Placing Faith Correctly

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:22-24   (NLT)

Jessie watched Trask’s face through the bars. The judge had sentenced him to death. Yet he smiled. He seemed at peace. “Ain’t you scared?” She scratched the track marks on her arm with fingers that trembled. “You wanted me to go with you. I’d be in there with you if I’d gone.IMG_0433

“I know. I’m sorry Jessie. I never meant to hurt you. Hey, you think you should oughtta go see somebody, you know about your habit.”

“Leave me be Trask. I don’t need that stuff. I’m cool.”  She sniffed and then rubbed her hands together as if they ached.

“Jessie, I won’t be there for you no more. I need to know you’re gonna be okay. I made my peace with God the other day. I know what’s on the other side of the gas chamber. The judge declared me guilty but God has pardoned me and I will stand in front of the Big Guy forgiven. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?” Trask smiled, a rare occurrence in Jessie’s experience.

“I don’t need that God stuff. I’m not like you. I don’t hurt nobody else. I just do my own thing.”

“The preacher man showed me a verse in the Bible…you know…that’s God’s words…I never knew that before. Anyway…he showed me that we are all the same…sinners. It don’t matter whether we gunned someone down like I did or do drugs like you do.”

Trask was right. Everyone is a sinner according to the Bible. In God’s eyes there is no small sin or big sin. We who wear our pride on our sleeve are just as guilty in God’s eyes as the man who picks up a gun and blows someone away. We are all in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ is it – the only perfect Lamb of God who could pay for the sin of mankind.

Lord, I do understand that I’m a sinner and in need of a Savior. Thank You for walking to the cross for me. Please take up residence in my heart so that I will have someone to help me meet God’s standards from now on. Amen

 

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Faulty Independence

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. Romans 3:21   (NLT)

Jessie cleared her throat. Her hand shook and her head felt as if a twenty piece brass band was leading a march into the pit of hell. Why? Why had she gone there? If only I’d stayed home.

The phone call was the problem. Maybe she’d get rid of the phone. “Oh, my head hurts so bad.” She spoke in little more than photo 1a whisper, a whisper though that seemed as loud as the trumpets in that brass band. “It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I always stumble right back into my old habits.”

Jessie picked up the offending instrument and dialed her mentor, the person from AA who’d helped her clean her life up…until last night. “BJ, It’s Jessie.” Jessie held the phone away from her ear. “Not so loud. Not so loud.” She listened as BJ told her what she’d done the night before.

“How’d you know? Are you spying on me?”

The voice on the other end of the phone laughed, loudly it seemed to Jessie’s ears. “Well, Slater called.” Jessie listened a short minute then “Ya Ya I know. I should have hung up. But I was lonely and it felt good to talk to an old friend.”

Jessie knew exactly what BJ would say before she said it. Slater was not her friend. If he was he wouldn’t have gotten her drunk again. “I try, BJ but it don’t matter how hard I try to keep myself busy, something always happens to mess me up. Can you come over? I want to talk to you about that God stuff.”

DJ showed up and told Jessie that the Bible says that there are rules to follow in our walk with God. But He understands that it is impossible for us to keep all those rules all the time without help. He sent us that help in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus died and then rose again and now resides in heaven as our intercessor before the Father. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit when He went to heaven so we’d have a comforter and interpreter, a teacher.

Dear Father, Forgive my independence. Help me rely on You, draw on Your strength in the battles ahead. Place Your heavenly angels around me to ward of the temptations of this world until I can enter eternity. Amen

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Deepen your understanding of propitiation, justification, righteousness, and sanctification as you read the devotions in Chrome, Shining Faith. Listen to God’s still, small voice and walk closely to your Heavenly Father on a daily basis.

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Comparative Forgiveness

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. Romans 3:19   (NLT)

The rules were posted. Digger walked over to the bar and watched as one by one the members of the club scanned them, Some appeared as if they didn’t care but others had a worried frown on their face. “Ya don’t bust de rules and ya don’t get busted… in da face.” He laughed and took a swig of the beer he’d snagged from behind the counter. “I see anyone breakin any a dos rules and they get their legs broke…hear?”

