Give me Jesus…
Salvation comes to us as a gift, free of charge; but it did not come cheap.
It cost God everything!
In order to Avail yourself of this gift you have to receive it, and that happens as you obey the gospel message and receive Jesus as both your Lord and Savior.
As Covenant children of God, followers of Christ, we follow Jesus’ example and this is what the God kind of love looks like, as we become the distributors of God’s LOVE and LIGHT into all the dark corners of this world.
When James Calvert went out to the cannibal island of Fiji with the message of the gospel, the captain of the ship in which he traveled tried to talk him out of going.
“You will risk your life and all those with you if you go among such savages,” he said.
Calvert’s magnificent reply was, “We died before we came here.”
In that sense it is possible to be dead even though you are alive.
Corrie Ten Boom’s life offers a modern example of this principle.
Her remarkable story is told in the book The Hiding Place.
She lived with her family in Holland just before World War II broke out.
The Nazi military machine was beginning to press in on European Jews like the jaws of a vice. Jews who had any chance were fleeing Germany and other neighboring countries, but the German military machine was on the alert to capture any fleeing Jews.
In response, an underground railroad was formed among compassionate people to assist the Jews to escape.
Corrie Ten Boom’s home was part of the underground system.
Eventually, she and her sister were arrested and condemned to a German concentration camp for their part in assisting Jews.
Her life in the concentration camp was terrible beyond belief. In any civilized country, not even animals would be legally treated the way she and the thousands of other people in the camp were treated.
Her sister, of weaker constitution than Corrie, died in the camp.
Though on any given morning when she awoke, she was breathing and her heart was beating, Corrie, herself, was as good as dead.
Only a short time stood between her and the gas chamber.
Then one day, due to a clerical error, she was inexplicably freed.
Snatched from the jaws of death, she was given her life back again.
Winston Churchill once said that there is nothing quite so exhilarating as being shot at and missed.
That must have been how Corrie Ten Boom felt. Death shot at her but missed.
In that sense we’ve all been shot at. We have all died, spiritually; but God has given us a second chance.
While we are dead, we may respond to His gift of life and receive new spiritual life.
Chapter 2 of Ephesians tells the story:
“I must die or get somebody to die for me. If the Bible doesn’t teach that, it doesn’t teach anything. And that is where the atonement of Jesus Christ comes in.”
— Dwight L. Moody
In chapter 2, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians:
“You were once spiritually alienated from God; but now, because of God’s grace, you have been spiritually united with him.”
As Gentiles, you were once spiritually alienated from Israel, but now you have been spiritually united with them into a living spiritual temple of God.
It’s God’s grace that gives you life and unites you with Him and also with people from whom you are alienated.
2:1-2 Immediately after his prayer, Paul reminds the Ephesians of the reality of personal sin.
Like them, we must never forget our pasts, the conditions from which Jesus saved us.
Those memories, though sometimes painful, will inspire us to thank Christ for all He has done on our behalf.
2:2 Paul describes Satan, the devil, as “the commander of the powers in the unseen world.”
Paul’s readers believed that Satan and evil spiritual forces inhabited the region between earth and sky.
Paul pictures Satan as ruling an evil spiritual kingdom, directing the demons and those who are against Christ and the rule of the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was victorious over the devil and His power because He demonstrated His own power even over death.
Therefore, Jesus Christ is the permanent Ruler of the whole world; the devil is only the temporary ruler of the part of the world that chooses to follow him.
The fact that all people, without exception, commit sin proves that everyone has a sinful nature.
We have not loved God with our whole hearts, and we have not consistently loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are lost in sin and cannot save ourselves.
Does this mean only Christians do good things? Of course not—many people do good things for others because all people are made in the image of God, whether they acknowledge it or not.
On a relative scale, many people are moral, kind, and law-abiding.
Comparing these people to criminals, we would say that they are very good indeed.
But on God’s absolute scale, no one is good enough to earn salvation (“dead because of your disobedience and your many sins”; 2:1).
“Subject to God’s anger” describes those who will experience God’s judgment because they have rejected Christ.
But God offers to unite us with Christ’s perfect life so that we will be considered good in his sight.
We become Christians through God’s unmerited grace, not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part.
Out of gratitude for this free gift, however, our hearts should overflow with a desire to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness.
While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God intends for our salvation to result in acts of service.
We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and to build up the church (4:12).
When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice—now, how much do I owe you?”
No, the appropriate response to a gift is “Thank you!”
Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God.
Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy.
We are God’s masterpiece (work of art, workmanship).
He alone masterminds our salvation. He works powerfully and creatively in us.
He uses us as His canvas.
If God considers us His masterpiece, we dare not treat ourselves or others with disrespect or as inferior work.
