Understanding Grace?

I don’t think I have any right to judge without expecting the same judgment in return. I really want to see people through God’s eyes. I know that isn’t possible, if for one moment I could see the worst person who ever lived through God’s eyes, my life on earth would be useless. His eyes see through grace that transcends the greatest love I could have for another human. If God allowed me to see any person with His eyes, the rest of my time on earth would be devoted to that individual’s needs. His love doesn’t compute in our brains. He loves all 6+ billion people on this planet, that is multi-tasking!

We can forget the questions of evolution, age of the earth, or if there was a big bang, and why these unanswered questions cause people to doubt God’s existence. His love for all could make many doubt, because it doesn’t seem possible.

The love of God is greater far, than any tongue or pen can tell.                         

  It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.

Those days or moments in our lives that make us seem so far from God, because we don’t feel we live up to His expectation of us, or because we blew our testimony, doesn’t dent the grace He shows us. He never stops reaching for us with unconditional and unmerited favor. Grace is received by faith, totally free, totally incomprehensible. Acceptance of this free gift is realized the moment we believe, and forgotten the moment we become religious.

When I, the believer begin this line of reasoning, I need to pray more, I need to read the Bible more, I need to get closer to God, I need to ask God to be with me today, I need to get to church more, and so forth, religion has set in, I move into the realm of the spiritually dead, and rigor mortis sets in, spiritually speaking.

That is hard to accept for me. I figure that somewhere along the line that there is a price to pay. I know that I have to “work out” my salvation…the Bible says so. I have to work for it. In a short time, my spiritual numbness becomes my spiritual dumbness. Then I can take my place in the pew with all of the rest of the religious atheists, praise God at church, give Him my whole being, and then take control back immediately after the service. I forget just that quickly…don’t WE.

I don’t need to pray more, study the Word more, visit the sick, imprisoned, or serve more. No siree, uh-uh, I WANT to! Grace is free received, freely given, I cannot earn this gift. Because of grace received, I desire to know God and crave any knowledge I can devour regarding Him. It is the goodness of God that led me to repentance, He was good to me before I ever knew Him. Now I want to defend what is said contrary about Him by ignorance and unbelief, those things different than what He says of Himself in the Word. I don’t have to say God, just be with me today, or just be present in service tonight…O please, that’s ridiculous. He is Jehovah Shammah, always here, there, now!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says 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.” Is.55:8-9 (NKJV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph.2:8-9 (NKJV)

We cannot work our way to salvation, nor heaven. We cannot clean up our “act” to become acceptable to God, then repent…that’s the dead religious thinking that many of us knew before Christ, you know, that thinking that we can help poor old God out. No, forget understanding it, just receive, it believe, it then give it away to keep. Oxymoronic, paradoxical, baffling, isn’t it. I keep it by giving it away. I lose it by figuring it out, or trying to with religious thought. If we just accept this unmeritted favor from God, and remain grateful for it’s freedom, we will not fall into religion, but develop a relationship that will give us a hint of the mystery of God’s goodness.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

What’s Good Friday?

I asked the question last night before starting our first of seven midnight turns, “what actually, is Good Friday?” Everyone knew the real answer, I think, but one or two of our crew said it had something to do with God and Jesus. The real answer, of course, is it’s a holiday and we get overtime pay. It is also a day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus, and aka, Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, and Easter Friday. I recommend to all reading, to look up the term Good Friday on Wikipedia, or some other referrence source to get a full explanation of this Christian holiday. I would take the time to give the full story, but it would be extremely long, and mostly unread. We Americans have little use for knowing anything considered important. It interupts Oprah, and other necessary daily spiritual tasks, like, gaming and web surfing.

Good Friday has become more important to me each year as I age. I watched Mel Gibson’s “The Passion,” some years back, realizing that the picture of Christ’s sacrificial death was much more graphic than what had been portrayed in movies, or explained from the pulpit. Hard for many to watch, “The Passion,” focused heavily on the torture endured on Jesus’ physical body both from the death by crucifixion, and the beating He received prior to. People would walk out of the theaters in disgust, or deep sorrow, unable to finish the film. Others sobbed to the end, or set stunned from grasping at last, what Christ had endured. The real suffering He endured, remains an enigma to the mind of most, or unrealized entirely from disbelief.

People see Jesus in history, as a real rebel against religious hypocrisy, a good teacher, a great thinker, a prophet, and so forth. Few think of Him as the scriptures dipict Him, all man, all deity, mainly because we do not comprehend. His real suffering began with the enduring of religious thought of the day, the way the religious had God neatly boxed in.Thinking they had a patent on the law, how it works, so to speak. Their duplicity was concealed from mankind, evident to Jesus. He knew them well, they didn’t see Him at all. The law-maker was present, the Messiah was in their line of sight, but religion blinded them.

The people loved Him, then rejected Him when He referred to “drinking His blood, and eating His flesh.” (That one still gets Jesus’ critics to this day) The ultimate suffering came on the cross. This spotless, sinless lamb, had all sin, past, present, and future sin, laid on Him. Literally, the weight of the world. Every sin committed by everyone was being atoned for, and His Father had to turn his back on Him, and this suffering could not be endured. He died there and then, not from crucifixion, but from a broken heart. Crucifixion and the beatings prior to, would have killed anyone, but He endured the beating, the cross, man’s religious hypocrisy, but not this. Separation from God, His Father, even for a moment in time…was unthinkable, but realized by Jesus.

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? -which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt.27:46 (NIV)
When Jesus received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and GAVE up His spirit.” John 19:30 (AMP)

I understand this story is outrageous to the critic, impossible to the unbeliever, and rejected by many religious who do not like the violence or bloodiness of scripture. What was accomplished on Golgatha cannot be understood by ration or reason, which would say,”there is no reason here, let’s move on.” For us who as children believe in this sacrifice of God/man, to destroy our sin, we accept the death of Jesus with joy through sadness and are translated from death to life. That makes that Friday a good Friday.

This is not the end of the story. What happened following His death has had an influence on humanity since. People who reject Christ’s purpose, reject it by the blood of those who trust in Him. Martyrdom and persecution has not ceased for the followers of Jesus. One hundred and seventy six thousand people who trusted in Christ’s blood, were put to the sword, so to speak…in 2011. Two thousand years after that Good Friday. Al-Jazeerah reports three thousand Muslims covert to Jesus each week. Reports from China say that two hundred thousand Chinese per week, make the decision to believe on Jesus weekly as well. They come, they die, and they never die, quite a belief, huh. I’m all in.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith