“Getting A Facelift”

Dads face lift before and after

No these are not “mug shots!” On February 18, 1988 Dad got the final costs of a “face lift.” The cost for the “lifting,” and “tucking,” of all unwanted, sagging skin on his neck, brow, eyes, and cheeks was $7200.00. He evidently got a discount (normal for Dad) because to do just the brow lift and both eye lids were $4400.00, and to just do the face and neck-lift were $4400.00. The before and after are pictured here (the after is the small picture).

Dad always had a great smile, and always enjoyed hugging. He was a happy guy… confident in God’s grace and salvation… Yet his self image wasn’t always that great he said. When things began sagging, as things do with old age… he finally decided to do something about it. He got the names of the nurses and doctors who would be working on him, got the costs, and made the plan to take the time off needed for surgery and recovery, March 1- April 7, 1988. Mom and Dad made the journey to Bearwood Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Ctr in Anderson, SC… and got it done. He was very satisfied with the results…

Sometimes we just need to do something with our face. “It is said that Abraham Lincoln, when he was President of the U.S., was advised to include a certain man in his cabinet. When he refused he was asked why he would not accept him. “I don’t like his face,” the President replied. “But the poor man isn’t responsible for his face,” responded his advocate. “Every man over forty is responsible for his face” countered Lincoln” (Resource, July/August, 1960).

Not everyone has the money for a face-lift. Face-lifts are not always the answer to a person who has more scars on the inside than on the outside. There is a cheap face lift however that all can put into practice… smile.

Dad quoted a little poem…
“I know my face ain’t no star,
But I don’t mind it, for I’m behind it,
The one’s in front get the jar.” (Author unknown)

Sin takes away the smile and joy of life. King David experienced a terrible time in his life where he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and looked at the wrong woman too long. 2 Samuel 11-12 records the story if you wish to read. Everyone knows he committed adultery physically with her and had her husband murdered on the “front line,” to try and cover it up… Few people pay attention to the fact that this took place in his heart before it took place physically.

Jesus said, 27 “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Then he follows this with talking about cutting out an eye if it is going to cause one to get to hell. The idea of course is controlling OUR THOUGHT PROCESS. According to Jesus, there is not much difference in adultery dreamed of and adultery done. With David, with all whose face reflect the pain of a life of sin… much could have been avoided with just controlling the THOUGHTS, for it begins and takes place in the heart first!

Then came Nathan, and with his little parable, he cut to the heart of David, who when convicted… humbled himself and asked for forgiveness… He received it. Grace and forgiveness provided a “face-lift” for David, bringing back the “joy of his salvation.”

There is just so much a face-lift can do… It will not give a person a new heart. It may take years off ones looks, but it won’t add joy to a sinful, broken heart… ONLY GOD’S GRACE CAN DO THAT. Take a moment to read Psalm 51 (David’s broken heart and contrite plea for forgiveness.) Then read Psalm 32 (David rejoices in forgiveness.)

Today, we have a hard time with grace and forgiveness… and the older brother did too. Reading Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal (wasteful son), I get the feeling the the older brother did not want the father to extend grace and forgiveness to the younger brother. “It’s just NOT FAIR!” “He needs to PAY FOR WHAT HE DID!” “He not only SPENT AND ENJOYED SPENDING his inheritance… but now HE GETS TO COME HOME AND get a RING, A ROBE, AND SHOES, AND (this just cooked his bacon) A FATTENED CALF FOR A FEAST!”

David did pay with a lifetime of heartache. The prodigal… I imagine he did do a bit of kicking himself and wishing he never did what he did. The point is, that grace and forgiveness cannot be earned. There’s not enough goodness in good works to pay the price of “pay-back” for sins done. Grace is bigger than has been portrayed by many pulpits… It cost $7200.00 for Dad to get his face lift… and he had to pay for it. IT COST JESUS paid for OURS with his life on the cross. The results of what doctors can do are truly marvelous.

The results of what Jesus can do in a person’s life is even more remarkable, because it is a change that gets better with time. Physically, the skin will sag again with time. Spiritually, grace gives a song to the lips, a smile to the face, and hope to the heart that cannot be taken away.


Grow in grace! Let Jesus offer of GRACE be heard in our pulpits!

