Distracted much?

Facebook asks “what’s on your mind?”

I didn’t sleep well and my mind feels like a two year old on a sugar rush. I can almost hear the rapid random foot steps racing from thought to thought.

What’s on my mind?

Yes.
Oh and that too.

Paint.
Coffee.
Windshield wipers.
Concrete.
Push button.
Friends.
Funerals.
Lord of the rings monster.
Coffee.
Jesus.
Mustard seed.
Mustard seed?
Tiny little mustard seed.

In Matthew 13 Jesus talks about the tiny mustard seed. He said the kingdom of God is like it.

“31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”’

I know about A man who lived 2000 years ago. I know what he said and what he did. He was from a different ethnic group than me, he spoke a different language. Thousands of kings and kingdoms has risen and fallen. 2 millennia have passed since he died. More importantly, 2 millennia have passed since he rose from the dead.

This man had 11 guys that were his disciples. Because of their faithfulness the tiny group of men have impacted the planet.

I found this on the internet:

“As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth,” the Pew report says. “Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.”Apr 2, 2015

Jesus said in Matthew 28, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’

In Luke 24 Jesus says this, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Did I mention my mind behaving…squirrel….

I hope I am understanding the parable of the mustard seed. If I am the church has done well but is not finished. 2.2 billion believe. Good. We need to continue to care for and encourage each other.

4.7 billion do not believe. How many of those have heard the message that Jesus died to forgive our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life? Some will reject the truth. But some will believe and receive.

Today is a Good day to start sharing the good news.

Pants.

Keys.

Coffee.

Squirrel.

Planning ahead

It’s Wednesday March 23rd. 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 5 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.

He knows

John 8

What if God knew our secrets?

“8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”’

We don’t know what Jesus wrote with his finger on the ground. We can only guess. The Text says that the older men left first. This was a society that esteemed elders and they would’ve been in the front. They would’ve seen what Jesus was writing first. I believe Jesus was writing out the list of each mans dalliances, names and dates.

Who was without sin? not one in that crowd. There is no crowd where the outcome would be any different. No one is without sin.

The one man who lived his life without sinning, Jesus, stood there completely justified to condemn this woman but instead he forgave her.

What if God knew our secrets?

He does.

He knows all of them. He knows all of our past. Here’s the hard part to understand, he still loves us. Jesus knew us and and our sin and yet went to the cross to pay for them all, to pay for us all.

I did some stuff, bad stuff. I was young and stupid. I cannot undo what I did. I recently met an older gentleman who knows part of my story. I can’t see him without thinking about that part of my life and feeling shame and remorse. He only knows part of my story. God knows it all. Every detail. Every motive. Every move I made, he was watching me. He has enough on me to condemn me for eternity but instead he has forgiven it all.

Jesus paid it all. It’s not fair, but it’s true. I walk away forgiven.

Thank you Jesus. You have set me free!

Filling the vacuum

It’s spring and it time to start preparing those garden beds. We clean them out, clear them out and if we don’t get back to them right away and get them planted they are immediately filled back in with a new crop of weeds.

Aristotle has said it, nature abhors a vacuum. If you remove one thing, other things rush in to fill the space.

This is true of our hearts as well as our world. In Matthew 12 Jesus says this about cleaning out a human heart.

“43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

When we accept Jesus as our savior he comes and lives inside of us. He lives in our hearts by his Holy Spirit.

John 14 says this; “23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

And in John 17 he prayed for us saying this; “20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus wants to fill the vacuous void inside of us. If he doesn’t, something else will.

Will we let Jesus come and live in our hearts today?

Notorious yet forgiven

Is someone writing all of this down? My mistakes? My willful disobedience? Is there a record of wrongs in some file drawer? No human knows the total of my sin. No one person has the complete record of all of the wrong I have done. Well….Jesus is a man but he is also God…and He knows it all.

And yet…he has chosen to forgive me. All of it.

The next section of Matthew 12 Jesus mentions some notorious people. He doesn’t mention them to point out their sin, he mentions them to point out their state of being forgiven.

