Without faith, we cannot please Him

 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[a] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23: 39-43 ESV)

This man was obviously an enemy of God and of men. We don’t know what he did to deserve that death, but we know he deserved it. He said it himself: they were receiving the due rewards of their deeds. So he is on the cross, receiving the due rewards for his sins and decided to ask for eternal life.

Did he think of it when beaten by soldiers? When did he start to be filled with remorse? When he saw Jesus enduring sufferings he did not deserve? We surely won’t know what happened and when it happened before reaching heaven, but one thing we know for sure is that somehow he got faith.

So Jesus was dying on the cross, being crucified unjustly, and he knew it. He was going through the same physical pain as Jesus so he knew better than to speak to Him at that moment, especially to ask for a favor. We don’t even like to be disturbed when we are simply busy, so to be disturbed when we are doing something important, especially something that costs us, would make most of us angry. Anyway, people won’t even try to speak to us in those circumstances, even less to ask for favors when we are in pain. But that criminal did it.

He understood and believed important things that made all the difference. First, he understood and believed that Jesus was King and had authority over everything, even over sins and hell, and eternity. He believed Jesus was the Christ. Secondly, he understood and believed that God was holy and righteous, which means there was nothing he could do to satisfy Him, nothing he could have done to save himself. Even without sin, he would only be a creature and to be with the Creator would mean a lot of grace and mercy given. So he understood and believed that all he needed was God’s mercy and grace, and asked for it. He boldly went before the throne of grace and asked for what he didn’t deserve: a place in Christ’s kingdom. But to be able to ask for mercy, he needed to repent. Which means he needed to acknowledge that he was a creature and Christ was the Creator; that Christ’s rules were the only ones to be followed; that he had broken those rules; and that only Christ could make things right.

His faith led him to Christ and Christ honored it by offering him salvation. So next time, you are trying to win God by being extremely spiritual, by doing many amazing deeds, think of this man and follow his example. Live to honor God not because you need to pay to be with Him, but because He deserved it and had proved Himself worthy of all honor and glory. And just go boldly before the throne of grace, as you are, at any time because you believe Him. Faith will always be the key.

 

 

 

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18 ESV)

The gospel can be explained this way:

  • God created us for His glory.
  • We should live for His glory.
  • We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory.
  • We all deserve eternal punishment.
  • In His great love, mercy, grace, goodness, God provided in His Only Son Jesus-Christ the way of forgiveness and eternal life.

This verse shows us how unchangingly marvelous is our God. He has always been willing to forgive and save. He has always been willing to retain His anger and to give grace instead. He has always delighted in steadfast love. This is who He is. That is what I want to think of tomorrow morning when I won’t be focused enough when praying. That is what I want to think of tomorrow after work when I realize that again I was not perfect at all. That is what I want to hold firm to when I am too tired to even move. I want to let His grace and love carry me, comfort me, give me the courage to keep going and still me. Because who is a God like my God, pardoning my iniquities every day and being patient with me? He delights in showing me steadfast, faithful and loyal love and quiets me with His love.

 

 

 

 

Self-esteem according to Christ(3)

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. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God planned and created us and we rebelled against Him. We decided that we knew better and betrayed Him. Doing that, we ruined His workmanship, us. But God has a plan, another one. He planned to make us holy and blameless and to adopt us.

That means God loved us so much that He found a solution to a problem we created, our separation from Him. It means God wanted us so much that He found a way to put our betrayal and our rebellion behind. And He made sure that we would not destroy everything again by forgiving us, giving us a new relationship with Him through Christ. Because of Christ and in Christ,  our relationship with God does not depend on our righteousness.

Moreover, He did not just plan all of that for the humans, but He chose us. He planned all of that for each of us individually. He said, “This is my plan for Kelly. “; ” This is my plan for Anne.” And I guarantee you that if the general plan is the same for all, details differ from people to people. Because our God knows us and loves us personally.

So do you feel that you don’t measure up? Oh, you don’t. But Christ does and that is enough. The Love of God is enough. He knew who you were, all you are, and everything you will be, but chose you. And He is not ashamed of you.

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers… (Hebrews 2:11)

 

 

They all did as they wanted

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 ESV)

It was so easy for them to forget God, so easy not to see what He was doing in their midst. They did not have a king, so they forgot about the Law and all God’s commandments. They did what they wanted when they wanted it. And despite all, God was there for them, loving them, fighting for them, disciplining them, delivering them.

Even when we forget God, He is still the same. His love does not depend on our love. oh, I am not talking about running wide and sinning because of God’s grace. No, I am talking about the grace and mercy we need as sinners, when our emotions, our feelings win. I am talking about the grace that leads us to repentance through Christ’s love, the grace that makes us run to the throne of grace to receive help.

God be praised for He does not change, for His faithfulness, for His steadfast love.

…”if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”  (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)

 

Jesus doesn’t quit

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

So peter would deny Jesus. Jesus knew it and instead of rejecting him, He prayed for Him. He prayed so that he would turn again. He prayed that Peter would quit only for a time, not forever.

Jesus doesn’t quit His relationship with us, we do. Jesus doesn’t quit, never.  And not only that, but He fights for us. He won’t let us go that easily. He paid the price to have us and will do everything to keep us. He will never forsake us, never. Even now, He is interceding for us.

In the same way, the Bible shows us that God never divorces us. We can be unfaithful, He can discipline us, but He doesn’t divorce. If you want to lose your relationship with the Father, you would have to quit. He is faithful until the end. He will even take us back after we have been unfaithful. (Ezekiel 16:59-63, Hosea 2:16-20).

What a love! What a commitment!

Happy New Year!

Here comes the New Year. I made it spiritually alive! I have been carried by an almighty God and I made it thanks to His strength. If I could remember only one thing from this year, it would be that God is merciful. I learned that His mercy is a part of His holiness. He is not holy, then merciful and compassionate and forgiving. His kindness is part of His majesty. Isaiah 40, this great chapter telling of the greatness of God, begins describing it by exposing His goodness. God’s goodness is His glory. Let’s read it.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)

God is so merciful that He longs to show us mercy.

I have heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:18-20).

And if there is something I want to take with me in 2015 is that God’s way is different from mine. His way is a way of compassion and forgiveness. He is ready to forgive because He is different. My God is different. What a blessing!

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)