The Only Gospel

Galatians 1:6-7
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
When I accepted Christ as my savior I was eight years old. The grossest of my sins (the ones I can remember) were cutting holes in my Dad’s favorite recliner with a new pocket knife, poking holes in the garden hoses with a safety pin, leaving the water on all night at grandma’s house (I expected to wake up needing a boat) and telling big lies about fishing with my dad on the Isle of Patmos and having bears in our attic. I’m sure my mom has a bigger list, but those are the ones that come to my mind.
So when I thought about having my sins forgiven it didn’t register to me as such a big deal. They certainly didn’t seem worthy of Christ dying for… but then, I was much too young to understand the concept of forgiveness.
What I did understand was that God loved me, and he loved me enough to send Jesus to die on a cross for me and if I trusted him as savior He would come into my heart and live with me. If I continued to reject His love for me I would eventually die and spend eternity apart from Him. All this I knew at eight years of age.
I knew I needed a savior because of my rebellion, because I refused to humble myself before God. But God continued to convict me until one Sunday morning I went forward during an alter call and trusted Jesus Christ as my own savior. The year was 1962.
There was a joy and excitement that came over me the day I trusted Christ, I can remember it like it was yesterday. Peace with God and forgiveness were very real and tangible things, and they remain to this day.
Forgiveness says you had a debt – but it has been paid. You are free to go… you no longer owe me anything. But forgiveness is only half of what happened that day in 1962.
I also became blameless… the righteousness of Christ was placed upon me like a robe, a mantle, a covering that forever changed who I was. Becoming blameless is more than God ignoring your sins, not counting them against you anymore. We become blameless because we have a new righteousness that is given to us as a gift of salvation. Jesus paid my debt of sin and I no longer owe God, I am free to go but then He gives us the robe of righteousness, the very righteousness of Christ and He says you are free to come.
Because we have been made blameless we can come into the very presence of God and enjoy His fellowship and His love. Forgiveness says go, blameless says come…
Prayer: Thank you Father for giving us both

I Too Need Rescue

For a few minutes after he was sucked under the life raft, Ryan struggled against the breaking swells, trying to make it back to the orange shelter. But it was pointless. He was too far away, and already exhausted. He lay back horizontally in the water, letting his head rest against the inflatable pillow at the neck of his survival suit. His heart was pounding.
Ryan tried to concentrate on how his suit supported him in the water and how best to avoid being pummeled by the swells. He did his best to position himself with his back to the breaking waves. He looked up at the moon, skipping in and out of view in the black sky. In the distance, he could hear someone yelling: “I can’t swim, I can’t swim. I don’t know what to do!”
Ryan tried to talk himself into calming down.
Every time he rose up on a crest, he could see lights spread out behind him in the water. It seemed like he was farther downwind than anyone else.
Gazing back toward the ship, Ryan could see at least half a dozen tiny, solitary beacons flickering among the waves. There was just enough moonlight to make out the outline of the Alaska Ranger bulging from the ocean. The ship was dark, just a shadow, really. Ryan watched as her bow turned slowly up, finally pointing straight toward the sky. The wheelhouse was at the waterline when, eerily, the lights inside flickered on for a moment.
There’s still some power, Ryan thought. Maybe she’ll right herself. But then, in a matter of seconds, the ship plunged straight down, swallowed whole by the dark sea….
In this excerpt from Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History
by Kalee Thompson, we feel the dire situation of Ryan. His ship is sunk. He is floating in the deep dark churning waves of the ocean. He is lost. His only hope is for someone to rescue him.
This is the same feeling that we should have when we think about the state of the human race. Our ship is sunk; we need rescue. I am reminded of an old hymn:
I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me. Now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help Love lifted me.
Galatians 1:3-5
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus chose to rescue us from the waters of sin. But he did not pull us up out of the water, he jumped into the water with us and pushed us up into the life raft. Then, when everyone was safe, he died the death we were destined to die. He died rescuing us so that we might live.
This is the gospel. This is the message Paul is fighting for… by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God. Freedom comes alive for us through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Prayer: Don’t let me exchange my freedom for things that will enslave me. Christ has set me free and I am free indeed.

A Correct Political Filter

Galatians 1:3-5
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul says we are rescued from this present evil age but I see some problems when I think about our election on Tuesday.
We live in a very divided country. People choose sides of the political spectrum based on what’s called liberal (progressive) positions and conservative positions. It doesn’t mean liberals are liberal about everything any more than conservatives are conservative about everything. But it often means that we use the filter of our political persuasion to view the world and to judge people on political lines. Unfortunately Christians get caught up into this thought pattern as well, especially during election cycles like the one we just experienced.
But believers are called to have a different filter. We are to allow the word of God to shape our world view and to guide our opinion of other people. The Bible says we live in a fallen world with fallen people, including ourselves. We are not perfect but we are not as bad as we would be without Christ in our lives. In fact, if we have been made alive in Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells within us to guide us and give us hope, we have a living hope. To the degree that we submit to the will of Jesus Christ and his and authority we find ourselves being set free form the anxieties and fears of this present evil age.
Notice Paul does not say we have been rescued out of the present evil age but rather from the present evil age. One day the present evil age will come to an end and a new eternal age of righteousness and perfection will replace it. But until that day we have been rescued from the slavery to the present evil age – set free by the power of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit in our hearts and minds.
We are called to be salt and light in this present evil age. We are called to fight against and rebuke evil wherever we see it, even in republicans and democrats, liberals and conservatives, independents and libertarians. Whatever our political persuasion as believers we must be guided by Biblical truth first and foremost.
There are people in our society that need to be protected by those who, at their core, are believers first political party second (or way down the list as it should be). We are to protect the unborn, the aged and helpless. The defenseless children, the poor and needy, the orphans and widows, our veterans and their families. If that makes me liberal then I am a liberal.
We need to stand up for truth and for justice, to protect the weak and abused. To seek God’s word and let it guide us in determining what is right and wrong. We need to defend our law enforcement communities from people who want lawlessness and anarchy, and elect people with purpose and character to represent us in government. If this makes me a conservative than I’m a conservative.
And we are called to believe that no matter what happens in this present evil age, God is still in charge. If he can speak through Balaam’s donkey he can certainly use our flawed politicians to carry out his will for us in this nation as well. So I am going to dwell on that truth and look for opportunities to fight what is evil even from people in my own political party and support for what it good even if it comes from people I don’t respect. Who’s to say God is not using them for his own purposes?
Prayer:  Give us courage to stand for your truth even in this present evil age and give us the faith to trust you with all things, even our politics.

Daily Devotions 2020