Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

God Is Willing to Wait

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?  Luke 15:8

Jesus told three stories in Luke 15 to describe God’s love for humanity. We are like sheep in one story and like sons in another story. But in this story we are like a single insignificant coin except for the fact that this coin belonged to a woman who only has 10 of them. That would be the equivalent of wages for 10 days. According to US government statistics, the average daily wage in America today is $170.00. So let’s say that you have $1700.00 to your name. Nothing more. You don’t have a job. You don’t have a family. You are alone in the world. If you lost 10% of your income, would you look for it? It is your life’s savings. It is all you have to survive.

I have lost my wallet several times in my life. But the one that stands out is when I lost it after filling my car up with gas. When I arrived home I didn’t have my wallet. I was panicked because I had $300.00 in it and all of my credit cards. I immediately drove back to the gas station. But the wallet was not there. So I went back home and searched every corner, every closet, every trash can, every place in the entire house. But the wallet was not there. I couldn’t think about anything else. Where could it be? I was extremely anxious even though I was a physician making a good wage. Losing $300.00 wouldn’t affect my lifestyle in the least.

In the story Jesus tells us about His Father, we see that His lifestyle is impacted by the loss of even one person. When it comes to you and me, God puts all of His efforts into finding us. Imagine God being anxious, even panicked, over losing you. Imagine God feeling this way since the day Adam & Eve ate of the fruit and hid from Him when He went to the Garden to have a chat with them. Yes, since that very day the God of the universe became anxious and single-minded in His efforts to find His lost coins – you and me. 

A few hours after I lost my wallet, I received a phone call from the man who had found it. I went to his home and he asked for a reward as he handed my the wallet to me. I gave the man $100.00. God gave us His Son. Obviously, my relief at finding my wallet was not near as important to me as God’s relief in finding you or me. In this parable, Jesus gives us a picture of God that is truly remarkable. He is anxious every time we hide from Him.

The truly amazing thing is that God is still lighting lamps today to find His lost coins. Anyone who accepts the Light of Jesus in her or his life becomes a light to find others. God is constantly seeking, constantly looking, constantly lighting the lives of men and women to find every last person who can possibly be found. I think this is what God is waiting for. He is more anxious about those who are still lost than He is about the delay in reuniting with those who have been found. God is willing to wait… for you.

It is Finished

And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  Revelation 21:6

Have you ever had a project that was finished, but not finished? The annual Parade of Homes would be an example of this that comes to mind. Contractors spend months getting ready for this event. When the last tile is set, the last coat of paint has been applied, and the landscaping is perfectly in place, the builder takes a look at the home and says, “It is finished.” But the real test is the week of the Parade of Homes. This is why the builder has finished the home on time. He now awaits the crowds of people who will pay to go through the home. At the end of the Parade of Homes week, the builder now has a party for all of his subcontractors, family, and friends. They celebrate the success of another beautiful home. And now the same builder announces with relief and joy to all who will listen, “It is finished!”

When Jesus was on the cross, we read in John 19:30, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, had finished the job of providing a ticket for you and me to go to the Parade of Heavenly Homes. It’s a done deal. In fact, it is so done and so real that we can have the Kingdom of God in our hearts today! We don’t have to wait to have peace and joy and purpose in life. “It is finished.” We can have it now. All we need to do is submit to Jesus.

And yet there is a day coming when Jesus will return to take us to the home He has built for each one of us individually. That is when we will physically be with Jesus. The spring of living water He is making available to us today through the Holy Spirit in our spiritual walk will be physically available in our new home. We will walk through the New Jerusalem not only marveling at the construction, but reveling in the very physical presence of Jesus, His Father, and His Spirit. I’ve read Jesus’ words, “It is finished” in John a million times. I can’t wait to HEAR His words in the New Jerusalem, “It is finished!”

When I accept Jesus into my life, submit to His will, and seek to hear His voice daily, He says to me each morning when I awake, “It is finished.” Because “It is finished” today, I know I will hear Him say “It is finished” one day soon in the New Jerusalem. Have you heard Him tell you, “It is finished”? What will you allow Him to finish in your life today?