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Regarding the “Non-negotiable s” In The Christian Faith

Recently I found a discussion going on about “What are the non-negotiable s, in Christian faith?” Interesting discussion, and one well worth the time. Dad jotted down some 95 things which the brotherhood had either differed over or divided over.
Some, were ‘big deals,’ while many were not, and over time have been allowed to ‘die’ peacefully (For example: women’s head coverings, women wearing pant suits, playing cards, going to the movies, fellowship dinners in the building, Joy Buses, Serving in the military and going to war, etc…)

While other ‘issues’, have been ‘nurtured’ and allowed to ‘codify’ and become ‘defining’ issues, and divide us, (For example: cups, Bible classes, cooperation, instrumental music, clapping in worship, raising hands in worship and prayer, miracles, etc…)

A proper understanding of what the “non-essentials” are, should at least help us move away from being “Issue oriented,” and help us in “keeping the unity of the Spirit.” The original question of “What are the NON – negotiables of the Christian Faith?” should be pretty simple for us, for our ‘creed’ has always been “Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

While this article is not ‘exhaustive,’ perhaps it will at least help get us thinking more.

Perhaps it would help to consider several things:
1. What puts one “into Christ”?
Obviously, one must be ‘born’ of water and the Spirit (John 3; Acts 2), being cleansed by the blood and filled with the Spirit. Since the Lord is the One who ADDS… and the Spirit “FILLS,” who among us is qualified to do the “taking away or draw arbitrary lines?” A Christian is one who has “obeyed the Gospel.” He may not be a very ‘good one,’ in our way of thinking, but may be totally accepted by God (Romans 14: 4, 10).
What puts one into Christ is an ‘essential’, non-negotiable.

2. Christians need to be given ‘space’ to “grow in grace.” We grow at different ‘rates,’ and who has not “grown” through the up’s and down’s of life? Are we “in” and “out” of Christ every day? This sort of thinking, has lead to one Christian who said, “Every day from morning till night, I repeat in my mind, “Forgive me Lord,” “Forgive me Lord,” etc., until bedtime.” GRACE is non negotiable (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 5:4), if we could just gain some ‘balance’ in it. What about I John 1:7? Does the blood of Christ continually cleanse us, or is it a one time thing, and after that “Good luck”? God forbid. It takes time to grow, and change. It takes love and patience to allow for this.

3. Christians may indeed fall away and be lost (Hebrews 6:4-6), but between the ‘sinning’ and the ‘falling away’ and ‘being lost’… there needs to be someone who is “spiritual” to go and at least try and restore (Galatians 6:1-2). It is easy to fall away from a law/works system, but difficult to fall from a grace/faith relationship, (Luke 15:11-32).
(What may help us in deciding what is NON NEGOTIABLE, would be to ask the question, “What would you literally, lay your life on the line for? What were Christians back then, willing to die for? Which “issue,” would motivate you to give your life? “I would give my life for Jesus,” someone says, “but I wouldn’t give my life for a ‘cup’ or …”)

4. What were “lines” which were ‘drawn,’ by Jesus and or the Apostles? Paul spoke “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:20), and “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done” (2 Timothy 4:14). Paul also instructed the Corinthians to deal with this person who was living with his Dad’s wife, (I Corinthians 5). (By the way, there is no example in Scriptures, where one congregation has ‘withdrawn’ from another congregation.) If the Corinthian church existed now, they would be ‘written up,’ and ‘black-balled.’ Paul calls them “saints.” Then what about a Diotrophes (2 John)? Bottom line… my opinion… be careful drawing line… let God ‘draw the line,’ and deal with the ‘weeds.’ Go win souls to Christ.

5. Non-negotiables are just that. These are what puts one in Christ and keeps him there, and results in Heaven as his eternal home. All who are penitent believers, having repented of sins, and been immersed in water, indwelt by the Spirit, are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Over time, hopefully we all will grow and change in grace.