“38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.”

The religious leaders of Jesus day who prided themselves on a righteousness based on following the rules will be condemned by notorious sinners who repented.

Then let’s talk about The sign of Jonah, Jesus will die and be swallowed by death and the earth. This planet he created and the curse that was placed on it would swallow him. But not for long. Three days later he will rise from the grave and live forever. The earth and death and the curse of sin forever broken and beaten.

I quote this next verse a lot but it comforts me. I hope is does you too. I know I’ve done wrong, so does God. He knows it all and yet he has forgiven me.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

I am forgiven. That is good news.

Have you heard it yet? We have been forgiven.

Have you received it yet?

Acquitted or condemned?

Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus continues to speak to the religious leaders. They have just said that Jesus is driving demons out by the power of Beezelbub, the prince of demons. I wanted to explain that so we can understand the tone of what Jesus will say next.

“33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

By our words we will be acquitted.

In Romans 10:9-10 we read this: ” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. “

I don’t want to oversimplify salvation. Confession and belief. It is with the words we say that we will be saved, along with belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

Entering into a relationship with Jesus is simple. Maintenance of that relationship and growth in the knowledge of Jesus and how best to live, isn’t easy.

It’s like buying a car (or a truck, shout out to my truck Rusty, winter’s over and the hiway is calling buddy).

The purchase of the car and ownership of the car are not the same. Once the car is ours it becomes our responsibility to fuel it and regularly maintain it. If we don’t, that car will cease to function. Either it will run out of fuel or it will break from lack of maintenance. Once we are in relationship with Jesus we need to maintain that relationship. We need to spend time with him in prayer and reading the Bible, spend time with other Christians, Christians with a deeper faith that we can learn from, and ones with a newer faith than ours to help them with life.

The analogy breaks down when we look at the purchase. We aren’t buying our relationship with Jesus, rather he bought us. He bought us back from slavery to sin and death. He paid with his life by dying on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead guaranteeing us eternal life.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

My biggest fear in writing these posts is that I will give incorrect or incomplete information about who Jesus is. I want the world to know him and believe in him. Believe today that Jesus died for our sins and 3 days later he rose from dead and is now alive forever.

It’s with our words that we will either be acquitted or condemned and today is good day to be acquitted.

Binary, 1 or 0?

In a binary numbering system there are only two numbers, 1 & 0. If a number is not 1 then it’s a..0.

Binary, on or off, yes or no.

Is Jesus my savior? 1, I mean yes.

It turns out that for the Jesus question there are only 2 answers. Our culture has told us that there are three possibilities , yes, no and ‘?’. Or a fill in the blank.

Matthew 12 has this story.

“22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

These verses have a lot in them. I have focused on one verse.

“30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. “

There will be a test in this. It is not an essay test. It is not multiple choice. It is a true or false binary 1 or 0 question.

I see it like this: i wake up dead. I am in a blue room, well it feels like a room but there are no walls, just blue. I am seated at a desk. It has a sheet of paper on it with this question.

Do I accept what Jesus did, his death, as payment for my sin? 1 = yes, 0 = no.

In front of me there is a screen with all of my sins being played out in a loop. So many. I cringe as I watch. Shame wells up, remorse, regret all wash over me.

Interspersed in the video of my sins is a video of Jesus death. I see him Being flogged, the crown of thorns, the huge heavy wooden cross that they drop on his whipped and raw shoulder. I see his trek up to the top of the hill carrying his cross, I see the nails hammered into his hands and feet, as they stand it up I see the bottom of the cross dropping into its hole, I see his body slammed against the nails. I watch him slowly die. I hear his words, “father forgive them…” then, “it is finished”. He looks at me with compassion and love and mercy.

I write a 1.

Because he died but rose again, as soon as I finish my test the blue melts away to the roar of people all around me praising God and Jesus himself welcoming me home.

1 or 0. Yes or no.

We can take the test now, today. We can fill in the answer today. I don’t know if we get the chance after we die. I made that up. I know that we can choose now. Today is the only day we can count on or do anything in. Today. 1 or 0.