Digger growled to let his fellow club members know that as president, he meant business. “And ya betta keep yur eyes IMG_0195peeled. Ya see anyone doing somethin’ that ain’t allowed, ya gotta let me know…see?” He swaggered back to the table against the back wall and sat. Three of his buddies, for they were family after all, sat waiting for him to deal the cards for their next poker game.

Digger began to shuffle the cards as he peered through dingy glasses toward the three other men sporting large tattoos all over their upper arms. Their grins faded and they took a look at the cards they’d been dealt. Expletives filled the air as one by one they submitted their protests. “We been a part of this club as long as you have. Why we gotta follow a bunch a rules?”

“Rules gives us no excuses. See? Rules shows us when we mess up and no one can say it was this way or that any more. We know clear.”

Digger didn’t know it but he was right. Rules clearly show us where we are wrong. The Bible’s Ten Commandments give us a list of rules to follow, rules that formed the beginning of the laws in this country. No one can, with all honestly, say they’ve never broken one of the Ten Commandments. Consequently, they are able to see their need for Jesus in their lives, the only one perfect enough to pay the price exacted by a Righteous and Just God.

Father, thank You for handing Moses the Ten Commandments so we can clearly see we are sinners. Thank You for paying the price for that sin. Thank you for allowing us entry into heaven as brothers and sisters of Christ, Your one and only Son. Amen

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No One Superior

What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. Romans 3:9  (KJV)

She walked pass them, head held high. Her clothes, designer inspired, came straight out of the latest fashion magazine. Her heels clacked on the sidewalk as she carefully stepped around the unkempt man lying against the lamp post. The stench reached her nostrils just as she passed. Her stomach muscles contracted in an effort to keep her lunch in its place.

“Humph,” she intoned her displeasure. Surely they could do something about these people littering the sidewalk. Why aren’t they at work anyway? Sarah’s car was parked just up the block and she hurriedly stashed her purchases in the backseat before unlocking her front door. I’ll have to make a complaint to the store owners and maybe if they think they’ll lose business, they’ll force city council to clean up the streets. Her thoughts continued along those lines all the way home.Tybee Lighthouse

Sarah rounded the last corner. Sitting on the bottom step leading to her front door was a face that she’d hoped never to see again. It had been 12 years. Things had changed. Sarah parked the car, stepped gingerly toward the entryway and frowned at the person who reminded her so much of who she had been.

“Jeep, how yak doing’?” The scantily clad woman, aged beyond her years, held a smoking cigarette in her left hand and waved with her right.

Sarah frowned harder. “Don’t call me that. That’s not who I am anymore.”

“Yeah, well we was buds. Remember. I helped you out once and now I need some help.” She placed a long fingered hand, nails chipped, on her hip. “Maybe that rich husband of yours can loan me enough money to get outtalk here and go back home. Curly is going to kill me when he finds out I didn’t turn any tricks last night. I was so tired.”

Sarah cringed at the words coming from this woman’s mouth. She’d been there. She knew that life and wanted nothing to do with it any more. She’d changed and she was better than these people now.

Sarah looked as if she‘d never committed a sin in her life but she was just like anyone else; hooker, murder, thief. She was a sinner. The Bible tells us that we are all under sin and therefore need a Savior, someone to appease a righteous God. Sarah, even if she’d never been a hooker, would still have needed a Savior. Do You?

Father God, send me Your Holy son, the perfect propitiation, so that I can have a right relationship with You. Forgive my pride, that feeling that makes me think I’m better than anyone else. Forgive myself dependence and help me to become wholly dependent on You. Amen

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Deepen your understanding of propitiation, justification, righteousness, and sanctification as you read the devotions in Chrome, Shining Faith. Listen to God’s still, small voice and walk closely to your Heavenly Father on a daily basis.

 

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Substitutionary Price

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2  (KJV)

 Droplets of sweat dotted his cold damp forehead. Crater sat on the lumpy cot, cringing inside, contemplating his death. He was innocent but that didn’t seem to matter to these people; the prison guards, prison warden, the prosecutor and the judge who had sentenced him. They believed he was guilty and deserved their harshest punishment. Crater knew who should be there instead of him. He loved the man. He’d never squeal on him. So he waited.