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The Last Supper

   Dad wrote this in his New Testament…. 
   “This is a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. This masterpiece took over seven years to paint. The extra ordinary story behind this masterpiece is astounding. Leonardo felt that he should use living persons as his models since this was to be such an important picture. He started with the painting of Christ. Hundreds of young men were studied to find a man who’s face portrayed innocence and beauty. After a long search he found a man whom he felt could portray Christ. The painting of Christ took six months. When he was done with Christ, it took 6 more years to paint the disciples until all were completed accept one. That one was Judas. To find someone who looked like Judas was a problem. After a long discouraging search, da Vinci heard of a man in prison in Rome who was sentenced to die for his brutal crimes.
   Leonardo went to Rome where the prisoner was brought before him. He saw in this man who’s face was ugly and vicious – scarred and full of hate. He knew immediately that this was the man he wanted to represent Judas, the Savior’s betrayer.
   By special permission from the king, the person was brought to Milan to pose for da Vinci at appointed hours each day. Finally the gifted artist finished his painting. As the guards were taking the prisoner away, he broke loose. Rushing to da Vinci, he gasped and said, “Look at me!!!”: “Do you not know who I am?!” With his sharp, piercing eyes, da Vinci looked at the man and said, “I do not know you. I never saw you until you were brought to me in Rome.”
   Then the man lifted his head towards heaven and cried, “Oh, God… have I fallen so far?!” 
   Then he turned and said, “Leonardo da Vinci, Look at me again!!!” “I’m the same man you painted only seven years ago as the figure of Christ.”
   This was copied by dad when he was in Calgary, Alberta while visiting a member of the church and he happened to glance through the Family Bible. 
   People change… sometimes for the better…sometimes not. Jesus warned against this since we don’t know what is in the heart of man. Marshall Keeble once said, “I’m not a judge… I’m a fruit examiner.” It might do us better if we just examine the fruit as opposed to judging based our feelings or ‘think-so’s’ or on what someone else says. The way we judge others will come back to bite us as we will be judged the same way (Matthew 7).
   Fact is, we just don’t know what’s in the heart of man… but Jesus does. Paul later instructs us to be careful when dealing with Christians who fall or sin… Helping, restoring… with a spirit of gentleness demands a spiritual heart. The danger? Who knows… somewhere down the ‘time-line’  you also may fall…. 
   Falling is not usually done over night… it happens ‘bit by bit’ and step by step in the wrong direction. Beginning in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28), which is just as bad as the ‘real thing’ only to find that ‘thoughts not taken captive for Christ’ have taken to root and produced a plant that bears bitter fruit… You may not even recognize yourself.
   Thank God for His love, grace and forgiveness… Thank God for a Savior who even washed the feet of Judas… and accepted cursing, denying, Peter. Thank God for a Savior who  was patient with his disciples then… and now… 
   The was once two who came to worship God. One was a Pharisee and the other a Publican. The Pharisee prayed and said, “O God, I am so grateful I am not like this Publican.” The Publican would not even look towards heaven, but hit himself on his chest, and cried, “Oh, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Just like the man who posed for Jesus AND Judas…. “Oh God… Have I fallen so far?!”
   Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved (saves) a wretch like ME….Praise God for His matchless grace… Amen walls!!!

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Amazing Great Big Grace (God’s Power To Become)

