Carte Blanche

PNG image 10.pngWhen you and I became a child of God, He canceled the debt we owed because of sin. Christ paid the price for us by His death on the cross. That is the basics of the gospel. This is truly good news.

  • I sin because I am human. Rom 3:23
  • The debt I owe is death. Rom 6:23
  • But the gift of God is in Christ. Rom 6:23
  • The gospel is God’s power to save us from His wrath – Rom 1:16
  • The gospel is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ – 1Co 15:1-5

You and I do nothing to deserve God’s offer of forgiveness. Our obedience to the gospel (death, burial, and resurrection) in no way places God in debt to us. (Rom 6:3-6). This a covenant of GRACE (Rom 5:6-10, 20-21).

But when God erases our ledger of our debt, does that give us carte blanche to live how we choose? Does freedom in Christ mean free to be me?

Consider the follow words from scripture.

  • For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
  • Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:16)
  • What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
  • And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

Peter and Paul say, “No!” Our freedom is not so we can continue in sin. Our clean page is not so we can write what we want back on it. We died to self, crucified the flesh and are to live according to the Spirit of God.

Grace is not a carte blanche for sin, but a time to start over, to be clean, and to fill that page with godliness.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

If the Son has set you free, live for Him.

-Scott

Time to Choose

demon eye redNo matter what someone says to your or where they tell you to go; NO man can send you to Hell. Filp Wilson claimed “the devil made me do it.” Dana Carvey as the Church Lady would surmise, “Could it be . . . Satan?” But in reality hell is your choice. My mom reminded us often, “No one can make you do anything but die!”

Paul tells us in 1 Tim 2:4, “(God) desires all men to be saved.” Peter says much the same thing in 2 Pet 3:9, “God is not willing that any should perish. . .” Paul copan in Is god a Moral Monster picks up this idea and rightly suggests, “Hell itself is the act of self-exclusion from God, the final act of self-assertion and control.”

To say this concept another way if we find ourselves eternally in hell, we received our choice. How does one go about choosing hell over heaven?

  1. Ignore God’s Love – Jn 3:16
  2. Ignore God’s Word
  3. Ignore the Good News – Rom 1:16
  4. Ignore your conscience
  5. They want to bear their troubles alone.
  6. They choose to die without hope.

I am not sure why one would choose hell over heaven, but there are those who do and will.

Time to choose.

-Scott

Stand Fast, Stand Strong

PNG image 9We live in unstable times. We live in a time when Christianity as a whole represents a minority of the people in the world. Adherents.com estimates that only 30% of the worlds population is Christian. Some of those are in name only. We must take a stand and stand fast and strong often in opposition to the world around us.

  • We must stand fast that Christ is the only way to God; not Muhammed, or Buddha, or our ancestors, or Hindu gods, or science. Jesus is THE Way, Truth, and Life. – John 14:6
  • We must stand strong that marriage is for life. That living together outside of marriage is not God’s plan. That polygamy is not God’s plan. That open divorce and multiple marriages are not God’s plan. That same-gender marriage is not God’s plan. – Matthew 19:3-12
  • We must stand against racism. All people are God’s creation and all can be His children through faith – Gal 3:26-29
  • We must stand against abortion, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, immodesty, idolatry, human trafficking, and other things that destroy people’s lives.
  • We must take up the towel of service and find ways to help those caught up in Satan’s traps.

Peter reminds us that when we do, we should ” . . . not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1 Peter 4:12-16)

Gather, your strength and stand fast.

  • Stand Fast by making God your Refuge – Psa 18:1-3
  • Stand Fast by diligently pursuing faithfulness – Heb 12:1-3
  • Stand Fast by focusing on your future with God – Phil 3:12-15
  • Stand Fast by remembering God’s word to Joshua, “Only be strong and have courage.” (Josh 1:6)

-Scott

Good vs . . .

PNG image 8A few years ago my friend Ryan Mullinax relayed a quote he recently heard from a Holocaust Survivor who spoke at the school where he taught and coached.

 “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of right is not wrong; the opposite of justice is not injustice.  The opposite of good, of right, and of justice is INDIFFERENCE.”

Wow! To my mind, that is a powerful thought not only concerning the Holocaust, but in service to God as well.  Indifference to the sacrifice of Christ is eternally deadly.  Indifference to sin in my life leads to problems.  Indifference to the lost leads to lack of action.  I could go on. Indifference.

Father, help me to not look on with an attitude of indifference, but to learn the compassionate action displayed by Your Son, my Example and Savior.  In Jesus name . . .

Where do you see indifference as a problem?

–  Scott

Not What I Do

PNG image 7In more than a couple of different conversations and in one Bible class in the last couple of weeks different people made reference to the same verse. A book I was reading in last night, a book about Abraham and the Old Covenant connection to Christianity, also referenced this verse and the chapter it is in.

This morning on the way to my study, I heard the following lyrics from Casting Crowns:

Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done.

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are.

Those lyrics from the song Who Am I brought that same verse to mind.

What verse?

I am glad you want to know. Peter made this statement about Jews and Gentiles in Acts 15:11, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Dear Father,

Thank you for Your Grace through our Lord, Jesus the Christ. Thank you for salvation that is in Him. Thank You for taken my burden. Thank you for not requiring my perfection, but my faith. Help me to trust always and only in You. Help me as I strive to be ever more faithful to Your love.

In Jesus’ name –

I cannot speak for anyone but me, but I for one am glad that salvation is because of who Christ is and what He has done and not what I do.

-Scott

Vacation and Storms

PNG image 6I took a little time away from most of my regular schedule las week. We enjoyed some time with my parents. We took in the sights around Lake Guntersville (Guntersville, Alabama), went shopping at The Unclaimed Baggage Store in Scottsboro on Memorial Day and then drove the ridge of Little River Canyon.