A labor of love on the sabbath

John 7

God on trial

“Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”’

The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because he “worked” on the sabbath by healing an invalid who had been crippled for 38 years, and he told that man to break the sabbath by carrying his mat home.

How dare God break the sabbath rest rule. What was the law?

“8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Interpreting this law of God fell to the leaders of Israel.

Rest became a job for the Jewish people. I don’t have the specifics but I heard recently that stipulation was that you couldn’t wear false teeth because it constituted carrying a burden.

The people were so concerned with keeping Gods laws that they lost touch with the God who gave them the laws. The laws weren’t put in place to drive us away or to drive us crazy but to drive into the arms of God who loves us.

Jesus has come to set us free, not from the rules but from our failure to keep the rules. We can’t keep the rules. He can, he did, he died to pay for our breaking them.

Spiritual spring cleaning

What if Jesus showed up at the door to the museum of our life and asked for a tour? The museum is the store house of our memories, the place where our motives and motivation are kept, where our world view rests. Would our tour sound like this?

“Welcome Jesus to the museum of my life. You may look but do not touch. Please stay on the well marked pathway during the tour. Jesus you are welcome here but please do not alter or change anything, I like my life the way it is”.

What if at the end of the tour Jesus made some suggestions for changes to improve our life? Remove this, add that, clear out an entire area, change the focus of our world view?

Matthew 12 has another story about Jesus shaking up the religious establishments view on their rules.

“9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

It’s very easy to see how the religious leaders were wrong here. I keep wondering what other messages should this story be telling me?

So I imagined Jesus coming to me. My life. Bearing all of my life to him. Immediately I think of things that I don’t want him to see. Then I ask myself, why are they there? If Jesus shouldn’t see them, then why are they still in my life? Is there anger or resentment that I’ve been hiding? Why don’t I let Him wash that out of me? What about my little room of guilty pleasures? Not outright wrong, or the little closet of secret sins? Wouldn’t it be nice to do some spring cleaning and purge that all away? The weight of guilt and shame, overwhelming for me,but not for Jesus. He can cleanse those all away.

Is Jesus welcome in my life? Yes. Generally speaking. What if he asks me to change something?

Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath. He is that because he created it. He created. Everything that exists, exists because of him. He is the author and architect of life. He created me. He knows what is best for me because he knows what he created me for.

Back to the tour.

Today Jesus is at the door of the museum of my life. I am handing him the keys and saying, “Jesus, welcome to my life. It is a mess. I’m tired of the gunk and junk, please help me clean it up and clean it out”. Just over his shoulder I see a dumpster labeled Sin Disposal. That is a welcome sight. All of my sins forgiven.

Today not only will be forgiven of sins committed by me, I will also be forgiving sins against me.

Time for some spring cleaning in my museum.

To whom shall we go?

John 6

The miracles aren’t the main thing

“60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

My pastor says this often, the problem with life is its so daily. I live my life day by day and the challenges, especially the spiritual challenges are there every day.

The next day After Jesus fed the 5000 they were all hungry again. At the wedding when the water turned into wine was gone people got thirsty again.

The miracles were not to change the world, the miracles were to point to the one who could change a heart.

The miracles that Jesus performed weren’t an end in themselves. They were to point to Jesus otherness, his holiness. Yes he did grow up down the street but his origins were from eternity, not Galilee.

Not everyone could see past the miracles to the God/man who was before all time and who could build a bridge from a sin filled existence to an eternity with God.

The disciples saw it and Peter said it. ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”’

To whom shall we go? Is there another offer? A better offer? An offer with a brighter future than an eternity with a holy God?

To whom shall we go?

To Jesus. Why not today?

The night of tears

It was late at night or early in the morning. I was sitting in my 62 Mercury Comet station wagon outside my apartment. The dash lights were illuminating the inside of the car. The street light on the corner behind me dimly lit the outside.