This article is part 2 of 4 in the series Grace

   Grace – God’s Power To Become
   Understanding God’s grace is one of the greatest challenges of God’s people. We sing about it, thank God for it, quote scriptures which mention it, yet in reality seldom do we understand it. Some are challenged by it, because it means freedom from the ‘out of balance’ thnking of legalistic, check list systems they try to enforce. When truly understood, it means freedom from the guilt feelings of “I haven’t given enough, done enough, won souls enough, attended enough.” When grace is properly understood, it means real power, power to actually ‘become’, to grow, to serve from the most powerful of motives, love. Paul said, “the love of Christ constrains me”, not guilt, not fear of hell… THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
   How many Christians have withered on the vine as it were, not using their gifts and talents? Well, let this be a clarion cry, for all Christians to open their Bibles and study the “riches of His grace”, grace that gives power to become what God wants you to be.
   Some of this may be ‘old hat’ to some who already know about his grace. The challenge is to study with a renewed desire passages memorized years ago, in search for new truth, great principles, which will bring life to the soul, transform the life. The shackles of guilt that have been carried for years for sins of the past were never meant to be carried by the Christian.
   The story is told of a man walking along a country road. He had travelled for miles it seemed, when a man in a horse drawn wagon came along. He offered him a ride, which was gratefully accepted. He climbed on the wagon, and the old man drove on. After a while he looked back, and saw that the man on the back of the wagon was still carrying his heavy nap sack. He stopped and asked him why he was still carrying it. The man said, “I didn’t know you wanted to carry my burden  as well.” This is so much like us when we come to Jesus. We repent of our sins and are immersed for remission of sins like Peter said in Acts 2:38, but then we insist on continuing to carry the burden while trying to walk with Jesus. We wonder why it is so difficult, and why the joy is not there. Fact is, Jesus not only wants us, He wants to carry that old ‘sack of burdens’ that have weighed us down for so long.
   Take time to re-read the first article in this series, GREAT AMAZING GRACE, and get your coffee and sit and just think about this wonderful subject. The series  will continue to grow as more and more we discover together what the Bible teaches, and it is my prayer, that we will grow, in grace, applying it to every aspect of our walk in Christ (as well as our recovering from sins in our lives). 
   There will be no appology offered for the study, for it is much needed. Where the Bible leads in this study, that’s where we will stand. Some traditions may have to fall, some ‘old ways’ may have to change, but if it is because of understanding God’s great grace better, then so be it. Yet all will be because of a deep desire to know the truth, and be set free, not to ’cause trouble’. Our hesitancy about preaching on the subject, our fear of ‘reprocussions’, will have to laid aside if we are to truly “search the scriptures’ and “speak where the Bible speaks”.  
   John Newton was confronted while preaching one Sunday, by a man who stood up during his sermon. He said, “How dare you preach about Jesus when you have raped and beaten slaves.” To this John said, “That’s right, I have, and that’s why I preach. Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
   The problem is, many look at the forgiven and say, “THAT’S NOT FAIR… YOU DESERVE PUNISHMENT… NO FORGIVENESS.” “You have to un-do what you did in the past or we cannot accept you!” The fact is, we all have committed sins in our past that have not been ‘un-done’ by us. We have simply leaned on and continue to lean on His grace as we should. We realize, that we cannot ‘unscramble the eggs’. Even if we could, it wouldn’t pay the price, and that is what grace is all about.
   Does this mean take his grace for granted, or abuse it. “God forbid”. Even though I (we) all must admit that I (we) have abused grace at one time or another, and that we are ashamed of it, as I have been ashamed, and repent. But we certainly do not want to make it a habit, for that would lead to being lost forever.
   Praise God for His great, big, awesome, GRACE (Romans 5:9).
   (As we continue this study, please understand that I claim no attitude of ‘knowing it all’ nor some ‘special knowledge’. I am sharing with you, what I have learned through my ‘sit downs’ with dad, and others who have helped me tremendously with over-coming guilt and shame. I ask if you can help me, and all of us, grow in this subject, that you contact me by email.)
   (More to come) 

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Great Big Amazing Grace

This article is part 1 of 4 in the series Grace

   Mercy is when you DON’T GET what you deserve. Justice is when you GET what you deserve. Grace is when you GET what you DON’T deserve. Three simple principles to remember when studying the Bible.
   We have made the Christian life far to difficult, and taken the joy right out of following Jesus by allowing legalism to creep into pulpits and classes. Legalism is a system of works whereby one feels he has balanced the religious scales so he can get into heaven.  Legalism is the focus on obeying commands (of God) and minimizing the grace which makes a “walk with Him” possible,  and takes the heart, joy and soul out of following Jesus.
   Answer these questions: Can you give more? Can you attend church more? Can you tell others about Jesus more? Can you read the bible more? Can you pray more? You say, “Sure, I can do more.” Well, legalism says, “You are bad because you have not done all you can.” Law has no Savior, no Calvary, no forgiveness. It just condemns you when you don’t DO what it says. You can never do enough ‘under law’. You will find a lot of guilt on this ‘road too much travelled’, because no matter what you do, it is never enough. This is what many use to get people to give, pray, and attend, bring people etc…
   Consider these questions: Do you give some? (“Yes” – Wonderful! Grow), Do you go to church? (“Yes” – Wonderful), Do you tell others about Jesus? (“Yes” – Great! Keep it up). What’s the point? Well it should be obvious because we are showing the difference between legalism and grace. Life under LAW is hard, and demanding and a life of guilt. Life under GRACE on the other hand is a life of joy, and encouragement to keep growing in Jesus.
   For example, just think about your driving record. All of you “good” drivers, think of all the times you did a ‘rolling stop’, or crossed the solid white line, or made a “U” turn where you shouldn’t have, or went over the speed limit, or parked wrong. Now imagine a roll of paper coming down from the sky with ALL of your infractions listed over the years you have been driving. Long list, right? Under LAW, you are a terrible driver. Add to that all the other things you’ve done wrong. There’s no hope. 
   Under GRACE however, this roll of paper has nothing written against you. God says, “This one is Mine, My Son paid for his sins. Read Romans 8 
   Well, will Christians who act like they are under law and works go to heaven? O, I believe they will, but they will go kicking and screaming, never confident about their salvation, never believing they have done enough, prayed enough, given enough, attended enough. Never seeing that Jesus did it all.  Amazing grace is not tiny grace, narrow grace, or ‘barely there’ grace… it is great grace. Great enough to save even the worst of sinners. Great enough to save believers who disagree.
   I don’t, go to church, give, sing, pray, study, write articles – to be saved… I do these things because I am saved by grace and heaven bound.
   May I suggest that gaining a balanced and Biblical view and understanding God’s grace along with His commands, will truy make His yoke “easy” and the burden truly “light”. God bless you.  (More to come).   

