For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
I’ve never worried about that shoe again.
Is it okay for people to sin just because they’re human? What do you think?
How many times have we heard people who get caught committing sin announce, “I’m only human.” Why yes, we are. All of us are “humans”. We’re mortal. Politicians claim membership as humans with a flair of confidence after they’ve been caught in sin. Admitting they’re “human” seems to justify all manner of transgressions, to them anyway.
Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 all (all us humans) have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God.
But does admitting we’re human when we sin give us a pass? Does our human condition make it okay? Where’s the remorse? Where’s the repentance? Where’s the accountability? Does being human justify sinning? Can we justify our sins by simply admitting we’re human?
We can be justified, but not by anything we say or do. We are justified by the precious blood of Jesus on the cross. His priceless blood supplies the only justification for our sins. Not anything from or by us. It is only Jesus and his blood on the cross that justifies the sins of us humans who have a personal relationship with Him.
Let’s replace, “I’m only human” with “It is against You, and You only, that I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so You are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.“ from Psalm 51.
I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. Thinking there’s not enough of it.
Yesterday in church Pastor Gearl recognized all the moms in the audience. His message was about how important a good mom is to her family and to others. I wish you could have been there with me.
I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Jesus called you home. I sure do miss you. I can’t count the times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I loved to call you and share some way God blessed me, or tell you about something exciting or fun I did that day.
My conversations over the years with you and Dad created some of my most precious memories. Though we spent most of our lives living a thousand miles apart, I loved being able to pick up the phone and connect with you just to chat.
You gave me something few of my friends here share. For almost 60 years you gave me consistency. You stayed married to each other, despite some extremely difficult times. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, or not doing, I could always pick up the phone and dial 712-246-2655. You were always there. I often brag about my hometown and my wonderful growing up years in my loving family to my friends. Most of them marvel at the wonderful childhood I enjoyed in our small Iowa hometown. Many of my friends have never known the consistence and security you and Dad gave me.
I know we didn’t have a perfect life, either. I know I gave you more than my share of grief and heartaches. For all those, I am genuinely sorry.
I have to confess, Mom: the day you died, I was absolutely jubilant. Not because you died, but because I knew where you were. Your suffering from the cancer that took you from us was over. Not only was I jubilant because I knew where you were. I was jubilant because I knew that someday we would be reunited and basking in the love of Jesus in God’s Kingdom forever. We’ll never be apart again. We’ll never know pain or suffering or sorrow or dismay or any other health problems. And you’d never have to fuss at me again to pick up my clothes.
What a glorious day that will be!
Until then, Mom, please know that I love you and miss you still. I am grateful for everything you were to me, everything you gave me, everything you taught me, and everything you did for me.
I will always love you,
Your loving son, Steve
A money-back guarantee for low self esteem — NO self esteem.
Can you imagine what life would be like for us if God didn’t show us His grace and mercy each day?
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. From Luke 2 (KJV)
If someone asked you to define Christmas in one word, what would you say? Continue reading
His resurrection is our resurrection as well. His story of new life is our story of the new life Jesus gave us. Without the resurrection we have no new life. Without the resurrection we have no story to tell. The resurrection is the pivotal focus of our story.
We can’t share the Gospel without sharing the resurrection and what it means to us. We can’t serve others, we can’t witness, we can’t love others without it. Let’s not limit our celebration of Christ’s resurrection to one Sunday in Spring.
Every day for us is resurrection day. Every day for us is an opportunity to celebrate that empty tomb and those grave clothes folded neatly on the stone slab. Every day is a day to remember Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
We all sin. The Bible teaches that very clearly and we know it. What do we do with sin? One of the most crippling diseases is to harbor that sin and let it grow bigger and bigger. We feel guilty. We become tied up with emotions that are unhealthy. We try to rationalize why we did it. We try to avoid thinking about it. We make excuses. None of that works. The only answer is to confess sin. It is the only healthy way to deal with our sin.
Elwin Wilson was raised in the South. He joined the Ku Klux Klan years ago to stop racial integration. John Lewis was a black Freedom Rider who tried to enter a “whites only” waiting room at the bus station in Rock Hill, SC in1961. Wilson and several of his racist friends beat him unmercifully. That memory haunted Wilson. It ruined his life. He harbored that sin. Lewis became a prominent member of the U.S. Congress. One day Wilson got an appointment and went to his office to personally apologize. He said, “My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind and a smart man changes his mind. Will you forgive me?”
Wilson became a national symbol for reconciliation and redemption. He made a lot of public appearances with Lewis. He tells of this change of heart. He has publically said, “All I can say is that it has bothered me for years, all the bad stuff I have done.” He said that his ultimate decision to renounce racial hatred and confess to John Lewis was because of the faith that he had come to experience. He said he knew “there is no way I could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks.”
Alabama Governor George Wallace became an icon of segregation when he stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He ran for public office. He was elected Governor of the State of Alabama on a platform of racial segregation. His famous statement, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” echoed throughout the nation for a lot of years.
In his later life Governor Wallace began to see that he was wrong. Some people accused him of changing his mind for political reasons. He publically began to confess to African-American people and ask them to forgive him.
He watched our Frazer worship services on television. He stayed home and turned the TV up really loud because following the attempted assassination on his life, his hearing had become greatly impaired. He asked me to come see him several times. He always wanted to know if God would forgive him. He knew that people had forgiven him, but he wanted to be sure that God had forgiven him.
I, along with some others, repeatedly assured him that God’s promise is true that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” (I John 1:9) I remember well visiting with him not long before he died. He would use a blackboard and chalk to write. Some of the best words I have ever seen written were when Governor Wallace wrote “I know I am forgiven.”
The only way to deal with sin is to confess it, and God’s promise is that He will forgive. The Good News is that God’s confession booth is always open!
John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
I have an inch-long scar on my right forearm. I was 15 stocking shelves in the grocery store where I worked. Continue reading