I had blown it again. I knew the rules of Christian living. I’d spent the last 19 years in church at least once a week. I knew what the rules were. I just couldn’t keep them.

I was remorseful. I repented…again. It felt like it wasn’t just what I’d done that night. I was weighed down with what I had done on all the nights. All the nights and all the days. All the rules that I had broken. And now add one more to the pile of my sins. It felt like I was seeing it all at once. It also felt like God was sitting next to me staring at the huge pile of mess Then he asked me “what are we going to do with all of this?”

I was crying pretty hard at this point and I answered, “…I don’t know God…”

He said “Peter, someone has to pay for all of this. You know the rules, someone will have to die for all these sins…”

I said “ok” assuming he meant me.

I wiped away my tears and snot and went into my apartment and went to bed, expecting to wake up dead.

But life went on. I didn’t die, and life returned to normal.

In an animated version of my life, there would be a map of my spiritual journey and on that map would have a cartoon bubble that instead if saying, “you are here” it would say “for this someone must die”.

What did it mean that someone would have to die? How could God require a death?

Let’s look back to the beginning.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 2:15-17

Adam and Eve broke the only rule. They ate the forbidden fruit. They sinned and fell short of the glory of God.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:6-10

There were consequences to Adam and Eves sin. Among them was being cast out the garden.

But God did two things. First, he made a promise to them (and so also to us) while speaking to the serpent , “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3:15

God promised a helper, a savior. Someone who would be bruised in the fight, but that would crush or destroy Their enemy (and so our enemy) the serpent.

Second, God provided a covering for their nakedness.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
Genesis 3:21

Adam and Eve were covered by the skin of animals after attempting to cover themselves with plants.

Unlike the cartoon world of Wile E. Coyote, where Wile E. can unzip his skin, in the real world of Adam and Eve, (the same world we live in), the animals died to provide their skins. This is the first recorded death in creation, and it took place in order that Adam and Eves nakedness would be covered.

Sin caused Blood to be shed.

Sin must be paid for. I guess that is not entirely true. Sin doesn’t have to be paid for. But if we want to undo the damage that sin does, and the worst of the damage is the separation between us and God, we can go on without the sin being covered. If we do that, we die separated from God. Our inclination tends to be to want to even out the score. Do good stuff so we can outweigh the bad. It doesn’t work like that. We can’t pay for it with good works. Our good works, our best possible behavior appears to God looking like filthy rags.

Sin causes death, it must be paid for with a sacrificial death, life for a life.

The pattern of sacrificial death to atone for sin is throughout the old testament. We see it in Abel’s good sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock. We see it in Abraham offering Isaac and God intervening and providing the lamb. We see it in the lamb that was sacrificed on the eve of the Exodus, and then God used animal sacrifice over and over throughout the tabernacle worship that was prescribed for his people in laying out how to worship.

But I was in modern times. Animal sacrifice had faded away. Besides, God had said to me not something, but someone. Someone would have to die to pay for my sins.

My spiritual journey continued. I was trying to pay for my sins with good works and Christian service. I planned on becoming a Lutheran Pastor. Those plans were waylaid, and I was left wondering how I would ever clean up my mess. Then early one Sunday morning, I was alone in the back room of my parent’s cafe, getting breakfast for myself and my very pregnant bride and God continued our conversation that he had started sitting next to me in my car about a year earlier. I had left school to take over the café so I could support our little family. It seemed like I would never finish school and become a pastor so how could I ever right the wrongs that I had piled up?

“Peter, Your sin problem, I took care of it”.

“How God? You said someone would have to die? I’m still alive, I’ve tried to pay for it by being good and doing good, but that’s not working either, I just keep failing…..”

“Peter, I sent Jesus for you. I sent Jesus to die for your sins, it’s my gift to you and for you”.

And then he reminded me of the verses in Ephesians 2;

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:8-10

I would later read and understand that over and over again God says in his word that he loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die in our place. From the garden and even before, he had a plan to redeem us, us his beloved fallen race.