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The Rubber band

   Simple things can make a huge impact when conveying truths about Bible principles. Illustrations don’t have to be fancy by any means, but they need to do what is intended… put light on the subject… not on the illustration.
   A rubber band is a simple but powerful illustration. When dad used it in his lesson on grace, he would simply use it to show how the very essence of God’s grace is that which does not condone sin and imperfection, but accepts in spite of sin and imperfection.. to a point.
   You can stretch a rubber band just so far, and then it breaks. Of course it’s wrong to ‘try’ and ‘stretch’ God’s grace (Romans 6:1-2) yet most have done this. His grace ‘stretches’ though…. that’s the nature of grace (using this illustration). Grace means “unmerited favor”, but what is that, if it isn’t acceptance that cannot be earned or deserved on the basis of how good you are or how perfect you keep commandments. (Keep the commands of Jesus… but don’t depend on your command keeping to save you.) If you ‘merit’ God’s favor, then you have earned it, and God is in debt to you, on the basis of your own life and actions. (Like the worker who comes to the boss and says, PAY ME WHAT I HAVE EARNED!) Who is going to lay claim to ‘meriting’ (earning) God’s favor? Paul said, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Then again in verse  20, “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight…” If grace means anything to me, it means room to grow, to get up and ‘try again’ after falling. Like Grandma said to grandpa, who was being a bit tough on little Johnny.. “Give that boy some elbow room!” 
   Can a person lose this great gift of “unmerited favor”? Of course, but too many Christians think that every time one sins, he falls from grace till he publicly confesses and repents and prays, and then the Christian is “back in grace again”. “In and out, in and out…” Are there times for public confession? Yes. However, the idea that grace is so narrow (like walking a tight rope) and rigid that there is no ‘elbow room’ or room for growing, can’t relax and enjoy being saved, no room for mistakes (sin)… in my judgment is not right.
   What about those sins you forget to mention in prayer? What about those sins that you cannot pray about? Suppose you are in a car accident, and end up in a coma before you can repent and pray? Such a picture of grace provides no confidence to the Christian. Yet one can fall from grace, and be lost. When? In short, when a person turns his back totally on Jesus and won’t come back. This means one must repent (turn and come back), but in this case, the person will not ever repent (Hebrews 6:4-6). If he did repent would God receive him? Of course… that’s the nature of God’s love. Yet a heart that is hardened, cannot be molded, changed or taught.
  What can be learned from a rubber band? Well, next time you pick one up, just sit and stretch it and think… God’s grace is so good. He loves and saves even me, and can save you as well.

