. It is always at work within us to remind us of how the Lord supplies us with His incredible goodness and mercy every day.

As the Almighty God in Spirit, He is fully capable of purifying, revealing, strengthening, encouraging, and keeping us throughout our life’s journey. He is much more than just our Comforter who “seals” our redemption and secures our heavenly home. He gives us eternal life, direction, purpose, and meaning.

He secures our eternal life in Heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow, or disease and where all our wants, needs, and desires are satisfied in their fullest measure. There, we will thrive in the holy presence of our Lord, along with our departed loved ones, and those precious Saints who have gone before us in a blessed, sinless state of perfect innocence, peace, tranquility, and safety forever.

If all these are pie-in-the-sky, then pie is my favorite dessert. How about you?

What a Wonderful Savior!

 

Let The Redeemed Of The Lord Say So!

For January 3, 2021
2020 was a remarkable and most regrettable year with a global pandemic (hysteria vs fact), unlawful church shutdowns, business shutdowns and other intrusions on our personal freedoms; the politicization of medical treatment and vaccines, social, political, and racial unrest, the quest for political power and social activism by “any means necessary,” selective censorship by the media, escalation of senseless and brutal violence, and excessive government restrictions. When will it end?

Modernist who declare there is no God, insist that humanity is evolving for the better. Soon all people on earth will share in a perfect utopia where love, peace, and harmony will reign supreme.

Unfortunately, as 2020 proved most emphatically, we humans are not evolving for the better. Instead, we have an inherent “sin problem” that causes us to think, speak, and act in ways that are detrimental to others, for which there is no human remedy!

Human beings are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Thus, we will not become “good” people over time. Although sin is making us progressively worse and disqualifies us from eternal fellowship with our holy God, we can find comfort in the telling and encouraging words that have been spoken and sung for more than two-thousand years,

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,  And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in.  Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses.  And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:1—9 NKJV).

The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. There is a blessed hope and bright future for those of us who understand and acknowledge our sin problem by recognizing that we “wander in the wilderness in a desolate way.”

In addition, our souls fainted in us because we were spiritually separated from God forever. We lived desperate lives on earth now, and we were subject to eternal torment in a fiery Hell later. Then, in desperation, we cried out to the Lord and He delivered us.

We who turn to Jesus Christ for mercy can experience His spiritual transformation as His Holy Spirit removes our sin problem forever while imparting within us the ability to think, speak, and act in ways that honor the Lord instead of the Enemy (Satan) to the benefit of others and ourselves.

Jesus Christ also supplies us with a new righteous standing before God which allows us eternal access to all that God has to offer to secure our well-being forever. He also gives us a new lifestyle that seeks His Kingdom and righteousness first and foremost. Then having been sealed by His Spirit, we have access to Heaven upon our death or at His triumphant and glorious return.

In spite of the sinful tendencies of this world and those who know not Christ, we who know the Lord have a blessed hope, an all-encompassing joy, a deep sustaining peace, and a bright eternal future that cannot be taken from us,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28,31,35—39).

We are the living testimonies of God’s goodness, grace, and mercy. He is faithful and will never break His promises or providence towards us. We can give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever; let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Happy New Year!

For January 1, 2021
Today, people around the world will welcome a new year. With each successive year of the Gregorian Calendar, proposed in 1582 to compensate for the solar year drift of the Julian Calendar, which was instituted around 45   before the birth of Christ (B.C.), we note the time that has passed since the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The term B.C. is used to designate the time before the birth of Christ from the time after His birth, referred to as Anno Domini (A.D.), which is Latin for, “In the year of our Lord.” The time since Jesus’ birth is also referred to as the Common, Current, or Christian Era (C.E.).

Numbering these calendar years is appropriate for paying our respects to the most influential person in human history. In other words, this year, we acknowledge that two-thousand and twenty-one years have passed since the birth of Jesus Christ (although many scholars place His birth somewhere around 4 BC).

We make this distinction because only through Jesus Christ can we, as sin-scarred humans, be reconciled to our holy God. We benefit from Jesus’ atoning work, not by trying to perform good deeds, but by placing our faith in the redeeming works He still performs to God on our behalf.

      • His perfect life satisfies all God’s requirements for conformity to God’s holy Law.
      • His sacrificial death at Calvary remains our perfect sacrifice to absolve us from our sin.
      • Jesus’ resurrection secures God’s acceptance of His redeeming work; now we can have full confidence that He is our accepted way to God, and
      • His ascension, His Spirit, His intercession, and His glorious return provide all the spiritual graces we will ever need to fully experience His abundant life—now and forever.

The Lord promises to embrace us with His eternal power and providence when we surrender to Him. Then we can find the rest that completely satisfies and refreshes our eternal souls,

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 NIV).

2020 was a difficult year for many. If you are looking for consolation, hope and a new beginning, let me suggest,

      • Others have failed you, so give your heart to Jesus Christ. He never fails!
      • Stop trusting in your human abilities alone. They are finite while God is infinite. Instead, turn to the Lord, and trust in Him completely.
      • Surrender to Jesus Christ so that you can experience and enjoy the fulfilling life of purpose, freedom, and victory He freely gives to all those who trust Him.

When our New Year’s resolutions are Christ centered and God honoring, He performs His perfect work in our hearts, minds, souls. Only then can we truly have a Happy New Year!

What a Wonderful Savior!