Another of my favorite verses is in Romans chapter 5.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
God has brought us reconciliation, he has restored the relationship between us and him through Jesus.
That night, the night of tears, it was so hard and yet it was a stepping stone on the pathway back to my God.
Jesus didn’t just die for me. He died for everyone. His one death covers all of our sins. He is waiting and wanting for all of us to return, through his gift of love, his gift of sacrifice, his gift of his own blood to cover our nakedness.
What will you do today about this gift? Will you receive it?
Jesus did not stay dead. Once his work was accomplished by his death, 3 days later he rose again and now he is busy preparing a place for us and also interceding for us. Going to his Father and now our Father and reminding him, that we are covered by his blood. Our sins are now forgiven.
There is room for all of us in his house. Will join Jesus and me in our Fathers house and in his family?

Our king takes a stroll

John 6

Jesus, being a man Walking on water

“16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.”

The circumstances are unclear. Why did the disciples leave without him? Did they think he had left already? Jesus had withdrawn so they wouldn’t make King by force. Had there been chanting? “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”? The crowd was determined. But Jesus knew that wasn’t The plan. He would be made King, but not like that. His crown would not be gold, it would be of thorns. All that comes in time.

Jesus is on the shore on the east side of the lake his followers are headed to the west side and experiencing a brutal storm. Men know instinctively that the shortest distance between points a and b is a straight line. Jesus started walking. The lake was beneath him and in front of him. But why walk on water?

One thing that may have happened and it completely conjecture on my part.

Maybe after Jesus would not become king the disciples checked out. Maybe Jesus walking on the water was supposed to say to them “I am king, but my kingdom is bigger than Israel, bigger than Rome, bigger than you can comprehend right now and the battle is not about land or laws. The battle is about hearts and minds and lives and eternity.”

Or maybe it was the quickest way across the lake.

Jesus is still waiting to rule hearts. He rules mine (most of the time, I still struggle with things and don’t always obey). He wants to rule our hearts, all of our hearts. That means each heart and all areas of each heart. He doesn’t want to control us, he wants to protect and bless us. He wants the best for each of us. His best, not always the same as the worlds best.

Today the choice is up to each one of us. Who will be king of our heart?

Our greatest need has been met

John 6

Gods math

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

God provides. Jesus is God. Jesus provided for 5000 men.

5 loaves + 2 fish = food for 5000 with 12 baskets left over.

I myself have many stories of need, usually $$$, and how miraculously our needs would be filled. Are filled. My current job and the things that Mary and I have done together are miraculous. Every day miracles happen all around us.

Sometimes when miracles happen we miss something. We stop asking about Our biggest needs and our biggest problems.

Even if we get food today death will meet us on another day. When death meets us we cash in morally. We need to settle up our debts.

How do we pay for our sin?

The form will look like this:
Have you ever said anything that was not true? Yes or no? If yes you are a liar- you cannot enter Gods kingdom

Have you ever taken possession of something that didn’t belong to you? Yes or No? If yes then you are a thief you cannot enter Gods kingdom.

Have you ever said the name of God in a way not referring to God? Yes or No? If yes you are a profaner of the name of God-you cannot enter Gods kingdom.

Have ever had sex with someone that you are not married to? (Or even thought about having sex with someone you are not married to?) Yes or No? If yes you are an adulterer-you cannot enter Gods kingdom.

The list goes on. There are 6 more. So far I’m not doing so good. Who will help me?

Jesus. Jesus has paid the price for my sin. He has paid the price for all
Of our sins. Do you believe that?

Seriously, that’s the question that is and will be posed to all of us- it will be on the bottom of the form at heavens gate, “do you believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins? Yes or No? If yes then enter into Gods kingdom and welcome to the family of God, we’ve been waiting for you. A place has been prepared for you.”

Not the gentle Jesus

John 5

Not the gentle Jesus

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

This is radical. A man claiming to be equal to God. He is either crazy or he is who he says he is. If he is crazy we should ignore his words and go back to our lives seeking what pleasures and comforts that we can find until we die.

If he is Gods son? What should we do then?

