Parents sometimes have a rule for their children: When a new toy comes in an old toy must go out. Christmas is coming up in our home and I thought this may be a good rule to implement this year. Drawers are becoming harder to close and shelves are overflowing with nick-nacks and random treasures. But I’m not sure how my children will respond to this demand. What is a free gift worth to them if it’s to be received at a cost? I’ll simply tell them… “I bought something for you because I love you. Clean away a special place for it. Make room. This will be much more special than what your holding on to. I want you to have it. Take it. It’s for you.” Yet still, I’m sure this will be a hard thing for them to do. A brand new baby doll to take the place of a dirty, never played with, stuffed animal. Or a brand new Lego set as an old unused toy car makes its way out. Saying goodbye to things they know and have loved for a long time will be hard. It’s hard for us all.
Like a Father to a child the Bible says that God also offers us a free gift. The gift has been paid for but is there anywhere for you to put it? This gift God offers can’t be added to the rest of your treasure. This gift is special. It’s so special that you need to clear away not one small spot but every shelf and every drawer. Our shelves aren’t filled with toy cars and baby dolls, no, our valuables aren’t always kept in drawers. The social media you cling to, make room. The money that helps you sleep at night, make room. The family you couldn’t live without, make room. The vanity, the pride, the immorality…. make room. Nothing can be left behind. God has a gift for you. You see, this gift is not like the rest. This gift is His very Son. We are guilty of breaking Gods law because we love His creation more than Him the Creator. We honor our life but not the One who gives us life. But God in His grace and love sent His Son to pay the penalty we deserve. Christ willingly died for sinners and rose again in three days for us. He purchased our forgiveness with His own blood. God offers the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Make room for this gift. Christ died that we might live. Make room for Christ. Make room for a new life with your Father. I can imagine God might say what I’ll be saying to my children, “I bought something for you because I love you. Make room. This will be much more special than what your holding on to. I want you to have it. Take it. It’s for you.”
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:23
Don’t despair saint. Remember that great salvation. Remember that face of Christ which was so sweet. That glorious righteousness which drew you in hour by hour, day by day, and year by year. Know that the Lord, He is good and His love which was shown to you endures. The light of the gospel in the face of your Savior was a sweet aroma to your weary soul. This world had taken its full and you had willingly given of your sinful self to to all the devil had to offer. You were tired and weary, broken but you found rest. You found hope. You found peace by still waters as the good Shepherd gave you life. O saint, remember this great salvation, this Christ who brought you home. Remember not the world you ran from but the Redeemer you ran to. Let not this world or the worries of it draw you back! His face was your peace. Look forward. Look up. He is better. His ways are good and pure and trustworthy. Rest again in your Savior. Fall again in the hands of your Father. He will give you joy. What a great salvation we remember, friend. What a great salvation we shall receive. What a great hope we dwell in now. What a great God.
Jesus is God.
He lived a perfect life.
He died on the cross
to pay the punishment we deserve
because we are sinners.
He rose from the grave in 3 days,
so we can rise from death to eternal life.
When you turn from your sin
and trust in Him you will be saved.
We’ve earned punishment and death.
Jesus offers forgiveness and life.
John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
What do you teach children about the King?
Are we training soldiers for His army?
His battle rages..
Against principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness..
Against spiritual wickedness in high places..
Against this crooked and perverse generation..
Against the prince of the power of the air.
What do you teach your children our King would have them do for Him?
The war rages on.
The King calls for His soldiers.
Will they follow Him into battle?
Will they fight to death?
What will they do when the evil one rises up?
“Bow or burn,” that wicked one says.
“Bow or burn!”
Then will our children be nice, obey, love, bow…
Will they bow,
Or will they burn?
My son will burn and live.
Yours will bow and die.
Fight for your King soldier.
“Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.””
“Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate, The Lord has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.””
“And he (Jesus) said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.””
