“Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Paul is saying here that none of us deserve anything but the wrath of God. God is holy and He created us to represent Him on this earth. We were not good representatives of God’s holiness.
But, instead of the wrath of God, He provides the grace of God. This is because God is rich in mercy. To deliver us from the wrath of God, we have to be made alive with Christ. Jesus Christ is the key to transferring your wrath of God for the grace of God.
And, remember, God is still rich in mercy toward you.
“Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them’” (Luke 11:46).
Here are people who had dedicated their lives to studying God’s Law, yet there was a curse (woe) upon them. What would bring a curse upon experts of God’s Law?
First, because they loaded down people with burdens they could hardly carry. History is full of religious people putting behavioral burdens (Thou shalt; thou shalt not) on people that are oppressive and not life giving.
And secondly, because they themselves did nothing to help the weaker ones carry the burdens they have put upon them. Legalism leads to burdens people cannot bear, and judgment for the law givers who refuse to help.
Lord, make me a grace giver who helps others get free of their burdens.
As a child, I didn’t like reading. I hated reading assignments in school. With attention deficit disorder, I couldn’t focus long enough to get anything out of the book. But when I was a Senior in High School, I read a cheap paperback titled ‘1-A’. It was the story of an American who was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. The story told about his experiences in the jungles and the atrocities of the evil Viet Cong.
The book intrigued me and held my attention. I was persuaded that the war was a worthy cause to deliver people from Communism. Later that year, when my number was up for the draft, I decided to enlist rather than be drafted. That book played a major role in my decision. I entered the Army a flag waving patriot. Unfortunately, three years later I had changed my opinion of that war, and came home disillusioned. That led to a pursuit of alcohol and the hippie culture, championed by The Beatles.
The only other book to influence my life like that was the Bible. When I discovered Christ I tore into that book searching for the truth of God. I read it from cover to cover in 12 months, retaining much of the content. It was like ADD was gone. At least in that area, anyway.
What one book changed you the most?
This year I declared war again on the Poison Ivy growing in the fence row next to our property. Most of the thick growth died earlier after I sprayed it pretty well with Roundup Brush Killer. I surveyed the situation again Monday morning and spotted more growth in some hard to reach places. I took my loppers out and cut through several vines growing up trees. I’ll spray new growth before fall when the vines begin to heal. Now I’m hoping I didn’t make contact with any of the nasty stuff.
Poison Ivy reminds me of sin. All it takes is one contact and the poison spreads. Although its leaves are a lush deep green, don’t let it fool you; it is potent and can make you miserable. Once you get contaminated, it develops in you a healthy fear of getting caught again. You can enjoy it today without any fear, but about two days later, the symptoms begin to break out, and can continue for weeks. It is so severe in me I need a shot to dry it up and stop the spread.
Is it any wonder I’ve declared war on Poison Ivy? We should do the same with sin.
Some really great things happened at New Hope this weekend. Pastor Adam and the worship team led some powerful spiritual worship. 9 people received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We heard a great healing testimony from Terry Purdy. Bob and Michelle Day brought peace to my heart at the Oasis. And about 45-50 came to the altar to “wake up” from spiritual sleepiness. Seeing God actually “do” something in people’s lives is absolutely exhilarating.
When we read the Bible we read about amazing spiritual breakthroughs in people’s lives. The more we ignore God the less we see those kinds of breakthroughs. But, I’ve seen that when people get serious with God, His presence begins to renew those breakthroughs. They aren’t automatic; they require us to press in. God has never changed and He loves us with great passion. Press in today and watch what ‘coincidences’ happen in your life.
Two years ago my kids and wife bought me a Red Oak tree. I planted it where it should give evening shade over our fire pit in a few years. Its a beautiful tree.
This last harsh winter it got some disease of the bark on one side. As the tree grew this season, that side of the trunk was completely dead, and the remaining bark grew to heal the wound. As the new growth on the branches and the leaves filled out, the weight of the new growth overwhelmed the weakened trunk and the tree began to bow over toward the weak side. I knew it needed help.
So I placed fence posts on the strong side and used bungee cords attached to the posts to pull the tree upright. Then I used ribbon to attach a 6-7′ bamboo pole to straighten up the longest branch and give the tree some extra height. Then I soaked the roots to promote growth. It looks good; now I’ve got to wait for it to heal and grow firm in that position.
God does the same thing to us. He sees where we’re broken, and begins a plan for healing. He pulls us this way, and forces us that way, and then he ties us in place so we can’t move, like a cast on a broken leg. After a due season, He can take the restraints off and presto: We are exactly as He planned. We are His workmanship. Don’t resist the Master’s hand.
Our daughter, Jenny, married a Brit and moved to England where they lived for five years. We visited them once and caught the high speed train into London. You can travel all over town on the multi-level Subway. At all stations is the visual and audible warning, “Mind the Gap”. The phrase refers to the 1 1/2″ gap between the walkway and subway car. Its a danger for canes, umbrellas, small-wheeled carts, toddlers and things dropped.
But, perhaps it can also be a warning to us Christians. Mind the gap between what you do and what God’s word tells you to do. Mind the gap between what you say and what God’s word tells you to say. And mind the gap between the world’s ways and God’s ways.
Mind the Gap.