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Full and Free Salvation March 26, 2006

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.

We sang a great old song of the church today. The title is “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus is to Me” by Haldor Lillenas. And I haven’t sung that song in at least 4 years.

Read the lyrics of it. Pay particular attention to the last stanza. I’ll give you a second. Go ahead and read it and I’ll wait.

O, my heart sings today,
Sings with joy and gladness,
Jesus saves, satisfies,
Takes away my sadness;
Guilt is gone, peace is mine,
Peace like to a river,
Jesus is wonderful, mighty to deliver.

Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me,
Counselor, Prince of Peace,
Mighty God is He,
Saving me, keeping me,
From all sin and shame,
Wonderful is my Redeemer,
Praise His name!

Once a slave, now I’m free,
Free from condemnation,
Jesus gives liberty
And a full salvation,
Now the sins of the past
have been all forgiven,
And my name is inscribed
in the book of heaven.

Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me,
Counselor, Prince of Peace,
Mighty God is He,
Saving me, keeping me,
From all sin and shame,
Wonderful is my Redeemer,
Praise His name!

Living here with my Lord,
In a holy union, day by day, all the way,
Holding sweet communion
O what change grace hath wrought,
In my lowly station
Since my soul has received,
Full and free salvation.

Did you read it? How about that last verse?

“Living here with my Lord in a holy union” — I have a special and intimate relationship with our Lord. In fact it is so intimate, that He sends His Holy Spirit to live inside of me.

“Day by day, all the way” — I am on a daily walk, a daily journey with Him. And that journey will end some day in Glory as I hear those words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

“Holding sweet communion” — it is a sweet fellowship with the Lord. It is not an arduous task and something of dread. It is a sweet communion. It is like spending time on the porch swing with your sweetheart. That is not work! That is pleasure.

“O what change grace hath wrought,” — And there is a change in my life and the life of every Believer. It is visible. It cannot be contained or explained away. The only answer is that Jesus has done a miracle in our lives.

“In my lowly station” — Who am I that God would send His only begotten Son? This I know. While I was still unloveable, Jesus Christ died for me.

“Since my soul has received full and free salvation.” — Here it is. It is a full salvation. It is complete. And it has the power to deliver me from my sins of the past while in that “lowly station” as well as it can deliver me from the awful burden of sin in my every day life. And it is free. There is nothing that I can do on my own to deserve it or earn it. It is only by accepting God’s gift of salvation that obtain it.

And that we call “Holiness.”

The Fellowship We Have March 20, 2006

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.

My family has recently gone back to attending a church in the denomination that my wife and I were both raised in. It is the denomination where our kids early formative years were spent. We are starting to enjoy some sweet fellowship again. And I am reminded of that “fellowship” that we share as Christians. That fellowship certainly extends far beyond denominational lines. It extends out there into the blogosphere where I have enjoyed the fellowship of some thought provoking bloggers and pilgrims on the journey. But, I am here to say today that I am glad to be among some fellow Believers who are of like mind and who share a common background.

It is not a step too far to point out some of the aspects of Christian fellowship that we share and, in particular, fellowship we can share with our Heavenly Father. Hebrews 12:18-29 says in the RSV:

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”

In this passage there are several kinds of fellowship that we share as Children of God.

  • We share a Heavenly Fellowship — Verse 22 talks about the “city of the living God.” We have an opportunity to fellowship in Heaven. John says in Revelation 21:10, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,”
  • We share an Immortal Fellowship — Verse 22 also speaks about a host of “innumerable angels” and of “assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven.” Over in Psalm 134:12, it says “This [is] my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” What a great thing to know that we will live eternally in Heaven.
  • We share a Universal Fellowship — Verse 23 makes it available to all “just men” who are “made perfect.” This fellowship is open to all who will repent and be justified through faith in Jesus Christ. That is a pretty simple prerequisite for entrance into this fellowship.
  • We share a Divine Fellowship — Verse 24 says that we can have fellowship through Jesus Christ with the Living God. Not a created image that represents a god or ancestor or element of nature. But, we can fellowship with God himself.
  • We share a Redeeming Fellowship — Verse 24 gives us a picture of how we were redeemed. It was through the shedding of blood. It is through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood on the cross that we have redemption. Over in Hebrews 10:22 there is a correlating passage that says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

So what does this all mean to me?

I think this means that I am a part of a very blessed fellowship. And as such I must be ever so diligent in how I live my life within that fellowship. From an earthly perspective, I have a responsibility before man and to the other members of the fellowship to build them up in the faith. This passage also calls me be active in reaching others outside the fellowship and bring them in.

The verses in Jude that are immediately before the ones that we often hear quoted as the benediction speak to the responsibilities of this kind of fellowship. Those verses say,

But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

From an eternal perspective I have a responsibility to be diligent in how I live my life before a Holy God. God calls me to pray, keep myself in the love of God, and to wait for His mercy. These are all action words. It doesn’t seem as though I am to be passive in the fellowship.

But how?

The answer is in the rest of that benediction:

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

And all God’s people said — “Amen.”

An Early Look at the Cross March 14, 2006

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.

I know we have just entered the Lenten season. This is something that is more obvious than most years because of all the folks from New Orleans who are still living in the Houston area were I live. But it is never to early to take a look toward the cross and the Easter season.

(1) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; (5) and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (6) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. (8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath {of God} through Him. (10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (11) And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11 NASB)

This passage speaks to me about the cross and Jesus Christ’s death and His ultimate resurrection.

First, it tells me that the cross and His death was necessary. Verse 8 indicates that while I was still sinful and wholly unworthy, He died for me. He substituted His life for mine. He had to die for me to live. It was necessary for someone to be the ultimate and the last sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

Second, it tells me that the cross and His death was costly. Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Remember in the Old Testament where God provided the ram caught in the thicket for Abraham to use as a sacrifice. The knife was in his hand and Isaac was on the altar. But God spared Abraham from having to make the ultimate sacrifice of his own son when he provided the ram. But my penalty of sin, my sacrifice was paid for with God’s own Son. And that was a costly sacrifice for God to make when He allowed His Son to die on that cruel cross.

Third, it tells me that the cross and His death was victorious! Jesus Christ “Paid in Full” the debt of sin that I owed. On the cross He said, “it is finished.” John 19:30 says “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Since He paid the debt, I no longer have to live under the debt and burden of sin. An old gospel song said the the sin was “buried in the deepest sea.” It goes on to say in that old song that because of all that Jesus Christ did, “I shall live eternally. Praise God! My sins are G-O-N-E, gone!”

In light of all that Jesus Christ did for me, what else can I do but follow Him?

And there were 12 baskets left over… March 8, 2006

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.

I am sure we are all pretty familiar with this famous story from the New Testament. In fact, it is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all 4 Gospels. So, if that is the case, it must have something important to say to us today.

But, I’m not going to dwell on the miracle of the feeding of the crowd. Instead, my goofy brain wonders about another aspect of the miracle.

“So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:13 NASB

So, where did the baskets come from? No one had food to eat that day except that little boy. So where did the 12 baskets come from?

I really don’t know where they came from. But I do know that their existence is consistent with the God that Abraham called “Jehovah-jireh” in the 22nd chapter of Genesis — the God who provides. God provided the ram in the thicket for the sacrifice. And that was a huge thing for God to do, for Abraham and certainly for Isaac! But that same God also provided those 12 baskets for the disciples to gather up the left-overs so that none of the food would be wasted.

We serve a great God! We serve a God who provides for our every need.