(I wrote this months ago, and I guess I hit "save" instead of "publish". So, here it is...)
Don't you just love it when you find someone you can relate to? Someone who feels like you do, who understands how you feel and think? Someone who likes what you like, wants what you want, has the same goals & passions? I do! And that's how I feel about the verse I'd like to share with you. Paul just spells out how I feel. And I love that! The verse is Romans 1:17 Please keep reading! I know some of you probably don't like the idea that I'm sharing the Bible, but please, keep reading. It isn't a waste of time, for me writing it or you reading it. It's important, and you matter.
in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a
righteousness that is by faith
from first to last,
just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
I know, it's a lot of religious words that you may not know or understand. But please keep reading.
Paul (a man who used to hate Christians and thought he could earn his way to heaven by following all the rules) has just told the Romans he is not only obligated to preach the gospel, but is ready & eager to do so because he isn't ashamed of the gospel because of the eternal salvation it brings to those who believe.
That's exactly how I feel!! =)
Here is what this verse is about.
First off, the Gospel (good news) is simple. It is this: there is salvation in Jesus when you believe in your heart who He said He was: the Son of God, that He died for the forgiveness of your sins & raised from the dead so that you could have a relationship with God the Father forever. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but through Him the world might be saved." John 3:16 & 17 When we ask Him into our hearts & accept His forgiveness, we are then put in right standing with the Father. That's what it means to be righteous: to be in right standing with the Father. Jesus paid for that with His life. There is nothing we can do to add to that or take away from it. It is already a done deal. All we have to do is have the faith to believe it & live by it. That's what this verse is saying.
And I like how the Amplified version of the Bible says it: "For
in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing
from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that
arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith."
I love how it says our right standing with God springs from and leads to faith, that it arouses to more faith. It takes faith to begin with because we didn't live when Jesus did & didn't get to see it all firsthand for ourselves and we have to have faith that God exists. And it produces more faith in those who believe in Him because God proves Himself over and over as we learn to trust in Him.
I also like how it says, 'the man who through faith is just'. That reinforces the fact that Jesus paid it all for us. It would be kind of like the closed nights at Disneyland, where you have to have a special pass to get in--because you worked for the sponsoring company--and your boss got you one of those special passes. You could tell your boss you will buy a ticket at the door instead of receiving his free gift, but you would find out when you get to Disneyland that the ticket he paid for & offered you was the only way you could get in. What a waste--of both his money, and the enjoyment you could have had at Disneyland.
But there is more to it than that. It's not just that you get to be in right standing with God and live with Him forever by believing in Him, but you are saved from eternal burning. Have you ever touched a hot stove, burned yourself with a curling iron, or worse yet, got caught in a car or home fire and were burned severely? Remember how long the burning sensation lasted and how nothing eased the pain? Multiply that all over your body without ever being separated from the flame itself and that's only a glimpse of what hell is like. I don't want to see anyone I know, or don't know, for that matter, end up burning forever when all it takes is simple, child-like faith in Jesus' payment for our sins. And if you are having trouble believing, it's okay to tell God that. It's okay to tell Him you are trying to believe and ask Him to help you have faith. He wants you, in whatever state of faith, sin, etc., you are in, so of course He will help you. And that's what this verse says anyway! A little faith leads to more faith! So take that step, tell Him you believe, even if it is just a little, ask Him to forgive you and be the Lord of your life, and you will be saved. It really is that simple.
Jesus also tells us to count the cost, you know, weigh the pros & cons. The "cons" are that your trials won't be magically wiped away (and they might even get harder), people may turn away from you, ridicule you, not understand you, and hate you, all because you believe. But the "pros" are that you will have God's help (and soooo much more) through your trials, you get to have a relationship with God that cannot be explained and will last forever, you become part of a world-wide family who will encourage, support and help you, and you get to not burn for eternity. Even if you think you have the perfect life and are a good person, rejecting what Jesus did for you (just like turning away the Disneyland ticket from your boss) still means you don't get into heaven. It's an easy choice to me.
