Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Persistence’

Good Works

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. ~~ Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

Salvation is simple – not easy – but simple.  Sometimes a simple truth can be brought home by something that passes for a joke.  I was reminded of that by Mikey’s Funnies.

A man dies. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”

“Terrific!” says St. Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point!?!! I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says.

“Two points!?!!” Exasperated, the man cries, “At this rate it’ll just be by the grace of God that I ever get into heaven.”

“Bingo, 100 points! Come on in!”

Trying to work our way into heaven is an exercise in futility. Nothing we can do will earn us a place in heaven. God has clearly stated how we can get there.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)

Believe is the operative word here. Believe, trust, have faith in Jesus. Take Him at His word.

But what about good works?  Aren’t we to do them?

Of course, we are to do good works. But those works are our “thank you” notes to God for what He has done for us. They are not our tickets to heaven.

Today, take a moment to thank God for His gift of salvation. Or if you are not sure about your salvation, take a few minutes to read John 3:16-17.

Then learn the answer to the one question you need to be able to answer correctly.

He (Jesus) saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. ~~ Matthew 16:15-16

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. He followed Jesus daily, listening to His words, watching His actions. He would have gone wherever Jesus told Him to go.

If we can follow Simon Peter’s example, knowing who Jesus is, doing His bidding at all times, we will have grasped the gift of God’s grace. The grace that leads to heaven.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see your gift of grace, the humility to acknowledge our need, the faith to believe Your word, and the persistence to follow at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Even The Dogs

Focus verses: Matthew 15:21-28

The story of the Canaanite woman with the demon-possessed daughter has always fascinated me. We think of Jesus as having come for everyone, but here He says He came only for “the lost sheep of Israel.” In other words, He came only for the Jews.

She, being a Canaanite, was not His primary concern. He tells her so very bluntly, calling the Jews “children” and calling everyone else “dogs.” This is not the gracious, soft-spoken healer we have been taught to see. He has healed countless numbers here-to-fore. Why would he not just heal this woman’s daughter and be done with it?

I believe He is using her persistence and faith as an example. She doesn’t quit. The disciples urged Him to send her away because she keeps on after them. That would indicate that this had gone on for some time. She didn’t quit the first time she was ignored, nor the second, nor presumably the fifth or tenth. She would not quit.

As believers, we can learn a lesson from this tenacity. Never, never, never give up.

As for her faith, she has been called a dog. This is not a compliment. But she didn’t bristle at the appellation. She simply acknowledged her unworthiness and appealed to His generosity. In other words, she came, not because of her position, but because of His nature.

Sometimes, I think we presume upon God. We think that because we call ourselves Christian, that means we should have preferred seats in the congregation. But as Christians, we should be ushers, not observers. Ushers stand and serve and sit at the corners to be ready when there is a need. They move at a moment’s notice and are always on the watch for the need.

As Christians, we do not have preferred seats. We are here not because of who we are, but because of what He did. We should be ready at any given moment to serve anywhere He calls us. That doesn’t necessarily mean the ends of the earth. Sometimes in means in our own households.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful that we are not Your children because of us, but because of Jesus Christ. Deliver us from the pride that would let us think ourselves better than others. Make us ever ready to serve wherever You would have us serving.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.