Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 NIV

This is going to sound stupid but this is one of those verses that bugs me. It bugs me because its sounds like it can’t be true. Like it’s the picture of the imaginary Christian life, the pretend Pollyanna Christian life.

The reason is that I have been utterly terrified before. Waking up after having your head bashed against a dashboard, the vehicle upside down and family members moaning and crying can bring on overwhelming fear. I have been in stark terror.

That car accident has been my scariest moment, but my most blissful peaceful moment came only minutes later. Somehow the people who came to the wreck got me out of the wreckage and put me in an ambulance. As I laid there fear was almost to crazy level which is 5 clicks past 11 on the fear dial, then I heard words,in my head or my heart or my ears I don’t know, the words were “Jesus will take care of you”.

Peace flooded over me and I relaxed. That could be when I died I don’t know. When we arrived at the hospital I was clinically dead, no pulse and not breathing.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Maybe in the days since then when I’ve encountered fear, it wasn’t God’s fault, it was mine for losing sight of him. How can we fear if we know the God who said to nothingness “let there be light” and there was light, who created mankind and watched as we as a race defied him, then he provided a way back to him through giving up his only son to be punished in our place. If we know that God, and can keep him in our sights and believe and trust in his existence and receive his persistent love, maybe our souls can experience peace.

Merciful and Just

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”

God is merciful.

For some of us that is the problem. His mercy attracts us but also repels us. If he can forgive me, and welcome me, then what’s to keep him from forgiving and welcoming my enemy? How can he forgive the person who hurt me so deeply? It isn’t fair.

Some of us are stuck in the attraction/repulsion zone. We know what Jesus said about forgiveness, that to receive it we must give it.

“Matthew 6:12-15 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ”

We get stuck right here.

There are 3 things to consider if we find ourselves stuck, needing forgiveness, but unable to forgive.

1. God knows. He knows our hearts. He also knows what happened. He will take us where we are, how we are. We may not be able to forgive today, but once we are God’s he begins to make us new.

2. God will change us from the inside out. The person that enters a relationship with God through Jesus death for them and his resurrection, will be transformed, from the inside out. Hurts will be healed, slowly, sometimes instantly but always persistently he moves to completeness and wholeness and health. We won’t finish our lives, as we Have started them, once we have given control over to God. Like a master carpenter/engineer/builder remodeling a shambled wreck, he restores, renews, rebuilds us.

3. God is infinitely merciful and he is infinitely Just. We find this in Acts; “Acts 17:26-31 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” ‘

There is still a day of accounting to come. This will be the day when all things wrong get righted. I don’t know how it will work. I know Jesus has paid for my sins so I will not be punished, but somehow he will make up for wrong that I did. His way of Justice will be as perfect as his way of Mercy. He is infinitely powerful and infinitely creative and solutions are unlimited to him.

Today, please consider surrendering to the great God of mercy and let him begin the process of renewal in you.

Hanging by a thread and I ain’t no Spider-Man

It’s Wednesday March 22. Its hump day, the middle of the week. I am anticipating that I have 2 more days until a weekend break, then work a week, then a short vacation, then work/break/ work/ etc for 14 years and then retire then grow old and then die.

That’s what I’m assuming will happen. But what if this is the day that a truck crosses the center line and I don’t make it? What if my extended plans for life don’t work out? What is the most important thing I can do today if it’s my last day here?

What if there is an eternity just the other side of our last exhale? Our breath leaves our lungs and our soul slips out of our body and then what? Heaven? Hell? In light of the fragility of life should I be prepared for eternity?

When Jesus was crucified he was hung on a cross between 2 other criminals, two thieves. All 3 of these men knew eternity was very close. They were swinging on a thread over the chasm of death.

Let us listen in on their conversation.

“32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’

What are the words that I can write on this post to encourage people to believe in Jesus and receive him as savior? What can I say?

What do you believe about Jesus?

Did he rise from the dead? Did he pay for our sins with his death? Have you accepted that gift?

Eternity is coming, some call it death and expect it to be an end but the Bible tells us that the end of this life is just a doorway into eternity. Eternity has two options, with God or without him. I highly recommend the with God option.

Eternity yawns beneath us all.

Accept Jesus’ gift today. Today is all we know that we get. Today.

“I sent him for you….”

I had a spiritual experience on the way home. It’s kind of private but I am going to share it because it might encourage someone else.

My dad and I were not very close as I grew up. This has made it difficult for me to understand the fatherhood of God in a loving way. At best it has felt that God tolerates me.

Tonight a radio pastor asked his listening audience to imagine themselves alone in a room with Jesus. Jesus sitting toe to toe and eye to eye. What would he say to you?

I knew right away, in spite of my sinfulness Jesus first words to me would be “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!”

But then my mind wandered to the Father, what would he say to me?

It was as if I heard his loving voice say, ” I sent him for you…”

My Father in heaven sent his only son to die in my place, to die for my sins. Why would he do that? Because he loves me “so much!”

I don’t get it all, but today I understand a little better how my Heavenly Father feels about me. He loves me so much! So much that he will sacrifice his own son to save me.

Here is some good for anyone reading this, he loves you “so much!” too!

“Such things must happen”

It is a strange coincidence that I should read Matthew 24 the day after a solar eclipse. These words are recoded there; Matthew 24:29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ ”

I don’t think yesterday’s eclipse was what Jesus was talking about here however If we are clinging to the status quo This chapter has some frightening things .

In the muppets Christmas Carol there is a point right before the ghost of Christmas present appears where Gonzo and Rizzo leave the audience out of fear. I would like to do that here but it was for our comfort that Jesus gives us the warnings of this chapter.

The future has some dark days ahead but it’s okay, God is in it and it’s all part of His plan.

“Matthew 24:1-14 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

When our daughter Hannah was little, when she was watching a movie with a scary part and she sensed it coming up she would start yelling “mote mommy mote” which translated to “please fast forward past the scary part!”

The only fast forward button that I see is that the church get busy and stay busy telling the world about our amazing savior Jesus.

Who can we tell today?

There was a time…

In the same way that it’s difficult to imagine that the world existing before I was born. There was a time when I was not. Now I am. Before January 1960 I was not. In that same vein there was a time when me and people like me were not welcome in Gods house. I am a gentile. I was not born a Jew and so I would have always been an outsider. But Jesus changed all that.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews[b] on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;

I will sing the praises of your name.”[c]

10 Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”[d]

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;

let all the peoples extol him.”[e]

12 And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

one who will arise to rule over the nations;

in him the Gentiles will hope.”[f]

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I am an adopted son. My father loves me very much. He gave his son to bring me and people like me into his family.

When grace becomes amazing

Romans 14 has a nugget of good news. We all, every person that has drawn a breath, will meet HIM. We will meet God. At the end of our days we have an appointment with our creator.

There is a down side. We will have to give an account for our lives.

“10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bow before me;

every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our savior this this will be when we get to see Gods unmerited favor, his grace, truly become amazing. Our meanest acts, most brutal, most selfish, most shameful, all covered by Jesus’ substitutionary death. He stepped in and took our punishment. He absorbed it all, and God has absolved it all.

Thank you Jesus for dying in my place. Thank you for loving me, I love you Jesus.