Posts Tagged ‘ Salvation ’

Re-17 but not 17 Again

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Today is my amazing mother-in-law’s birthday.

Also, it is what I call my Re-birthday.

17 years ago today, in a small Nazarene church in Bloomington, IL, I realized that I believed the Gospel message. Jesus got a firm hold of me, and that is when everything began to change for me. It took about six more months for it to really mean something to me, but the change was evident even then. (Ask my parents, who, at the time, were annoyed with my sudden music choices and leaving radios on around the house.)

The point of all of this, then, is that Jesus is Lord. And the picture above shows that I celebrate by baking a cake, and I serve it to others.

Why?

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:7, 10, 24

Just like the song says, this wretch was lost and dead, but now I am found and alive. This calls for celebration!

Therefore, I finish with the full reason for this post by quoting Jude (3):

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Let us celebrate our common salvation and share this faith with our fallen world!

 

Prepare Your Heart – Advent Week 3

Continue preparing your heart for wisdom by reading the thoughts over at Proverbial Thought!

It is now the second week of Advent! (See the last two weeks’ devotional thought here and here.)

Again, Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old

. . .

“for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 1:68-70, 2:30-32, ESV

The first part of the quote is from Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, at John’s birth. The second part of the quote was said by Simeon, an old and devout man, when he saw the baby Jesus at the Temple.

These two men knew that the Lord’s salvation was at hand. If you read all of chapters one and two of Luke, you can see that even they did not understand His plan of salvation. They were on the right track, but they were not aware of how things would unfold.

The Lord had come, Emmanuel, God with us, and he brought salvation. It was first brought to Israel, the Jews in Jerusalem in particular, and then it spread to “all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) over the past 2,000 years.

What most everyone then did not know was that first the Lord would bring spiritual salvation, the forgiveness of sins and the repairing of the relationship with God and humanity; the physical redemption from all enemies is still to come.

Let us remember that salvation has come, but we await our salvation from the pain and evil of this world (see Romans 8). We do not understand fully how it will all happen, but we know Jesus will return!

May we not get caught up in the knowledge we have and miss the signs of His coming. May we remember that we are not home yet, and we await our coming Savior. May we bring as many as we can to all of this knowledge of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father!

How Sweet Are Your Words

About  month ago I posted Psalm 119:89-104. The reason for that was that my Theology class was assigned this passage for a memory quiz. We had to write out all 16 verses from our choice of translation as accurately as possible.

I typed it out for my blog as a memory aid.

The day it posted online was the day of the quiz. I was going over it before my Preaching class started, and the professor asked if I had an opening thought and prayer to share with the class (he likes his students doing that in this class). Since I had it in my hand, I said “Yes,” and quickly decided which words to share about this passage. Below, I will expand on what I shared in class.

Proverbs 119:89-104, ESV

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:1-3, NIV

If I had not delighted in your Law, I would have perished in my in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:4, NIV

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
John 15:18-20, NIV

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected     has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:1-12, NIV

This is true for the pastor and for the regular church-goer:

We are called to be a royal priesthood. It is our calling, in Christ Jesus, to share the good news of Christ Jesus with the world.

How can we do that if we do not know His written word?

Through the Bible, our Lord has revealed to us the truth of His character, plan, and will. We must be saturated by His word if we are to be fully effective as His witnesses. (Note I said “fully” effective. God can and does still use us to achieve His will, just keep in mind that He uses the wicked as much as the justified. i.e. Look at the Antichrist.)

As we have begun teaching in our youth group, this requires knowing God’s word through prayer, study, fellowship, and meditation.

  • Prayer: Ask God to reveal His truth and help you retain it.
  • Study: Intentionally read through the Bible (one book at a time) to find the full context and meaning.
  • Fellowship: Discuss what you are reading and what God has revealed with others. This lifts each other up and protects from misunderstandings and false teachings.
  • Meditation: Not like in Eastern religions in which you empty yourself of thoughts and emotions. This is intentional thinking over the words, meanings, and ideas being expressed. This is focused thinking what God is revealing. This is allowing God to imprint it in your heart and mind.

This is not a suggestion. To be fully effective for God, we must make sure we “sought Your precepts,” “consider[ed] Your testimonies,” and “do not turn aside from Your rules,” “for You have taught [us].”

God Himself has taught us what is good and right, and we know this best from reading from the Bible regularly and allowing it to transform our lives to the likeness of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father.

(Or am I being to strict about this?)

(No. I am not.)