Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Salvation’

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.

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Generations

Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;

And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan. ~~  Genesis 36:1-5 (KJV)

These are the names the descendants of Esau and his wives. Notice that Esau’s wives are Adah, a Hittite; Oholibama, a Hivite; and Basemath, the daughter of his uncle Ishmael.

Remember God’s words about Ishmael? There will be enmity between Isaac and Ishmael. Since Isaac is God’s promised father of nations and Ishmael will also be a great nation, it is interesting that Esau’s wives are all from backgrounds antithetical to God’s chosen people.

The Edomites will continue to be hostile to God to the bitter end. This bad blood will be handed down from generation to generation, whether by DNA or by nurture and culture.

We can hand down our fictions, foibles and faithlessnesses to our children. We do it unthinkingly, carelessly, by not being purposeful in creating a model for them to follow.

Let us resolve to be more purposeful in leading our children to salvation under the blood of Christ. They should be the prime objects of our evangelistic efforts. And they are the witnesses we must impress with living the life of Christ.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of the model we set for our children. Help us to show them faithfulness to You, love for You, and worship of You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Sick and Tired?

And [God] said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. ~~ Exodus 15:26 (KJV)

This passage occurs just after God has led the Israelites through the Red Sea and destroyed the horses and chariots of Pharoah behind them.  Why is he saying that He is the God who heals when He has just been the God who rescues?

Let’s go back a minute. The Israelites were completely trapped with the sea in front of them and the chariots of Pharoah hot on their heels. Destruction seemed certain. They were distressed, trapped, afraid.  God opened the sea in front of them and drowned the enemy behind them.

After rejoicing and singing about the salvation of the Lord, they went on their way and came to bitter water. Immediately they went back to grumbling and complaining. Had they forgotten the power of the Lord that they had just witnessed? It seems that people have short memories when difficulties arise.

God showed Moses a tree to cast into the water, and immediately the water became sweet and drinkable.

This is a verse of promise. Promise is an “if – then” construction. If you do this, God will do that.  If you will listen and do right, if you will hear and obey, then God will heal all your diseases.

All your dis-eases. The dis-ease of fear, the dis-ease of hate, the dis-ease of trouble, the dis-ease of forgetfulness, and the dis-ease of ill health.

None of our diseases are beyond His help. We can rest in the knowledge that His will toward us is to make us hale and whole.

Father, God,

Your perfect will is the only thing we desire in this life. Help us to remember Your words and to walk in Your paths. Keep us ever vigilant to be obedient to the least prompting of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for wanting us well and whole.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

The Lord Will Provide

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. ~~ Genesis 22:7-8 (KJV)

God not only sees everything, but He also provides. He provides what we need, not necessarily what we want.

So what do we need?  We need food and clothing and shelter and health in order to live as we want. But there are some of us who go without one or another of these things. Some people go hungry. Some barely have rags to cover themselves. Others live on the streets or in cars or in homeless shelters. Still others are in poor health for one reason or another.

Does this mean that God doesn’t provide? No.

He provided the ram for Abraham’s offering. He provided water for Hagar in the wilderness. And He will provide for us as well.

Most importantly, He provided the blood of Jesus for our salvation. He sent the Holy Spirit for our sanctification. And He provides His love which surrounds us eternally.

These are free gifts to us from His love for us – His love for each of us individually.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. ~~ Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. You will notice that Abraham went about his business, expecting the Lord to provide the sacrifice. The Lord had given him Isaac. If the Lord wanted Isaac back, Abraham was going to obey God.

But God had promised Abraham that He would make Isaac a great nation. If Isaac were dead, that could not be. Abraham didn’t know how God would keep the promise, but he knew God cannot lie.

He believed that God would provide, and God did provide. He didn’t need to know how God would provide. He simply believed and spoke his belief to his son.

In the face of evidence to the contrary, can we believe that God keeps His promises? How strong is our faith in God’s love for us? How strong is our love for God? How hungry is our heart for His presence?

The only thing we need is God’s presence in our lives. All else will follow.

Paul has it right:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. ~~ Philippians 4:10-12

Whether life is bountiful or parsimonious, we have the riches of God’s presence. That is all we really need. All else is superfluous.

Father, God,

Help us to know the generosity of Your presence at all times. Keep our hearts and minds focused on You, not on the trappings of this world. Grant us a greater sensitivity to Your presence and Your provision for our lives.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

The God Who Sees

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? ~~ Genesis 14: 16  (KJV)

The local news tonight is full of a man who went on a rampage in a small community in south central Kansas, shooting people at his place of employment.  Incidents of this kind leave us shaking our heads and wondering what happened to cause this. And we wonder if God sees and cares.

The scripture above relates to Hagar. If you don’t remember her story, read Genesis 14 and 16. She was mistreated and ran away from her mistress. The story is a testament to how we mess things up when we don’t wait on God’s timing. But I digress.

The answer to our question above is yes, God sees. And yes, He cares. God loves each of the victims of this terrible incident.