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, 5:1-9
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”
Do you trust Him in a place you don’t trust? Do you trust Him among people you don’t trust? Do you trust Him with with those who are praised for loving sin and shunning righteousness? Do you trust Him with family who claim His name but hate His life? Do you trust Him when your children are being taught inaccurate ideas about Him? Do you trust Him when trust separates you from everything and everyone? Do you trust Him when your own sinful reflection can’t bear to see it’s image? Do you trust Him when trust feels so desperately lonely? Do you trust Him when your heart’s being broken? Do you trust that His love is sufficient to fill? Do you trust that He in you is fullness of joy? Do you trust that with Him alone life is complete? Do you trust that He causes all things and will sustain you with peace? Do you trust Him with a courage which obeys even when you can’t see? Do you trust Him because you love to offer up a fraction of what He offered up for you? Do you trust that you are merely a vessel of His grace? Do you trust Him enough to show grace no matter what? Do you trust Him enough to surrender all?
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:11-25 ESV
Church has been different for many people lately. For some, church online has always been normal. For many, irregular attendance due to life’s chaotic circumstances were to be expected. For some, government regulations in other countries have always been a barrier to attending worship services. But what has God taught us about Church in His word?
A holy day was established at creation on the seventh day of rest and was enacted in God Himself. It was given to us in the ten commandments and then confirmed in the New Testament. It is not a day for ourselves but a day for His honor and glory. It is for us to worship Him, commune in rest with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to be nourished by His word and the sacraments. It is a day to gather together and to set apart... A day to make our highest priority. Some people don’t care for these things and that’s alright. Some Christians now days set other examples but people are not our role models. We have the word of God to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in righteousness. We are the Church and the Church is Gods, not ours. We are His people the sheep of His pasture. Church is Gods people leaving the world and coming to worship and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior. Church is not our means of evangelism. Church is not a place to fill empty seats with unsaved souls. Exodus 30:30-33 “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, 'This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'"”
From the first ‘tent of meeting’ established by God to the first churches in the New Testement, our Lord called His people out of the world for the purpose of worship, sacrifice, and fellowship. We then go into the world proclaiming the gospel to the lost. We know, however. that in all congregations there will be some who visit or who regularly attend who have not been saved and we all are sensitive to them but we don’t change our worship according to the lost. Rather, we worship according to the Lord.
The closest thing we have to heaven on earth is Church. What a joy to praise our King together. Let’s remember our salvation and remember that we are only His church because He is in us. We return to our Lord in service and praise only by His grace. We must never neglect the God who saved us. Fight the sin which keeps you from giving Him all glory and honor and power forever and ever Amen.
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
Genesis 2:2-3 ESV
“And the Lord said to Moses, "You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, 'Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'"”
Exodus 31:12-17 ESV
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,”
Hebrews 10:24-26 ESV
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Colossians 3:14-16 ESV
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Hebrews 13:15-16 ESV
We all want heaven. If offered to us we’d likely accept it. In fact, many of us believe this offer has been made in some way or another and that we will in fact find our way there some day.
But what if, hypothetically, I gave you 2 choices...
"If anyone comes to me (Jesus) and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
What/ Who do you love and live for? Has there been a time when you put everything last in order to make Christ first? He says you might look salty for a while but you are good for nothing to Him if He isn’t everything to you. My dear dear dear friends don’t be fooled by a partial love for God! The world in one hand and Christ in another won’t bring you to glory. He is a jealous God. Christ laid down His life and you must do the same before He gives you a new one. Test yourself friend. Have you paid the cost? Is His Spirit in you? Are you salty according to the Bible? Will you be in heaven or will you be throne away? Heaven is an offer. Come.
THE GREATEST GIFT
“For, the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God Is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”
-Romans 6: 23
(1) “THE WAGES”
-A wage is what you earn for what you do.
-If you work a job you might earn money.
-If you drive too fast you earn a speeding ticket.
-It’s what you deserve for your actions…
(2) “OF SIN”
-Sin is all the wrong things you do.
-Sin is not doing the good you know you should.
〉”For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3: 23
-Sin isn’t only bad because of the people it hurts, it’s bad because of the holy God it offends.
-Holiness isn’t just perfection, it’s unlike anything we could imagine. To bring our sin into His presence would cause unimaginable fear. (Isaiah 6: 1-7) (Exodus 33: 17-23, 29-35) (2 Samuel 6: 1-7) (Revelation 5: 11-14)
〉“Against You (Lord), You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.” Psalms 51:4
(3) “IS DEATH”
-The physical result of our sin is a physical death.
