Monday, August 31, 2015

Through grace God is with us--He PROMISED!

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." Jeremiah 29: 11-14 (NRSV)

I have been thinking about eternity. Each day, and each moment that we exist, our minds are pondering, worrying, and problem solving. Our thoughts are the biggest portion of the activity of our lives, and they are what make us human. Moreover, our ability to think about eternity is our unique characteristic.

Although Jeremiah's letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylonia was written thousands of years ago, his message is for us today. In the present day, we live away from our eternal home. God's plan for us is really very simple, and yet its expansiveness encompasses time and eternity. God's desire is for us to dwell with Him in eternity, and His plans for us are designed to achieve that goal. The scope of God's plan is expansive, but the execution of His plan involves our individual lives. God plans to usher each one of us individually into eternal prosperity. God loves us so much that He sent His own son, Jesus the Christ, to die for each one of us so that we can obtain an eternally prosperous life. He then promised us that He would be with us, now and forever.

Whatever the problems are that we face (and the word "problems" is always plural), we can claim this promise: God is with us. He promised. We must claim the promise and know that God will never back down on His word.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The plan of grace

“Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;…
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” Isaiah 46: 8-11 (NASB)

This is such a powerful passage. In the first part of Isaiah 46, God is talking about the smallness and ineffectiveness of Babylonian gods. These dead gods have to be carried on pack animals because they cannot move, so they, along with the pack animals and other possessions, were carried into captivity.  In verses 8-11, God reminds the transgressors, those people (past, present and future) who cherish idols, that He is God, and there is no other. Idols are whatever we place before God. These idols lead us into captivity because anything less than God is captive to sin

God tells that that He has declared the end from the very beginning. He planned each instant in our lives, from the first moment in time. Every moment as I write this, and each and every second in which you read this, God has planned it for His purpose. We were made for each moment in our lives. Can you hear God, speaking to you from the ancient past, saying “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure”?

The transgressors are part of the plan. We are part of the plan. Somehow, sin is part of the plan, and grace is part of the plan, and it has all been accomplished for God’s good pleasure. When Christ died on the cross, He said that it was finished because God’s plan has already been accomplished. We see this marvelous plan unfold in each second of our lives.     

Friday, August 21, 2015

Reminding ourselves of the gospel

Reminder of the Gospel
"Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,... For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,...But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. 1 Corinthians 15: 1,3-4, 10 (NRSV)

The scripture above describes our moment by moment walk with Christ, and an important part of that walk is reminding ourselves that Christ died for us and was raised into eternal life. We are able to walk with God because of His wonderful love that extends grace to us.  After Paul's conversion to Christ, he spent all of his time reminding himself and others that God's grace is miraculous.

The Apostle Paul says that he handed to the Corinthians what he had received.  Since we cannot give something that we do not have, we must constantly receive (or remind) ourselves of this great gospel, this wonderful good news of God's grace.
When we are asked to explain the gospel of God’s grace, many Christians are stumped for a way to express it.  Since Paul reminded himself so often of the gospel, he could respond immediately. We need to follow the Apostle Paul’s example and do this too.  The gospel is not only for salvation, but for our daily, moment by moment walk with Christ.

The gospel of God's grace, simply put, is this:  God loves everyone so much and wants to fellowship with us, but our sin puts a barrier between God and us.  In order to to fellowship with us, God sent his son to take the punishment for our sins by dying on a cross so we have to opportunity to live with God forever in eternity, in spite of our sin.  God raised his son from the dead, proving that God's love triumphs over sin and the grave.
In order for us to share the gospel, we must have the gospel.  We need to remind ourselves every day, even every minute of our lives, about the good news of God's gospel of grace, which is written in the scriptures.