Key West SunsetThe inmates on either side of him, waiting with him, seemed to sense his preoccupation with the next steps in his life, the steps that would take him, and someday them, to the gas chamber. They tried to distract him but they, too, were preoccupied with the clock ticking nearby. Each tick grew louder as time rushed towards completion of the sentence handed down by the judge, a righteous man, who believed he was doing the right thing.

Jesus Christ walked this path for you and me. He knew we were guilty of the sin He was going to be executed for and yet He said nothing. His heart did not feel anger towards us for the position we’d put Him in. He extends to us LOVE, unconditional. He walked the Via Delarosa to hang on a cross. Someone had to pay the price exacted by God for the sin we committed. We turn our backs on God’s perfect standards every day. Jesus was the appeasement that would bring us into right fellowship with our Creator.

If you have not done so already, accept that Jesus died in your place, for your sins. Feel the emotional impact of those words and His deed. Repent. Begin life anew. Place your trust in the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you as you walk toward eternity.

Father, thank You for providing a way that I can sit before Your throne in heaven some day. Thank You for loving me so much that You willingly went to that cross. Help me to be worthy of Your sacrifice from this day forward. Amen

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Freedom to Live a Full Life

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Psalm 92:12

 Cynthia checked her calendar one more time. She could hardly believe they were leaving for South Carolina already. It seemed so long ago that they’d planned this trip. She wondered how many pictures she’d take, pictures that she’d use to remind people of God’s glory and His wonderful creation. She moved toward the garage, looking for her scuba gear.

Cynthia checked her tank, made sure her flippers, buoyancy compensator, and snorkel were packed and then rolled her wet suit into a ball. She tucked it into her duffle on top of the other gear. She had everything she needed to explore the depths off the coast near the beach house they’d rented for the week. Life was fun sometimes.IMG_9837

She also knew that life could be lonely. When her husband of 55 years had died three years ago, she’d thought she’d never survive. God had sustained her as He’d promised. He’d brought a new woman friend into her life, another widow. This woman loved God, life, and adventure all at the same time. They took college classes together and learned to scuba dive last spring. They prayed together and went diving together. They even went to a local pool every day to keep in shape.

Cynthia also had three grandchildren who she loved to spend time with. They would watch her ride up on her Harley and giggle, streaking toward the sidewalk asking grandma to take them for a ride. Life with grandma, they knew, was never dull.

Life doesn’t have to be dull and boring. God has given us the freedom to enjoy his creation and live a life full of adventure. He brings people from all walks of life our way, people who either encourage or discourage us but people He wants to love through us anyway.

Have you looked for your adventure today? What have you always wanted to do that you keep putting off? A movie called ‘The Bucket List’ is about two older men who have been given a life expectancy much shorter than they’d anticipated. Cancer runs rampant through them and they undergo treatment but soon realize it’s not working. So they formulate a list, one that keeps getting longer with each new experience. This list is all the things they want to do before they kick the bucket.

Do you have a bucket list? Make one with God as your partner and see where He’ll take you over the next years of your life.

Father, thank You for not expecting us to sit in a rocking chair all day once we’ve reach a certain age. Thank You for not using the term ‘retire’ in Your Book. Thank You for giving us purpose, fulfillment, and adventure, as well as confidence to learn new things throughout our life. AMEN.

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In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word thro

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Freedom for Eternity

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  Romans 8:23-24

 Have you ever looked back on your life and wondered where the anxiety, worry, anger, fear, and all those other qualities are? What happened to that woman or man who was afraid to try new things, who lacked the self-confidence to stand up in front of people and give a testimony? Where did he or she go?

Sheila wondered just that. When she’d left high school, she was afraid of her own shadow. Her timidity caused her to lose the only job she’d ever wanted. When a young man paid attention to her, she was so grateful she’d do anything to keep him. Of course, as soon as he got what he wanted, she was history.

The choices she’d made back then were based on what other people wanted her to do. God was not part of the equation. Then one day, she met Him face to face and life had not been the same since.Picture1

Marriage, kids, great friends, challenging opportunities, and adventure kept her on her toes every day, sharpened her senses, and gave her the confidence and purpose to walk where God wanted her.