Because there were multiple fatalities as well as more than a dozen injured, there are many households in extreme distress and grief. God is also grieved.

God is grieved because He loves us – all of us. He loves each of the victims and every member of their families. But He also loves the shooter.

If you are a parent, you know how distressed you are when your child misbehaves. Your distress escalates as your child’s misbehavior becomes more serious. Imagine if the shooter were your child. How would you feel?  Those emotions are not foreign to God. Because His love is infinite,  His grief may be just as infinite.

Imagine that your child left home and did not communicate with you again. Ever. Years pass, and this child’s place is empty. Eventually, you no longer know if the child is alive or dead. He or she has simply evaporated from your life. What kind of hole does that leave in your heart?

When people turn their backs on God and denigrate the gift of salvation bought with the blood of Christ, God is grieved.  John 3:16 says “God so loved the world…”  It doesn’t say God loved everyone in the world who loved Him. It says the world – no exceptions. That includes those who have turned their backs on Him and create havoc in the lives of others.

God will hold and help and console the victims of tragedy and all the family members involved. If He can see a fleeing handmaiden in the desert, He can see people at work.  He never leaves, never changes, never quits loving.

When we say He loves, we do not say He condones wrong behavior. He does not condone. Nor does He mitigate the natural consequences of our behavior.

 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: ~~ Hosea 8:7a (KJV)

We live today with the consequences of Sarah’s jumping the gun on God. And we will live with the consequences of this shooter’s choices. There is no circumstance so dire or heinous that God cannot use for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

We may never know this side of Eternity what good came from an incident like this one. But God will use this. Perhaps someone who was ignoring God will come to Him.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. ~~ Luke 15:7 (KJV)

These are the words of Jesus. They remind us that God loves sinners.  Good news for all of us because we are all sinners.

Father,  God,

We ask your presence with all who were touched by this tragedy. Teach us Your love and give us hearts to grow closer to you.  Help us to replicate Your love in this sinful world.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

The Way of the World

12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 

16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

26 In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. 

34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

from the 14th chapter of Proverbs.

The way of the world is not necessarily the Lord’s way.  I look at the nation and where we are going, and I am appalled – but not surprised. The Lord told us things would be this way. The world has always been in the realm of the prince of the air.  Even our church hierarchies are not in agreement with one another. Many of them are following a social gospel, not The Gospel of Christ.

This, too, is no surprise.  It’s in the Book.

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.  Mark 13:22

For those who love this land and our Lord, there is only one answer.  It is to be found in Chronicles.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Who?  My people – those who claim the name of Christ. We’re not talking about the rest of the world here. We are talking about those who follow the Risen Lord.  It is our responsibility.

What?  This has four parts.

The first is “humble themselves”. That means to recognize our own sins and stop thinking of ourselves as better or superior in any way.That doesn’t mean we stand mute in the presence of sin. It simply means that we speak the Lord’s truth simply and lovingly, without further debate.

The second is pray. We must be on our knees daily in petition for ourselves and our nation.

The third is “seek my face”. To seek God’s face means to look for Him. We need to seek his face, searching for Him alone, not the things He can do for us. His presence is all we need.  It the world goes to hell in the proverbial hand basket, we will be safe as long as we are in the presence of God and in right standing with Him. That right standing is accomplished only under the cover of Christ’s blood.

Fourth is “turn from their wicked ways”. We all have wicked ways in our habits that we must shun and be on guard not to fall into again. God sees the heart and knows when we strive to do well. Salvation is not a reward for doing well. Doing well is our response to salvation.

There is a promise at the end.  He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.  We need not spend time decrying the things that are wrong in our world. That time is better spent on our knees, seeking the Lord.

Father, God,

Teach us to pray as you would have us pray for our land. Grant us the humility to seek only your face, your presence. Help us to turn from our wicked ways. Give us the grace to speak Your truth in love to all around us and the wisdom to stay away from argument.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Grace on our Lips

Psalm 45:2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

I read this today and suddenly saw something more.  As Christians we are different from the children of men. We were born into the sins of the flesh, but when we became Christians, we shed that identity like a snake shedding an outgrown skin.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We are no longer children of men.  We are sons and daughters of God.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

We are saved through the grace of God. His gift of Salvation is both free and priceless . It requires only that we put our complete trust and faith in Him.

John 3:16-17  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.

The portion of our theme verse that hit me hardest was “grace is poured into thy lips”.  How is grace poured into our lips?

Luke 6:45
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

“of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

Where do we get the abundance of the heart?

“John.16.13”
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Jesus spoke these words to his disciples as he was preparing for Golgotha. Here He is speaking of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Comforter is the means by which God pours grace into our hearts.  From that grace, we  speak grace and evidence grace to those around us.  It is a sacred trust and high privilege to be able to extend that grace to others.

Father, God,

Help us to see the rare privilege that you have given to Your children. Grant that we may exhibit and extend Your grace to the world around us. Help us to carry this priceless treasure carefully and share it generously.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.