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.”
Whatever could go wrong today went wrong. From the moment I left the house this morning until I crashed on the couch at days’s end. My soft couch was welcome respite.
I regret to say I was not a nice person today. in the throws of multiple setbacks I lashed out at two ladies. Both, in their respective roles were trying to help me. Both were cheerful and pleasant. I was not.
I chose to complain and become one of those antagonistic clients they practice on in HR customer service training classes.
I sought them both out at the end of our meetings and apologized profusely and earnestly. I resent my negative responses to people who only wanted to serve me. All I wanted to do was argue and register my dissatisfaction and disappointment. All they wanted to do was help me.
By days end I was exhausted and regreted that I responded contrary to my usually pleasant Type A, never-meet-a-stranger self. I needed relief. I needed rest.
I came home and opened my bible and read Mathew 11:28-30 several times. About the third or fourth time I felt His peace wash over me. I was quiet, refreshed and at rest in Jesus.
I’m so grateful that on Murphy’s law days I can always come to Jesus and let Him take away my burdens and my anxiety and give me His peace and I can rest in Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke
is easy and my burden is light.”
Lots of people who don’t know their true identity in Christ believe and live out of a contrived philosophy of works and performance. They think God plus their good works is what brings God glory. If the truth be told, in my opinion and from my experience, usually the motivation for their good works is probably more about getting approval from God.
I had a friend who used to tell me, and everyone else, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” I had to bite my tongue every time I heard that platitude. First, it’s not the least bit scriptural or true. And second, it creates the impression that one has to do stuff to get help, approval or acceptance from God.
I was teaching about grace and the freedom we have in Christ one Sunday in my adult Bible study class. One of our members grew up in another faith, a legalistic, works oriented religion. She made this statement, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying, but surely there must be something we need to do to receive God’s grace.”
Obviously she did NOT hear what I was saying. Her resistance to surrendering her life to Christ and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5) caused her to struggle with God’s grace and receive it. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!”
Abiding is the toughest “nothing” we will ever do. But as the verses in John say, unless we do nothing in and of ourselves and just abide, we won’t produce anything worthwhile for the Kingdom of God.
Second In A Series
Love God More Than The World
By Amanda Beth
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series by my good blogging friend, Amanda Beth.
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. —2 Timothy 2:20
This is the second message in my series on preparing for your calling. This week we will focus on the first step in discipleship, learning to love God more than the world. Continue reading →
Author’s Note: This post concludes our four-part series on our relationship with Jesus. As a reference we have studied how two men responded to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We have walked with them as they return from Jerusalem to their home in a small town seven miles away. On the Road to Emmaus Jesus encounters them and changes their lives. Continue reading →
I think my hippie generation coined the phrase “getting it all together”. Reason being, for lots of those long-haired, drug-loving friends of mine their lives were falling apart. Oh, I had shoulder-length hair and a scraggly beard. My world fell apart
If only we had more money . . .
If only our son would come home . . .
If only my husband would stop drinking . . .
If only I had taken that last job offer. . .
If only this pain would stop. . .
If only our daughter would dress like a lady . . .
If only our pastor would stop harping on sin . . .
If only I could stop smoking. . .
If only we had a nicer house. . .
I overheard a lady on a commuter van talk about one of her friends who was helping a needy family from her church. The Lady claimed, “She was just trying to be a good Christian.”
Many well-intentioned Christians spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to be good Christians.
The truth of the matter is, however that good Christians just don’t exist. The Bible doesn’t teach that at all. Believing that Christians are somehow good is a lie straight from satan. Evil people with no conscience can do good things and help little old ladies across the street and buy Girl Scout Cookies, give money to the poor and donate to charities. Doing good things for others doesn’t make anyone a good Christian.