 

Expectations

In 2 Kings 5 we read a story about Naaman who was a mighty warrior from Aram. The army of Aram had won many battles against Israel. However, Naaman had an incurable disease, leprosy. He was told by his servant whom he had captured in a battle against Israel that there was a prophet in Israel named Elisha who could heal him. So Naaman went bearing gifts to see Elisha. Naaman was fully prepared to pay for his curative treatment which he expected to be a simple waving of the hands and perhaps a prayer to the “god” of Israel. Naaman expected to be treated with respect as a conqueror. After all, Elisha was his subordinate.  Instead of being greeted by Elisha, Naaman was greeted by Elisha’s servant who told him to submerge himself seven times in the dirtiest of rivers. He was outraged. He had been disrespected. His expectations to be treated with deference as a victorious mighty warrior had not been met. He began to leave in a rage when his officers persuaded him to do as Elisha’s servant had asked. As a result, Naaman was healed. 

This is when Naaman said, “…Now I know that there is no other ‘God’ in all the world except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:15) Naaman’s expectations almost cost him his life and his salvation. Naaman committed himself to the God of Israel and was given peace as is always the case when we submit our expectations to the will of God. (2 Kings 5:19)

What expectations do you have that could prevent you from submitting to God’s will? Would you be willing to take instructions from a subordinate of yours? From whom can you learn? We often restrict ourselves from hearing, seeing, and experiencing the power of God because of our expectations. What would it look like in your life to submit your expectations to God? May you have friends in your life to help you not only manage your expectations, but to submit them to God. And may you experience the peace of God that comes with submission to His will.

Can I Really Do This?

Can I really do this? This is the question I asked myself one month before I was to begin my ride across America on July 8, 2012. It was early June POSTERand I could not ride 50 miles on two consecutive days. My schedule for the ride across America had me riding over 100 miles each of the first two days and over 70 miles per day the rest of that first week. I was becoming acutely aware that I was not ready for the ride to Washington, D.C. This is when I hired a coach, Chris Bagg. Chris is a professional Ironman athlete. He knows endurance sports. He has experienced every obstacle imaginable in competing in the ultimate endurance challenge.

Chris invited me to his testing facility in Portland to identify my heart rate zones and test my level of fitness. He then gave me a training schedule specific to my abilities and goals. By this time I had only three weeks prior to the start of my ride. Not much time to get ready, but what a difference Chris’ training schedule made. But perhaps more important than the schedule he gave me was his statement to me at the end of the testing: “You can do this. There’s no doubt in my mind.” Over the course of the next three months, Chris gave me advice, encouragement, and inspiration that made my ride a reality. I knew I would complete the ride because I trusted the confidence Chris had in me.

We all have, are, or will face life situations that seem impossible. Perhaps you’re looking for a job, a healthy relationship, or meaning in life. Maybe you have a cherished sin you don’t think you can conquer. Or you might be struggling with greed, anger, guilt, or jealousy. Whatever your issue, there are times we all ask ourselves, Can I really do this? Can I overcome my issue? Can I gain victory? Can I be whole again?

Just like in my ride, the key to our success is found in the assurance of our ultimate destiny – salvation. Salvation is the good news that God forgives us and reconciles us to Himself. Salvation means that you and I can be changed today, have victory today, have peace today, and live in confidence of His love and acceptance. Just like Chris told me that he had no doubt about my ability to complete the ride across America, Jesus tell us there is no doubt you and I have salvation. And He should know, He’s the only One who can give this gift. We read in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

There is no doubt about your salvation in I John 5:13. You can do this because it’s not about your ability, but about Jesus Christ who has already done everything for you on the cross. The assurance Jesus gives us can be trusted. That’s because it is the assurance from your Coach in life who has been there before you, experienced every temptation, and overcome every obstacle. (See Hebrews 4:15) The assurance of salvation that comes from Jesus means that you CAN do this. Whatever you’re going through, you can make it because He has made it. Whatever the temptation you have, you will overcome because He has overcome. Jesus is with you. Lean into Him, trust Him, listen to Him, and He will lead you to the Promised Land.

God’s Land Between

As our sermon series on “The Land Between” comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about how God must be in the Land Between Himself. Of course He is WITH us in the Land Between. That’s the whole point of this Land. We are here in our times of transitions, sorrows, griefs, challenges, and even triumphs that take us away from God. The Land Between is that place where we can grow closer to God or further apart depending upon our response to Him. That means He is there in the Land Between every time, all the time!

