Posts tagged ‘Salvation’

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?

 

What is Your Picture of God?

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”  Revelation 7:10

When I transitioned from a small two-room school with a total of 30 students in grades 1-8 to a public junior high school with 1,100 students in grades 7-9, it was difficult to say the least. But the biggest problem I faced was what I told myself about the other kids. I told myself that they would not like me or accept me. I told myself that I was different and that I wasn’t smart enough. After all, I had been attending a small Christian school which had given me the idea that the world “out there” was a dangerous place with dangerous people who would destroy me if I got too close to them. This was the picture I had in my mind of these kids.

So when I saw a group of kids in my new junior high school laughing as I walked by, I thought they were laughing at me. When I saw a kid smoking behind the building, I thought all of the other 1,099 kids were smoking at every opportunity. When I saw one kid picking on another kid, that only confirmed that they “all” were bullies and that they were just waiting for the chance to pick on me. So the picture I had in my mind of the other kids affected the way I interacted with them. Over time, I realized my picture was distorted. It took a couple of years to deconstruct this negative picture I had painted in my mind, but by one positive experience at a time I ended up with a more accurate picture that allowed me to have friends and enjoy my public school years. I ended up graduating from the public high school with many friends and an experience I wouldn’t trade.

The picture we have of God is the most influential picture we have that colors our life. If our picture denies His existence, then we see everything around us as occurring by chance and without purpose. On the other hand, if my picture has an angry God who is looking to destroy me, then I live in fear and with pervasive guilt. There are as many pictures of God as there are people on the planet. And I do not mean to simplify the pictures in this short blog. The point I have discovered in my life and I want to share today is that the picture you have of God matters. It matters a lot! It affects your life whether you want to admit it or not. 

And the picture of God that I see in Revelation 7:10 is a God who offers salvation to every one. Yes, Jesus the Lamb came to this earth to live as a lamb, as one of us and one with us. And salvation is offered to us through His life, death, and resurrection. This is the gospel message. But salvation also comes from God the Father! When Jesus was on this earth risking everything by living in a sin-filled world, His Father was sitting on the throne keeping everything running so we could ALL be together one day. It is the Father who risked His Son for you and me. It is the Father that keeps us alive by grace. It is the Father who makes every allowance possible for your happiness, joy, and peace. 

I don’t know about you, but I find it harder to watch my kids go through a painful experience than to go through it myself. The picture of God I see in this short verse is one of love, sacrifice, responsibility, and commitment to you and me. God has done and is doing everything in His power to provide a way for us to be reunited with Him. This is the story of Revelation. This is the story of the Bible. And this is the picture of God – love. And this is why John paints the picture of salvation as coming first and foremost from the Father!

When we actually have this picture in our hearts and minds, we will be able to see the world and other people through the eyes of God. Yes, your picture of God matters. What does your picture of God look like? What if you saw yourself in that picture? What if you were sitting next to Him or at His feet or on His lap or in His arms? How would that change your day? Think about it. Maybe it’s time to repaint your picture!

What Role Does the Bible Play in Your Life?

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

I was raised in the church and taught to read the Bible every day. This is great advice as it can certainly enhance one’s walk with God. The problem arises when I feel like I have to do this in order to be saved. Doing things to be saved does not save me, even doing good things like reading the Bible! And so when I read 2 Timothy 3:15 today, I was encouraged once again to focus on my real need in life – a relationship with Jesus.

Paul tells Timothy that he has been taught the Scriptures, knows the Scriptures, and has been given the Scriptures for one thing and one thing only. The role of Scriptures in Timothy’s life, and in our lives today, is for wisdom to receive the real focus in life – Jesus. The Scriptures were written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit for one purpose – to lead us into a trusting relationship with Jesus. Salvation is given to us by grace when we trust Jesus with our lives.

It’s so easy for us to make salvation about what the Bible teaches about death, the second coming, the judgment, the law, etc, etc, etc. What the Bible teaches gives us the wisdom for life replacing a selfish worldview with God’s worldview that then can help us accept salvation as we trust in Jesus. Once I grasped this reality, I began to love reading the Bible. As a kid, reading the Bible was something I had to do if I wanted to be a Christian. Today, reading the Bible is something I love to do because I feel closer to Jesus. When I read the Bible today, I hear God speaking to me. My trust in Jesus then grows.

However, the really amazing thing about God is that He reaches out to you differently than He reaches out to me. Some people have a close, abiding, trusting relationship with Jesus who read the Bible much less or much more than do I. So I have learned to keep my focus on Jesus and not on the amount of Bible reading that you do, or that I do. 

What role does the Bible play in your life? What wisdom does it provide for you? Is it part of your relationship with Jesus? Or is it just another rule you feel like you have to follow in order to be a Christian?

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.

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