God has given us an insatiable desire to be free; free from bondage to sin, free from anxiety and worry, free from physical hurt and emotional pain, so that He can satisfy this core need and we’ll realize He’s the only one who can. Sheila knew where her source for freedom lay. She discovered God and told anyone who wanted to know, how to be free for eternity.

Father, I love You. I long to experience the freedom only You can provide. Please release me from all the things that hold me back from truly serving You by serving others. AMEN.

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Freedom to Experience New Things

 I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45

Dwayne rushed home from work, excitement tingling through his body as if he’d been given an infusion of the best nutrients money could buy. He couldn’t wait to tell Betsy about the new motorcycle he’d just bought.

066He slammed the door, anxious to share his excitement with his best friend. “Betsy, come look at this.” He waved the sales receipt in the air.

“I’m coming.” Her voice sounded as if it came from the back bedroom. He heard her footsteps over the sound of his boots pacing on the kitchen’s tiled floor. Dwayne could not remember ever being this excited about something. He just knew Betsy would be just as happy.

Her smiling face appeared around the corner. Dwayne motioned her to sit at the table. “Hon, I bought it. The most perfect motorcycle ever. Just right for the two of us.” His words were delivered with a staccato effect getting louder with each phrase. His smile covered his face.

“For the two of us? Dwayne, I don’t mind you riding a motorcycle if that’s what you want, but I don’t even own a pair of jeans. I think I’ll pass.” Betsy’s resolve showed clearly on her face.

“But, I thought…”

“Dwayne, I will not ride a motorcycle. I have my women’s groups and you’ll have bikers. That’s ok, isn’t it?” Betsy looked for her husband’s approval.

Dwayne’s disappointment hit him like a brick. He could see his dream of the two of them in ministry together flying right out the window. “I wanted you and I to do something together. I wanted us to join that Christian Biker group and serve God as a team. Don’t you see the possibility in that?”

“Dwayne, I’ll pray about it but I really feel God has me where He wants me.” She got up from the table dismissing Dwayne’s disappointment with a belief he’d get over it. For the next two weeks, Betsy watched as one ministry group and then the other folded because they couldn’t find anyone to serve on the executive. The place she’d thought God wanted her changed and little by little she began to see the need in the biker culture.

One morning, she stopped Dwayne on his way toward the garage with the keys to his beautiful blue Harley dangling from his fingers. “Do you think you could drive me to work?”

Dwayne let out a breath, surprise written all over him when he spotted the crisp new jeans she wore. He reached a shelf near the bike and pulled down a helmet, just her size. Now Betsy was the one surprised.

“How did you know I’d change my mind?” She couldn’t help the smile that streaked across her face.

“I just knew God wanted us to be a team and that He would open your heart to this new adventure one day. God has many new horizons for us to explore, if only we trust Him enough to let go of the familiar and follow Him. Dwayne hugged his wife and then proceeded to show her how she should ride…behind him all the way.

God has a wonderful plan with adventure at every turn. Do you miss God’s best for you? Do you miss the new things He wants to show you? Take time today to really listen and then follow Him wherever He leads with confidence and excitement coursing through your veins.

Father God, help me trust in You as my travel agent. Take me to the places You would have me go and open doors so I can share Your love with the people You bring before me. AMEN.

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In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word thro

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Freedom From God’s Wrath

Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God

through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1

 Kurt hid behind the dumpster. His nose rebelled against the overpowering odors leaking over the side of the bin. He couldn’t risk getting caught, not now, not when he’d just met the woman he planned to marry one day. His thoughts bounced from remorse for the things he’d done to jubilation over his feelings for this woman. He could hear footsteps enter the passageway.

“Kurt, you in there? No use hiding. We’ll find you one way or the other.” The rough voice crackled with evil intent.Windemere Baptist Camp, Roach MO 4

That voice and his heavy footsteps came closer. The monstrosity Blake called his lieutenant seemed to be on the other side of the garbage bin now. Kurt shivered. If that man caught him, it would be the end of life as he knew it.

