Category: Salvation (Page 1 of 31)

Honor and Glory

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” ~1 Timothy 1:13-16

God saved Paul. This blasphemer, the personal persecutor of the Lord and his Church, this violent man who is deserving of death, this self-proclaimed worst sinner in the world – God saved him. Not just as an act of love and mercy, as amazing and wonderful as that is. Paul is a showcase for God’s unlimited patience. Paul says, “I’m the display, I’m the model. I’m the picture of all hostile sinful rebels against God, whom God tolerates while patiently working for and waiting for their salvation.”

And it’s so amazing and so wonderful, God’s patience is so awesome, that Paul just breaks out into praise! He can’t help it!

“To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen!” ~1 Timothy 1:17

Paul is saying, “Look at me. Look at my sins. Look at my rebellion. It doesn’t get any worse than me. But God was patient with me. Patient. And look what’s happened. Only God! Honor and glory!”

There was a time in my life when all I thought about was me. All I cared about was my career. I stepped on a lot of people and I hurt many others just to get a controversial quote or the inside scoop on what I thought was a big story. I only associated with people I thought could get me more access, more control, more power. I surrendered my integrity and my values to get better ratings for my shows. I paid more attention to the women at work than I did to my wife. I neglected my children. I was not good.

But God was so patient with me. God has been slow to anger and so very patient with me. And look what’s happened. And what’s happening. Only God! Honor and glory!

What about you? You’ve got a story, too. God has shown you his unlimited patience. God has been slow to anger with you for the sole purpose of saving you. You are where you are right now only by God’s great patience. Only God! Honor and glory!

Peace,

Allan

Deciding to Die

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” ~Galatians 2:20

We all want to be raised with Christ. We want to claim God’s will for our lives that we be raised with our Lord to walk in newness of life. We want to experience the divine promise that we will be raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms.

But, first, you have to die.

The apostle Paul goes beyond saying Jesus was crucified in his place. Paul says he’s been crucified with Christ. He died with Jesus.

Of course, resurrection life and power is available to you. It’s available to you right now. But you have to die first. You can’t be raised until you first die – that’s just common sense.

Look at our Lord. Jesus did not resurrect himself. The Father raised him. What part did Jesus play in his raising? He died. He submitted to the will of God and he died.

Resurrection life and resurrection power is what God does in you when you decide to die to yourself and die to the world and die to your sins; when you die with Christ, when you’re buried with Christ, when you die, then God resurrects. It’s your call.

And it’s not really about your feelings. It’s about your will. It’s about what you decide to do.

When a guy gets married, the preacher doesn’t ask him to take out the ring and then talk about how he feels. Before you take this woman, tell us how you feel. “Man, I feel like I’m about to throw up. My hands are shaking, my knees are weak, and I’m sweating like a cow. I feel terrible.”

No, we don’t ask that. The question is: Will you take this woman? “Will I? Yes. I will do this. I will make the decision now to take this woman and commit to her as my wife.”

It’s a choice. It’s a decision of the will.

If you’ve never been baptized…

…will you? Will you die with Christ this Sunday in the waters of baptism in order to share in the resurrection?

I don’t care if you’re twelve-years-old or in your 30s or 50s. I don’t care if you were born and raised in the Church and, for whatever reason, you’ve never been baptized. I don’t care if you’ve never been inside a church building before.

Will you be buried with Jesus and be raised to walk in the life and power of his resurrection? Will you make the choice? Will you decide to die with Christ?

Peace,

Allan

He Did Everything

Palm Sunday begins with so much glory and promise. At last, God’s anointed has come! There’s shouting and singing and celebration and anticipation. Jesus has come to save us! He’s come to defeat the evil oppressors and to destroy the enemy! We’re in those swelling crowds around Jesus, following Jesus, praising Jesus, putting all our hopes for salvation in Jesus. And Jesus rides that donkey right into Jerusalem, through the Eastern gates, into the holy city, right into the heart of the temple precinct, and he does…

…nothing.

Nothing. Jesus doesn’t do anything.

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” ~Mark 11:11

Jesus doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t lead the crowd against the Roman garrison, he doesn’t physically confront the powers and authorities that are oppressing the people, he doesn’t even take the temple steps to make a stirring speech. He looks around for a little bit and then goes back to Bethany for dinner.

What a disappointment. What a letdown. What kind of Messiah is this? What sort of Savior?

I know sometimes it can feel like Jesus is doing nothing. And somebody has to do something! Jesus can’t just look around at everything, he can’t just look at my life and my struggles and my problems and just shrug his shoulders and go back to Bethany. He has to do something!

Jesus did do something. Jesus did something to finally and completely and ultimately destroy the effects of sin and death in your life and throughout the whole world forever. Jesus resolutely set his face toward Golgotha and walked to the cross. He died. On a cross. On purpose.

He allowed himself to be beaten and tortured. He allowed them to nail his hands and feet to the blood-soaked wood of that cross. He died willingly. He sacrificed himself. He could have called ten thousand angels. But he died alone. For you. For me. That’s what Jesus did. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

This is how he saves you. This is how he loves you, to the point of absurdity. He loves you all the way to the cross. Purposefully, willfully, stubbornly even, dying on a cross.

