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Thursday, November 24, 2022

What Jesus Did For You

It's a good day to think about what Jesus did for you! But let's go beyond John 3:16, shall we?

Did God save us because we were "good people"?

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. - Titus 3:4-7 ESV

Do we have something to live for? Is there any hope for us?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV

Some days I feel so angry about things! How can I ever be good enough for God?

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven... - Colossians 1:21-22 ESV

I'm nobody special. I don't even understand God. How could I be part of His family?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. - Ephesians 1:3-10

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Teflon

Photo credit: Polka Dot Images

I've been thinking about Teflon. Teflon is the gray surface on your pots and pans that makes it easier for food not to stick while you're cooking. You can put food on Teflon, and it sits there on it and cooks on it. It won't leap off the Teflon on its own, but once the food is cooked, it's easy enough to get it off of the Teflon. In theory it slides right off. (Now I'm no cook by anyone's stretch of imagination, but even I know that it's wise to spray some cooking spray stuff on there too, because the Teflon isn't always perfect, but let's ignore that elephant in the room right now. Let's pretend that Teflon is a perfect non-stick surface.)

I've also been thinking about a Bible verse. Okay, two Bible verses (one of them quotes the other one):

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his wounds we are healed.
 - Isaiah 53:5 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24 ESV
I've heard about this pair of Scriptures my whole life. "In Isaiah," the story goes, "it looks at Jesus' healing provision in the present tense, as though the healing is being provided right now. When Peter quotes the prophecy, he puts it in the past tense, showing that our healing was accomplished on the Cross and we are already healed."

That certainly "preaches" when I'm at church and feel fine. It seems a little fishy, though, when I'm in bed with a fever, or throwing up something bad I ate, or suffering from some disease a doctor just told me is not healable by medical science.

So if I'm the healed already, and have been since something like 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the Cross, how come I still can catch COVID-19?

The answer lies in Teflon. When I drop the egg in my skillet, the egg stays there. It cooks and it fries. It may ooze around the skillet a little bit, but it basically stays there. That is, it stays there UNTIL I pick up my spatula and pick the egg up. Turns out it was never stuck to the Teflon at all. At any time, it could have been removed. It was never attached. The only reason it was there was because I left it there.

When I experience sickness, I don't pretend it's not there. I don't lie and say that I'm feeling fine. I might even see a doctor if it's starting to seem serious. But I also don't give up hope when sickness looks bad. Sometimes when I don't feel good it's tough to keep from getting distracted, but I keep my eyes on Jesus. I know what He's provided for me, and I know what sticks to me and what doesn't. I look to Him as my healer, and I know that the sickness can't stick to me.

I am Teflon.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Live Like There's Every Tomorrow

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. - Romans 13:11-14 NIV

Paul wrote that to the church in Rome thousands of years ago. He was writing to Christians — people who had already given their hearts to Jesus "when they first believed." These days, we call that "salvation", but Paul refers to salvation here as a future thing. Didn't they already have salvation? Weren't they "saved"?

Of course they were! At least, they were the way we use the term today. What I realized when I read this passage this morning was that Paul is talking about our full salvation... not just the salvation of our spiritual selves, which we obtain by putting our faith in Jesus, but the salvation of our bodies and minds, which will happen in the resurrection at the end of time. Jesus will come back, the dead in Christ will rise first, we will meet them in the air, and we will all be changed! (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 NIV)

What Paul is telling them and us here is that we need to seek to live our lives as though this had already happened. Live as though you are already in God's kingdom of light, wrapped in his armor, behaving like someone who has been fully saved, spirit mind and body. Act like Jesus has returned, the book of Revelation has been played out, and eternity has begun. This is the life of faith! This is God's best for us. But if we figuratively stay in bed, if we don't "rise and let Christ shine on us," we won't access this best life that Jesus has made available to us until then.

Paul says we can have it now! Don't live like there's no tomorrow... we're living in the first day of eternity! Let's live like there's every tomorrow!