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Why Salvation?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  Romans 1:18 NKJV

From my last post, we learned that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Ro 1:16)to everyone who believes.  However, unless we understand what salvation means and what we are to be saved from, we might say to ourselves "Who cares about that, anyway?".  The word "salvation" as it appears in Romans 1:16 is derived from the Greek word "soteria" which means "rescue" or "safety" according to the Strong's Concordance.  Hence, we must be rescued from something by this Gospel.  We are rescued from the wrath of God in both His active judgment (condemnation of the unbeliever to hell) and His passive judgment (repurcussions of sin in our lives) due to the power of the Gospel. 

But God is love, right? Why would we need to be saved from Him? The short answer is because He is perfectly holy and we are "perfectly" not.  The pattern was set long ago with God "residing" in the Israelites' tabernacle and temple.  God dwelt in the inner courts - the Holy of Holies - where no one could enter in because God could not and cannot be in the presence of sin (sinful man).  It is only through Jesus that we can enter into God's presence today through holy living and tomorrow in heaven by being born again into His kingdom. 

I believe that God's wrath stems not only from His extreme distaste for all that is impure and unholy in this world (i.e. sin) but also for His passionate love for His creation.  As I watch the rain pouring down today and think of the rain the past few days, I'm saddened as I picture God weeping over His fallen creation who has ignored Him to pursue the very things that repulse Him -- the very things that He knows will cause our demise both on this earth and in the life to come.   Could the rain be God's tears over our obsession with sex, violence, greed and other acts of rebellion toward God that are plastered all over the TV, radio, magazines and internet?  Think about what destroyed the world back in the days of Noah and the Great Flood.  40 days and nights of rain.  God doesn't want to judge us, He has to.  And I think that breaks His heart.

Heart Breakers:

1) What activities do I participate in that break God's heart?

2) How am I rationalizing my behavior - which I know might be wrong - so it is "okay"?

3) What truth of scripture am I suppressing so that I can continue in my current lifestyle?

4) What one change am I going to make in my life starting today?


God's Power to Salvation

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also to the Greek.  - Romans 1:16 NKJV

I'm glad that I've started reading in the New Testament again.  Not that there is anything wrong with the Old Testament, but I've been longing to write about and consider the richness of the doctrine presented in the New Testament writings.  Now that I'm here, I'm feeling like really taking my time through the book of Romans.

Many scholars say that Paul's letter to the Church of Rome was his signature letter.  It is truly a masterpiece.  I love Paul's candidness and logic as he presents our need for a Saviour, Jesus, to escape the wrath of God's judgment.  Paul is also straightforward in this letter to tell us of our duty to God to live our lives for Him as well as making sure we know that we can never do anything to be separated from God's love.  Yes, the book of Romans is really a complete guide to get started in the Christian faith.

So what about this gospel, anyway?  After all, it is the verse I've chosen to head this page and to consider today.  Not only is Paul not ashamed of the gospel, I believe he is proud of the gospel and the priviledge to share it with others.  The gospel  - the good news story of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection for the salvation of all mankind who believe on Him - when embraced as truth for our lives, is the most powerful source of life change any of us can ever possess.  Yet, as Christians, we are timid about sharing this good news with those who don't believe.

Why are we timid?  Because this Gospel is threatening to Satan's plans, that's why.  Ever since Satan/Lucifer was cast down out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15) he's been hard at work here on earth to thwart God's plans.  He wants us to live powerless lives of fear in hopes of messing up God's plans.  With the gospel comes power and Satan doesn't want us to have that power.  Let's not let that deceiving serpent have any victory over our lives.  Let's get grounded in the truth of scripture so that we can overcome our fears and frustrations, our hurts and our hangups.  We all can have that power, if we would only just believe.

Next post: More on the power of salvation.

Power thoughts:

1) Do I have the "power" of salvation?  (If you want to know more about what it means to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, click here)

2) What is salvation to me?

3) What can I do to become less "ashamed" of the gospel?

4) What step do I need to take today to become more grounded in God's Word of truth?


Our Real Job Description

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, - Romans 1:1 NASB

As part of my life-coaching education, I recently hired a coach and have taken a few assessments to help analyze my talents, skills and personality tendencies.  While delving into the accuracy etc. of these types of assessments is beyond the scope of this blog, I will say that they are great tools for self-evaluation.  One of the assessments determined that a good part of my self worth comes from the roles I play.  I'm not sure that this is necessarily a good trait and is something that I am definitely examining further. 