But what about God? Is He IN the Land Between Himself? As a father for 29 years, I have been in the Land Between several times as I have seen my children suffer. At Sally’s (my oldest daughter) last Ironman race, she “hit the wall” while on the biking portion of the race. I knew when it happened because I was following her closely via GPS technology. She was averaging 20+ mph on the bike when suddenly she was going 8 mph. She was at mile 70 of the 112 miles she needed to go before running her 26.2 miles. So she still had a long way to go! Everything had been going so well, & suddenly she seems to have run out of energy. She was suffering. I was in the Land Between wanting to help, but knowing there was nothing I could do at this point. She finished the race & we spent a lot of time debriefing. This experience, however, helped me realize God’s time in the Land Between.

Imagine God’s feeling when Adam & Eve chose to eat from that Tree. Since that moment, God was thrust into the Land Between. Thankfully, He has a plan! He revealed His plan to Adam & Eve in Genesis 3:15. I can’t imagine how eagerly God is awaiting His eternal exit from the Land Between when He can be reunited with His children on earth.

This week, we are having a special communion service. This is a time for us to remember God’s sacrifice in His Land Between that we may forever leave ours!

The Remnant – Sermon for 10/17/09

Pastor Kris Loewen begins the second week of his series, “The Last Word”, this Thursday-Saturday evenings at 7pm.  IThe Last Word am particularly interested in his topic for Sabbath morning during the worship hour.  The title of this sermon is “A Little Bit Left Over.”  When I read the Gospels and Revelation about those who will be ready for Jesus when He returns to this earth, I get the idea there won’t be many compared to the vast number of those who do not want to be with Him.  The Bible often speaks of a “remnant” that will be ready to meet the Messiah.  There certainly were not many who receptive to Jesus when He came the first time.  So it doesn’t seem too hard to believe the same thing will happen at His return.  The Bible seems to teach that only a “remnant” will be left for Him to take home.

My mother would go to the fabric store and drag me along with her.  She loved shopping the “remnant” sales.  The “remnants” were the small pieces left over at the end of a fabric bolt.  There wasn’t enough fabric left to be used for a big project like a dress, so the store would sale the remnants at drastically reduced prices.  It’s an inexpensive way to make beautiful quilts.  But it’s also very time consuming because theses remnants are not organized into similar colors or fabric types.  My mother loved to shop the remnants not just because of the cost savings, but because they represented the best fabrics.  These were the fabrics everyone wanted – there would not be remnants otherwise! 

Can the same be said about a “remnant” left over for Jesus at His 2nd Coming?  What is He looking for?  Does the idea of a “remnant”as it relates to those who are ready for the 2nd Coming of Jesus make you uncomfortable?  If so, why?  As always, I’d love to hear from you.

What is Your Testimony?

Have you ever felt helpless?  Not too long ago I watched a video of a rescue at Niagara Falls.  A man slipped into the Niagara River five feet from the precipice of the massive Niagara Falls.  He somehow was able to stand there against the current without being swept over the edge of the Falls.  However, he could not make any progress against the current to make it back to shore.  He had been in the water for nearly an hour when the rescue squad came to his aid.  rescueThey had a plan to drop a rope from a helicopter to him.  However, as the helicopter approached him, it produced so much wind force that the man lost his footing.  He ended up on the very edge of the Falls!  But he was still standing.  There was now precious little time to rescue him.  This is when two of the rescue workers went into the river tied to ropes held by their team.  As the rescuer workers aproached the man, he was so exhausted by the constant force of the river that he had finally given up all hope.  The rescuers reached out to the man, but he could not reach back.  The sound of the Falls was so deafening that the rescuers’ shouts could not be heard by the man.  Finally, in one last effort the rescuer closest to the man reached out to him to give him a  rope.  The man mustered enough strength to grab hold of the rope.  The two of them were then connected together as the rescue team pulled them both to safety.

How does salvation work?  How does God save us?  What is your role in salvation?  What is God’s role?   Tonight we will hear Matthew Gamble’s salvation story – his testimony of how God pulled him from the “funk pool” of life.  If you can’t make it tonight then listen to his story on our church website at www.myrichlandchurch.org.  As you listen to his story, think about your own.  What has God done in your life to save you.  Have you accepted His gift of salvation?  If you have, what does it look like?  And is salvation a single act?  Or is it an ongoing act?  No questions are more important than these on planet earth.  I’d love to get your perspective.

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