“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

Jesus said he has the power to give life to whom he pleased to give it and that all judgement has been given to him. And that we can’t honor His father if we don’t honor Him.

These are stern hard sayings. I’m squirming a little just writing them.

Let’s move on.

““Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”‘

Death is coming for everyone of us. Sobering truth. Jesus said that if we hear his words and believe God who sent him we don’t have to fear death. We have crossed over from death to life.

So much of our culture we pick and choose from life like we are at a supermarket or in a buffet line. I don’t think we get to pick and choose when it comes to Jesus. You take him all or you take nothing. If you take him you have crossed over from death to life. If you don’t chose him…..? Well just choose him and we don’t have to discuss the other option.

Jesus the healer

John 5

Rules rule (not)

“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.”

How could they miss the miracle? It astounds me. Whenever I am astounded by someone else’s mistakes I try to pause and look at my own life. Where am I missing a miracle? I know I can be judgmental and prudish, excusing myself from the same scrutiny I give others.

But 38 years of torment erased by a single command of Jesus!? It says that Jesus found out how Long he had been there, I think Jesus may have enquired, “who has been here the longest?” and picked that guy out of the “great number” of people there to heal.

I don’t want to miss the miraculous by tripping over the mundane. The religious leaders of the day had written volumes of rules to live by, very specific rules that were like application for the 10 commandments. Somehow these rules were given as much or more importance than the original word of God. Jesus exposed the ridiculousness by telling this man to break the rules. God said rest on the sabbath, do no work. man said well this is what work is. Carrying a weight, the mat.

I don’t want to miss the miracle by explaining the background. Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years.

“Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.”

I really wish Jesus hadn’t said this or that John forgot to write it down. “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”.

Is there a cause and affect relationship between my behavior and the consequences of my life? I don’t have the answer for that here yet.

There’s a difference between following rules made by man and following rules made by God. Breaking the rules have different consequences too. Jesus saves us from our broken rule records by paying for all those blunders with his life, dying in our place on the cross. Following rules doesn’t get us closer to God, following Jesus does.

I have accepted Jesus’ death as payment for my sins. Will you too?

Waiting for a rescue

Mary and I have been binge watching Leverage. It’s an action series and on almost every episode there is a rescue. Audiences love to watch a Rescue.

If the Jesus story were rewritten for a modern audience Matthew 11 might be very different. John the Baptist was in prison. He had endorsed Jesus as the messiah, Jesus was showing himself to be powerful in word and deed but John was still languishing in prison.

“11 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.[a]

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[c]
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

I think what John was asking in a roundabout way is, “when may I expect my release?”

The release doesn’t come. John will be beheaded while in prison.

Jesus answer to Johns disciples was to affirm that he is the messiah and God’s plan is moving ahead. It may not look like what John was expecting. No daring prison break. No overthrow of the Roman Empire.

Sometimes the center of God’s will is to be unjustly imprisoned. It may even to be unjustly killed.

Does God know? Yes.
Does he care? Yes.

Now a question for us, can we still trust and believe in God if life is not going the way we want?

What if there is no rescue? Can God really be God if there is no rescue?

Yes.

But there is a rescue for each of us. A freeing us from a prison that each one of us is in, The prison of sin.

Jesus came to set us free, free from sin. No one else can do that and without it no other freedom matters. We will all face death. Without Jesus our sin will forever separate us from God. With Jesus even the physically imprisoned can be spiritually free.

God is good. Life is sometimes hard. God is always good.

It takes a person

John 4

It takes a person to save a village

“28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”’

Sometimes it only takes one person in a village who has met Jesus and been changed by him to awaken the rest of the folks living around them to their need of a savior. There is only one. Jesus is the savior of the world.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”’

Jesus is the savior of the world.

He knows everything about me and still died to pay for my sin, our sins. Who will I tell ?