-We have corrupted our bodies and world with sickness and disease by rebelling in sinful desires instead of trusting in God’s beautiful design for His creation.
-The spiritual result of sin is spiritual death (hell).
-God’s righteous judgment against a life of sin and perpetual rebellion to Him is hell.
〉“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” Rom. 2:4-5
(So, what we earn for sin is hell)...
-Aren’t you glad there’s a “but”!
(5) “THE FREE GIFT OF GOD”
-Our holy God, good to enact justice on the sinner, is also full of mercy and grace. He provided a gift.
-Opposite of the wage we’ve earned, the gift is not earned or deserved, it is given by God.
-The gift is free but it was bought at the highest price. (His Son’s life)
-The gift is free but it‘s received at the highest cost. (Surrendering our life)
(6) “IS ETERNAL LIFE”
-Eternal life is for everyone: The righteous (redeemed) to heaven and the wicked (unredeemed) to hell.
〉“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name. “They shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves Him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” Malachi 3: 16-18
-If you don’t long for the presence of the Lord now you would hate it in heaven.
-If you don’t love the presence of the Lord now, He won’t bring you into it for all eternity.
-God’s Holy Spirit can give you that desire... so there is still hope.
(7) “THROUGH CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”
-Jesus Christ, both Son of God and Lord of all, creator of the universe and God in the flesh came to earth to live a perfect life, die, and raised to life again 3 days later.
-He satisfied the wrath of God the Father against sin.
-Jesus justified those whose sins He paid for as they are credited with His righteousness through faith in Him.
〉“...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9: 22b
〉“He himself (Jesus) bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2: 24
〉“In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (sins), according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” Ephesians 1: 7
〉 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15
〉“ For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18
(So, how do we receive the gift of life through Jesus?)...
〉 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
〉“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. I (Jesus) have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” John 12: 25 & 46
〉”For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8: 13-14
〉“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1: 21
〉“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,” Acts 3: 19-20
〉"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.“ John 3: 16
(So, what is our response to this gift?)...
*** Repent: Turn from a love of self and a trusting in the things of this world to a love and trust in Christ alone. Ask God for forgiveness and turn from all sin for which Christ died. Surrender your whole life completely to Jesus in words, actions, and the truth of your heart. He is worthy and your new life will never be the same, eternally secure, in the hands of the One who created you, loves you, redeemed you, and holds you forever. ***
You could be a middle class white man addicted to alcohol and food. You could be a black man addicted to drugs and women. You could be a rich Asian woman addicted to prescription pills and ‘likes’ on social media. You could be a teenage kid addicted to perfect grades and perfect hair. You could be a newlywed wife who longs only for her husband and nothing else. You could be a dad who’s cell phone might as well be glued to his hands and eyes. Addictions are idols. And often addictions are disguised as good things. We see the homeless druggie so differently than the rich Wall Street banker who’s nearly abandoned everything and everyone for money, career success, and notoriety. But they are exactly the same. They’ve created an idol where God should be. God’s first commandment is, “You must have no other gods before Me.” ...and that’s exactly what idols are, they’re gods.
I had countless gods. Of course I’d never call them that because I’d always believed in Jesus, aways trusted Him as savior for my sins, but I never gave Him Lordship over my life... And if I had died I’d hear the same thing Jesus said in Matthew 7:23. That many people will expect to get into heaven but He will say to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” It’s true that I felt guilty for bad things I did but it was usually because it hurt me or people I loved (which really, ultimately, came back to hurting me). I wasn’t grieving over the pain I caused Christ when I sinned. I’d turn to Him for help and escape as relief. But I wasn’t submitting my life to Him, I was asking him to add on to mine. The Lord wasn’t my God, He was one of my gods. It wasn’t until my salvation that I layed down my love of this world and began to really love the sacrifice of self in exchange for the gain of Christ. Now, He who began this work in me at salvation has continued it and will complete it. He is alive in me and will not bring false witness to His name. So, I can surly trust I am in good hands, the hands of my redeemer.
I pray for you: Turn from your sins. Throw away your idols. Christ is sufficient and all together worthy.