Keeping this in mind, is it any wonder then that I am intrigued by the way Paul introduces himself in each of his letters to the churches in the bible?  Paul is first and foremost an apostle of God.  Isn't that what we should be?  Servants of God first and everything else second?  Paul even goes so far in Romans 1 to say that he is a bond-servant of Jesus.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that he is a prisoner of the Lord. 

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Isn't it something that in a simple greeting at the beginning of a letter, God's Word has the power to prick at our hearts and nudge us toward action to change?  My earthly roles & job descriptions have changed throughout my life, but the one thing that has not changed since I became a Christian in my early teens is that I am still a "bond-servant" of Jesus.  Unlike Paul, I know that I have not always taken this role as seriously as I should.  Paul takes his role as a representative of God very seriously.  Serious enough that he considers himself a prisoner.  How about you?

Dear Father,  please forgive me for not living out every minute and every aspect of my life in the way that you would have me to live it.  Forgive my pride and my insistence on living my way and not yours.  I am your "prisoner", but a stubborn one at times.  Lord I ask today that you make the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be not only acceptable in your sight but pleasing to you.  Amen.


Completely Known

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139:1-3 NKJV

How many people in your life know you completely?  It is very likely that most of us have only allowed a handful of people in our lifetimes to get to know us completely.  While it can be comforting to know that someone knows all about us and still loves us anyway, it is also a very vulnerable place to be. 

However with God, it is a different scenario.  He knows us better than anyone ever could.  I think He even knows us better than we know ourselves.  King David knew this about God and wrote about it in Psalm 139.  In this Psalm we see how God knows us completely.   

God knows...

Our ways (1-6)

There is not a thought that goes through our minds that God does not know.  He probably knows what we are going to think before we even think it!  He fully understands every rationale and thought behind every word and deed in our lives.  How can realizing that help you to see the depths of God's love for you?

Our wanderings (7-12)

We cannot hide from a God who knows where we are going to hide before we've even found our hiding place.  Whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley, God is there to comfort, to guide and to celebrate with us.  How are you "hiding" from God?

Our worth (13-18)

We are God's most prized possession.  He knew us - our real selves, our souls - before our bodies were even formed.  He loves us because He made us to be exactly as we are.  All we need to do is to allow Him to mold our personalities so that we can fulfill His plans for us.  What step can you take today to allow God to complete you?

Our weaknesses (19-24)

God knows our weaknesses both within and without.  He knows how to best protect us from our "enemies", including Satan, our primary adversary.  He also wants to show us how to live pure and holy lives for Him.  When was the last time you asked God to reveal to you the not-so-righteous areas of your heart?

Dear God, I am so thankful that you know me exactly for who I am and not for who I often pretend to be.  I'm glad that you've searched out my mind and my motives and know me completely, even though I'm not who you want me to be sometimes.  Search me, O God, and reveal any thoughts or ways to me that are not in your perfect will or plan for my life.  Shine your light on my life so that I can truly see the ways where I displease you and align my thoughts and actions to match yours.  Lead me in your everlasting way no matter how challenging it may become.  Amen.


A Matter of Perspective

And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  - Deut 8:2 NKJV

40.  I've been reflecting on that number recently, because as most of you know, people in our culture make a big deal of "turning 40".  Yes, today is my 40th birthday.  Honestly, I'm glad that the day is finally here, and today is no different than yesterday...or is it?  :)

The number 4o is an important number in the Bible.  I like the way WikiAnswers sums up the number's significance as it is referred to in the Bible:

A 40-something time period, whether days, months, or years is ALWAYS  a period of testing, trial, probation, or chastisement (but not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal.

Restoration always follows a period of trial or testing.  Over and over and over the bible presents this wonderful truth.  So today I'm challenging the world's perspective about "turning 40".  Maybe real life begins at the age of 40.  By the age of forty we've had some good experiences (either pleasant or unpleasant) from which to draw upon.  By the age of 40 we've definitely got more wisdom than we had in our younger years.  And hopefully by the age of 40, we've figured out what is really important in life and what we want to be doing for the rest of our lives.  After all, who wants to put that 40 years of testing to waste?

No, I have not "arrived" just because I've made it to this year. I have only "arrived" in knowing how much I do not know and understanding that I will never "arrive".  However, I do feel that God has humbled and tested me to see what was in my heart so that I will be prepared for the exciting possibilities to come.  What are the possibilities that await you? 

To Remember:

1) Every new day brings with it a new opportunity, we just need to look for it.

2) The past is best remembered for lessons learned, not for regretting lost time.

3) The best days always are in front of us.

4) We are never today the person we were yesterday .... our experiences make us better.