Renewing a warranty

John 4

Warranty repair

“7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”’

Mary’s car is under warranty. If it breaks the company will fix it. There are conditions to the warranty. Every 3 thousand miles or 3 months whichever comes first we are supposed to change the oil. I missed one. I may have missed 2. Mary doesn’t drive much so the months and Miles don’t line up. 27000 miles requiring 9 changes but we’ve owned it for 36 months which means we should have had 12 oil changes. Oops. How do I fix that? If I now change the oil 3 extra times are we good? Are we back on track?

Jesus met a woman. She had voided the warranty on her life. The warranty was sketchy at best. She was a Samaritan woman. A shirttail relative of Gods people. Gods people had a warranty of sorts, God would take care of them. At some point God was going to send the ultimate claims adjuster/repairman, the messiah and he would make all things right.

This lady, if you can call her that, and I think Jesus did treat her as a lady-so yeah, lady, had voided her warranty. 5 husbands and now sleeping with a man not her own. Warranty broken. But she was a charmer, she had charmed her way into and out of 5 marriages. But her charm was wearing off a little. She had a man but he was not so smitten as to seal the deal.

When she met Jesus she met a man who was impervious to her charm and yet knew how completely she had voided her warranty. She was exposed.

“21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”’

When she met this man Jesus who was impervious to her charms she also met the God who knew her whole story and yet……loved her and had come to this very spot on this very day to reveal himself as the claims adjuster/repairman that she had hoped existed but was sure she was unworthy of meeting. Certainly unworthy of being helped by.

The thing is, all of us, every one from the best to the worst, have voided our warranties. We are all without hope, unless there is a messiah, a claims adjuster/ repairman who can rescue us.

“Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Jesus was her only hope. Jesus is our only hope.

Repent and believe is our only course.

31%

31%

I wish I could come up with a better way to say this but I don’t know that there is one. Living the life of a Christian is simple, but it is not easy.

Matthew 10 continues with more real life.

“32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

The life of a Jesus follower will include sacrifice. It will require devotion to Him in times of opposition. We believe in a God we cannot see, who sent a son who lived and died and rose again, who ascended into the clouds saying he would be back. 2000 years have gone by. We are still waiting.

The joke goes, what is it when a bus load of __ goes over a cliff?

The punch line is – a good start.

In some parts of the world the blank is filled in with the word Christian.

The best answer is, a tragedy. Christians make up 31% of the worlds population. What do you have when 31% of the world knows Jesus as their savior?
A good start. The truth is, there are no Christians on the bus. The bus load is a load of 69% of those who don’t know Jesus yet. We have 69% of the world in a bus going over a cliff. This a tragedy. We have a good start with 31% of the world eternally safe, but their is much to do, 69 % of the worlds population is in eternal peril and who knows how much time is left? Who knows? No one. How do we get people off the bus? Let’s get busy sharing our story of how Jesus has forgiven our sin and made part of his family.

31%.

#reachingthe69percent

Behavior vs Belonging

John 3

Behavior vs belonging

Did this ever happen to you? As a kid You invite a friend to join you for a day of family fun. Then this friend out shines you in every way in front of your parents. They are more helpful, more courteous, more polite. By the end of the day you can’t stand your friend anymore and you are pretty sure that your parents are looking into trading kids. But then the friend goes back to his house and you go back to live with your parents. You are still their kid.

Good works don’t earn us salvation like behaving for our parents doesn’t make us more of their child. The good behaving neighbor kid didn’t earn his way into our family through their good behavior. Our bad behavior didn’t make us lose our last name. Birth makes us a child of our parents. Being “born again” makes us a child of God.

New birth makes us a child of God. Our good works please him but they won’t make us part of his family.

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b]gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”’

God wants us in his family.

“‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”‘

When I sin as a Christian, what do I do?

The same man that wrote the Gospel of John also wrote this in one of his letters: 1John 2

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

If we are born again we belong to God, we are part of his family. Our behavior won’t change our family status. If we’ve sinned we need to confess it, admit it and get it cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It’s his death that washes away our sin. We need to Stay clean, but if we stumble, we get back up and get cleaned up. Then we get on with sharing About this amazing God who forgives sin.