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Casting The First Stone

  Where was the man?! I mean ‘it takes two to tango’, and yet these “religious leaders” have already decided, he was not from God. They were stunned when the temple guards came back without him, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” John 7:46. Their prejudice and jealousy was obvious, not interested in truth, or the One who brought it. They had to trap him, but he had somehow escaped all the other traps. This time they would put him in a position where he had either to inflame the Roman authorities or break the Law of Moses, and somehow loose the popularity he had gathered.
   Scriptures do not record  how they got this done, but perhaps they schemed with a man who knew of a woman who was unfaithful. To get her in the situation where they would come and catch her committing adultery. Who knows, but John 8:1-11 deals with this woman who is “caught in adultery”. They bring her (not the man) to trap Jesus. They knew the Law commanded that both were to be put to death, Leviticus 20:10, but they were not interested in that. They bring her to Jesus, and you can just see them all forming a cirle around the woman, and the confrontation with Jesus. “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” John 8:5
   Jesus bends down and begins writing in the ground with his finger. They kept on questioning him, (thinking they had him trapped), and he stood and asked them this question. “IF ANY OF YOU IS WITHOUT SIN, LET HIM BE THE FIRST TO THROW A STONE AT HER” John 8:7.  He bends down and continues writing in the ground, and while he does this, one by one the ones who brought her leave. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you” Jesus said. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11.
   Is Jesus saying he was a sinner and that he could not have condemned her? Of course not. He knew what these religious leaders were trying to do. He knew their hearts and the heart of the woman. He does not condemn her which does not mean He condones adultery or any sin.
   Where do we go from here, the grace of God. Adultery, Jesus said, takes place in the heart of everyone who lusts after someone, Matthew 5:27-30. It takes place in the heart… Often we are more harsh on this than we are on other sins, but Jesus is not. He explains the Law on subjects like, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, and vengeance in Matthew 5. Obviously God hates this and all sins, each having consequences, some being impossible to ‘un-do’ (like trying to unscramble an egg).
   Where does grace enter the picture? Well, grace is the picture when considering man’s sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus. This is why Jesus came, to provide the way of salvation where the life of sin can be put away. This is why you read in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” At first glance, you see that SLANDER is as bad as ADULTERY in the sence that both will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God. The blood of Christ cleansed all these things and more. Obviously, when you start to pick up a stone and throw it, consider your own situation.
   Can these things be forgiven? Yes. What about Christians who sin? They are forgiven as well, by the same blood. Forgiveness is not just for the past. This does not condone abuse of grace, because that is getting close to falling away from Christ and being lost altogether. Grace simply means we receive something we don’t deserve, forgiveness. We don’t deserve it because we sin… before and after we come to Christ.
   In John 8 the leaders brought this woman to trap Jesus, but truth be told, they were as trapped as the woman was, they just refused to accept it. So are we, without Jesus. The outstanding feature of Jesus here and always, is His love for fallen man. His compassion, and concern. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground and stood up and asked, “Where are your accusers?” According to Paul, there aren’t any, Romans 8:31-37. Praise god for His wonderful, great grace.


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The Price Has Already Been Paid

   Just think a moment about all the bad that has been done, for whatever reason, or motive. Be it anger, jealousy, lust, greed, unnatural desires, irreverence or just down-right hate … Think about all the tears, and blood that has been shed in the name of religion or racial hatred. Think of all the wars and conflicts fought over the centuries. Think of all the pain and suffering of the born, the aborted, young people and old alike. It all comes down to one basic cause, sin.

   Few in schools of higher learning call it what it is. Those who study the workings of the mind often call it something else, maybe a sickness to be treated with pills. Yet the Bible is straight forward about it… Man’s biggest problem is sin. People laugh at it, ignore it, brag about it, and Hollywood glorifies it. Laws are passed to try and get rid of it by making it acceptable and normal.

   God’s word simply speaks of it as sin. In the original language of scriptures, it means to “miss the mark”. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Everyone “misses the mark”, right? Even the bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet this does not take care of the problem. Never did, and never will.

   Man has tried to balance the books with God for a long time. Yet the books just don’t balance. We are forever in debt and have no way to pay it.

   The story is told of a Russian Czar who disguised himself and mingled with his soldiers. One soldier, deep in debt, had made a list of all that he owed. His loaded revolver lay beside him, but in his anxiety, he had fallen asleep. At the end of the list he had scribbled the words, “Who could pay so much?” Later he woke up and was startled to see the personal signature of the Czar, “Alexander” and his personal seal next to the question he had scribbled at the end of his list.

   If we each sat down and wrote a list of all the things we had done, in anger, hatred, jealousy, despair, lust, how long would that list be? You run a red light, and get a ticket, go down and pay the amount levied against you at to Court House, and they stamp it “Paid in full”. Ok, so how do you do that with sin? What are the wages (earned price) of sin? Paul says in Romans 6:23 “For the payoff (wages) of sin is death…”

   So what is all this about? It is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. He was destined to do something for mankind which he could not and cannot do for himself. He came to provide a way out of the penalty of sin. “Who could pay so much?” Paul says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die). 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (NET) DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION… closely portrayed in the movie “The Passion of Christ”, is hard to watch. Yet it was all for you and me, unworthy sinners.

   Sin cannot be paid for by works. Salvation is a gift, not to be treated lightly. The price paid for the gift should tell us that. Faith, repentance and immersion (Acts 2:37-39) in no way earns the gift… because it is priceless. When we obey His commands, we are surrendering to Him, and calling out to Him to save us.  Bottom line… THE PRICE HAS BEEN ALREADY PAID.


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