Monday, April 13, 2009

the closest thing to a "free lunch"

It's way better than a free lunch. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love a free meal as much as if not more than anyone, but this stuff, well, it's a feeding that lasts longer than the most delicious and satisfying meal ever could. It, in fact, blows that meal to crap. Okay, I have to switch tones now because this is sounding like a commercial and that is decidedly not my intent.

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us! Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2:1-10 (The Message)

I love that that right there, in simple terms, is the best part of yesterday. Obviously, the candy is nice, but the fact that we were sin-soaked and obsessed with the world and ourselves, and God MERCIFULLY sent His son to die for us. We don't ever have to be good enough or holy enough or pure enough to be saved. All we have to do is BELIEVE. Have faith! And not even a lot of faith. Nope. Faith the size of a MUSTARD SEED (Matthew 17:20) is all you need. Reading the Bible, going to Bible study or on missions, prayer, etc., is all HIS work that we do to spend time with Him, not work we do to obtain salvation or maintain our places in Heaven.

Our Easter sermon was about imputed righteousness. This is referring to how God made a unilateral covenant with Abraham that He would make him righteous simply because he had faith in God. That covenant was fulfilled for each and every one of us through Christ. It's referenced and quoted in several books of the New Testament, thus it is a big part of the New Covenant. (For those of you who need some background on that, basically the Old Testament and subsequently the Jewish faith is the Old Covenant. Christ coming to die for us was promised in that covenant and so the New Testament and Christianity is the New Covenant.) There were so many things that Jim said, examples of current life that he included, that just blew me away. I mean, a lot of my problems aren't exactly uncommon, and I know that, but I'd been praying extensively about several of them last week so it was good for me to hear them specifically referenced in regards to God's provisions. On the way to church and again after we sang (so right before the message was delivered) I prayed for God to speak to me and keep my heart open to hear His words to me. Well, friends, it OBVIOUSLY worked.

I appreciated the sermon being on imputed righteousness even more because of a scripture I've been praying over Denver for quite some time now. "For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife," I Corinthians 7:14a Now, I believe that when Denver accepted Christ before we got married, he was sincere and subsequently the Spirit still resides within him, and he is saved because you can't give back salvation, but since he's currently walking around proclaiming himself to be an atheist, it comforts my heart to the deepest parts to be reminded that he is set apart because he is my husband, despite his current view of himself as an unbeliever. [Note: Yes, I know what that entire passage says. Before you cite the rest of the passage and it's message on divorce to me, keep in mind that when I married him, he was a believer. That is all. :-)] The bottom line on that is, it's yet another free gift the Lord gives us out of love and grace. Denver doesn't have to do anything. My faith keeps him sanctified. That's pretty amazing to me, y'all.

It's humbling and empowering all at once. I'm so in awe of God's hugeness.

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