And God was so kind to give us the ability to choose because He loves us and wants us. But He doesn't force anyone to accept His love. It wouldn't be love at all if He forced us to love Him. And it wouldn't be fulfilling or satisfying to either party. But it is an easy choice, when you look at the whole picture: joy & hardship now on earth, but with the help of God & other believers to get you through it, or burning forever. I know, you're probably thinking about all the things you will have to "give up". But I'm telling you, a life with Christ is SOOOOO much better than any of those 'give ups'. It is far more rewarding, satisfying, fulfilling, peaceful, joyful, and even fun than anything else, money, success, possessions, popularity, whatever it is you are chasing after. When you finally get it, you'll find it as empty as you feel. But God who fills all in all wants to fill your life. (And there are no hangovers or regrets like those "give ups" produce.) All you have to do is ask and believe. And remember, He paid the price for you. You don't have to "clean up" and be perfect to accept Him or for Him to accept you. You can't anyway, that's why Jesus died. The debt for your clean-up for your failures, sins, and mistakes, no matter how dark or grave they may or may not be in your eyes, has been paid for by Jesus' blood shed for you. He already loves you, He died to make the way. It's your choice. Hope, help in hardship, satisfaction, contentment & eternal life with God or temporary "fixes" that satisfy momentarily but that produce hangovers, regrets, and disappointments & whose end result is burning forever.
As for me, I'm not ashamed to say I choose Jesus, I choose life.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
God Called Me to Be Free!
Devotional thoughts for 8/18/13from Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/womens-devotional-bible/)
“38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.Most likely, Mary planned to marry and raise a family—every Jewish girl’s dream, nothing unusual. Then God revealed his plans for her, and the future Mary envisioned suddenly vanished before her eyes. She had no way of knowing what this change would mean in her life. Did she argue with God? Try to cling to her own plans? Ignore what God was doing? No. Mary humbly accepted what God had for her because she knew her life belonged to him. She saw herself as God’s servant. How do you respond to the changes God brings into your life?”
Last night, Gary & I talked about it again. I expressed to him the same thought about feeling like not having kids was punishment. He said, of course, that it isn’t—that God is not like that. Somewhere in my heart I know that is right, but this deep-seated fear shouts otherwise. As we talked, I kept remembering how when I was a little girl, I wrote down in my school years book one year, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a horse-back rider. I told Gary I didn’t put that I wanted to be a mom, or wife, or have a career, but that was an expression of freedom—I wanted to be free (not that I didn’t want to be married). I never had that longing to have kids, not like other women do. I wanted them because it is the acceptable thing to do. And from time to time I have missed having them, but I never felt the need or drive to have them. And I felt like somehow God was showing me that He put that in my heart because that is what He wanted for me—freedom to do what He wanted, to be able to pick up and go when He called without the worry of kids. So, last night I prayed before I went to bed & asked God to speak to me through Bible Gateway’s verse of the day. Well, it wasn’t the verse of the day that hit me, but the above devotional I found on there. And this confirmed to me that He had written on my heart His desire for me. He had put that desire for freedom in me so I would be unencumbered and available to go when He sends me. There isn’t anything wrong with me. He created me with this desire. And it’s okay. I can reach people no one else can. He made me this way, so I would fulfill His purpose in my life. And He encouraged me that it is an honor to be in our position because not everyone could handle it. (I know this is true because I know of a couple who divorced because they couldn’t have children.) It truly is a marvelous thing that God has done.
I know there are a lot of other things that I need to work out, and God will help me. But, I can close this chapter now. It’s over. God made me the way He wanted me to be. And He will shape me as He desires for His use to do the works He called me to do and planned for me to walk in. Thank You, Lord.
Maybe you are struggling with your station in life, too, wondering why God has allowed something in your life, feeling tortured inside, fearful or angry. Rest assured, God has you right where He wants you. He isn't punishing you. He made you the way He wanted you. Keep trusting His loving hand to lead you, strengthen you, and help you. Keep trusting Him. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has planned beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10