From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:
The Ephesians forgot what God did to save them and to make them a part of His body.
God’s mercy plucks us from the destruction of our countless sins and places us in Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
Alan and Penny Mcllroy . . . have two adopted children [which] is commendable but not uncommon.
The fact that they have adopted special needs children is significant but not unique.
It’s the severity of the health problems that sets this story apart.
Saleena is a cocaine baby. Her birth mother’s overdose left Saleena unable to hear, see, speak, or move.
Penny and Alan adopted her at seven weeks.
The doctor gave her a year. She’s lived for six.
As Penny introduced me to Saleena, she ruffled her hair and squeezed her cheeks, but Saleena didn’t respond.
She never does. Barring a miracle, she never will.
Neither will her sister.
“This is Destiny,” Penny told me.
In the adjacent bed one-year-old Destiny lay, motionless and vegetative.
Penny will never hear Destiny’s voice.
Alan will never know Saleena’s kiss.
They’ll never hear their daughters sing in a choir, never see them walk across the stage.
They’ll bathe them, change them, adjust their feeding tubes, and rub their limp limbs, but barring God’s intervention, this mom and dad will never hear more than we heard that afternoon—gurgled breathing.
“I need to suction Saleena’s nose,” Penny said to me.
“You might want to leave.” I did, and as I did, I wondered, what kind of love is this?
What kind of love adopts disaster? What kind of love looks into the face of children, knowing full well the weight of their calamity, and says, “I’ll take them”?
(Destiny has since gone to heaven.)
When you come up with a word for such a love, give it to Christ.
For the day He left Nazareth is the day He declared His devotion for you and me.
We were just as helpless, in a spiritually vegetative state from sin.
According to Peter, our lives were “dead-end, empty-headed” (1 Peter 1:18 MSG).
But God, “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4, 5,).
Jesus left Nazareth in pursuit of the spiritual Saleenas and Destinys of the world and brought us to life. (From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)
Ask yourself: Are there some people around you who slip through the cracks unnoticed?
Is there a lonely widow? An insecure junior-high student? A struggling single mother?
Pay these people a visit—bring flowers or another gift; invest some time in their lives.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Sunday, June 26
Daily Verse and Comment
“…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,”
A major characteristic of the human spirit is that it is habitually self-centered rather than God-centered.
A simple example illustrates how it became this way.
In Genesis 1:31 God takes satisfaction in all He had made, declaring it “very good.”
Included in this is Adam and Eve’s nature, as they were already created by this time.
Thus, at the beginning, mankind’s nature was not corrupted by contact with this world.
Genesis 3 records the episode of their confrontation with Satan that began the evil transformation of their basic nature. God did not create their nature as evil, but
it became evil through the influence of another spirit that they chose to follow without any intervention from their Creator.
The same process continues to this day, as each of us is born into this world and comes under the influence of the same spirit that influenced Adam and Eve to turn from God.
We are all born with a slight pull toward self, but not with the evil that eventually develops and manifests itself in our conduct.
Evil is not – cannot be – passed on through procreation, but it is fashioned anew by the spirit of the age into which each person is born.
It is a converted parent’s responsibility to God and to his children to ensure the right spirit dominates his home so the children can be properly nurtured.
People in the world understand this to some extent when they observe with maxims like,
“The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree,” “Like father, like son,” or “Like mother, like daughter.”
This world’s Christians, to avoid responsibility for their evil, have blamed God for creating us this way. But God did not make us this way.
Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve, chose to become this way, and all of their descendants, including us, have chosen the same path under the influence of the same evil spirit who offered Adam and Eve the choice.
This accounts for the course of this world.
Jeremiah 17:9 shows us how evil God judges the source of our unconverted motivations to be:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
The Revised Standard Version translates this as, “The natural heart of man is desperately corrupt; incurably sick.”
It is so bad, so evil, it cannot be salvaged by repairing it!
It must be completely replaced.
This is what the conversion process – our calling, repentance, justification, and sanctification – accomplishes.
We need to understand more completely why this aspect of God’s command to flee Babylon is so important.
We can be easily deceived about it, misunderstanding why God says the human heart is incurably sick.
In Luke 11:13, Jesus makes an easily overlooked comment:
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The way He says this implies that those before Him were thoroughly, not partly, evil.
He flat out calls them evil! There is no equivocation, no modification of this verse in the heart of the sermon on the mount. Jesus Himself was called “good” in Matthew 19:16, but He immediately corrects the speaker, saying, “No one is good but One, that is, God.”
This is God’s assessment of human nature, not man’s.
Jesus is saying that, just because human nature knows how to and actually does some good things, it does not alter the fact that it is still incurably evil.
Our pride tends to blunt God’s assessment, rising to defend us from the condemnation of what we are compared to, the standard – God.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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