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I woke up this morning remembering the last person I talked to on Third Street last night. His name was Lucian and he was raised in a religious tradition that had taught him that salvation was dependent upon his good works. I explained to him God’s method of saving people was only through faith in the work of Jesus Christ as He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. It was one of those moments when even as the words were coming out of my mouth, my own heart was rejoicing in the grace of God…such a great salvation, which I could never earn, freely given. As we finished our conversation, I gave Lucian a gospel tract which he promised to read. And as this big, strong young man walked away he was visibly moved, wiping away tears. So I wanted to ask everyone to pray for Lucian to leave his works and trust in Christ’s work… and also to remind us all that there is such beauty and power in this message we preach. We need not ever be ashamed of it or hesitate to share it with any who will hear. It is truly the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Burdened

There is a great burden on my heart today for a particular group of people. I meet them all the time….they are everywhere. They come from widely varied walks of life, from the affluent to the homeless. They may be young or old, from this country or another. But they have this in common — they believe they are saved, but they are not. “You shouldn’t judge people”, you may say. I appeal to the Scriptures which tell us that we can be known by our fruit. A saved life produces God-glorifying fruit. A saved life hates sin. Many people look back to the day that they said those “magic words” we call the sinner’s prayer as their hope for eternal life. However there has been no lasting change in their lives. They still love their sin. Yet because they said the “magic words”, they believe that God is satisfied and they’ll meet up with Him in heaven someday….but they have no love for Him here; no desire for Him; no yearning for holiness or hunger for His presence. Salvation is not merely heaven. Salvation is God Himself. The reality of HIM as the all-encompassing priority, focus and joy of our life.

So many have been deceived. While joyfully indulging in whatever makes them happy at the moment no matter what God has said about it, they demonstrate who actually is their Lord —- themselves. I’m not just talking about the drunkards, the addicts, and the prostitutes, but the good, moral, law-abiding citizens who fill up their lives with everything but God. Maybe He gets a Sunday service every now and then. Maybe a daily prayer or devotional. But HE IS GOD and He deserves every moment of every day, not just the crumbs that are left over after we’ve had our fill.

If you think you’re good enough for heaven, you are wrong. No one is good enough. If you think your religious activities will earn you heaven, you are wrong. We will never be saved by works. But what we can never do and never earn, God offers freely through the giving up of His Son to death on the cross for our sin. He paid the penalty that we deserved to pay that we might have His righteousness, which we could never deserve. There is no other way of salvation apart from Jesus Christ. NONE.

If people only knew Jesus…..really knew Him, they would gladly forsake all sin and everything else of this world to walk with Him. On that day when they step into eternity, so many are going to be surprised to hear those fearful words, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.” There will be no remedy. There will be no hope.

My heart aches for you. And the heart of God pleads for you to consider your ways, turn from your sin and be saved.

Complete

Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

I was so encouraged to read the definition of the word “complete”. Look at this:

You are caused to abound in Him

You are furnished and supplied liberally in Him

You are filled to the top in Him so that nothing shall be wanting

You are made complete in every particular in Him

For all of us who have ever felt discouraged by the weakness of our own life, remember….we don’t live by that life anymore. We live by the life of Another. And that Life lacks nothing. What a glorious truth!

Vessel of Honor

2 Timothy 2:20-21 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

If the way we live our lives and the things we choose to abstain from affect our usefulness in advancing the kingdom, WHY would we allow anything in our lives that hinders us from being that vessel of honor?

Time is short. Live ready to be useful to your King.

This Present Evil World

Galatians 1:3-4 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father.

Our mighty Lord Jesus has saved us who have called upon His name from the penalty and power of sin, opened our eyes and turned us from darkness to light. Because of Him, we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. But although we are not of the world, we are still in the world… this present evil world.

It is a world system that is in view in this verse, with its thoughts, opinions, and values which continually press us and attempt to mold us into its image. The world is not content with merely being corrupt. It insists upon actively exerting its corrupting influence upon our lives. Not all at one time, mind you. Little by little, numbing us by increasingly graphic scenes of violence and immorality on the news and in entertainment, the distracting nature of current events, and an endless variety of cares of this world. All of it numbing us and pulling us away from that which is truly important.

The will of God is that we would be free of that influence, however if we continue to immerse ourselves in it, then we will undoubtedly be affected by it. How can we be sensitive to the Spirit of God when our souls have been polluted (and oftentimes entertained) by the corruption of this world?

This verse has been a strong reminder to me today. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else.

Unashamed Worship

Matthew 26:7 “a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.”

Right up in the middle of everybody

They didn’t like it
It wasn’t proper
She didn’t care
He was worth it

Those who waited for the “proper” time had no opportunity to anoint Him, for He was already risen. (Luke 24:1-3)

She may not have understood the significance of what she did. But she was one who sat at His feet, learning Him, loving Him….and so when her heart was moved within her, she was unashamed to worship Him.

May we learn a lesson from her.

I saw him sitting on the curb reading one of our gospel tracts so I walked over to talk to him. Jerry was an older man who looked like he had lived a rough life. He talked about God in a generic kind of way that I’ve heard far too often. He’s thankful for the good in his life and attributes it to God watching over him. He’s not born again but believes that he is a good person and feels sure that God is satisfied with that. He believes that the Bible is God’s word….that is, until he doesn’t like what it says. By his own admission Jerry is given to regular drunkenness. In his mind, he doesn’t consider it to be a problem to God. When I pointed Jerry to the verses that spoke about drunkenness as a sin, he began to dismiss the Bible as a book written by men. And all because it touched the sin that he loved. As I talked to Jerry about the grace of God through Jesus Christ…about forgiveness of sin and deliverance from its power, he sat on that curb and cried. Yet he was unwilling to part with that one sin. I made sure he understood the consequences of that decision. He thanked me for talking to him and was wiping away another tear as I walked away. Please pray for Jerry to receive the love of the truth and be saved.