Take My Life...My Lips

The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.  Isaiah 50:4 NKJV

As I type this post and reflect upon my morning, I am overcome with emotion.  So, I hope that this post isn't too frazzled!  :)  You see, today is an important milestone in my life for many reasons, the least of which is the fact that today is the last day I will be able to say I'm in my 30's.  For the record though, this is not causing the emotion that I'm feeling at the moment.  While this is the last day of my 30's on this earth, today marks the first day that I have really spoken publicly with the sole purpose of sharing my testimony and the gospel in ministry.  I am truly humbled that God would use me for His purpose.  Today I spoke in Chanute, KS at a Stonecroft Ministries Christian Women's Club.  I really enjoyed my time there today.

To get to this place in my life, all that I've said to God was this...

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages for Thee ... (from the hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be)

...and He found a way to make it happen through an incredible series of events and people over the last year and a half to bring me to Stonecroft Ministries.  I had the privilege today to share my heart and passion through my testimony and the gospel to equip people with the ability to apply God's Word to their lives.  I don't know exactly where I'm headed but I do know that this 39 year old woman (I had to say it, after all I've only got a few hours left) who was terrified to give an oral book report in the 1st grade now has a speaking schedule.  Imagine that.  It has been interesting to just follow as God has directed my steps.

The verse from Isaiah 50 shown at the top of my post is a very important verse in my life.  Although this verse may be a messianic prophecy (in context, Isaiah 50:1-6),  I am inspired by it because my heart's desire is to speak (or write) a "word in season" to those that are struggling in their lives to make it through the day.  I want to encourage others to open up their bibles and glean the incredible life-saving truth from its pages.    O Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You.  Thank You for the opportunity to serve You and share the gospel today.

To ponder:

1) What has God taught you that you can share for His glory?

2) Who is "weary" in your life that might need a "word in season"?

3) How equipped are you to offer that "word"?


Take My Life...My Voice

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.  - Psalm 40:3

I'm opening with prayer today to the One who is worthy of all our praise - to the One who daily puts new songs in our mouths and restores our souls.

Dear Lord,

Mere words cannot express how grateful I am that you are who you are and that you are there for me always to sustain and restore my soul.  I will give praise to you for the new songs you have put in my mouth and I will sing them so that others can come to also know your goodness and grace. As a hymn I love says, "Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King", I ask that you do just as the words say.  Please take my voice and let it sing your praises. 

Amen.

Take my voice and let me sing... God has given us many reasons to sing and praise Him for all He has done in our lives.  Sometimes we don't have to look very far to recognize the blessings.  Sometimes we need to dig deep to find God's treasure in the rubble of our lives.  Whatever the case, we will always have cause to sing and when we sing of God's truth, mercy, love, protection and restoration in our lives, people around us will want to have what we have found.  I am choosing to close with Psalm 138 today which also gives many reasons why we can and should take our voices and sing to and about God.  Read this psalm slowly and as you read it think about each line and how you can thank God for some similar circumstances in your own life.  You may even want to use it as a prayer today...I think I will.

Psalm 138 (NKJV)

1 I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth.
5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
6 Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 


Take My Life ... My Feet

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NKJV)

In the passage above, God is pleading with Israel through the prophet Micah to come back to Him, not through their sacrifices and burnt offerings but by just walking humbly with Him.  When was the last time that you took a "stroll" with God without time constraints and with a total focus on Him and Him alone?  To me, a good stroll with God entails a carefree time of prayer and time in the pages of my bible as God's word speaks to me.  The best times for me are the times when I've confessed to God all of my faults and have sincerely admitted to Him that I need His help for everything in my life.  It is then that I feel like I'm walking humbly with God.  It is then that I can sing:

Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for thee. 

Continuing on in my series about the old hymn, I think about what it takes for God to think that our feet are beautiful.

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring tidings of good things!" - Ro 10:15 NKJV

How can our "feet" be beautiful for God?  By taking the gospel and God's Word to the people of the world that so desperately need it.  When we walk humbly with God as we surrender our will to His, He will make us into the people He wants us to be and put us in situations where we will be able to share God's Word and His gospel of peace. 

Walking Wonderings

1) What can I do in my life to walk humbly with God?

2) Who is God asking me to share His word with?

3) How can I allow God to "take my feet" in my circle of influence?

4) What is the one thing in my life that God is desiring me to surrender to Him today?


Complete Conformity

Hello everyone! 

Since the ladies at Laced With Grace have so graciously allowed me to be a part of their team, I will be over over there today posting about how my experience at the allergist relates to how we sometimes don't want to accept all of the changes God wants to work in us because they may just be too uncomfortable.

I hope to see you there!  :)