While we were on vacation we had to be weather aware. Tropical Storm Alberto came up through the Gulf of Mexico and entered Alabama. The area we were in had potential for storms. We did get a little bit of rain, but nothing severe. However, in a storm system unrelated to Alberto, Ellicott City, Maryland flooded. Many homes and businesses were destroyed and one off-duty National Guard member lost his life trying to save others. His family deserves to know that he is truly an American hero!

Watching scenes of Ellicott City reminded me of the 1990 Flood in Elba, Alabama. The Pea River crested at 48 feet and Whitewater Creek breeched the levee. The levee failed and Elba flooded. A few days later, I wen with a crew from Niceville Church of Christ (Niceville, FL) to help with some clean=up efforts.

Storms come into our lives. Some storms are literal physical storms. Others are different kinds of storms. There are:

  • Storms of illness
  • Storms of ridicule
  • Storms of stress
  • Storms of uncertainty
  • Storms can knock you off of your feet.

When the disciples found themselves in a dangerous storm on Galilee, they roused Jesus from sleep and asked, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mar 4:38). When we face our “storms” we think and ask the same thing. God, do You care? May I remind you that He does care. Peter, one who was in that boat, would later write, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” (1Pe 5:7). Peter knew from his experience that God cares.

We read of another storm in Acts 27:22-25. In this storm the apostle Paul was able to remain calm and encourage his fellow passengers. He was calm because of his faith in God. He told the others to

  1. Take Courage,
  2. God is with you.
  3. God cares and protects.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

I leave you with this thought and challenge:

Rely on faith during the storms of life.

 

 

Near at Hand

PNG image 5Paul, Arrant, better known as Paul Harvey, told the following story:

The Missing Bullet

It was during the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, when they brought in the victim of a shooting. The victim, Bill, was fortunate that the Exposition had a large first-aid station, more like an emergency hospital. They even had an operating room. Bill was going to need it! He had taken two bullets at close range. It was about four-thirty in the afternoon when Bill, conscious yet in severe shock, was taken inside, hoisted on to the table, and undressed. The situation looked and was bad.

The doctors realized there was no time to waste and began to operate. Anesthesia was administered. Bill did not count backwards from ten, but instead began, “Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name . . .” Before he finished quoting the prayer, he was under. The doctors made an incision, Bills abdomen was opened. One bullet was of great concern. This bullet had slashed right through Bill’s stomach, front and rear walls. The lacerations were sutured – but where was the bullet? Lodged somewhere in the muscles of his back? It was as though the projectile had vanished. The doctors wanted to find the missing bullet, yet the patient might not survive prolonged probing. They closed him up – and hoped for the best. A week later Bill was dead.

Bill had a few things going against him. He was overweight and nearly sixty years old. Mainly it was the wound; insufficiently cleaned and a missing projectile. “IF” is a big question here. IF the doctors had been able to locate and remove the missing bullet, Bill might have lived.

An now the rest of the story.

Bill was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. On exhibit at the Exposition, possibly unknown to the doctors and not far from the scene of the shooting, was a relatively new invention. This revolutionary device could have helped. This X-ray machine, so near, yet so far, was operational and would most certainly have located the fatal bullet. Instead, Bill – President William Mckinley – died with an assassin’s bullet inside.

Help was near at hand, but apparently no one knew. For many it is that way with our lives. God (His power, His promise, His purpose) is near at hand. When we face the loss of a loved on, or a failure in business, a problem in marriage, or a broken friendship why do we give up so easily?  When we face the future, why do we face it with fear? You and I are not alone in the universe. We do not have to rely on our own weak abilities and resources. God is at hand! “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalms 145:18)

-Scott

(adapted from D. F. Parsons Family Matters, the Levy Church, March 8, 1987)

I Hope

hopeMany times when we think of hope, we think of childhood dreams or wishes. A child might hope she gets to meet all the Disney Princesses. He might hope he is finally tall enough to ride the Goliath at Six Flags. But those dreams may not come true.

Sometimes we transfer that working definition of hope to our relationship with God. We think of our desire for heaven the same way. We tend to communicate that we hope we make it to heaven, but we are not quite sure.

Our hope in Christ is not a possibly unsatisfied longing,. Our hope is a desire mixed with anticipation, and accompanied by certain expectation. As a child of God, I have a desire to have an eternal home in heaven. Likewise, I am anticipating what eternity will be like. I also expect that I will be there.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

Hope in the pages of Scripture is not an uncertain longing, but an expected reality. After all, Paul says that “hope saves” (Rom 8:24) and that Godly “hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:3-5).

-Scott

Bonus video:

Another Royal Wedding

If you are British, part of the commonwealth, or simply fascinated by all things royal you are likely to get up tomorrow and watch a certain event live. Tomorrow’s wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is capturing the attention of people around the world. This wedding, much like that of Prince William and Kate, is as close to a modern fairytale as you can get. In both romances a young woman from a “common” background marries a prince. Miss Markle’s family background and her not being British, but from the United States (former Colonies) makes this a “storied” wedding.

There is something appealing about those that seem and that society often deems unworthy or less than worthy getting the prince. There is something more than “noblesse oblige” to William and Harry choosing to marry whom they choose. What we appear to see is a stat,net of love and respect.

I know that you are way ahead of me, but allow me to make the obvious connection to our marriage to Christ. Allow me to remind you that as a Christian as a part of the Church, you are the bride of Christ:

Ephesians 5:22-33

When the day comes for the Lord to return and take his bride home, what a GLORIOUS ROYAL WEDDING that will be!

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:6-10)

That is one Royal Wedding I look forward too. I, the undeserving, entering into the family and the eternal house of God!

-Scott