Kurt cautiously peeked around the corner. A piece of rust flaked off the bin and lodged itself in his eye. He blinked. Tears blurred his vision making the large man leaning on the other corner appear all the more intimidating. Kurt felt bile rise in his throat. He’d never felt this much fear before.

“Bliss, forget him.” Another man hollered down the alleyway. “His gambling debt’s been paid. The boss says to let him go.”

Kurt watched as Bliss turned toward the voice. “Aw, come on. Can’t I hit him a little?” He pounded one massive fist into the palm of his other hand. His hands looked to Kurt as they were the same size as Kurt’s head.

The distant voice appeared to shout from the street now. “Naw. Boss says to let ‘im go. He may be of some use to us one day.”

Bliss walked away from the dumpster. He followed the other man toward the street all the while cursing his bad luck. He seemed to really enjoy hurting people.

Kurt sighed in relief. He sank onto the wet pavement at his feet. His knees were shaking and he felt sure he was going to be sick. “That was close,” he muttered. “I wonder who paid the money.” Then he began to think about the consequences of someone paying his gambling debt. “Why would they do that?”

Christ did that for us. He paid the debt we owe a just and loving God and there is no way we can ever repay Him. We deserve the anger that God has for the sin in our lives but because Christ covered our sins with His body, we are free from God’s wrath. This is a free gift to us, one that we only have to accept even when we don’t fully comprehend the enormity of what Christ endured.

Kurt does not know the truth about Christ yet but have you accepted this free gift? Do you know other people who need to know how much God loves them? Keep in mind that acceptance requires repentance, an admission from the heart that what we have done is wrong. We then turn away from the sinful lifestyle we engaged in and walk step by step in freedom from sin’s bondage with Christ.

Father, thank You for a love so outstanding I am not able to fully understand. I accept that love gift and want nothing more than to live my life pleasing You and sharing my faith with those who still don’t know about your love for them. AMEN.

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Freedom to Believe

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give

in exchange for his soul?  Mark 8:36-37

 Samuel walked along the darkened hallway of the university. He’d made it. He had earned his BA. The four long years of IMG_3028struggling to understand the vast amount of knowledge his teachers pumped into his head had paid off. He couldn’t wait to get home, sleep in his old bed, and begin looking for a job.

His parents raised him to believe in God. They’d taken him to church every Sunday and practiced what the preacher said. He’d left for college believing that God was real, that his parents were right, and that he’d always have that belief. Not so. He learned during the past four years that his parents were wrong. Not their fault, of course. They were just uneducated and fell under the spell of Pastor Davies.

Samuel raced towards his truck parked in a lot adjacent to his dorm room. He threw the last of his belongings into the bed of the truck and got into the driver’s side. “It’ll be interesting when I try to tell the folks that their beliefs are a bunch of bunk.” Samuel started the engine and headed toward his home town, a few hundred miles to the east.

Samuel had gained the world’s view about God and lost his soul. He would not be successful in trying to convince his parents he was right. In fact they would mourn his loss as if he’d lost his life.

Too many young people leave for school to gain a higher education. In the process they lose the only education worth attaining, their walk with God. They may have gone to church every Sunday, as Samuel did. They may even have taught in Sunday School, gone on retreat weekends with the youth group, or attended conferences where they had their faith buoyed up for the next school year. Yet, when they head off for a college whose atheistic belief system overpowers any attempt at campus ministry, they lose their faith.

Do you seek the world? Do you strive to attain a higher education and are you in awe of those who seem to know more than you do? The one textbook that never changes, no matter what, is the Bible itself. There’s nothing wrong with more education providing you keep your priorities straight and make God #1 in your life. Don’t let those who hold a skewed belief system try to tell you what to believe. Seek God’s truth in the only book that holds it…the Bible.

Father God, I long to seek your truth, no matter where I go. Help me balance my time at school or at work with time for You so I can keep my perspective straight. AMEN.

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In Two Up, Riding With The Lord, Barbara Ann Derksen creatively illustrates the importance of what it means to be God’s adopted child… Accepted, Secure, Significant, and Free… through faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will discover the privileges of being a child of God, your strength as a believer, and the power given to you by God’s Holy Spirit as you spent time in His Word thro

Support this blog by sharing with others.
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