Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Appearing before Heaven's Court

When people normally think of Judgment Day, we presume we are going to be standing before a court we can bargain with... that we will have something to offer.

But here's the problem: This is not a court we know.  Do you know who will gather for this proceeding?  All creation.  That means all the angels of creation will be in attendance.  Do you know how many that is?  It means you will stand before the One who sees all, the righteous One, a holy Judge who cannot err.

Everything will be revealed.   A terrifying thought.  Everything.  That means the things you did in private.  That means the thoughts you had in your head.  Yes, even your feelings.  Laid bare.  Evaluated before a righteous court of God and His holy, sinless angels.  Before everyone.

This would be terrifying enough, but the chief thing we ignore is this:  Sin is so evil in this court, that not all the good thoughts, words and deeds of all of fallen humanity could atone for even one sin of one person.  Not one.  They are not sufficient payment, because these so called good works would still be done by sinful humans.  They would still remain impure, because of what mankind lost in Adam's fall.  They would all, as a whole, fail to remove even one impure thought or word or deed.  Not even one.

Do we see our situation?  Do we comprehend now what Judgment Day entails?  What can we do?  What could we possibly do to change this?  Nothing.

But God can.  God has.  He sent His Son - to take up our cause - take up our flesh and our sin - and take it all to the cross.  Jesus was judged for all.  His Father poured out His righteous punishment on Him, and you can see - it was awful, real,true.  Jesus chose to suffer this for you, be shamed for you, step in for you to clear your record forever.  Christ atoned for the sin of the world with His innocence.  He gave His godliness and righteousness up as payment.  He died, rose and ascended to the heavenly courtroom where His own living blood forever cries for your forgiveness.  You are forgiven.  Cleared.   Free - from the fear and the guilt and the shame.  You are His- this One who gave Himself for you.

What will you say?  How will you respond to such devotion shown to you, such love beyond compare? 

Trust Him.  Lay hold of Him.  Wrap your arms around His blood promise and never let go.  Seek Him and His way ignoring all else.  Grow in Him.  Go deeper with Him by learning as much as you can about what He says and what it means for your life with Him.  You will be with Him forever.  Might as well get as close as you can as quick as you can.  Get to Bible class, read or hear His Word everyday - whether in your Bible or sermons on our website or whatever other promise filled place He has provided you. Study His Word with others and build them up in Him as they build you up in Him.

Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life.  And He is yours.

Monday, 20 June 2016

How Jesus overcomes Orlando

“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said.

Christ rules by His Word.  Teaching.  Not by bodily force, nor the State. 

Christ commanded His apostles to teach, to proclaim forgiveness.  He did not give them the power of the sword, the right to establish, occupy or bestow kingdoms of the world.

“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,” Paul wrote.  No, of course not – they are - and always will be - the declaration of Christ’s saving work on the cross for the sake of all people.

The recent shootings in Orlando revive in our minds the dangerous and evil structure of false religions: the mixing of Religion and State.  Whenever Religion takes up the power of the sword, or attempts to establish control with anything other than humble teaching, it lies squarely in the realm of the Evil One.  Oh, it is a great temptation to reach for that power – no doubt – but Christ resisted even this.

Think about it.  Christ comes gently, humbly – by entreating people to see what He has already accomplished for us in His battle on the cross.  And His battle was not one of force the way we think of force – but true, undeniable victory – “dying” our violence, taking it in, absorbing it fully into Himself, that His Word of forgiveness might control all things.  This is love.  He has overcome all evil power structures in His death.  He has remade humanity in Himself.  Christ is the new humanity, and everyone who hears this and believes it shall enjoy His new kingdom forever. 

The devil wants to scare you so you put your trust in some kingdom of the world.  But these kingdoms will all let you down.  They will never save you.  Only Jesus will, who comes to you humbly, gently, mercifully by His Word alone.  Thanks be to God that His care for us is by Word and not force.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Sick of that Same Old Love?

The lyrics of pop music are usually fluff – but sometimes they are quite instructive.

Selena Gomez’s latest “hit” is called “Same Old Love” where she sings on and on about how she “is so sick of that same old love.”  Which should lead one to ask – what kind of “love” is she sick of?  What kind of “love” is she talking about?

“The kind that tears me up” she sings.  “The kind that breaks your heart.”  Ohhhhhhhh, you’re talking about the “love” Disney panders.  The stare-into-each-others-eyes-time-melts-away kind of “love.”  The chemicals rushing through the bloodstream “love.”  The high-like-a-drug “love.”

Pop music and Hollywood have been selling this kind of feel-good love as the “true” thing for decades, and according to Selena, it has finally caught up with us.  Because there is a huge deception in this “love” they are talking/singing about.  This “love” they boast of and teach everyone to search for – above all else – at the expense of anything that comes in its way – is not actually for anyone but you.  Just you.  You and only you, all by yourself, all alone.

Think about it.  They are not talking about what you do for someone else.  They are talking about the way you feel inside when you are with someone.  They are talking about how someone makes you feel.  If they make you feel good, then you are “full of love” for them.  But the moment they stop taking you to that “high”, the moment the feelings you are feeling inside are not as strong as they were before – do you still love them?  How do you get those feelings back? 

In an amazing twist that has sent us all on a search for certain feelings inside ourselves, we have abandoned real love that looks out at the other person.  We are stuck looking in.  Trying to know others by feeling them inside us.  Because we think this is love.  But it is lust.  Desire.  Not love.  In fact, love is entirely different.

God showed His love to us this way: He sent His only Son into our sin and death, that believing He did it for us, we might not perish. (John 3:16)  It didn’t feel good.  Jesus was not happy on the cross.  He gave up every good thing He had – for you.

That is love.  Unconditional, acting, committed love.  Not inside someone.  But out in plain sight – for all to see – lifted up that He might draw all people to Himself.  Not for Himself – but always and only for you. 

This is the kind of love that really tears me up.  This is the kind that breaks my heart of stone.  That our sinless God became our sin.  That He was crowned with our curse.  That He died our death – in order to save us forever.  That is love.  And there is no way one could ever be sick of it.
So if you are out there “looking for love,” don’t listen to the preaching of Disney and use your feelings.  Christ has shown you true love.  It acts.  Find someone whose eyes are looking at the exact same point on the horizon of life as you are – find someone who believes in your Savior God – and who wants to act, as you do, in His service all your days here and for all eternity.  I promise – all the chemicals and feelings – they will sort themselves out on their own.