Peace,

Allan

 

The Loser Wins

“God plays a game with the soul called ‘The Loser Wins;’ a game in which the one who holds the poorest cards does best. The Pharisee’s consciousness that he had such an excellent hand really prevented him from taking a single trick.”

~ from The Spiritual Life, by Evelyn Underhill

Just Say the Word

“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed.” ~Matthew 8:8

The commander in the Roman army is probably stationed at a garrison just east of Capernaum. He has total control over the one hundred men in his company. He tells them when to come and go. They don’t sneeze without his permission. Not only that, he controls all the Jews in the land the Roman Empire is occupying. With just a word, this commander can order any Tom, Dick, or Larry to carry his backpack or dig a ditch. Or carry the cross of a condemned criminal.

This centurion understands power. And he says to Jesus, “Just say the word.”

Lord, just as easily as I tell Private Ted to clean his shield or mop the floor or drop and give me twenty – that easy! – you just say the word and my servant will be healed. I know that whatever you say, it happens. You just say the word and the forces that have paralyzed my servant will let him go.

“‘Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that very hour.” ~Matthew 8:13

You and I can know in our hearts that there’s no catch with Jesus. There’s no trick. There’s no limit to the goodness of Christ’s intentions or hisĀ  power to carry them out. It’s not like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown the moment he finally commits – never! You can trust God in Christ to fix everything that’s broken in your life and to make right everything that’s gone wrong.

Look at the power of Jesus. He heals this paralyzed servant from a distance. He doesn’t have to touch him, he doesn’t even have to see him. From way downtown! Bang! And it’s so matter of fact. He gave the word. And the servant was healed. Well, yeah.

Jesus, I believe. Just say the word.

The reality in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is that he is almighty, he is powerful, and he alone has both the authority and the power to heal and forgive, to reconcile and protect, to save. He alone also has the great desire. And the boundless love. He willingly went to the cross to make that ultimate reality true for anything and everything that might be broken in your life today.

Jesus, just say the word.

And he did.

In the garden. “Not my will, Father, but yours be done.”

From the cross. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

“It is finished.”

Now, there’s a word.

Peace,

Allan

Gain Perspective from the Past

It feels like we’re coming out of the pandemic. Slowly. Thankfully. In fits and starts. And I know your life has been impacted over the past twelve months. Some of us lost money and jobs, some of us lost senior years and graduations, some of us lost loved ones and buried them without funerals. Vacations were postponed, holidays were canceled. What was going well for you before the pandemic was probably disrupted and stressed. What wasn’t so great before the coronavirus probably got worse. We’ve all been affected differently by this thing, but we have ALL been affected.

As we begin the slow transition to whatever the future holds, we need to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are. We can’t really turn the page on something new, something post-pandemic, until we’ve taken a hard, honest look at what’s happened DURING the pandemic.

I would suggest using 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 as a backdrop for your prayers and reflections.

“This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he is delivering us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”

Scripture gives us the proper perspective on difficulties and tough times. The Apostle Paul says these kinds of trials are to teach us not to rely on ourselves but on God. Placing you in a desert like this is how God shapes you. When you’re in a desert, you can’t survive without God’s intervention. If God doesn’t provide water, you die. If he doesn’t give you bread, you die. If God doesn’t provide shade or rescue, it’s over. You rely completely on God when you’re putting one foot in front of the other in a barren desert.

And that’s exactly where God shapes you. God trains you in the desert. He draws you closer and causes you to depend on him more.

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they spent 40 years in the desert. God gave them manna and quail from heaven and water from a rock. And it changed them into the people he wanted them to be.

David spent time in the desert running for his life, hiding in caves, barely staying half-a-step ahead of the enemies who wanted him dead. God protected him and provided for him in the oasis at En Gedi. And it changed him into the greatest king Israel’s ever known.

Elijah complained while he was in the desert. He spent his time griping to God. He couldn’t understand why the Lord would allow bad things to happen to him when he had been so good. But God sent an angel with food to Elijah and the Lord spoke to Elijah in a still, quiet voice. And it shaped him into God’s greatest prophet.

Our Lord Jesus was baptized and preparing to launch his salvation mission to the world when God’s Holy Spirit drove him into the desert. No food, no water; tempted and tortured by the devil for 40 days. Protected and provided for by God. That’s where the Father equipped him to do what God needed him to do.

I know this has been your experience, too. When your dad died. When you lost your job. God formed you during that time. You started reading the Bible more during the tough time and God spoke to you.

When you moved to a new town or when your last kid moved out of the house, God put the exact right people into your life and he changed you.

After the funeral, you immersed yourself in that service project, you started doing more for others. And God shaped you.

When you were in that horrible financial mess, when your marriage was threatened, when your child was diagnosed, you started spending more time in prayer, just you and God, and he convinced you of some things you never would have heard otherwise.

Gain perspective from the past. God has delivered you, he is delivering you, and he will continue to deliver you.

Peace,

Allan

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